365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 40: Mail Order!

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40. Mail Order

Have you ever ordered anything by mail order? (And no, this doesn’t include brides, so those of you who’re hoping, dash it!)

I groan in dread every time I get an envelope in the mail from my mail order companies. Yes, more than one.

I belong to a book club that has given me some truly delightful collectible editions, but that has books that cost an arm and a leg! But they do have at least one spectacular clearance sale each year, when I can order books at ridiculously low prices. The shipping from England sort of brings the price back up, but over all, it is usually a satisfying and worthwhile experience.

I receive mail order catalogues and fliers from a couple of companies that specializes in mail order, and you can get all sorts of big and little things for anywhere as low as a couple of dollars to big ticket items that might cost nearly two hundred dollars. Some of the items are just amusing. Others are curios. Still others are curiosities. And the majority of them are items you might think of getting or trying out but wouldn’t really get. Then there are the items that you will really find handy or items that you might really want. Because of these, I do a lot of household shopping for non-perishable items that are not readily available in the grocery or department stores through mail order. Because one of the companies requires cheques to be sent before the items are sent, I don’t usually get from them, although once in a while, they have an item that’s too good to pass. Now, the other company actually gives customers the option to pay COD or in 4 or 5 equal installments. That is what makes it worthwhile. Even if you pay a little more for shipping, which raises the prices, you don’t need to get out of your house or even up from your couch to shop. Well, you do need to get up to mail in your order. The bonus is that they also offer all sorts of prizes and free gifts and bargain items and a lottery. Mind you, the big lottery is legitimate, as researched by various independent research companies, but as in any other lottery, you have a one-in-a-million chance of winning! But that’s not the point.

I said I groan in dread when the catalogues or fliers arrive. That’s because I know there might be something there I just can’t resist, or something I think I could really use, or something I really want, or something that might come in handy in the future, or something that’s too good to be true. That’s when I know I’ll be spending some money on something I wasn’t planning to get at all, no matter how useful. Which means I’ll be out some cash that I shouldn’t have spent in the first place. Which means I’ll be beating myself for spending money in the first place!

Aaaargh!

But when the package(s) arrive, it’s like Christmas! I don’t always remember everything I order…I’m not obsessive-compulsive enough to make a list of every single thing I order, in the first place, so when packages arrive, it’s a surprise! Well, not totally, because I knew packages would be arriving. But surprised, nevertheless, because I didn’t know exactly when they would be arriving. Plus, there’s the excitement of finding out what’s inside. And the excitement of seeing if what you get is exactly what it looks like in the pictures. Plus, the excitement of trying out something new and adding it to my growing pile of kitchen gadgets and tools, or household implements and other things.

Then the realization of a bill in your hand just hits you. Sure, it’s a small bill, so it’s like a pebble bouncing off your head. But sometimes, you’ve got two or three at the same time, so it’s a small handful of pebbles bouncing off your head, and if those pebbles are the size of dimes, a handful of them can be a bit annoying and even a bit hurtful, if they hit hard enough!

Aaaargh!

At least it isn’t TV shopping where I’d need to use a credit card that could just get maxed out before you know it! Thank goodness I don’t have a credit card!

 

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365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 39: Fresh fish supper!

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39. Fresh fish supper

There is a lot to be said for fresh fish, if you like it. I do.

One of the reasons I picked PEI was because it’s an island with lots of fishing communities. So much water in rivers, lakes, ponds and creeks all over the island. No wonder a favorite pastime of many people is fishing. During the fishing season, that is, when it opens in mid-April until when it ends after summer. I figures it would be a great way to get healthy eating.

You would think that in four years of living here, I would have found some time to get me a decent fishing pole or net and go fishing. Or, considering I have never really done that in my life, I might be buying fresh fish from the grocery all the time. Apparently, that was never a habit ingrained in me, so I bought frozen fish instead.

Then, after four years of meeting the same people day in and day out and getting to know some of them well enough to crack an occasional joke or greet them with a personal remark, some of them actually asked, in the course of talking about fishing, if I liked fish and promised to bring me some in the next time they went fishing. True to their word, one of them brought me a pack of four fish, all cleaned and filleted and ready to cook. Not completely fresh, though, because he had to put them in the freezer until he could get them to me. Still, pretty fresh.

