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Monday, July 31, 2006
Got my Nag: On Friday night I did the deed, handing a cheque over to Joyce for the wonderful mare "Beryl" (formerly "Duchess"). Then I took Beryl out for a three-hour ride in the company of my pal Shauna on her mount, "Dream." Beryl was wonderful, and I damn near danced in the saddle each time I thought, hey, she's MINE. Pictures will happen, I promise, whenever this addled noggin can remember to put the camera in the minivan. I'm getting lots of chuckles from people about the name "Beryl," but it's no trouble, I mean, these are people who name animals "Tinky" and "Lolly" and "Sweetheart." Hmm, Tinky...NO. Just no.
So another horsey morning on Saturday, followed by a birthday party for 3-year-old Lief, whose vocabulary would outstrip most 8-year-olds. Well, with two PhDs for parents, it's not such a surprise, I guess. The birthday was extremely fun, especially watching Lief open his presents over the course of an afternoon. He'd open one, be amazed at it, and take off to play with it in complete disregard for the remaining stack of presents. Once cornered and returned to lootland, he'd open another present, then vanish. I gave him my favourite kids' book, "Doctor Dog," by Babette Cole. Babette, wherever you are, I want to meet you--your sense of humour is deliciously addictive.
Took the pup up to Nose Hill Park and ran her for two hours straight. Well, she ran, I biked. She was great with all strange dogs and kids, although I kept a weather eye on her each time. As soon as we started back down the long hill to the parking lot, she went into hyper-guard action again, and challenged a goofy Standard Poodle. Actually, between the poodle and its owner there was a direct competition for goofiness--I had called ahead for the owner to hold onto her dog, which was on a leash, and she turned, started, and immediately dropped the leash to the ground. To Piper this was as good as saying "Assert your dominance forthwith." Anyway, no harm done except to my dignity, of course. Hollering at a dog while you're rocketing downhill on a bike does not connote authority.
Jane's Odd Aura of Grace: I don't know where it's coming from. But gifts have been raining down on me lately. A cheque from my old insurance company. The mare (okay, not a gift, technically, but definitely her low price was a gift). Friday afternoon the man I fell in love with at my acting lessons in the winter, and whom I'd recommended for a freelance writing job with a large oil & gas firm, which job he got and flourished at--anyway, this wonderful man sent me a gift certificate for brunch at the River Café just to say thanks for the recommendation. Wow. To think how incredibly down I was from April to the end of June. And in one month, to be this serene and blessed. I don't know how the pace of the Universe works, but I sure like the tempo lately.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Exactly two years ago the Cacomixl ate tiramisu for breakfast before going to Saskatchewan. I miss the Cacomixl. I also really miss Brand New Soup, Mango Pudding Blues, and Reech, wherever he may be. Oh, and the Bad Man. You never forget a great blog, you see.
Weekend: What's it gonna' be, Toots? Well, I could buy the horse and go to small Lief's birthday party, then drive to Red Deer to watch my niece and her two brothers play lacrosse in the Alberta Summer Games. Or I could buy the horse, go to Lief's party, and then dance around in frothy silliness, just because I'm so danged happy.
What the hell am I waiting for? I bought the bike trailer last weekend so I could bike the dog to her daycare before riding to work. But have I taken it out of the van yet? Have I hooked it up to the bike yet? Have I ridden to work yet? What's the holdup, Farries? Well, partly it's the delicious morning routine: 6 a.m. dog walk, followed by coffee, book, breakfast, and ablutions. This gets me out of the house by 8:15 or so. Riding the bike would mean giving up the book part of the morning, I guess. But I would save on gasoline, meaning I'd have all the more to drive out to the horsey's home. Jeez, am I three or something?
