Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

Deb: The big day is here. It seems just yesterday, he was Willie the Wombat. And today, he’s the young man getting married who we’ve all grown to love and admire.
Barbara and Deb

Barbara: Deb very graciously offered to host a Royal Wedding party—and never one to say no to a party, especially one involving scones and champagne, even if it means getting up at 4am (!!)—here I am in hat and pjs with my gals to watch the pomp and ceremony unfold.

We’ll update this page a few times this morning to share our experience with you. If any of this reads like gibberish, blame the wee hours and champagne…

In honour of the big day: we’re following our friend Tannis’s lead and sharing our royal wedding guest names. You start with either Lord or Lady. Then it’s your first name is one of your grandparents' names. Your surname is the name of your first pet, double-barrelled with the name of the street you grew up on. For fun, share yours with us in the comments section.

Deb’s wedding guest name is: Lady Leticia Girds-Tulloch.
Barbara’s is: Lady Gisela Kita-Sussex
And fellow partier Janis’s is: Lady Edna Blackie-Inchbury
Deb and Janis
It is now 5:10am (local time): Two more lovely ladies have joined our festivities. 

Lady June Baby-Thursfield
Lady Jean Hannah-Robina
And we're all speaking in (quite ridiculous) British accents. 
PS: is it sc(oh)ne or sc(aw)ne? Anyway, we're eating them with Devon cream and strawberry jam. Mmmm.

6:40: We think Catherine looks beyond beautiful. One of our favourite dresses ever. And they truly seem to love each other. Their love for each other makes a huge ceremony full of pomp look very intimate. Okay, we got a little teary. Weddings...

8:11: Waiting for the balcony kiss. Just realized we forgot to post Deb's photo of her with the Royals. Taken yesterday (at the grocery store -- gotta love those Royals, so accessible ;) )
9:05: Perfect wedding, perfect couple, perfect day. Sigh. We had too much fun, but are knackered now and will go back to bed (or to work as the case may be...). We'll leave you with one final picture. Keep in mind Deb adorned this precious hat with her own decorations:
PS Don't forget to leave your wedding guest names in the comments section!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning My Brain

Deb: So ... Colin and I set out in the last month to rip through the house and divest ourselves of every single thing we did not need.

We cleaned out the closets, we threw out old rags,
We emptied the rec-room of boxes and bags!

And all through this tornado of tidy, this this ... cyclone of sweep, I kept saying over and over...”I want to get this all done and then spend the summer reading books, lounging in the garden and listening to the birds.”

And then I read something. It was the February 26th quote from my “Women Who Do Too Much” calendar that my husband buys me every year. The reason I just read it today was because I have been too busy since Christmas to open it. TRUE STORY.

I would love to give you the exact quote in the calendar, but I accidently recycled the fucker during my “Hurricane of House Proud”.

Basically, and in a nutshell, the gist of the quote was, “Do we get addicted to being busy?”

The quote stopped me cold when I glanced at it, my arms full of winter shoes that needed a cubbyhole in which to spend the summer.

But on the way up the stairs, all the while thinking of colours for the new paint job on the house, I thought, “AM I addicted to being busy?”

“I don’t think I am!!!” was my swift and panicked response.

But then I had to ask myself honestly ... when my last gas receipt is filed for taxes and the last electrical cord that belongs to something we no longer own is discarded, what will I do?

Will I hunker with my book?
Without guilt?
My husband thinks no.
I think ... YES ... Maybe ... I don’t know ... Quit bugging me.

But I have a goal.

And this is it:

Wake up. Eat breakfast and read paper. Tidy. Work out. Read. Listen to records and watch spring bloom out the window. Read. Think thoughts. Nod off. Drool a bit.

I don’t want to start taking time for myself because I have no options. I want it to be a choice.

So dear readers, think of me. And when you do. Picture me ... reading. Thinking. Drooling. 

Barbara: This is so funny. Funny ha ha because, well, you’re funny ha ha, Deb. But also funny ironic. I have been asking myself the same question now that three major writing deadlines have just been met. I am wiped … and yet, and yet, my mind wanders to two more soft deadlines that I want to meet. Oh, the laptop beckons. Oh, the mind wants to journey away again. And then I contemplate all the spring-cleaning, which is yelling at me over the piles of winter coats, boots, old Tupperware, endless receipts, bulging purses, unshelved books, and aging pantry staples.

My name is Barbara and I am a workaholic.

But how do you change if you don’t wanna??!! (but really need to…)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lvoe, Barbars

Barbara: Tha’s hwo I sing my emials evry single time.

