A taste of fall

grapes and apples

I have been thoroughly enjoying local produce since late spring, and while the colours at the markets this time of year are the best, it’s also a bit sad since the pumpkins and mums and such mean that the season is winding down into colder temperatures, darker days, and more root veggies (but hey, that means soup!)

This weekend I had my first grapes of the fall, a basket of Coronations from Herrles’ Market. This year has been amazing for produce, and the grapes were no exception. Firm, sweet, slightly tart. (And missing that shock of sourness you get at the centre of Concords, since Coronations are mostly seedless.) I inhaled the bowlful in short order.

And then with the taste lingering on my tongue I did a bit of time traveling. A nostalgic visit to 30-plus years ago to weekend mornings when my Dad would make me toast with peanut butter and grape jelly, which my parents had canned. I can still picture him cutting the paraffin sealing the jar in half to remove it upon opening a new jar.

Mom and Dad have been canning a LOT this year. I believe Mom said 190 jars so far, and they haven’t even done apple or grape juice yet. And their juice is delicious, but I can’t help but feel a tad sad that they won’t be making any grape jelly. Though I suppose I could… 🙂

Maybe there will be pineapples…

I’ve been online nearly 20 years, and internet culture being what it is, I’ve seen a lot of cats. And yet, only one has stuck with me for years. Not pictures or video, but a blog with fairly creative “spelling”, belonging to a cat named Abbie.

I no longer remember how or by whom I was introduced to the blog, and Abbie never posted all that often, but it always made my day when he did (with a bit of help from his owner, Rob). Abbie was a cat with poor spelling and grammar before those lolcat types made it mainstream. And Abbie was far more philosophical, insightful, and dry of wit. (While still maintaining a healthy appreciation of naps and seafood.)

Abbie has also provided two important phrases. Abbie’s sister Martha was a pirate, and she died several years ago. (Warning: tear-jerker.) From that post came the phrase “good pirate”, which is a very high compliment to pay someone, and all that need be said if someone is worthy of being a friend.

The other is “Maybe there will be pineapples”, from this post. Not sure why that struck me so much, but it seems to nicely sum up the potential in the unknown, and how adventures can be found in so many places. That one may end up as a tattoo one day.

Abbie survived much of cat life, including getting sick, losing his companion, and even being lost for a couple of weeks. His posts were funny and poignant, and of great credit to Rob.

Abbie died this week at 16 of pancreatic cancer. A decent run for a cat, but as any pet owner can tell you, far too soon. I cried unabashedly reading this, which was okay — I knew a number of my friends were doing the same. Funny how the internets can do that to do, leave you so invested in a pet you’ve never met, and a guy who shares many wonders of life through a semi-literate feline de plume.

With any luck Abbie and Martha are sailing the seven seas, with all the tuna they can eat and clean laundry they can recline on. And maybe there will be pineapples.

what do you think of That

A bird may love a fish…

Humanity is going to become extinct. Not, as you may suspect, due to environmental catastrophe, nuclear holocaust, or zombie apocalypse. No, our extinction will be the result of a species-wide inability to woo. And shallowness, apparently. Yep, we’re all doomed and it’s those whippersnappers’ fault.

Recently I read the article A Million First Dates, which filled me in on the fact that young people are growing into adulthood relationship-impaired. Basically, thanks to technology, young people don’t have to do much work to find partners (sexual or relationship), and so they don’t know how to communicate well, learn compromise, and generally commit to doing the work that long-term relationships require. Why push through the rough or boring times when there are Plenty of Fish in the online (pun intended) sea?

Additionally, according to The End of Courtship, apparently that same technology, combined with soulless hook-up culture, has left young people clueless about how to go about wooing and dating at all. Which hasn’t left anyone very happy (and has even spurred some backlash!) Apparently eventually you have to pursue something more than casual, meaningless (and often recreational substance-enhanced) sex.
Continue reading “A bird may love a fish…”

How To Be Alone

I learned of this poem-in-video at the Blissdom Canada conference the other week, and, in fact, Tanya Davis, the artist, performed for us before the morning keynote. (She’s excellent, and has a new album out.)

I’ve done a lot of work on being publicly alone, and it rarely bothers me anymore. Being privately alone is something that’s gonna take some more work, though. But I do agree that you’re a sub-optimal partner for someone else if you’re not comfortable being a partner just to yourself.


I rarely get around to cataloging or chronicling the books I read — one of those things I always mean to do, but I wanted to make note of a couple of recent ones.

Juliet, Naked is Nick Hornby’s latest, and while I’ve appreciated his wit and nuanced understanding of human relationships a number of times before, I’d have to say this has been my favourite. Most likely because it was just the right book at the right time.

I mean, really, a couple who complement each other well but have never been a great romance getting jolted from their comfortable existence by assorted circumstances, etc. Sound familiar? 🙂 And it closes with hope, though not a saccharine, all-loose-ends-tied-up ending, which I do appreciate.

