Month: July 2013

Week in Review: A Renewal

Well, howdy. It’s time again for another Week in Review, and let me say that it has been a topsy-turvy kind of a week. Hitting some low notes and peaking at some fantastic highs, it has been another week in keeping with the trend this summer has been setting.

We both had appointments this week, and so we worked around those in our social engagements. However, we managed to fit in a treat on Tuesday evening as we went to Famoso pizza for gelato, and was generously given our scoops for free! The manager, whom we speak to often when we are there (or even walking by), told us we were such great customers that it was on the house. My Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel gelato tasted even better because it was free!

We did help friends with the renovations of their business on Wednesday, to the extent that I made cookies and gave my opinion while Matt did all the helping. On Thursday, Matt’s dad arrived for a week-long visit, and we have been taking in the sights with him. Saturday was a rainy day, and we spent it walking around the West Edmonton Mall, getting some dry exercise – something Matt and I do quite regularly if it is a rainy weekend, since it’s a nice flat surface for me to walk on and it usually tires me out nicely.

On Sunday we had made an appointment at Fort Edmonton Park to take part in their “Weddings Through Time” celebrations with the renewal of our vows at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church on 1905 St. It was an overcast day, cool and breezy, but that didn’t stop us from dressing up in period-inspired costume for the occasion. During the ceremony, we took advantage of the opportunity to get the officiant to work “even through Time And Relative Dimensions In Space” into the vows (which is epic, btw: we are now sealed to one another again by our vows and TARDIS).

It was a very nice ceremony, and Bob was eloquent and well-spoken, easy to speak to and easy-going. He made us feel as though we were celebrating much more than just being married 10 months ago (which of course we are although he didn’t know anything about that). Nonetheless, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Wandering through the park afterward, we were able to see a 1920s era wedding re-enactment and partake in some homemade raspberry and coconut wedding cake after the 1900s era wedding celebration. Matt’s dad enjoyed the visit to the Park as well, and was happy to be a part of our small re-dedication ceremony.

Today I have a very important appointment in Calgary with a doctor specializing in occupational medicine. I have no idea what to expect when I’m there, so I’m nervous about the whole thing. I am just hoping that this will result in the definitive diagnosis that I have been missing in my ongoing lawsuit, and that it ends up being exactly what we need to get things moved along to the next stage.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the “low periods”, but really, I don’t need to. There were tears, many many tears, but I’m working on it and through it and with the help of Matt, my mum, and my therapist, I’m learning things about myself I didn’t realize until now.

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Flat-Out Friday: Don’t Ever Stop Writing That F**king Blog

So yeah, the last month or so has been harder than normal. And yeah, I’ve been sporadic about posting on the blog. But I was told by someone dear to me, “seriously, don’t ever stop writing that f**king blog”, so I’m hacking away at today’s post with the determination of a termite in a wooden house. Gnaw, gnaw, gnaw, etc.

I’ve been seeing my new psychologist for a few weeks now, and she’s good. Really good. But it seems like every time I see her I spend the whole hour crying uncontrollably, and then I’ve effectively drained myself of any energy I had to begin with, walking around like a puffy-eyed zombie for the remainder of the day. Which would be okay if the appointments weren’t on Fridays, which really puts a dent in your summer evening plans. I am hoping today’s appointment will be less so, but I doubt it. We are going to try to see a concert tonight at K-Days, so I hope to be less… bleary.

What we’ve been going over (and through) is my grief surrounding the accident itself. I did mention before that I hadn’t really grieved for what I lost, and it’s true: I lost that innocence and spontaneity that comes with being young, head over heels in love, and having very few limitations. I was 30, newly moved to Alberta, working two great jobs. My then-boyfriend was thrilled to have someone to experience life with. We had plans to visit the US, weekend in Calgary, tour vineyards and historical sites; we were living every day to its fullest.

And then everything changed.

I am far from innocent now. As for being spontaneous, we can’t do anything without thinking four steps ahead. We bought K-Days passes for the entire duration of the Expo. We wanted to see concerts and play games on a whim, but quickly realized that I can’t stand in a field to watch three hours of music and had to find lawn chairs for sale. Suddenly it’s not that pick-up-and-go experience that a young couple with no children should have. We have to plan to pack the chairs, take a bag with supplies in case I need painkillers or extra sun protection (the pills I’m on make me super sun sensitive), and plan to go a different day to walk around and play games because I can’t sit for hours and then walk around for a few more.

It’s like being a parent, except most new parents get nine months to plan and organize their lives to adjust to the new addition. My life changed in the span of sixty seconds on a sunny Friday morning. I then got two months to re-learn how to tolerate the pain, sit, stand, walk, climb stairs, use the bathroom, wash myself. I was sent home with some mobility aids and a “good luck”. I had no time to adjust to my new limitations before I realized I was saddled with them forever.

