Tag Archives: Humour

Dual Citizens Get Two Thanksgivings

Seven years ago, I became a Canadian citizen. There are many things I love about being a citizen of both Canada and the United States. Having the excuse to celebrate Thanksgiving twice every year is definitely part of that list.

Yes, this is blog post about food.

No, this isn’t about turkey. Don’t tell the rest of the omnivores out there, but I’m actually not a big fan of turkey. It isn’t something my spouse and I eat on Thanksgiving the vast majority of the time. If it disappeared from the traditional menu altogether, I honestly wouldn’t miss it.

While there are many other foods I’d happily eat during this holiday, my ideal Thanksgiving dinner could easily be comprised of nothing but the three dishes below. I am only particular about how one of them is made for reasons that I’ll explain later on this post.

The first mandatory dish for Lydia’s ideal Thanksgiving is mashed potatoes with gravy.

Yes, I will love them if they came from dehydrated potato flakes and powdered gravy.

Yes, I will love them if they came from a frozen bag of mashed potatoes (so long as there aren’t any milk products in them) and if the gravy was an everyday ground beef gravy.

Yes,I will love them if they came from real potatoes that were peeled, boiled, and mashed to perfection and if the gravy was a fancy one made from drippings, broth, spices, and flour moments before it was brought to the table.

In short, there is no wrong way to make mashed potatoes and gravy. As long as eating it won’t make me physically ill, I will enjoy them however they are prepared. Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food.

The second mandatory dish for Lydia’s ideal Thanksgiving is pie.

We’ve had store-bought blueberry, apple, or lemon meringue pie for the last few Thanksgivings at my house, but any kind of pie will do.

Yes, I will love them if they’re homemade from the finest organic ingredients by someone who thought about nothing but happy thoughts while rolling out the dough.

Yes, I will love them if they’re store-bought, generic, and a little squished from being carried home with lots of other groceries.

Yes, I will love them if they have lemon meringue, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, pumpkins, squash, or just about any other kind of pie-friendly filling in them.

If you provide some non-dairy ice cream to go along with the pie, I’ll be absolutely thrilled. This is not a requirement, though, and I actually didn’t bother to eat ice cream with the apple pie my spouse and I enjoyed this Thanksgiving.

I am not particular about this dessert. The fact that it exists at all will almost certainly make me perfectly happy. All pie is delicious pie.

The final mandatory dish for Lydia’s ideal Thanksgiving is angel eggs.

You probably know them as devilled eggs instead. When I was a child, my parents renamed a few foods that had the word “devil” in them like devilled eggs (we called them angel eggs) or devil’s food cake (we called it chocolate cake). Why they did that is a long, complicated story, but when I grew up I never made the switch from referring to them as angel eggs to devilled eggs like the rest of the world does.

They were known as angel eggs when I was three, and I will still call them that when I’m a hundred and three. This is where I suddenly become stubborn and picky about my food.

No, I will not call them devilled eggs. You can call them whatever you wish, but my mind was made up on this topic very early in life.

No, I do not want store-bought angel eggs. I’d honestly rather pretend like such a thing was never invented at all.

No, I do not want anyone who doesn’t know our family recipe to attempt to make them no matter how delicious they think their version of it may be. My mother’s angel eggs are the best ones in the world. Not only are they the perfect blend of ingredients, they remind me of some very happy childhood memories.

Happy Thanksgiving

Now that you know exactly where my loyalties lie, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers. I hope this post made you smile.

If you live somewhere else in the world, this Canadian officially gives you permission to borrow our holiday if you’re in the mood for a festive meal today. Feel free to include your favourite foods in them, too, and to ignore the ones you may not like no matter how traditional they may be.

The Endless Summer of 2017: A Review

Title: The Summer That Refused to End: What Really Happened to Ontario in 2017

Author: Gaia Terra

Publisher: Cosmos

Release Date: June 21, 2017

End Date: Unknown

Rating: 3 Earths out of 5

Review:

Just when you thought summer had ended…it came back for more!