Then, wonder of wonders, another one actually brought a whole pailful of fresh fish, still slippery and shiny and bright eyed, to share with my friend who also worked at the store. (He had already brought her some before, but because I wasn’t working that day, she wasn’t able to get any to me.) So there I was, with a bucket of fresh fish. I shared some with her, dropping them off at her place after work, just before I headed home to confront the fish.

I was all ready and charged to clean them up so I could freeze what I wasn’t going to cook right away…but it’s really nice to have a friend who’ll do it for you, because he didn’t want me to hurt my hands on the really sharp fins. To make the work easier, I chopped of the heads and he cleaned them out. Unlike in the Philippines, people just chop of fish heads here. They do not eat the heads! Of course, my friend couldn’t understand that, as most fish in the grocery stores, fresh or frozen, come without heads, tails or fins, and they are all filleted and clean.

More surprising was, the only way he knew to cook fresh fish was salted and rolled in flour then fried. I, of course, humored him, and did just that, but fried it the way we do in the Philippines, so that the tail and fins and skin are all crunchy and delicious to eat. He watched me in horror, warning me over and over again to watch out, that I might choke on the spines, that the spines would stay inside me and puncture my insides. I totally enjoyed seeing the look on his face as I crunched away at the tails and the fins and the crunchy skin.

The worst part was, he just took away the whole belly of the fish and discarded on the side of his plate, along with all the spines and tail. That is the best part of the fish! Even while cleaning out the fish, he would have scraped the belly away if I hadn’t made him stop and told him the belly was the best part of the fish. He left some of it. Sigh.

Anyway, I made some Filipino-style dipping sauce to go with the fish. I had some fresh tomatoes and onions that I chopped up and soaked in vinegar and soy sauce, mixing in a generous sprinkling of dried chili flakes, which is only next best to fresh tiny red chili peppers. It was a wonderfully delicious supper, the fish slightly flaky on the inside, without a hint of fishiness.

I will cook the rest in different dishes. Maybe for supper tonight!

365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 38: Friday!

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38. Friday!

Who hasn’t picked up and used the phrase “thank God it’s Friday” at least once? Or heard someone else say it?

I haven’t really used that phrase, because Fridays aren’t really anything special to me. Sure, it signifies the start of a weekend, and most people are just too glad to get off work after a whole week of slaving away. So Friday is a respite from the stress of work. Whether it’s stress because there’s a lot of work and it’s really tiring, or because the work is ho-hum and boring and it’s really tiring, or because you hate your job and it’s really tiring, or because you hate the people at work and they’re really tiresome, people just want to set it aside and take that much-needed weekend break to recharge their batteries and get ready for the next week of work.

For people who do shift work at a place that is open 364 days a year, 24/7, and get the odd days off on weekdays, then Friday is nothing special. In fact, it just gets busier at places like these, because people who are off patronize and populate these places–restaurants, fast foods, malls, shopping centers, movie houses–these are weekend haunts of people who “work” during the week.

So why am I so glad it’s Friday?

I left work last night thinking it was already Friday. I also thought I was off on Saturday and working on Sunday, so I thought today would be Saturday and I was off. So I called the store after getting home from work last night, asking if my day off was Saturday or Sunday, and found out that it was Sunday–which was confirmed by my calendar at home, which said I worked Saturday, not Sunday. So I was all set to work today–which I thought was Saturday. And because I usually meet a student on Saturday mornings, but she was sick last Tuesday, when I was supposed to meet her as well, I called her up to find out if she was well enough to meet me today, which I thought was Saturday.

She insisted it was only Friday. I said, “No, it’s Saturday today. Yesterday was Friday.” She must have found that amusing, told me to hold on for a second, and I heard her calling one of her children to ask what day it was. And she told me again “It is only Friday.” So I got very confused. My mind was not comprehending this. So I checked my old reliable computer for the correct date and it said “9/2/2011”  and gave me a bubble that said “Friday, September 02, 2011.” How can I argue with my computer? I was totally embarrassed and so apologized to my student and told her I would see her then tomorrow.

I had to jump back into bed and lie there for a couple of minutes just to clear my head. It is only Friday! I checked my calendar. It is only Friday! I checked my clock that has date and time. It is only Friday! Ha! I have an extra day! I thought it was Saturday but now it’s actually only Friday, so I have gained a day! While I don’t look forward all that much to working, because now I have two more days to work before I’m off on Sunday, I actually have another day to write and accomplish other things. Because it’s only Friday!

I will call my student again tomorrow before I leave the house to meet her, in case it’s actually still Friday or it’s already Sunday.

