Saturday, February 26, 2011

Introverts and Extroverts in Love (Psychology Today, March 2010)


... here's some amateur advice from a professional introvert.

Remember that your way is just one way: Introversion and extroversion are of equal value. One is no better than they other; they're just different. Once you recognize the differences, respect them in yourself and your partner. No eye rolling, no snide remarks, no guilt trips, no apologies, no shame.

Embrace the differences: Yin and yang, make it work for you. The extrovert can bring new people into your lives, the introvert can create peaceful spaces in the home and the relationship. The differences can enhance your relationship if you work with them rather than fight (over) them.

Set guidelines for socializing: If you don't want to socialize much, then your extrovert is entitled to the freedom to socialize solo, no guilt trips. And if you like deep, intimate conversations with your friends, do you really need your partner there? The rule in my marriage is that neither of us is required to participate in any particular social event, but we do grant special requests when the other says "pretty please."

Take responsibility for your comfort outside your comfort zone:  First, figure out how to make the best of any situation, since you can't avoid everything you don't love. Maybe meeting new people is easier if you do something--flea market, street fair, gallery opening--rather than sitting around making get-to-know-you chit-chat. Maybe you feel better about parties if you and your partner agree in advance how long you'll stay, or even take two cars. Then speak up, step up, take responsibility, no whining. The same goes for the extrovert.

Figure out the phone: The telephone can be a surprising source of tension. Must one person answer every ring because the other doesn't want to? My husband uses his cell phone exclusively so if I don't feel like answering our home phone (as is the case 97.9 percent of the time), he doesn't care. And while he will e-mail during the day for necessary discussions (i.e. dinner) , I call sometimes, too, since that's more convenient for him--although he agrees that I'm terrible on the telephone.

Negotiate quiet time: My husband is an early bird and I'm a night owl so we each get daily solitude that way. (I work alone, but that's different from unwinding alone.) I also travel alone on business and he doesn't mind being an occasional  bachelor. Actually, he kinda likes it. Some solitude is important for everyone, especially introverts.You don't have to apologize for this, but you do need to be gracious about it. For example, insist on quiet time after work if you need it, but your partner should then get your undivided attention for equal time. If you have kids, which we do not, you have another layer to the negotiation.

I read this piece when it first came out and it rang so true! I am a true introvert, married to a raging extrovert, and much of this applies. I laughed out loud at the section on the telephone....he has to answer the phone regardless of what the display says, and I, like the author, ignore it the vast majority of the time.

I've hit paydirt in a way because I'm at home all day alone, with kids and spouse at school/work, so I get lots of peace. I find it extremely distracting to have anyone else in the house with me during the day. My stress and headache frequency went way down when I stopped working the regular nine-to-five and I've come to believe it has a lot to do with being able to be alone more.

Would love to hear from others in a similar introvert/extrovert situation.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cool Tools: PocketMod



PocketMod is a website and freeware program that helps make 8-paged mini-booklets and organizers out of a single sheet of paper. You can make them online by selecting from a series of templates of what goes onto each page, including calendars, graph paper, to-do lists, etc. Then print out your design on a sheet of regular 8.5"x11" paper, follow folding instructions and voila!

I carry a bunch on me, all within easy reach so I can just whip 'em out and record whatever idea before I forget. I even set up ones for particular projects so I can share them with clients. I hold them together with a rubber band in my back pocket, and then when I'm done with the project I just bind them all together.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why I love my library

I'm gearing up for the next Seasonal Reading Challenge at Goodreads. These are fun challenges and encourage me to read, read, read my little heart out.

Members are given a set of criteria for choosing books, points are assigned, and you see how many you can read over the three month period. The next challenge has the theme "Australia" so some of the tasks have that theme.

I've started my reading list and am fitting in various books from my hold list and personal bookshelves into the tasks. I'll have to read By Love Possessed, a book of short stories by Lorna Goodison, in the first three days as it's due back to the library March 3.

The point of the post title is this: pretty well all of the books I want to read are available from my wonderful Toronto Public Library...some have long hold lists, but I get myself on it and the book eventually wends its way to me.

You can look at my spreadsheet at the link to see what's coming up. I won't get through everything, and not all the tasks are posted yet, but the plan is coming together.

Next quarter's reading plan

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alzheimer’s poetry: My father recounts his life in oddly beautiful stanzas - Jane Macdougall

There is something hauntingly beautiful about language unmoored.

David Shackleton for National Post

Jane Macdougall, Weekend Post · Friday, Feb. 11, 2011

My father is a poet. At least, he is now. Odd, that.

He trained as an accountant. And he was the accountant’s accountant — all ledgers and columns; compliances and balances. Tidy. So at odds with family life. With life, in general.

He wore hats. Always hats: for work, for curling, for yard work, for excursions — a hat for every purpose. I realize now he was always staving off the chaos of the jungle.

Shoes were polished with religious fervour and regular devotion. Sunday morning he would set the boys to the task and, in time, they subverted the job by simply dusting off the unworn shoes. It was, I suppose, a type of catechism; but my, did it annoy the natives. I always said he was the sort of man who gave colonialism a bad name.

