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Thursday, August 31, 2006
The New Roommate: Details.
  • He appears in a sheep herding scene in "Brokeback Mountain" for approx. 1.3 seconds
  • He has an agent
  • He is a red merle Australian Shepherd with a lush coat
  • He has limpid light blue eyes
  • He has asthma
  • He has gonads, but not for long
  • He has won Rally Obedience competitions at the national level
  • He will go through a brick wall to catch a frisbee
  • He's putting up with Piper's obnoxious lack of welcome so far
  • One downside: his waste is horrible to clean up, requiring large plastic bags (at least 3 per walk) and a strong stomach
  • His name is Riven, which I've probably already mentioned, and most people think he's called "Ribbon," thanks to my poor enunciation

So for the time being, I have two pups in El Condo Even More Non Grande. I am thrilled, of course, and can't wait to introduce this sterling gent to Doc and Diesel up at Jean's place. Now, when we go riding, it'll look like we have a pack of hounds accompanying us. How veddy proper.
Whehey, Myrmidons! By some actuarial miracle, helped by Kreg & McDoom's stellar play last night, we made it into the A Division playoffs. When we won our first championship in 2003, we were ranked well down in the pack going into the playoffs, then startled the top two teams with close wins. Given my terribly inconsistent playing this year, I can't guess how we'll fare, but we'll at least look FABULOUS in kilts and brogans. And this year I will post pictures.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I have a bimp on my head. Once I'd dispelled the automatic terror about a hard skull lump signifying tumour! pain! death!, I did some thinking and realized that the calcified lump at the lower left quadrant of my occipital lobe (blah blah blah) must be a souvenir of the Great Concussion of 2006.
Do yer doogs bite? That's right, doogs with an "s". Looks like Shauna's dog Riven is going to move in with Piper and me for awhile. I'm delighted, but I know it'll be traumatic for Shauna and Piper at least. Trial basis at first--Riven might be traumatized, too, if only by the culture shock from life on the farm to life in El Condo Non Grande.
Rich in cousins/friends, that's Janey. I sped up to Pigeon Lake for an overnight visit and spoiling with MaryAnn and Carol and their children. Piper disgraced herself by herding the youngest children and scaring them, despite wearing her snout strap. A brisk dog-wallop ensued. We had dinner, yakked, sat around the designer campfire kept alight by MaryAnn's husband Jim, yakked, and well, yakked pretty much all the while we were awake. It's cabin life that brings out my garrulous side, I'm sure. I'm disgustingly lucky in my cousinage, too--if Laura had been there, it would have been like summer vacations of old.
Relearned an important canoeing lesson with the brother's family on the Red Deer River this past Sunday. No matter what, do not bring a Labrador Retriever along for a canoe ride. You will spend all your time keeping the canoe from tipping when the dog leaps out and then attempts to haul herself back over the gunwales. If you try to keep the dog in the canoe, you will be utterly frustrated by her non-stop whining. Braining the dog with a paddle is tempting, but might upset the younger family members, or worse, damage the paddle. Genius here did not even entertain the possibility of bringing Piper, who stayed with my brother, the ad hoc truck driver. I shared a canoe with a hilarious nephew who was supposed to be steering us, but several times I found us heading straight for boulders or the shoreline. So I was a front seat driver, but we finished the trip without swamping (a first for me) and all was well.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I think every Canadian city thinks it has the worst drivers. Except maybe Toronto. Oh, snore, an automatic Toronto slam from a Calgarian, how unique. Anyway, Calgary drivers are pretty damn bad. I'm used to most of the transgressions, from running red lights to driving straight through left turn only lanes (note: I observe these but do not commit them--my biggest no-no is mild speeding), but there's one thing that makes me mental: drivers who swing to the left before turning right, and ditto from right to left. Today there was a mid-sized car in the lane beside me who suddenly swung left into my lane, just barely missing Soccer Mom's already bashed fender, then strenuously turned right. Look, it's a turn, not an obligatory right angle. And you're in a modern Canadian city street, not a narrow wagon-rut in Kabul.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
You've been warned. My psycho hide had me back at the beloved GP's office yesterday. My brother had told me that some post-bypass patients, or I guess any person who loses a lot of weight over a relatively short while, may have some skin troubles during the first couple of years afterwards. Makes sense: I mean, after having been stretched out by fat, one's skin is now required to tighten the hell up, which it can't do quickly. What's more, the easy nutrients that came from the avoirdupois, from which the bod makes up tasty treats for the innards, are harder to come by.
