Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Exorcise and Die(t)

It was some point between the 5th or 6th hillsprint, in between a set of triceps pushups and dips, when a woman in an oversized t-shirt and yoga pants leaned over with the novel fact that lack of sleep leads your body to store fat. I looked up at Nate, giggling at my peek-a-boo head, bobbing up and down beside his carriage as I launched into sumo squats, and wondered: how many times did we get up last night? Four? Five? And what are we doing here...a pack of huffing, sweating idiots, dripping milk into our sports bras, encircled by the babies that made us - and apparently are now keeping us - fat.

But, as I discovered later in the week thanks to the ever-tepid, info-lite of Time Magazine, it's not just the babies who are against us. Apparently, evolution has it in for us as well. "Fundamentally, humans are not a species that evolved to dispose of many extra calories beyond what we need to live," writes John Cloud in his gloomily titled article Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin (August 17, 2009). Cloud also complains about having a small roll of fat that hangs over his belt when he sits down, despite his Thursday "body wedge" class. I'd like to meet him and give that little roll a nice hard squeeze (either with needle-nose pliers or perhaps with the fangs of a venomous snake).

I invite you to read the article for yourself, but the main thesis, from what I can tell, is that the more you exercise, the hungrier you get, the more you eat. What's worse, you "treat" yourself to eat something yummy like a blueberry muffin or (and I quote) a bottle of Gatorade (oooo, so naughty and delicious) that you actually undo any benefit (in terms of calorie loss, anyway) that you might have gained. The clever editors even included a very helpful diagram showing what a "154-lb, 30-year-old woman" (umm, I am feeling uncomfortably close to their target demographic) would have to do to burn off the calories of a single blueberry muffin. These include: 115 minutes of weight lifting, 66 minutes of gardening, 230 minutes of folding laundry (not the way I do it, sweety), 33 minutes of jogging, or 92 minutes of vacuuming.

First, there's the redonkulous sexism that hides behind these factoids (if we were talking about a 30-year-old man, would they have included statistics for house work or would they have provided times for golfing, car maintenance, and masturbation - since those are clearly male vocations). Secondly, I want numbers for the real stuff I do - like carrying 4 liters of milk in one hand with a 17lb baby on the opposite hip up three flights of steps and then back down again because I forgot the house keys, followed by a series of squats required to pick up said house keys (minimum of 4) each time I drop them on the way back up the stairs. What do I get for that? A chocolate chip? The muffin crumbs I shake out of Loki's t-shirt at the end of the day? Can I at least eat those?

Wait. It gets worse. As it turns out, not even stern, focused, determination will help us overcome. "Self-control is like a muscle," Cloud reports "it weakens each day after you use it." We're not built to deny ourselves. This reminds me of an article I read in Harpers some time ago, about how we all consist of multiple, discrete selves who - while sharing the same body - do not share the same goals and in general have very little empathy for one another. We are all stuck in the worse possible roommate scenario. For example, the Determined Self (Deedee, for short) goes to the gym, does 30 minutes of cardio followed by a 45 minute pilates class. She drinks a skinny-smoothy on the way home, takes a nap, and wakes up as the Hungry Self (Hilda, let's call her). Hilda, ravenous, stumbles into the kitchen and begins chowing down on leftover chinese food right from the container. She's half-way through her third, cold eggroll when Deedee barges in and the shit hits the fan:

Deedee: Do you know how hard I worked this morning to burn off all that crap you ate last night during The Bachelor? And now, you're eating it AGAIN? Are you trying to kill me?

Hilda: No, you're trying to kill me! I'm huuunnnngggrrry! You sweat it out like a maniac all morning and you think some mushed up banana and protein powder is gonna make it okay? Look, just run an extra mile tomorrow. No biggy.

Deedee: No biggy? I hate running, I hate it. And I only do it because of you. Can't you just drink some water and eat an apple for crying outloud?

Hilda: Water is flavourless and sometimes apples taste weird. I want FOOD! Real Food! [crams 4th eggroll into gaping maw]

Deedee: Oh no you don't, fatgirl. I'm gonna beat that hydrogenated-corn-oil out of you...

Hairpulling and girl-slapping ensues.

It's like Jerry Springer in our brains all day long every day. Why aren't more people in therapy? Why aren't there more tv shows like Herman's Head? (Remember that show? It rocked!) But I digress.