Books books books: Finished "Never Let Me Go" by Kashuo Ishiguro about a week or so ago, and it's seamlessly written, even though I never lost the sense of unease when I read it, a sign of how well he constructed the unsettling plot. Then, for the third time in a year, I picked up "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell." I had always bogged down around the 100th page, but this time I made myself finish a couple of extra chapters, and that was all that was needed. It's a mammoth-sized book as well, so I really can bury myself in it. I'm in love with the recreation of 18th and early 19th century English idioms and spelling. I think the story's structure is a little clunky in spots, i.e., characters appear and face dilemmas before disappearing for many chapters--but overall, what an engrossing, imaginative work. I'm on about page 687, so I should be able to finish it tonight or tomorrow. After I go see my horse. Of course.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Another normal night for the Myrmidons. A loss and a win. In fact, we won by so tight a squeak that we could hear dogs barking two blocks away. Schmuke gallantly substituted for Kreg, and played two games with nothing more in his tum than beer. Consider that lifetime Myrmidon status conferred! Note: tonight's dinner was delicious--pork souvlaki and lots of Hellenic trimmings. I boast, I know, but I think the Myrmidonian dinner of last week has raised the culinary bar.
Oh, great. Just great. I remember when "Jaws" came out in 1975, and how I feared even to go into swimming pools for a while afterwards. Of course I've recovered fully and now laugh at the memory. And then, this! [swiped from, natch]
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I'll tell you what kind of copywriter I am. While others in the "bidness" are like Maseratis--coming up with flashy ideas fast! Or like Lexuses--creating profound, wise, unforgettable headlines and taglines. What you have in me is basically the unkillable 1966 International Harvester truck. Not pretty, but it gets you where you want to go. When you can get the engine started, that is. Oh, and it has a fondness for useless allegory, but IHs are like that.
My dinner with the demon Pazuzu: Last night, after a nice drive into the country, a dog jaunt, and a little grocery shopping, I came home quite peckish and looking forward to my lazy dinner: microwaveable Fettucine Alfredo, which I intended to jazz the hell up with Parmigiano Reggiano, some crushed peppers, and the like. All worked beautifully. Then: I placed the handmade clay bowl of noodles on the wide, flat arm of the chair while I searched for "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," the latest book addiction. I turned around to see the bowl slowly topple off the wide, flat armrest and spew Alfredo everywhere. Got dammit. So, I irritatedly cleaned it all up, but was still craving the noodles and white sauce, and quickly created a shabby version of carbonara (baconless) with milk, egg yolks, garlic, chilies, salt, more Parmigiano, and what the hell, some cheddar. Pretty damn yummy. Jane gets second pretty handmade bowl from cupboard and places tonight's entree therein. Jane puts the bowl on the armrest and glares at it: nothing happens. I enjoyed a few mouthfuls of noodles before feeling full. Now, where did I put that book? I reached over to open it. Pazuzu struck again--I felt rather than heard the bowl sliding off the wide armrest. But thanks to Jane's culinary prowess, whereby she creates space-age polymers from ordinary kitchen materials, nothing budged from the bowl. Take that, demons.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
No! NO! It's only still July!
Denmark, how -- why are you hosting the World Santa Claus Congress in the middle of summer--and incidentally in one of the hottest summers Europe has suffered in recent memory? Santas in trunks, in butt-flossers, Santas with sunburns....oh, wait: I get it. You're caving in under pressure from Australia and New Zealand. [Picture gleefully swiped from Ed.]
Monday, July 24, 2006
Consider that century achieved! Since my gentle talking-to from the surgeon back in May, I've been somewhat skittish about getting back on the scales. I am supposed to stand on them every Saturday morning, but you'd be surprised at how absent-minded I get in the shower/toothscrub interval. Anyway: on July 22, I got on the scale at last, mindful that there was already a cup of coffee in my stomach (and we know coffee is very, very heavy).
Now for some back story: on the morning of my bypass surgery on June 21, 2005, I weighed in at 136 kg. One year and one month later, 85.1 kg. Or in Jane-brain terms, I've lost 110 pounds. I'd been plateaued for so long, I never thought the century would get here.
So of course I phoned everyone I knew first thing in the morning and chirped at them like a coke-addled parakeet.
River assaulted, dog confused. Fearless and I went swimming in the fast-flowing Bow River on Saturday afternoon, on purpose. It was 33 degrees Celsius outside, and about 10 degrees hotter than that inside my skin. I tell you, that first dunk was paradise. The dog couldn't figure out why we kept walking into the water, and at last she decided to swim out to me. She let me hold her for a few seconds, then I propelled her back to shore. Not bad for a reluctant swimmer.
