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Friday, September 30, 2005
Wonderful luck! A woman at the dog daycare asked me if I'd be interested in exercising her horse, a 13-yr-old Morgan gelding named "Splash." I replied in the affirmative, i.e., handsprings, whoops, hollers, etc. So we headed out to the stable where she keeps Splash, and I liked him immediately. He's the kind of no-nonsense animal who doesn't like to get fussed over, unless that fussing involves carrots, and is just sly enough to try to get away with stuff with new riders until they prove that they're wise to him. We went out for a ride along a nearby trail, and then came back to the indoor arena for some gait work. Upshot: I now have a horse to ride 2 to 3 times during the week. Coincidence: I've been looking for a new mode of exercise for the cold weather months, and this will go rather well with the riding lessons.
Speaking of which: English riding lessons are a great way of getting rid of your delusions of horsemanship. By which I mean that yes, I know the basics of riding, but when a seasoned professional dissects and critiques every aspect of my technique, I am suddenly six years old again and about to fall off the vicious pony, Stoney, on my grandparents' farm. "Don't look so down-hearted," said Joyce (the instructor). "It's my job to do this--and I do it to everybody." I was aboard one of the school horses, a gelding named "Magic," and didn't get above a slow jog for the entire session. Still, I can feel all the riding muscles coming back to life, slowly.
Okay, so that's riding lessons, acting classes, regular riding, and looking after the ever-demanding dog. This ought to be enough to keep Toad of Toad Condo happy for the next few months.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
The sustained sulk I've been in since coming home from California seems to be fading. Going up to Jean's farm this past weekend certainly helped, what with the dogs and horses and the scathing humour that leaves no pretension unhumbled. And now, some point-form updates:
  • The Myrmidons fought mightily, but fell in overtime in the first round of playoffs on Sept. 14th.
  • In answer to all the questions (there've been a few): about 50 pounds so far. This puts me in the "normal" subset of post-bypass weight losers.
  • In answer to the corollary question: at least 50 more.
  • The correct proportions of an Oatmeal Cookie Martini are 1 part Jaegermeister to 1 part Irish Cream. This is not technically an update. I'm putting it down here because I keep forgetting and putting in too much Irish Cream. This may have something to do with the alcohol content of the drink, of course. Don't ever try to drink more than one--not because of the booze, but because of the sugar, which will shrivel your pancreas.
  • Started another Meisner acting course, and surprise! I'm still not very good at it. This class already has me intrigued, however--for the first time in living memory, I'm in a drama class where the men outnumber the women. Too bad they're all so irretrievably younger than I am. Much too bad that they're all total snacks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Watching children's television, here in beautiful California, a thought occurs to me: "Caillou" must be French for "alopecia."
Suffering for beauty: Getting to beautiful California wasn't as easy this time. My flight out of Calgary was delayed by two different mechanical problems: first, the galley doors wouldn't close. I don't know WHY that was a problem, since it wasn't as though we were going to be fed more than the usual pretzel shards. Then an intake valve on one of the engines refused to work. This was a more understandable problem. Two and a half hours later, we finally took off. I was in a panic because there was no way I'd be able to make my flight connection in Denver, which meant that I needed to contact my cousin Les to say, you know, hold off for three hours or so before coming to pick me up in San Jose.
The brilliant writing of Mark Helprin was the only way to keep from yodelling with anxiety ("The Pacific and Other Stories." Get it.)--and the rest of the trip was error-free. I phoned Les just as she was leaving the beach house for the airport, and the airline didn't lose my suitcase (the other big worry), so I've been enjoying the many, many attractions of Santa Cruz and vicinity ever since.
Mind you, it doesn't take much to amuse me. Just put me on a beach, give me a kite, and come back in a couple of days. Les has instituted a regular program of beach calisthenics, which we performed, and then put the kites together for her children, Noah (7) and Jordan (4). We learned a little something: there is no calisthenic in the world to compare with flying kites with children. Les spent most of her time sprinting in the sand from one child to another, or sprinting to the end of the string to pick up a kite that had crashed once again. Two rather oblivious beach-goers came and set up their chairs right in the flight path of Noah's dragon, just as I was crashing it myself. It landed pretty much at their feet, and they glared in outrage as I scampered up to untangle them from the ribbons and string. Twits.
Back in the real world, of course the lawn bowling playoffs were cancelled on Saturday, and rescheduled for Wednesday night, and so the Myrmidons will be without their worst player, me. Slay the competition, you beauties. The best thing I could do for you was to be out of the country on the day.
Friday, September 09, 2005
The ongoing unfairness of Life: I make much less money than the person who thinks that the word for luxury sail boats is spelled "yaught," and says "supposably" instead of "supposedly."
The rain it raineth every day, especially if there's bowling. The lawn bowling playoffs are scheduled for tomorrow, during the deluge, and already I've been getting buried in e-mails about postponing it. Calgary bowlers not like wet grass, waah. Actually, I'm all for postponing it to next week, since I won't be in town, which means that my beloved Myrmidons will have to prevail upon Schmuke to substitute for me, therefore increasing their chances of a threepeat by 25 percent.
I can't tell you how much sweeter my upcoming California sojourn will be now that I'll be leaving Calgary in fog and rain. Yes, it could be foggy and rainy in Santa Cruz, too, but it'll be a much more laid-back kind of precipitation, I'm sure.
Everyday magic in and around El Condo Non Grande: Recently, while crashed on the couch with a book at twilight, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye, and looked up to see a bat flapping against the screen door to the balcony. It managed to find a foothold in the screen mesh, then wandered up and down for a few moments before settling on a location. It rested for about 10 minutes, occasionally stretching out a wing, until flapping off.
Walking the rotten dog by the train tracks on the following evening, we startled a whitetail buck that had suddenly materialized against a fence. Piper had great fun pelting off after him, but the buck charged into a yard full of train cars and lost her.
Back at it: Acting lessons resume in two weeks. Why am I doing it? Because! I've reached the stage of life where I can feel my brain withering, and with it, my desire to seek new horizons. The 40s, ach. At least hanging out with a bunch of fame-dreaming kids in their 20s gives me something to write about, or at the least, reminisce. ("Yeah, I remember when I was that stupid.")
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Reech, I love ya, man.
The only problem with a long weekend is that it results in a very short and aggravating work week. Look, it's only noon on Tuesday and I'm already planning my escape routes. Didn't help that I was felled by malaise yesterday, as Chuck met Trot. At one point I determined that a bit of exercise would do me good, so I took the bike and the dog out for a spin, only to have to set a land-speed record to get back to the condo in time. At least the first part of the weekend was loffly, watching Harry buy horses, watching Jean make enough potato salad for the combined Roman legions, and watching the level of wine in the bottle sink ever lower...and no, no, it was not a hangover that caused the intestinal uncertainties of yesterday.
Thank god for Vinnie and Schmuke, who had me over last night and fed me delicious tidbits that sorted the tiny tum out.
Time travel via books: I followed "The Rotter's Club" with "The Line of Beauty," and have experienced the same disorientation each time...both books deal with years that I remember in colorful detail, and whenever I'd put the books down, I'd have to readjust to 2005. I'm also continuing with Cormac "Heartbreak in Every Book" McCarthy, because I can't help reading him, because his protagonists come to life within a few words of dialogue, and are unforgettable thereafter. Generally they love horses, too, so I'm naturally doomed into falling for them.
California in five days. Tick-tock, tick-tock.