Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: December

Here is a poem I wrote a while back that I think is fitting for this theme (although it was written in November :) )

First snowfall
quiet night

seems like only yesterday
tiny spidermen, princesses and ghouls
clamored for candy on our porch
tonight darkness fell so soon
you on the computer, me
watching chick shows
comfortable in the knowledge
you're right

commercial break
you wander upstairs
to the windows that frame our door
the one you spent three days painting electric blue
last summer

beckon me over
to watch the world outside
car, trees, driveway, rooftops, last month's pumpkins, darkness blanketed fluffy white
big chunky flakes drifting

quiet night
so quiet
think I hear the snowflakes fall
warm orange glow of streetlights
bright gleam of a neighbour's Christmas lights
two weeks early
we chuckle at his zeal

lean into the checkerboard of your flannel pyjamas
into the circle of your arms,
our house

breathe in the soft crisp whiteness
of the year's first snowfall


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Guidance

As this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "guidance," I was hoping to seek guidance from the group on this poem I wrote last week. It came to me at around 4am and I banged it out, and personally I've felt like it just came together, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it. I've also been struggling with the title, so any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks!


the thing about poetry is,
once it finds you, it is very hard to let it go

suddenly it is everywhere
in the gush of a blueberry
running hot and purple on your tongue
when all you wanted was pancakes on a quiet morning

it is there at a street corner
in the slant of light through buildings,
the sheen of a puddle,
tugging at your sleeve as you wait for the light to change
it wants to dance a slow tango with you across Quinpool Rd
toying with you
till you want to share it with strangers

in the darkness of 4am
suddenly poetry is there with you in the room
there in the hum of words in the corner behind your right eye
roll them around in your mind like a marble
hear them like a new song played over and over again
can almost taste them, their metallic twinge
poetry is the imp at the bottom of the bed that takes hold of your blanket
tugging at the corner
there in the feverish warmth of the pillow that you flip over and over
searching for a cool spot to rest your cheek on
then when at last you cannot take it anymore
throw open the laptop
its quiet glow on your knuckles, your eyelashes
bang on the keys
words creeping black across the snowy wilderness of an empty page
hoping to stay the rush of words in your head
release the torrent behind your eyes


for awhile...

because poetry knows that you'll be back

~ Ceebie

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What type of stemware are you? A new way of talking about body shape...

Thinking of purchasing a clothing item for a loved one on your list? Want to make sure you don't buy them a skirt that's two sizes too big and makes them look like a walking tent, or pants where the crotch falls below their knees like some bad retro Bobby Brown outfit?

Then listen to the wisdom of personal shopper and wardrobe customizer Cindy Wheeler, owner of Customizing Wardrobes by Cindy. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of corresponding with Cindy for an upcoming shopping article in The Coast's Gift Giving Guide (which comes out tomorrow - stay tuned for more!). She was a wealth of information and knowledge, and I ended up having more material than could fit in my article.

So, Cindy kindly agreed to let me share with you her 9 Types of Body Shape Stemware, which she came up with a few years ago as an antidote to the whole "apple and pear" distinctions.

"It can save you a lot of hours shopping if you know the perfect styles for your body shape [or that of your friends]," says Cindy. "So I came up with 9 body shapes all named after stemware lovingly named and influenced by my friends."

Grand Vin Wine - no defined curves to speak of; rounder through shoulders
Cordial - tomboy-type figure
Champagne Flute - any shape, but over 5’8”
Grappa - hip and booty issues
Decanter - thigh and leg issues
Margarita - slim shoulders, big busted, slim hips
Goblet - rounder shoulders, larger tummy, slim hips
Wine Carafe - extremely curvy, hourglass, any size
Pilsner - curvy but thicker through the waist

"I wanted to focus on the many issues that we women have," adds Cindy. "BUT, my biggest lesson for my clients is, dress the body you have, not the body you want or the body you had."

Her last words of wisdom? "Feeling great and looking fabulous starts with knowing and loving your shape, regardless of it being a Decanter or a Goblet."

This short little Wine Carafe couldn't agree more. Thanks, Cindy!

Click here to learn more about Cindy and her wardrobe customizing services and workshops.

