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Wednesday, August 31, 2005
When it was easier. We used to bring out the best in each other. Now we bring out the worst in each other. I suppose it's time to face things bravely, rather than toting up all the could'ves and should'ves, the who-saids and who-dids that are so tangled now as to defy resolution. Make an amicable death of it.
Odd that the above refers to both my personal and professional life at present. The only thing I know for sure is that I will not act until I am in a positive mood where objectivity and perspective are easy to maintain. Wisdom, at last.
How not to endear yourself to a sibling: Plant his Ford F250 axle-deep in a muddy field while chasing goddamned cows that have broken through the feckless neighbour's useless fence yet again.
How to Entertain Your Dog: Employ her to live up to her breed standards and chase the goddamned cows across the field and onto the neighbour's property.
We are most thankful for alarms that keep our brother's garage from being burgled at 4:30 a.m., even though it didn't stop the baddies from clearing out his truck.
California in T-minus 10 days. I told my beloffed cousin Lester Polyester that we must, come rain or shine, have a bonfire on the beach, featuring sandy marshmallows and charred hot dogs and kids who wander too close to the flames, and plenty of wine. Lester has an item which I covet ferociously, a wine glass with a "sippy cup" lid, perfect for drunkards indoors and out.
Self-esteem or saddlesores? The dilemma of my autumn: do I spend money on self-esteem coaching, or on riding lessons? I already know how to ride, but I want to improve my technique. I don't know much about garnering and keeping self-esteem, but my beloved GP has suggested that I do some work on it. Do I want 60 minutes of riding each week or 60 minutes of yipping on and on about my hapless self? That's easy: riding it is. But I will get a book on, you know, that self esteem thingey.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Things that did or did not surprise me:
  • A headline in Salon this morning that read, "Folk singer supports anti-war protesters."
  • Meeting another woman named Jane who was much more obnoxious than I was.
  • On a chilly and windy day, sinking to the bottom of Pigeon Lake when once again failing to get into a canoe properly.
  • Not having a throbbing fundament after a 3.5-hour ride on the beauteous mare, Honey.
  • The inability of sixteen-year-olds to concentrate when driving.
  • At my sister-in-law's parents' 50th anniversary, I met with a man who was in Drama Club with me at Camrose Lutheran College 24 years ago, and who happens to be my sis-in-law's first cousin.
  • My sis-in-law's mother smacked my maternal auntie with a ruler back in the '50s for fidgeting in class.
  • How despicably drunk I now get from two glasses of wine.

Thursday, August 11, 2005
Oh, all RIGHT. So inspiration isn't going to strike. I was trying to come up with a way to describe my recent fishing trip on Vancouver Island that wouldn't be another mundane "and then I did this" account. First let me say that it was sheer good fun. Also that I quickly ran out of superlatives when trying to describe Barkley Sound and the fragmented islets off the west coast of the island. And that the fish population was in absolutely no danger of depletion from my efforts.
Then I'll tell you about the boat. I don't know how he managed it, but my dad managed to have a boat built that is exactly himself in boat form: sturdy, no frills, practical, efficient, and loveable. It has an aluminum hull and cabin, with sleeping berths for two, a small fridge, single element stove, table for two, captain's and mate's chairs, and a "head." And all the doodahs that dads love, including radar, fish-finder, fishing line winches, massive Suzuki outboard and trawling motors, fish-cleaning station with hose for clean-ups, and so on. And while it may be customary to smash bottles of champagne to christen new boats, I consider that the Serene C was properly christened the morning that Dad bashed his head on the cabin door frame.
Dad had told me we'd be staying at the yacht club that he and Lorraine had just joined, so as a flatlander I had visions of sumptuous comfort and considerable snobbery. It was a relief to get to the Port Alberni Yacht Club on Fleming Island and discover a grown-up kids' camp, with a community cookhouse and dining room on the floating dock, a bunkhouse set back in the trees, cleared paths, and a shower house. Seeing the shower, I expected there also to be that beacon of civilisation, a flush toilet, but no such luck. An outhouse lay in wait a few strides away from the bunkhouse. I resolved to clench there and then.
