crafty · Homeschool · Kids · waxing philosophical

Day 410: Life Imitates Art Class

Having given up on making a proper pot or urn, I tried to extend our study of Ancient Greece in a different artistic direction: mosaic.

First off, a warning: a certain big-box craft store sells large jars of mosaic tiles. At least, they look large on the website… but they’re not. It’s a good thing I’ve hoarded so many craft supplies over the years.

Just like every art class, we had the dubious pleasure of watching R descend into perfectionistic madness, cry, storm off, and then come back and get to work. K worked seriously and enthused about this new art medium. E and I worked together (it’s the one with the elephants, in case you couldn’t guess.) N worked quickly and precisely to place all of his tiles; then he groaned and quit when I pointed out he had to actually stick them to the board, not just rest them there. I suggested that he use a sheet of adhesive plastic to keep the tiles in their arrangement, making it easy to move the tiles so that he could apply mastic to the board.

It’s interesting to see how their personalities are evident in their art (and in how they make it.) I suppose that’s why art (like music) is such a good therapeutic medium. I keep hoping I can use R’s art class experiences to teach her about working with what you have instead of crying about what you don’t. The message hasn’t gotten through yet, but surely after she experiences the same thing another dozen times there will be sufficient evidence to convince her, don’t you think? As for N, he always does what he’s asked to do, as efficiently as possible, and nothing more. I pray that one day he’ll see how much better his work is when he does more than just the bare minimum.

Maybe the kids will appreciate the parallel between mosaics and life. Some of them are made of uniform materials (all tile; all conventional milestones) while others are a hodgepodge of materials and found objects. Each could easily have just been a pile of junk, broken tiles, or stones, but they’re beautiful because someone took the time to arrange everything just so. Life doesn’t have to be just a bunch of stuff that happens; if we take a bit of time to really look at what we have (rather than what we don’t,) we can craft our lives into something truly beautiful.

family fun · mental health · parenting · waxing philosophical · weight loss

Day 399: Picture Me

I’m very picky about what pictures of myself I allow to be seen. They should be taken from slightly above me, so I don’t have a double chin, and never in profile, because then my belly looks huge. These are the things I look at first every time I see a picture of myself.

I’ve learned to get creative when posing for family pictures. Having small children helps, because they’re so willing to stand in front of me and be hugged. I’ve hidden behind my kids, my husband, my guitar, and my bike. Even then, I demand veto power before any photos are shared. At least, I try to.

I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want my great-grandchildren to look at me and say, “Why do we only see her from the shoulders up?” and then learn that I was ashamed to let my body show because I was fatter than the current fashion. It’s reasonable to assume that at least some of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren might resemble me, right down to body type. Am I being ridiculous to think that if they see me effectively hiding my body in every picture, they might infer that there’s something wrong with our shared shape?

Maybe the opposite is true, too: maybe they’ll see me, with a double chin and a belly, and say, “That was my great-grandmother. She did so many cool things—music, and building stuff, and quilting, and homeschooling my grandma—and look, she’s got the same chin as me. And she had a belly, too, like I do. And she’s so pretty. That must mean I’m pretty too.”

Of course, I’d be even happier if it didn’t occur to my great-grandkids to judge themselves based on where they carry their extra weight. But in order for that to happen, I first have to raise kids who know better, too, which means that I have to step up and model how I think we should relate to our bodies.

That means no more asking, “Do I look fat in this dress?”; not obsessing over or cataloguing every morsel of food I ingest; not calling myself “bad” for eating an extra slice of cheesecake; and not acting like my body shape and size is so unacceptable that I have to hide it. Not that I plan to wear skintight, revealing clothing from now on—that’s never been my thing, even when I’ve been slim—but I don’t have to choose clothes solely based on how well they hide my fat. My body isn’t wrong, it’s not broken, and I’m not less deserving of being seen because I wear a size fourteen or sixteen instead of a six or eight.

Which brings us back to pictures of me. This evening after dinner we took R and E to the park. I was wearing the dress I bought from eShakti, which might well be my favourite piece of clothing. It’s super comfortable, it has a huge pocket, and the skirt is flowy. I was sitting on the bench with Mr. December, the breeze playing with my hair, and all at once I just felt… pretty.