Friggin’ typos.

I know my way pretty well around the spelling, but there are words I typo every time. What teh hell? I’m all in the zone and writing my email, text, or Facebook message as fast as three fingers can possibly fly over a keyboard, and––since these formats don't auto-correct––I have to stop and go back 1000 times to fix teh same mistakes over and over. It’s buidling, not building. It’s not good, it’s god. Obvioulsy, not obviously. And friggin' teh teh teh!

And don’t get me started on the two words I maybe use most of all in my messages. “Love, Barbara” comes out every time as “lvoe, Barbars”. I may have even sent an email or dozen with this indecipherable sign-off. Maybe that’s why I stick with the untypo-able: xoxo (Although, real truth be told, I have typed xoxxo, or variations thereof—not the same issue, I know, but I aim for and like the symmetry of xoxo. So I even have to spell-check my acronyms and emoticons. Llo, *sihg*).

It’s exhausting! And why can I write “exhausting” without a slip of a key, but for teh lvoe of Barbars, can only ever get “beleive” on the first pass?!

It’s always soemthing…

DEb: it is so funny you should bring this up because I do many of these adding a few of my very own. I always have to correct lvoe and I also have caps in the middle of words. My fingers just want to. Wonerful isn’t it, how some wrods just end up with misSing letters and some end up with letters that wan’t to be soMewhere else? I worried about the fact that lvoe never comes out rigHt for me. I thought it was a weird thing, sOmething to fret about. So glad you lvoe to write lvoe the same way I lvoe to. KindEred spirits!
Lvoe, DEb

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wasted Space

Deb: Heaven knows I am not a design expert. Like most of us, I know what I like and that’s good enough for me.

What I don’t like ... ever … is wasted space. I loath the room that sits empty, all decked out like a prom queen who’s been stood up.

I love to use each inch of space in the house. I adore beauty and yet I crave function. My old high school boyfriend and I used to always chuckle about his Mom and Dad’s living room––pristine, quiet as a tomb, and covered with plastic. I know many of us have grown up with this type of “that which shall not be sat in” room. 

Me, I want to live in the living room. Odd I know, but after all, let’s have a little respect for title. Living room––Yep, no mistaking what we are supposed to do in there.

A few years ago our living room was becoming that sad perfect empty room. I could see it crying out for company and, despite the fact that I would visit it on occasion with a good book, as time passed, it became the “company” room. When guests were coming I would feel so happy for the living room as we prepared it by lighting its candles and stoking its fire. But then the inevitable would happen. The guests would all gravitate toward the kitchen.

The kitchen is the nemesis of the living room in house-land––stealing its thunder and its head count.

So after its last disappointment, I decided to shake it up.

I switched the living room and the dining room. Just had them change places. Oh what fun it was. Beauty and function. Felt like a whole new house. So now the lovely living room is right beside the family room for flow of guests and the dining room table is right in front of a roaring fire.

The house took on a whole new energy and we love it.

After the boy left, lo these three years ago, my husband decided to leave his office retreat and bring his computer to the main floor, to the casual dining table by the window overlooking the backyard. I soon joined him and we found a whole new life at that table across from each other. We were doing our own thing, but we were “together” sharing a joke or a newspaper item or just checking and double-checking in on our ical events. It was a wonderful way to bridge the gap of the boy’s leaving.

And it stuck. We love it.

But of course “as two become one workspace”, I was again facing the issue of the wasted office space. My office was built above the space we now occupy together. It is pretty and I love it. After I deserted it, I found myself visiting it. I would stand at its door drinking in its velvety tones. I even considered putting a rope across it and charging admission.

Then the day came, as I knew it would, when I would no longer be able to stand the waste. So...

The desk came out of the middle of the room and went to the wall, housing my record player and some records. The mirrored chest of drawers came out of the office and went into our master bedroom replacing the chair and ottoman that would go into the office. Just angle the chaise lounge a tad differently, place the trunk behind it for balance, and boom––new master with lots of breathing room. And now my sad little lonely office is my reading, meditation and record playing room. Deb’s Treehouse, boys allowed.

I am tickled pink. And the bonus is that when I have my bouts of insomnia, I can slip behind our bedroom’s blackout curtains, turn on a reading lamp and read by the light of the 3am moon without disturbing my sleeping husband one wit.

And the best news. Didn’t cost a dime.

And wow, it’s like having a new house. I keep going up there to stare at it, so delighted am I with my own handiwork. Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to put that rope up after all?