Now it's your turn - what type of stemware are you?

~ Ceebie

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is this?

What is this object?
Post your guess below, and I'll share my tale with you in a few days...Stay tuned!

~ Ceebie

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Antidote

long day at work today hardly came up for a breath
trying to keep up with all the moving pieces
putting out fires better than a fireman
reading through the proofs one last time
finding yet another mistake
another crisis brewing in an email
yet another person wants their copy rewritten
wants to use a new image
someone else worried we've let the delivery date slip
begging, pleading with designer, printer to help me, help us
scramble to keep up with my inbox
placing phonecalls to follow up on a loose thread
mad dash of production before we hit the presses
today gave me a headache, a jaw-ache, neck and back so tense
I am a jumpy ball of caffeinated nerves
I never had a coffee

shut down the laptop
drag tired heels outside
turn the key in the ignition
mind still whirling reeling tumbling
green and orange bars of MacDonald Bridge flip flip flip by car windows
thrum of tires on tarmac over ebony water
BlackBerry message light blinking blinking blinking
buzz buzz of yet another email
barely notice how I made it across to Halifax

drag tired heels through your door
jacket, bag, everything feels so heavy
wait for you to shut things down

you hug me to your chest
plant a kiss in my hair
I can tell by the way your shoulders droop
the tilt of your head
you've had a long day too


in a moment, you have me chuckling
at a silly joke you just said
I make some witty rejoinder
suddenly we're both laughing

you're my perfect antidote to a long day

~ Ceebie

Friday, November 26, 2010

Breakfast at the Armview

breakfast at the Armview
ding ding of kitchen bell as a plate is slid out on the pass
flap flap flap of door on hinges,
fanning cooking smells into the dining room
Lenny Kravitz singing to a cab driver on the radio
slurp and burble of straw at the bottom of a young girl's
glass of milk

outside, the traffic on the Rotary never stops
round and around and around it goes

at the next booth,
family having an early lunch
easy chuckles and chatter on morning off from school
dull gleam of Formica
cracked pleather banquettes
chink of spoon in coffee mug

slow ooze of syrup
melting butter over pancakes
hot burst of purple on tongue

starting to see the world through writing again
a whole poem in a blueberry

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First snowfall

quiet night

seems like only yesterday
tiny spidermen, princesses and ghouls
clamored for candy on our porch
tonight darkness fell so soon
you on the computer, me
watching chick shows
comfortable in the knowledge
you're right

commercial break

you wander upstairs
to the windows that frame our door
the one you spent three days painting electric blue
last summer

beckon me over
to watch the world outside
car, trees, driveway, rooftops, last month's pumpkins, darkness blanketed fluffy white
big chunky flakes drifting

quiet night
so quiet
think I hear the snowflakes fall
warm orange glow of streetlights
bright gleam of a neighbour's Christmas lights
two weeks early
we chuckle at his zeal

lean into the checkerboard of your flannel pyjamas
into the circle of your arms,
our house

breathe in the soft crisp whiteness
of the year's first snowfall

~ Ceebie

Friday, November 19, 2010

How walkable is your neighbourhood?

After reading this post by that asks whether neighbourhoods can be too walkable, I decided to try the Walk Score tool to see just how walkable my neighbourhood is.

The result - not great, it seems. In fact we scored a dismal D or maybe even an E (what does a 47% count as?). We only scored 40% for transit access (I'm not surprised - it's a five-minute walk, half of which is uphill, to get to the bus stop) and 55% of Walk Score users have a higher score than ours! Well, at least we're within walking distance of the Spryfield Animal Hospital, even if we don't have a dog (yet...).

The shame! Do we really live in THE SUBURBS???

Sure, living in Purcells Cove/Herring Cove (or Fleming Heights - take your pick on which neighbourhood I live in...) does sometimes feel like we live out in the middle of nowhere. Most pizza places won't deliver past the Rotary! But come on, people, we're only 5k from Quinpool and Robie.