FOREVER.

That’s what I’m grieving about. Now you can understand why it’s taken two years for me to realize this. I certainly wouldn’t want to confront it if I didn’t have to. And now you can understand why these last weeks have been hard. I’m in mourning and yet still trying to celebrate the life I’m here to live. It’s a struggle on a good day. On a bad one, it’s hard to wake up. But I do because I must.

And I must because there is so much life waiting for me to live it. I just have to remember to pack a bag to take along for the ride.

Week in Review: Flat and Out

Before you ask: No, I did not forget to post on Friday. I just didn’t, or couldn’t to be more precise. I spent an hour with my therapist dealing with a break through and the subsequent non-stop crying, and afterward I was too tired to sit down and go through it all again here.

The weekend was fabulous. We went to a baseball game for free, courtesy of the Edmonton Prospects ball club’s Military and Service Appreciation Day. The weather was gorgeous (a little too nice according to our sunburns) and we enjoyed some quality ballpark hot dogs. We watched the Prospects lose in a 10th inning overturn by the Melville Millionaires, but had a great time. We also went for a BBQ at a friend’s house and enjoyed some giant steaks and corn on the cob.

So in regards to Friday. I realized that, in my sessions I had in Medicine Hat, I was grieving but I wasn’t grieving for me. I was grieving for the miscarriage and my grandfather, but not for me. I lost a piece of myself I’ll never be able to regain and I didn’t even stop to acknowledge it. Needless to say, grieving 2 years after the fact sucks, and probably hurts more than it should. But I have to do it. So I have some upcoming Flat-Out Friday posts that will delve deeper into all this.

Thanks all for your patience and understanding, and enjoy the new blog layout.

Pie Could Save The World

If you know me as more than just a passing acquaintance, I’ve probably made you a pie. It is what I do – I feed people because I care about them. In the not-so-distant past I had a dream that some day I would own my own little pie shop where my sister and I could bake and serve pies and pastries to fill the world with love.

Because pie = love.

If you’re extra special and I like you even more, I’ve probably made you a pie that has no recipe. A pie with no recipe? How can this be? It can be if the recipe I use is from MY HEAD. Yep, you heard me: a random, made-up, let’s-put-this-in-too concoction of pastry goodness. Not unlike Jenna from one of my favourite movies, Waitress. In fact, one of my first made-up pies was inspired by said movie. In it, Andy Griffiths (yep, that Andy Griffiths) describes Jenna’s “Strawberry Chocolate Oasis” pie. I took it as a challenge to see how close I could get to creating something as mouthwatering as his description.

But all that aside, what makes a good pie into a great pie is the foundation of all things pie: the crust. Without a good crust, your pie might well fall apart (literally) or become a unfortunate brick with your favourite filling trapped inside. Luckily my mother, to whom I once proclaimed, “Pie is so harrrrrrrrrrrrd”, passed along her recipe for a four ingredient crust. And one of the ingredients is water.

Nope, I’m not joking. You (YES, you!) can make this pie crust in your sleep. Never again will you proclaim pie is too hard because it is not! Never again will you say, “You want me to make what?!” because you can! I should probably not be sharing this recipe with you in case I ever do open that pie shop, but I figure that the more pie in this world, the more love there will be. So pie for ALL! (Click the title to download the printable.)


Four Ingredient Crust

2 cups pastry flour
1 cup Crisco
1/4 cup cold water
pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Mix by hand until blended. Divide in half. Flatten and roll to desired thickness. Makes one double crust or two singles.

  • BAKING:
    • Filled double crust: 425F for 40-50 mins
    • Unbaked shell with cooked filling (ie, lemon meringue): prick pastry; 425F for 12-15 mins, then cool before adding filling
    • Unbaked shell with uncooked filling (ie, pumpkin pie): do not prick; fill shell; 450F for 10 mins, then 350F for 30-40 mins

Yes, I realize this is extremely non-specific. That’s the whole point! But if I may impart some pointers:

  1. Use pastry flour – the better the quality (ie, more expensive), the better the crust. For dog’s sake do not use regular flour as it will turn into something less malleable than a rock.
  2. Use Crisco. Don’t use Tenderflake or pure lard or anything else but Crisco. It’s the leavening properties of the Crisco combined with just the right amount of oil that cause this crust to be so flaky.
  3. Yes, actually use cold water. I know, I know. Fussy.
  4. By a pinch, I mean a pinch. I usually just shake my salt shaker into the bowl a couple times and voila! You’re done.

