After nearly four decades of cooking for myself, I can’t say that there is much that scares me in the kitchen. I have no problem following a recipe, word for word, in the hope of achieving the expected results.
I will even go so far as to say that I am pretty confident when keeping my eye on two dishes at once.
But it’s when a meal has three separate components (or more) than my anxiety can potentially boil over. In those moments, I start wondering how the talented jugglers I have seen on TV could spin multiple plates on the end of tall sticks, and keep them spinning beautifully.
To me, cooking is very much the same thing. It is the variability of variables that can potentially spoil a meal that keeps me on edge.
Let’s start with the essential work tools, the stove and oven:
I’ll never forget the stove that came with the house in my last place. At 15 years old, it wasn’t an antiquity, but by today’s standards for appliances, it was getting old… and increasingly unreliable.
It didn’t take many under-baked goodies for me to figure out that there was a problem with the oven. After a while, I bought an oven thermometer to get a second opinion on the temperature. Sure enough, the oven was almost always 25 degrees under the temperature I requested. Continue reading
Filed under food, home, Humour
I have to admit that when I first fantasized about what retirement could be, I had visions of truly kicking back and relaxing.
I saw myself camped out in front of the TV, indulging in back-to-back game shows, soaps and talk shows, and occasionally drifting off for an afternoon nap despite the crunch of low-sodium potato chip crumbs that may have fallen here or there.
Idyllic, isn’t it? It wasn’t exactly a big dream, but in some ways, that was what I saw as my little piece of heaven.
Sadly, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” are no longer with us. The full schedule of game shows that used to keep me company when I was home with a bad cold has been reduced to only a few classics. The talk shows are there, but regrettably, I don’t find a strong attachment to any of them.
When I came into the knowledge that writing was my life’s purpose and reading was something I enjoyed as passionately as TV, my retirement dreams changed significantly.
Just the same, in the grand scheme of things, no matter what I enjoyed, it was to be a more quiet existence than I experienced in my fast-paced career which demanded a lot of extrovert energy.
I wish I could say that after my first year of retirement, I feel recharged from my leisure and hobby time. Thanks to Covid-19, it’s been anything but. It’s been like squeezing years’ worth of activity through a funnel.
What I didn’t envision was having a backlog of backlogs to deal with first: Continue reading
On the approach to retirement, when I was asked what my future plans were, without really thinking about it, I always answered “writing”.
For as long as I can remember, with every passing year, I became increasingly aware that writing was my life’s purpose.
I was the kid whose bedroom was referred to as a “firetrap” due to the abundance of paper “masterpieces” scattered everywhere. I was the budding (but bad) poet in university. I was also the employee who raised his hand when management was looking for volunteers for challenging writing assignments.
Over the course of producing and editing thousands of pages of material for different executives and for different target audiences, I always felt more energized when completing writing assignments than with any other tasks. To me, that was a clear sign.
But it was only recently, during a drive to the city, that I realized that I might not have accurately articulated my retirement plans. Someone on the radio mentioned the word “storyteller”. This was a mind blowing moment for me, as it offered an important distinction I was missing.
In retirement, the suggestion comes up from time to time that if I love writing so much, why don’t I offer my services as a writer, either as a consultant or for community work. When that happens, in my head, I hear tires screeching to a sudden stop. Why is that? Continue reading
As I headed into retirement, I admit that I felt a bit of fear that with all of the free time in front of me, I would suddenly be handed suggestions on places to volunteer and to help out in the community.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
What I didn’t expect was that I might become my own worst enemy in that regard.
With the steady increase of Covid-19 vaccination rates, much like everyone, I welcome the freedom that comes with the reopening of non-essential businesses.
I also look forward to the gradual (safe) reopening of restaurants and theatres to enjoy the date nights that used to be part of our weekly routine.
But for businesses to be able to deliver the services we’ve missed for so long, there is some serious hiring going on.
Help wanted signs are everywhere. I see them hanging in shop windows in town. I see them in Facebook groups. I see them in the community paper. Even the advertisement emails that I receive daily by the dozens are hinting that if you are a fan of the store and would like to discuss career opportunities, to please contact them.
Ironically – and don’t ask me why – but something stirs deep inside of me. It’s hard to describe. It’s a call to action of some kind. It’s like a quick response in my subconscious saying, “I can do that” and a gravitational pull toward the computer to update my CV… Could that be a Pavlovian response of some kind? Continue reading
Over the course of my 33 1/2 year career, retirement always seemed so far off. Even though I took pre-retirement seminars in my 30s and 40s to get a sense of long-range thinking and planning, retirement was really not on my radar… until I turned 50.
It was the awareness of “a half century of existence” that triggered a huge mind shift and a process of reflection on how I wanted to spend the next half century (provided genetics permitted me to follow in the footsteps of my long-living relatives and ancestors).
There were many factors and sleepless nights that went into the decision of when it was time for me to sign off for the last time (… far too many to list in a blog post). However, without really thinking or looking too hard, it was almost like witnessing the parting of the Red Sea. It soon became obvious to me that June 2021 was the right time.
In January, I notified my manager and my colleagues of my plans, and then began the process of completing the stack of forms to formalize the decision. Once the forms were submitted and I received confirmation that everything was in order, that was the moment when I realized I had pulled the metaphoric pin on the metaphoric grenade. The countdown was on!