Although we might not have scores of shops or restaurants or pubs nearby, there's something to be said for being within walking distance of Frog Pond, Williams Lake, the Dingle and Long Lake, being able to hear the chorus of spring peepers at night and the scores of people and dogwalkers who walk along the pathway behind our house - I'm willing to bet the Walk Score doesn't take those into account, and to me those also have a lot to do with the meaning of a walkable neighbourhood...

So - how does your neighbourhood rate on the Walk Score?

~ Ceebie

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Nature's bright ideas

find my gardening gloves
dust off the trowel
pull out brown-bagged bulbs from
the cold
under the stairs
where they've spent the summer

in the garden
relish rare rays of sunshine
warm on arms and back

brush aside dry leaves and twigs
dig shallow holes
startle blind worms
squirming in moist dark earth
plant bulbs like tiny onions
for a long winter's rest

now wait
blankets of white will fall
we'll huddle inside on cold nights

in a few months
eagerly scan the warming ground
for bright green exclamation marks
poking out from melting snow

nature's bright ideas

~ Ceebie

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturdays - what a difference a day makes

I used to hate Saturdays. Waking up to an empty (save for two quarreling cats) and cold condo in North York, I'd force myself out of bed and try to decide how to spend the next two days. I could spend the entire weekend wandering the busy city and feel completely disconnected from my "neighbourhood." Although I was surrounded by people, I never felt more alone.

But since moving to Halifax and settling in to my life with S, I've claimed Saturdays as my own. And they're one of my favourite days of the week (the other is Sunday because I get to spend it with S).

Since S works most Saturdays, I've now settled into a Saturday routine that is mine, all mine (insert evil laugh ;)!!! Sure, I could spend the day doing household chores, but instead, Saturday is a day for indulgence, relaxation and me.

It first starts with a trip to the Halifax Public Library (the bookworm in me can't wait till the new building opens!) to pick up a book or two that I may or may not read and grudginly pay fines (I am notoriously bad at returning books - I'm sure York University could have opened a wing with the fines I paid while I was in grad school). I love the smell of a library - the scent of musty paper is the smell of stories waiting to be discovered, folded between two covers. I typically pick up more books than I can stuff into my gym bag, or read. I'm a kid in a candy store.

Next, it's over to the Second Cup or Starbucks on Spring Garden Road for a latte (aka snooty, overpriced coffee) and a breakfast sandwich, where I crack open one of the books I picked up and delve into it for an hour, or tap away at my netbook and do some writing.

Then, I meander my way down Spring Garden Road, browsing through stores and glancing at pretty things I can't afford (shoes, earrings, dresses...I'm sure the store owners now know me as The Girl With the Pink Yoga Mat Bag). And off to yoga at Nubodys (now Goodlife) or Ashtanga Yoga Shala for their Karma class, where I will spend an hour breathing, stretching and - cliché though it sounds - being in the moment.

I leave the yoga studio feeling like I've just woken up from the best sleep. My body is stretched clean. Perhaps I'll go for a run, but most often my afternoon ends with some more reading and writing, my short legs curled up on an armchair or sofa  in a coffee shop, surrounded by the buzz and whir of a cappucino machine and the chatter of coffee-shop conversations...

Then around 5:30 I pack up my yoga mat, my gym bag and my book and head to S's store, my frizzy hair smelling of coffee roast, and we drive home together.

Saturdays may be a day to myself, but they're no longer the loneliest day of the week. I now know how to be alone (the filmmaker and producer for that popular video happen to be based in Halifax, too - is it the city, I wonder?).

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.

October 24, 2010 dawned a bright, crisp sunny morning, with the sun poking through the buildings on Main Street as it rose. I'd worn an ugly yellow Running Room t-shirt over my long-sleeved running shirt and race bib, with the plan that I would peel it off at around halfway once the sun came out and it warmed up a little more. Moncton's Crowne Plaza hotel lobby was packed full of runners waiting to start, and one confused-looking family who obviously was not part of the race but was trying to navigate through the crowd of polyester and luon-clad athletes.

At around 10 minutes to 8, they called the marathoners to head out to the start line. We were a group of about 130, which was a nice cosy sort of feeling as we gathered by the start line. I ran a short 300-metre lap next to the start line to warm up, and then tried to figure out where to place myself in the pack. There were two 3:45 pace bunnies but no 4hr pace bunny, so I just kind of gauged where I thought I should go. Then they counted down the seconds and the starting gun went off. I felt a wave of nervous happiness wash over me, but tried to measure that feeling because I didn't want to make me start out too strong and then regret that later.