“I’ve got a dilemma,” I told Mr. December. “I feel so pretty right now, and I think I want you to take a picture of me. Then again, what if you take the picture and I see that I don’t look nearly as pretty as I feel?”

Which is ridiculous, because that would be conflating beauty with size, which are not mutually exclusive. I have quite a few friends and relatives who aren’t thin, and many of them are just gorgeous, full stop. I love and admire them. They don’t need to change their bodies. Their beauty isn’t conditional on their weight. Why, then, have I always felt like mine is?

In the end, the joy of the moment won out over my fat phobia, and I posed for a few pictures. I’m sharing them with you here, deliberately including the ones that I would normally edit out, because I need to learn to see my own beauty with the extra chin and the fat, instead of seeing my beauty despite it.

bikes planes and automobiles · family fun · Kids · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 382: Siblings and Friends

One of the greatest gifts the pandemic has given us, I often think, is that the kids relate to each other as friends. Sibling rivalry doesn’t seem to be much of a thing anymore (although it could just be in the last week or so; My memory for such things doesn’t go much farther back than that.) Instead I’ll glimpse moments where they’re encouraging, comforting, entertaining, and supporting each other—moments that are so sweet they take my breath away (or maybe I just need to use my blue puffer. Not sure about that one.)

Today we went on a family bike ride, the first one where E has ridden her own bicycle instead of being on a tandem trailer behind mine. She’s still a bit wobbly, but she rode three kilometres before we stopped to play at the park (and a final kilometre to get back home.) As the rear guard, I got to watch as R cycled alongside E, shouting encouragement and advice as they went.

“You can do it, E! We’re almost there!”

At the park R immediately climbed up a freestanding rock wall and then called to E to try it. As I spotted E from below, R called out pointers and persuaded E to keep trying when she wanted to quit. Eventually E made it to the top where R congratulated her and showed her the most secure place to sit up there.

After dinner I refused to give E more screen time. “Go do something else!” I instructed before sticking my nose back in my book. She came to me some minutes later with a dominoes game, asking how to play, when K sauntered into the room. I offhandedly suggested that K could play with E; after telling them the basic rules I went back to my reading. I thought K would play maybe one round with E—but they played four or five games before deciding to do something else. K spoke softly, patiently, and she treated E as an equal.

I store up these moments in my mind and in my phone, greedily, against the day when they go their separate ways, each with their own peer group. I often comment that it’s wonderful being married to my best friend; it’s pretty wonderful that the kids get to grow up as close friends, too.

blogging · family fun · mental health · waxing philosophical

Day 379: I didn’t expect this… but here we are.

We finished watching The Sound of Music tonight, all snuggled together on the giant beanbags in the attic. I love, love, love this movie—I sing along to the songs and sigh in all the romantic places—which is why I’m upset about how it made me feel tonight.

(Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the movie yet, what rock are you living under? It was made in 1965, for heaven’s sake!)

In one of the final scenes when the family is hiding in the abbey, the brown-shirted men come running in with their flashlights as the family cowers behind a tombstone. That’s about when I got a sudden jolt of adrenaline. I felt it in my chest and hugged the kids a little tighter to help myself feel better. It helped, but not by enough. When the movie ended I dragged Mr. December out for a walk, hopeful that the exertion would use up all the extra adrenaline. It didn’t. Even now, writing a blog post two hours later, my body is still on high alert.

I had a similar reaction the last time I saw The Sound of Music, but it was a live production and there was an actor dressed as a Nazi soldier, standing not three feet away from me, that gave me the sudden urge to duck beneath my seat and hold my breath. I assumed that my reaction in that case was because I was part of the scene and it felt so real. I still don’t really understand how just seeing the action projected on a wall in front of me, as I snuggled down safe in my house with my kids, could provoke this feeling of panic and dread.

As we watched that scene (where one of the Nazi soldiers hid behind another gravestone to wait and see if the family would appear), I pointed out to my kids, “If you’re ever hiding from someone, stay hidden a lot longer than you think, even after you’re sure they’re gone.” It’s a bit disturbing that part of me fears they might actually need to know that one day (God forbid.)

A quick web search suggests that this is what’s called collective trauma, or maybe historical or cultural trauma.

