Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Feeling hot, hot, hot?

I've always been a little skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true. So when a friend told me about Groupon, a website that emails members daily deals for activities, products etc. for specific geographic regions, it took me some time to get on board.

Since jumping on the bandwagon, I've had a blast checking out new restaurants, buying half-priced gift certificates for friends and family and trying out some hilarious (and crazy cheap) Lindy Hop lessons with Sparta.

The latest deal that was too good to resist, however, might really be too good to be true, if only for the fact that it will probably kill me.

For $35, Sparta and I scored 25 hot yoga classes.

Now, at first I was very enthusiastic about the prospect, but now that the bargain-induced high has worn off, I have some concerns.

First there is the little matter of my utter inflexibility, despite about a decade of gymnastics. I'm picturing being surrounded by lithe lulu-clad pretzels glowing with health and zen-ness, whilst I drown in a puddle of my own sweat whilst reaching futily for my toes. So. There's that.

Then there is the fact that, obviously hydration is imperative to hot yoga so I'll want to drink up. No problem, except that I'm pretty sure my bladder is the size of a six-month old's and as soon as I know I won't be able to "go" for a set amount of time, it's all I can think about.

Seriously, I had to run to the restroom twice during the previews for the new Harry Potter. Partly because I was just a wee bit overexcited, but also because of the knowledge that I would probably be viciously attacked by Potter fans were I to clamber my way down the aisle for a bathroom break mid-movie.

I can just imagine how I'll feel when they close the door to begin this 90-minute game of twister in a sauna.

Advice from any hot yogis out there would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, wish me luck!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Making Christmas

It's all in the details...

The games...

The nostalgia...

The food...

And the laughter...

And the laughter...

And the laughter...

Monday, December 20, 2010


As usual, I'm a little late to the party, but I've really enjoyed reading other bloggers' Reverb10 posts, so I thought I'd give this one a whirl:

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?


To think about what has healed me this year requires me to do something I have generally been avoiding, and acknowledge that while, as years go, I've had worse and I know people for whom this year has been next to impossible to bear, this year has been difficult.

It began ominously, with the unexpected passing of one of Sparta's University friends. It seemed no sooner had we returned from his wake than I was downsized from my cozy small-town reporter gig.

A couple of months into unemployment, we moved to the city and my grandfather passed away. It was a bittersweet goodbye. Not entirely unexpected and even a relief on one hand as Alzheimer's was rapidly stealing him from us, but of course difficult to come to terms with nonetheless.

No sooner had we returned from the funeral than we were rocked by the news that Jim, a very close family friend had passed away suddenly, just days past his 50th birthday.

The last time I saw him was the night before my grandpa's funeral. He and his amazing wife had come over to give my dad a hug and raise a glass to my grandpa. When they left, I said to my mom (not for the first time), "I'm so fond of Jim. If I could choose an extra uncle, it would be him."

Months later, I still don't know what to say or write about this, except that our hearts are all broken by the shocking loss of this good, good man.

There have, of course, been plenty of fantastic bright spots and my overall love affair with the city has been a balm to my raw nerves, but I have spent a lot of time, especially during my six months of unemployment, feeling sad and uncertain and a little like a lost kite: cut loose and buffeted from tree to tree, until I could hardly fly at all.

While I don't know that the healing process is, or ever will be complete, what has started the healing, has been laughter and hugs, proximity of best friends, baking, creating a new home and planting my little feet back into solid, nourishing earth while I wait for an emotional tax return in 2011.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Crafty Christmas

After an overdose of crochet projects, this year, I've come up with a couple of new experiments to foist upon friends and family this holiday season.

You'd be amazed at how many of my lovely friends are self-conscious about their profiles, but I managed to coax a couple of them into letting me snap a couple of photos for the sake of making these:

I always love the look of old-fashioned framed silhouettes, and thought it would be great to create some modern ones featuring people I know.

And, my greatest baking triumph to date:

That's right, Parisian macarons. Eat your heart out Martha Stewart.

...I mean, happy holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bursting the Bubble

It had been a while since I had marked International Human Rights Day with anything beyond a minute spent reading and signing an online petition, but when a flyer for Amnesty International's Write for Rights day landed on my desk at work, I took it as a sign that this year, I should do a little bit more.

While I like to think that I'm still more informed of and involved in human rights issues than the average bear, I must admit I've sadly become a bit of a lapsed activist. It's been easy to pretend to myself that with work, or looking for work or working on my hair, I simply don't have time to devote to any worthy causes beyond myself right now.

Flyer in hand I almost dismissed myself from duty once again, thinking about how my precious half-hour lunch break would be eaten up, but a little voice in my head (who sounded suspiciously like she was rolling her eyes) told me, "Oh just get over there and do it. People are dying and suffering and being wrongfully imprisoned, the least you can do is take a three minute walk and pick up a pen."

So I did. And despite the sad and unjust cases I read through before selecting two to address in my letters, amazingly, I left with a smile.

Part of my smile came from the other people writing letters, a tiny band of dedicated letter-writers, overjoyed to see me, a stranger, come to help with their campaign. And part of it came from the hope that, however slim, there was a chance that the letters I was writing might reach, might really get through to someone who could make the world a little better. If nothing else, at least the odds are better than when I simply fume and rant to Sparta about the state of things.

It was an excellent way to burst the isolating bubble I've felt growing up around me. It's so easy to blame it on time, or futility but I think really it's just that we're too frightened, too overwhelmed by what is out there. Too terrified to have our world get a little bigger and ourselves a little smaller in it.

My mom is dismayed by the direction our country is headed under our current government. Like many people, she's angry and sad and discouraged by what's going on, but unlike many people, what she is not and simply could never be, is complacent.

While most of us whine and shrug our shoulders, she identifies a problem and doggedly pursues a solution, sending emails, posting articles and signing petitions talking to anyone who will listen about the deceitful and appallingly undemocratic way our Prime Minister and his cronies are running our country. She performs tiny acts of rebellion each day in an effort to get others to start paying attention.

The thing that keeps her going, is not hiding from or closing her eyes to the evils of the world, but doing something, any little thing that she can to fight them.

I'm pretty sure I know whose voice it was in my head.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This blows

This might seem a little out of season, given that in my little corner of the hemisphere, it has been snowing or threatening to snow for a number of weeks now but I've been meaning to write about this for weeks, and I guess, given my woeful lack of inspiration to write lately, I should take my muses where I can get them.

So. I would like to take a moment to make an appeal to any of you folks still lucky enough to be enjoying the crisp air and brilliant colours of fall. Or to those of you who plan to continue residing on the planet next fall:

Please. Oh pleasepleaseplease. Please do not use leafblowers.

There are few things that make me a hissing, spitting little ball of angry Sarah like hearing that obnoxious roar, "I'M HERE AND I"M BLOWING THE LEAVES AROUND! BASICALLY DOING THE WORK OF A WINDY DAY! LOOK AT MEEEEEE!"

But it's more than that. To me they have come to represent every awful thing about North American attitudes towards...everything.

If you ever want to express your laziness and disregard for the environment and lack of common sense in one go, just schlep around your driveway with one of those monsters.

Heaven forbid you keep your muscles from atrophying once a year by weighing them down with a rake and the terrible burden of leaves.

I do understand that some people might genuinely be too old or infirm to operate a rake or rake/broom combination, although my neighbour managed to do this and much more well into her 90s, but in that case, hire a child! Neighbourhood kids love earning a shiny toonie.

Heck, hire me! I could probably use a little fresh air and subway fare.