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Monday, May 30, 2005
Bright, sunny, windy... ah, the perfect day for canoeing, or so we thought. Jean and I lug the Tupperware canoe partway down the hill from the road, hurting our tender paws somewhat, until we decide to try carrying the canoe on our heads and shoulders, just like the voyageurs. We heave and hoist the canoe over our heads, and I am immediately brained by the paddles we have stowed under the seats. Huffing and stumbling our way downhill, we are forced to stop so that I can keep the paddles from falling out entirely. I shove them back under the seats, where they immediately slide forward and brain Jean.
Cut to the lakeshore: we walk into the boggy-bottomed lake, noticing that the wind has whipped up the waves. I manage to extract a foot from the squelching black mud and somehow get into the canoe. Jean pulls us out a little farther, then gets in herself. We set off parallel to the shore, with the dogs frantically splashing after us. Even Piper, who normally hates to swim, was paddling heroically in our wake. I begin to notice a flaw in our plan. First, my bulk has us sitting lower than normal in the water. Second, going parallel to the shore means we are getting broad-sided by the waves, and although they are not huge, one or two still manage to break over the gunwales. Third, the dogs have caught up with us, and one of them (Hamish) tries to climb into the canoe. Jean decides to steer us back to shore, but it's too late; we're taking in water and the next wave swamps us entirely. We flounder out of the canoe, and I begin sinking in the mud again. Elapsed canoeing time: 1 minute.
We make it back to shore, a laborious process, and spend a few minutes hurling sticks into the lake for the dogs, scraping mud off our shins, etc. Then we hoist the canoe on our heads and head back uphill to the road. I need a rest partway up, and while adjusting the weight of the canoe, my hands slip and I brain myself again.
Later, glass of shiraz in hand, Jean and I discuss our adventure and agree that voyageuring is not a wise career move for either of us.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Thank you, Howie! Thank you for the nostalgic tour through the magazines I wasted my hard-earned babysitting money on from 1976-78. The first one I ever bought was "16" magazine in August of 1976. As a testament to what a colossal nerd I was, I thought I was going to have to lie about my age to buy it, since I was only 13 at the time. Other money pits were records, cheap jewellery, and roll-on lipgloss. Oh, those years before hair gel and mousse and styling wax. Oh, those feathered bangs. And platform sneakers. And French-cut T-shirts. We were all such nerds.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Now, where were we? Oh, yeah. Last Thursday's escapades involved waking terribly early and driving to Red Deer to dump the dog on an unsuspecting brother (not thrilled), then continuing to Edmonton for the pre-admission seminar at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. I wondered why I was going for the seminar more than a month ahead of my surgery date, but afterwards it made sense. There are things you need to know ahead of time, such as what to bring with you, and what not to bring. I liked the part about Patient-Controlled Analgesics, as it reminded me of Edina Monsoon's request for "total sensory deprivation and back-up drugs."
The seminar was presented for general surgery patients, not just bariatric ones. I kept looking at the other people in the room and wondering what sort of surgery they were going to have. Some needed very little encouragement to share all their medical details, which made the question-and-answer portion of the seminar quite informative.
Then off to another small room and more tests, because the results of my previous tests hadn't arrived from Calgary yet. A couple more jabs, a couple more test-tubes filled, and I was free to go. Back in Red Deer, I had a few moments to chat with my brother during the typically frenzied evening of his kids' sports activities, dance/music lessons, and homework. He asked questions that were not covered in the seminar, and gave me the valuable tip that I should cut my fat intake to almost nothing for the last two weeks prior to surgery. His description of trying to lift a fat-engorged liver out of the way to access the stomach was very convincing.
Not quite long enough of a weekend, though I did get to spend the majority of it outside. Sunday I was back at Jean's farm, where we tried to dig up and transplant saskatoon bushes with moderate success. We did this after drinking watermelon coolers, so for all I know I was planting popsicle sticks in the ground. Jean's family put on a turkey dinner that night, and her mother managed to sit up for part of it, even saying the grace. Margaret doesn't have a lot of energy left, but typically she wants to spend it on company.
So much for that reign of cruelty: I am no longer vice-president of the Inglewood Lawn Bowling Club. At our annual general meeting I lost the election to another member of the Wednesday night league, some scheming little interloper. Well, I can't say I'm really sorry, although my ego is such that I won't be surprised if certain accidents happen when the Myrmidons play the interloper's team. Did I drop that lawn bowl on your dinner plate? Clumsy of me.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Topsy-turvydom seems to be the rule of the last few days. Charitable acts mixed with surprising abuse (catching, not pitching). Gutbusts of laughter or sodden weeping. Losing three things in a row and finding them in reverse order 24 hours later. Being proud of the dog for being the most eager in agility class. Wanting to pound the dog into atoms for continually challenging two new dogs in the class. Wondering if my brain is ever going to stop replaying those upsetting incidents with variations on what I might have said. Appreciating getting soaked in the pre-dawn rain. Stressing over a problem of three events scheduled at the same time Wednesday night, and two on Friday night--then having something else come up that takes precedence over all. For at last, kiddies, at last we know when we're going under the knife. June 21st, 2005. Reviewing the last few days, then, I must say that my life is still good, if not always comfortable.
