Line-ups

Have you ever noticed that the more you hurry, the slower you are? It’s true, especially in line-ups.

The line-up at my bank had only three people in front of me.  And, checking out the tellers, I could see that two of them were just winding up their business, so  it should be a fast moving line.  No, it was unbelievable how everything slowed down when I got to the head of the line. I’m sure I could have bought and sold some stocks if I had some, moved my meagre funds around the world and had a long leisurely lunch with the bank president.  See, just when you think you’re ahead of the game, you’re suddenly behind.

The other day I was at the supermarket and with my five items, I headed for the Express Lane–you know, the lane that allows  9-items or less and cash only. There I was, thinking It was my lucky day because only one person was in front of me. Yep, you guessed right–that person had 15-items she had already unloaded and her debit card at the ready. The cashier gently pointed out this was a cash-only express lane for 9-items or less, but because there was now 6-persons behind me, the time and trouble unloading her stuff into her buggy and shuffling her off to another line was more trouble than it was worth. So, rather than being 10 minutes ahead of myself I was now 10 minutes behind.

Then there was my experience at the department store. I barely stepped inside the door and there was my one and only perfect wool sweater–-the right style, the right size and the right colour.  Of course I wasn’t going to leave it! So I grabbed this perfect sweater and ran to Customer Service. There were two cashiers working cheerfully and merrily away so the lineup, though long, was really moving quickly. Until it stopped at the lady in front of me.  Suddenly the cashiers weren’t looking so cheerful or merry and neither was working so efficiently anymore,

Three dreaded words when you’re in a lineup—Exchanges and Returns.

See, more proof that just when you think you landed in a fast lineup with a quick get-away, you inevitably can put down roots waiting for your turn to come up. And, from my experience, don’t look for the shortest lines–they’re usually the longest. I think that’s why supermarkets have all the snacks, chocolate bars and magazines close by. Smart marketing and “survival” rations for people held up by lineups.

Silly Thoughts

It’s uncanny how your mind can wander when you’re feeling blah and unable to get out.  Your thoughts tend to roam hither and thither, stopping at memories best forgotten or silly things that can make your head spin–you know, phenomenal events that  occur daily in  anyone’s home.

Coat hangers are an example. Before we moved into our house, we made sure all the wire coat hangers were left behind or recycled. There were no wire coat-hangers in our new home–that’s nada, zilch, zippo–no wire coat hangers, none. It was like some evil-genie who made sure these wire hangers kept popping up in various closets. It was like an epidemic of mass proportions. One wire hanger morphed into four hangers and the next time we opened a closet door, there were eight!

Paper clips must be the mini-cousin to coat hangers. I swear there were only a few paper-clips in my desk drawer. Suddenly paper clips popped out of file folders, notepads, reference texts, my pen-pot and I even found two more cohabiting in my coat pocket.

Buttons are another example. I find it very useful when the manufacturer tacks a “spare” button on the underside of cardigans and blouses. These “spares” are usually tucked away in my sewing box in the event a button is lost,  there is an identical button ready. Somehow, this never works at my house. The spare buttons have been zapped somewhere into the stratosphere as there seems to be lots of alien ones I’ve never seen before.

And one final thought. I am extremely careful in using my supply of straight pins to shorten a hemline or pair of pants. But no matter how careful I am, straight pins will be sucked up by my vacuum for the next six months. The proportion of straight pins sucked up is always proportionately greater than the straight pins actually used.  Straight pins are definitely another cousin to paper clips and wire hangers. They were invented to drive sane humans into a tizzy.

As I said at the beginning, it’s uncanny how your mind can wander and wonder over inconsequential things when you’re house-bound.

The F-Word

There it is again–the f-word.  No, not that one, silly. You know the word. No matter where you look or scan or skim, there it is in your face—the f-word. I’m talking fat. Choices in supermarkets, coffee shops, even ice-cream parlors all offer fat-free selections. Decades ago, fat was never as big an issue as now. Have you glanced at the covers of those ladies’ magazines that’s clustered  by the cashiers when you’re waiting to go through with your groceries? Bet you a chocolate truffle that there were at least two articles mentioning the f-word. One would be eliminating belly-fat by exercise and/or diet and the other would probably target fat around the thighs or butt or arms or chin or. . . .

