Friday, November 30, 2007

The Tinks Are Two!

When I was little, one of my favourite things to do was mini vacations at my grandparents’. They still lived in the same small-town, in the same apartment where my mother grew up and more than anything else, this is where I connected to my family history. The relatives on my father's side were more distant, both geographically and emotionally, and besides, my mother's family told stories - stories of themselves and of the people who made up our family in the past and whether living or dead, they were all equally vivid. When I visited my mormor and morfar, my favourite thing to do within this favourite thing was go to the cemetery with my mormor to take care of the graves of the family members who were with us in spirit only. We'd clean up the gravesite, trim the little hedge around it, put water in the vases, neatly arrange the new flowers and through it all, my grandmother would tell me about my family and I loved hearing the stories over and over again. Afterwards, we'd go feed the ducks at the castle lake. Somehow, it is always summer in those memories.

It wasn't so long ago that I was trying to wrap my head around the idea that our little Canadian branch of the clan wouldn't include children. I've yet to find someone that I'd want to have children with and my sister, although lucky enough to have found the father of her children, had fertility issues. But then, with much determination and a little help from a petri dish, Janne and John conceived the Tinks and two years ago today, they came into the world and brought much joy with them. Already, many of our family stories include the Tinks – there’s the Story of the Name that started it all (I’ll leave it to a TinkParent to remind you in the comments), the story of how the internet created a minor cult (Tink Freaks, anyone?) and every day, the wee darlings make something new happen. And every time I see them, it’s like summer.

Someday soon, we'll start telling them about the people who came before on both continents and someday, I’ll take them to feed the ducks. Or get tattoos.

Happy second birthday, my lovies!

(The Tinks in their birthday present - a new playhouse. Photo by a TinkParent)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Note on Calendars

There's a wee calendar over at the shop. Twelve of my favourite photos in a spiralbound wall calendar. Have a peek and feel free to tell me off in the comments for not selecting the ones you would have chosen!

Putting the calendar together was a surprisingly lengthy process, although highly enjoyable. Only minor clumps of hair was torn out. There's something soothing about puttering around with images, fitting them into nifty pages, re-doing several over and over again until they're just right. Almost as much fun as running The Harlot's life, although with less upfront whining and gnashing of teeth and no requirement at all for pretending to let the subject have a modicum of input (for the curious, wrangling of The Schedule has begun - it's way too early to know whether there'll be time for it all, but I suspect Madame has overestimated things. As usual. Next year, we start in October).

One note, though: due to a technical error, a redesign of January was needed. Allright, so the blasted thing looked completely different in my view than in the view of someone not-me and I only discovered this around midnight, Tuesday and this might have been where the tearing of hair took place. If you placed an order before that, let me know at landers5ATgmailDOTcom and I'll make sure you get a replacement.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Random November

Or rather, November Link-O-Rama. Time to goof off!

But first, its time to yet again make fun of me.
After decades on miscellaneous painkillers, NSAIDs and disease modifying agents, my stomach is fucked, so for years, I've supplemented my prescription stomach meds with Gaviscon, which is like putting a blanket on a fire. And now the bastards have changed the formula. Well, the label says 'new look', but they've also added a mysterious "cooling action" and when I tried it, my head exploded from the intense peppermint and I fell the burn all the way down through my esophagus into my stomach. Where it proceeded to burn some more for awhile. Sorta counter-productive, y'know? So I hunted through the neighbourhood stores to find the old formula, as I wasn't in the mood to spend a lot of money experimenting with other antacids. Finally found some at Loblaw's and cleaned them out. Got some cat food while I was there and went to the cashier. You know that thing where you entertain yourself in the supermarket by checking out other people's carts and making up little stories about them based on what they're buying? I can't be the only person who does that, right? The entire time I was waiting for my turn, I was giggling about the image of "very stressed out catlady" portrayed by my six cans of cat food and seven bottles of Gaviscon.

And on to the links. First, there's the Bibleman action figure set. Because it’s never too early to give children “strategic insight for spiritual wargames”.