The point is, look, John Cloud, if you're out there, stop adding to the noise, will you? It's hard enough. It's hard enough to squeeze two human beings out of your body, store their nutrition in your boobs like an upright camel, figure out how to take care of yourself and meet their needs at the same time. And if I get to squeeze in a 45 minute workout a few times a week - you know what, f*#king cheer for me. Don't tell me it's useless. I don't want to hear it.

Tonight's Dinner:

Herb's having a late night tonight so I will feed Loki something (potentially grilled cheese and fruit) and we will have a private dinner of:

- Steak (Organic. I'm reading Omnivore's Dilemma and I don't think I will ever be able to eat feedlot beef again. I'm not sure if organic is sooo much better, but I'm hoping it is and I'll educate myself on that one next).

- Salad

- Good bread

Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's the Way the Vegan Baked Good Crumbles

This week I was forced to confront a question I never thought to ask: What is a cookie?

Besides being a "sometimes food" (thank you, overly-socially-conscious Sesame Street writers, though I'm fairly certain C is for Cookie cannot be held solely responsible for the youth obesity crisis) - what constitutes the right to wear that yummy label?

A little research gives us this:

"Cookie" is derived from the dutch word "koekie" meaning "little cake" (and you thought the Dutch were only good for windmills and tulips, aren't you closed-minded?). While there are a vast variety of cookie styles and compositions (the drop, the refrigerator, the molded, the computer) what truly, philosophically, empirically separates a cookie from other baked goods is the use of an oil-product (butter, lard, egg yolks, vegetable oil) as a binding agent as opposed to water. Upon reflection I realize that no, I've never added water to a cookie batter except to get the last little bits off the mixing bowl, the better to sup it up with a spoon (that's not yucky, it's deeeeliscious, as Loki likes to say). During the baking process, these oils saturate the carbon dioxide bubbles (resulting from the combination of baking powder and moisture from the eggs) creating the indelible moist-yet-crispy goodness that is a cookie's proper texture. And who says I couldn't have handled organic chemistry?

All of this is to say that, no, I don't think the round, flat hunk-a-somethin' wrapped prettily in cellophane, handed to me by the lovely woman balancing a stack of pink business cards and her 6 month old in her other arm could rightfully be called a "cookie." I could be wrong, but I'll tell you how it went down and you can be the judge.

Picture it. We're in the sweltering ladies auxiliary room of the Runneymeade United Church. Two fans blow around the stale hot air, a dead air conditioner rests in the corner. One wall is covered in collage, celebrating the church's 100 years of parsimony from 1907-2007; no one cares what happened since 2007, it's irrelevant. The circle of mothers and infants is slowly morphing into an amoeba, as crumpled women pull the shorts off their sticky thighs and gather armbags of blankets and diapers and rubber giraffes together letting their babies weeble and drool on the stiff blue carpet. We are the last of four classes our dehydrated music instructor has taught in this room and he is packing away his guitar, letting the pit stains on his graphic t-shirt show without shame or remorse. It was animal day, afterall, and the poor guy wore a pair of bunny ears for the entire damn class. I am looking at Nate and he is looking at me and we are both thinking: "when are you gonna get off your ass and carry me to the car?" Sure, he can't walk and I'm 10 times his weight, but ants do it, bro.

That's when she appears, standing over us in freshly pressed linen - somehow sweatless and crisp as she juggles her wares and her child at once. Her skin looks like soft cocoa powder and I want to touch it, but I don't because that would really be weird. She hands me the object-in-question along with her business card. A caterer specializing in children's foods - healthy but fun. A great idea. I'm all for healthy and fun. I compliment her on the card, which is quite sharp and make some benign quip about how "gee yeah I could use a few tips what with my 2 year old who blablabla..." To which she replied, "Right! Well take this cookie for example. I just took out all the junk and replaced it with healthy stuff." Of course! Why didn't I think of that? And then I caught her definition of junk, namely: eggs, milk, butter, and flour. Are these not, with the addition of sugar, the pillars upon which cookiedom rests? What the eff are in these things?

I don't know all of it, but I can tell you she replaced the eggs with applesauce. Well, that seems random. Why not tomato puree or corn relish? Of course I anticipated that she would have made some substitutions but I was thinking whole-wheat instead of white flour, molasses instead of refined sugar. I didn't think she would replace eggs with apples. And if that wasn't flour, what the heck was it? I'll tell you what it tasted like: sand. Not even good, soft Caribbean sand. Like the dirty muddy grainy sand you find on the banks of Lake Rousseau in Muskoka.

