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Friday, January 30, 2004
I swear, Boykani finds the funniest stuff sometimes. Some PhotoShop wizardry, some deftly written parodies, and you've got a brand new political candidate. I particularly loved some of Ronnie James Dio's platform planks:
  1. Universal healthcare to all: no more forms and working shit jobs while sick.
  2. Emergency limb reattachment readiness to become cornerstone of the plan.
  3. Stomach pumping at emergency rooms will feature "get one free for every 10 pumps" punch card.
Sensible plans for a happier United States, that's what I say.
Obligatory comment on the weather: Calgary is experiencing a bit of true winter lately, and no one likes it much. In fact, we're an entire city of suckbutts right now, whinging about having to plug our cars in, shovel snow, turn up the thermostat and so on. Somewhere in the mists of antiquity I can hear my high school-aged self laughing out loud at the news that some of my classmates' mommies had kept them home from school because of the cold. "It's only minus 35!" I and my friends said, shaking our heads in derision. A quarter of a century later, I curse those smug little teenaged Northern Albertan kiddies. It's warmed up to minus 22 today, as laughable as it is to say "warmed" and "minus 22" in the same sentence. For once, I don't mind the cat resting her bum on my head at night ... it's warmer.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
I take it back. Nucleus, you give great service. Thanks for putting up with my dough-brained questions. And for trimming the torrent of Mydoom-spawned e-mails to a manageable trickle.
For Bryce, on the occasion of his 30th Birthday:
The Goon
[To the tune of "My Girl," by Chilliwack]

Goon Goon Goon, he's been a Goon so long
He's been a Goon Goon Goon so long

Ever since he checked me
I've been bandaged head to toe
One moment I was standing
The next I was one big groan
Everyone at the arena
Told me to give him room
But I just had to try to get that puck
Skating after The Goon

The Goon - Oh man, he flattened me
I'm gone - through the roof and down the street
The Goon - I lost my memory
Please tell me he's gone away

He didn't have to knee me
At the base of my spine
He didn't have to go and kick my teeth like that
Now I've got only nine
My mouth guard's mostly up my nose
And his hockey stick's lodged in my spleen
That Goon can get kinda' mean

The Goon - he put a hurt on me
Game's lost - And that's a tragedy
The Goon - didn't get a penalty
He's been named M.V.P.!

I hope he gets this message
Wanna' get him back so much
Gonna' track him down, next hockey game
Gonna' spear him good with my crutch
Put the word on the grapevine
Spread it through the locker room
Sooner or later I know i'm gonna get him
I'm talking about The Goon
The Goon (x 12, fade out)
I kind of hate to think how long I spent on this, cackling away in my office.
I caught up with Bryce, Tabitha and the gang at the pub later on, and again courted dipsomania with the ingestion of two pints. Should you wish to stage an intervention, please contact me at the usual e-mail address below. [Okay, okay, okay: the curious little episode of my unknown interventionist is over. I'll let the subject drop.] And now, back to work.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
And the answer is: "Piss off, Jane!" Sent via e-mail by the unknown "lsteed," who took offense to my offer below to meet in person to discuss her concern about my drinking habits. Oh, well, nothing new there. I quite often have that effect on people. Too bad in a way -- it could have been a very interesting meeting.
Tick-tick-tick! Time's a-wasting,! How about setting up a firewall for that Mydoom virus some time soon?
Monday, January 26, 2004
Weekend Rodeo wrapup: "Nuit Blanche" by the dance company Corpus was whimsical brilliance, and I loved every second. "Rocketbox" by Jim Howley was an unadorned tribute to his friend, and tortured Vietnam vet, Billy: it was unsophisticated yet frequently very moving, and I will never forget how it felt to hold the bullet that had once been lodged at the base of Billy's skull. Chilling. Now I think: who will write the "Rocketbox" stories of Iraq? Finally, my second helping of "Bigger than Jesus" merely reinforced my conviction that Rick Miller is just about the most talented man on the planet. Damn, it's been a great Rodeo this year.