And if that’s not enough action for you, go here to fly – or in my case, repeatedly crash – a helicopter.

Found via Cognitive Crafter, amusement in the form of a “which celebrities do you look like?” game

Dakota Fanning???

Nifty instructions on everything under the sun. Like how to make liquid nitrogen icecream, a modular pie-cosahedron and building a Mongolian yurt. For starters.

In the latest ramping-up of hostilities between Stephanie and The Squirrels, I present this secret tape of a hidden training camp for the Rodent Special Commando Force.

A fantastic video from Kruger National Park, found at Dooce (she gets the best links). Watch all of it, you'll be amazed.

nd the best-ever idea on how to deal with telemarketers.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lighter Fare

Before I start rambling on, a heartfelt thank you go to the Blog/Tech God - a.k.a. Ken - for helping me with my template when I got hopelessly stuck attempting to decipher HTML (which was as easy as interpreting hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone) and moreover for having the patience to translate so I could understand and "make blog go" myself (with some heavy handholding). I even started to sort of get the code a little and am highly pleased.

Anyway. To balance the darkness from last few weeks' forays into the Department of Traumatic Dentistry, Chicken Little, Inc. and Recalcitrant Technology, I decided it's time for fluffier fare. To match the snow we got yesterday.

Which turns out to be good timing, because I’ve been so freakin’ busy the past few weeks that my wee brain conked out yesterday at 2:34pm - I know the exact time because that's when I put my keys in the refrigerator - and still has not seen fit to return. I suspect it’s gone on strike until I start treating it better, obeying certain labour laws specifying that for X amount of hours’ work, Y amount of downtime is required. In retaliation, I’m thinking of locking it out. Also, I have a rogue nerve or two I might employ for intimidation purposes and while they get it sorted, I’m planning to lie on the couch – at least mentally - with a cold compress, some dark chocolate and potentially a torrid romance novel, although that latter item might be too demanding.

Imagine muzak...

And while I am reclining in front of the TV, figuratively speaking, why not continue with the fluffy and talk about television? Which isn’t entirely true – about the fluffy, that is. Great writing is on the small screen these days. As is highly entertaining and mentally undemanding things.

I watch a variety of shows - although I've noticed that with each passing year, the amount of television I watch gets less and less as I grow older and apparently pickier - but I'm going to stick to just a few today. However, in connection to the above-mentioned point regarding great writing, my Must-See TV contains only two dramas: Brothers & Sisters and Bones. Both combine snappy, crisp dialogue with fantastic, subtle acting, do pathos and comedy equally well and both shows excel at the small moments that flesh out the characters and their relationships. In B&S, I enjoy pretty much everyone (with the exception of Tommy - does anybody like that character? - and I could do without Holly, as well), but am especially enchanted by the glances between Sarah and Kitty as perfect examples of the eye contact that happens between sisters - lasting mere seconds, they communicate the decades of love and common experience. This year is much less soapy than last season and the ensemble has really gelled, growing into a believable family. Much the same could be said of Bones - here, the ensemble makes up a family of sorts, as well, revealed in small glances, gestures and throwaway inside jokes. Not to mention, they really scare me every now and again - the Gormogon storyline is proving rather terrifying when you think of the years (centuries?) of dedicated "culinary" work.

On the "highly entertaining and mentally undemanding" front (I am, of course, speaking of reality shows), Dancing with the Stars continues to make me happy every Monday night (go, Mel B & Maks!!), America's Next Top Model somehow sucked me in again, despite my protestations (is it me or is Tyra becoming increasingly random and capricious with every episode?) and then we have the granddaddies of the genre. Survivor is following the trend of a crap season being followed by a brilliant one and China is proving that this show, despite being on its 15th season, is still fresh. And then there's the 12th The Amazing Race, which I started watching mainly because I’d suckered Michele and mor into watching it with me as some sort of bonding experience, but was barely through the first episode before I was completely hooked and laughing my derrière off. Using a task involving donkeys right off the bat was a stroke of genius and my favourite moment of that first episode was when Nathan and Jennifer - the irascible couple of the season, they spend every moment together screaming at each other - tried for what seemed like hours to making the donkey go and the donkey, displaying the flawless tendency of animals to reacting in kind to the way people treat them, refusing and finally, when Nathan screamed at the donkey, it started braying continually and I laughed and laughed and laughed, exclaiming "Dude! You made the donkey cry!!”. My second-favourite moment happened in the second episode, where grandpa stripped down to his black briefs in the theory that perhaps it would make pole vaulting over a muddy ditch in Holland easier. Classic television.