If I had to describe myself, I think I would say I’m short, slightly roly-poly and love dark chocolates. Not that dark chocolates have anything to do with my physical attributes. Now that you’re stuck with this mental image of a short, slightly roly-poly person devouring chocolates by the handful, I have to tell you that I may feel roly-poly but I’m really not.  I only feel plumper when I see something decadent and delicious. If I virtuously stare it down, I actually feel less rounded. Does that make sense? It’s a constant battle, ever vigilant one—to keep away from the f-word.

Haven’t you noticed that anything fat-free, sugar-free and salt-free tastes like—well, bland and nothingless? I firmly believe you need some fat, sugar and salt in your day-to-day diet. I don’t mean stuffing yourself with all the above, but in moderation from time-to-time gets my nod of approval. Eating lean is a good habit to get into but please leave me my crispy bacon as tissue-thin bacon is not bacon and the one slice in my McDonald’s bacon-n-egger breakfast sandwich was too hilarious to talk about. Fat-free latte?  Egg white scramble?  Enjoy yourselves but I’m still ordering my 2-egg scramble made with whole eggs, turkey sausages and real coffee. Oh heck, may as well throw in a few strips of crispy bacon and some of those fantastic pan-fries too.

Model material? Not me. I’m comfortable being what I am–the main thing is healthy.  It’s nice to read about all the things you should or shouldn’t do, should or shouldn’t eat—but the bottom line is, how do you feel?  Are you feeling comfortable with yourself?  Are you happy and healthy?  Then feel good about indulging occasionally.  We all need fuel but sometimes using a higher octane can make things happen in a good way.  Toss that f-word out the window.  Life is too short to not enjoy an occasional meal having tasty fat—oops, I said that darn f-word. . .again.

Feeding the Brain

Writing can be an isolated life, especially when you’re deep in the writing zone–-or what I call the Zen level.  This is the level where all the background noises and disruptive interruptions fade away and there’s only your characters interacting and creating their own mass destruction while your fingers type frantically to catch up. Good place to be. And of course, it needs nourishment—like Michael’s decadent Mount Hood cookies, Mary’s home-baked chocolate vanilla cake and my Moka-House’s “Dark Chocolate Mystery Brownies,” loaded with a smattering of pecan pieces, chopped sour cherries, the elusive hint of orange peels, mixed into a very dark chocolate batter and later, while still warm from the oven, spread with a thin layer of 72% dark Belgian chocolate.  Totally mind-blowing and perfect nourishment for any writer.

I read somewhere that brain-work depletes a lot of energy. In layman’s terms, it means brain-work sucks up a heck of a lot of calories so a person needs to replenish at regular intervals.  It’s written in very fine print on page ninety-two of the “Ethical Writers’ Manual for Good Work Habits.”  Being a writer gives you few privileges and the need to regularly nibble and nosh is a good one!

Of course your snacks or form of nourishment has to be healthy.  I mean, what’s the point of keeping your strength up if you nibble stuff that may poison your body? My list includes lots of dark chocolate because dark chocolate not only lowers the blood pressure but leaves you with an euphoric feeling—nothing will make you frustrated, depressed or blue even if you’ve just “killed off” your so-called hero/heroine.  Be sure to have fruits and nuts in the cookie/cake or handy on its own.  This gives you fibre and protein to keep moving–I mean, writing.  Most of all, make sure you feed every 2 hours–any less and there won’t be any work done. And, if you make it longer than 2 hours, you may not have the strength to carry on coherently.  It’s what I call fine-tuning, very sensitive–timing is everything. Everyone has their own favourite nourishment to keep them writing, you just have to find your own.

Oops, I think it’s my nibble and nosh time—a few pieces of Purdy’s “Dark Chocolate Dipped Apricots”–healthy fruit that just happens to be wrapped in dark chocolate.  Life is good. . . .

When You Need a Haircut

Until I got a married, I never realized how difficult it is for a guy to find the right barber to cut his hair. All I knew  was when I found a good hairdresser, I was willing to travel across the City to get to her and I wouldn’t divulge her name to anyone. After all, when I needed an appointment, I didn’t want to be on a 6-weeks waiting list.

Each time we moved, it was a challenge to find someone in the neighbourhood who could cut men’s hair well. Hubby’s haircut isn’t anything elaborate or fancy—just a simple short trim on the sides and back, the top left a bit longer resulting in a nicely shaped head.