Give me lentils, they're what I want. Sunday morning saw Vinnie La Vin and I taking our Vegetarian Indian cooking course downtown, taught by a lovely woman named Tahera Rawji, whose cookbook was included in the course. She effortlessly and humorously guided us through Coconut Chutney, Sambal Dal, Channa Dal, Steamed Idlii and fried Bhakura bread. We feasted our heads off throughout the class. I'm a spicehead of old, and though Vinnie's palate is a bit more sensitive, we both enjoyed having chilies blasted through our sinuses. Then we headed to the Cookbook company to buy an assortment of dried peppers. Any flu or rhinovirus headed my way this week is in for a short, sharp immolation, that's what.
Throw some meat at them! Yep, another afternoon spent watching professional lacrosse at the Saddledome. This time the Roughnecks suffered defeat at the hands (wings?) of the Vancouver Ravens, and again we endured the spectacle of near decapitation when a helmeted head met cement-muscled knee. Good violent family fun! You can't beat it. I could do without the mindless thrash rock played continuously, but I believe it's there to drown out the players' cussing.
Denial? No way! Well, so apparently it wasn't an anonymous "spam" letter before. "Buttstick" wrote again [quoted here verbatim]:
I'm not a buttstick Jane. I care about you and am trying to help you. You do have a drinking problem and like so many people in yoursituation, you are in denial. Most of what you do or say has alcohol involved in it. Its way above what is "normal" drinking
Okay, well...hmm. I suppose it was a whisker or two shy of politeness to call you a "buttstick," lsteed. But then it's not exactly courteous to send unidentified e-mails to someone with such a risible overstatement as "Most of what you do or say has alcohol involved in it." I do not deny drinking socially, so label me what you will. Anyway, here it is: if you really care about me, and you're so sure I'm in danger of being lost to the demon liquor, why not meet me face to face? Anonymous e-mails get so dull after awhile. Do we know each other? Then it's likely your words will carry more weight with me. I'd also like to know how you're qualified to diagnose alcoholism based on reading intermittent blog entries. There you go...I'm game -- are you? [Note: I also promise to keep all details of our meeting out of Not My Dog, if that helps. But if you insist on sending e-mails, could I ask you not to write the entire message in the subject line? It's hard to read on my old iMac. Thanks!]
Friday, January 23, 2004
Who shezz I have a dringing prollum? Some buttstick sent me an e-mail earlier this month, via the "bitch" address, to inform me that I have a drinking problem and am in denial. Well, I am here to tell you that I am on my second Cold Front of the afternoon [raspberry vodka, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, toner] and am still able to function, so bug off. It just so happens that I don't *want* to write those gas compressor ads, not that I can't.
Triple play for Janey: Tonight I'm off to see "Nuit Blanche" by Corpus, "Pocketbox" by Jim Howley, and a second viewing of "Bigger than Jesus" by Rick Miller. No matter what else happens during this year's High Performance Rodeo, I'll be glad for the rest of my life that I saw Rick Miller as Jesus, and Daniel McIvor in "Cul de Sac."
You're only laughing 'cause it's Canadian. I'm in full agreement with Ian that Rick Mercer, mainstay of CBC's "hip" comic offering, is no match for Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. Rick Mercer isn't without talent, but frankly, his most famous shows, "Talking to Americans," always pissed me off. The premise is to present outlandish statements about Canada to American politicians and people in the street and ask for their reactions. Like, we've repealed the law on stranding our old people on ice floes, how do you feel about that? Har har HAR. You know what would make me laugh? If Rick Mercer were to ask the same questions of Canadian "people in the streets". Because I guarantee you, you'd get the same reactions from practically the same amount of people. I had a roommate in university who firmly believed that Hitler started the first world war. The point is, ask an outlandish enough question, and you'll get someone who figures it must be true, because, hey, why else would a TV reporter be asking him about it? Which is funny for, oh, about 30 seconds.
And while I'm trawling through blogs, I have to say that Sean's blog about his aging dog made me think. I've known people who've kept a pet alive far past the time when it would have died naturally, because they couldn't bear to say goodbye. My older brother made the decision to have our most beloved Labrador Retriever, Tar, put down when she was only seven years old, because her hips had deteriorated so badly. We could have spent thousands to have her operated on, but the vets were blunt: she wouldn't be the same dog. And she was in such discomfort, and so depressed, that the dog we had loved had already died. So when Martini, my high maintenance feline, reaches an age where she's no longer able to do the things she loves, that's when I'll know. The spark will have gone out. Bottom line: I believe that if your pet deserves your love, it deserves a dignified death.
What? I'm getting morose? Thish cannot be! Rashberry vodka t'the rescoo.