“It kind of makes you understand a bit more about how and why people can get so upset about microagressions, doesn’t it?” Mr. December philosophised as I speed-walked along the sidewalk.

He’s right. It does. And it’s also a potent reminder that we don’t know what other people’s baggage is. Sometimes even they might not really know or expect it. I certainly didn’t expect it tonight, but here we are.

I don’t really know how to end this. Not the blog post—that, I can just press “publish” and send it off into the ether, with or without a solid conclusion—but the panicky feeling I still have. Mr. December (well-read on a wide variety of subjects) says it can take hours to come down from this kind of state. I certainly hope not.

And just for the record, The Sound of Music is still one of my favourite movies, hands down. I guess I’ll just stop watching before the end from now on.

Kids · love and marriage · parenting · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 353: Re-evaluating

I’m moving into a different phase of life, it seems. E isn’t a baby anymore. Gone are the days of endless diapers and drooly kisses. I realized only today that it’s time to re-evaluate some of my personal rules that have served me well since 2008. Among them:

Only buying super cheap clothes because “someone is going to vomit all over it or flick paint at it or touch it with greasy little hands, and I’ll be sad if I spent more than $5 on my shirt and only wore it twice before it was ruined.”

Not using any kind of face moisturizer because my toddlers’ idea of a kiss involved a very open mouth and far more tongue than is appropriate for a non-romantic relationship.

Not wearing jewellery because it would scratch my babies’ faces when I held them, or because the kids would chew on it and get who-knows-what metals in their mouths (especially in the case of costume jewellery.)

See what I mean? Those rules need to change.

I’m actually entering a phase of buying more expensive clothes because I finally feel confident that I’ll be able to wear the same things for years. These days the only person getting paint on my clothes is me, and if I can’t take two minutes to change or put on a smock before painting, I can only blame myself for the resulting stains. And Mr. December and I are increasingly trying to buy clothes (and other things) produced by people who were actually paid a living wage. Locally made clothes, too, if possible. That stuff doesn’t come cheap.

On the moisturizer front, well, when I decided to stop using it I was twenty-eight years old. Now I’m forty-one and my skin isn’t as elastic as it used to be. It’s also brutally dry here in the winter and it shows on my face, which gets itchy when it’s dry. The no-moisturizer rule should probably be retired, at least until I have grandbabies who want to lick my face (yes, that’s way off in the future. Yes, I’m looking forward to it.)

And jewellery… that’s kind of laughable these days, when I have zero special occasions to attend and therefore very little need to dress up; I haven’t yet become so bored and despondent as to dress up in formalwear to take out the garbage. I guess I could wear jewellery just because, but that’s not really me. I’m much more practical and streamlined on an average day.

A few of my personal rules that are definitely keepers:

Anybody who wakes me up on a weekend had better be having an emergency. I need my sleep. And my kids need to learn what constitutes an “emergency” lest they become adults who call 911 because their neighbour was rude.

The kids’ job is to play. I’m the mom, and my job is to do mom stuff. I’m not the cruise director or the playmate. Even with older kids—especially with older kids—I assert my right to not have to play games that make me long for the sweet succor of the dentist’s chair.

My marriage predates my kids, and it needs to outlast their childhoods. That’s basically my catchphrase when one of the kids is trying to interrupt a hug or kiss between me and Mr. December. “My marriage predates you,” I say to the kids, “wait your turn.” I sure as heck hope that’s a good way to model marital felicity, because I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

What are your personal rules? And how often do they change?

el cheapo · Keepin' it real · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 331: It’s hard to leave the jungle

And by “jungle,” I mean Amazon.

Over the last year or so Mr. December and I have discussed reducing our Amazon use.

(Cue laugh track here—reducing Amazon use during a pandemic? Oh, I am so hilarious!)

But really, we’re trying to find ways to support smaller businesses, or, failing that, Canadian businesses of any size. It’s not that I have a particular hate-on for Amazon, it’s just that I think it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one foreign-owned basket. I will say, however, that I realize that Amazon employs a large number of people locally and those people benefit from my Amazon use, so it’s a balance.

The thing is, I’ve been seriously spoiled by Amazon for the last twelve years.

