Monday, 21 November 2011

Sometimes, you just have to wash the dishes.

Of the greatest mysteries of the universe, none has been as perplexing as how to bridge the huge void between the different ways men and women communicate.

Enough books to fill a hundred libraries have been written on how to communicate, the way to communicate, body language etc etc etc.

The problem is, at the end of the day, whether you are from Mars or from Venus, a waffle or spaghetti, a husband is still going to communicate like a man, and a wife is still going to communicate like a woman. So how do you address the widening communication gap that is becoming more and more prevalent in our society to day? It is my sneaking suspicion that one of the biggest reasons that a lot of marriages are breaking down in this day and age, is a failure to communicate. Scratch that. It is my sneaking suspicion that marriages are breaking down today due to a failure to communicate productively.

It is not a big secret that people communicate in different ways. Vocal intonation (which guys are naturally not very good at interpreting, ladies), body gestures, and prolonged silences, speak volumes in ways words can never express. However the secret to productive communication is knowing that a glottal stop does not necessarily indicate an "uh oh", that sitting back on the couch does not necessarily mean boredom, and silence does not necessarily mean something is wrong.

So what is my revolutionary approach to bridging the communication gap?

Doing the dishes.

No, that is not a euphemism for trying to catch up with the Duggars.

Let me explain, but first a primer:

Ladies, men generally bond shoulder to shoulder, working side by side towards a common goal. You would be surprised at how much guys talk when they are working together on a project, like building a deck, or changing the oil in the car.

Men, women generally bond by talking to each other, often spending hours and hours talking about problems that could easily be resolved with a hammer and some sandpaper.....but here is the kicker....a lot of the time they don't actually want us to to solve them....they just want to know that someone is listening to them.

So where does the palmolive come in?

Washing dishes by hand allows for the best of both worlds. It allows us men to work shoulder to shoulder with the love of our life, and many a heartfelt conversation can happen while rinsing greasy spoons and forks.

Here are the rules:

Who ever wants to wash gets to wash and who ever wants to dry gets to dry. It has been my experience that each person has their own particular way of washing and drying dishes, soooo, who ever is doing what, gets to do it according to their own way. Remember, the objective is to get clean dishes into the it does not matter if you wash the forks before the spoons, or the plates before the cups.

What does matter is that both of you get to work together towards a common goal. And actually washing dishes by hand every once in a while is kinda fun. Not to mention that when the kids see you washing dishes together, they learn what it means to work as a husband and wife team.


Monday, 14 November 2011

Cool Umbrellas

Greetings everyone!
I was browsing over the internet the other day and I came across an art installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude called "Umbrellas"

Executed in 1991, Umbrellas consisted of 3100 massive umbrellas being open and displayed on both sides of the Pacific, in Japan and California.
What struck me about the work was its elegant simplicity. The free standing Umbrellas were designed to:

“ ….reflect the availability of the land in each valley, creating an invitational inner space, as houses without walls, or temporary settlements and related to the ephemeral character of the work of art.”

To give an idea of scale, each umbrella was 26 ft in diameter and 19 feet high. To understand what that means, the average two car garage is 19 feet by 18 feet and the standard height of a room is 8 feet tall. In other words each umbrella covered an area of 530 square feet and encompassed a volume of 10 082 cubic feet.

For some reason north American culture has adopted a mentality that bigger is better, especially in the area of housing. If it is not obvious yet, my family and I live in a way that is somewhat counter cultural….our family of 9 lives in a 1375sqft town house. There are families of 3 in that live in houses that are 3500sqft.
Now I am not saying that we intend to stay in a house this size, in fact, we are in the process of house hunting in amongst all the other things we are doing! However, consider the following:
The common Yurt Mongolian families have lived in for centuries, is 16 ft in diameter. Which is a footprint of about 296sqft….that is smaller than a two car garage! So essentially these umbrellas represent a Mongolian mansion!

Especially when you take into account that a the equivalent two story house would stand about 16 ft (that is of course a bare minimum slab on grade two story house with no basement and a pretty flat roof….not too common here but common enough in other places in the world where they don’t get much snow or rain)

I think what impressed me most about the artists themselves is that they are completely self funded! Which means, they are free to make their own subtle statements with out having to worry about reflecting the bias of a particular sponsor….which is often a hidden presence in commissioned art. And in that way they can truly be individual.

Anyway here is a link to their work!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Chicken Soup for the Perpetually Runny Nose.

Kids get sick. If there was anything more surer than death and taxes, it's that if you have kids, you will one day wipe up vomit, snot, or any combination of various bodily fluids during your tenure.

Now that halloween is over and cold and flu season is just about to get underway, I thought I would share one of my all time favorite secret family recipes for staving off the damp and cold.

Good old fashion chicken soup....with a bit of an asian twist:


4 or 5 chicken leg quarters (whole chicken works great but it is kinda inconvenient during the deboning phase)
1 tbsp black pepper corn
1-2 onions
5 cloves garlic
And the secret ingredient.....2 inches of Ginger, peeled and chopped

Pressure cook the chicken legs, ginger and peppercorns for about one hour in two liters of water. If you don't have a pressure cooker then bring chicken, ginger, pepper mixture to a boil and simmer for 3 hours. The meat should basically disintegrate off the bone.

After pressure cooking, release pressure and debone. If simmering, after three hours, or when chicken falls off bone do likewise.
Add onions and garlic....chopped if you prefer, simmer for about five minutes, make sure onion is cooked.
Chop celery, carrots and add into broth.
Salt to taste.

We serve the soup with broth and veggies in a bowl, and ladle the chicken with a bit of broth on the rice.

It tastes great with soy sauce....but I would HIGHLY recommend Kikkoman brand soy sauce for this recipe. Other brands will taste ok, but if you use Kikkoman, you will taste the difference.

Let me know how it turns out!