I started out the first kilometre pretty strong - I was running around 5:23, 5:30 for the first part and it felt easy, so I was encouraged, but I wanted to slow myself down because my plan had been to start the first two kilometres at about 10 seconds slower than my race pace. But after the first kilometre, I just couldn't pick it up any faster than 5:50, then 5:55. I'd started out strong, but then I started to get a little worried because after the second kilometre, I just couldn't pick up the pace. I figured at some point I would be able to get into my groove and pick up the pace again, so I didn't worry too much then.

At around 5k, my Achilles tendon seized up. Shit. I thought I would just run through it, but then my left foot fell asleep for about 4k or 5k. I didn't want to walk yet because my plan had been to walk every 45 minutes. And then it started to feel like I was running on a stump and I was pretty worried because I couldn't feel my foot but ironically it was painful. I didn't know if I should stop and get help, or if I should keep going. I was also concerned because the wind was pretty cold and I wasn't warming up - I thought that I'd perhaps under-dressed and I might get hypothermia if I continued feeling that cold for the rest of the run (can you tell my mind was playing games with me?). My goal was just to keep running from one cluster of volunteers to the next, because I figured if things got really bad I could just ask them to call me a taxi and take me back to the hotel room.

By around kilometre 10 or so my foot woke up again, but by then I had slowed to around 6:02 or even 6:15, and I was really struggling to make a decision about whether I was going to quit or just try and finish. I felt really overwhelmed with all of the  pressure I had put on myself to meet a certain goal, and upset that I wasn't falling into it as easily as I'd hoped. That's about when I made the decision to let go of my time goal as it didn't seem likely that I'd meet it, unless I really pushed myself, and I didn't know if I could sustain that for the rest of the run. My focus became to finish the distance and just run it as a Sunday run rather than a race. I really wanted to give up, but at the same time I thought of all the weeks of training I'd put in, and the fact that we'd driven all the way from Halifax, and I knew I'd be disappointed if I quit.

So, I told myself, let's see if I can make it to 21k, and if at that point, I feel truly crappy, I can quit. I also decided to walk at all water stations and start taking Gatorade (which hadn't been the plan - I'd worn my water belt because my initial plan had been to walk every 45 minutes and run through the stations). I also decided to walk every 10 or 20 minutes - it was really more of a mental break than a physical one...I was really feeling intimidated by this unknown distance, as well as the route, which was another complete unknown.

In addition to the mental strain I was under, I was also kind of wishing that I'd gone to a race with my run club ladies so I'd have them with me to encourage me and push me to pick up the pace. At the same time, although I was running alone I was also running with each of the friends and family who've encouraged me throughout this process.

I remember running through a path by the salt marshes, the cattails rattling in the breeze, and playing over one of the quotes Wendy had given us - it's a Chinese proverb, which basically says that a journey starts with a single step, but you must keep stepping. And so I looked down at the gravel path before me, and just thought of putting one foot in front of the other.

At 21k (which was the slowest 21 I've ever run, but I didn't care at that point because I knew that if I made too much of it I would despair), I peeled off my t-shirt and gave it to a volunteer, because it had warmed up quite a bit and the sun had now come up. They had said they'd give the discarded clothing to charity if it wasn't claimed, which I thought was pretty cool. Passing the 21k marker, I thought ok, let's see if I can make it to 32...I knew that I had run that distance before and I just started counting down the kilometres till I got there.

At kilometre 33, it was kind of cool because I realized "I've  now run farther than I've ever run before." From that point, it was just a matter of counting down the kilometres down from the 9.8 that were left. That's also the point of the course where there were a series of hills, which I forced myself to run up even though it was more of a shuffle. Most of the time they made sure to have volunteers at the top to cheer us on. They were wearing these bright orange t-shirts, which was great because you could see them from far away and just aim to run towards them - picking out each orange cluster as route markers as you ran along.