What will you miss the most after the strike hits your TV? And speaking of, here's a rather brilliant presentation on the issues behind said strike. Man, I miss the Daily Show...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


(attempting changes. Doing HTML. Hold on for dear life and please pardon the rough look in IE)

It is too a word. It derives from the noun Techno-Twit. Also a word. I know this because I invented it myself. Hey, if Stephen Colbert can get Truthiness into Mirriam-Webster, I bet with the collective powers of our minds/blogs, we’d be able to do the same for my little word. Who’s with me?!

Anyway, this past weekend was dedicated to a number of computer-related activities. To wit:

- Finally update to new Blogger template

- Select "decent photos", organize and edit same and upload to Flickr

- Create storefront on CaféPress

But before I move on to the likely boring tech stuff – feel free to ignore it if such things make your brain whimper, but if you know anything at all about computers, I would love some advice – I want to talk about the last item. A few people have asked me lately why I don’t do something with my photographs – y’know, to get them Out There (that’d be the Flickr aspect) and for a bit of potential income generation. Much as I love the idea in theory, this is where I start feeling awkward. I don’t want any of you to feel pressured into buying things – just because I slave over a hot stove in 80km/hr winds uphill both ways for your entertainment shouldn’t… Yo, you there! No, not you - the woman in the back who’s convulsing in a paroxysm of guilt while fumbling for her credit card? Yeah, you. STOP IT! I was kidding!!

See? Awkward. I’m a terrible salesperson. Anyway, I’ve created a few cards (might help if I added the bleedin' link) and can do other things on request - email me at landers5ATgmailDOTcom if you have a burning desire for a specific image/item (might also help if I gave you my correct email - this is why I don't write email/posts at midnight - it's the height of Blonde). As soon as I figure out how, I’ll make a link in the sidebar and then we can all go back to ignoring the crass commercialism. Oh, and let me know if the Flickr thingy in the sidebar slows down the blog too much and I’ll attempt to solve the problem (HA! Did I mention I’m a Techno-Twit?)

On to the tech issue. As is to be expected when you do something "simple and quick" related to a computer, this past weekend became a vast black void of timesucking devoted to fixing the consequences of the "simple and quick" . The Flickr thing went fairly well, but then disaster struck.

Sunday morning, I sat down at the computer to "just do a few more" (and I'm not quite sure why, as "just a few more" was exactly what had gotten me into some major pain issues the day before, so clearly, I can't be taught). Logged on to Picnik - brilliant site. Does many of the same things as Photoshop does, but for idiots and/or people who don't have time for the learning curve involved in Photoshop. I should mention that I have Photoshop Elements 3, kindly donated by my friend Andrew, but after loading it on my computer and whimpering at the perceived learning curve, not to mention hating how long it takes to load, I stuck my tail between my legs and went back to HP Image Zone Plus. Which although very basic, has served me well for several years... Where was I? Oh, yes. Picnik. Although the site had worked brilliantly all Saturday (where I'd used it to the point where I could imagine smoke coming off their server), I was editing my first image when my computer had some sort of seizure (I’ll spare you the details – it was ugly and traumatic) and afterwards, HP Image Zone Plus claims that "no images found". Liar.

So I did a system restore because it is the only way I know how to solve problems related to my computer’s innards. No luck. Not knowing what else to do, I did another one which also – big surprise - didn’t work and now there was some problem with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Finally figured out what was happening with Dragon, fixed it, tried the software repair Wizard that came with my HP system, except it doesn't fix HPIZP and it appears that the blasted thing has been corrupted beyond repair and I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, i.e., Photoshop, which I suspect I will enjoy eventually - especially after perusing the lessons given by The Queen of Self-Taught Photoshop - and likely even sooner than that (am so not admitting I’m already a bit charmed and I’ve barely done anything), yet remain somewhat bitter. I hate not having options, although apparently, it’s the only way to make me try something new.