That's when the dreaded term "HRT" came in. Hormone Replacement Therapy. Specifically Premarin. I'm on it for a month's trial unless it makes my skin worse. Frankly I'm more worried about turning into a tireless cougar or suddenly gutting coworkers after the merest of provocations. Anyway, as I say, you've all been warned.
Too much information, Farries? Think people want all the details of your medical state? How about you skip the part about possibly needing small surgical bands to ligate certain thrombosed veins where the sun don't shine, 'kay?
Monday, August 21, 2006
I lied about the knitting. Yesterday I put the finishing touches to the latest condo-sized afghan. Now I'm about to attempt to finish the ITV Digital Monkey I started in 2004, put away after Piper ate most of one of the skeins of wool, and found again. I may well be the most boring person alive.
Casino Jane returns, this time as a chip runner for the casino in aid of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, the artists and performers I adore. And I realized that I actually really liked working in the casino. So, should last week's miserable self-pity about work produce any changes, I might try to hire on at a casino for awhile. Novel fodder, don'tcha' know.
Building bum callouses one day at a time. Rode two horses on Saturday, for a total of four hours. Rode two of Jean's horses on Sunday, for a total of four hours. Adductor muscles now too timid to do more than whimper. Bum bones (hallelujah, bum bones) quite dismayed. Next horse-related purchase: a bra that fits so I don't have to keep yarding up the damned straps. A moment where I fall in love with Abbie, permanently: I took her out for a quick graze after Saturday's ride, and after a few minutes of cropping grass, she walked over to the bench where I sat and rested her muzzle on my shoulder, quietly, and stayed for a few minutes. Then she wiped her grass-stained lips on my shoulder. Love, in equine terms.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Not a complaint. Just a recognition that I'm, well, at an impasse where my job is concerned. So I've put myself on a three-month performance improvement program and will no longer allow the habitual "I can't write that!" insecurity to surface. A long time back I thought this, i.e., copywriting, was my logical career, but I'm no longer so sure. Oh, could I be in my 40s, by any chance? Quelle freakin' surpreez.
Hello, Liver: a welcome chat with big bruddah the surgeon last night during which he reassured me that quitting drinking was anything but hard on the old liver. "That's like saying, if you live in a smoggy area, that breathing clean air is hard on your lungs," he said. Thanks, bro.
Tacky tacky tack: my new synthetic Western saddle came in the mail this week, and I'm almost embarrassed to put it on Abbie. It's black but has a border along the skirting of prancing white horses. You know, like a 9-yr-old girl would go nuts for. Then again, it only weighs 15 pounds, and I doubt Abbie's an art critic. It's just I who am kind of squirming about being seen in public while on it.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Back in saddle again and HOW. I took Abbie out on Friday night and again after my lesson on Saturday morning. The second outing was in the company of my pal, Shauna. We thought we'd go along the roads and see what we could see. Shauna decided to ride her very green 5-yr-old Arab mare, Quest (so named because she has an inverted question mark-shaped blaze on her face). In car terms, this is like driving a Maserati with the accelerator stuck, while blindfolded, on a steep downhill route you've never driven before. Anyway, I was amazed at how quiet and well-behaved Quest was, and we ended up riding all the way into the town of Chestermere, where we stopped for a quick picnic lunch and gas station coffee.