The summer of 2017 definitely started out innocently enough. Without digging too much into the backstory here since it isn’t strictly necessary to know in order to enjoy this instalment, every season has been full of surprises for us these last few years. None of them have been particularly normal. After a strangely warm winter and cold, rainy spring, I was looking forward to seeing what the weather would do next. It was so hot and dry during the summer of 2016 that I honestly had no idea what to expect for 2017. It was nice to see this summer begin so gently. I felt like we were able to reclaim some of the mild spring days I would have loved in April or May once they decided to pop up in June instead.

Wow, were there bumps in the road along the way, though. Yes, we had about the same number of the heat waves I was expecting to find. We also had far more rain than was usual, especially in the months of July and August when it is usually much drier here. I certainly didn’t mind the extra precipitation, and I don’t think our crops did either. What did bother me was how it ended. Normally, daytime highs of 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit for the American fans out there) have mostly faded away by mid September. When this kept happening over and over again even as we galloped from the end of September to the beginning of October I was beyond perplexed. I’m all for mixing the seasons a little bit during the transitions between them, but shouldn’t summer gracefully give way to autumn at a certain point in the plot?

I did love the rain, though, and am grateful for how often summer fell back onto this device when her other tricks weren’t working out as well as she had hoped. Once she decides to pass the baton onto autumn, I hope her predecessor will continue this tradition for the next few months. There is nothing quite like a rainy autumn afternoon to set the mood when you’re reading a scary book or trying to finish cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Speaking of Thanksgiving, summer, is there any chance you’ll be retiring before then?

By now my readers are probably wondering if I’d recommend the summer of 2017 to them. There certainly were plenty of upbeat moments during it, especially for those of us who love a strong thunderstorm. What it really boils down to is how much time you’re willing to invest in such a thing. This one was a little long for my tastes, although I can see how it would appeal to true connoisseurs of this season.

Previoius posts in this series:

A Review of Today’s Rainy Weather

The Strangest Songs to Get Stuck In Your Head During a Workout

I don’t actually listen to music when I workout, so it’s odd to see how often strange songs get stuck in my head while I’m walking or lifting weights.

Some of the songs I’m about to share with you today have powerful memories behind them that help to explain why my brain likes to dredge them up from the past when I’m least expecting it. If they are connected to such a thing for me, I will tell you all about it.

Other songs aren’t so fortunate. I honestly don’t know why I remember some of them. Maybe one of you will have a theory for me!

All I know is that my brain is pretty good at doing this. From what I’ve read, the same can be said for many people. Today I’d love to know what random songs pop into your mind when you’re working out. After you finished reading this post, come over to Twitter and tell me all about it. Let’s commiserate on the weirdest songs we’ve ever started to think about while exercising.

Jubilate Deo” is a song that my choir director had us practice regularly for the one year I reluctantly sung in my high school choir in order to fulfill the arts and music credit I needed to graduate.

There were a few songs he taught us during that year that I found myself enjoying at the time. This was not one of them, so I have no idea why I still remember the lyrics and melody so well.

Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch” has a funny story behind it.

My mother didn’t say a lot about the music my siblings and I listened to when we were teenagers. We were given a lot of freedom to decide which artists, bands, and genres of music we liked, especially once I was in my later teens and my parents relaxed their rules about these things even more than they had a few years before then.

With that being said, mom did have a vendetta against this particular song. I remember her giving us a friendly speech about sex being something more than rutting like animals. She was miffed by the idea that anyone would put that kind of a message into such a catchy tune.

I don’t know how she’ll react to this, but still think of her every time I hear this song. Although it is weird to have that memory suddenly pop up when I’m lifting weights or following a dance video on Youtube. A small part of me still expects her to start reading the lyrics once again and explaining why she doesn’t approve of them. Ha!

Justin Bieber’s “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever

There are three things I find strange about this:

  1. No offence to anyone who loves it, but I am not a fan of Justin’s musical style in general.
  2. Justin sang a Christian worship song in a secular concert to fans who had no idea what was happening.
  3. The beat of this song is far too slow for a workout.