Monday, January 19, 2004
An intensely great weekend. Started with prawn and mussel risotto courtesy of Schmuke and Vin, accompanied by sparkling Zinfandel. Saturday was a day of play, play, play: taking old friend Cherine in the van, in the fog, to Three Hills to surprise Karyn and Andy at the tea shop. They look a little burned out by their last 9 months of unrelenting labour, but still glad to see us. Andy mentions that he has finally begun playing hockey again, and I remark that I am surprised there are enough teams in the region for a league. He informs me that there are four teams in this small, very religious town. What's his team called? "The Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church Bombers." I laugh so hard, I nearly pass out.
Back in Calgary, Cherine and I head out for premium wine and cheese, stuff our faces, then catch a showing of "Lost in Translation." We love it utterly. Back to finish the wine and cheese, and I keep Cherine up far too late because once again she's asked if I'd like to play Trivial Pursuit. By this the careful reader can discern that Cherine has not yet learned what all my other friends have learned, i.e., Never Play Trivial Pursuit with Jane, because She is Insatiable. It's the Labrador Retriever side of my nature coming out -- but rather than chasing tennis ball after tennis ball, I just want to get asked question after question.
Thanks to the cheese and wine, I enjoy a lovely long sleep with the cat, and my Sunday doesn't really begin until I head out to catch my second viewing of The Return of the King, with Fearless. We love it. I could go on and on about all the reviews I've read, or all the people I've talked to who found fault with the movie, but I'm not one of them. I think it's a great epic and does great justice to the spirit of the book.
Next: steal Theo the Wonderhound from Bryce and Tabitha and head to the ice-bound, poop-studded plain that is normally a great off-leash park in Calgary. After an eternity of sliding on ice and hopping over excrescences, we finally find some not-bad terrain, and tire Theo out with an hour of ball-throwing. What's more, the very, very naughty Bryce and Tabitha have surprised me with a gift of red wine and the complete Simpsons 2nd Season on DVD. Holy frijole! And then off we went to Fearless's condo for more frijoles, sloshed with tomatoes and ginger and onions and garam masala, and served over rice. Suddenly my three days worth of indulgence catch up with me, and I begin to nod off in mid-sentence. Night-night, Fearless, and back to the cat, who has been growing a carbuncle on her chin over the past few days that has now reached Krakatoan proportions. Do we want to end our weekend on such a dermatological note? No, we do not; we leave the cat's Krakatoa to the cat. [Update: The cat was duly bundled and disinfected and relieved of her burden this morning by a resigned me, who has grown used to having a cat with bad skin.]
Friday, January 16, 2004
High Performance Rodeo, High Blood Pressure. I believe in supporting theatrical innovation. I always do and I always have. That was me back in 1983 at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, watching two characters in greatcoats sit on a series of balloons in ascending sizes. That was my forehead that was bruised by the "Baseball Glove of Truth" in 1986 at the Off-centre Centre. Freeform dance, tone poems, stream of consciousness monologues -- I'm all over 'em. Unless I've seen the same thing done over and over and over again. Which brings me to the worst 90 minutes I've ever spent in a theatre, watching "The Beast" at the High Performance Rodeo on Wednesday night.
I had really wanted it to be good. My friend, Rachel Wall, an incredibly talented singer/songwriter/actor, was in it, and she'd already let me know that this wasn't going to be your usual "Kids, let's put on a play" kind of show. Rather, it would be more of a collaboration between the three individual performers and the director. Fine, I thought, having enjoyed such improvised creations before. And then I read the program while I waited for the show to begin, and immediately fugued into Rational Jane, Raging Id, and oddly, Tom Servo from Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
RAGING ID [reading the program notes]: What the hell? 'We chose a performative approach, in support of the many disciplines at work'? I think I'm gonna' have a vomitive reaction.
TOM SERVO [also reading]: Oh, look: 'The thematic dialogue explores meta and nano analysis -- [Mork voice] -- Nano nano!'
RATIONAL JANE: Oh, lay off, you two. At least wait until it's started.
RAGING ID [still reading]: Oh, for God's sake! 'One communication can't be replaced by another, each are unique unto themselves'? Each 'are' unique? Once again subject/verb agreement is an untouched frontier.
