Scrumptious summer

I’ve come to accept – almost enjoy – my hectic pace of life. I work hard, visit with many beautiful people, volunteer a lot, keep a cleanish house, maintain a decentish garden and try (rather unsuccessfully) to squeeze in time for JF, writing, exercise, reading and music in between.

Still, there’s something about summer that forces even the busiest of bees to slow down. I swear every time I hear the hum of a cicada or the whirring of a lawnmower, my shoulder muscles relax subtly. Here are some highlights from the last few warm and wonderful weeks.

Festival du Loup

After months of hard work, the Festival du Loup committee (of which I am a lucky member) enjoyed a successful few days of great Franco-Ontarian music, local food, and cool artisans.

More cheap stuff

In my latest garage sale haul, I picked up an original piece by local painter Ila Kellerman as well as an ancient croquignole board.

Garage sale treasures

Garage sale treasures

A little romance

When my calendar is filling up, the first item on the chopping block is usually date night with JF. But lately, I’ve been making and enjoying a lot more time for us. Here’s a shot from our visit to Penetang’s “World Famous” Dock Lunch.

Me, stuffing my face as I always do on date night

Me, stuffing my face as I always do on date night

Omazing Ontario

We’ve also hung out on Tiny’s Beaches, visited Awenda Park with our dear friend Pascal, and eaten a lot of fresh local produce. My avo’s garden is dripping with beans and it makes me such a happy camper.

La belle famille

But my favourite event was Thursday, when dear friends and family surprised me with a patio party to celebrate my “new” job. I was so touched, and so delighted to see everyone. Thanks guys!

Some of my favourite people

Some of my favourite people

My house may be a little dirtier, but at this moment I’m feeling refreshed and relaxed. And for that reason, I say long live summer.

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The Elmvale 15

Over the last two weeks I’ve ingested a Toblerone, two bags of Kernels popcorn, three bags of chips, several handfuls of jujubes and at least three cups of red and green m&ms.

My pants don’t fit me, my belly jollily jiggles like Santa’s, and worst of all, I feel like a (vaguely) human-shaped lump of butter. I’m calling the weight I’ve gained the Elmvale 15.

These days, I blame holiday baking. I must have eaten a solid dozen cookies yesterday. And today I had two chocolate-covered, tree-shaped sugar cookies for breakfast.

Evil Christmas cookies.

Evil Christmas cookies.

Other malefactors include: wine, the Elmvale bakery’s boston cream doughnuts, the cafeteria at work, my enabler partner JF, and Tobias.

Who knew my little blue Honda would keep me off my feet so constantly? The other day I drove from our house to the post office – just over 200 meters. Brutal.

I guess there was an advantage to the TTC’s suckiness after all; it forced me to get off my ass and walk.

Which brings me to the real culprit: slothfulness. Remember when I pledged to exercise regularly in July? Well, the closest I came to a fitness routine was the occasional leisurely stroll through Tiny Marsh, back when Simcoe County wasn’t coated in ice.

I often say I don’t have time, but the truth is that JF and I have somehow managed to watch two full seasons of the original Star Trek since October. Imagine how healthy I would be if I had spent those 50 or so hours running, lifting weights and eating kale – I’d look like 80s Cindy Crawford!

All of this to say I’ve become the dreaded Flabby Lefaive. And after my usual mulled-wine-and-sugar-induced January hangover, I’m going to do something about it. For real. Starting with a cleanse.

I would, after all, like to live long and prosper.

The end of funemployment

The good news is, I’ve just accepted an exciting contract position with the communications team at Georgian College — one of the best employers in Simcoe County. Thank all of the harp-toting angels in heaven because I will soon be earning my keep.

The bad news is, my adventures in funemployment are coming to an end. On August 26, I will bid farewell to leisurely Mondays, sweatpant Tuesdays, romance-novel Wednesdays, quiet Thursdays, and going-out-for-a-stroll Fridays. I’m really going to miss them all.

