Adventures in Lovin’

It’s February 14th, 2014 and we all know what that means: It’s Makha Bucha Day!!

You know, Makha Bucha Day…the day when Buddha gave an important sermon to 1,250 monks? That’s why there’s a big, red 14 on my Thai calendar and my favourite restaurant is closed. That’s the big holiday today, right?


I think something else is happening today too. Give me a minute, it’ll come to me…

…I’m sitting here in my pajamas, munching a piece of chocolate and typing away at 11:30 on a Friday morning, so it must be something special. Oh, wait. I’m a freelance writer – that’s kind of what every morning looks like.

I know, I know, it’s Valentine’s Day – and for the record, I’d like to offer big thanks to the friend who pointed out it might be unwise to title this post Adventures in VD. Oops!

I don’t know if you’ve been anywhere near the internet today or not (I mean, someone could have printed this post, stuck it in an envelope and mailed it to you…that’s still a thing, right?) but it’s mayhem out there on the Yahoo. Mayhem!

The Best Romance Films on Netflix! The Worst Romance Films on Netflix! The Top 5 Ways to Avoid Being Single on Valentine’s Day! The Top 5 Ways to Love Valentine’s Day If You’re Single! The Top 5 Reason’s To Hate Valentine’s Day If You’re Single! Watch This Video of Cute Cats and Forget You’re Single!

Well, that last one is clearly a winner, any day of the year.

I’ve never wanted to join that fracas. There are just too many exclamation points for my taste. Besides, my feelings about Valentine’s Day oscillate wildly from year to year, so I’m reluctant to commit to anything in writing. Jealous loathing, arrogant disdain, studied indifference – those aren’t feelings I wanted to hold on to long enough to write about, much less be reminded of years later.

Also, it’s because neither David Tennant nor Benedict Cumberbatch have ever sent me bunches of flowers or boxes of caramels covered in dark chocolate and sea salt (hint, hint)…that would kind of be worth writing about.

But this year, despite the lack of random gifts from famous people I’ve never met,  I’m ready to say it loud and clear:


Now why would a chronically single woman who is only a few years (and a few cats) away from being the Quintessential Spinster Cat Lady suddenly decide she likes Valentine’s Day?

Because it’s a day. And I like days. In fact, I’ll take as many days as I can get.

I’m not even talking about those fancy vacation days where I can watch the sunset on the beach or stay in a posh hotel with fragrant little soaps, hot water, and an actual bathtub. I’m talking about regular days.

  • Days when I can sit in my pajamas ’til noon, sipping a coffee and reading (or writing) a good book.
  • Days when I actually put on pants and go outside.
  • Days when I learn new things.
  • Days when lunch comes with an ominous warning.


  • Days when I talk to my elderly Thai neighbour and can understand at least 1/10th of what he says.
  • Days when the grocery store tapes snacks together with this pretty orange tape:


  • Days when friends gather to share some laughs and make these super-fancy gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Judging by the title of the article, the recipes were clearly custom-made for Cheese-Loving Spinster Cat Ladies like myself.

I’m happy to say that after years of Single-Lady angst, I can now quite unabashedly celebrate February 14th along with all the other 14th’s of the year.

So to you, wherever you are, whomever you love, and however you like your grilled cheese sandwiches, I wish you a…

…Happy Makha Bucha Day.

…Happy Valentine’s Day.

…Happy Birthday**

…Happy Friday.

…Happy Day.

**Some conditions may apply. See Birth Certificate for details.

Adventures in the Eaton’s Catalogue

Every once in a while, I get an itch to dive down the rabbit holes of history. Sometimes to recreate a vintage hairstyle, sometimes for sheer amusement, sometimes just out of lazy curiosity.

Last night, thanks to the magic of the internet, I found myself here, flipping through the pages of the Eaton’s Spring/Summer mail order catalogue…from 1894. It was 185 yellowed pages of, well, everything. Anything and everything you might need for late 19th Century life – clothes, groceries, furniture – all delivered to your door (or the nearest railroad crossing).

For any of you who aren’t familiar with the Eaton’s catalogue in Canada, it was like the Sears-Roebuck catalog in the US, and dominated the Canadian retail industry for almost a century. It truly was the Amazon of it’s day, and possibly even catered to Sherlock Holmes:

SherlockHe’s missing his deerstalker hat, but don’t fret. That can be found on page 55 for 25 cents.