Shoe trees were essential.

Wooden hangers: the very backbone of his civilization.

Who vs. whom: I know the difference and I owe it to him.

Are you impressed?


Yes, what?

Yes, sir!

And rising when an elder entered the room. We owe him that, too, my brothers and sister. We are better — and worse — for his rigidities.

Archaic English usages I lay claim to, courtesy of a man who refused to let language evolve. Sophisticated would forever rely upon its foundation of sophistry, meaning to deceive, not as we think of it today, meaning to impress.

And now, he is a poet.

He owes it to the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in his brain. We know it as Alzheimer’s, dementia of cinematic proportions. Documented since Alois Alzheimer defined the disease in 1906, there is no cure, no medication, not even a conclusive diagnostic test. From diagnosis to death: on average, seven years.

Seven crazy years.

One need only to see my father now to immediately understand that something has gone dreadfully awry. It’s in his eyes. His hair. His gait. He looks confused; he is confused. The word confused is based on the Latin confundere meaning “to mingle together,” and from Middle English, meaning “to bring to ruin.”


Autopsy will reveal plaques that erected Detour and Road Closure signs in his head. Neural signals bounce around until they are abducted by dendrites hungry for instruction. The instructions, however, are misdirected. Although, misdirected doesn’t begin to describe the chaos created by mistaking the kitchen for the bathroom.

If I ever doubted that one is one’s thoughts, I don’t doubt it now.

Like a thief in the night, Alzheimer’s steals the family silver, one utensil at a time, until there isn’t enough left for a single place setting. But the thief is nefarious: He leaves the knives so that danger is ever present. The presence of madness causes madness; ask any caregiver. The caregiver gets ground down to a nub. No surprise there: What can be expected when nothing can be expected? Cancer doesn’t jettison reason; congestive heart disease doesn’t forsake judgment. Alzheimer’s does.

Information on the subject discusses the slow impoverishment of oral and written language, but it’s more profound than just communicating with others; one loses the ability to communicate with oneself.

The hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the loosening grip on memory. Dad is already forgetting who we are. But forget is too feeble a word. Already he wants to know what we are doing in his house.

His notes, with time, date and full signature faithfully listed, offer a chilling glimpse into the mind disordered by disease. Almost without exception, they are incomprehensible.

But there is something hauntingly beautiful about language unmoored; a stream of consciousness that is truly unconscious. He speaks now in a type of haiku that is often illuminating. Dead simple. Child-like. Impervious to outside understanding yet, often numinously transparent:

Go read the rest....

Heartbreakingly beautiful love letter to her father.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fallen Icicles


I took this shot on my way into choir this morning. The tree is adjacent to the church parking lot and it appears that the icicles had come loose from the edge of the adjacent house's roof and fallen on the tree, part of a hedge.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Lisa Simpson Book Club...


All you readers AND Simpsons fans...check out this new-ish tumblr! Features Lisa Simpson's books and other reading material (and reading-related dialog). Lotsa laffs.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dinner that made my boy go "Oh my gosh, Mom!"

PULLED PORK SANDWICHES WITH BARBECUE SAUCE (Bonnie Stern, in National Post, February 5, 2011)

Even if you don't need this much pulled pork, it makes sense to braise a whole pork shoulder (a. k.a. pork butt) because you can use the leftovers for poutine, on pasta or in grilled cheese sandwiches and macand cheese. Or freeze the leftovers for future meals. The trick to braising a pork shoulder is to cook it until it is fork tender. It can easily be made a day ahead. Ask for Canadian pork at your butchers, or look for the Canadian flag on the package at the supermarket.


- 2 tbsp brown sugar

- 1 tbsp kosher salt

- 1 tsp each paprika, pepper and cumin

- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

- 3 cloves garlic, minced

- 4 lb boneless pork shoulder (pork butt roast)

Cooking liquid:

- 2 cups apple juice

- ½cup maple syrup

- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

- 6 whole cloves garlic

- 2 onions, thickly sliced

Maple barbecue sauce:

- 2 cups favourite barbecue sauce

- ½cup maple syrup

- 2 tbsp each Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar

- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard


- 12 soft buns

- coleslaw (see recipe below)

- chipotle mayo (see recipe below)

- guacamole -your favourite, optional

1. Combine brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, cumin, mustard and garlic. Rub into roast. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Combine apple juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Place garlic and onions in the bottom of a Dutch oven and set roast on top. Add liquid. Cover roast with a piece of parchment paper and then cover pan tightly. Cook in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 3 to 4 hours or longer, until pork is so tender it falls apart when pierced with a fork.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan whisk barbecue sauce with maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and mustard. Bring to a boil. Cook gently 5 minutes. Reserve.

4. When roast is ready, remove from pan. Slice thickly and chop. Combine with half the barbecue sauce, adding some of the strained cooking juices if meat is too dry. Reheat meat just before serving in a 325F oven for about 30 minutes.