Me a few weeks ago, carefree and funemployed

Tobias and I a few weeks ago, carefree and funemployed

But to those friends who poked fun at my funemployment activities, I’d like to say my hours weren’t all spent eating ice cream while watching TV and scanning eBay. Many were, but not all.

While funemployed, I went to Wonderland on a Thursday with friends.

While funemployed, I went to Wonderland on a Thursday with friends.

Finding a job is really tough. Mostly on your brain and confidence. That self-inflicted pressure to find work is omnipresent. I woke up and went to sleep thinking about jobs. Every day, I either put together an application, prepared for an interview, or met a nice new contact — apparently Simcoe County is full of lovely people.

I also learned a lot about unemployment and job hunting these last 2.5 months:

  • Listen to everyone but your own brain. Try to enjoy your time off.
  • Don’t be shy about telling people you’re looking for work. You’d be surprised who will help you.
  • You don’t have to take the first job that’s offered to you, even if every practical part of you says you should.
  • Don’t apply for jobs you don’t want. You will end up getting them, debating madly with yourself, and then painfully turning them down.
  • Try not to let the process get you down. You will apply for jobs you think you’re perfect for and never hear back. You will also interview for jobs you want and won’t get. That’s okay.
  • Have faith that the right role will come.
  • Have faith in yourself.

Well, I’m off to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian dinner prepared by my mother. And red wine, of course. It’s time to celebrate.

Exercising Judgment

Long, long ago (about a month), my friend Michelle and I were going to morning gym classes twice a week. I would wake up at 5:30 a.m., be out the door by 5:50 a.m. and squeak into Body Pump for 6:30 a.m. — where Michelle, bless her, had already set up my weights and yoga mat.

After sweating, squatting, jumping, lifting and crunching for about an hour, I always felt fist-pumpingly triumphant. And towards the end of my gym career, I was looking trimmer and sleeping better.

 

Well, my GoodLife membership expired on June 20, and my body knows it. Just call me Jiggly Lefaive. So far the most strenuous exercise I’ve done since then is raise my remote control arm to change the channel. I’ve also undertaken such strenuous activities as walking to bakeries and lifting food to my mouth.

I’ve never exactly been a paragon of good health. I enjoy BBQ-flavoured chips, cookies and red wine. And even though I should be eating gluten free, most of my meals consist of something carby with cheese on top.

But here’s the thing. That’s not how I plan to live the rest of my life. A big part of what attracts us to country living is that we can stop at a neighbour’s place to buy fresh eggs and whatever veggies are in season. That and the non-availability of our two current dietary mainstays: C’est Bon Chinese Restaurant and Bhanjara Indian food.

We also love that there are dozens of reasons to be active outside. Simcoe County offers long trails for biking and amazing beaches for swimming. Wherever our house is, we’ll have access to two marshes, a Provincial Park and several forests.

JF and I like to go to Tiny Marsh, just north of Elmvale

JF and I like to use the trails at Tiny Marsh, north of Elmvale

So now that I am settled into my room at mom’s (five days and counting!) it’s time to get my shit together. My budget doesn’t want me to spend $50 monthly on a gym membership, so I’m going to do my best to use what Simcoe County has to offer to feel healthy again. Or my name will quickly devolve from Jiggly Lefaive to Flabby Lefaive.

My new friend Nytol

We recently gave our notice to our landlord. We must and will be out of our Toronto apartment for September 1, 2013. Which means we must and will either buy a house or rent a place in Simcoe County sometime this summer. Blimey. This is really happening.

Or is it?

A few months ago, thinking about houses at bedtime (silk curtains, granite countertops and hardwood floors… mmmmmm) would send me first into a pleasant haze, then straight to sleep. Now, thinking about houses at bedtime induces me to take Nytol — an effective drug recently added to my pharmaceutical lexicon.

We just can’t seem to agree on what house to buy. What I love, he doesn’t. What he loves is ugly. And after ten years of renting, we just don’t want to rent anymore.