Barbara: I can tell you this, dear readers: I have visited the hallowed space. It is museum-worthy. Not in the hoity, uptight way. But in the way that a well-anointed gallery perfectly captures a time, an era, one iconic room from one person’s life: Madame McGrath and her lovely, cozy, welcoming, bright and happy home.

I love my home, but I’m not so nurturing of it at the moment. Too busy/distracted to even …care (sorry, House!). But I love the fact that it doesn’t seem to judge me. Would that I didn’t waste any of its precious space. Deb, I smell a little inspired furniture moving in my future!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That Old Gang Of Mine

Deb“And the last to go will see the first three go before her.”

So said the Wicked Witch to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

This was always the most terrifying part of the movie and, even as a young child, I got it.
Dorothy’s impending death wasn’t as horrifying to her as the thought of watching the death of her friends. That would be the real torture.

Deb's gorgeous parents
My Mom and Dad just lost their last dear lifelong friend. The last of their gang. The last of the dear friends who were around to hold my brother and I in their arms when we were born.

My own pain around Stan’s death was deep enough, but it was watching Mom and Dad that really broke my heart.

Stan was 89, looked 70, and was projected to outlive us all. He was a true gentleman in the truest sense of the word. A kind, warm, engaging, spirited thoughtful man who never had a bad word to say about anyone.  He looked like Dean Martin and stood a handsome 6’4”.

When I posted his death on Facebook, I said, “Stan George, 1922 to 2011, and yet not long enough.”

I know it sounds odd to be shocked at the death of an 89-year-old man, but we were. Because Stan had found the secret to life and the evidence of it showed in his every gesture.

My parents loved this man so much. Even the mention of Stan could bring a smile to their faces. They would light up, just at the thought of seeing him. He never disappointed either. It’s not easy to live up to your hype as any actor knows, but Stan surpassed his.

And now he’s gone. They are all gone, that old gang of my parents. And Mom and Dad are alone. They of course have their family, close and extended, all of whom they love and every one they are grateful for. 

But the gang is gone. 

A while back Dad said they were thinking of having some friends in for a wine and cheese evening. Dad was having a good week physically and they thought it would be fun to host a small gathering. Suddenly they looked at each other, saw the irony, and started to laugh. Not certainly at the fact that there was no one left to invite, but at the fact that this had somehow caught them by surprise.

Can you imagine this?  A time of your life when your friends are gone. All gone? I would not even try as the thought is unbearable.
But there my parents sit, engulfed in memories of skating parties and New Years parties and swimming parties and precious phone calls filled with laughter.

I remember each and every one of their old gang. They are right there in my mind’s eye as I watch from my pajama-ed perch on the stairs, my Mom and Dad and their group of dear friends, dressed to the nines, laughing and dancing the night away in the unfinished basement in our home.

Barbara: Oh, Deb, I’m so sorry for your loss and that of your parents. It’s amazing how powerful those memories are, those of our parents reveling and enjoying their dear friends. Why do all children gravitate toward that energy like moths to flame? Is there one among us who doesn’t remember some form of late night eavesdropping, listening intently to gales of laughter and clinking of glasses, quintessential music counterpointing every beat and rhythm of their celebration?

I am loathe indeed to contemplate all my friends being gone one day. Thanks god for these glorious days. I do not take them for granted!!

Love to all, xo

Monday, April 18, 2011

Deadlines And Play Time

Barbara: I don’t know if I mentioned to you guys that I have a few deadlines looming lately. I’m trying to simultaneously write 4 different projects that are as different from each other as Astaire and Cera, as ice skating and roller derby, as winter and summer. So it gets interesting in this household to say the least.

People ask how I can write four different stories at the same time. Well, that part is easier than it sounds. I liken it to having children: you treat each child as the utterly individual beings they are, but you also know them so well, so intimately, that you don’t even have to think about it. When you’re with them, you’re just in their zone, talking their language, feelin’ their vibe (ooh, yeah). 

My issues flare up when it comes to balancing writing with down-time and family. I love to write and I love these projects. I want to get them right (and rather need to, as well). But what happens when my family humbly requests my presence? Politely asks if I will join them for dinner, for a chat, for a movie? Do I hiss in their faces that I’ll eat when I’m damn well ready (or, worse, cook dinner)? Do I ignore them as they reveal their latest news and keep tapping at my keyboard while offering the occasional , Mm-hm, Uh-huh, and Awwww? Do I pretend to watch the movie while actually composing the next scenes in my mind, and then pretend to discuss the movie afterward with some kind of authority while really not knowing at all what I’ve just seen???

