So far, so Meh!

It’s been just about a year since I started my shallow life of leisure so I figure, since I have nothing else to write about, I would update you on how things are going. Well so far, so meh! Which doesn’t mean it’s been bad. There have been great walks with the “walking ladies”; wonderful lunches and dinners with some old and new friends; and coffee, lots of coffee. But let me get this off my chest. For a gal whose motto to live by was  the least amount of work for the most amount of money”, you might find what I am about to say a tad surprising. The truth is, I’m not all that crazy (yet) about being retired. Not only that, I have another confession to make. I took a job. It’s not a very big job, but it is a job nonetheless. And I like it. So clearly, if there ever had been a plan for my retirement, and of course there wasn’t, this would not have been it. As you can imagine, at this point I figure I might benefit from some sage retirement advice. And can you think of anyone better than Oprah to call on when you need a little sage advice? Neither can I.

But before I get to the piece of wisdom she shared with me, let me talk a bit about procrastination. Mostly because I’m pretty good at it. I mean think about it. I’m actually writing this yearly update about a month too late since I did officially retire at the end of June 2017 and here we are staring down the end of July 2018. Not only that, I spent an inordinate amount of time “researching” procrastination, which was kind of silly since I already know so much about it. Although it did prove to be rather enlightening and not as much of a waste of time as I thought it would be. You see, I discovered that there are real benefits to procrastination including the possibility that if you put something off long enough you might not have to do it at all. And who hasn’t done that? It also gives you a chance to mull things over for a really long time so you end up with a better outcome. Maybe. Perhaps though, the most important thing I learned was that the best way to make sure you do what you say you are going to do is to “commit publicly to your task”. Nothing like a little peer pressure to motivate. So that’s exactly what I am going to do now. Commit. But before I do, let’s get back to Oprah.

I’ve always liked Oprah even though I was never in the audience when she gave away cars, or houses or anything else for that matter, mostly because I was never actually in her audience. But even though she no longer enters our living rooms each and every day, if you look closely and pay enough attention you will find her, like I did, on the magazine rack of your local grocery store. There she is, every month, gracing the cover, looking gorgeous I might add, and continuing to share with us her recipe for living our best life. So it’s not surprising that, given my current situation, this month’s O Magazine’s headline “What are you longing to do?” caught my eye. Of course Oprah is not one to leave us hanging so if I was prepared to buy the issue, which I was not, apparently I would get some help answering that question by finding out  “how to make my life synch up with my soul”.  That’s about as far as I got given that I always thought those two culprits were one in the same and was unlikely to get caught up in that spiritual bubble. Nonetheless, since I still have an imagination it got me thinking. Thinking that since, at my age, it’s quite legitimate for me not to work any longer, I really should figure out what else might keep me occupied for the remainder of my days. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

I want to make a table and I want to take some pictures. So come the Fall I will be enrolling in a woodworking course and a photography course. At different times of course. Not sure how this will go. Last time I was in the vicinity of a power saw I just about lost a thumb so hopefully I’ll do a little better this time. And while I most likely won’t stand out in the rain taking pics (my hair just hates when I do that) I’m hoping to be able to fill up a few inches of my blank wall space with a vista or two. And who knows, my new adventures might even give me something else to write about.

So that’s it. Simple, really. All I have to do is find a couple of courses, get myself registered, and attend the classes. And I’m sure I’ll get around to doing that sometime soon. But I figure there’s no real rush. Because now that I’ve told all of you what my plans are, I’m already well on my way.

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My Proposal

You know as well as I do that I’m a sucker for a good reality TV show. Well any reality TV show really because, as you can imagine, they are not all that good. If I had to rank them I’d probably put HGTV on top as, even though we know that no one buys one of the first three houses they look at and it actually takes more than a week to rebuild an entire house, at least we get some good decorating ideas and a chance at a little guessing game as we decide where the family we have no real connection to and even less of a vested interest in, will decide where it is they would like to raise their children and spend the rest of their lives. And that can be fun.