We didn't catch many fish, but we went out fishing twice a day, with Lorraine kindly taking the helm as Dad set up the fishing rods and I tried to stay out of his way. Poor Dad, he raised two sons who can handle fishing gear competently and tie their own lures, and one daughter who hasn't a clue. I managed to lose his favourite jigging lure the first morning, too. We caught ling cod, rockfish, flounder, and salmon, but threw all but three of our fish back. I was happy to catch fish, but even happier to be out on the open water, with the boat rising and falling on the ocean swells. We'd come back to the yacht club for lunch, and then Lorraine would nap and I would read and Dad would chat with the other club members, or tinker about on his boat before we'd set out fishing again.
Dad worried that I was doing too much, given that I'm technically still convalescing from my bypass surgery in June. I kept laughing off his concerns, which worked until the tiny tum started acting up. Lorraine had told me the first day that we could collect oysters at low tide, and I couldn't wait until morning came, thinking and thinking about fresh Pacific oysters with lemon and tabasco. We collected a small bucket of them, which Dad grilled that dinnertime. They were sublime. They were, alas, not destined to stay down. I had the "uh-oh, I seem to have swallowed a concrete block" feeling, my usual two-minute warning, and a quick walk into the dense rainforest to offload dinner, again and again. The next day, at lunchtime, we had fresh cod and potatoes. Off Jane goes to barf all over the rainforest again, sigh. Lesson learned: the tiny tum is irascible after a chuck, so eat very carefully for the next day.
I loved being on the island, seeing how it was completely fogged in throughout the morning, gradually clearing to brilliant sunshine by late afternoon. The weather ranged from slightly chilly to gently warm, my favourite climate, and the sunsets were heartbreakingly scenic. If there had been a flush toilet in the bargain, I might have jumped ship there and then.
But no, no, the great trip had to come to an end, so back we went to Qualicum Beach where I was again spoiled within an inch of my life, had one more gigantic chuck session (apparently I can eat pork at dinner, but not leftover pork at lunch), and so back to Calgary. A fit of turbulence caused the toddlers on my flight to start barfing in concert about 10 minutes before we landed. I felt right at home.
Thanks again, Dad and Lorraine. Love that boat.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Daily Lessons:
  1. Putting your digital pedometer through the wash is really quite stupid. Attempt not to do this again.
  2. If you leave your mug of synthetic grapefruit drink within access of the cat, she will drink it.
  3. I know you don't want to barf the dinner that you just paid for, but try to understand: it is not your choice.
  4. Account executives and graphic designers will always present their own headlines to the client, as well as yours. They will not distinguish their attempts from yours unless the client likes them.
  5. A losing streak is just like a winning streak, in that both are transitory. Except only one of them sucks.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The first milestone achieved! On July 24 I went riding with Jean for the first time in a long time. First we went for a bike ride on sodden gravel roads, a 7.5 mile route through the farmlands and valleys near Jean's place. It was a path Jean had ridden many times before, but terrain looks different on horseback. She had thought the return route was fairly flat, when it was in fact rolling in hills. After awhile I realized that her encouragements of "I'm SURE this is the last hill!" were only missing their ordinal number--"10th last, 9th last, etc."
Anyway, not content with the bikes, we caught Honey and Luke and saddled up for a 6-mile ride. I needed to use a mounting block (well, a stump) to get in the saddle, but I managed to stay in it once aboard. Honey is smart, quiet, and exceedingly well trained, so the ride was a complete joy and the aching cleft I had for the next four days was well worth it.
Horses figured again in the week's activities, as I attended my cousin's wedding in Jasper this past weekend. The reception was held in a magnificent wooden gazebo at the Pyramid Lake Riding Stables, and was great fun. As a horse nut, I don't find the scent of manure at all offensive, but I did note that several guests kept sniffing the wind at the start of the evening. It was wonderful seeing a bunch of my cousins and their friends, and plain fun to be in Jasper, my favourite mountain town. My aunt Nicky and I drove to Jasper together and shared a hotel room, which made for a lovely chatty and relaxed weekend.
I went to pick up the rotten dog from Jean and Tyke's place last night, and needed no encouragement at all to stay for supper and go for another bike ride followed by a horse ride. Piper, as on the previous weekend, was so tired by her farm visit that she could barely make it up the stairs in the condo. I had to coax her out of bed this morning for our walk, a complete reversal of the usual scene.
Obligatory update on the tiny tum: I have learned that I can sometimes ward off a chuck by getting up and walking around. The movement seems to help the food settle. Note to self: when sitting at a table for a meal, choose the seat that is not blocked in. Note to self: The tum does not like lentils, even if you do. Deal with it.