5. Make sandwiches on the soft buns with meat, extra barbecue sauce, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and guacamole (if using).

Makes 12 sandwiches


This creamy coleslaw tastes great either in a sandwich or on the side.

- 4 cups shredded green cabbage

- 1 tbsp kosher salt

- 1 carrot, grated


- ¾cup mayonnaise

- 1 clove garlic, minced

- 1 tbsp sugar

- 1 tbsp vinegar

- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1. Make coleslaw by combining shredded cabbage with salt. Place in a colander set over a bowl, with a plate on top, pressing down on the cabbage to extract excess moisture. After about one hour, rinse cabbage and pat dry, pressing again firmly. Combine with carrots.

2. For dressing, combine mayonnaise with garlic, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

3. Combine dressing with cabbage mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Makes 12 servings


Chipotle chilis are smoked jalapenos -- hot and delicious. When I buy a tin of chipotles, I open it up and puree it all, transfer to a Ziploc bag, flatten the bag so that the mixture isn't too thick and freeze it. That way you can just break off any amount you need and it will defrost quickly. If the sauce is too spicy, add more mayo or some thick yogourt or sour cream. This mayo is also great on grilled chicken sandwiches or burgers.

- 1 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman's)

- 1 tbsp chipotle chili puree or to taste

- 1 clove garlic, minced

- 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in chipotle puree, minced garlic and lemon juice to taste. Keep in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup/250ml

This is seriously good eating. It looks long and complicated, but the only things I had to buy were the pork roast and some BBQ sauce (I used Diana's traditional). Everything else I had on hand.

I made the pulled pork and chipotle mayo but decided to forgo the coleslaw for sauerkraut that we had in the fridge. I tweeted Bonnie Stern the day before to see if I could make this in my slow-cooker and she gave me the thumbs up.

It is all I can do to not take leftovers out of the fridge and scarf them down cold.  Some went (cold) in lunch bags today. And the house smelled fantastic!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Adventures in sleep apnea

Apparently I snore.

Enough to keep my poor husband awake, and he has his own sleep issues to contend with.

I had my son's orthodontist make me a device a couple of years ago but even after a couple of adjustments, it abraded the inside of my lower jaw and I simply could not wear it consistently.

My current dentist offered another solution that was half the price and has turned out to be much more tolerable.  The first night I wore it, I had a dream about eating toffee and ended up pulling it out (in my sleep) and tossing it in the trash can beside my bed, but nights two and three were fine.  My snoring was pretty much eliminated, at least such are the reports.  I'll start using my iPhone sleep app to see if I"m getting better sleep as well, but I certainly awoke feeling quite refreshed.

Friday, February 4, 2011

‘Tomorrow is the beginning of the end’: How to start a REVOLUTION

This is Asmaa Mahfouz, the 26-year-old woman who sparked Egypt’s revolution.

On January 18th, Asmaa uploaded this video to her Facebook. It quickly went viral throughout Egypt, and thousands rallied to follow her instructions for a peaceful protest.

YouTube Preview Image

The night before the protests began, Asmaa posted another message, thanking everyone and urging nonviolent action.

YouTube Preview Image

Asmaa’s videos are eloquent and passionate. They are perfectly crafted to appeal to Muslims, Christians, men and women, old and young. She sets herself as the example, then makes an irrefutable argument about the importance of showing up to the next protest.

“Whoever says it is not worth it coz there will be only a handful of people, I want to tell him, you are the reason behind this. And you are a traitor, just like the President or any security cop who beats us in the streets. Your presence with us will make a difference, a big difference!”

“If you stay at home, then you deserve all that’s being done to you. And you will be guilty, before your nation and your people. And you’ll be responsible for what happens to us on the street while you sit at home.”

Asmaa Mahfouz is relatively unknown, especially in the West. Her Wikipedia entry is slowly being fleshed out. One of the few things we know is that she celebrated her 26th birthday at the revolution, and that she’s still there today, standing in protest for her rights.

Egypt’s turmoil is very thoroughly documented. For the most recent news, try Mother Jones. Twitter accounts are constantly in flux, but today you can follow Anjali Kamat and Sharif Kouddous for updates from the ground.

Please watch these two videos by the young woman who triggered the events in Egypt. What amazing courage.

Thanks to Love and Trash for posting these.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Quote of the day: From "Annabel" by Kathleen Winter

"You don't have to have a solo voice to be in a choir," he said. "In fact, there is something about a choir that brings together imperfections in the voices and uses them to make something new, like an infusion of different kinds of tea leaves.  It can be quite beautiful."

This is said by a minor character in the book, but struck me as so true, and as important to the story on many levels.

Annabel is a wonderful book.  I'm not quite finished, but I definitely recommend it.  Hauntingly beautiful and tender, it tells the story of a child born both male and female in a Labrador coastal village.  Kathleen Winter's sensitive portrayal of the child as he grows is a masterwork.  An incredible first novel.

Aside:  Our choir director always brews a pot of tea on Sunday mornings with (at least) two different types of leaves.  I had never thought of this as a metaphor for the combining of voices in song!