Next I gotta go with the food channel as I do so love watching those who are at the pinnacle of their craft. I mean what could be more exciting than witnessing a master baker create the most spectacular peanut butter and raspberry jelly charlotte royale adding the last petal of the rather spectacular chocolate flower with only seconds left on the clock. And who doesn’t drool over a creamy crème brûlée with lime and mint soufflé glacé plated with an assortment of white and dark chocolate swirls that are simply to die for. Now I’m no baker (or cook for that matter) but these shows make me want to waltz right into that kitchen of mine and give it the good ol’ college try.

Of course there’s that vicarious travel one does while watching 13 or so sets of mother/daughter, boyfriend/girlfriend, married couple, unmarried couple, recently divorced couple, never intend to get married couple, etc. race through the streets of all the countries you ever dreamed of visiting. With a million bucks on the line it’s not too surprising that there are a few arguments, a little backstabbing and some opportunistic alliances made along the way. For the most part though, things are pretty copacetic on this journey around the world. And while you may not be on this amazing race, you do have a chance to bond with the couple of your choice and cheer them on as they make their way to the elusive finish line. If you ask me, it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than watching a bunch of strangers get nasty living in a house with someone (not really sure who) peering into their lives 24/7, or almost starving to death on an island somewhere in the south pacific. But maybe that’s just me. I would be remiss at this point I suppose if I didn’t include all of the assorted talent shows. Some good. Some not so much. All watchable in a pinch.

From here I’m afraid, things take a pretty big tumble downhill. Because somehow someone somewhere thought it would be a good idea to create a show where one gal or one guy spends a couple weeks meeting and subsequently deleting a whole whack of potential mates until they are left with the “one”. Before that happens there will be tears and fears, way too many kisses, a few family meet and greets and a whole lot of who knows what. Inevitably the two pledge their love forever although in most cases, forever is not a long, long time. So one would think that those at the helm might decide that trying to find love on national TV might be a mistake. But not so. Now there’s yet another way to meet your soulmate and it only takes one short hour of your time. And who, these days, can’t spare an hour?

Because, in case you missed it, the newest foray into the world of TV love is “The Proposal”. That’s right. This is a sad but true story. Some TV genius decided that a match made in heaven can happen in one measly hour by having 10 potential mates answer a couple of questions, parade around the stage in beachwear (even Miss America canned that one), shake hands with the BFF (and dog if there is one) and say “how do you do” to the proud Mom and Dad of the soon to be betrothed. This is love before first sight. Now I may be shallow but I gotta tell you, this takes the cake. I mean who does this? Really. And then it hit me. Like a nail, on my head. As we all know, marriages are theoretically for a lifetime but politicians, well you can legitimately get rid of those guys every four years. So the stakes are considerably lower. Why not apply this one hour “who’s your guy/gal” format to choosing politicians? And for the sake of illustration, let say it’s a president. So here’s my proposal.

First things first. Find 10 people who have always wanted to be the prez. Appoint a panel of three judges in order to avoid a tie. It’s their job to whittle the 10 down to one so why not start by picking out those that are most visually appealing. Now move on to the skill testing question. Nothing too hard because there’s only a minute to respond.  Something like “what would you do in the event of a nuclear war?” could work. With three prospects left have them parade around the stage dressed as presidential as possible. Eliminate the one with the bad hair and we are down to the final two. A quick conflab to come to a consensus and we’ve got a winner!  Our guy/gal for the next four years! All this in just one hour.

I know. Sounds silly, doesn’t it. But I’ll bet my bottom dollar that the result won’t be any worse than what we’ve got now.