The thing is, I know I need down-time and breaks (and dinner) or my work will suffer. But when a deadline (or in my case: deadlines, plural) is looming, how do you prioritize?

This is what I’m doing, for right or wrong. When my kids need to tell me something, I finish typing my sentence and give them my time (I know I can usually get right back in the flow, but I might never get that moment back with them) When my husband needs to tell me something, I ask him to wait (you see, he gets it. And while his feelings can get as hurt as the next guy, he’s also remarkably resilient.). If it’s my turn to make dinner, I prepare my go-to quick meals (even if we’ve had chicken six times last week, or *shudder* take-out). Housework and taxes? Those fall by the wayside, but I do try to set aside an hour here or there to manage them. Amazingly, stuff gets done (if not exactly to “spring cleaning” standards). Movies and playtime? This is my Achilles heal. It feels like play should be put off till I’ve met my deadlines. But when another deadline will just replace the last one met, then that might mean deferring it till, I don’t know, 2013. So I force myself to put away the computer for certain chunks of time. And watch a movie. With my peeps. Is it hard? So very!! But I do feel better afterward. Refreshed. Ready to write more and better.

But it’s also a constant battle. And one I have to keep reminding myself to wage. How do you do it?

Deb: When our son was younger this was a real issue for me as I wanted him to know that he and his Dad were always my first priority, but I also wanted him to learn to respect the fact that my work needed my attention too. We came up with a solution, the memory of which still warms my heart.

I told him "Luke I will always stop writing to be there for you, so you never have to worry about that." But when someone is writing it is awful to be in the middle of the perfect sentence, the perfect thought, and be interrupted. When that happens, your creative moment comes crashing down. So, here is my idea Luke. When you want me, just come up behind me and gently and without sound, lay your hand on my shoulder. That will tell me you need me, I will finish my sentence or thought and then I will be all yours." The sweet memory of that boy coming up to me time and again, laying his hand on my shoulder and waiting patiently just lights me up. And it worked.

And as a young adult writer I hope he understands how important that little ritual was. As I am writing this, I would give anything to have his lovely hand on my shoulder. What I wouldn't give right now for one sweet distracting interruption from my boy. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Deb and Barb Have A Three-Way

Deb and Barbara Have A Three-Way With Rayna

Deb and Barbara found Rayna’s wonderful blog, Coffee Rings Everywhere, and were instantly hooked. Rayna writes in “drabbles”: essays or stories written in exactly 100 words. It’s a fascinating format and Rayna is a compelling expert at it. She drabbles about everything from writing, to life in India, to raising her two (ridiculously cute) kids. And her photos are gorgeous icing on her blog cake.

Rayna: The first thing I noticed was her book; Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". The train was almost empty, but I chose the seat directly opposite her.

She was in her late twenties, though the severe hairstyle made her look older. Her clothes were too big for her­­––perhaps she hoped to cover the excess fat, but she only looked shapeless. I noticed she was using a boarding card as a bookmark––definitely a professionally qualified executive.

She must have sensed my scrutiny, because she looked up. I met her eye, and smiled.
"I was looking at your book", I said. "I have exactly the same copy."
"It's one of my favourite books,” she confessed. "Must have read it at least a dozen times."
"Me too." We got chatting.
Rayna running
"Who runs?", she asked, looking at my backpack with the logo of a marathon.
"Me. I've done four half marathons, and one full."
"W-O-O-W", she drew out the syllables. "I can't even dream of running 5 kilometers."
"Why don't you try? You might surprise yourself. That's what I keep telling my kids."
"You have kids? You don't look it."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're so slim."
"Well, I do work out."
"I wish I had the time."
"You can always make time." I knew how superior I sounded.
"I guess so! But tell me", she said, changing the subject. "Is motherhood all it's made out to be?"
"I can't imagine not being a mother", I replied. "But have kids only when you are ready to put your life on hold for them."
Rayna and her beautiful boys
Her station came. "Been great meeting you. Hope to run into you again,” she said grabbing her bags.

"We will." I reassured her. "And one other thing. Harry Potter. Do start reading Harry Potter!"

I don't understand why my friends are dreading turning Four-Oh. My twenty-nine-year-old self had not recognized me, and she was clearly impressed by what I had become. How many more surprises are in store as I advance further into the best age––the middle ages.

Deb: My younger self was a good girl. A very good girl. I was a good friend, daughter and sister. I cared about people and championed them when needed. Just as now, I woke up happy and smiling, and I loved life to bits.

