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Thursday, May 27, 2004
Oh yeah, you is one tough playa, talking with your "hombres" about "bustin' a cap in someone's ass" and not getting "pinched" for all the crap you stole from the music store -- that is, until Mommy's voice is heard a street away, calling you home for your din-dins. Thanks for the laugh, kid.
How Not to Conduct a Fire Drill: Have alarms go off at 9:00 a.m. Lock the elevators. Guide people across street. Then: keep people outside for 20 minutes without any indication of what's going on, then call them back inside building, where it is discovered that no one knows how to unlock the goddamned elevators. And no one has a key to the stairwells. Except, oh, right, the security guard just remembered that she has a key to open one stairwell, but the doors to the 5th floor are locked and set with alarms, which go off when an out-of-breath Jane tries the door handle.
Only three people from Karo bothered to respond to the drill. Now I know why.
With time to kill after dropping Piper at daycare, I came back and killed it with a few online personality tests, just for laughs. You'll be relieved to know that I am a Jamie Oliver/Chihuahua/Peace-centered/Secret Agent/Sleep-Deprived/Tight-lipped/Taurus-loving/Bookworm. And I worry much too much.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Goats Barked at, World Saved: A notable long weekend indeed. I spent Friday to Sunday up in Dreadful Valley (a.k.a. "Drayton Valley"), a smallish town in the heart of oil, gas and forestry country. My pal Jean was taking her 4-year-old mare, Lucy, to a Parelli seminar, focusing on natural horsemanship, and I was along as a very interested spectator.
Lucy, although a very sweet young mare, had a tendency to disrespect humans where personal space was concerned. She'd knocked me flying -- or rather, rolling -- on one famous occasion, and just generally tended to be in the way, partly because she was so curious about what people were doing. Jean had been riding her over the past year or so, but mentioned that the main problem with Lucy was getting her attention and keeping it.
The weather sucked so hard its cheeks met in the middle; Friday evening, the first part of the seminar, was cold, windy and drizzling, and the instruction was held in an outdoor riding arena. They knocked off a half-hour early, but not before everyone was frozen to the marrow. Even I, One Woman Global Warming, was chilled to the point of uncontrollable shivering.
Jean was more than a bit dismayed that no facilities had been provided for the horses; she was told to put Lucy in the riding arena overnight, but not to feed her there. Jean had no intention of waiting out in the cold for two hours while Lucy ate her hay and oats, and said so. The host finally took the hint and provided a small paddock, unsheltered, for Lucy. Jean and I headed back to the hotel, where hot baths, red wine, cheese and French bread restored us to normal.
Saturday's weather was even worse: a hard, steady rain, with wind. I decided on the drive out that I'd be staying in the van for the day and doing my spectating from there. Luckily, the host had made arrangements to use a covered riding arena, some 8 miles off in the country. Another participant offered to take Lucy along with her horse, as she had a massive trailer. And then Lucy decided she wasn't going to load in a trailer, your typical horse owner's instant migraine. But! This time it was a valuable learning exercise as the instructor, Meiner, showed everyone the Parelli method for loading stubborn horses: no punishment, just patience and rewards every time the horse even looked likely to enter the trailer. It took about 20 minutes, but finally Lucy put both forefeet in the trailer, pondered her situation for a second or two, and calmly climbed aboard. This may not sound like much, but in my experience, people tend to lose their cool with non-trailering horses and resort to nerve lines, bum ropes and even whipping. What was even more amazing is that Meiner didn't lead Lucy into the trailer, but stood to one side and let her make the decision herself.
There are a few annoying things about Parelli clinics: the aggressive plus-sell of special Parelli halters, "carrot sticks" (long, flexible fiberglass rods, used in training) and savvy ropes. But I really can't fault the method. By Sunday afternoon, Jean was riding Lucy with only a halter and lead rope, was able to fling the lead rope over her head without incident, and most amazingly of all, could bring Lucy to a full halt just by sitting back in the saddle. Lucy started off being terribly distracted, but by the end she watched Jean intently, and willingly tried to follow every command. And Jean just led her up to the trailer at the end, and watched as Lucy nonchalantly walked in.
The only annoyance about the seminar itself was embodied in two participants, a mother and her teenage daughter. They were, as another spectator noted, terribly spoiled, and didn’t want to do the work necessary to make their horses understand what was expected of them. I felt really sorry for their horses, but by Sunday I just wanted to take a carrot stick to those women; they talked back constantly, arguing with Meiner, complaining, and were constantly playing for attention. Meiner, bless him, ignored them pretty much on Sunday, except to ask them to be quiet for 10 minutes so he could hear the birds. Way to waste $800, you ditzes.
Drayton Valley reminded me rather depressingly of Fort McMurray in the 1970s; an isolated community with a large transient worker population, extremely bored adolescents, and not much to do after dark. And no Tim Hortons! Somebody's mobile home caught fire on Saturday night, which is probably the most excitement that town's seen in awhile. The surrounding country is wild and gorgeous, but you don't care about that when you're a teenager and just want to get the hell out of Dodge. My brother got married in Drayton Valley in 1985, and it hasn't prettied up much over the last 19 years. It was raining like bugger then, too.