You can halve the recipe easily – it’s 2 tbsps of water if you don’t want to do the math yourself. I have shared this recipe with the most reluctant of bakers, and everyone has commented on how wonderful their pies turned out. Since it’s a non-sweet pastry, you can use it for tarts or tourtiere too. Now that you all know my secret crust recipe, I expect pies, people! Because as we know, pie equals love.

Week in Review: Get a Life

We have friends! I mean, not that we didn’t have friends before, but Matt and I are both the sort of people that have a few friends we really, really like, as opposed to a lot of friends who are just all right. Whatever. The point is that we have friends who like us and we like them and they want to hang out with us, like, twice a week. It’s uncanny!
 

Awww, aren’t we cute?!

We went to Trivia Night again on Thursday – did not do nearly as well as the first week we attended, but the experience was marred by a malfunctioning microphone and a case of “pub near capacity”. We still had a lot of fun but I was jangled by the time we left (“jangled” was Matt’s word; it’s a good one). Friday night we attended another military party: the All Ranks Dinner/Dance at Schank’s, which is this crazy pub with bowling, virtual golf, mini golf, an arcade, pool tables, and three bars for two stories of drinking craziness. Basically, it was huge. Matt was the runner-of-all-things-running that night, so I helped with the technical stuff as his familiarity with and patience for computers is moderate at best. Everything went off well, and we had a good meal, some great conversation, and we won a door prize which we are using for admission passes to K-Days here in Edmonton, basically the city’s equivalent of the Expo in Ottawa. It’s great because Matt will be on summer leave while they are on, so we can fully enjoy all they offer and get me plenty of weight-bearing exercise walking around looking at it all.

Speaking of walking around, Saturday we spent a few hours doing just that. We went to Whyte Ave for the Art Walk, a sidewalk gallery of artists from all over the province that takes up several city blocks and an entire park. We then walked through the neighbourhood of Old Strathcona and looked at some of the great older houses, admiring the upkeep the owners were clearly undertaking. When I began to get tired, we headed back toward Whyte for a bubble tea, and then it was off to get groceries before heading home.

Sunday we helped celebrate Fort Edmonton Park’s Celtic Gathering, and it was a lot of fun. Matt and I are really loving our season passes to the Fort – we have been 3 times now and we do something new each time. This time we tried haggis and bannock, toured the market, snagged fresh ginger molasses cookies at the Bakery and sat in the beautiful Queen Victoria Park under the arbour while we ate them. We saw the movie playing at the Capital Cinema, called “Northern Lights”. It was quite excellent and captured the spirit of Edmonton and its people very well. We took a steam train ride and played old fashioned games at the Midway. Matt won me a fan by carefully tossing softballs into a numbered grid, and I won him a set of wooden dominoes from the fishing pond.

All in all, we are getting out and actually enjoying summer in our city. Tonight we are off to a barbeque with two homemade pies. Wednesday there is an event for Friends of the Devonian Garden where they are giving a talk on orchid varieties and a tour of the Japanese Garden with a park interpreter. And then Sunday is Military and Service Appreciation Day at the local baseball field, so Matt has secured us tickets and we are off to watch some AAA ball.

To sum up: we have finally gotten a life.

Flat-Out Friday: Your Depression is Special

To be clear, the following rant is not applicable to those of you/us that have an on-going working relationship with our mental disabilities. This is for those people who aren’t actually depressed at all but think their online self-diagnosis means they are most likely suffering from the most rare and deadly brain tumour possible, or that their depression is so fathomless and unique, when they actually grieving/pissed off/misanthropic.

You know the people. The ones that you want to pat on the head and say, “Yes, your depression is special, just like everyone elses”. The ones that, in most cases, walk into the office and say “I’m feeling sad today” while it’s pouring rain outside. (Duh. Weather affects your mood. Happens to all of us.) The ones that claim to everyone who will listen, “I’m so depressed”, and then spend hours telling you about how depressed they are.

THOSE people.

Since long before all this accident hoopla, I have suffered from migraines, which are (from Wikipedia): typically [the headache is] unilateral (affecting one half of the head) and pulsating in nature, lasting from 2 to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound) and the pain is generally aggravated by physical activity.[3] Up to one-third of people with migraine headaches perceive an aura: a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance which signals that the headache will soon occur.[3]

If you’ve ever had one, you know that the paragraph above doesn’t do them justice. I have gotten them since I was a little girl. My teachers used to tell my mother that I couldn’t possibly have a headache all the times I said I did and accused me of lying about it to get out of school. I have spent cumulative months of my life in bed with a cold cloth over my eyes trying desperately not to vomit again. You don’t understand them until you’ve really actually had one. In my case, they’re a familial inheritance. More than once I’ve suddenly lost half the vision in one eye – a real hassle while in the middle of a retail shift. But I deal. It’s what we do.

