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Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Bought my first pack of smokes in 18 years last night, because I need them as props for my scene in "Agnes of God." I tried to find herbal cigarettes, phoning around to hemp shops in town, but the only ones I heard of were some sort of vanilla-celery things, and the shop that was supposed to sell them was closed when I went to check. Then I thought, well, I have a few cigarette papers, and perhaps I could roll a few parsley cigarettes. So I tried, and it would have worked had the play specified that Dr. Martha Livingstone smoked joints constantly throughout her scenes, instead of cigarettes. Anyway, just to be more certain that I wouldn't be tempted to start smoking again after 18 years, I bought a brand that used to nauseate me by its very smell, i.e., Camels. Felt really odd to have one between my teeth, and then puff on it (not inhale, I promise).
Actually, I'm not even slightly worried about resuming smoking. I've always been really proud about beating that demon but good. Of course, you could say I cheated, collapsing a lung and having to carry around an oxygen tank for 8 days in the hospital back in 1988. Sort of killed the desire, those tubes up my nose.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Yet another early weekend morning Epiphany: In response to feeling downright sick and downright tired of doing this, I hereby refuse to continue to be the one who always visits other people. I live in Calgary, Alberta, where I have lived for nearly 22 years. I have friends with vehicles. Enough said.
Well, of course, there are exceptions: those who currently come by. And those who live in the mountains, on Vancouver Island, anywhere near an ocean, anywhere in California, or anywhere with horses will probably find that I continue to visit them, often without much notice. Everyone else? Get a map.
Great to see me old roomie's name on TV,that being Lori Hahnel, who has a short story, "The Pass," appearing in the latest Alberta Anthology. Naturally I am desperately envious in addition to congratulating Lori--and I really thought it was cool to see and hear her name on TV. Did a quick double-take and everything.
Mike Leigh achieves what no other director currently can, i.e., his movies induce time travel. I finally watched "Vera Drake" on Saturday and for nearly two hours I was living in early 1950s London. It makes me think there should be a new award category, Time Period Details, although Mike Leigh would just about always win. Anyway, a great though sad movie. My highest recommendation. Unless you hate historically astute movies with incredibly natural performances. Wow, who are you?
Alas, it is a big chicken. I've changed from group riding lessons to private riding lessons to work on my biggest problem, the fact that I still don't have reliable balance when astride. So for an hour on Saturday morning I rode without stirrups, at the walk and the trot, freaking continually. This is going to take some time, isn't it, Jane? Oh, yes. We're working on not clenching our bum so instantly and permanently, since doing so makes us slide from side to side. It's not that the last six months of riding lessons have been a waste, just that I've realized I probably should have started with the private lessons. Anyway...the more I ride, the less nervous I feel, post-concussion. Funny how I can't remember a danged thing about my fall, yet I'm still jittery. It should be the opposite.
The inexhaustible hound. I tried, I really tried, to tire out the dog yesterday afternoon, taking one of the bikes from work up to Nose Hill Park and riding furiously for two hours and change. The dog dozed briefly and then decided to spend the next half hour racing back and forth through the condo, using my lap as a springboard whenever possible. I, on the other hand, was asleep by 7:00 p.m., awaking only to see that the Calgary Flames had lost their game and wondering how the drunks on 17th Avenue would take the disappointment.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Angry bad blog: by Jane. So I'm actually finding things to crack a grin about during this current bout of perma-vexation. Just when I've had it to the dentine with the stupid peer performance reviews at work, what does the company do but spring for two company bicycles. Specialized brand mountain bikes. They're great. Going for rides at noon is a great way to combat the vexation, goddammit. Now who do I get steamed at? Clients, yeah, of course clients, but that's like saying for a change I'll breathe some air, or the sun will set at night and rise in the morning. Shee.
I read an article written by somebody at the Los Angeles Time about the best modern horror films, but I didn't agree with such inclusions as "The Prince of Darkness" and "Ringu," both which had me snoring peacefully long before the end. Then I got to thinking about modern horror. Modern horror and celebrities, to be precise. Here's the start:
  • Having Tom Cruise in the delivery room when you're in labour.
  • Having to sit beside Ozzy Osbourne at the opera. ["Wot's 'e singin'? Gaw she's a fat bint, wotcha' mean she's dyin' of consumption? Over-consumption, more loik!"]
