Concerning eyeglasses, mortality, and the miracles worked by a George Foreman Grill

November 9, 2010

George Foreman: boxer, spokesman, quiet champion for immortal truths

I answered the doorbell last Sunday wearing long johns and one of my husband’s giant sweaters. The dapper couple in the doorway looked past my fashion faux-pas and proceeded to expound on ‘why war happens’ and, if that wasn’t helpful enough, ‘where I’m going after I die’ – all with the help of a colourful brochure. The man looked like he’d just stepped off Ed Sullivan’s stage with a 60’s boy band, while his partner, a lovely earnest girl, was dressed in the prerequisite knee-length skirt and ‘sensible’ shoes.

But there was something about her that didn’t quite fit the cliché…

“Awesome glasses,” I said, “those have got to be the coolest frames I’ve ever seen.”

Her face lit up and her demeanor brightened right away. The moment served as further proof that however strong our faith, our souls are still driven to justify themselves within the social/material construct of our physical world. As I writer, I itch for validation and recognition as much as the next biped. My husband, on the other hand, has always been a rebel.

“So how do you deal with the pain of your mortality?” I asked the wise man sitting next to me on the couch.

“We live… we die.” He shrugged and turned back to the TV.

He was right, of course, and – philosophical crisis averted – my body relaxed into the warm beige faux-suede beside him. Though, I do think much of his Zen frame of mind could be attributed to the disturbingly huge slab of juicy grilled beef he’d just devoured. George Foreman may have been beaten by Mohammad Ali in 1974, but yesterday, in Calgary, Canada, the ex-boxer took on mortality itself – and knocked it flat.

(image source)


Soap operas and sweet potatoes in the produce aisle

July 2, 2009

I was in the grocery store the other day, when I happened to overhear an age old human drama play out over the sweet potatoes. One of the two men stocking the vegetables flagged down a passing produce manager to ask her advice on a logistical problem – I’m assuming she was higher up the food chain since she was wearing a classy full-length Safeway smock instead of lowly green apron.

Logistics resolved, the three got to chatting about the ol’ days:

“…Now, Harry,” said the older of the two men, “there was one heck of a produce man.” He spoke wistfully, with respect and an obvious, long kindled awe, the way other men speak of Winston Churchill, or Elvis.

“Oh,” cut in the younger man, turning to the woman, whose androgyny was cut only by a tight blond ponytail, “isn’t that your husband?”

Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear her whole body went tense under that smock. She suddenly had somewhere else to be and took off for the swinging doors behind the prepackaged salads.

“My EX husband,” she called back to the men, before disappearing into the bowels of the building.

I felt for her. How hard it must be to live in the shadow of a legend. Any man who can inspire such awe, such reverence, must pay a terrible cost. In choosing greatness, as Harry, and a hundred before him have done, our heroes must leave so many behind. A pickle any way you slice it.

Grab a biscuit on your way out…

April 9, 2009

I cut under the entrance awning of the retirement home beside my office building on my way to work this morning. There was an ambulance parked in front, right outside the home’s dining lounge windows. I took a peek at the breakfast crowd as I darted by. I know the drill; an ambulance that early in the morning usually means only one thing: there will be one less tea biscuit on the tray.

There was a smattering of elderly residents in the lounge, some chatting, some alone, all nibbling on delights far more tasty than the frozen peas with cheese that were waiting for me next door (don’t ask). One woman was sitting close to the window, all by herself. She was looking past me absently, chewing on the end of a thick butter coloured biscuit. Her wrists were wire thin, and the dyed reddish curls on top of her head were politely spaced with plenty of breathing room in between each translucent twist.

I couldn’t help but wonder if it was one of her table-mates who wouldn’t be making it down for breakfast. The woman didn’t seem all that concerned about the ambulance, or even all that interested in what she was eating. What did the scene mean to her, if anything? With mortality waiting just outside the window – I kept asking myself – why wasn’t she savouring the darned tea biscuit? There is so much I don’t yet know about life, but I can tell you one thing…

My frozen peas with cheese were absolutely delicious.

The tea biscuit circle of life

The tea biscuit circle of life

(image source)

Geologist Trapped In Calgary Tower!