I had a small period of two years where I went off the rails for a while. It was the 60’s, after all. I lost my footing, my focus, my MIND.

But I came back, I like to think, better than ever and ready to chew each bite of life 100 times.

So why is it that I feel such shame about this DerailedDEB? Why can I not shake her? I was in therapy ten years ago––menopause––and was trying to solve some serious issues I was having––menopause––and my therapist said to me, between my sobs–menopause––“Why do you refer to this teenage self as if you are talking about a stranger?” I said it was because this DerailedDEB seemed like a stranger to me, doing things that were not Good Deb or Kind Deb and I refused to acknowledge her as a bonafide full-fledged Deb. She was a pretender to the Deb.

My therapist gently told me that until I made friends with DerailedDeb, I would not be truly happy.

So I started to look to DerailedDEB for lessons that Good Deb could learn from. Not enough hours in the day for that however. I tried delving in and thinking everything through and rationalizing and making amends with Derailed.

But it just didn’t feel right. Too much focus on something so long ago. And then something dawned on me. What do they say, “The best revenge is living well?” I realized that living well in my own skin is exactly what I had been doing ever since those days.

So I decided that whenever I thought of DerailedDeb and felt shame or panic, I would simply say, “Hey D.D. it’s okay now. We made it.”

Barbara: No quiet bookworm here, no DerailedBarb (in Deb’s sense), but I’d like to talk to my 37-year-old self. The one sobbing in the corner as she found herself in one of a long series of crises. The me that was bereft of energy and will and courage, who wondered weakly how she could ever survive it. That Barb was sure she had done everything right. And well. And in a goodly way. That Barb held hands, wiped others’ tears, cleaned house. That Barb worked hard on her acting whenever the chance came along, hadn’t yet re-discovered her writer self, and always felt she was hitting a wall. Banging her head on not just a glass ceiling, but hemmed in by glass walls all around her. Cubed in by life. That Barb couldn’t bear the unfairness of it all, the randomness, the cruel irony.

I want to tell her that it will get better. It will take a while, but the tide will turn. It’s a midlife crisis––not the kind triggered by oneself, but the kind triggered by outside events. And as much as that Barb went through self-pitying wallowing (even when righteous, wallowing makes for an uncomfortable bed), she will learn a shitload of stuff. Really really useful, life-changing stuff. She will “find herself” because of it. And she will learn to protect that self with fierce determination and gentle support.

So I’ll let her wallow and cry. I won’t sooth her out of it. I know from experience that she needs to be there for a while. Sorry, kiddo, but it’s ‘cause I love you.

Thank you, Rayna, for one hell of an interesting look into the past!!

Rayna Natasha Iyer is the Founder and Chief Evangelist of the "If enough people wish hard enough and long enough, will the day actually have 30 hours?" movement that most of you wish you could be a part of. She's a mother of two boys now in primary school, is obsessive about the non-profit she works for, and tries unsuccessfully to make time for running, photography, reading, writing and gardening. She dreams of being a published writer, someday! Rayna can be found at her blog, Coffee Rings Everywhere, her photo-blog, Snapshots of Bombay, at the blog of her Writer's Group, Borrowers, Books and Balderdash, or at the Burrow website.

PS come back tomorrow for a new Deco Tip and Easy Recipe!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When The Voice In My Head Is Louder Than Yours

Barbara: I noticed this phenomenon first when I was on the receiving end, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I do it too!

When in discussion with a certain someone, I’d suddenly become aware of the fact that she was finishing every one of my sentences for me. It wasn’t malicious, it was … hmmm, what’s the right word? ... “enthusiastic listening”. She was so intent on letting me know that she was on the same page as me that she kept flaunting our symbiosis by speaking my mind for me. Now here’s the real problem: she was almost always wrong. I would be on my way to saying one thing, she’d interrupt, and I’d have to start my thought over again in order to make the actual point I was trying to make.

Me: “If we bring flyers to the school, we can—“
Her: “I know, hand them out to all the kids. Great idea.”
Me: “Oh, okay, we could do that. But I was going to say we could give them to the teachers to hand out.”
Her: “Right. Give them to the teachers. We could do that too.”

You can see there’s a twofold problem for me: one, the obvious one of being interrupted and misread, but two, the subtler one of the voice in her head being so eager (and clearly much louder than my own), trumping the idea I was about to present and making it seem … lame. And ironically, her habit seems to deflate her too: one, because she’s not on as “same” a page as she thought, and two, because she kinda really likes her own idea now much better and foresees a (possibly lengthy) debate.