I remember when Mr. December and I took baby K to California for a week to combine a visit to friends with a business trip. We didn’t own a travel crib yet, and we knew we’d need one. Mr. December suggested that I order one on Amazon and have it delivered to our friends’ house. The next day, I got an email from our friend that it had arrived.

One day? I was flabbergasted. Things arrive in one day? Here it takes two weeks!

When Amazon started their subscription service in Canada, it was a godsend. I placed my order once… and for the next two or three years, diapers and wipes showed up at my door on a regular basis. For a mom with three kids under the age of five, this was a big deal—no more shopping and schlepping! It definitely improved my quality of life.

Over the last decade I’ve bought hundreds of things from Amazon, from the mundane (dishwasher detergent and hair elastics) to the unique things I couldn’t find anywhere else (like Dimwit, my adorable reading lamp.) It’s been great—but now we’re trying to change our shopping habits.

There’s just one problem: Amazon is so good at what it does. Where else in Canada can you get a playground swing in January? Or fifty assorted rubber ducks? Amazon was the only place I could find kosher jelly candies for K’s bat mitzvah without leaving the house (we were in lockdown, remember,) and nobody else had a small bag of regular sand for our science experiment about igneous rocks. I can’t count the number of times I’ve spent hours looking for something online in all the Canadian stores I can think of and ended up ordering off Amazon.

Before you ask, it’s not a price issue; we’re willing to pay more to support local businesses. It’s sometimes a simple availability problem, and sometimes it’s a question of delivery time: I don’t usually need things tomorrow, but it would be nice to get them in fewer than three weeks. But sometimes, the actual experience of ordering is so terrible with Canadian companies that it feels like a punishment just to order some toilet paper.

Canadian Tire is a great example. Many times I’ve tried to order from them for shipping to my home, but wasn’t allowed to put the item in my cart because the local store didn’t have it in stock. I can sometimes get around it by selecting a different store as my favourite and then putting the item in my cart, but that’s an extra few steps I’d rather not take. And if one item is in stock in my closest store, but the second item is only available at another store that doesn’t have the first item, forget it.

My pretty new tea infusers, each with its own matching drip tray. From Amazon, of course.

I haven’t even gotten into the insane amount of choice that Amazon offers. It opens up a whole other world of products. Two weeks ago I decided I’d like to use the loose leaf tea in our pantry; I couldn’t, though, because I had no tea ball or tea strainer. I looked online at a few Canadian retailers: Kitchen Stuff Plus, Canadian Tire, Hudson’s Bay, even a few smaller kitchen supply stores. They each had a simple mesh ball on a chain. When I got to Amazon and entered “tea ball” in the search box, I got an astonishing variety: tea balls shaped like submarines or aquatic animals, reusable silicone tea bags, even a tea ball shaped like an elephant with its forelegs and trunk peeking out over the top of the teacup. With that kind of colourful variety available, it’s very difficult to choose the boring old mesh ball, no matter how Canadian it is.

It’s ridiculous to expect smaller local companies to compete with Amazon; their advantage lies in the personalized service they offer. But if larger Canadian companies just made a few changes to their online shopping platforms, it would be far easier to support them. I’ll gladly pay a bit extra for products that weren’t made in China, or for shipping—even if it takes a few days more. But I’m less and less inclined to pay in time and frustration because Canadian retailers haven’t put enough thought into their online customer experience. It’s 2021, guys. Time to get with the (virtual) program.

blogging · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 327: What do you mean, “Patriarchy”?

I awoke this morning to numerous suggestions of clothing retailers that make women’s clothing with useful pockets; I also had a message waiting for me from a close friend who took issue with my use of the word “patriarchy” and also contended that it’s not society’s fault that I value different things than most women.

I first used the word “patriarchy” facetiously when explaining to K the history of women’s clothing and how it affected our pockets (or lack thereof) today. But as I explained it, I realized that I wasn’t wrong… but “patriarchy” is a word loaded with a lot of things I did not mean.

I think some clarification would be helpful.