I have to say, the volunteers on the course were amazing - they were spaced out around every 500 metres or so, and they were really enthusiastic, even though I was in the back of the pack. Even at kilometre 37, the volunteers were there in the cold cheering me on, and that was really nice. As they and random people along the street cheered me on, calling "go girl," I felt pretty proud of what I was doing.

At the top of one hill, there was a woman holding up a neon green hand-written sign, with the words "Pain is temporary. Pride is forever." That really stuck with me for the last stage of the run, and I kept playing it in my head as I kept going.

At around 35 to 37 kilometres my pace picked up to about 6:02 again, maybe a little faster (I'll have to look at my Garmin records)...Before that I was struggling a little more - it was mainly mental exhaustion and I was battling to try and not feel defeated. I knew if I stopped, I would really regret it. And I kept telling myself how proud I would feel for completing, even if I had to stop and walk the rest of the way.

At around 37k, I will never forget it. The pack had really spread out by that time, so I was virtually running alone and I guess you couldn't tell it was a marathon if you weren't looking for it. There was a church and the congregation was starting to file out as I was passing. An elderly woman and her mother were at the edge of the sidewalk, along with their grandson, and they were looking to cross the street. They saw me approach, hesitated, then started to cross just as I was running by. I yelled "excuse me, I'm trying to finish a marathon here!" and they jumped back... I felt bad to destroy their post-service glow, but a little proud to be able to yell that out, too :)

I have to say looking back, I didn't really push myself too much - I spent a few minutes chasing after an ear bud when it fell off my earphones, twice (time to get new earphones I think :) ) and another time I actually ran back to put a cup in a garbage bag where some kids were volunteering - obviously I wasn't focusing on time too much (in fact I didn't even look at my pace or the time on my Garmin for most of the run - I was solely focused on ticking down the kilometres).

The last few kilometres were back through the salt marshes, which was neat because you could see the runners ahead as they made their progress along the route, along with the orange clusters of enthusiastic volunteers. There was this weird little jog off the trail and back for about 300 metres - I guess they thought the route was too short (although according to my Garmin it was 500 metres longer, which kept messing with my mind because I'd think "Ok I've done 38 k" and then 500 metres later the 38k marker would be there) and I dropped my Garmin and earbuds again - swearing under my breath as I tried to pick up the could really tell by that point that I didn't care about my time as I ran around trying to get the little white plastic bud off the road, lol...

Then there was a kilometre left, and I was back on the main street and I could see the Crowne Plaza. I knew my husband was waiting for me, and despite the fact that there were around 30 or so of us to finish, there were still people lined along the sidewalk cheering me on ("go girl!"), and a crowd of people at the finish.

With around 300 metres left to go, I saw my husband waiting for me on the sidelines - he'd been waiting in his shorts for about an hour in the cold weather, but I could see he was glowing with pride as he cheered me on. I yelled out for him and held out my hand, and we ran to the finish together. I could hear the crowd cheering for us - "I love it! Go with her," yelled one man. It was funny cause Steve was literally pulling me along because he could run faster than my legs felt they could go.

I'll never forget  the sound of the bag of chips I'd packed as a post-race snack, bouncing up and down in the backpack he was wearing. We had to run around a half marathon walker who was finishing at around the same time, who decided to pick up the pace just as we approached him - that was probably the slowest photo finish ever.

We crossed the finish line together and I got my finisher's medal, and then they offered Steve a medal because they weren't sure if he was a runner too  :) Then we stood there and he hugged me and told me how proud he was of me. I was quite frankly just happy to have finished the race but torn about not having run the race I'd hoped to run. But Steve kept telling me over and over how few people accomplish what I'd accomplished, and that my goal had been to finish, not the time. He was really great at trying to get me focused on the positive.

After that, we went back to the hotel and I could see what you meant about recognizing the post-marathon shuffle. There was a woman who shuffled towards the elevator at the same time as me. We looked at each other and chuckled as we recognized the pain we were both in.

That neon green handwritten sign at the top of that hill really will always stick with me - Pain is temporary. Pride is forever. And although I may not have run the fastest race, and this may not be the most eloquently written post, I do feel proud of what I've accomplished.