It used to really irk me. (I’ve had issues with being “heard”.) Until I found myself doing it too. Repeatedly. To all kinds of people. Then I read somewhere (wish I could find the link for you) that studies show that while we all spend time interpreting other people’s thoughts and intentions, we’re only right 20% of the time. 20%!!! If we’re really gifted and sensitive, it maybe gets bumped up to 30%. That means ALL OF US ARE WRONG ABOUT PEOPLE’S INTENTIONS 70 to 80 percent of the time! Can you believe that?!

I realized that rather than getting irked when it happened to me, I had to do my own homework. I’d have to restrain that voice in my head that can get very LOUD and INSISTENT and, quite honestly, a little OVER ENTHUSIASTIC. So I came up with a game plan: Stop finishing other people’s sentences! Stop trying to convey how much you “get” them! Listen, listen, listen! You can always formulate ideas after you’ve heard the one on the table first. It’s not a race.

And maybe I can hit that 30% mark. But don’t interrupt me. Please.

Deb: I am both a perpetrator and victim of this senseless crime. My excuse is that I get so excited sometimes that I just burst out. Most of the time I say, “Sorry I interrupted you,” but by then the damage is done.

Other people do it to me, and for the most part I can see that it is because they are excited too.

Bottom line is, we do not listen well enough to each other. Well, many of us anyway. And the truth is, I am a very good listener and a major question asker. I am genuinely interested in people and their lives. But when something they say sparks something in my brain, I blurt.

But here is my take on the whole affair. My rule is to try to appreciate the person’s intention. 

Are they simply forcing their stuff on me or are they just enthusiastic? The enthusiasts can be forgiven, but should learn to wait for it… wait for it… wait for it...

I am one of those enthusiasts, always down on myself when I interrupt, but doing it nonetheless. It is something I truly work on ALL THE TIME.

But those of us who think that our poo is just more interesting than the next guy’s poo, shut up and listen. If you do, you may find yourself responding with something far more intriguing than the thought that was ruminating in your noggin while you watched the other person’s lips moved. Take it from a pro. 

PS Stay tuned for a new 3-way on Friday! And a new recipe and deco tip on Saturday.            

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Record Of My Past

Deb: My husband and I just came home from a big show selling old vinyl records. Cash only, bartering welcome. We went down just to see what we would see and to make a few purchases.

Nothing gives me more joy than popping a disc on the record player. Slipping the vinyl out of its sleeve, blowing the dust off, and gingerly placing the needle on the thick groove at the edge.

What comes next is the lovely scratch of anticipation, then––BOOM––instant time machine.

When I was a kid, records were my pride and joy. I would actually carry around a fave album at school with my schoolbooks like it was a baby. I remember Led Zeppelin 2 actually having the welt of my handprint on it.

Today, at the record show, that history was for sale. Boxes and boxes of albums, some carefully labelled alphabetically and others tossed randomly in a crate. People were pouring through them searching for their own musical treasures of the record player age.

I was looking for my own memories. Specifically, for good copies of albums I already had that were scratched beyond recognition. And oh, the treasures I found. First was an album called Nucleus. Mine had been played and played and played until its only use was as a serving tray. And I found it. Nucleus. Perfect condition. Then I found The Eagles Long Run, perfect condition. Then I found a Beach Boys Christmas Album and a very rare Beatles album with a cover I have never seen in my life. Snapped them up! The cold hard cash we were carrying was gone in fifteen minutes. There were no bank machines and we were empty. Spent, literally. As we were strolling out the door I was grinning like a gargoyle clutching my albums, feeling all Grade 11.

Suddenly something caught my eye. Led Zeppelin 2. A beam of light shot from the heavens and pointed me right to it. Original packaging, NEVER BEEN OPENED. Heart pounding, I approached gingerly. And I was playing it so cool. LIES. Not cool at all. Covetous. Approaching maniacal. Picked it up and read the price. $60.00. Fair price for a masterpiece, UNLESS YOU DON’T HAVE THE DOUGH ON YOU. So we left and realized that we forgot to get the seller’s card.

So please, send a prayer to the rock and roll gods to give me a chance at that album again. That pristine perfect platter of my past. I will NOT fail the next time. I will search and I will find it. But till then, I will “ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now to sing my song.” And I will. It will be a scratchy duet. But when I get a good clean copy, I will dance the dance of the air guitar and it will be sweet! “Leaves are falling all around, time I was on my way-ay!”