My theory, in a big nutshell:

The value we place on women’s appearance is a natural result of women’s role in a patriarchal society, and these beliefs persist even as women’s rights and privileges have expanded. The fashion industry, therefore, is still generally more concerned with the appearance of clothes than with their utility (form over function, in other words) and so are many (if not most) women. I’m not saying that designers or clothing manufacturers are trying to keep women down; I’m saying that they (and we) have inherited certain beliefs about women’s clothing that stem from a social construct made necessary by societal rules in centuries past, and these beliefs inform both the work of fashion designers and the buying habits of female consumers.

“What do you mean, ‘patriarchal society’?”

By “patriarchal” I mean that men hold primary power and predominate in privilege, property, and politics. You might feel that it’s no longer the case in this day and age—don’t women own houses, vote, have careers, and control their fertility? Yes, in some countries they do. But even in countries where women are pretty much equal to men, these things are relatively new developments: up until 1974, American women who applied for their own credit card would be asked to have a man co-sign the application. Until 1993, spousal rape couldn’t be prosecuted in many states. This is not ancient history, folks. In 1993 I was thirteen years old—and I’m no elderly pensioner.

(If you’re wondering why a Canadian blogger is writing about American law, wonder no more: I’m a bit lazy and U.S. information is easier to come by.)

But I digress (sort of.) You want to know what this has to do with pockets, right?

A very short, very selective, very Eurocentric history of fashion

In yesterday’s blog post, I briefly mentioned the idea that women didn’t need to carry money because money was the man’s concern. Perhaps this was an upper-class phenomenon; a few years ago, my research led me to conclude that servants and working-class women had pockets in their clothes. Nevertheless, fashion is, and always has been, dictated by the upper classes.

(Did you know that women’s shirts button on the opposite side of men’s? This is a holdover from the days when upper-class women would have maids to dress them. The buttons are placed for a right-handed assistant’s convenience.)

So upper class women’s clothing was (still is, really) designed to show their figures to best advantage, and full pockets would disturb that line. But why did that concern dominate?

Why value form over function?

Let’s be blunt: in the not-too-distant past, a woman relied on her father or her husband for financial support and social protection. To lack a male protector mean a lifetime on the fringes of society, and economic uncertainty if not outright poverty. In that light, it was imperative to attract a husband. And what did husbands want? Beautiful wives. (Why? There are theories that physical beauty and symmetrical features are good proxies for fertility, but I haven’t gone down that rabbit hole yet.) The most beautiful women would be most sought-after, and would therefore probably end up marrying the richest, most powerful men. Or, in the case of my ancestors in some Polish shtetl, the most beautiful girl would marry the most brilliant Torah scholar.

When you think about it that way, that being beautiful was a matter of survival, it’s a bit easier to understand how we got to the point of women wearing clothes that “look good” even though the clothes are highly impractical and even uncomfortable. Most women’s pants pockets are too small to hold a phone, wallet, or anything else that might break the “line” of the silhouette. And that’s if the pants have pockets to begin with: many have fake pockets that are stitched on for appearance.

But if that’s in the past, why don’t clothing manufacturers make more practical clothes now?

Well, because beliefs change slowly. If even a hundred years ago women still had to trade on their beauty to be assured financial stability and social standing, that means my grandmothers were raised by mothers who lived, courted, and married in that social reality. Their adulthoods weren’t much different, and even my mother came of age before women could sign their own credit card application or attend an Ivy League university. While it’s true that she also came of age at the same time as feminism was gathering steam, it would have been hard to discard all the lessons learned at the knee of her mother and aunties about how a girl should look. Now here we are, in my generation, and even though we understand much of this, we still can’t completely shake the feeling that our physical appearance is still the primary way women are judged nowadays.

Supply and demand (or lack thereof)

My dear friend whose message prompted this blog post was confident that clothing companies would sell clothes with pockets if women actually would buy them, and the fact that they don’t implies that I value clothing differently from most women. That’s probably true. But because of the history I mentioned above, among other factors, most women will still value looking good over feeling comfortable. Sure, we’ll complain about how the high heels hurt our feet or how painfully tight Spanx are, but it’s still important to have that particular leg shape and a slender midsection, so we’ll just suck it up and complain to each other in the ladies’ room.