After this debacle, I was looking for a success to bolster my tattered ego. “They” say it’s easy to upgrade to the new Blogger template (and equally easy to revert), which apparently will let me add nifty things like widgets (I am somewhat unsure about what, exactly, widgets are, but as they’re everywhere, it seemed like something I might want) and I did the upgrade. Wasn’t thrilled with the look, but decided to give it a whirl. Until AlisonH noticed all my comments had disappeared, the upgrade having left my old Haloscan comments in the dust. So I spent quite some time to find the "easy" way to revert to the old template and let me just tell you, although I did eventually locate it and yes, indeed, it was easy, finding the blasted button most assuredly was not. And all this just brings home the point that my computer has been wonky for some time and likely needs some sort of overhaul beyond my abilities. I’m currently battling a morally questionable urge to call my ex, the Tech God, and hold forth about how much I miss him, without necessarily starting the conversation with “and I have this computer problem….”. Also, I'm considering going back to pen and paper.

Here's where the advice comes in: I’ve done a Disk Cleanup and next, ought to defrag my hard drive. I’ve been a moron (did I mention I’m a Techno-Twit?) and haven’t done it monthly, as I should have, so it’ll likely take a while. Can you stop in the middle of a defrag and start again the next day or will that mess things up? Do I have to unplug my modem before I defrag? Also, I’m pretty sure I have to do a registry clean-up thingy, don’t know what belongs in my registry and what doesn’t and am terrified that I’ll “clean up” something essential. Is there an idiotproof program out there? And about Blogger… does anyone know how to keep your old Haloscan comments after the upgrade?

My everlasting gratitude in advance.

P.S. Wednesday afternoon: Yes, I know the sidebar looks like crap - although I sorta figured out certain HTML commands, I'm stuck. Must consult Blog God to achieve non-arsed look. Stay tuned.

P.P.S. Later: Looks better in Firefox, but now SUCKS in IE. Please bear with me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's Official

I live in a neighbourhood where a certain day of the year, you can be walking down the street, quietly minding your own business, having been to the store to buy cereal and bananas and see this

And this

And if that wasn’t plenty disturbing, there will also be children with alarmingly large and furry ears

It’s a sign. Not that you’re going bonkers – although, you’d be forgiven for jumping to that conclusion – but that someone important is coming. Important enough to get a police escort

And be accompanied with a cheerful, yet oddly stress-inducing, warning

What else but the Santa Claus Parade? My favourite sighting from this year was watching a mother and her teenaged daughter. The daughter, being about 14 years old and at the height of that age where your parents are horribly embarrassing, stood far enough away from her mother to maintain her cool factor. When the sounds of cheering throngs started a bit down the street and the mother lifted up their aging Cocker Spaniel so it, too, could see Santa, the girl moved next to them, her letter to St. Nick firmly clutched in her hand and started jumping up and down a little, completely oblivious to any necessity for cool, overwhelmed by excitement. And that’s why I go every year. For moments like that.

It’s official. The magic’s here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ill-Bred and Lovin' It

I’ve talked about before about how when I was growing up, everyone I knew was raised to have a thorough understanding of etiquette and table manners. That our parents made sure that should we be invited to have dinner with the Queen, we could without embarrassing ourselves (and, by extension, save our entire family from nationwide infamy as the relatives of “that woman who slurped her coffee at the palace”).

