It's the wee hours of July 14, 2010 in this present time. I'm watching the lovely Lisa giving the news on TV with the wife at my side, and our newly installed fan exchanger in the livingroom window sucking and blowing in an effort to keep us cool. What a hot and muggy couple of weeks it's been, though I will not complain too much about it. The last few summers were ridden with rain and lousy temperatures, so if this is how it's got to be, so be it.
But I wish other things could be better. The job hunt is still on, and it's been frustrating to say the least. Back in the 90's when Janice and me left Green Gables management (she was the brains there, make no mistake), I went through a nasty spell of unemployment despite going back to school and taking computer courses and putting out dozens upon dozens of resumes. Then I had the choice of going to BJ's Subs to drive or working at a call center. I decided to drive, and did for eleven years. I went to Shoppers Drug Mart for a year and a half, then switched from there because of shortened hours to go to Vail's, which I left under less than amicable circumstances. Now here I am, waiting and watching, biting at every opportunity that comes to me, however without much success. The worst of all of it is not doing anything. I love to work, if it's a job that I like doing and for a good boss. The trick is I won't compromise my time with my family. This may mean going back to school again if something doesn't materialize soon. It's scary waiting, that's for sure. It's hard not to feel like some kind of lazy freeloader. It doesn't help any, either, that I'm a giant softhearted sap. I decided last week it was time to start wearing a tank top and shorts to the gym, where the weather's pretty much approaching melting status these days. I have bike shorts that I like that double as swim trunks, and they're pretty snug lycra material. I don't go for the plaid and cargo borderline skorts that guys wear these days. Anyway, after a workout I went to a Tim's to get Janice an Ice Cap, and the instant I walked into the empty store at the time, a teenager at the counter giggled and walked back to her friends, where the bunch of them peered over and collectively chuckled. As I placed my order, she could barely contain her amusement at my appearance. I know I'm pretty fair skinned as a family trait, but wow. Back to jeans or track pants and baggy t-shirts.
Anyway... the biggest source of pride in my life, our big little girl Alexandra, is having an okay summer, but my not working put the kibosh to what was supposed to be a fun time in Ontario in August. The saving grace is that we do everything as a family and won't give that up for anything either. We're as tight a unit as you can get, and although times might not always be pristine, we at least have each other. Lex is coming off a stellar school year, her best yet, bringing home an 'A' average and getting ready now to go to Harrison Trimble for grade 9. She's getting back into taekwondo now as of this week to keep herself active. It's a little bit tough because there aren't many kids around the neighbourhood, and of course we don't have the kind of funds to enroll her in any sports programs. But she's very strong of mind and body and she has a healthy attitude.
Janice is doing great at work, having finally fixed her staff problems she had managing her post office and getting terrific support from her bosses. I think everyone wants to work for the kind of people that she works for. They listen to her ideas (which I actually sometimes suggest to her! point!), her concerns, and do everything they can to make her happy. And that's how you run good business. Her post office's revenues have tripled if I'm not mistaken, because she's that good at what she does. You should see her in action with her customers! She treats them the way they want to be treated, plus even better. You don't get the kind of service she delivers from a whole lot of places. She's been dedicated to her gym routine too. She goes every day, with an aim to burn off at least a pound on cardio, or around 1100 calories. That's not to say the pounds are melting off. That's a tough challenge, but she is shrinking. Just tonight she bought herself a pair of size 16 pants, which for her is a monumental achievement. I couldn't be more proud of her accomplishments. If I could even approach her level of success I would be happy.
I've been upping my gym activities lately myself. I mean, not working makes me pretty antsy, so I go everyday now myself. There's a facebook group for weightlifting that I subscribe to, and it sent out a link for a chest workout that I've been trying. As it is, I do weights every third day, and cardio every day like Janice. On the non-weight days I'll do an hour and a half or more of cardio. The weight days, I'll do between 15-30 minutes of cardio and another hour and a half of weights, although the chest workout is only once a week because it's kind of intense. And I do stretching everyday of course or I'd snap like an overstressed rubber band at some point. Going to the gym has actually become more of a hobby than a chore, because I leave feeling refreshed and recharged. I honestly don't know how some people can go to the women-only fitness clubs though, how boring is that? I know the members turnover at those places is high. No wonder! Hey, I'm a red blooded man, I appreciate the sights surrounding me. I mean, I go to the Y, and everyone that goes there generally goes with someone else anyway. It's big and open and is the best atmosphere of any gym I've ever been to. Going has certainly paid off with me; I hover around 180-185, and my heart rate is around 56. I hope a year or two from now I'm still gushing about going to the gym, but I'm at the point right now where I actually enjoy going. Janice too.