 

 

365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 37: New Students

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37. New Students

When I was a student myself, I was always a little excited about meeting new students because I felt that I could make new friends who didn’t already have their biases about me. Some of them have become good friends, some moved on to other friendships. But that didn’t stop me from learning more about them and being a good friend for as long as it lasted.

As a teacher, I always look forward to meeting new students. I think it is one of the most exciting things about teaching. Every year or term or semester, whenever classes change over, I am excited about who I will meet, what my students will be like, what will they know or not know, what I can learn about them, and what I can learn from them. Then I can tailor my teaching style and lessons to individual and group needs. Even my classroom management style varies, depending on the students.

Yesterday, I met several new students. Well, 10 of them were most likely the first and last meeting, because they belonged to a class that I was substituting for. Still, in one short afternoon, I learned so many things about my students that even they themselves did not know about each other after sharing several classes together! It was a very enlightening and interesting afternoon, to say the least. As a matter of fact, I found out that in China, Chairman Mao is considered a hero. Very interesting.

The one student I met whom I will be meeting on a regular basis over the next six months at least, is a middle-aged Chinese lady who, as chance would have it, works at the same store that I work in! I know from working with her, that she was terribly frustrated with the school she was attending to learn English because after a year, she still could barely speak proper English and could barely understand others speaking. It was more frustrating that she could not do the regular work at the store and instead, is given menial cleaning jobs, again because she could not speak very well. To top it off, she was an accomplished nurse and businesswoman in China, but could practice neither nursing nor business in Canada, again because of her difficulty communicating in English. I had advised her to go the the Newcomers’ Association and explain her problem because I am a volunteer EAL tutor for their program and I knew that she could get help from them for one-on-one tutoring.

I suspected she might be the student I was to meet when the program coordinator started telling me about her. Wasn’t it a pleasant surprise when, as we approached the library, we saw her from a distance and, upon seeing us, she began jumping up and down with a huge smile on her face and a whole lot of excitement as she ran to me and gave me a big hug! The program coordinator was quite pleased, I could see, because he could tell it would be a good match. I, on the other hand, was happy, as well, because I could get to know her better and help her out.

Such encounters make meeting new students a truly fulfilling experience.

I look forward to the school opening for the additional reason that I will be meeting new students each time I substitute in a class. Even if I don’t get the chance to know them very well, because most of them will be with me for only one class in one day and I might never see them again, 40 minutes to a day is more than enough time to learn so many things about new students.

365 Things to Look Forward to — Number 36: School Opening

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36. School opening

I can name more than a good handful of people who are more than glad to get out of school. And twice as many who wish they never had to go to school. And only a small handful of people who can’t wait till school starts again. And still less who would love to study all their lives.

Can you guess which group I belong to?

Definitely the last two groups. Yes, I love school.

When I was little, I couldn’t wait for my first day in school. Not nursery, because I had a moody teacher who wouldn’t let me talk to my seatmate and made us bring our chairs up front and sit down facing the wall for a good amount of time. What else do I remember about nursery? Naps. We have colored mats that we napped on. And the uniforms. We had little tent-like dresses which remind me now of Fred Flinststones’ outfits sans the spots. Except that these came in pastel colors, one for each day of the week, or maybe just 3 different colors that we alternated. I don’t think I learned very much in nursery except that teachers can be really nasty.

It was going to a “real” school–Kindergarten–that I was completely excited about. I was going to take a new school bus and go to a new school. We had moved closer to the new school, so the old school was no longer an option. I had a real uniform–not different colored play dresses, but a navy blue pleated jump skirt and a white button-up blouse. I didn’t like the ruffles. I always hated the ruffles. All the way till I graduated from senior high, I hated those ruffles.

Anyway, off I went on the first day. I had instructions to “follow all the little children with a K on their badge”. We had little round badges about the size of a quarter that had our level on it. K was for Kindergarten. I was proud of my little K.

