Monday, 19 September 2011

The inner world and workings of a woman's wallet

Most women can survive on a shipwrecked island for at least a week - okay, even a month or maybe more- solely on the contents of their purses/handbags/wallets. Or if the airline loses your luggage (as if this ever happens - lol!!) - no problem, the purse will provide you with the most basic of necessities. Between this and your carry-on suitcase, the holiday is half catered for.

Make-up, medication (most of the samples in my handbag are already expired, but what the heck and yes, I'm at that stage now where heartburn is the fifth wheel on my health wagon, but I'll be damned if I have to give up the odd hot-dog, the all-too-regular spaghetti napolitana, those beloved rice krispies bars - hang on, I have to get me one right now - and for good measure: rusks for breakfast, lunch and dinner-such a versatile snack), reading material (why is no one ever on time anymore?) , cell phone (which I'm always too late to answer), a scarf ( so versatile: to jazz up the ole outfit and why am I always cold?), band-aids (for that new pair of shoes that always remind you it maybe wasn't worth that fortune, even though you obviously bought them on sale...husbands always go for that one), a half-eaten chocolate bar or three (once again, why is no one ever on time - eating when frustrated) etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

A real treasure chest though, is my wallet. The one that's usually used for cash and credit cards. Supposed to be, I should rather say. Show me the woman for whom their wallet does not serve as a family album too - and a binder of sorts for all and any kinds of vouchers, coupons, gift cards, dry cleaning slips, old receipts and even the odd love note (can't a girl be sentimental?).

I am the only one who is properly trained to open said wallet, because the slightest opening in the wrong direction can cause a mishap bordering on a fatality. One needs both hands and all ten fingers in different positions, to keep everything and anything from falling out and getting lost or worse, for everyone else to see! It's not just a matter of opening it up and taking out the cash. There are a few hurdles to cross and navigate through before said cash compartment can be reached.

Problem is, this wallet can get so congested and filled to overflowing, that one usually loses track of its actual contents. That's when you "discover" the half-off, scrath-and-save, win-your-total-purchase, ten-percent-Tuesday and spouse-eats-for-free, just a day or week (or maybe month) too late! Hey, where must one find the time to sift through every piece of paper in this wallet?Too busy collecting more stamps and vouchers, I guess...It doesn't help that most wallets don't have alphabetical folders for all these savings-to-be-had.

Once in a while though, I actually do remember such discount coupon while in the store and standing at the cashier when she asks: "are you a member/are you on our mailing list for special coupons/do you collect rewards?". "Yes ma'am" is what I then answer back to her in those clear moments of remembrance of such dear discounts. Listen,  I like to save as much as the person next to me, and oh, how sweet it feels when that coupon is scanned and it shows a "minus" on the dollar amount you have to pay. And then of course they give you another coupon for next time - knowing you'll probably forget to use it anyway.

Of course I know that the store never ever loses out when you get a discount, but why would I pay more if I can pay less? Civil question. And, like I say, that once in a blue moon when you do get the benefit of a coupon: priceless!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Exercise - an update.

Today was the first day with a personal trainer. The do-it-yourself-at-home program did not prove to be too effective. Way too many distractions and too close to the refrigerator.

Lovely girl she was, this trainer. So genuinely concerned that I might have some blood pressure problems or something worse, since I wanted to faint after fifteen minutes of her regimen. The nausea rolled over me like a Hawaii-sized wave and I had to lie down too many times in order to prevent myself from going to the other side - if you catch my drift. Not even to mention the dizzyness. And yes, I had my Weetbix and muesli before the session but maybe it was eaten too close to such session, I realise now. The only problem I have, is not something remotely medical, but just a plain and simple case of being UNFIT! For way too long. It's just that I've been skinny most of my life and now I need to catch up to the fact that my body have indeed changed - not with my consent though.

Heaven knows how I got through the hour. When I asked her how much time we have left - sure that I had been suffering for at least 45 minutes -  she assured me that we're exacly half an hour into the workout. Maybe she got her watch from her grandmother or the battery needs a change because I'm sure time is not that slow.

I don't know how I got to my car, but once inside the car, I just sat there. Unaware of time or space. The watch in the car showed that 17 minutes have passed before I had the strength to actually start the car. This does not feel healthy. And it surely does not feel safe to drive in a condition like this. It would be safer to text and drive than to navigate a car after a workout like this. Never have I realised the need for speed control as I have today. Just the fact that I did not need to lift my leg for the gas pedal but only for the occasional brakes, got me through the traffic at all.