Anyone know what "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" is about? Would you mind telling me? I went to it yesterday afternoon, but fell asleep 10 minutes in and missed about two-thirds of it. According to reviews, I didn't miss very much. I love that Johnny Depp, and the way he, as Jack Sparrow, ran in terror, flapping his hands, made me laugh out loud. Excellent physical comedy. But the cardboard script for Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, well, zzzzzz. I put the narcolepsy down to a short night's sleep, an early morning drive, and a two-hour horse ride with Jean in the hot sun. When I drove back to Calgary, I was supposed to start baking quick bread for work the next day, but zzzzzz the dog and I snored duets until 5:30 a.m. Quick bread then baked. Office mood saved.
Friday, July 21, 2006
What the hell, Blogger! I bet you're not going to post this entry, either. I really love the "unknown error" message each time--it fills me with such confidence. Don't you know that my two readers LIVE for this blog?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Yes, well.... Dinner last night was a roaring success--unless you came late and didn't get any of the orgasmogenic beef tenderloin. Lawn-bowling was positively unorgasmic. We played Michael's team and they happily stunned us 6-1, this after we'd fed them unholy delicious chow. Next year they're getting fried bologna and processed cheese millefeuille, that's what.
Jane's un-new wardrobe: Lots of pleasing compliments these days, once the surprise of seeing me in a dress has worn off. "I love your new wardrobe" is one of my favourites, since I know that my wardrobe is not new in the slightest. What people don't know is that these clothes date from 1999/2000, a time when I ran at least 4 times a week and had trimmed a lot of excess padding. I can't fit into them all yet, mind you, but if what the surgeon told me is true, I should fit them in the future. Behind the times but better dressed, dammit.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Jolted out of my morning routine, I was, as I scrubbed and halved approximately 1,000 baby potatoes before parboiling them. New nutrition regime? No, no. The Myrmidons are cooking dinner tonight, prior to shaming our opponents, and I volunteered to make marinated baby potatoes. Marinated in: olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, prepared mustard, soy sauce, garlic and black pepper. It's one of the things I love about the Myrmidons: that we always try to do a little bit more than the standard "here's your warmed up prefab beef disc, there's your bun" group barbecue. I also love getting McDoom to do most of the work, which he gallantly has done. Fearless, not to be outdone, is actually going to a store to buy buns and butter. The menu: Grilled beef tenderloin, taters, green salad, buns, frozen dessert treats à la Costco. We're only charging $5 a plate. $50 for the meal, only $5 for the plate. Huk-huk-huk.
Monday, July 17, 2006
A Sign You May Have Stopped Drinking at the Wrong Time: I was at Schmuke's birthday party on Friday night, and among the guests was Schmuke's old friend, wine boutique owner JL. I knew Schmuke would be bringing out several treasures from his own wine collection to share with his friends, and I was actually glad that his friends would have all the more wine since I wasn't partaking. JL had brought a magnum of French bordeaux from some well-known and influential vineyard. I'd tell you the name and vintage except I've never been able to remember those things. Ask me who won Best Actress in 1937 and I'm fine. Ask me what the soil acidity was like in 2004 in Provence, and forget it. Where was I? Oh. So the guests and Schmuke and Vinnie all "wowed" and "oh my godded" over this bordeaux, and over the course of dinner, proceeded to drink it nearly all up. I was intrigued by the label, and being nosy, turned to JL. "Sorry for the rude plebeian question," I said, "But if you could find this in North America, what would it likely go for?" JL flicked his eyebrows upwards and said, "Oh, about $1800 to $2000, I'd guess." A short silence poleaxed the table. "I'm glad I didn't know that beforehand," said Vin. "I'm sorry I drank it so fast," said Grant. "I'm sorry I gave up drinking last month," I thought, although deep down I knew I wasn't really sorry. But it would have been interesting to smell and taste, at least.