  • Having Pauly Shore as your dental hygienist.
  • Getting stuck in a gondola with Melanie Griffiths during a windstorm.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...I mean, I could go on forever, but it really isn't all that hilarious. And I'd probably enjoy having Ozzy as a companion during a Verdi opera. But still...if any of you come up with suitable horror scenarios, let me know.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Completely forgot the Good Friday tradition, that being to wake up before dawn and watch "The Exorcist," because as we all know, the Dogans pull out a last-minute victory and it sets a "Hey, Satan, eat my fuck!" tone for the holy weekend. Instead I woke up before dawn and walked the dog. Not quite as gripping.
The bits of the weekend I spent with friends and dog were lovely, from making potstickers from scratch, wrappers and all, on Friday with Fearless, our five walks on Saturday that completely exhausted the dog, and the much-needed pleasure ride on Jean's lovely mare, Honey, yesterday afternoon. The bit I spent with family members was mostly annoying, but thankfully brief. We're having a couple of differences of opinion right now, coupled with the fact that once again Dad's Alberta travel itinerary just can't seem to fit Calgary in, so once again I got to drive up to Red Deer to see the old devil. But--well, who am I kidding, it's my current bottomless pit that's mostly the problem. The other disagreements with the various family bits are annoying, but as a mature adult I can objectively state that people have the right to set their own priorities. The fact that my and my family's priorities utterly clash is something that we'll have to learn to live with. This means I won't see the family as frequently or for as long as I've become accustomed to seeing them in the last 12 years--which is sad, but not insurmountable.
It chuckles again. What have my two latest scene study classes brought me? I've been cast as a lapsed Catholic psychiatrist in that zany laff-fest, "Agnes of God," and as that beacon of Southern femininity, Amanda Wingfield, in the classic, "The Glass Menagerie." I played Amanda before, but then I was only 16 at the time. The only problem I foresee is that there's a (well-meaning but rather annoying) woman in the class who was given the same scene from "Menagerie" last year, and who couldn't wait to come up and tell me her tips and tricks for success. This sort of behaviour will have to be delicately stomped on, which I'm not sure I can manage currently. But that's what we ACK-torz like, a challenge! Stay tuned for details.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Abusing food, Chapter 2. Put a half cup of warm water in a big bowl and then haphazardly squirt a little liquid honey in. Over it, sprinkle two packages of fast-rising yeast that you really don't know is still viable or not, but you just don't give a damn. Oh, look, it's proofing. Okay, then pretend to measure carefully 5 tablespoons of vegetable shortening into a bowl, and throw it in the microwave to melt. Or boil, whatever. Okay, so whenever you remember, and the melted shortening is no longer about to burst into flames, like you can quickly dip a fingertip into it, add it to the yeast mixture along with 2 and a quarter teaspoons salt. Now you can add a cup of flour that you're supposed to have sifted, but the hell with that, just chuck it in and stir roughly. Okay, now add two cups of tap water. I know you're supposed to alternate the water with the flour until both are used up, but that's just retarded. So now add stubbornly unsifted flour gradually, mixing with your weakling arms, until you know you've added too much and the goddamned dough is going to be too stiff. Time to knead, I'd say. Have fun for about 10 minutes. Forget about washing the mixing bowl, just rub shortening into the flour and dough-speckled surface and slam the dough back in. Cover with a damp towel and put in a warm place to rise for an hour. Okay, an hour and a half. Huh. It's lifting the towel off the bowl. Take the towel off. Punch the dough down, cut it roughly in half, and shape each half into a round loaf. Put them on a greased baking sheet and cover with the towel again. Let rise for 15 or so minutes, while you're heating your oven to approx. 400 degrees F. Cook the bread for 50 minutes. And then be astounded that it is the tenderest, tastiest bread you've baked in years.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Incidentally quite tasty: Packet of reduced sodium Chicken Noodle soup; requisite amount of water. Cook this according to directions. Then: whisk two farm-fresh eggs and stir into soup. Add healthy dash of soy sauce, tsp. of sambal oelek chili paste, and tsp. of sesame oil. Stir. Slurp up noisily. Note: also works with canned chicken noodle soup, or chicken broth in which you've cooked some sort of pasta. Noisy slurping is de rigueur.

To be added to the first edition of "Stony Broke Gourmet: What's in the cupboard, what's on the table," by J.E. Farries.