The magazine was amazing…at least for history nerds. The item descriptions were no-nonsense, the models were all poised and elegant. I found myself wanting to say things like, “I do declare!” and “Astounding! Simply Astounding!”

Then, my evening took a sudden plunge into jaw-dropping, head-shaking incredulity. You see, I skipped ahead a few years to the 1920 Fall/Winter catalogue.

Suddenly, I was browsing through SIX HUNDRED pages of some of the most disturbing things ever. Maternity corsets and corsets for children! Bear traps! Boxes of asbestos! Sixteen full pages of fur accessories – heads, legs and tails still attached! Instead of simple product descriptions, now even the most hideous of hats are described as stylish, popular, serviceable and pretty.

"Stylish" is not the word I would have chosen for this one.

“Stylish” is not the word I would have chosen for this one.

By the time I got to the switches of fine quality hair (guaranteed to be “Made from 50 per cent European hair and French refined hair”), I knew I should just call it quits and go to bed…but I couldn’t tear myself away. It was that awesome.

Even the hand drawn models had changed. The men were no longer dapper and refined like this fellow:

Why hello there, handsome.

Why hello there, handsome.

By 1920, the men were stern and frightening, like this angry man:

I might be sporting a comfy sweater, but rest assured, I will cut you.

In fact, I think you could probably write a creepy crime story based entirely on the characters found in the menswear section. I mean, really, what’s the back-story for these guys?

- I want to write a story based on strange vintage ads. - No George, you should write TWO stories.

– Herman, as I’ve been standing here lifting weights in my underwear, I’ve decided to write a story based on strange vintage ads.
– No George, you should write TWO stories.

The possibilities presented in these catalogues are endless. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just found the link to the 1907 catalogue – and I’m ready for some giant hats, ribbons ‘for street or evening wear’, some truly frightening hygiene products, a bottle of carbolic acid and a fancy new wood-stove.

Adventures in Giant Piles of Big Things…

While I was busy finishing my thesis, a whole lot of other stuff got pushed into the “I’ll do it later” pile. Now, my thesis has been successfully defended (and if any of you have a hankering to read An Ethnographic Study of Language Use in a Multilingual Education Program in Thailand let me know. I’ll e-mail you a copy. It has pie charts.)

I feel like I’ve been following a snowplow home during a blizzard (just throwing in a timely reference for all my North American friends. You’re welcome.) The road was clear all the way home, but now everything that had been pushed out of the way is piled up and blocking my driveway. And I can’t get home until it’s been cleared.

My plan is to move back to Canada. But unless you’ve never met me, and have just stumbled upon this blog by accident, you already know that my According-To-Plan track record is truly abysmal.

Honestly. It’s really, really bad. I’m never quite sure where I’m going to end up, or what I’ll be doing when I get there.

Spring will come, whether I'm ready for it or not.

Spring will come, whether I’m ready for it or not.

That makes it tricky to sort out Big Things (and yes, in my head the words Big Things are big, bold, and capitalized…but in a much snazzier font).  So many things need to be sorted – like housing, and pet care, and furniture, and um…employment. Yup, I nearly forgot about employment. Planning is obviously not my strongest asset. (Unless you’re reading this as a potential employer. In which case, I’m awesome at planning. Really.)

Every single time I think about leaving Thailand, this pops into my head, dramatic music and all:

I don’t want to go.

Maybe that’s why instead of approaching the giant pile of Big Things with a sturdy shovel and a logical plan, I seem to have developed a different technique. I’ve hunkered down in the snow (picture The Little Match Girl, but hopefully without the dying bit at the end), and spend my time imagining what life might be like on the other side of the snowbank.

And I have a very detailed imagination.

Seriously – I spent two hours this afternoon browsing through a Lee Valley Tools hardware catalogue…

… looking for fancy brass escutcheons, knobs and drawer pulls…

…to decorate furniture I don’t own, in an apartment I haven’t found yet, somewhere in a city I might possibly move to.

I may have taken myself a little to seriously when I told me to buckle down and start focusing on the details. (In my defense, the Victorian reproduction drawer pulls on pages 78-79 were all kinds of gorgeous.)

Maybe I’m burying my head in a hardware catalogue to avoid all the sad, difficult stuff and Big Things that come with moving. I prefer to think that I’m growing more comfortable in the knowledge that my life is full of surprises and I trust that it’ll all work out.

So there you have it.

I don’t know where I’ll be living or what I’ll be doing by the time the snow melts, but I will have some fancy drawers.

What’s your favourite way to cope with Big Things?