What with the heat and how I like to avoid confrontation and all, I didn't have the nerve to ask her how it is that flour, eggs, and dairy are, in her mind, on par with say cheez-os or chocopuffs. I mean just saying it outloud: eggs, milk, flour - I am overcome with the image of sunshine and white bed sheets and shimmering fields of grass. Was I brainwashed by villainous farmers and breakfast-food hawkers as a child? Probably. But what I don't get is the science.

Look, I have a vegan friend (not that there's anything wrong with that) and I get - believe me I get - the socio-economic-environmental-ethical dilemmas constituted by the agricultural means of production in our post-industrial economy. There are LOTS of good reasons to give up cheese. Not a single one of them has to do - as far as I am concerned - with taste or nutritional value. Sure there are people with viable intolerances: lactards and the such. But unless you fall into one of those unfortunate groups, explain to me why I should be buying gluten-free rice bread in the freezer section. Explain to me how an apple is better than an egg. Explain to me how a lump of sand dotted with carob chips and dried cherries is a cookie.

And here's one more cookie fact, just for fun. Muslims introduced the cookie to Europe during the conquest of Spain around the 8th century. So the next time a racist jerk-off says "we should just bomb'em all" you can tell him who he has to thank for his double-stuffed Hydrox cookies - that's right, Allah.

Tonight's Dinner:
- Leftover Casserole (rice covered with roast chicken, broccoli, bell peppers, and cheese)

Really, this deserves a post all its own as the very concept of this meal goes against every grain in my body. Yet, with Becca's urging I gave it a try. I had to do something with that chicken, right? And Becca's a fantastic cook, she wouldn't lead me a stray. So with her help, we put the whole thing together in about 15 minutes. It smelled surprisingly good in the oven. Guess what it tasted like: leftovers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Excerpts from My Little Black Book

On a whim I bought one of those little black moleskine notebooks, the kind (according to the packaging) that Hemingway and Matisse carried around to record lightening strikes of creative genius. Mine contains shopping lists, more or less:

Rice Crackers

reads one exciting entry.

Bug spray

reads another. Heavy stuff. Will certainly feature as a centerpiece in the Jessie Sitnick archives, post-mortem, of course.

While convenient for this purpose, it was not my intended use of the little-black-book (LBB). I was inspired by a shelf title: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris. It was the "Important Artifacts and Personal Property" bit that appealed to me. I just liked the phrase. I repeated it to myself like 13 times, standing there in the bookstore and then it occurred to me that I wouldn't remember it, of course I wouldn't. I needed to write it down. How handy would a pocket-sized notebook be for such an occasion? And not wanting anything flimsy or covered with unicorns, I opted for the working-man's notebook. The LBB of artists and journalists and fiction-writers (and grocery-list addicts).

Maybe it's charming to keep a record of the clutter of my everyday life. Maybe it's really not. But every once in a while, I do fill the gaps between produce and dry goods with something else. Creative genius, probably not. But something I might want to remember later. Like the phrase "pornography of disability" that I came across while researching the topic of TLC as the modern freakshow. Or the idea of remaking the Jack and The Beanstalk story set in inner-city Baltimore (the beanstalk is a metaphor for escaping the cycle of poverty, don't hold your breath for the trailer).

And then yesterday, I wrote this. I'm transcribing it here as if it's a poem, but really, it's just a bunch of observations I tried to phrase nicely (oh wait, maybe that is a poem).

On the Way to Buy Lamb Stuffed with Apricots

The kind of person who
leaves her umbrella open on the porch after the rain,
who plants plastic roosters in her garden

The kind who
wears purple on purple,
looks back at her car, parked
shades her eyes from the sun, wondering
will I get a ticket

The kind
who wears a yellow sundress, low-cut
fills the block
with the smell of expensive hair products

The kind who looks at me
from her car window
and then looks away

The one who remembers my older child's name
as she weighs mushrooms on the cashier scale

The one who stands in a half-finished doorway.