Barbara: Mmmmm, real records. Now that triggers a surge of nostalgia in me like almost nothing else. When I was growing up, my dad worked in the record industry and I got most of my LPs for free. Yes, we had the requisite photos hanging on our walls of him posing with industry luminaries: The BeeGees, John Mellencamp, The Village People (shut up!). Music was always playing in our house, whether it was classical, opera, rock, or the soundtrack from the latest hot new movie musical Grease

So buying my first album with my very own hard-earned money was definitely a rite of passage that I came to much later than most teens. But I remember it well: The Cars by The Cars. Oh my. Sex in music. I could’ve listened to it all day. And, yes, the scratchy sound, the lack of crisp clarity were all part of the aural charm.

Unlike you, Deb, I don’t have a player hooked up anymore, but Phil and I have talked about setting one up. Your post just makes that urge that much stronger. I love my CDs (and legally paid for downloads), but there is something about that classic, making-out-in-dark-basements vibe of the good ‘ol record that beckons.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Through The Wringer

Barbara: Have you ever been put through the wringer … and loved it?

Here I sit, weakly punching the keys on my keyboard to write this, a shell of my usual self. I am spent, exhausted, and done. Why, you might ask. Well, I’ve spent the day taking apart a story that is near and dear to my heart and then reconstructing it. But verbally, first with one, then with two other friendly co-conspirators. We are working together to get a script to the next level (meaning ready to film). But each of us has a slightly different idea of what the best route to that level should be.

Now that said, there have been many times when I’ve been in this situation … and it’s been very frustrating. I’ve felt undermined, disrespected, and/or invisible. After those kinds of sessions, I feel done, yes, but also depleted. Angry. Sad. Beaten.

But sometimes a wringer situation can be exciting and stimulating and invigorating. It forces you to clear out the cobwebs. In a good wringer situation, you need to listen well, but also think quickly. You need to access everything from the mental filing cabinet that might be necessary to solve a problem (or even to see a potential problem). So you need to get rid of anything extraneous that might clutter your brainwaves. It’s like mental spring-cleaning. But done in one fell swoop, like a sweep of hands across a desk (without the flurry of papers and pencils and office detritus littering the floor).

Today was such a day. So while I might be a spent and exhausted shell, I am still brimming with motivation and confidence. And while I might not want to experience a wringer day every day, I do believe I am jiggy with it (wtf?! sorry about that).


Put me through the wringer and hang me out to dry. I am content to flap exhausted and spent in the calm breeze.

DebBarb, you sound so filled with the juice of creativity!  I love it. 

When I was a young girl, my Mom actually had a wringer washing machine and I would sit in the laundry room and watch her put the clothes literally through the wringer. I will never ever forget this. It fascinated me! Because I am the queen of giving souls and feelings to inanimate objects, I would picture them coming out of the wash, clean but downtrodden, still heavy with water and unable to rid themselves of the extra baggage. But oh, when my Mom put them through the wringer and I watched that water get pulled and pushed out of them, I just knew how they felt. They came out the other side of the wringer saying, "ahhhhh". As did you, Barb. And my Mom had nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blog Post Winner

Deb: ...and the winner is…. ALL THREE blog entry ideas. Followed closely by “Model Performance”, with a tie between “Face to Face with Facebook” and “A Record of My Past”.

So I will do all three in order of win.

Model Behaviour (modified from Model Performance)

When I was asked to be a model in a runway show, my first thought was, “I shall do my level best not to be 5ft tall.”

But, after all, this was for charity. It was for the women’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, so it was a no-brainer, despite my challenges in the height-al arena. Plus, this was the first year they were having men in the show and my husband was asked to walk the runway too.

With fleeting thoughts of “something to tell the grandkids”, we accepted.

We were each assigned to a designer and they were to create something wonderful for us. It could be short, long, sleek or frilly, but it had to be red. The event is called “The Heart Truth (Canada)” and it was to be held in the fabulous Carlu in Toronto.

When asked by the people running the event if I had any specific likes or dislikes, I said that the designer could do anything as long as my arms didn’t show. That’s it. Just please do not show the upper arms. Please. I show them in the summer in the real world, but not on a stage or on film or, dear God, on the friggin’ runway. My arms are slim, but they have become the sudden victims of the parasite cellulite.

So I am sure that it comes as no shock to you that I arrive for my first fitting to find myself sleeveless. With the midday sun shining through the designer’s window, my arms looked like a lovely low-fat snack to be mixed with the fruit of your choice.