Which is why I’m moving (temporarily, I hope) into my teenhood bedroom at my mom’s Midland house in a week. From that tiny “terracotta”-painted (i.e. poo brown) shrine to my youth, I can help with my sister Alicia’s engagement party, volunteer, job hunt, go to the beach, hang out with my avó, and drive around like a crazy person in search of “for rent” and “for sale by owner” signs. My amazing mother will feed me and do my laundry.

This is my mom's house. Beautiful, but can it hold three grown women?

This is my mom’s house. Beautiful, but can it hold three grown women?

Mom, I love you. Thank you for being a regular reader of this blog. But I’m a bit scared of living with you and Geneviève. Three women, one bathroom. Plus it’s been ten years since I lived with a parent.

I started packing today and it’s harder than I thought. Just how many bags does one need for an indefinite stay in a small, storagely-challenged room?

I say indefinite stay, but there is a ray of hope in the vast gloom of this house hunt. JF and I recently set a drop dead date. On July 22, we will either make an offer on this house in Coldwater (which we both love — we would just prefer Elmvale) or choose a house to rent.

House in Coldwater that we both love. If only it was in Elmvale.

House in Coldwater that we both love. If only it was in Elmvale.

We’ve committed. Crossed our hearts. Pinky swore. But whether we will actually be able to make a decision on July 22 remains to be seen.

What I know for sure is that for the next few months, I will have a foot in both worlds. JF will be working away in Toronto while I try to start building our new life in Simcoe County.

The Deal

I grew up in the village (hamlet? intersection?) of Perkinsfield, Ontario. It’s so small it doesn’t even get a dot on the Ontario map. Even google gets confused when you try to find it. It used to have a fast food stand shaped like a giant hot dog that made it fairly memorable to cottagers driving through, but that shut down.

Found a photo of the old Perkinsfield hot dog stand.

Found a photo of the old Perkinsfield hot dog stand.

Anyway.

I’ve lived in Toronto since 2003.  I like the city. I like going to concerts on school nights and having delicious Indian food delivered straight to my door. I like my friends here. I like my workplace. I like my choir. I even like my apartment.

Our place is on the top right corner

Our Toronto apartment. The one on the top right corner.

The thing is, I’ve never actually loved the city. There were a few early years when I thought it might be love, but Toronto lost a little fairy dust each time I got stuck on a sweaty TTC car, was woken by police sirens, or forked over a massive rent cheque.

To me, Toronto is like a nice, A-type, career-minded person. I appreciate and admire it. But it takes itself too seriously.  It forgets there are other ways to be. It gets caught up in schedulers, americanos and expensive shoes. And all of that stuff has me itching to buy a few acres, throw on some wellies and buy a goat.

Which brings me to an interesting question. Ten years is a friggin long time. Is country life the way I remember it?

I have this vision of people wearing sweatpants to the grocery store, getting home at 5:15 p.m., and drinking beers on porches with long clotheslines flapping behind them. I imagine houses with wide open vistas, perfect for stargazing. My whole family laughing around my dinner table. Apple trees. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. But I might be idealizing things just a tad.

I will soon find out just how far off the mark my memory is. My partner Jean-François — the best, smartest, most handsome franco-ontarian this side of Markham — got a new office in Barrie and is buying us a house in Simcoe County. Probably in Elmvale, which is as close to Perkinsfield as we can get without making JF’s commute a major pain. My mother is thrilled.

This blog is my effort to catalogue our adventure. It might cover a little house hunting, a little decorating, a little job searching, and a little pondering. Maybe a little music (the other love of my life) too. Either way, I hope it will help you, my friends and family, keep abreast of my movements.

I guess you could say this big change in my life is an exercise in dream chasing. I have no job, no distinct plans, and will very soon have no money. But I’m optimistic. As addle-brained as this whole thing might be, it feels right.

That said, please wish me luck. I will need it.