February 4, 2009

“I would suggest going with Perrier or bottled rather than Calgary tap water,” implored our server, and I do mean ‘implored’.

The revolving restaurant atop the Calgary Tower is a swanky joint, don’t get me wrong, but upselling water? How uncouth! My friend and I were stunned. I would expect that sort of behaviour from a Subway Sandwich Artist (been there, done that lol), but from a debonair, expertly coiffed, professional waiter?

He continued to plead his cause, hand clutching tightly cuffed wrist, to us and to every one of his other tables, with phrases like “overly fluorinated” and “just like sucking on a penny”. We heard him give his well practiced speal a full three times within the space of ten minutes. I suppose I should mention that my lovely friend and I were the only holdouts – Calgary tap water all the way!

Of course, I had to ask about the ice cubes ~wink~

“Distilled water,” he said, and yes, he did use a Brita at home. I began to suspect there was more to our server’s story, especially when he went on to explain why we Calgarians find ourselves using so much lotion after the shower. And no, the conversation wasn’t headed in that direction ; )

Could there be, dare I say it, a “passion” behind his upselling? I’ve always been fascinated by what people chose as their “cause”, that connection to a part of the world that’s wholly theirs and theirs alone. What’s yours?

“I’m sorry for giving you a hard time,” I said, “but you seem to be so…um…passionate about this whole thing. I’m just curious where it comes from.”

He smiled and confessed, rather sheepishly, “I’m actually a geologist.”

Easy chicken veggie pasta with lemony dressing

September 10, 2008
What are you having for dinner?

What are you having for dinner?

Smell and memory (click here for the nitty gritty science of this phenomenon) are directly linked in the brain. This is why I have avoided anything lemony for the better part of ten years…

The Rideau Canal, in Ottawa, Canada, is the largest skating rink in the world, and eating a cinnamon/sugar/lemon juice topped BeaverTail pastry from one of the on ice vending shacks is the perfect mid canal snack. But that lemon juice must be squeezed fresh, from freezing cold lemons, with freezing cold bare hands…my hands! Smelling fresh lemons brings me right back to the nightmare of red bloated fingers that are too numb and swollen to bend, and the absolute agony of thawing them out. But enough is enough! I refuse to let those miserable memories mess with my menu any longer (woah “m” overload lol)

To help reprogram my palate, I created this simple (surprisingly delicious!) recipe…

2 full mugs dry bowtie pasta
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 thinly sliced onion
1 (+1/2) handful stir-fry cut chicken (ok, so maybe you don’t want to measure the chicken with your bare hands, but just guesstimate and you’ll be fine lol)
1 handful sliced mushrooms
1 handful snow (or snap) peas
1 handful chunked fresh mozzarella
1 fresh lemon
1 palmful chopped fresh parsley
Canola or olive oil & salt/pepper

1. Cook the chicken (in a large frying pan) and cut up the veggies while the pasta is cooking.
2. Put the cooked chicken aside and lightly saute the veggies in the same pan.
3. Add the (drained) pasta, chicken, cheese, and chopped parsley to the veggie pan.
4. Add a splash of oil and the juice of half (or more if you’re brave) of the lemon.
5. Plate and garnish with a lemon slice and parsley sprig. Salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Want Joy? Find your Eric Burger

June 9, 2008

Even if you’re ‘biting off more than you can chew’, you can’t argue with the pure unadulterated joy of leaping straight into your wildest dreams. Just take a piece of advice from Eric “Badlands”, and keep your eyes open!

So you thought you were immortal?

May 20, 2008

Pop in the plate. Set microwave for 30 seconds – on high. Press start.

You keep your eyes glued to the glass. “It’s only 30 seconds,” you say. “It’ll go by so fast.” And it does. Congratulations, you’ve just spent 30 precious seconds of your life watching infinitesimally small molecules increase their rate of vibration. Way to go. And here you thought TV commercials were wasting your life.

Ah, man. And here I am writing about watching infinitesimally small molecules increase their rate of vibration. But suddenly, I don’t feel so bad. You’re here reading about someone writing about someone watching infinitesimally small….


(I jest, I jest, please keep reading)