It’s not just the women, either. Men will also say in one breath that high heels are stupid, and in the next they’ll admire a particularly shapely leg that is only that shape because, well, high heels. Mr. December might hate being constantly asked to carry my stuff in his pockets, but I see the appreciation on his face when I wear my tight jeans instead of something more practical. He, too, is living with the legacy of patriarchy that once declared loudly (and now whispers) that beauty is the most important attribute a woman can have.

I believe that’s why there’s so much demand for women’s clothing that lacks useful pockets in order to be sleek and accentuate the female form. Nobody is “at fault” here—it’s simply the legacy of our history.

Okay, so what’s your point?

I guess my point is that, as Yuval Noah Harari pointed out in his book Homo Deus, precedent and history affect our current beliefs and choices far more than we think. In his book he used the example of monoculture lawns, but I think his argument applies to the pockets-in-women’s-clothing issue too.

Am I telling people that women should stop caring about looking good and that we should all walk around wearing cargo pants? No. Absolutely not. But if we know that these beliefs are actually products of ages past, rather than some universal truth, we can decide whether we want to pass them on to the next generation. And we can start making things better for this generation, too, maybe even by demanding usable pockets in women’s clothing.

family fun · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · mental health · waxing philosophical

Day 299: Avoidance Hobbies

I took up the viola again when E was eight months old. It became my default activity anytime I wasn’t motivated to do anything else. If it was a bad depression day, I’d just play the songs that I knew so well they were automatic. On other days I would work on newer pieces. That process was automatic too, actually: play each phrase on its own, identify the trouble spots, play one slowly at first and increase the tempo gradually, repeat again for muscle memory, next phrase. Practicing viola was easy for me, even when the pieces I was learning were hard.

It sounds like I was using my time productively, and in some ways I was. But to my mind it was just like taking a nap to shut out the world, except that it sounds productive. Day after day I would practice viola until my hands hurt, while my responsibilities—mail, bills, correspondence, scheduling—went undone.

I injured my left arm on Friday, which means that I can’t play viola right now; but I just happened to get some new calligraphy pens this weekend, and it’s turning into my next “avoidance hobby” (for lack of a better term.)

I bought the pens for a specific homeschool project: illuminated manuscripts of the kids’ chosen quotations from Pirkei Avot. I took the pens out to try them before introducing them to the kids; an hour later I was still practicing my Hebrew calligraphy and marveling at how perfect some of the letters looked. One by one the kids joined me and practiced writing Hebrew letters (much more willingly than they would have otherwise.)

Today we were doing some preparation for Passover (this will be the year that my kids can actually read some of the text fluently in Hebrew) which involved copywork. The kids are usually reluctant to do it, but they jumped at the chance to use the calligraphy markers again. I did it alongside them, enjoying the focus and flow that comes to me when I’m creating one letter at a time.

Now I can’t decide whether the calligraphy is meditative enough to call it a mindfulness practice, or just another avoidance strategy? I certainly have plenty to do—mail, cellphone contract re-negotiation, finishing up things for K’s bat mitzvah, adding a sketch to the email I drafted for the landscape designer—but I can’t bring myself to do them right now, whereas I’d happily sit down with the markers and some lined paper for another hour of calligraphy practice.

better homes than yours · Keepin' it real · Kids · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 288: I can’t keep tabling this decision.

There’s a beautiful full moon outside my window as I type this. There were fireworks earlier, and it took me a full ten minutes of wondering why before I remembered that today is the last day of 2020.

This is by no means an isolated incident, caused by the whole pandemic lockdown thing. I haven’t really celebrated New Year’s Eve in twenty years. Along with Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve is just another day where I don’t see the point of going out when everyone else is too, and paying double the usual price to do it. I just don’t get it.

You know, I really wanted to write something profound at this point, but I keep getting interrupted by children and now I don’t remember what I was going to say.

I still haven’t bought a new dining room table. It’s getting to be urgent, though, as any time the kids put some weight on the middle of the table it sags alarmingly. I took out one of the two extension leaves to minimize the distance between the legs.

K was horrified. “You mean I have to sit CLOSER to N? No way! That’s too close!” This, even though the table fits six chairs around it without even a hint of crowding. To keep the peace I promised to be the one sitting next to her.

But with a sagging table and chairs that wobble (from loose joints, not uneven floors,) I know it’s just a matter of time before something breaks. I’d best get a new table and chairs before that happens.