In our house, that meant not only did we learn the standards – how to use a knife and fork appropriately (fork in left hand, knife in right) the minute we had sufficient motorskills, elbows off the table, don’t eat until everyone’s seated and have food on their plate, keep yer gob closed while chewing, etc. – but also that a meal is a social event, a time for the family to connect. Breakfast and lunch were more casual affairs, but dinner was sacred, with all family members present and expected to contribute to the conversation. Once we’d finished, my sister and I would at times ask to be excused and hare off and do something other than having deep, philosophical discussions. Well, deep, philosophical conversations with our parents, anyway – once they got started, they’d be at it for hours and we had friends to catch up with, homework to do and in general much, much more important things to do (hey, we’d already participated for 30-40 minutes, what more can be expected? Especially once they got started on the fishing policies of Portugal). In my case, this “better thing” often involved reading. As I may also have mentioned before, I never met a written word I didn't have to investigate immediately, if not sooner, which frequently drove my mother up the wall. Reading, naturally, was verboten at the table – we were taught that it was the pinnacle of rudeness to stick your nose in a book during a meal.

My father travelled a lot for his job and when he was gone, standards relaxed somewhat and mor, Janne and I would go a little feral. The dinner rule was still pretty much still in effect, although we might have eaten pizza more often, but every now and again, I'd push the envelope and ask if I could read while we ate and occasionally, my mother would agree. We had many great meals when I was living at home - sometimes it was the company, sometimes it was a special joke and the food was always excellent - but some of my favourites were those where I could read. It was a complete treat. And is one of top 10 reasons why I love being single. I eat breakfast and lunch more casually - sometimes on the fly, sometimes while checking e-mail and sometimes, I "have lunch" with a friend on the phone. But dinner is different. Dinner is sacred. The minute my attendant is finished with the dishes and is out the door, I pop on the headphones and listen to an audiobook while I enjoy my meal. I don't answer the phone or stress out about what I have to do next, instead disappearing into the multiple sensory pleasures of listening to a good story while eating a warm meal.

And this weekend, I got proof that this may very well be genetic. John sent me a picture of Morgan and I taken earlier this year and whereas I look a tad like a deer caught in the headlights, she looks as blissful as I feel with the combination of food and book.

photo by Janne/TinkMama

Friday, November 09, 2007

Paradigm Shift

Whoever convinced us that water should be drunk not from the taps handily located in several places in our homes, but from plastic bottles bought in the supermarket deserves either a marketing metal or a special place in hell. It's been a while now since a few of the water brands were forced to come out with the truth: that the water they bottle and sell comes not from some fancy-arsed spring of pure water from the pristine innards of the Earth, complete with fluttering butterflies, rainbows and magic fairy dust, but from the regular municipal water supply, run through a purification process et voilà! delivered to our hot, gullible little hands for exorbitant amounts of money. Sure, there are places in the world where drinking bottled water is the safer approach, but in most of our industrialized world, the water that comes through the tap is perfectly fine, indeed governed by stricter regulations than the bottled kind. Yet, we schlep cases and cases of bottled water home, spending money on something we already pay for and adding endless mounds of plastic to our earth. In 2003, an estimated 40 million bottles a day went into the trash - not in recycling - and that was four years ago, before the nasty little things became as ubiquitous as they are now (and, to be fair, before a significant increase – in Toronto, anyway - in awareness of the importance of recycling).

And they add to this: a continent-sized midden in the Pacific Ocean composed of our detritus, 80% of it plastic. Instead of the middens of the Iron and Bronze Ages, located within a settlement and a gold mine for archaeologists, this one, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is a gold mine for no one, leeching plastics back into the food chain. I didn't know about the GPGP and can hardly wrap my mind around the thought of a heap of garbage the size of a continent and moreover, I don't really want to. The thought is so disgusting, so demoralizing, so utterly frightening that I feel paralyzed in the face of the implications. Every day, there is another headline in the papers about bees disappearing, threatening our fruit and vegetables supply, about CO2 emissions rising faster then previously expected, about stress in the Arctic, warmer oceans leading to extinctions and by the time I've had my morning toast, I'm terrified and overwhelmed by a sense of doom and helplessness, because how can we stop this insanity, nevermind reverse it? I suspect I am not alone in averting my eyes from the articles. I recycle, I try to lighten my footstep on the earth, but I cannot read about it every day and continue to get out of bed in the morning.