It wasn’t hard to find out where the Kindergarten classes were. There were sandboxes and a playhouse and swings and other toys outside. And there were dozens of little girls and boys just my size. My problem was finding my room. I went into the first room I found and sat there until the teacher figured out I didn’t belong to that class, so she walked me to all the classrooms, looking for my name on the lists on the doors, until she found my classroom. It was a nice, cozy room with chairs just the right size and a very friendly teacher, Miss Astrid Perez. But I easily got bored. I knew the alphabet and my numbers. I could count. I could read. And I read through all the books in the room long before the class even got to them. So I started sneaking out to play while the class was going on. I never knew it, but the Principal, Sr. Gratia, had called my mother to let her know that I was skipping class. So young! So they gave me tests, and Sr. Gratia gave the verdict: I was to be accelerated to 1st grade. I don’t really remember, but I think a group of us were chosen for this privilege, but we had to take our Prep (with a P badge) in summer. That was fine with me, because I loved school, and somehow felt more at home there than at home.

And so it went. Every year, I have looked forward to going back to school after summer. Now, I still look forward to going back to school after summer…but this time, to teach. I would love to be able to keep on studying just for the pleasure of learning new things, but I have to do that on my own now, because I need to work to pay my bills.

There is everything to be excited about with school opening. Meeting new classmates, meeting new teachers, meeting old classmates and friends, checking out new books in the library, getting new textbooks, getting new school supplies and school shoes, and most of all, learning a whole lot of new things!

I just don’t think people appreciate school enough. But that’s another topic.

365 Things to Look Forward to — Number 33: A New Post

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33. A New Post

I started writing this collection of 365 things to look forward to for several reasons.

1. I wanted to force myself to write something everyday. The original plan was to write something everyday, until a whole year was up. Then I would have 365 blog entries that I could turn into a book, or sift through and turn into a book, or pick through for topics that I could develop further and eventually turn those into a book. Unfortunately, I hit a few snags early on, and a month passed and I still didn’t have 30-31 things to look forward to. Now, I have 33! One month and a couple of days of things to look forward to and counting. I know it’s a daunting task, but I always wanted to be a serious writer. Which means, I wanted to make writing a life-time career. I’d always dreamed of becoming a writer, and I know I was getting there, but bills got in the way, and other jobs provided a more steady income. Now, before it’s too late, I just want to get on my way, so I’m always setting aside some time for writing. And as long as I can do it, I will do it every single day for the rest of my life.

2. I needed to start counting my blessings. The past two years have taken a lot out of me. I’m still recovering, but I know I need to face life head on and go on with it. Many times, I’d just take things for granted. Most things, I’d take with a grain of salt. Everything was just ordinary. Nothing special ever really happened in my life. At least, that’s how I looked at it. I was just living. I know I started becoming cynical when I was in elementary school, and I was a full-blown cynic in high school. I also developed an armor of protection. Nothing would faze me–at least on the outside. I’d taken on a serious visage and a sharp tongue. Everything I said was tongue-in-cheek, in the sense of an earlier meaning that connoted contemptuous humor. I was satirical, cynical, sardonic, critical, and took everything with a grain of salt. I remained quiet whenever I could, rarely speaking and when I did, it would be some pointed comment. Beneath all that, I wanted to be liked and like others around me. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to understand what my classmates’ lives were like, because my life certainly didn’t seem like anything anyone else I knew had. So I struggled to be that way in my senior year, and I brought that into university, where I adopted a very casual, very carefree aura. I became the belle of the ball, so to speak, and I always tried to look my best, by dressing in very feminine couture, as opposed to my boyish outfits before senior high. I enjoyed the attention and I never showed how I really felt about things. I was a natural flirt and enjoyed the attention I felt I would never get when I was younger, because I was the nerdy geeky girl with eyeglasses at whom men never made passes. I traded my eyeglasses for contact lenses, which did wonders to boost my ego, which had been brutally and constantly bruised growing up. I was extremely active in various organizations and found that I could influence people and I could make myself heard. I was experiencing independence, freedom, and responsibility like never before. And I learned that I could be in control of it all. Through all that, nobody every knew when I had problems or difficulties or issues with anything in life. I was always smiling, always friendly, but still avoided speaking when I could. I preferred to sit at the edge of things, except when I was pushed up front and center to assume leadership roles or to perform tasks, which I always strove to do my best at. I preferred to listen to others as long as I could and not volunteer anything until people looked to me, or I felt obliged to speak up and do something because no one else would, or they couldn’t figure out how to approach a problem, and so on. I preferred to watch people, because I could learn so much about them just by watching them, listening to them speak, observe how they interacted with others and reacted to people or situations or ideas. This was something I had enjoyed doing since childhood—just watching, observing–and I still enjoy doing it now. I can sit for hours, imagining what people’s lives are like from watching them, making up stories about them. After so many years of wearing this persona, I have finally realized that I do have talents that other people don’t have. I always thought I was just another ordinary, insecure girl, who had grown up to be an ordinary, insecure woman. I never thought my life was so different, or so special, or so unusual, or even so extraordinary. I never thought that some of what I do and have been doing all my life are things a lot of other people can’t do at all. I have learned to face the fact that I have been showered with so many blessings, which more than make up for the pains of growing up the way I did. It’s not the first time I tried to start counting my blessings, but every time I tried to in the past, I’d get foiled. I have learned in a very hard way that I can’t let things or people foil me. I’m in control of my life. While I can’t control everything, like my job, the environment, politics, and other people, I can always control the way I feel or react to things. I can always control the way I think. Of course, once in a while, I might indulge in a pityfest. But that’s human. What most people fail to do is learn to stop pitying themselves and learn to love themselves and see everything as some sort of blessing, twisted and disguised as they may be. Being able to even begin to see that is, in itself, a blessing.