Last Night's Dinner:

Lamb stuffed with apricots
Risotto with mushrooms
Overcooked broccoli

Tonight's Dinner:

Still a mystery waiting to be solved. A list I haven't written.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What We Did Learn From This

It is important to me that Loki understands where his food comes from so instead of taking him to the factory where they manufacture goldfish crackers, today I took him to the Children's Garden in High Park. This is an amazing space of beautiful, raised beds filled with vegetables, herbs, and other edible wildlife all planted and maintained by children (like the Garden of Eden sans the opportunity to engage in mortal sinning).

Today's theme was "flowers" (so simple, and yet, so complex). One of the lovely, crunchy program leaders snapped a head off an orange-coloured blossom and passed the pedals around for all of us to taste. "Spicy" she said. "Waxy" I thought. And then I also thought, "shit, I hope Loki doesn't start munching on ragweed as a result of this educational experience." And then I thought of the awesomely gruesome story Herb told us over dinner last night of two teenagers who died after smoking poison sumac in the woods during a camping trip and then about the time Jenny Zeiger and I smoked a maple leaf wrapped in computer paper on my back porch because we couldn't pilfer any real cigarettes off my dad. And then I thought "is Loki really getting anything from all this?"

I herded him from one end of the garden to the other, pointing out bumble bees (of which he has somehow developed a phobia), ladybugs, snails, a "sensitive" plant (it weeps real tears. Not really). We watered stuff, we stuck seeds in the soil, we arranged cut flowers into little bouquets (Flowers, meh. Scissors, wooow). Then Loki said "EAT. HUNGRY." and we left to get some lunch.

After we finished diligently picking all the vegetables off our vegetarian pizza, we swung back by the garden. And, to my horror and joy, Loki went straight to the chives and began munching away on them, just like the hippy instructor had showed us. Was it just luck that he didn't grab a handful of crabgrass or did he actually retain that 15 seconds worth of information for more than an hour with a big exciting vegetable pizza lunch in between? And what will he do with this new knowledge of chives? Where will it take him? Here's my hope: some day, when he's 26 and hasn't called home for a month, he'll eat a baked potato from Swiss Chalet and the smell of the chive-infused sour cream will fill him with an overwhelming love for his mother. Is that the best I can hope for, or am I shooting too low?

Back in the spring, we imposed upon my sister-in-law's parents who live on a pig farm up in Wingham. Loki loves books about farm animals and I thought, well, here's a chance to get real close and personal with some actual barnyard pals and - by the way - that's where bacon comes from, yum. I'd say the two main differences between farm animals in books and real-life farm animals are (1) scale and (2) smell. Also, cows don't actually say "mooo." They bellow something loud and guttural that could make you crap yourself if you're 2 (or 30), especially if you're only about a foot away from the "mooing" end. (Still better than a foot away from the pooing end, which we were as well). I loved it. Loki was terrified. We didn't get anywhere near broaching the subject of bacon.

Still, I have deep philosophical underpinnings for these excursions, derived, naturally, from a pop-foodie book by Michael Ruhlman. In Soul of a Chef he charts the paths of world renowned chefs, one of whom is Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. As it turns out, in his early days as a chef, Thomas had a yen to cook some rabbit. He was living out in the Catskills so he just contacted his local rabbit purveyor who gave him a slap-dash lesson in skinning a hare and then left him with burlap sack full of cute wittle bunny wabbits. His first attempt was gruesome. The rabbit screamed, broke its leg in the process. It was a gory mess. He then went on to slaughter the others with a bit more ease, so the story goes. But what he learned from this god-awful experience is that, as a chef, he has the moral obligation to honour the lives he takes. Waste nothing. Cook everything to perfection.

Okay, so I get that the logic is a little screwed up. As long as the dish is super tasty, it's worth the rabbit's life? Was it served with a nice Chianti and some fava beans? So maybe we're in psychopath territory. But, that aside, I take away something kindof beautiful from this story. After all, we are born takers. We consume life (bacon or brussels sprouts) to maintain life and that's the normal course of things. However, it is exactly that blind and arrogant consumption that has gotten us into the mess we currently find ourselves in (I won't elaborate on it, cause blahblahblah, you know what I mean). I'm not suggesting that we should sit shiva for every carrot we eat, but I think we do have a moral obligation of some kind to at least take some interest, gain some understanding of what carrot-life is all about.