  1. When left to ourself, the weekend is beyond disastrous. When in the company of caring friends, such as the indomitable Fearless, the weekend is lustrous. Sunday is best put through the shredder and used to fertilize the upcoming long weekend. Not at our best, that was us. We'll laugh at this characteristic scene later: going to the bottle depot, surrounded by life's real survivors, thinking that while waiting in the lineup is hell, it's a hell we deserve and at least we'll be able to put a little gas in SoccerMom with the proceeds. Not so fast, genius: all those bottles? They getcha' two whole dollars. I've told this tale, laughing, to Vinnie, and we agree that these two bucks should be framed as a memento of this problem-seized weekend in my mature life.
  2. The Australian Shepherd is an attention-demanding dog, thank goodness. I had an average of four walks a day this weekend, which despite my other wreckages, redeemed some part of my behaviour. Honestly, these days I put a leash on the dog so she can pull me along...or so it seems. Luckily Piper is more than keen for this. Note: we were pulled off our feet twice by a dog that weighs less than 45 pounds. It's determination that does it, we figure. That and all the damned gophers in the neighbourhood.
  3. Making Ukrainian Easter eggs is a wonderful interlude. Though the results may not be quite so wonderful from an artistic/Orthodoxic point of view. Still, it's the process that counts, right? Of course right.
  4. The Bottom Line of Rock Bottom: Well, well, well. All those promising vistas from our younger years, tabulating our accomplishments and accolades, have finally hit reality. Especially the one wherein we meet our lifelong love, who is really, really in love with us. So long, so long. I keep thinking there's a poem in this, somewhere. Why have all this love to share if it's only going to end up unwelcome? Perhaps it's because I fall for those above my station. But it is the mystery of mine and many lives: why do other people find people, and why haven't I found/been found? All answered by "that's Life," of course. As always.
  5. The best part of the unsuccessful weekend: It's over. Fiddle-dee-dee, as Scarlett says. Tomorrow is a brand-new day! Sometimes that's all it takes. note: Blogging to resume once this solipsistic craze calms down.

Saturday, April 08, 2006
Hello again, rock bottom. Broke again, are we? Well, we've paid our bills, at least. The undercurrent of desperation? That's from the head-bonk, sweets, remember? Oh, perhaps you don't remember. That would also be because of the head-bonk. Distinguishing ourself once again in the presence of Vinnie and her ma-in-law? Yes, that would have been us showing up late at the high school performance of "Twelfth Night," then having our hastily gobbled fast food dinner just as hastily make a return trip, necessitating a clumsy rush to the nearest bathroom, and at that point, hell, just go home, right? How to explain self to old friend once again, that is less easy. Only so many things can be blamed on the post-concussion thing. Sigh and sigh. Vinnie, I am very sorry for the disappearing act last night.
This syndrome is terribly dull. My brain commands itself to heal! Heal, damn you.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Our brain hurts. Well, a week and a bit post-concussion, the brain and I have come to a conclusion: this sucks. Let's nap. My vision isn't back to normal, and my word retrieval keeps hitting unexpected snags. This weekend, the letter "R" was off limits. I was trying to describe a dog to Jean, the bad-tempered dog at a riding stable she once frequented. I could describe the dog's build and colour, but not its breed. "Rottweiler?" Jean said. Yes. Later I was talking about professional lacrosse playoffs and mentioned that Edmonton had a team. The Edmonton, um...Heat? No. The Edmonton Might? No. Turns out to be the Edmonton Rush. And the name of the sour plant that people make into jam and pies? Rhubarb. Not Something-Root. Damn, if this is what my old age is going to be like, I think I'll skip it. I get the feeling at such times that that my brain is frantically flinging new synapses across to retrieve old information, pulling out close-but-no-cigar guesses in an effort to satisfy the management.
Incidentally, I did manage to get back on a horse this past Saturday morning, riding the wonderful and ever-patient Cissco. I had many people approach and tell me their version of my spill last Saturday, made all the funnier by the number of times I heard "You shouldn't have let go of your reins." Thanks, team! I also shouldn't have lost my seat, my balance, and really just shouldn't have landed on my skull! [Okay, but really...I admit they're right. I have a bad habit of not holding the reins tightly enough, rather just letting them float in my fingers. Not anymore, though, dammit.]