I could understand getting this song stuck in my head when I’m mediating, relaxing, or trying to go to sleep. The fact that it generally only happens during workouts is quite the mystery.

Beyonce’s “Resentment.”

I am a fan of Beyonce’s music in general, but once again this isn’t a song that works well for something vigorous like a workout. It’s slow, heartbreaking, and has nothing at all to do with raising your heart rate or becoming more energetic.

If only my brain would decide to fixate on something fun like “Single Ladies” instead. At least that song has an uptempo beat you can dance to!

Fifth Harmony ft. Kid Ink’s  “Worth It.”

I have never liked this song. The few times I’ve heard it have been in circumstances where I couldn’t get away from it.

So why does my brain insist on bringing it up when I hit my stride on a long, brisk walk? There are dozens of other songs with similar beats that I’d be much happier to discover have become stuck in my head.

I sincerely don’t understand how the human mind works sometimes. If it were up to me, nobody would ever get a song stuck in their mind that they disliked, and they’d never think about slow songs when they were exercising or fast songs when they were trying to go to sleep.

If any of these songs are now stuck in your head, my apologies. I hope they wiggle their way free soon.

Scifi and Fantasy Rules That Should be Broken

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy stories for about as long as I’ve known how to read at all. There are so many things I love about these genres, but today I wanted to talk about some of the things that I wish SFF writers would do differently.

1. The Chosen One Must be Young and Uneducated

Why is the chosen one nearly always a teenager or young adult who hasn’t completed – or often even started – their training yet? Why are they the only one who can defeat the wizard, dragon, corrupt government, or werewolf army?

I dream of the day when the chosen one is actually a group of specialized, highly-trained witches who must use their complementary powers at the same exact time to defeat the dragon. Alternatively, maybe the chosen one could be a 70-year-old scientist who has spent the last 40 years studying the virus that has wiped out the last three attempts at permanent human colonies on Europa and who only now is ready to test his vaccine for it on human subjects.

At this point, I’d prefer to watch conflict build up slowly over years than see any more characters jump into the fray before they fully understand what’s going on or have had any training in what they’re about to accomplish.

2. Everyone Gets a Love Triangle

No, I am not against romantic storylines in general. There is definitely a time and place for them, and many stories would be far poorer without them.

With that being said, I’d be happy to never read about another love triangle again. This kind of stuff yanks me out of the plot every time it happens because of how confusing and strange I find it to be.

Please let characters be polyamorous, asexual, or totally uninterested in falling in love until the last zombie has been destroyed and humanity has once again begun to enjoy luxuries like healthy food, deodorant, regular baths, and not running in terror for their lives every day.

I would be thrilled to read about any of these scenarios. What I’d like to avoid, though, is anyone wringing their hands about which love interest to pick when there are far more urgent matter at hand.

For example, how terrible must all of the characters smell after running away from zombies for weeks and eating nothing but stale candy bars and potato chips out of vending machines?( I’m mostly joking here, but I think about practical matters like bad breath and body odour when a character in this sort of story suddenly starts mooning over someone who also probably hasn’t seen a toothbrush or loofah since sometime last month).

There are so many interesting things to say about outsmarting zombies, navigating a spaceship, or figuring out how to placate a fairy after you’ve unintentionally angered her and all of her relatives. These sources of conflict are a thousand times more compelling to me than wondering which love interest the main character will pick when he or she is still trying to figure out how to survive the night or which end of the sword you should be poking the bad guys with.

3. Aliens Are Always Smarter Than Us

There are only a few non-human species on Earth that can be described as intelligent: elephants, dolphins, and certain species of apes come to mind here.

We have no idea what life is really like on other planets or if it exists, but sometimes I wonder what humanity would do if we discovered something that wasn’t a little green man who could learn to speak English.