I don’t know if it was just me, but from there, it wasn’t a gradual trajectory from January to June. Once that decision was carved in stone, a surprising roller coaster of emotions ensued.
I was already prepared for the idea that, much like in the completion of a major project, there is joy, pride and satisfaction in a job well done. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Inspiring
Don’t we all just love long weekends?
Long weekends are often synonymous with tying up loose ends at work, a sense of pride in a job well-done, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of levity, and the joy of being rewarded with an extra day off to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour.
In my perfect Pollyanna-bubble world, on the last work day before a long weekend, people are sporting their best smiles, wishing each other a great long weekend, high-fiving each other as they pass each other in the lobby of the office tower. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everyone is in the best mood eagerly anticipating the best long weekend ever!
That is… until they get outside. From about noon onward, the city is in complete gridlock.
Traffic is at a standstill, the electronic signs on mall parking lots are blinking “FULL”, the grocery stores are bursting with hangry people with towering shopping carts, and liquor store patrons are lined-up as far as the eye can see.
For some reason, there isn’t a drop of patience to be found as drivers are almost mowing down pedestrians, everyone is blowing yield signs and stop signs, and the world is seemingly possessed by road rage punctuated by a stronger than usual sense of self-entitlement.
It was incredibly validating to hear that it wasn’t just my own borderline introvert lens that saw things this way when I was told that law enforcement officers are posted in the parking lot of the “warehouse-style” store to keep the peace and to direct the crawling traffic. Continue reading
In February, there were two news items that hit the airwaves that made me feel goose bumps all over:
On February 19, 2019, it was the headline “Netflix to Open Dedicated Production Hub” followed closely on February 28, 2019, with the article “And, action! Filmmaking complex gets go-ahead”.
Regular readers and close friends know that my big plan for retirement is to write. The form of writing I might consider has yet to be determined. But I am convinced that once I have developed a few of my story ideas into outlines and then into drafts, the most appropriate format might become self-evident.
But if I listen to my gut now, something tells me it might be more along the lines of television, plays or movies, more than novels, just given the time I have spent studying television, as opposed to just watching it.
Plus I have always been fascinated by the process of making stories come to life in the television or cinematic medium, to the point of volunteering for my local community television station 20 years ago, and staying with it for 3 years.
Working in a creative medium with other like-minded people was an experience I will always fondly remember. At that point in my life, I didn’t realize the extent to which I was missing a creative component. When I found community TV, things really came together. Continue reading
Maybe it’s a product of having a busy life and many interests, but I long for the day when I can take a vacation and for it to be entirely made up of time to put my feet up, read a good book and just relax in well-earned peace and tranquility.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a home owner. I also love taking care of my investment. The problem is that through a normal work week, when you factor in time for social activities, writing, cooking, cleaning and laundry, there isn’t much time or energy left to bring out the power tools and the paint cans to knock things off my home maintenance to-do list.
And even when I do set aside time for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, I want it done right the first time. I don’t want to rush the project and risk making a mess. For that reason, it needs a generous time allotment.
It would be one thing if I had no natural inclination for DIY projects or if I hated them, but I don’t. I actually think they are a joy and a privilege.
The worst part is that I am responsible for the to-do list and I tend to expect a lot of myself, so the list does get a little ambitious.
That being the case, the list of projects often get deferred to the only time where time and patience are in good supply: vacations… or should I say, stay-cations. Continue reading
I admire those people who say they are going for a “quick run”.
They are those phenomenal runners who stack up personal best after personal best, while barely breaking out in a sweat, who can simultaneously update their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds with professional-grade photos of wildlife, beautiful scenery and gorgeous skies.
They can carry on a conversation without ever being out of breath. And they look so graceful, from the beginning to the end of the run, like gazelles out for a joyful dash through the savannahs.
They inspire me! I love them and I am incredibly jealous of them.
Meanwhile you can find me at the back of the pack, fiddling with something or other, or holding a part of my anatomy that’s complaining, wondering why a 3 kilometer run takes me an hour… or two.
Here they are, my top 10 reasons why going for a quick run is impossible (for me). Continue reading
… or does “Overthinking, Racing Thoughts and Ruminating” sound better?
… or should I say, “Racing Thoughts, Ruminating and Overthinking”?
… or perhaps “Ruminating, Overthinking and Racing Thoughts?”
As someone who considers himself a proactive person, it is well within my nature to think things through before acting.
Not only do I want to avoid making mistakes, but when I make a decision, I’d like to think that I have been responsible, thoughtful, balanced, sensitive and kind.
I admit it, I don’t deal well with surprises. Getting blindsided sends steam shooting out of my ears. Getting pressed for quick decisions and reactions without the proper time to process the situation sends my blood pressure through the roof.
While I think others have more confidence in my handling of things than I do myself, perhaps it is a sense of not wanting to let people down by appearing unprepared, that I try to eradicate surprises before they happen.
But that’s exhausting. Anticipating every possible outcome is next to impossible and developing an action plan for every negative scenario is hard on the mind, body and spirit.
This is not to say I can’t be impulsive or spontaneous. I have a pretty good sense of what works for me and what doesn’t. Over 52 years, my gut has rarely steered me wrong. I just need to trust that instinct. Continue reading