I read an article in the Toronto Star this weekend about a new book called The Geography of Hope. Written by Chris Turner, who lives in Calgary, it is based on a year of travelling around the world in search of solutions. In search of hope. In the book, Turner calls for the end of despair and the beginning of dreaming. The end of focusing on the horror of what we’ve done to this planet and the start of enthusiastically championing innovative solutions. Which I fell on like a starving woman on a Vegas buffet. It makes such perfect sense, doesn’t it? And then I looked around some more and discovered this speech by Adam Werberg – it’s from 2004 and it blew my mind. Werberg says that the old approach to environmentalism is dead and it’s time for the movement to be reborn, changed.

I’m not sure it’s quite yet time to stop talking about what’s wrong – I do think it serves a purpose to raise awareness of the ruin caused by past (and present) practices. Scaring people a little can be motivational. But balance this with real, practical examples of what can be done and people will get excited and join in. Might even be some inventive types out there who’ll get inspired and think up other nifty solutions. What a concept. I like it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Not for the Squeamish

Having rheumatoid arthritis isn’t just about having arthritis. Having arthritis has ripples. There are the ripples caused by medication – high blood pressure (courtesy of Vioxx), wrecked GI system (courtesy of every medication I’ve ever been on) – and then there’s things like teeth. The jaw being a joint, when it’s been partytime for the arthritis there, too, it affects how much you can open your mouth and for how long (not to mention affecting your diet by not being able to eat hard, crunchy things). Meaning it’s hard to take good care of your teeth.

Fifteen years ago, my previous dentist prognosticated I’d have dentures by age 40. I didn’t and I don’t and take some pride in that. However, I am unable to handle the procedures involved in getting crowns, so when my teeth reach the point of no return, they get yanked. It’s been a while since the last such joyful experience, but one of my molars has been living on borrowed time for almost 4 years and last week, it gave up. Got infected. And yesterday, off I went to the oral surgeon for aforementioned yanking and let me say right now that if you have dental “issues”, you might want to stop reading here and I'll see you on Friday instead.

At first, Den (his alias of choice, in case I should write about it and dude, I have a blog, of course I’m writing about it) told me very seriously that unfortunately, he couldn’t put me to sleep for the procedure (I forget why). I was stunned to realize that people - not just people with issues, all people - are indeed knocked out for getting a tiny tooth pulled and held forth for a while about the continuing wussification of the world, which gave me a focus other than the impending removal of a bodypart to which I was rather attached, both literally and figuratively. By the time I was winding down, Den was busy numbing the entire right side of my mouth, jaw, lips and tongue. This had the interesting effect of bringing out my Danish accent. Most of the time, I reportedly don't have much of an accent - it comes out when I’m tired or drunk and apparently also when I’m numbed well into next week (I’m having an association with the word ‘numbskull’ and maybe it’s the trauma, but am I the only one who thinks that’s hysterically funny?). And then he started. And it was noticeable. So he injected some more freezing and kept going, getting out the drill to “section” the tooth (which I translated to “drill into bits to be removed individually”). And then got distracted by my grimacing and the rather miraculous curling of my toes up under my heel - they haven’t been that flexible in years - and froze me up some more. And I could still feel it. He called it a rogue nerve.

I’ve heard of rogue waves. I’ve heard of rogue demon hunters. But rogue nerves?? In my head, there is an image of a nerve dressed in black leather and a bad attitude, defiantly getting on its minuscule Harley all "you're not the boss of me" and how can I not blog about that?

I’ll skip over the next bit, as I’m fuzzy on the details – I closed my eyes and went as far away as I could while various weird noises and sensations happened inside my head. That’s the part I hate the most about the yanking. The pain’s bearable, the days of swishing saltwater is fine, the looking like a lopsided chipmunk – well, whatever. It’s the bone-leaving-its-rightful-place sounds that freaks me out. Especially when they somehow continue to reverberate inside my skull for days.

TMI? Sorry.