And so it goes: Had a very horsey weekend. I took Duchess for a test ride after Saturday's lesson, and rode her again on Sunday at the Equitation trials held at the school, for about three hours in total. She hasn't had a lot of training in her 12 years, but she's quite biddable and very nice to work around and with. The wheels in Janey's head have been humming as a result. See, if I got a second dog--say, my friend Shauna's Aussie Shepherd, Riven--then I could save on daycare costs and put them towards the horse's board. WHAT AM I SAYING? WHAT? I chatted with Nik and Jean on Sunday night. Jean thinks I'm dumb and Nik's all for it, since Nik is the epicentre of Vancouver Island animalia. WHAT AM I DOING EVEN THINKING ABOUT THIS? Oh, just fulfilling a lifelong dream, you know. 'Though the name "Duchess" has to go.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Watched "Mar Adentro" (The Sea Inside) last night, and I tell you, I am damned close to worshipping Javier Bardem as an actor. The movie has a couple of visually stunning scenes as well, but I don't think I'd recommend it to everyone, simply because of the subject matter, voluntary euthanasia, and the emotional destruction it imposes on the proponent's family and friends. I'm pro, by the way, but not everyone is.
Summer Reads, updated: Finished "Beyond Black" by Hilary Mantel on Friday, and while it was an absorbing read, I was distracted all the time I was reading it by thinking of how I'd write it as a screenplay. Now I'm halfway through "The Lemon Table," by Julian Barnes, whom I already worship as an author, and a quarter of the way through "Never Let Me Go," by Kashuo Ishiguro (sp? sp?), which so far is ominous and disquieting. But freakingly well written, oh yes.
So I guess I've successfully warded off the summer knitting compulsion with a reading compulsion. No condo-sized afghans this year.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Sincere thanks to the people who sent me kind words after Martini died. In the big picture, the death of an old cat figures very small, I know, but I was kind of used to having the old bag around the place.
Things I Saw on the Weekend: A dog diving headfirst off a dock and taking a couple of seconds to come to the surface. Jean and I had taken the dogs on a forced march to a manmade canal off Gull Lake, and her swimming-crazy dog, Diesel, found out the hard way that he should keep his head up when leaping off docks.
A very upright chicken barbecued on a Diet Coke can. I'd check on it every so often, and there it would be, standing to attention and smelling heavenly. Rubbed it beforehand with a mixture of paprika, black pepper, salt, sugar, cayenne and crushed garlic. YUM.
Three unopened cans of beer, still with the plastic carrying loops on them, in the middle of a residential street. Well, when you've had enough, you've had enough.
The remains of an ultralight plane crash in a field not too far from Jean's dad's farm. Don't know if the pilot survived, but from the looks of the plane, probably not. The plane looked almost exactly like a swatted mosquito. Update: The 62-yr-old pilot walked away with bumps and bruises. Phew.
Plans are afoot. Me pal Nikki Tate, prolific author and perma-energized optimist, has been sending me details about a new business on the Island. Horses will be involved, of course. I'll keep you posted.
And speaking of horses, my riding instructor took me aside on Saturday to show me a mare she wants to sell. A 9-yr-old chestnut Quarter Horse named Duchess, well-trained and would be a good school horse but for her predilection for bullying other horses. I said I'd take her for a test ride this week, because I'm insane. Jean says doing it will be just like going to see a puppy: you can tell yourself beforehand that you're just going to have a look, that's all, but you're not fooling anyone but yourself.
And one more thing: I stopped with the drinking exactly a month ago, because this new smaller body with its diverted innards just can't process it anymore. My surgeon brother returned from a week-long conference in San Francisco on gastric bypass surgery and its after-effects, and one seminar dealt with drinking. Apparently, because the alcohol doesn't get metabolized in the tiny tum the way it would in the normal-sized stomach, but rather goes directly into the gut, the subsequent absorption is much harder on the liver. I'll say. Anyway, I do miss having the odd glass of wine, but I don't miss getting gunned beyond belief every time I drink. But Jane, not drinking? A new world indeed.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Requiescat in pace. Martini was euthanized this afternoon, and I was present at her passing, holding her and stroking her ears. It was very quick and very gentle, just the kind of death the old dame deserved. The vet was very sympathetic, and although she didn't advise me one way or the other, she nodded when I opted for euthanasia rather than a week or so of intensive treatment that had no guarantee. So farewell, you yowling old bizzom. It was a memorable 11 years of living with you.