3. I need to be more positive. For the longest time, I’d seen things with a jaded eye. There were people and things, of course, that were exempt from this point of view. Those people were mainly my friends who I considered close to me, or those who had taken our relationship from “colleagues” and “associates” to “friends.” I’m not going to name any now, but I do keep in touch with several of them, and even those I haven’t been in touch with are still special to me. Those are people who, no matter what, I will consider good and dear friends. Others are just passing through my life. But that’s not the way it is. In reality, everyone and everything that is in contact with me in whatever shape or form they come, touches my life, becomes a part of me. Some will affect me in a huge way. Some in tiny ways. But I know I am learning things from them, every single day, every moment of my life. I just need to acknowledge that more often. I need to accept that. And I need to do it in a positive way. Some things or people might pass through with little effect and hardly any affect, but that’s because I will have learned that these are insignificant to me, or potentially harmful, hence the need to avoid them or discard them. That’s actually a life lesson. I need to count my blessings and see things in a more positive way. Which brings me back to item 2 in this entry. Blessings and positivity. You can’t separate those two.

4. I need to focus. Too many things interest me. I want to do too many things. I want to learn too many things. I want to be too many things. But I have only one life at the moment. And one self. One body. One me. I knew, back in high school, that I needed to focus on something to determine what course to pursue in university, and eventually, what path my career would take. I was overjoyed when we were offered an aptitude test, that would help use determine what areas we were good at, so that we could plan our future along those lines. That way, we wouldn’t be wasting time developing an area that we had absolutely no aptitude for. I was completely dismayed and disappointed when my results came back. I was hoping the test would decide for me what direction I could and should take. The results I got back showed that I scored at the top of the chart in three career areas (out of five), and scored in the second bracket in the remaining two areas. Before the results were out, I was told that I could pursue a career in the areas where my aptitude lay in the the top two brackets. All I found out was that I could be good at any of all the 5 areas, and that I would be good in any career. I couldn’t even ignore the lowest-scoring area because there wasn’t one. And I couldn’t focus on the top-scoring area because there were three of them! So once again, I was thrown into a quandary where I could be anything I wanted be. And so my life continued, picking up skills in disparate areas of interest. I have finally decided that my earliest desire, to be a writer, is what is really best for me, because it allows me to use the knowledge I have acquired over all the different aspects of my life into a singular task, albeit with a myriad outputs. I have also decided that the second thing I do want to specialize in is my art. That will be totally new discussion, of course, as this entry is getting quite lengthy.

So, there you have it. This is why I chose to start writing 365 things to look forward to. It doesn’t mean I won’t write about other things, because if I do, that means I’m doing just dandy, because finally, my writing is coming handy!

 

365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 32: Peanut Butter

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32. Peanut Butter

Why not? I love peanut butter. And what’s not to love about it? It’s creamy, smooth, nutty, and sweet. Sticky too, I’d like to add. Plus, it’s healthy food! Yes. In fact, it’s among the foods recommended for a healthy diet.

I always loved peanut butter. And not in pathetic little servings spread thinly over bread so that you get just a hint of the peanut butter flavor. Oh no sirree! It has to be spread on nice and thick, so that with each bite you feel that wonderful smooth creaminess sticking to the roof of your mouth. Then you roll the delicious morsel on your tongue and let is slowly melt away.