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Two sides to every coin

It’s no surprise that, as a shallow person, I don’t spend much time thinking about what other people are thinking. It’s not that I don’t care about other people. It’s just that I don’t usually attempt to understand them. Nor do I think they should attempt to understand me. Because, it seems to me, that each of us comes to see this world of ours from our own perspectives and it takes a whole lot of energy to try to put oneself in somebody else’s shoes. So it might shock you when I say that lately, for reasons unbeknownst to even me, I have been devoting a bit of my time to mucking about in what I think could possibly be going on in some other people’s heads. And without trying to sound overly magniloquent, this little exercise of mine has provided me with what I imagine to be explanations for why there are people who do things one way while others do it another. Albeit in some very limited cases which I will share with you now.

For those who don’t know, I have always been a “car person” which essentially means that I really like cars. Not for what they do, like enable me to go places with relative ease, but just for what they are. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of “car people”. I don’t know. One brother or another was always bringing home some cute little tattered sporty number that with a little elbow grease turned into a shiny, hot machine from which they could roam the streets of our town. And my Father would buy nothing but convertibles. I mean who wouldn’t want a convertible in a country where almost 6 months of each year are covered in snow? The thing is, he knew what cars were for. Cruising down the highway on a gorgeous summer day, Beach Boys blaring on the radio, hair and cares blowing in the wind. I suppose it’s in my blood. Cars become part of our family. We give them names, take really good care of them and keep them for an extraordinarily long time. Cars have never been about practicality or “just” transportation which might help to explain why our Mini Cooper (Red Emma) is currently the “big” car in our family.

But there are two sides to this coin. For some people cars are just cars. I know this because I see them everyday, everywhere. Practical cars with four doors for ease of getting in and out; that comfortably seat four people, five in a crunch; have trunks large enough to hold all the stuff needed for a  2 or 3 week road trip; and are equipped with a few but not too many options, mostly ones focused on increased safety. I get that not everyone develops an intimate connection with the rather expensive, gas guzzling, inanimate object that sits in their driveway. I can see why any sane person would shy away from taking a trip down the I-5 in something that could easily fit under the transport truck barreling down behind at 80 clicks an hour. And it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be sitting in the backseat hoping that your legs will regain at least some feeling once you get to your final destination. See, I get it. And I understand. We have different perspectives on what cars are about and that’s ok. For both you and for me.

I’ve been thinking about other things too. Like height. I’ve never really considered myself to be a short person but at 5’1 and a half (5’2” at my peak) I’m afraid that some other people do. The thing is, lately I’ve been noticing there are a lot of tall people around and I began wondering what life would be like from that perspective. Never having to struggle to reach the top shelf at the grocery store. Not having to wait for some benevolent soul to offer to put your carry-on into the baggage compartment. Being able to wear horizontal stripes. And then I thought, tall people must think that being short has its advantages too. Think about it. If your pants are too long you can always hem them. Too short? You’re hooped. Short people are rarely accused of looking down on others;  are very unlikely to hit their head on the doorframe and, of course, find it way easier to fit into the back seat of that Mini of mine. So you see. It’s all about how you look at things, isn’t it.

With this new found inquisitiveness I thought, what the heck, maybe I should try to better understand what’s going on in the world. Try to look at things from both sides now. So I thought about “45” and friends whose penchant for showing “strength” manifests itself in disallowing those who face the most abhorrent life conditions to further suffer the indignity of arrest, detention and most tragically, separation from their children. What could possibly be the reasoning behind taking children from the arms of their parents; locking them up in cages and admiting they may never find a way to reunite these families. Surely, I thought, there must be some justification for these atrocities. If I look hard enough I’ll discover the other side of this story. Ivanka, you haven’t said much but maybe you can help me out. Or Melania. After all, you said it yourself. Your purpose is to defend children against bullies. I suppose though, this isn’t cyberspace. But surely there has to be a better explanation other than these are the acts of a fearful, bigoted, megalomaniac that favours brutal dictatorial regimes over, well over just about anything else and who, surrounded by a bunch of like-minded people, fails to recognize the brutality of his actions. Ok, I’ve looked. There isn’t.

Damn! Must have forgot this was a shallow blog once again.