Skiing and golfing and the occasional biking and yoga did not proof to add anything to my physique after all. Not to mention the apres-ski and in my case even apres-golfing. A girl's gotta eat. It's just  that the shift is so big when one was used to always eat whatever one wanted without worrying about the after-effects and then one day it's gone. My size zero days gone and lost forever. A very faint memory. I'd' jump for joy at a size 4 at this stage. But just give me time. I've only just begun. Good thing I paid this trainer in advance...

The irony of it all was the fact that I had to stop by the car dealership on my way home since the bluetooth in the car was giving problems and I had to get it fixed right away. As from last week the fine for speaking on your cell phone or texting is a whopping $172 and all of a sudden my bluetooth didn't work - or the car's, rather. So when I apologised to the guy who helped me with the bluetooth dilemma for the state I was in, he commented: "good to have a healthy lifestyle". If he only knew...

My last stop before going home, was the grocery store, where I bought 2 apples, 2 bananas and 2 peaches. And sushi - just to make the transition easier.

I 'll keep ye posted. Happy running to you crazies out there!

Weather? What weather?

Everyone's obsessed with it. It's always a talking point in almost every conversation. Especially the akward, don't-know-you-that-well-yet, don't-know-what-else-to-say, trying-to-kill-some-time-here kind of conversations. Even I get trapped in this kind of small talk sometimes although I try my utmost best not to go there, but sometimes a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do - some people really just don't give you a choice...

The fact of the matter is: Mother Nature won't let herself be forecasted and be told how she is supposed to behave tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that as well. So she stays unpredictable - like most women do. And maybe this is where our fascination with the weather lies. I mean: don't even get a farmer started on this topic - they always want the exact opposite weather of whatever weather they're having. Regardless.

I've realised a long time ago that the weather will most probably not be the way it was predicted to be - especially here on the Prairies - so I just prepare for all kinds of weather, come what may. Always have a light jacket/blazer at hand in Summer (which for me is a no-brainer since I'm always cold either way - it takes a heat wave to get me to part with any piece of clothing) and in Winter always have a whole set of scarves, mittens coats etc. at hand - almost like "Joey" in the one "Friends" episode where he wore his whole closet at once, kind of thing.

I know some people who consider the hourly news bulletin not to be complete without first listening to the whole weather forecast in its entirety, even though it was exactly the same an hour earlier (and still it may turn out to be incorrect). Or those who look up the weather on a special website dedicated to it, up to three times or more a day, going as far ahead as a week in advance's forecast, only to find out that the forecast from yesterday, for the weather today, has since changed another three times. Very confusing, I know. And a total waste of time. Hence the extra outfits on the backseat of my car...Never trust the weatherman. And a few other types too...

Maybe in your neck of the woods the weather stays pretty much the same most of the time, but on my piece of real estate, the weather can throw you curveball after curveball. Like at this very moment, we're having the warmest days recorded for the past three months, even though Summer is officially over and it's actually already Fall (Autumn). Summer got lost this year, or just a tad bit late - like most brides for their own wedding.

But one thing that's for sure - Winter is a comin', and it's a comin' soon. Don't let the exceeding warm days fool you, otherwise the joke will be on you!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

What's the use of today?

I saw it more than a month ago already - Christmas trees and decorations for sale. In August!! Like in the beginning of August! Ridiculous to say the least. Which got me thinking...

Why are we always living for something in the future instead of living for today? We are willing to prepare for an event still to come while often times we're not even prepared for today. Of course one should make provisions for the future, but that's not what I'm talking about here. We'd rather keep ourselves busy with something that's way off in the future rather than whatever is at hand, right here and now in the present.

Take for instance clothing stores. In the middle of Summer they unpack winter clothes and vice versa. Countless times have I been looking for a summer item like a white blouse or skirt on a scorching warm summer's day only to be told that only winter stock are now available - summer is sold out. So last season...

Why would I want to buy a parka with fur around the collar in the middle of Summer? For the same reason I won't be in the market for a bikini in Winter (unless I find a very tempting special to an island while there's 10 feet of snow outside, but I'm talking in general terms here of course).

We want to fast forward to Christmas, or New Year, or a birthday or wedding and when we get there we wonder what happened to yesterday - it went by so quickly?? Totally missed last week or last month because we were too busy planning for next month.