Our kids need to understand this even more than we do because, the way things are going, it'll really all come to a head in their lifetime. While we're shaking our canes in the old folks home, they'll be out there fanning themselves silly in the midst of unavoidable climate change. So Loki needs to get this stuff and damn it, if that means arranging edible flowers and eating fresh chives in the middle of an urban park on a Thursday morning, than that's just what we're gonna do.

Tonight's Dinner:

- Mustard & Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon (fresh, wild from BC; better or worse than farmed, organic from Ireland?)

- Baby Broccoli

- Leftover bean salad (amazingly better the 2nd day)

- 9 Grain bread

Friday, July 31, 2009

Boob Tube

Man did I just get a good lip slashing from the little Gordon Ramsey in my head. "Come ON, you donkey" he said as I peeled a hard-boiled egg over the sink, then transported the shell across the kitchen to the garbage can, then came back to the sink to peel the next egg, and then back across the (you get it). I am the least efficient person in a kitchen, ever. It is infuriating...I guess. Actually, it doesn't bug me so much but, since Mr. Ramsey moved in, I never hear the end of it. He gives me no peace.

(Interesting side note: a social worker I used to share an office with had an elderly client who was absolutely convinced that Emeril Lagasse lived in her basement. He would yell "BAM" all hours of the day and night. The worst part, according to her, was that he never invited her to try a single one of his dishes.)

Most of my voices are familiar - people I know, people I love, people who love me. They keep me honest. My little mother reminds me to send cards (sometimes she actually does this outside of my brain, but mostly I've internalized it) and frowns at me when I reach for another slice of bread. Jessica gives me a hard time for throwing away recyclables (something she would never do in real life, outloud). Herb looks at me sideways when I buy expensive organic kiwis or tip more than 15%. Lori is constantly telling me to get over myself. My dad scolds me for scolding the dog or forgetting to let him out before bedtime (the dog, not my dad who usually takes himself out before bedtime).

Ah, see. Mostly helpful, generally well-intentioned reminders from the people who care for me most. I sometimes ignore them.

But what's up with all these quasi-celebrity voices who feel so inclined to boss me around in my head all day long. Look, Stacy & Clinton, I have no interest in owning a blazer even if it does emphasize the smallest part of my waist. I don't need Donald Trump's assessment of my professional ambition nor do I crave Oprah's empathetic advice regarding body image. Thanks but no thanks, guys.

I don't know how they all got in there. It's not my fault. I entered tender adulthood at the cross-roads of the self-help book and reality TV. All this schandenfreude is meant to be instructive for the masses. I don't buy it. But apparently I've absorbed it.

That's all time will allow but I have a whole lot more to say on this topic - especially as it relates to TLC and the post-modern freakshow...I'm working on that one. Stay tuned. (And get the frick out of my kitchen, Ramsey!)

Dinner Tonight:

- Good bread
- Good salad
- Meat on sticks

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This happened in an elevator vestibule the size of a large coffin. Level B2. The parking garage across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Through the glass, a woman is running towards me. Arms out, shouting. I don't understand her at first and then the doors close behind me. Damn, she says, pushing into the crowded coffin, now I'll have to wait for the next one. I feel obliged to apologize, like a knee jerk. And then I fix a stare on her.

I am wheeling a two-child buggy, an empty two-child buggy because one of said children is hanging in a harness from my torso and the other is attempting to make a mad dash toward the headlights catching some tracktime around the garage's blind corners. I have one foot propping open the coffin door (through which my new friends steps) and am steering with one hand and a hip.

Clearly and from any angle, I am in no position to catch and hold an elevator door for anyone: the Pope, Jesus, Elvis-incarnate, or the woman with the expensive purse who is now sulking at me as she leans against the vestibule wall. She watches me, unfazed, as I maneuver around her like a haggard Shiva with my tribe of children and gear.

Thanks! I shout sarcastically over my shoulder just before the glass door clicks closed. I see her face and it registers nothing.

This was not today. This was weeks ago. And still I think about it, not because I'm angry (I'm still a little angry) but because I also wonder if I am in the wrong. Or, rather, if I processed these events in the wrong way.

Solipsism, philosophically, is the theory that only the self (myself, not yourself) can be proved to exist. Colloquially, it is complete absorption with one's own needs, feelings, and thoughts to the exclusion of all others' (thank you, dictionary.com).

Did it occur to me that the expensive-purse-lady's need to get to and on the elevator could be equal to my need to get off and out of it? Was her expectation that I might catch and hold the closing doors for her any more imposing than my expectation that she might hold the vestibule door for me as I left?