Some people prefer the crunchy peanut butter so they can chew on the bits of peanuts in it. Not I. I can’t stand chunky peanut butter. Sure, peanuts are chunky. But butter! Who ever heard of chunky butter? Butter is supposed to be smooth and creamy and it melts in your mouth. That’s how peanut butter should be as well–smooth and creamy and it melts in your mouth. No stragglers left behind. No teeth clingers. No annoying grit.

I once had the pleasure of tasting chocolate flavored peanut butter. It was the best of both worlds! I just wonder why they stopped producing and selling that product, because I would have bought it all the time!

In the Philippines, there is a brand of peanut butter that seemed like a home-made type of peanut butter. It didn’t have all the preservatives that the more popular brands have. It is, without doubt, delicious as well, but when you first open the jar, you’ll find a layer of peanut oil on top. At least I think it’s peanut oil. Possibly separated from settling. That’s probably what kept me from buying it. Aside from the fact that my mom wouldn’t buy it either because she thought it was too oily. Wow. Something that I actually agree with her on. The consistency wasn’t right, either. It was too soft. More like melted butter already. You couldn’t sink your teeth into it and just feel your bite going through and through.

Until I moved to Canada, I had never eaten a Reese’s peanut butter candy. First of all, I don’t remember seeing a lot of the brand on grocery store shelves. Second, because I shared nearly all my grocery purchases with others, who didn’t care as much about peanut butter, I didn’t consider it a very practical purchase. Once here, I had the chance to try some from a friend who has a sweet tooth and always had some chocolates every now and then, which she shared around at work. I was instantly in love. Well, that is, if you can fall in love with candy. But there I was savoring that first heavenly bite of two of my favorite foods together. The combination of creamy and creamy, chocolate and peanut butter, smooth and melting, sweet chocolate with slightly salty peanut butter was heavenly. I don’t care that Ferrero chocolates claims to be the food of the gods. Reese’s peanut butter cups are godly enough food for me! (Can you tell I love food? I wouldn’t be surprised if half of my 365 things end up being food!)

I still don’t buy it each time I visit the grocery store. Why not? Because I know that if I had a bag or box or pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups, I’d be eating them every day. And that wouldn’t be healthy anymore!

Mind you now, peanut butter is useful as well, in a lot of things. First of all, it makes a great mix in brownies and cookies, but I really don’t like it in cake, because it takes away from the qualities of the cake. Of course, it’s great with chocolate, I already pointed that out. There are dishes that actually taste great with peanut butter, believe it or not! And my favorite, of course, is the Philippine dish “kare-kare” which, of course, has nothing to do with curry. It’s pretty much like the Mexican mole (with a short o and a pronounced short e) which uses chocolate (mmm…). In traditional kare-kare, finely ground toasted peanuts are used. And if you don’t have peanuts? Use peanut butter! What makes it better is the added slightly sweet flavor when it’s all mixed in with the sauce.

Besides food, peanut butter is great for a lot of other things. It’s a great base for an instant bird feeder. Coat a pine cone with peanut butter, dip in birdseed and hang from a branch. Voila! A bird feeder! Or, if you are in a tight spot and need a bit of grease but don’t have any, or don’t want to use industrial grease, use a bit of peanut butter–that’s for nuts, bolts, sliding mechanisms, and squeaky hinges. Well, not in places where ants are sure to go. But here in Canada, though not in summer, it’ll work great. Did I mention it’s a good insect trap too? If you want those ants and flies to get stuck quick, you can spread a generous layer of peanut butter on a piece of paper and set it somewhere away from where you don’t want ants and flies to go, and when they land on the peanut butter, they’re stuck! Of course, honey works better here, but peanut butter is good too, and the stickier the better! It’s good for polishing leather shoes, too. If you don’t mind the slightly peanut-y smell on shoes. But if you can shine shoes with banana peel, why not with peanut butter?

Speaking of bananas, did you know that peanut butter and banana is really yummy? Scoop a tiny spoonful of peanut butter onto each bite of banana you take for an truly delectable treat.

I once tried the new peanut butter ice cream that Coldstone creamery makes. Good, but not something I’d really like, even if I’m a peanut butter lover.

And speaking of peanut butter lover….I’m not getting into that!

365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 31: New Gadgets!

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31. New Gadgets

I suppose this would evoke the image of Inspector Gadget for some people, but no, I do not go around with all my gadgets in my pocket or on my person, or in my purse. That would be utterly ridiculous. But I do love new gadgets. Who doesn’t? Oh, wait. Yes. My mom doesn’t. Can’t forget that.