I am very much guilty of this very thing I'm talking about. In a lot of ways I still feel as if my life has not yet started. Waiting for it to take flight. To actually start living. There are so many things I have not yet experienced that makes me waiting and planning for when it actually happens. They say luck happens when opportunity meets preparation, but I've been prepared all my life (which means luck should be all around). Sitting at the train station waiting for the train to pull up. Or should I say the right train, cause certainly a few trains have come and gone already, but their destinations have not yet seem like the one I want to go to. And there's one train I've missed big time and I don't know if it will ever pull up to my station again. I guess one of the reasons I missed that train was because I was too busy planning for something else  and not realising the train has come...and gone. The one I should have been on. Wanted to step on too late. There might have been even more than one I missed. And now I'm still waiting - almost in a frozen state -  to see if it will pass me by again.

Half the fun I know is the actual journey and not necessarily the destination, but what about the actual starting point? Start by living in this moment you have now - today. Enjoy it - it's finally here.

So now that we have this little issue out of the way: who is getting married next so that I can start looking for a new dress? And before I forget: what do you want for Christmas?

It's not Spring - it's Autumn!

All over facebook last week, my friends have been commenting and celebrating the first day of Spring. As if they could even call their winter actually Winter...I guess when you're used to - 20 and -30 degrees Celsius, this is open for debate.

But nevertheless, I'll let them have their joy and happiness for the day. Who am I to be a party pooper and rain on their parade?

The thing is, their celebration of  Spring means my farewell to Summer. It just reminds me a wee bit too soon that another winter is on its way for Canada. Their Spring is my Autumn.

It was only last week that I started noticing the leaves starting to turn yellow around my house and on the golf course. Trying to distinguish between a falling leaf and a golf ball, can be quite challenging. The other signs of the season turning is the fact that I am taking along a light coat or cardigan more often than not when I go out and then also adding an extra blanket on the bed at night.

I do love Canada, but goodness me, the winters are loooooong! But without these winters, our summers wouldn't be as fabulous as they are. The super long days, the brightest greens I've ever seen, the temperatures during the days just right - the only downside though are the gazillions of mosquitos !!

Isn't it true though, that in life it's the same as in nature. One person's Spring can mean someone else's Autumn, and someone's Summer is another's Winter - figuratively speaking. In Afrikaans there is a saying : Die een se dood is the ander een se brood. One person's happiness can cause the next person pain and so on and so forth. You get my point.

So just remember when you're digging out your spring dresses and short shorts, that someone else is preparing to brace themselves for another long and dark winter. And by bracing, I mean: re-arranging closets, unpacking coats and turtlenecks, scarves and gloves, corduroy pants and wool skirts, tights and long socks, boots and blankets, duvets and cashmere...

On the other hand - let me try and stay positive, looking for the silver lining here - while you may be splashing in your swimming pool, I may be skiing down a snow covered slope!

But in the meantime I need to start raking all these leaves...

Till next time, spring bunnies!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Lines aren't just for "reading between"!

I am totally and utterly in love with my car! Everytime I see it or get into it - basically daily - I still can't believe that I get to drive this car. It's like seeing my first love - still gets me everytime, after all these years. Speechless at the sight of it... It's always the prettiest one in the parking lot, guys always stare at it and no one should even try to get to the next traffic light faster than this car can. But this is basically where the joy of driving stops for me.

My current fellow countrymen  - bless their hearts - don't know the first thing about driving. Seriously. And I get that it's not all their fault - blame the system I guess. I know in the bigger picture I'm now one of them - got the passport to prove it - but on this aspect I cannot associate  with them. They don't know the first thing about parking - to start with (traffic circles are the other mystery, along with changing lanes and backing out of a parking space). They couldn't care less about the white lines marking one parking space from the next. Has no meaning to them. And I'm not talking about the winter when all the lines are invisible as a result of the packed snow. I'm talking summer conditions here. It takes me forever to find a parking spot at the mall because everytime I think I see an open space, I only get there to find that it's unusable because the car next to this presumed "open" space is parked at a 45 degree angle just because its driver doesn't understand the concept of  "between the lines". Now I guess I can do with the extra mile I have to walk from the place I could find at last at the other end of the parking lot, but I have to restrain myself from writing notes to each and every one of these drivers and leave it in their windshield wipers with fake parking "fines"!

Any country who gives learner's permits to 14 year olds and probationary driver's licences at 16 years of age - to drive without an adult - should go back to the drawing board on this one.

To illustrate my point further, I would like to tell you about the time when I went for my drivers test here in Canada. When I moved here, I had to re-do my drivers licence - in writing and practical - although I've had a drivers licence for some years at that stage. Got the "no-claim-bonus" from Outsurance to prove it. I understood this requirement for re-testing since in Canada they drive on the other side of the road (which means I still go to the passenger seat more often than I would like to admit, expecting to find the steering wheel there...) and driving on these winter roads can be trreacherous.