The funniest thing I have to do in the next month is make out my will. Getting named as a beneficiary of my worldly possessions is going to be like getting barfed on by the pauper's e-Bay. Who wants those broken-spined, page-dropping books? The incongruent music collection? The assorted crockery with such illustrious hallmarks as Universiade 1983? And don't forget the loud-mouthed, foul-breathed cat. (The dog has been spoken for, sorry.) I think the first line will go something like, "I hereby bequeath, and I'm really, really sorry to have to do this to you all, but...."
Friday, May 13, 2005
Testing, testing. I admit to finding the link to the "What is Your World View?" quiz at my pal Lori's site. We both received the same designation:

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.
What is Your World View? created with

At any rate, "Cultural Creative" sounds somewhat less dismissive than "fence-sitter."
If it's possible to call a funeral "enjoyable," then my Great-Auntie Jean's service qualifies. It was simple, there were no gilded perorations about her sainted character, and yet it was still easy to create a picture of a truly nice person who'd lived her own life for 99 years. I admit to being pretty bad at staying up-to-date on family connections, but it was nice to see the family again, even if I couldn't remember everyone's name. Banner moment during the service: another great-aunt, Bea, quite frail but determined, stood up and asked people to take notes during the service, since "you'll be doing the same for me pretty soon." Efficiency was ever a Farries specialty.
Telus Saves Cash on Proofreading: I was checking out features on my cellphone and was really impressed by the following script: "You're phone does not support these features." Bet they think a "homophone" is something you'd find in gay bars, too.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Off to a funeral this afternoon for my great auntie Jean, who died just a couple of weeks short of her 99th birthday. I didn't know her terribly well, but she was always extremely nice to me, even though she'd had every right to be annoyed with me, having taken many of my friends' phone calls over the past 20 years. "No, you're looking for the other J. Farries," she'd say sweetly. I think a few of my friends started liking her better than they did me, because they'd keep phoning her. Great aunt Jean and I had singlehood, or should I say, "fierce independence" (amen!) in common, and she was also a multiple auntie. I could do a lot worse than to end up like her.
I never even knew I was bored with my toothpaste, until companies like Crest started coming out with different flavours marketed to different users. Bubble gum for kids. Then cinnamon, citrus, and "bolder" flavours of peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen for adults. But now, vanilla? What the? You know what's next, don't you. Mocha toothpaste, followed swiftly by Irish Cream and Raspberry Chocolate. Or perhaps Balsamic Vinegar or Tuscan Tomato for your foodies. One day "Original Mint" will return to the shelves, to be snapped up by ironic shoppers.
I also love how aromatherapy is taking over household cleaning agents. The lunchroom at Karo carries a bottle of dishwashing soap marked "Anti-Stress" (in reality, it's lavender), which I don't think will work unless it makes people put their soiled dishes in the empty dishwasher instead of leaving them in the goddamned sink without even scraping the clods of disgusting food off them first, what am I, your mother?
How to spot a lazy copywriter (also known as "How to spot a Client-written tagline): Whenever you see or hear a tagline such as "It's not a [Thing], it's a [Brand name of thing]" you are seeing lazy or bad copywriting in action. "It's not a mint, it's a Tic-Tac." "It's not a cookie, it's a Peek Freans." Wrong! It is definitely a mint, and it is unmistakably a cookie. If you can't think of a better tagline than that, then don't use a tagline at all. Or--I know--use something original! Like, "Got cookie?"
I'll just be grumbling off to work again, now.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Part of my homework for the Meisner class is to identify each time I need to do something. Obviously there's a certain amount of repetition here--I need to have a coffee, I need to walk the dog, I need to play Text Twist--but the point is to concentrate on less common needs. I've been summing up my days with the question, what did I need today? This week has provided relatively few non-Maslow needs, unfortunately, yet I have to recreate one of them for class tonight. What will it be? The need to shut the hell up about a vexing client? Wow, that'd be gripping.
I went to the hospital last night to visit Jean's mom, Margaret, whom I love very much. She's been battling ill-health for a couple of years, but was as merrily resilient as ever. I don't think I've ever met anyone who has so cheerfully faced her own mortality--though she's definitely not at death's door at present. In fact, she had enjoyed a dish of gelato just moments before I arrived, and was exclaiming over the flowers her family had brought to her room. I kept the visit brief so as not to tire her out excessively. In typical fashion, Margaret was more worried that people were interrupting their lives to pay her a visit. You know, I don't know many people like her. A very rare, very inspiring soul.