But my dad, oh, did he love new gadgets! I must have picked some of that up from him. He would often come home with some little new-fangled gadget to use in the kitchen or put in his toolbox, or somewhere around the house, and after trying it a couple of times, it would disappear. Well, I suppose it was my mom who would make them disappear. She would mutter about the useless expense and the waste of money and how it would just clutter up her kitchen and so on and so forth. That never seemed to dampen my dad’s interest or enthusiasm, however, and he’d keep on coming home with little things, albeit less frequently. When cable television finally caught in the Philippines and home shopping was on nearly every channel, I discovered that he and my sister were back into trying out new things, ordering little gadgets or novel products from TV offers.

I always enjoyed looking through home stores and hardwares, because there were so many intriguing and amazing gadgets for sale. I can still spend hours and hours going through those stores just looking at everything there is to see. If I had some “spare” cash on me, I’d inevitable be walking up to the check-out counters with a little new something in hand. They really didn’t necessarily have to be a gadget that you could manipulate, although those are the most exciting to get. Sometimes they would be a china mug with a design that I just couldn’t leave on the shelf. I just had to have it for my mug collection. Or it might be an ice cube tray that didn’t make cubes and had some unique shape. I had a couple of ice cube trays that made little balls. I just loved them. Then I had a pair that made tubes. I also got a couple that made the tiniest little round-bottomed half capsules. And a couple that made the cutest tiniest little cubes! I just can’t have normal ice cubes from the standard trays. I have to have cute little fancy ice cubes! Not that they make different ice. Just differently shaped. They never cease to amuse me.

Before I left the Philippines, when I was earning enough to have a bit left over for just about anything, I fell for the home TV shopping. To my credit, I’ll have to say that I only got things that I could really use around the house. Twist mop? I had it. And it was one of the best mops I’ve ever had! I’m sure I had a few other purchases, but I really can’t seem to recall what they were. I guess that proves I never really did a whole lot of the home tV shopping. But I did love to watch the infomercials.

Here in Canada, I don’t get to do the home TV shopping bit for a couple of reasons. No credit card. No money. Sure, there might be a couple of things I’d like to get, but I’ve found that you can actually get them by mail order or in some big stores in town. My big folly now is mail order shopping, which wasn’t a big thing in the Philippines. I actually get a lot of things by mail order, most of which I do use around the house. It’s just so handy to be able to pay in installments, not have to walk around looking for what you want in a dozen stores, and have everything delivered to your front door! I’ve equipped my kitchen with cutters, knives, sharpeners, a mixer, and all sorts of other little appliances and tools to use. I have a really handy screwdriver that twists on its own. Most recently, I just received a brand new craft cutter. My very first craft cutter disappeared from my office in the Philippines, while we were cutting tickets for a show. My second craft cutter, which I purchased just before leaving the Philippines, needs a new cutting pad and has some broken fasteners as well, so that the strip that holds the rotary blade doesn’t stay in place. So I ordered a new craft cutter. It’s still in the plastic wrap in came in, but this one has 6 different blades, an extendable ruler, and a back light! It’s just fantawesome! I can’t wait to use it. But I probably won’t until I finish the oil painting I’m currently working on. That’s because if I start using it, I just know I’ll get engrossed in paper and cutting projects that I’ll be setting aside my paints for a bit. And that won’t do. I have a deadline to meet.

How long will I be able to keep myself from opening the plastic wrap and trying out that new cutter? I don’t know. But it probably won’t be too long.

 

365 Things to Look Forward to–Number 30: New Subscription Magazine!

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30. New Subscription Magazine!

Most people get excited over a new “toy” or some major purchase of clothing, shoes, technology, and other items of daily use or something for a special occasion. I get excited over new books and magazines. I know. Not many people out there will share the feeling of pure and utter delight at a shiny new pocket book cover, or the clean pure smell of a brand new hard bound book, or the shiny, clean, smooth pages of a brand new magazine in the mail. You’re probably wondering what could generate all this brouhaha? I just received my first issue of Writers’ Digest magazine and I am so excited!!!!

I first encountered this magazine way back when I was still a college student–I found some back issues on sale in a book store. Because brand-new copies were relatively expensive, I couldn’t really afford them, so I took in everything I could from the back issues I had. It was a rare magazine to stumble on in the Philippines and I was disappointed that I couldn’t subscribe myself–I had never considered subscribing to anything from abroad because I needed a credit card to do that, and I didn’t own a credit card!