So it’s out. As is usual when I'm nervous, my stomach had been rendered a black, cavernous void by the pre-yanking anxiety, which means I’m starving all the time and the minute the last bit of tooth clinks down on the metal tray, I ask when I can eat. Wait until the freezing’s worn off, they say. About four hours. And now my body’s really pissed – not only has bits of it been removed against its will, but NO EATING?!?? Which emotion might have helped move things along, as when Den is stitching me up, it very quickly becomes apparent that the pervasive numbness that rendered the entire right side of my face – exterior and interior – a blank space of nonexistence? Gone.

And then they charged me $290 for a “difficult extraction”. Quite frankly, I think I’m the one who should be paid.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Conversations with My Feet

My feet are claustrophobic.

Yesterday, I got up and decided that since it was no longer anything close to ‘warm’ outside (although, it could be argued that neither could it be defined as ‘cold’. Tepid’s more like it. The cool side of tepid), maybe it was finally the end of bare-foot weather and maybe I should relent and put on a pair of socks. Picked something fairly loose, as one should always start gradually with the encasing of one’s nethermost appendages in tubes of constriction. My attendant started putting one sock on my right foot and I swear to whatever divine being will receive it, said right foot recoiled and screamed in horror. At which point, I asked my attendant to not and wandered around for the rest of the day with slightly chilly (and very happy) toes.

From the beginning, nausea accompanied my arthritis like they were conjoined twins. Never saw one without the other and the only medication that's ever dealt with the arthritis effectively enough that I'm only rarely nauseous is the TNF blockers like Enbrel and Humira and while I'm on the subject, can I just say how bloody marvellous it is to no longer be at the very least vaguely queasy at all times?! When I was a kid and eating was difficult, what with constantly being unsettled in the stomach region, my mother told me to listen to my body when I decided what to eat. This made it less likely that I would pay for an ill-advised meal with three days of inability to eat anything but cucumber, rice and dry toast. And I've been doing it ever since, consulting my body, which aside from making it impossible to do any sort of meal plan, has worked pretty well.

And then, years ago, because I'm apparently committed to making my life interesting, I started applying the rule to other parts of my body and it turns out that if you listen, various bits of your physical being has an opinion about almost everything. After I cut my toenails, my feet feel lighter. Nail polish is heavy. When I'm flirting with a sinus infection, every cell in my body demands pineapple juice. My skin will bitch if I wear anything but natural fibres. Etc. And my feet are claustrophobic.

When I was little, I loved being barefoot in the summer. I'd start in the early spring, as soon as it was warm enough that my mother would let me out of the house without socks and shoes and I'd start toughening up my feet, suffering through a couple of weeks of the soles of my feet, newly freed from the dampening effect of being covered, being almost unbearably sensitive, then gradually becoming more comfortable. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the nubbly surface of our street, the sinking swish of the sand of the beach changing to a squishy wetness where the waves met the shore and the prickle of grass. Well, that last one is not just a memory - often when I sit in the park with a book, I'll kick off one sandal and dangle my bare foot down to touch the grass, swinging it back and forth, letting the soft blades of green caress the underside of my foot.

But back to my feet and their opinions. They hate socks, resisting being trapped inside these little tubes of decorum with a passionate loathing. Putting on a pair of socks feels as restrictive as I'm sure it once did to wear a corset and in winter, although I learn to ignore the clamour of discontent, I am forever accompanied by a low-level whingeing, a complaint that doesn't cease until I take the blasted things off in the evening, at which point I can almost see my feet pulse with the inhalation of relief. With the following exception - once it gets cold enough to wear the handknit variety, they grumble less, often switching moods from resentful to moaning in bliss in the blink of an eye (apparently, as well as being claustrophobic, my feet also have bipolar tendencies). I count the official start of summer from the moment I can relinquish socks, usually sometime in May, practically being able to hear the songs of jubilation coming from the direction of two very happy tootsies to the end of summer, usually early October and then, the song is more like a dirge.

I'm pretty sure that the freedom of my feet can be counted in mere hours - quite frankly, I'd be surprised if they aren't clothed by Monday and based on their reaction to the idea yesterday, I expect that the weekend will be spent in intense negotiation with my claustrophobic feet.

Still. November. A personal record of barefootedness.