RAGING ID:What the hell are we in for, anyway? What's this mean? 'By exploring the convergence between the performing body and technology, we have developed interactivity components which present unique relationships between the performers and the projected images.' So they're going to be yakking and jumping around in front of a movie screen, huh?
RATIONAL JANE: Shhh! It's starting.
[30 minutes pass.]
RATIONAL JANE: Okay, I admit I'm hating it, and I think Rachel's time and talents have been sadly wasted -- but to be fair, I probably would have reacted differently if I were seeing this in my early 20s.
RAGING ID: You mean, back when you were stupid?
RATIONAL JANE: No, it's just that I wouldn't have heard the same message so many times by then.
TOM SERVO: Oh, yeah: the message that "everything that people in the West do is self-serving and callous and responsible for all the grief, horror and suffering of the rest of the world"? Wait: is The Beast supposed to be the United States?
RAGING ID: Oh, how precious! Using images of the terrorist attacks layered with blood dripping across the screen! How lucky you were to be able to use this footage to make your moronic point!
Rational Jane: I agree it's tasteless, but it's also forcing a reaction from me, which is sometimes what this kind of performance is about.
TOM SERVO: I think I'm about to present a unique relationship between the audience and projectile vomiting.
RAGING ID:What the fuck is the big red exercise ball about? Is the red ball supposed to represent sex? Is that why the dancer is bouncing on it and moaning? Is The Beast sex?
TOM SERVO: Ah, yes, The Sexy Beast. I thought Ben Kingsley was quite good in that, didn't you?
[1 hour 10 minute mark]
RATIONAL JANE: I think this kind of thing works better if it's not quite so long. They really need an editor.
RAGING ID: That's what you always say whenever you don't get something. Can we go?
[1 hour 30 minute mark]
RATIONAL JANE: [muttering] End! End! End!
RAGING ID: I'm not fucking clapping for this piece of crap.
TOM SERVO: What the? The audience is whistling and applauding! All hail stupidity! All hail mediocrity! Yahoo!
Rational Jane: Hey, hey, hey...maybe it's made a few people think about stuff they've never considered before. People have to start somewhere. But still...poor Rachel.
Fearless hung around to talk to Rachel after the performance, but I high-tailed it for the exit before I started demanding my money back. As I said to a few people the next day, the one good thing about a show like that is that it gave me a new benchmark of wretchedness against which to measure all subsequent shows. So it wasn't a total loss.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Update: Cousin Rob biffed out an e-mail about the previous post, commenting that the "chucking together of the two incidents" was also rather insulting to the families of the victims. Another of my colleagues insisted that the comma usage is correct, though perhaps unfortunate. I will only say this: if the writer had just moved the word "Both" to the beginning of the sentence, and changed "as well as" to "and," all would have been well.
Oh, no, no, no.... Early Candidate for Worst Clause Placement of 2004:
[Calgary Herald, Tuesday, January 13, 2004]
"An elderly man who enjoyed riding motorcycles and ultralight planes, as well as a five-year-old girl, have both succumbed to the injuries they sustained in separate crashes Friday."
A hobnailed boot to the head for the writer and copy editor. That just shouldn't have been missed.
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
You couldn't really say I've hit my stride over the past three years. More of an endearing shamble.
In progress:
I saw your eyes tonight
In the face of a woman in a noisy cafe,
hoping to be served without being seen.
Long after death, your living self is lost to me; only its living parts remain.
(Your hair, two heads in front of me on the bus;
your pressed-lip smile,
or familiar eyeglass frame--)
Suddenly you come flooding back from time.
Not haunting: you were never one for convention.
Thus I do not expect the familiarity of ghosts.
Myriad faces reveal your presence,
though you look back with unrecognizing eyes.

Monday, January 05, 2004
Someone who believes in horoscopes left a copy of a lengthy "2004: Year in Preview" astrological forecast on my desk. It says all the right and flattering things such as "You like witty people, lively conversation, pens, maps, bookstores, magazines, travel, elegant sports, literary pursuits and the outdoor life." And points out some minor flaws: "You are argumentative, fickle, deceitful, nosy and inconsistent." [Yeah? Well, "fickle" and "inconsistent" are repetitive, bonehead.]
My question: who out there really doesn't like witty people, lively conversation, pens, maps, bookstores, magazines, travel, elegant sports (lawn bowling! damn straight), literary pursuits and the outdoor life? And who cannot say that he/she is, to some degree, argumentative, fickle, etc.?