When I finally did own a credit card, I still couldn’t get a subscription because there was no shipping to the Philippines at the time, or some other inane reason. Even our bookstores didn’t carry the magazine on a regular basis.

Finally, here in Canada, I suddenly found that I could get almost any US or Canadian magazine subscription that I wanted, and they were such bargains at the subscription rates that, as soon as I was earning a little extra from substitute teaching, I put in for a handful of magazines. Unfortunately, WD was not among the available ones.

It eventually dawned on my slow mind that WD would have to be online, and there it was, sure as the sun rises! Could I get a subscription? No. They would only take subscribers with a US postal code. Plus, they only took credit card payments to be settled as the order was placed. Aargh! Once again, I have no credit cards, and I do not intend to get one at all, unless I have sufficient funds to back one up. I couldn’t even subscribe to the online version, because, again, of lack of a credit card.

But was I determined to get that magazine. I still prefer print copies because they will sit there staring at you in the face until you pick them up and read them and put them away. Online versions can be set aside and forgotten and some will become inaccessible. Not things you can easily pick up and browse through anytime you want. Unless you have an electronic tablet. Which I don’t. Which will require a credit card transaction to activate a subscription. Which I can’t do.

Thankfully, I have a very lovely daughter who lives in the US, and I mentioned it to her without letting her know my desperation. Or at least I tried my best to mask it. (A very sheepish grin at this point.) I knew the magazine would be a great resource to have as I move forward to establish my writing career in Canada and internationally. And just like her, she graciously and generously agreed to get the subscription for me without asking me for the money to pay for it. Of course, as all subscriptions go, it’s much cheaper than getting individual copies on the stands, so it really wouldn’t have cost her much. But I was so grateful and happy—elated, even, and overwhelmingly so…and I have finally received my first issue with my name on it and wonderfully helpful topics that I know I can use right away!

I don’t know if my daughter reads my blog, but if she does, now she knows just how thankful and happy I am about my new magazine.

365 Things to Look Forward to — Number 28: Opportunities

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28. Opportunities

I think anyone who sees an opportunity and doesn’t take it is a fool. Or a coward. Or both. Or maybe just too cautious–but why?

We are surrounded by opportunities to do so many things, learn so many things, yet most of us ignore those opportunities and chug away at their usual lives, never knowing the thrill of seeing, doing, learning, touching, feeling, hearing, tasting, trying something new.

Understandably, there are some opportunities most of us would rather pass up…for instance, the opportunity to savour toasted or fried or chocolate-coated insects. Even I draw the line there. And most certainly, anything that is breathing, wriggling, or otherwise alive will not ever be part of my diet. Not consciously, at least, and certainly not willingly.

I’m referring more to opportunities that offer major changes in life, particularly in the aspect of work.

All my life before now, most job opportunities were presented to me, or offered to me, so I never really actively searched for work. Every time someone offered a chance for me to do something or work at something, I’d take it. In fact, it’s how I’ve pretty much determined what direction to take since I accepted a college scholarship. I rarely ever thought twice, and as a result, I have experienced a vast variety of jobs with endless career opportunities. I have acquired an impressive array of skills that I have used repeatedly in a plethora of occasions. I have accumulated a staggering volume of knowledge that I am able to recall or apply, almost at will, or at the oddest or most unusual moments. Never mind that I might not even get to use it all again–or maybe, I just will.

My point is we will always have millions of opportunities open to us. Many people complain that they don’t have any because they fail to see that the opportunities are just lying there. They don’t always jump at you and they aren’t always pointed out to you. Most of the time, you just have to open your eyes and look for them, and they are there for the taking.

If an opportunity requires an expense that you are not ready or willing to commit to, then that opportunity probably isn’t for you, or it isn’t time for that.

I’m not saying all opportunities will result in something good—besides a lesson learned. Many opportunities will lead to negative or undesirable results. It is these opportunities that we must learn to avoid and ignore, or that we must learn to quash and quell.

As I look back on my years since I left the relative safety of high school corridors, I marvel at how boldly I took those opportunities in hand and wonder at how well I had thrived with very minimal damage. I looked at major changes in work conditions that I did not agree with as a sign that it was time to move on.

I look back at the last few years of my life and even if major changes have occurred, I can just finally tell myself that it is now time to move on. Time to grab new opportunities with the hope that one of them will be my dominant undertaking for a while.