Cat update. I'm taking the old girl into the vet's this afternoon. So this may be a sad day. I'm pretty sure Marty's got hepatic lipidosis, i.e., fatty liver, and while there's a chance she can recover, I have to be ready for the unpleasant decision.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Picked the cheese-eatin' surrender monkeys to beat Portugal. So we all know that Portugal's going to win. Man, though, would I love to be right on this pick. UPDATE: Called it. (You can thank whatever random physical laws there be that allowed me to be right this time.)
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Heat, Sports, Insanity, Books, Jaundice and Rashes. That'd be the blazingly hot long weekend for Janey. Went on lots of walks to the river with the dog, with me on Rollerblades at one point, and I tell you, all I needed was the Wile E. Coyote sign, "What in Heaven's Name am I Doing?" on that outing. That was the first of the weekend's insanity. I haven't been out blading in a few years, and believe me, it showed. Not that I was barrelling along, arms helicoptering, screaming dementedly, but let's just say that my braking needs work. And when you're holding a leash connected to a powerful little dog, you've basically given up on safe braking at any speed. (Mind you, I did put the "Gentle Leader" halter on Piper, which helped keep her under control.)
My older brother and his family were in town for the weekend for a massive lacrosse tournament, and I joined them on Saturday afternoon to watch a couple of games, get a few dozen more mosquito bites (the bugs are especially fierce this year, thanks to last year's flood), and just hang out with the nieces and nephews. The tournament took place at the vast Soccer Centre in deep south Calgary, and it's one of those places that instantly bring you back twenty years or more as soon as you enter the building. One sniff of the sweaty air and suddenly you're back in gym class wondering who hasn't laundered their gym kit in the last three months.
Sunday I had planned to watch more lacrosse games, but was felled suddenly in the afternoon by poor health in the form of insane skin--a condition that has been dormant for nearly a year. I chewed a few antihistamines and foggily did a few chores at the condo. In a lucid moment I realized that I hadn’t seen my old cat, Martini, for a couple of days. She’s getting up in years, and has recently started to look like a geriatric feline—ratty hair, scrawny body, etc. The scrawniness is a big change, since she was always such a tank. In that sense Martini and I have something in common this year. Anyway, Sunday morning I called and called for her, and searched high and low, and had no luck.
When cats know they’re dying, they hide away if they can, and I've heard of people who thought that their cats have run away until they find the desiccated remains months later in the back of a cupboard or something. Mind you, it’s not as though my condo is that big. So Sunday afternoon there’s Jane, feeling like death herself, lifting up the beds and checking behind bookcases and in the dark closet nooks, and having a quiet weep for the old bitch of a cat, with Piper eagerly getting in the way at every opportunity. Later on I took a short nap, and came awake to find the Martini in the living room, purring and wheezing. Prolonged cuddling then took place.
Now, I have friends and family who are probably wondering why I haven't plunked old Marty at the vet's by now. Well, with an old cat it's a little different--I mean, I could easily spend a few thousand dollars at the vet clinic to hear them tell me what I know already, that her liver's not working to code because she's an old cat, and then she'd die anyway. I won't condemn her to a lingering death, though--right now she's still getting around, still enjoying being patted and brushed, and still eating and drinking, albeit not very much. She had a lovely nap on the deck as I finished "The Line of Beauty," and it struck me that an old cat like she is deserves a gentle, quiet death. I'm going to miss the loudmouthed harridan, though, when she does die.
Books, finally read. Finished "Cold Mountain" on Thursday night and wanted to punch the author on account of the last five pages. Perhaps his editor(s) insisted on that retarded ending to a grand book. Restarted "The Line of Beauty" and read the whole thing, yet was curiously unmoved by the protagonist. However, the ending lines had me limp with envious admiration. Extremely well written. Started "Beyond Black" by Hilary Mantel, and am already hooked. Great summer read, even though the protagonist is a clairvoyant--not a person I'd have much sympathy/patience with in real life.
Weakness, admitted to. I blow at picking World Cup winners. I picked Brazil to stomp France and England to spank Portugal, so clearly I should just not pick winners anymore. Because I'm writing this on July 4th and I picked Germany to humble Italy, and what happens but Italy wins. Want to win your World Cup pool? Find out my choices, and go for the other teams.