And yet, I have met so many people who claim they have them as well but in reality have no blithering idea how to tell migraines from plain old headaches. I detest people who arbitrarily announce, “Oh my head! I’m having a migraine”. Please. You might be able to fool the masses, but for people who know the stages you’re not passing muster. If you actually had one and were into the third stage (the phase where it begins to cause pain), you’d be prone on the floor, blinded by the light, unable to move in case the world suddenly shifted its axis thereby making you terribly vomitous, NOT walking around, hand on forehead, proclaiming loudly that you were experiencing one.

To bring this back around to the original topic, I equate people who are all, “Woe is me, I’m so depressed” to migraine fakers. You know that The Princess Bride quote? “That word you are using. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

That.

Again, those of us who have experienced real depression are not fooled. Real depression would never let you out in public to proclaim your suffering to the world. Real depression is what makes you hide in a corner behind the furniture because you can only deal with the small, tidy space under the bed right now. It makes you cry, uncontrolled and unstoppable, for hours on end, unable to explain why in words even if you knew why, and you never know why. It makes you barely able to open your eyes, and when you do everything is so chaotic and impossible that even if you’re sleeping in your own bed all you can do is close those eyes again and fall back to sleep. You cannot:

  • Log onto your favourite social media site and soliloquise about your sadness;
  • Go back to said site every two minutes to read the comments people have made, proceeding to then make your own comments on those comments;
  • Leave the house and attend a social function only to spend the whole time sighing, “I don’t know why I bothered coming. I’m so depressed”.

Depression goes beyond an uncontrollable sadness. It’s something deep inside you that stops you from being you. It throws a huge stick into the gears of your being, causing you pain and suffering and hurt and sorrow. Sometimes when I’m feeling low, I end up spiralling further downward with the realisation that I cannot fix it nor can I stop it. It is a soul-sucking liche that wears a black hooded cloak and has no face, and unlike all those fantasy books, there is no magic sword that can drive it away.

The only weapon we have against it is time and release. Weathering that time might take some pharmaceuticals to get you through, and achieving that release might take hours of time talking about it, but those of us that struggle with real depression understand these are all tools to help ourselves. We don’t stand around waiting for other people to sympathize. We take action.

So for all those posers out there: if you stand there in your hipster shoes and proclaim to me how depressed you are, take no offense when I take action and smack your face. It is simply a test of my strength against your apathy.

Week in Review: We Interrupt This Program

“You say you’re ‘depressed’ – all I see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective – it just means you’re human.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

We aren’t talking about Saturday. Specifically, we aren’t talking about Saturday between 3-8pm. It doesn’t exist. It has been removed by the temporal police and placed in the Nth Dimension. I don’t care if something important happened to you during that time, because it actually didn’t – it took place before 2pm or after 8pm, you just didn’t notice.

The rest of my week was pretty okay. We went to Date Night at the Devonian Botanic Gardens on Thursday night and had a lovely time. We walked around the Kurimoto Japanese Gardens and visited the Butterfly House. We had bison bratwursts and listened to a bluegrass band. Once the bugs started to come out in full force, we left and headed over to Trivia Night with some friends. We had a wicked awesome time, but I stand by my belief that we actually won and the quiz master was an idiot. See, we got 24/30 right, and the winners got 25/30. The contentious point was a grammar question. AND I WAS WRONG?! Yeah, I didn’t think so. But apparently the wording wasn’t what they were looking for, so it was incorrect. DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT IS THE CORRECT TERM FOR IT AND YOU’RE JUST UNSCHOOLED ENOUGH TO NOT REALIZE IT.

Sorry. But really. A grammar question? That just pisses me off.

Saturday night we went to the late showing of Despicable Me 2. OMGsofunny. The first movie was one of my “recovery” movies. I watched it every day for a couple months after coming home from the hospital because I was guaranteed to laugh each time, and I desperately needed to laugh then. I also desperately needed to laugh Saturday night, so it was off to see the Minions. I loved the fact that the three little girls still had their distinct personalities – Agnes the sweet princess, Edith the now-kung fu wielding ninja, and Margo the clever, newly teenaged oldest. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Gru and his new partner in non-crime Lucy, as it reminded both Matt and I of ours.

Sunday was a long anticipated paintball day for Matt, and I tidied and organized the apartment. You ever wake up one morning and feel like there’s so much clutter you can’t handle it and you need to organize everything right then or it will close in around you and you’ll end up sucked into the void of plastic toys and collectables? Yeah, that was me. It looks fantastic now – just needs a good old fashioned scrubbing down, but that’s something I can do in stages over this week.

But Saturday… yeah. Saturday. Those five hours are gone, guys. Not even in this dimension anymore. I’d apologize, but it had to be done. For the greater good and all that.