How would we treat an alien species if it was about as intelligent and willing to communicate with us as is the average cat? What if they were intelligent but it was in a way that wasn’t particularly compatible with human intelligence? Would we still be interested in a species if we couldn’t figure out their language or they couldn’t figure out ours?

These are the kinds of questions I think about every time I watch science fiction movies about humans making contact with new species from other planets.

4. Humans Are the Good Guys

Speaking of aliens, why are humans always the good guys when our species get into conflicts with each other?

Humanity honestly doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to treating new cultures and societies fairly. While I hope that would change if we ever met intelligent and communicative beings from another planet, I think there’s a fairly decent chance that at least some humans would try to take advantage of them for personal or political gain.

No, I’m not saying that eery single human needs to be fighting for the dark side. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a book or watch a movie about someone who noticed this happening and who tried to warn the aliens before one of our governments passed a law saying it was okay to mistreat visitors from other planets, though? The conflict between your duty to your species and your duty to protect innocent visitors who are going to be horribly abused for potentially many generations to come if you don’t speak out and fight for them right now would keep me glued to my seat.

It would also help the scifi genre return to the kinds of social messages that used to be much more common in it. Science fiction isn’t just about coming up with flashy ideas for new technology or imagining what life could be like in a few hundred years. It can also be about getting people to think critically about the decisions they make in their real life that can help or hurt the most vulnerable members of our society.

5. Nobody Spills the Beans

I shake my head every time a vast conspiracy is revealed that has existed for decades and required thousands or even millions of people to play along with it.

It’s hard enough to get five people to agree on what kind of pizza to order or to keep excited relatives from sharing the news when you tell them that you’re pregnant, have finally finished writing your book, or recently got a promotion!

Secrets only work if they’re kept by a small number of highly motivated people. Even then, it is very easy for one of them to spring a leak with someone they deeply trust.

Unless the character exist in a universe where the Powers That Be purposefully limit the intelligence of most people while they’re still in the womb, these things should either somewhat common knowledge or only known by a handful of characters in the entire universe.

I would love it if more books understood all of these rules. If you have any recommendations for stories that do, let me know on Twitter!

What Cheesy Ghost Movies Can Teach You About Getting (and Staying) in Shape

One of my favourite things to do during a boring workout routine is to watch the kinds of ghost movies on Netflix that desperately try to be scary but end up being predictable and silly instead.

The nice part about these films is that they don’t require your full attention. Paying attention to 80% of the things happening on the screen is more than enough to figure out the plot twists well in advance, so they’re perfect for watching while you exercise.

The other reason why I watch these films is because there are lessons in every single one of them that would honestly work as well, and maybe even a little better, if you applied them to your workout routine instead of waiting until you move into a haunted house or accidentally knock over a gravestone to see how useful they’d be. Figuring out what those lessons are have also provided me endless amounts of entertainment on cardio days.

Lesson #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Take Advice from Others Who Have Already Been There

No one is ever too old to learn something new, and no one is ever too young to teach you something you didn’t know before.

I’m slowly forming a small group of fellow exercise enthusiasts who bounce ideas off of each other and ask for advice when there’s something we find challenging or confusing about our workouts.

Not everyone in this loosely-associated club of sorts practices the exact same routines, but we share enough in common that we can find those areas where we overlap and trade information about what does and doesn’t work.

There have been a few times when I’ve considered something and decided that it isn’t something that I should worry about for a wide variety of reasons, but I always listen to the reasons why someone gives for recommending or not recommending it before making my final decision.

Lesson #2: Always Tie Your Shoes

Have you ever noticed how often characters in horror movies forget to tie their shoes securely? Sometimes they have to do that in order to give a menacing ghost the chance to catch up with them once they run away, but the last thing you want to do while running or walking is step on your own shoelace and trip over your own foot.

I always double-check my shoes and anything else I’m wearing that could potentially cause an accident before I start working out. Sometimes I have even been known to double-knot my laces if I’ll be going somewhere muddy or cold. It isn’t much fun to tie laces when they’re covered in dirt or slush.