I was going to try getting my design built by a local carpenter who works with reclaimed wood, but then I saw something today that made me change my mind. Isn’t this beautiful?

Image description: an angled view of a tabletop made of two pieces of live-edge wood with the live edges facing the centre of the table. The gap between them is turquoise epoxy, giving the impression of a body of water.

So now I need to politely extricate myself from talks with the aforementioned carpenter and get in touch with the folks who do this kind of work instead. From their website, I gather they might even be able to fabricate tree-shaped pedestals like the ones in my original design.

Then I’ll be back here with a new design dilemma, asking all of my readers to weigh in on what kind of chairs would go best with that table, keeping in mind my spill-prone kids and the cottagey ambience of our home. In fact, I’ll just ask now: what chairs would you pair with the table you see above, and why?

Mr. December is still putting the kids to bed (the volume seems to be dropping, but I still hear animated voices.) This is my chance to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a book without interruptions. For those of you who celebrate, Happy New Year. To everyone else, good night.

family fun · Fibro Flares · goodbye clutter! · Jewy goodness · The COVID files · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 286: The Kitchen Sink

Sorry I missed yesterday, everyone. I was in pain and having trouble focusing enough to write. I’m a bit better today.

Is it weird that after I finish loading the dishwasher, I tidy up the sink and then stack any remaining dishes neatly inside? Because I do. If those dishes have to sit there for a few more hours, I’d at least like it to not look completely disgusting.

If my family could be taught to stack dishes neatly in the sink, I wouldn’t have to do it myself. Unfortunately, no matter how many times we’ve discussed it, they often leave their dishes on the counter. This drives me slightly nutty.

The counter is a work surface; it’s best to keep it as clear as possible. It’s not a resting place for dirty dishes. The sink, on the other hand, is a perfect place for dirty dishes: the dishes are less visible, for starters, and take up less space when stacked inside the sink. Besides, you can fill the dishes with a bit of water so whatever is on them doesn’t ossify. What else is a sink for?

I’ve never been told this explicitly, but after twenty years of observation, I believe my inlaws prefer to leave the dirty dishes on the counter to the left of the sink. I have no idea why, but hey, it’s not my kitchen. Nevertheless, I’m baffled as to what else the sink is for.

When I was in first-year university, I had an ongoing dispute with one of my suitemates (apartment style residence) over where to keep the dish soap. She wanted us all to put the bottle of dish soap away in the cabinet underneath the sink when we weren’t using it (because it looked neater that way.) I, on the other hand, felt that was a stupid place for dish soap: it added unnecessary steps to the dishwashing process (including bending down and opening the cabinet door.) Besides, a kitchen sink is a workspace, isn’t it? In what world do you not keep the appropriate tools in the workspace where they’re used?

Now that I’ve unloaded all my kitchen sink baggage, I can move on. But I’d love to hear you weigh in on the kitchen sink and its purpose. Seriously.

Our linen closet has been on my to-do list for a long time. Finally, after wasting a ton of time trying to find the right size and configuration of wire shelving, I gave up and ordered a set of modular metal mesh cubes from Amazon.

This morning I was feeling marginally better than yesterday, so I decided to take out a few of the components and set them up. Two hours later, I had Mr. December helping me assemble the top shelves. I still have to trim the zip ties (I don’t trust those connectors to stand up to heavy use) and attach the cubes to the wall (so they don’t topple forward,) and then it’ll be ready.

I spent most of this afternoon creating a website for K’s Bat Mitzvah. Since lockdown rules limit religious ceremonies to ten people, and we—Mr. D and I, the four kids, and all our parents—add up to ten, K decided to do the ceremony at home rather than in the synagogue with our rabbi (because then the rabbi counts as one, and somebody would have to be left out.) Since we’re at home, we’ll be able to livestream or zoom the service so that family and friends can join us.

I also spent a long time this evening with R, N, and E, getting some things ready for K’s birthday tomorrow. We did have a few mishaps involving confetti-filled balloons, but in the end there’s a balloon bouquet, a string of balloons that reads “Happy Birthday,” and a whole lot of rubber duckies hiding in my closet. I’d say more, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise in case K reads this tonight.