Update: He’s stopping it now. Too late. We’ve seen the pics. It happened.

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Wedding…squared

Those of you who know me, and even those of you who don’t, must know by now that I am a pretty big fan of sitcoms. Not all, but many of them. So it shouldn’t surprise you to find out that this was a big week for me. After all, it’s not everyday that I get invited to a wedding the likes of which I never expected to see. In case you missed it, and there may have been a reason or two that you did, this was the week that Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah-Fowler got married. Finally. Because, truly, it has been a long time coming. Just ask Amy. She would have married Sheldon about halfway through Season 8 but someone, somewhere made her wait right to the very end of Season 11. Nonetheless, it was worth waiting for. The wedding was a small but elegant affair attended by all of the bride and groom’s friends and family. The bride wore a lovely, albeit somewhat flouncy, white dress adorned at the waist with a pale pink sash. If I have to say so myself, and I’m not sure who else would in this blog, the dress fit Amy to a tee. She simply looked beautiful. Not only did everything come off without a hitch, (this is probably not the best time to mention that the bride and groom lost themselves in a particularly challenging physics problem shortly before the ceremony making them almost late for the nuptials) but much to the soon to be newlywed’s and everyone else’s surprise, none other than Mr. Mark Hamill arrived to officiate. What could possibly be better than that? Well there might have been one thing.

As you also know, I can’t pass up a good reality TV show and there is nothing more real than “The Royals”. Like it or not, we’ve (yes, the royal one) have been sharing in their lives for many, many decades. Happy, sad and very sad times. Births, marriages, divorces and deaths, we chronicle every moment. For the royals, big brother is always watching.  And this past week was no exception as perhaps the world’s most eligible bachelor, HRH Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle tied the knot. We knew from the get go that this wedding was going to be one heck of a shindig, what with the bringing together of Hollywood and British royalty. As can only be expected, it was an elegant, although much larger affair than “Shamy’s” (yes, that’s apparently what we call them now). The bride chose a stunning but plain silk gown and the Queen said “yes” to the dress, although I do think that had Randy, coincidentally the “King of Bridal”, been in the house, there might have been just a titch more bling added to the frock. But who I am to say? This wedding also saw the appearance of a surprise guest officiate, or perhaps in this case, better phrased as an officiate who, it would seem, surprised the guests.

Right about now I’m sure you’re asking yourself why on earth the shallow gal is comparing these two weddings. How can one possibly have anything to do with the other? Surely a newly minted Duchess and a socially awkward neurobiologist have absolutely nothing in common. Well I say, not so. I’ve taken the few spare moments I have in my day and dedicated them to researching these seemingly disparate women and what I’ve found just might surprise you as much as it did me. First things first. They are, of course, both Americans. One hails from Los Angeles, the other from Glendale, just a stone’s throw away from downtown LA. Meghan is 36 years old. Amy, it appears, was born on December 17 sometime between 1979 and 1985 so let’s just call it 36. Both were successful actresses prior to their marriage. Meghan of course, in the hit show “Suits” and Amy as a regular on Sheldon Cooper’s ongoing “Fun with Flags” series. And last but hardly least, both have married their prince charmings. Not so different as you thought, eh?

Wait a minute, you say. Surely the shallow gal knows the difference between what’s real and what’s not! Doesn’t she realize that Amy and Sheldon are just characters in a long-running sitcom? Perhaps a little too long? Well of course I do! I can distinguish between reality and fictional TV.  I know that Amy and Sheldon are not really married, at least not to each other. That the longevity of their marriage is at the mercy of the writers who orchestrate everything behind the scenes. That as the show goes so too does the marriage. Not so for Meghan and Harry though. Theirs is a true love destined to continue for as long as they both shall live. For them the show will go on. Unless, of course, one of them just happens to get voted off the island.