Lesson #3: If Something Feels Wrong, Don’t Ignore It

There’s a fine line between pushing yourself to do better and injuring yourself because you overlooked pain while you were exercising.

If a specific move sends a tingle down your spine in a bad way, stop immediately. Most people wouldn’t wander into a dark basement in the middle of the night to investigate a strange noise if their flashlight kept dying at the top of the steps.

Use that same common sense when you’re working out. There will be more opportunities to try that move again  once you’ve gained more experience or moved on to better equipment.

Lesson #4: Some Days Are Going to Suck No Matter What You Do

Just like some houses are so deeply haunted that you won’t ever find enough holy water to cleanse them, some workouts are going to falter for reasons you couldn’t possibly predict or prevent.

For example, I’ve had multiple workouts that were interrupted by fire alarms. Obviously, fire alarms can’t be ignored for all kinds of safety and noise reasons. When that alarm sounds, the only thing you can do is get to somewhere safe and wait for someone to turn it off.

On a less urgent note, there have been times when my workouts were cut short because I was recovering from an illness or injury that turned out to be further back in the healing process than I originally thought it would be. My spirit might be willing to push it to the limit, but my body is a completely different story in that scenario.

Your mental health matters, too. Occasionally I have a day when my workouts are begrudging at absolute best due to other things that are going on in my life at that point. The faster I accept that I won’t be breaking any personal records those days, the faster I can get through the routine and put as much effort into it as I can reasonably manage for that particular day.

Lesson #5: Practice More than One Kind of Exercise

Could you outrun a vengeful spirit? Could you pick up an injured friend and carry them to the car? Are you limber enough to turn to the side, stretch backwards, and unhook your jacket from that rusty nail sticking out of the door before the ghost comes back again?

Obviously these things aren’t literally going to happen, but the failure of many horror movie characters to stay in good shape is a reminder that there’s more than one way to be fit. Ideally, we should all be practicing as many of them as we can.

I have been walking long distances for a decade and lifting weights for a few years now. Yoga is the next form of exercise to check off my list in 2017. I hope I’d be able to do all of the things listed above in an emergency.

Lesson #6: Try, Try Again

Not everything in life happens right away. As I blogged a few weeks ago, yoga wasn’t something I liked the first or even the second time I tried it.

Even now I’m not entirely sure what I think about this form of exercise, but I continue giving it chances to change my mind. Just like it can take horror movie characters more than one visit with a psychic to convince a restless spirit to move onto the next world, sometimes new workout routines need some time to settle into a groove as well.

If you truly don’t like it, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that and moving onto something new.  Don’t assume that your first impression of something will be your last one, though. People’s opinions change every day if they give themselves enough chances to decide what they really think about a specific form of exercise.

Lesson #7: It Never Ends

There will always be something new to learn.

You could always be a little stronger, faster, or more flexible.

Someone else will always need your advice.

There will always be other people who will have good advice for you if you open yourself up to it.

What about the spirits?

Yes, they will always return in the sequel regardless of how well you think you vanquished them at the end of the third act in the original film.

How to Survive a Post-Apocalyptic Storyline

Congratulations! You’ve just been selected to be one of the secondary characters in an upcoming post-apocalyptic novel. If you wish to die nobly in order to spur the main character on at a critical moment in the plot, please disregard the rest of this message. There is always a need for volunteers for this position, and so… Read More

7 New Rules for Labour Day

Traditionally, people weren’t supposed to wear white after Labour Day if they wanted to be seen as fashionable. Almost no one follows this rule anymore, so I thought I’d nominate some guidelines for this time of year. Let me know which one you want to vote for as the official replacement in the comments below. No guilt-trips… Read More

How to Be a Good Apartment Neighbour

So you’ve moved into an apartment building or complex. Congratulations on your new, environmentally-friendly home! There are a few things the people living underneath, beside, and/or on top of you would like you to know about this kind of living arrangement. If there is a communal laundry room, empty your machines as soon as possible. Your clothing… Read More