And I'm already looking forward to the next race :)

~ Ceebie

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Free cupcakes!

Oh you were expecting a free cupcake, were you? Well that's exactly what you'll get with each of my blog posts - pretty, yummy, fanciful writing covered in pink frosting that will have you licking your fingers and coming back for more.

For a taste of one of my cupcake creations, click here.

What's your favourite cupcake flavour? Have a favourite cupcake memory or recipe? Please share - I want to know!

~ Ceebie

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Of cupcakes, inspiration and new beginnings

As a little girl, I remember the schoolyard seemed endless as I tried to run from one end to another. Hills seemed to tilt precariously as I rolled down them. Trees towered above me and I felt miles above ground as I climbed them. The world was a gigantic place to be explored and discovered.

When I came back to these places years later, suddenly everything was smaller, shorter, less steep. The magnitude and mystery of the world was reduced in the rational eyes of an adult.

One thing I'm learning with age - some things, like fine wine, do get better with time. Take, for instance cupcakes.

The cupcakes of my childhood were flat and dry with watery icing. Multicoloured sprinkles were about as exciting as it got. But in recent years, these flat excuses for cake in a cup seem to have gotten a face lift. All of a sudden, they seem to have morphed into these moist creations adorned with generous doses of buttery icing and all kinds of creative flavours I'd never dreamed of as a child.

Sure, most of the time these new cupcakes are more icing than cake. Actually, most of the time there's more icing than any of us would admit to eating in public. But secretely, I enjoy the excuse of being able to indulge in that extra little bit of sweetness - somehow what seems wrong when eaten straight out of the Betty Crocker jar seems right if it's artistically presented on a round dollop of cake.

Lately I feel like this new generation of cupcakes seem to have exploded into the popular consciousness of adults (primarily women - I don't think my husband would be caught dead eating a creamy pink cupcake). They're everywhere, with stores dedicated to them, local coffee shops selling them next to Nanaimo bars, cookies and muffins, cupcake-decorated pyjamas and even a reality show.

And they're not being marketed to children, either. Whereas cupcakes were once the stuff of kids' birthday parties, today's second generation of cupcakes is being purchased (or baked) by office workers as treats for colleagues. They're a snack to accompany a snooty coffee. Towers of cupcakes are now popular alternatives to wedding cakes.


Is this recent popularity of these newer, prettier cupcakes really just an excuse to eat more icing without the guilt? Is it a secret desire to return to that innocence of childhood, even if just for the fleeting moment it takes to eat those three or four mouthfuls?

Or is it just me?

Ever have that thing happen where you notice someone once, and all of a sudden they're everywhere? Or you notice a certain colour and suddenly you're surrounded by it? Am I doing this with cupcakes? Do I just like saying "cupcake"? And what do cupcakes have to do with my first blog on this site in four years (after a short hiatus on another blog because I forgot my password to this one ;) )?

Not a lot, and yet something.

Cause lately not only have I been noticing cupcakes everywhere, but blogs seem to be everywhere I look, too. And suddenly, I want to write mine again.

Perhaps it's just me, but perhaps it is indeed a growing trend. Maybe it's because I've finally run my marathon (more on that in a future post) and have time to write on my hands; maybe it's because I'm surrounding myself more and more with good writers who inspire me. Whatever the reason, now that my husband and I are married and Halifax is starting to feel like home, I've taken a hankering to writing again for writing's sake, and this blog seems like a great  place to do that.

What will this blog be about? How do writing, editing, running, yoga and nature all fit together? I'm not sure. All I know is that these are themes that have defined my life for years. And although the communicator in me says, "know your audience," I admit - I have no idea who my readers will be.

All I can wish is that this will be a place for random musings, observation and discussion; not proselytizing. And I know there are other bloggers out there who have the gift of the gab in ways that I don't. But hopefully others will find things here that inspire them, or at least get them chatting.

Actually, now that I think of it, cupcakes really are a great metaphor for what I envision this reincarnation of my blog will be - pretty, yummy sweet indulgences that have you licking your fingers and coming back for more.
So welcome, reader, whoever you are. I hope you'll keep coming back for more than just the crumbs.