After the fitting, I contacted the producer and begged her for a touch of sleeve. I hated compromising the designer’s vision especially since she was a doll but, after all, it’s the only request I made. I had one more fitting after that and the sleeves were there ... in theory, but all I could see in reality were two sticky-outie things that made me look like Jane Jetson.

In the end, Michelle of Karamea came through and I had sleeves! Only four inches of sleeve but it was the difference for me between confidence and humiliation. As a thank you to Michelle, I worked it for her, babies, I worked it. I worked it left, I worked it right, I worked it as much as a 56-year-old, big-busted, short-waisted, “sleeve slut” could work it.

And if I came to the event without confidence, this group of lovely models would soon make me forget every insecurity I had. Each and every one of them stood backstage cheering and applauding loudly for all the models. It was glorious fun, and the real surprise is that even the long-legged gorgeous ones were nervous sick.

I stood backstage waiting to go on, buoyed by my sleeves and a glass of champagne. After it was over, all I could feel was relief. God knows I couldn’t feel my hands, lips or feet. Every inch of blood had run screaming to my heart. But after a second glass of champers, it all came back!

I’m glad I did it. It was nice being able to knock “runway model” off the to-do list. But mark my words, there are no sleeves in the world that could entice me to do it again!

Barbara: Deb, you ROCKED! I was so lucky to get an invite to this celebration, along with my daughters and dear friend, Charlotte. We all had a wonderful time clapping for the stunning and brave models on that stage. Deb and Colin managed to look both gorgeous and fun at the same time. No one betrayed their nerves. And everyone—both models and audience––seemed to just vibrate with positive energy.

I have to say that I’m surprised you wouldn’t ever do it again, Deb. You looked like such a natural. That said, in your shoes I’d probably be apoplectic, so I do relate.

If you could walk a runway (for charity, in front of an audience of enthusiastic supporters), would you do it? Is it a secret dream, or your worst nightmare?

Watch live streaming video from thehearttruth at

PS: Deb appears at the 14:47 mark and Colin appears right after her. He is a must-see too as he channels James Bond (in a charmingly funny way). Huge thank you to Rigel for teaching us how to embed the video!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

In honour of our first year birthday, we decided to re-vamp our blog a little. Gone are the “Side of Slaw” and “WTF?!” pages (look at our list in the left column). We weren’t really updating them, so… wtf, right? In their place, we now have Deb’s Deco Tips and Barbara’s Easy Recipes. We're hoping that since these new pages are different enough from our regular posts, we'll (hopefully!) be inspired to regularly update them. From now on, we’ll feature a new deco tip and a new easy recipe every second Saturday in addition to our regular blog-posts. We’ve also moved our Bookmarked list to its own page so we can add more books, keep existing ones, and link to all of them in case you want to check them out for yourselves. We'll also be happy to link any of your books to this list.

In the meantime, if you have any great decorating ideas or easy recipes you’d like to share here, just email us at radeckirites at gmail dot com and we'll publish them with links to you and your page.

And for all of you waiting with baited breath as to the winning blog-post of Deb’s blog-draw last Monday, we’ll be posting the winner on Wednesday.

We'll get back to our usual shenanigans after this, but we did want you to know that we’re excited to shake blog-things up a bit. We’re excited at the prospect of chatting with you wonderful peeps for another blogging year. And we’re thrilled that it’s spring and the birds are out. Thanks for all your love and support over the year, and please know that we’re sending you ours.

xo Deb and Barbara

Friday, April 1, 2011

Middle Ages Milestone

Art by Deb's finger
Happy 1st Anniversary, The Middle Ages! It has been an amazing journey filled with new friends and old, and fraught with venting, kudos and wonderings. And we have loved every single minute of it.

Which is why we are sad to say that we have to hang it up. We’re not saying forever. In fact, we NEVER SAY NEVER. But with personal and professional commitments, we are finding ourselves overwhelmed and we both know that is the last thing any of you dear and darling followers would want from us.

So what we have done for our last (for now) blog-post is to compile a little story, each of us taking one sentence from our random archival blogs, trying to give them a flow. Each sentence contains a link, so any sentence you click on will take you to that old blog-post chestnut. We hope you enjoy it.

And please know that at this point the only words we can manage are:

April Fools Day!

As if we would ever leave!!!! Who the heck would we prattle on to?

The part about today’s post is true however. But it is in honour of our 1st anniversary, not our departure. So enjoy. You are stuck with us.

Love, Deb and Barbara

And I will share my knowledge with you. It’s not too tough. It goes like this. “Thank you”.