I get into such trouble making fun of horoscopes. I've quoted the Penn Jillette axiom more than once: "I believe in the simple fact that astrology, lotteries and psychics are simply schemes to steal money from people who are bad at one or more branches of math." Only to hear from miffed astrology fans that "not everything can be explained by science, you know." I always agree, except that I add an emphatic "yet" after "science." But horoscopes are silly and fun, and as long as you don't actually believe them, I guess there's no harming in stroking the old ego once in a while. Oh, yeah: I've once again been banned from reading out other people's horoscopes in the lunch room at the office, because I insist on purposely reading the wrong horoscopes, just to see the listener's reaction. It works every time, but I have to admit, it is kind of rude.
So, okay: horoscopes are silly. So are New Year's resolutions, of which I've made five: To be less bossy around my nieces and nephews, so they won't grow up hating me. To take at least one picture a week with the digital camera. For every book I re-read, I must read one new book. To finish poems. To return to Fossil, Oregon. There. Silly but attainable. Unlike "Late 2004 and all of 2005 are the best times in over a decade to find your true love." Yeah, yeah, sure....
Friday, January 02, 2004
Never drink and blog. I did blog over the holidays, I really did. I spent about an hour hammering out a screed of details about the Island vacation, pausing only to steal more of Dad's Yuletide Scotch before returning to the keyboard. I hit "Post and Publish," and -- nothing. You may want to send a short note of thanks to, because when I drink Scotch, I think I am lyrical.
Your luck, however, has just run out. Here are Jane's Holiday Highlights, written in doleful January sobriety:
  1. The Karo Christmas Party was further proof that events that I least want to attend are those where I end up having the most fun. The band, The Mocking Shadows, was superb -- we all danced our asses off. The party took place in the private room of a downtown restaurant, and as soon as The Mocking Shadows got going, people from the other rooms of the restaurant kept doorcrashing. I found myself dancing with a complete stranger at one point -- I thought he was a colleague's date until our exasperated office administrator caught up with him and shooed him out of the room. Normally I would have been dismayed by such a scene, but about five minutes before that I had joined that best and most generous of pals, Sue, for a Breath of Fresh Air® -- that and having worked until 3 a.m. that same morning combined to keep me pleasantly anaesthetized from reality. Originally I had planned to stay only two hours, making a token appearance. I stayed until 2 a.m. instead.
  2. Saturday, Dec. 20: The Day of Great Activity! The day I finish my holiday shopping and wrap all presents before working at the office for 2 hours! The day I leave for the Island! Turns out to be the Day I wake at 8 a.m. to hand Fearless a roasting pan through the door, then return to bed to sleep until noon, then dawdle, dawdle, dawdle before shower and quick drive to meet Danyon, Rory and Jon at 3:00 for coffee, then head to the office where I discover I've misplaced my electronic key card and cannot get in, goddammit, then back home to stuff dirty laundry into a suitcase before Vinnie La Vin drives me to the airport.
  3. The Island: rainy, green and lovely. Dad and Lorraine are wonderful, with Dad setting new standards for generosity by lending me his beloved "trock" to drive to Victoria for a couple of days. First stop: Nikki's. I arrive in a panic at 11:30 a.m., convinced I'm an hour late. I fly down the hill, round the corner and race to Nik's door. She screams in horror at the sight of me. Dani comes to see what's wrong, takes one look and screams as well. Apparently I am early.
    The spirit of giving: to Nik, a bag of senior horse chow, a book and a complimentary Yuletide paddock muck-out. To Dani: a Starbucks coffee card. To Breezy: an intensive scritch of the withers that wears out my arms and gloves.
  4. Best pre-Christmas humbling, EVER: Nik, Dani and I head out to see "Something's Got to Give" at a movie monsterplex. We bypass the lineup and head to the computer ticket booths. Later, in the concession lineup, I bark "Gotcher tickets?" at Nik and Dani. They flash them at me sassily. All right then. We proceed to the theatre entrance, whereupon I suddenly discover that I cannot find my ticket. All I have is the computerized receipt. The ticket-taker (bitch) does not believe me as I stand there and paw through my purse. Finally Nik uses her legendary charm and I am allowed into the show. By this time Nik and Dani have nearly wet themselves, thrown up and fallen down from laughing, and have to be helped into their seats. About the movie: Hey, post-production people! If you want your audience to get drawn into the story, try not to have the boom mike visible in every other scene. Also [SPOILER]: Diane Keaton ditches Keanu Reeves for Jack Nicholson? Nik and I are agreed: not on our planet.