The other is Three Cups of Tea, which is fascinating and inspiring and probably the first and only book to make me think, “Hmm…” about climbing some of the world’s most perilous mountains. And that’s not even the point or most inspiring part of the story! 🙂

It’s the story of Greg Mortenson (co-written with David Oliver Relin) and his accidental life path change to begin building schools in the poorest and most remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I’m not even done this one yet, and am loving it. It’s incredibly evocative of the regions, the people, the poverty, the mountains.

One of the biggest benefits of his and his team’s work is that education and that sort of self-sufficiency and sovereignty for those people is one of the best ways to fight extremism. In the very areas that produced the Taliban. And not only are they turning the boys away from that life, they’re educating girls, too, which I support with every fibre of my being, unsurprisingly. Definitely something I’m happy to contribute to.

Momentum, part 1

This got really frickin’ long, so I’ve broken it into two posts, split along reasonable fault lines, I think.

I admit it never even crossed my mind that that decade (the aughties? naughties?) was ending until people started mentioning it on Twitter a couple of days ago. And to be honest, the #10yearsago meme that was going around just kinda made me sad.

At the end of December 2009 I was newly arrived back in Canada from Australia. Steeped in re-entrance culture shock, didn’t have a job, was figuring out where I was going to live, and my relationship was effectively over. Or, at least, thousands of miles away and planning to try and get accepted to the seminary… Don’t ask…

I was as lost as I’ve ever been, but hey, like everything else, it passed. At the beginning of July of 2000 I started working at Descartes as a temp, and ended up spending the next four years there. During that time I met Sherry and Andrew, still my two best friends. And in my own back asswards way, I made my way to my real career, and am happy with my job, skills, and prospects for the first time in… I don’t even know when.

The last little while, though, I haven’t been thinking back to the beginning of the decade, but rather to about four and a half years ago — July 2005, when I started this blog. Andrew and I had just broken up and things were very bleak, indeed. Interestingly, I took a peek at my first post, which was mostly just a link to another blog post. It affected me profoundly — as I recall I printed that post out and had it on my wall for a while. But it no longer exists. The blog is still there, but not that archive. Perhaps there’s a message there. 🙂

I think back to that time because I’m kind of in the same place now. A few weeks ago Andrew and I pulled the plug again. We never really officially got back together, we just fell back into the same pattern over several years. And as friends and partners, we’re great, and it’s good to have that. As a couple, though, we were never going to be a great romance. Starting over always sucks, but we both deserve a bashert. You’d better fucking be out there somewhere, mister. 🙂

What buoys me, though, is that I’m not back in the same place I was then. At that time I was a ruin. In shock and in mourning and largely unable to function. This time, I had a couple of hard days right after, adjusting to the pain of change, but since then, I’ve been surprisingly okay.

Perhaps it’s just the hustle and bustle of the holidays keeping my mind off things, but I don’t think so. I think, probably, I was just waiting for it for a long time. Though we did do the already-planned family get togethers and such together. I thought it would make for good closure, and it did. I’ve had a few down-ish moments, but honestly, I usually have as bad or worse over any Christmas season. It’ll be different, I’m sure, when either/both of us start dating, but no point expending mental or emotional energy on that now.

Hell, it’s different now when I consider myself from a “profile” perspective (my minimal dating experience has largely been done, or at least started, online). I’m not delusional with any ideas that I’m any trophy by general standards. I’m fat, which automatically disqualifies me from a large contingent of the male radar. (Sometimes it can make you entirely invisible, which is an interesting thing to experience.) Even if you have a gorgeous face you can be invisible if you’re fat. A powerfully ironic thing, that.

Beyond that, I tend to intimidate a lot of people, though my social presence continues to improve (I think). I’m smart, I use big words, I’m snarky, and I don’t suffer fools (unless I absolutely have to… don’t we all…) Again, I fall short of any smiling 50s housewife ideal.

Sure, there are guys out there who like women like me, but they’re not the average, just as I’m not. And by my age most people have paired off already. The fact that eligible men are far more likely to have divorces, kids, etc. by this point is still something I’m working to wrap my mind around, in good part because my immediate friends circle has an unusual number of old, single people, like me, though in many cases for them it’s by choice, which is also something I can’t quite wrap my mind around. 🙂

I have been finding hope in people around me. In seeing where the lives of friends are now who, not all that long ago, weren’t doing so well, and whose relationship histories are worse than I think mine has been. Instead of feeling all “woe is me”, which, to be honest, I kind of expected, I am feeling more “if it can work out for them…”, which is much better for the psyche. (And there have been moments of feeling genuinely lucky, in spite of it all. This isn’t me, for example.)

Hell, even seeing the unabashed schmoopiness of the famous on Twitter (Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer) makes me smile. Kevin Smith is frequently raunchy enough for an Elizabethan playhouse, but if you get past the language, you’ve just got a guy who really loves his wife, and whose sex life certainly sounds like it’s just getting better 10 years into marriage. Who could ask for better than that?