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Things I want to like…but don’t

People say that you should write about what you know and obvs I’ve been doing that for the past five years. But just so you don’t think I’m some kind of one trick pony, today I’ve decided to write about something else I know. Gardening. Only because that’s what I have been doing lately. And what I know about gardening is, I don’t like it. Not even one little bit. Which might not be a problem where you come from. I get that. For 38 years I lived where the weather alone legitimized my dislike for the garden. I mean why spend countless hours and exorbitant amounts of money on plants that, in a good year, might actually blossom before the first snow? Who needs a tomato plant that yields, if you’re lucky, a whopping three tiny little fruits which, if you bother to take the time to calculate, end up costing in the vicinity of $40.00 a pound (that’s .453 kg for those of you who don’t know). At my old abode there were no expectations; you either gardened or you didn’t. But my new reality is different. My new found home, I’m afraid, is not garden optional. Which is why you might find me outside doing something I would like to like…but don’t.

The thing is, around here you won’t hear a passerby exclaim “Oh, what pretty flowers you have!”. No. Around here what you’re most likely to hear from the lovely couple with the matching Tilley hats (I can say that, I have one) is, “Oh, what lovely antirrhinum majus. If I were you dear, I would surround them with some hemerocallis just to bring out the colour” to which the only reasonable response is “thank you. Perhaps next year.” Because as you might have guessed, I don’t know one flower from the next, even when they go by their “real” names. This becomes painfully clear if you were ever to accompany me on my once a year trip to the local nursery where you are apt to hear me exclaim, “Oh look! Pretty blue ones. Let’s get those”. To which my husband, being the more practical one in this partnership, will invariably start asking some silly questions about sun or shade, height and width, wet or dry. That’s easy! “Who cares! They’re flowers. They’ll grow”. Although to tell you the truth, sometimes they don’t. So you see what I mean. 

It’s not that I don’t want to like gardening. Sometimes I dream about  living out in the country on an acreage where I can stroll through fields of wildflowers nestled beside rows of carefully cultivated, meticulously trimmed roses and tulips and chrysanthemums and other things that look pretty. I can imagine myself becoming self-sufficient as I literally reap the fruits of my labour, bringing in baskets of pears and apples that can be made into wonderful home-baked pies and served to top off a dinner filled with only the freshest of vegetables picked moments before being set down on the table. Perhaps a goat or two whose milk will be crafted into an exoctic variety of feta cheese and added to the fresh from the garden salad, a staple at each and every evening meal. At which point this dream of mine takes a quick left as I get rudely awakened by the two rather miserable, and I must say very itchy, bites that have put me in this ™Benadryl stupor for the past two days, reminding me of just one of the many reasons that I don’t like gardening. Even though I really would like to.

When I think more about this I realize that it’s not just gardening that I want to like but don’t. There are other things too. Like flying. I mean who doesn’t want to like soaring through the air to some fascinating destination in this wonderful and wide world of ours? I sure do. But I don’t. Put me in the belly of that flying machine and watch me turn into one big bundle of nerves as I consider everything, and I mean everything, no matter how improbable, that could go wrong during the time I am trapped in that cylindrical metal tube which, for some reason beyond my comprehension, can stay suspended 40,000 feet above the earth for extended periods of time. I want to like it but I just don’t. 

I’d also love to like living in an historical heritage house with a big comfy porch. One where you open the heavy, wooden door to reveal a stately, hand-carved staircase; where the walls hold the secrets of another time. Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book on the cozy window seat, close enough to the wood burning fireplace that you can hear the gentle crackle of the flames? Yeah, I want to like it, but I don’t. Mostly because I lived in an old house and know all about broken furnaces, leaky pipes and the everyday occurrences that invariably cost you almost the exact amount of money you were saving to take that flight to some fascinating destination in this world of ours.

While I’m still here there’s something else I suppose I have to admit. I’d like to like writing this blog all of the time, but sometimes I don’t. Which I suppose is ok. Because one thing I can tell you for sure. I always like writing the blog better than I like gardening.

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