And hey, speaking of fitness, have you tried those Cheeseburger Doritos yet?? Holy livin' Lord, those are the cat's ass. Janice came home yesterday telling me that it's just like a McDonald's Quarter Pounder in a chip bag. If a crunchy Quarter Pounder doesn't sound appealing to you, think again. You wouldn't believe how much this tastes like one. With the ketchup, mustard and hamburger and cheese and everything. Unbelievable!
This weekend the movie "Inception" comes out. I've had a countdown on my facebook page for the last year and a half or something. Chris Nolan is one of my favorite all-time directors, and I know this one's gonna be the talk of the town. Nolan, of course, directed "Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight", "The Prestige", "Memento" and "Insomnia", all first rate films that are meant to be seen lots of times each. I don't think a movie is good if you walk out of it and you don't want to see it again. That happened this past weekend when we went to the Neptune Drive-In in Shediac, the three of us, and saw "The Karate Kid" for the second time and "Grownups" for the first time. "Grownups" had its funny moments, some really funny ones, but it grew tiring and oh-brother-ish less than halfway through and I really have no desire whatsoever to watch it again. Janice and Alexandra felt the same way. The friggin' mosquitos provided a sideshow, creeping into the car despite the netting and making a full course meal out of us. Especially Janice who's still itchy from bug bites today. Still, it was family time, and we had fun in spite of all that.
Our bedroom is getting an extreme makeover, for the past few weeks. Right now drywall compound is going on it, from a guy we hired to do it that I used to work with at Vail's named Marshall. To any of my siblings who are reading this, you owe it to yourselves to come see this room when it's all done, because I had it built to look virtually identical to the boys' room at 136 Emmerson. Right down to the sloped walls to the windows with the ballpark lights shining through at nighttime and the storage attics at either end of the room, and the closet even. I wake up at night sometimes even thinking that I'm back at the old house. What a magnificent job Marshall has done at creating this for me. And the guy's heart is as big as his brains are, which says a lot, because he's a sharp dude. He did the electrical for us too. He'll move on to Alexandra's room next, hopefully I'll be working by then.
In closing... I did promise my facebook friends that I would post a recipe for a broccoli casserole that is now in the oven as I type this edit in before I publish the blog. So, here we go....
What you'll need:
*2 heads of freshly chopped broccoli
*1 pouch of Uncle Ben's Fast and Fancy rice... I chose Country Homestyle Chicken flavor
*2 cups of Uncle Ben's brown minute rice
*2 chopped sweet red peppers... you know, those long skinny ones, or if you want, one of the big fat ones, but those long skinny dudes are BITCHIN'
*About half a bunch of green onions, chopped
*1 can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
*Kraft Tex Mex Cheese
*I large bag of Spicy Quesadilla Tostitos
*Olive oil and garlic powder
-Steam the broccoli... careful not to make it soggy
-Prepare the Fast and Fancy rice, letting it stand as long as you can
-Prepare the two cups of Uncle Ben's brown minute rice
-Sautee lightly the mushrooms and peppers in olive oil... be generous with the oil, it's good stuff
-Sautee about 2 cups, or one of those fresh blue packages, of chopped mushrooms in olive oil, and let those suckers soak up some of that yummy tasting oil, just be careful not to heat the oil too much
Combine all that stuff and stir it up real good, and sprinkle some garlic powder in there. Be careful not to use garlic SALT, that'll overwhelm things. Then, add in a can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup (or, Cream of Mushroom, but my experience showed me that the chicken one was tastier). Stir that up real good, and put it in a medium sized casserole dish, or one that'll fit.
Next, you're going to sprinkle some Kraft Tex Mex Cheese (today I used shredded marble because we ran out... s'all good, but Tex Mex rules). Not too, too much. Then, the big secret of the dish... Spicy Quesadilla Tostitos. Take those rounds and neatly and evenly distribute them over the casserole, then stick them in on the sides of the dish -- that will make for awesome little dipping chips when you serve the finished product, plus hold all the stuff in when you put it in the oven! After you're done with the chips, put lots of cheese on top of the chips you laid out on the dish.
Bake it in the oven at 350F for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown. Careful not to burn the chips too.
Let me know how you made out with it if you try it.