  5. The Cousins are Coming! The Cousins are Coming! I make a regretful farewell from Nik and head into Victoria to Cousin MaryAnn's house, where I am spoiled beyond belief. [My gift to her and Jim, for hosting me: alcohol and plenty of it.] The next day is Christmas Eve, and that means family! Not to mention unbelievably delicious food. And wine. My uncle Al is still going strong nearly eight months after his heart attacks. My aunt and her daughters are as beautiful and talented and welcoming as ever. There's only one problem: I'm expected back in Qualicum Beach because it's Christmas Eve and Lorraine and Dad are heading off to a carol service at 7:00. I suppose it's a sign of an excellent visit when you really, really hate to leave, and better that than outstaying your welcome, obviously...but still. There is never enough time to visit with the people you love the most.
  6. Christmas Day: lovely and quiet. I give Dad a bottle of J&B, which I am well pleased to share. There are many lovely gifties and much feasting, with one of Dad's university pals and his wife coming for the afternoon. I manage not to wreck the few side dishes I have volunteered to prepare. Funny how the foods I despised as a child are now often my very favourites: I used to hate most root vegetables, but now I'd knock a cripple off a crutch to get to mashed turnip and carrot stirred with grated apple, butter and freshly ground pepper and finished in the oven. By 9:00 p.m. I am sated in every sense of the word. I try to blog but blow it, as previously noted.
  7. Boxing Day: a road trip to the west coast of the island, specifically the small town of Ucluelet. The weather goes from sunny and warm on the inlet side of the island to snowy, rainy and gusty on the west coast. All this delightful moisture means I have finally stopped crackling with static electricity, my prairie birthright. The ocean is unsettled, with waves threatening and dissipating, and only occasionally rising up to crash against the rocks. Dad says it's spectacular when the surf's up, but I'm still plenty impressed with the view. As I am with the blizzard that comes out of nowhere on the drive home, but which, as usual, has disappeared by the time we reach Qualicum Beach. It's a trick of geography that has Qualicum Beach sheltered from the worst of the winter weather on the island, so no surprise that it's a prime retirement location.
  8. Home again, home again. The next day Lorraine has come down with a cold, so Dad and I laze at home until it's time to drive to the airport. I'm flying out from Comox, about an hour north of Qualicum Beach, where the airport is still a functioning airforce base. The waiting rooms are just that: functional, but not fancy.
  9. Back in Calgary, met at the door by an annoyed cat. Thanks for checking up on her, Fearless. She's certainly in good voice. The next two days are given over to indolence and thinking. Then some overdue visits with Vinnie and my old roomie Lori, where -- what a shock! -- wine is featured. Vinnie and I compare Christmas tallies: I mentioned that this year's bag included an unprecedented five gifts of soap and bath products, all from people I've known and loved for years. I am delighted to have a surplus of exotic, botanically infused soaps and bath goo, but a thought nags: am I walking around in a miasma of b.o., unbeknownst? Are people trying to tell me something? Vinnie scoffs: Nope, nope, it's all down to coincidence, knucklehead.
  10. New Year's Eve, and nearly the end of this long-winded account. My wish has come true: my older brother is hosting me and my younger brother and family out at his country house, deep deep deep in the Alberta woodlands. We cook a sumptuous feast in the wood-fired oven, and play all the new board games until midnight. Then we break out the champagne (real for the adults, fake for the kiddies) and head outdoors to romp by a massive bonfire built by my brothers. Pagan it may have been: great fun it certainly was, though freezing cold away from the fire. Back indoors, and with the clock past 2 a.m., I also enjoyed being the designated firewoman of the country house, waking up to stoke the fire every few hours and settling back to sleep while watching the flames rise. Absolutely wonderful. And being wakened by the baby's squeals of laughter in the morning. Grinding coffee by hand before baking cinnamon rolls with my sister-in-law. Calling up to my younger brother, "You can come down now -- the work's done!" And thus it was breakfast. If the coming year is as happy and contented and merrily chaotic as the past two days, I'll be the luckiest woman on earth.