When we lived and worked close to the downtown area, there was a barber along our route. Jack was fresh out of barber school and eager to please. Short on the sides and back? You got it.  A bit longer on top? Got it.  Jack was a great listener and he tried. It took him 45 minutes with very deliberate and precise snips, but he eventually achieved the end result. Enroute home, Hubby and I discussed the fact that maybe next time, I could disappear for a cup of coffee or something rather than sit and wait. And since Jack already did the head once, maybe—like memory foam—he would remember the style without any distracting chit-chat. So, the next barber visit, I went for a cup of coffee, ate a slice of chocolate almond roll, browsed through several interesting boutiques, checked out the discount bookstore and eventually wend my way back to the barber.  Jack was still delicately snipping.

Next time, we decided to try another place on our way home. Rosie was a stylist, an unisex stylist.  Since the haircut was considered a basic cut, we figured it wouldn’t take any time at all.  It didn’t, but the difference between a “barber” and a “stylist” is about $45. We didn’t go back to Rosie.

A few years ago, we moved to a little house in a neighbourhood surrounded by local businesses including three supermarkets, a huge Home Depot, several eateries, a library, post office. stationery store, medical services, pharmacies and a barber. Highly recommended by several of our male neighbours, Hubby decided to give the shop a try.

Okie is a cheerful person with limited English and a hair-cutting system uniquely her own.

“Okay, how you want it?  One finger, two-fingers or three-fingers?

“Sorry Okie. What do you mean?

“I wrap hair around one-finger or two fingers or three fingers before I cut.”

“I just want it short on the sides and on the back; a bit longer on top.”

“Okay, I do.”  And she did–sort of.  Hubby was informed that he had a one-finger cut and that was the one to ask for next time he returned for his haircut.  When the next time came, Hubby cheerfully said, “One-finger, Okie.”  It was short.  It was one of the shortest haircuts I have ever seen on my husband’s head. In fact, even though the two people ahead of us asked for “2-fingers”, it all came out the same—very short. And forget the tad longer on top, it was very, very short.

On the walk home, Hubby decided it was a language problem. On his next haircut, he would guide Okie on the length he wanted. When he emerged from that haircut, it was perfect—short on the sides and back, slightly longer on the top and nicely shaped.

“That’s perfect, Okie!

“Okay—next time you ask for 3-1/2.”

“3-1/2?”

“Yes, that style I do for your head. I have new system.”

The next haircut is looming in two weeks. We’re not sure what the differences are before or after 3-1/2.  However, Okie’s customers are happy and chatty while waiting; the price is fair and she takes only 7-minutes of your time.  Thank goodness, Hubby has a beautifully shaped head for no matter how short his haircut turns out, the whole experience has been an adventure, a very entertaining and hairy one!

The Look

I think every family with more than one off-spring has it—you know, The Look. It’s hard to describe as every family has their own version. I know my family has it. The look ranges in various degrees. The mildest is like a warning and the strongest is a “time out.”

I remember growing up as the middle child—that’s having a Big Brother and a Little Sister. Being in the middle sucks big-time. You’re either ranked as “too young” for the privileges of later bedtimes and curfews like Big Brother or “old enough to know better” for not stopping Little Sister from doing something she shouldn’t have.  And, in the midst of this confusing age-thing, earning the parental look.

Reflecting back, I think we all got the look at various times during our childhood. During our playful ruckus and noisy sibling squabbles, one or the other parent would stand in the room, quietly say our names and give that look. It always worked–like a switch had suddenly turned down the noise. Note, I said “turned down” and not “turned off.”

The look worked especially well in a room full of company. At family dinners, if the pushing/shoving/giggling became too much at the table, one of the parents would look over and give the family you-know-what.  I noticed that my aunts and uncles also did this with my cousins. We would all stop except for the feet kicking under the table.

I was thinking about the family look when my cousin glanced over at his two children, noisily wrestling each other over the mini-racing cars in the toybox. He gave his sons the look without uttering a word. The noise level dropped. My sister is a natural teacher and the look was an easy one for her. It must be passed along in the DNA because the kids learn the meaning of a parental look before they can talk.

I never knew I had this ability to give the look until my little granddaughter looked up from happily bashing her wooden blocks on the kitchen floor. For three nano-seconds she stopped her happy squeals, then threw me a big smile and a “luff you PoPo” before resuming her noisy activity. I think I need to practice this look some more, but not right now. . . .