Well, umm, no. But I have kids. And there it is. That spawners' entitlement. It was all the uproar around fine-dining restaurants and office watercoolers not long ago.

Who do they think they are bringing a 3-year-old here on a Saturday night to sneeze boogers into my cocktail...

I have to work a 12-hour day because Johnny's precious little has a solo performance at his pre-school's African drumming recital...

In fact, a couple years back, there was a big brouhaha here in Toronto around whether or not people should give up their transit seats for pregnant women. "I worked all day, my feet hurt, and I'm smart enough to use a condom, so suck it up preggo," versus "What about compassion and the miracle of life you bleeping bleep-hole." (For the record, I never verbally asked anyone to give up their seat for my pregnant body but shamelessly stared sitters down while rubbing my belly and projecting misery. It was about 75% effective).

Last week my dad jibed me a bit, saying - in effect - that I have matured as a person in so much as my self-centeredness has now expanded to include my children. He was joking. Sort of. I acted quite put off, but the thing is, he's kindof right. I wonder if kids are just a guise or a good excuse for complete ego centrism, constituting a bigger circle of self in which to be absorbed.

Or maybe that lady was just a bitch.

Tonight's Dinner:

- Grilled rack of lamb
- Spinach and Matzoh Pie (try it, you like it.)
- Greek salad

Sunday, July 26, 2009


The butcher-shop lady and I agree: a haircut is a powerful thing.

She was blessed (from her father's side, I learned) with beautiful hair: thick and silver with lovely dark undertones and on some days it is a mass of perfect corkscrew curls and other days (like today) blown out soft and straight.

"You've done something different; it quite suits you" she said. I was so pleased. With the compliment, of course. But also with the fact that I live in a neighbourhood where the butcher-shop lady notices when you get your haircut. I was delighted. In fact, all day long I've been delighted with one thing or another. And, while I will admit that I am surely a victim of magical thinking, I believe the haircut is responsible for this change in my weather.

The day itself was overcast and, objectively speaking, quite ordinary. We went to the park in the morning, brunched at the same outdoor cafe as we do everytime, chased Loki across the benches shoving little bites of pancake in his mouth. Made naps. Made coffee. Turned the TV off, turned it back on, turned it off - now this time I mean it. Ate dinner. Baths. Bed.

But there were all these wonderful moments. Like how the man next to us at the cafe was playing this handmade African musical instrument and let Loki try it. And I found this tree in the park that an artist had carved a big bearded face into and Loki and I talked to him, the treeman, for a while and Loki was a little scared of him but touched his beard anyway. And then we found snails all over the leaves and I showed him Queen Anne's Lace, which always reminds me of home for some reason. And we stumbled across a filmset where they had put fake snow all over the ground and so we walked through the snow in the middle of July. Later, at home, when it thunderstormed, we made a fort in the livingroom and read Where the Wild Things Are with a flashlight and then went outside and splashed on the patio and weeded the entire back garden in the rain and found earthworms.

Of course, it all goes back to the haircut (duh.)

Here's what happened. Friday night, Herb was on call and after Lori left to go enjoy childless adulthood, I was on my own with nothing on TV and not sleepy and feeling the dull kindof blueness that I've felt for a while. I was brushing my teeth for bed, having given up on being awake. And then I started to move my hair around a bit. Pushed it over my forehead, held it up here and there. Just before I grabbed the scissors I remember thinking: (1) If I actually pick up the scissors I'll really do it and then I'll be screwed (2) it's only hair, it'll grow back (3) this is really stupid. And then I cut myself a fringe.

In the morning Herb said, "It looks like you just cut a chunk out of your hair over your forehead." Yeah. That's more or less what I did. "You should go get that fixed," he said. So I did. And while the hairdresser explained that this is not how he would have gone about giving me a bang, I must say I am quite pleased with our collaborative effort.

Objectively, I've got the butcher-shop lady and my next door neighbour, Norm, to go on and they both like it. Herb does not. But it doesn't matter. I just needed to look in the mirror and see something different. And that, I think, has helped me see everything else a little differently so that - on an ordinary, rainy Sunday - I found joy all day long.

Tonight's Dinner:

Homemade Pizza (mushrooms, pineapple, Genoa salami, fresh basil)

Oven-baked chicken wings