Piper stayed at Jean's parents' farm while we were gone, and quickly grew used to being utterly spoiled, begging at the table, sleeping on the couch, and so on. Somehow I'll have to make her understand that it's okay for "the grandparents" to spoil her, just not me. And yesterday, at Jean's farm, she proved herself to be a championship barker at and intimidater of goats. Tyke and Jean had built a portable goat pen, and Piper had to make sure the three goats stayed in one corner of the pen only. If any of them moved, she'd blast over to the pen, barking fiercely, until they huddled back in the corner she'd picked. It was cute for the first few times, but soon some correction was needed. Although I don't expect to run into many goats in Calgary. Still, if I do, it's comforting to know that I have my own Goat Vanquisher at my side. Got any goats you need barked at? Just call.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
So very, very sorry... I didn't realize, honestly I didn't, that the company's new spam-fucker program would get carried away and start sending my legitimate e-mail to the gulag. In the confusion of the last two weeks, I wondered vaguely why I hadn't received a couple of messages I was expecting, but then I'd get distracted and wander off to graze on another project or two. Last night I finally figured out how to connect to our web-based e-mail cistern, and discovered about 15 legit messages drifting in a sea of spam.
So, to all of you who wrote me over the last month and didn't get a reply, and probably thought I was being a neglectful friend or an ungrateful correspondent, I say again: sorry. Technology was my enemy. Blake, I'll get you your document, I promise.
Hockey update: Of course the Calgary Flames won the last game; I went over to Vinnie and Schmuke's, as discussed in a previous entry, and caught most of the first period. And yes, yes, tonight I'll be back there and there will be no more of this silly home ice curse, do you hear?
Obedience and odorama: Last night was our first Beginner's Obedience class at the neighbourhood dog daycare. The class consisted of 5 dogs: three little dustmop breeds, an uncontrolled Rottweiler, and Piper. The Rottweiler had the other dog owners a bit concerned, as she kept lungeing and snarling at the small dogs, which probably looked to her like a convenient set of hors d'oeuvres. Luckily, the instructor insisted that the owner purchase a "Gentle Leader" dog halter before the Rottweiler was allowed in the class. It did the trick, and then the damned dog went on to shame the rest of us in demonstrations. Piper could have cared less about the snacks I brought for her, and was noticeably shy, even with me, during the exercises. When I got home, I cooked up a batch of liver treats, which involved the retchable step of pureeing a pound of liver in a blender before adding flour, cornmeal and herbs, then baking it to a leathery consistency. Does Piper like them? Oh yes. When I offered her a morsel, her eyes lit up the way mine do before a glass of red wine and a slice of Parmesan. It really is a matter of knowing the right bait. [I would happily sit and stay for Petit Syrah and a chunk of Reggiano, myself.]
However: today I received a discreet note from a colleague that my office smells like a wet dog. Off we go at lunchtime for a little fresh air, and a little air freshener, too.
Monday, May 17, 2004
The things you wish you hadn't picked up, the moment you've picked them up: During the lawn-bowling club clean-up yesterday, I walked around the grounds with a pail, picking up anything that might mean trouble for our lawn mower blades. Stones, shards of glass, crumpled bifocals, and so forth. And what I thought were just bits of discoloured plastic turned out to be the rubber components of a rather large marital aid, torn asunder into three large pieces. Of course, I didn't deduce this until I'd picked up the, well ... the business end. Charming.
Thanks to pal Nik, I played around for about 5 minutes this morning on Burger King's Subservient Chicken site. In post-Nipplegate times, I'm always happy to see a little backlash, no matter how salacious or stupid. Best of luck with that marketing scheme, buckos.
According to the best minds, being my Calgary Flames fan friends, Vinnie and Schmuke, we lost the last two games because I was not at their house, in the bathroom, reading the New York Times Review of Books. So that's where I'm headed tonight. Go Flames.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Dog dog dog dog dog dog NO BITE dog dog dog dog dog NOT ON THE RUG dog dog dog dog dog dog DON'T CHEW MY FRIENDS dog dog dog dog dog dog AAH! THE REMOTE CONTROL! dog dog dog dog dog THE CAT IS NOT GUM dog dog dog dog WHO'S MY PUPPY? dog dog dog dog dog GOOD GIRL! GOOD GIRL! dog dog dog
dog dog dog
day in day out
all is dog
Thursday, May 06, 2004
What's wrong with this picture?

Martini hogs the bed
Nothing, if you're Martini and believe that all gifts are yours by divine right. A big something, if you're a dog trying to fit into a hairy old cat bed. [Thanks for the picture, Jon.]
Perhaps NOT on a school night: I had a little Cinco de Mayo dinner party last night, or rather, an excuse to get my friends to spoil my dog, thinly disguised as a Cinco de Mayo dinner party. The menu featured the ubiquitous tortilla chips and salsas, Black Bean Chili with Ancho Salsa, Jalapeño Corn Bread, and bittersweet Chocolate Mousse for dessert. It wasn't a late evening, but when I tried to go to bed, my heart raced like a Hyundai going uphill. When I did manage to drop off, I dreamed lurid Boschian dreams about the premier of Alberta, heroin and Volkswagens. Tabitha mailed me this morning to report that she and Bryce had had similarly florid dreams. The dog and cat seemed to sleep quite soundly -- thanks again, Jon, Rory, Tabitha and Bryce, for the great company -- and to T&B again for the lovely dog bed that's also a cat bed when the dog isn't looking.