I was so nervous though that day, that when the testing officer asked me to parallel park, I backed up OVER the sidewalk, uttered a few choice words when I realised I blew the test, and drove back to the licensing office knowing I would just have to come back another day to repeat the whole thing. But, hey no, I kid you not: I passed the test and got my licence that very day.

I mean, I knew I could drive based on the years I've had my license in South Africa (who is not an expert after passing K53...) and that it was only nerves that messed with my parking that day, but the guy testing me didn't know that! He thought my standard of driving was "A-ok" according to Canadian standards. That's why I'm so freaked out half the time when I drive around town, knowing that mostly everyone around me got their licences for basically only knowing where the ignition of the car is. Add to that the fact that the majority of people are either talking on their cell phones or texting while they drive!

I must admit that I am not up-to-date with the current requirements for a drivers licence in South Africa, but I always feel proud to know that our licensing standards - although it could be the only thing that is - are better than in Canada. At least in the "olden days" when I got mine...Having overloaded taxis with re-treads all around who consider the emergency lane as being the only lane, most traffic lights being out of order most of the time and being on red alert for potential hijackings as a way of life, just puts one in a different state of mind when behind a steering wheel.

Maybe I should start taking the bus since I'm on the car's horn (tooter - honk-honk) most of the time. It may therefore be possible that my fellow road users aren't staring at my fabulous car after all but rather at me behind the wheel, thinking to themselves: crazy b#*@h!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Exercise, anyone?

Why, oh why, is it so hard to get oneself to exercise? It's good for you - even better than peas and carrots combined. Eish, but I don't likey...I'd rather eat that plate of spinach, or go hungry altogether, than run or bike or step myself into a sweaty mess. But I also know that no amount of nuts or salad will do to your body that which a good work-out will. There's no way around it...

So it started this week when I decided to weigh myself after coming back from another holiday which always includes a lot of restaurant food and no time for exercise because of all the sightseeing, boat cruises, driving from town to city, booking in, checking out, packing, unpacking - totally exhausting!

The bathroom scale is one of those ornaments in the house that you don't display along with the glass vase from Venice or the miniature perfume bottles on the bathroom counter. So after locating it from underneath the layer of dust  - like I said : it does not form part of the dusting routine of other ornaments - I had to figure out how it actually works...electronic and all, this particular one.

It was not a pretty picture. Yes, I did not see figures on the scale but rather a boatload of chocolate bars, piled mile high, laughing at me from the tiny screen of this fancy-schmancy electronic scale. Of course this is untrue but it was my mind playing tricks with me - where in the world would you get a scale with cartoons, seriously. Although it would be a good idea to scare people right into a gym membership if the scale could stick out its tongue at you or roll its eyes at you. Now that would be something...

I immediately started a treasure hunt in my closet to find my yoga clothes - it's been a while since I've seen or used them. Alas I found them - they did not make it to the charity bin after all - and lo and behold, found a pair that still fits my current state. Tightly, but not bursting at the seams, yet...I figured that the only way I would start doing any of the moves they call "exercise" I need to be comfortable at all hours of the day, so that whenever I feel the need (like right after eating a cookie or watching the Food Channel) I can just fall down there and then and do a few sit-ups or squats or tummy rubs...

It's just so hard! And so boring. And it hurts. And makes you even hungrier. And grumpier. Which means I must do something wrong because everytime my husband finishes one of his marathon long runs on the treadmill, he tells me he feels GREAT - that exact word. Great. While he's breathing like an oxygen-deprived lab monkey - don't ask me what this means, I made it up - and gobbling down water like a camel in the Sahara desert, and gleaming with sweat like a cast member from "Jersey Shore". Maybe that's it: I don't like the "face" of exercise - it's not very becoming.

This change of pace and rationing of food has another downside for me. Another contributing factor to my sleeplessness: the growling noises from my stomach prevented me from falling asleep last night. Just lying there, listening, wondering if I should get up and read a magazine (which would inevitably have a food section and ads of perfect bodies in bikinis) or go to the computer to write this blog, or ignore my own body's needs for food in exchange for it's need to sleep, 'cause once I'm asleep, the torture will be over till tomorrow morning when the squatting and rationing starts all over again.

Well, eventually I fell asleep and now it's a new day. I'm here, sitting in my yoga gear (I'm a poet and I don't even know it) for what it's worth. A little stiff from yesterday's initiation squats. But I will not quit - not for the moment though, but I'll let you know, about my new glow, before the first snow in early No' (November, that is) - I'm trying to kill time here's either this or the treadmill.

Till next time - happy running!