So anyway, yeah, been thinkin’ about myself a lot, kinda… getting reacquainted (umm… that sounded dirtier than it should have) with some thoughts and feelings that have resurfaced or which are the result of recent events. And thinking about the future, as much by necessity as human nature.

Momentum, part 2

The psychological immune system

Great talk on what makes us happy — or not — and the differences between and effects of “natural” vs. synthetic happiness. Great stuff: entertaining, educational, and leans to the scientific rather than a “hippie” side. 🙂

My apartment personal ad

I promise you that this post won’t get all The Secret-y. However, I do believe there is much to be said for knowing, clearly, what you want, and asking for it (either specifically to someone or to the world in general).

My dear friend Havi introduced me to the idea of writing personal ads, not for dates, but for things one needs. She wrote one last year when looking for a new house for herself and her gentleman friend. And it worked out very well. (Hurray for Hoppy House!)

I do not need a house. I don’t even have to urgently move from this apartment (i.e. have not been evicted and there are no health hazards I’m aware of). However, it’s been an intermittent itch in my head this year, and, without putting too fine a point on it, I am not a fan of the new landlord.

Certainly, I could go on the offensive to try and get some things done, but honestly, that requires a lot of time, energy, and annoyance, and is, essentially, a declaration of war, which obviously wouldn’t cause him to want to be BFF with me. Plus, I am fairly certain he’d already love for me to move out, since he could rent my apartment for considerably more than I’m paying. (Which means he has only the bare legal minimum of motivation to keep things fixed and running around here…)

And honestly? Life’s too short for that shit. Plus, since I was already pondering a move before this stuff started, it feels like the ebbs and flows of the universe are gently pushing me towards the door. Which leads me to… my personal ad.

I’ve started doing some research, and have put out the word with my network online and offline that I’ve started looking for an apartment, however, I do like the personal ad idea, and it will help me fix What I Want in my head, and help me keep that image fixed so I don’t start to mentally settle on a place I might see that has too many concessions from What I Want so I end up not happy there.

And so…

I haven’t danced in a while. Help me want to?

One introverted nerdy girl and her pets (one large, orange tomcat; several tropical fish; and 113 rubber ducks) seek bright, spacious apartment with functioning electricity (don’t ask…) for possible long-term relationship. But no strings longer than 60 days’ notice are preferred, since who knows what direction life will turn?

I don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink all that much, and there won’t be any wild parties here. Vinegar has become my main cleaning agent, so while the place might smell like a pickle from time to time, it will be much healthier than lots of chemicals. I’m terrible at hanging pictures, but have learned some tricks, so I promise not to poke accidentally holes all over the walls.

I’m clean but cluttered, love plants and animals, and need big windows and wide sills for said plants and animals to sit on to enjoy the world. I enjoy my media at medium volume, sing from time to time (but am pretty good at it), listen to TED videos while I do dishes, and love a good documentary, so we can learn together regularly.

While I like to entertain, I’ve never really had the right space to want to do it at home. I’d love to change that. I’ve hosted my family’s holiday dinners a few times now, so you’ll get to enjoy having little girls exploring you sometimes.

I need one bedroom, but would be okay with two if the price is still alright. I need a kitchen with decent counter space, a bathroom with a shower and tub (over six years without a tub is much too long), and a living room big enough for two couches and an easy chair (unless I have that aforementioned second bedroom). A space big enough to comfortably do yoga and whatnot is greatly desired.

What girl wouldn’t love a dishwasher and in-suite washer and dryer? But they’re not essentials, and I know that apartments with those amenities tend to be out of my price range. (I choose not to max out my available income on housing.) The less carpet, the better. I’d love to have a porch, patio, or balcony to myself, and even better if I can use a bbq on it. I’m kinda tired of living semi-subterraneanly. The more places I can curl up with a book, the better. I don’t care if the apartment is in a house or a multi-unit building.

A balanced indoor climate is important. I’m not interested in freezing in winter or boiling in summer. Or water that leaks where it’s not supposed to, come to that. I also want decent water pressure, a reliable hot water heater, the aforementioned functional electricity, and mold is NOT welcome. Neither are neighbours who frequently scream, cry, argue, set off the smoke alarm, listen to terrible and loud music, have cartoonishly boisterous sex, play instruments, or have unhappy pets who are constantly vocal.

I promise to clean up cat barf promptly, do dishes regularly, dust occasionally, and bake things that smell wonderful. I also use good coffee beans, so you will have a fine aroma to wake up to each morning.

I like living within walking distance of uptown Waterloo, and would prefer to remain in this area. I love to walk around, take pictures, and explore, and would be a friendly member of my neighbourhood. Are you the apartment for me? Let’s chat. I’m not shallow, but preference will be given to those with photos. You can email me at melledotca at gmail dot com, or ping me on Twitter.

Can’t wait to meet you. 🙂


This is a picture I did not take of my niece, running and squealing and poking and laughing and dancing around the driveway, chasing and popping the giant bubbles floating up from her bubble machine, exclaiming, “Bubbles!” over and over, and pretty much embodying childlike glee in a moment that has already embedded itself as one of the best memories of my life.