Poignant interval: While lunching, I noticed a man and a woman walk past us, stop, retrace their steps and stand staring at the horses. I called over that they could come and meet the horses if they wanted, just as I realized that I was talking to a very high prostitute and either her pimp or client. She was in her 20s, dressed as you might imagine, complete with 6-inch platforms and spiked heels, and was in tears as she patted Abbie. She'd grown up on one of the reserves outside of Calgary and had had her own horse, and proceeded to tell me every part of Abbie's saddle and bridle--and even correctly told me that I needed to lower Abbie's bit by one notch. But her pimp/client soon became impatient and she tearfully thanked us and walked away a little unsteadily. Shauna and I were quieted by the encounter, and spoke of how foolish we were to ever complain about anything when we were so damned lucky by comparison to the prostitute. Then two kids and their dad came up and insisted on feeding grass to the mares--Abbie put up with it since, you know, food after all, while Quest just watched the boys.
Shauna and I readied to go, as we noticed the wind had picked up and a storm was coming on. I clambered aboard Abbie and was suddenly shocked to hear Shauna yell "SHIT!" Quest had spooked and was bolting, and Shauna had lost a stirrup and was coming off. She hit the ground hard and dropped a rein. I had calmed Abbie by this point (she'd made one pretty impressive jump to the side), and soon realized that we'd have to go after Quest ourselves, as she was on the road. One truck obligingly blocked the lane while I rode up to Quest and caught a rein. Shauna came over, took Quest back to the grass and attempted to soothe her. In a few minutes, she tried mounting again, and Quest again spooked and bolted, then crowhopped. Shauna came off again, but this time held onto the reins. "Uh, how about we walk for a ways?" she asked. "Good idea," I said. "A ways" turned out to be 10 km. I walked 5 of them before my feet of despair forced me back into the saddle (wearing cheap socks caused two huge blisters that broke and bled, idiot idiot Jane), but Abbie walked out willingly all the way back. In all, we'd been out for six straight hours. Bless you, bum calluses.
Sunday I took the varmint dog up to Jean's folks' farm, where she and her sisters and brothers-in-law were packing up the house. I went to help out where I could, but they really had everything under control and I wasn't much good at all. They were insistent that I help myself to books and other items I thought I could use, and when I demurred, they started to fill a box for me. I was embarrassed that they might think I'd only come up to see what I could get out of them, but they shushed such stupidity and kept tossing things into the box. They'd toiled all weekend, so I volunteered to go over to Jean's farm and throw a chicken on the barbecue (not one of the live ones, of course), so there'd be dinner when they were ready for a break. I picked such a large chicken that my attempted beercan barbecue method was more like a Balance the Chicken that has a Beer Can Completely Engulfed in its Midriff as Best You Can on the Grill. It tipped over once or twice, but other than that it was pretty tasty when it was finally done.
Is it Irony? Or is it--"Jane's Life in Vaudeville"? I drove from Jean's to Edmonton because I had an appointment with the dietician/nutritionist at the Royal Alex the next morning. I've been pretty pleased with the weight drop since stopping drinking a month or so back, and hoped to impress RSM Charlene, a veritable sergeant-major indeed. What did I get? "You're actually losing weight a little too fast. That and stopping drinking is really hard on your liver." Showoff here asks if she should be worried about hepatic lipidosis (it killed my darling old cat, after all). "Yes," came the reply. Ah. Instead of the basal metabolism test that was scheduled, I had a full blood workup, seven tubes siphoned in all, and will hear the results of my liver function test in the near future. Only in Janeland could losing weight, once the impossible achievement, the saviour of my innards, suddenly become a threat to same. I can't stop giggling when I think about being too skinny. Which I am not, I hasten to assure you. But the possibility of it....oh, dear, it's as delicious as Caramel Praline Ice Cream, the heroin of old.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Recovery, Slow Version: Solid food, ahh.
Garage Sale Closeouts--such goombahs! In a move that surprised me not at all, the previously mentioned Garage Sale Closeouts have enhanced their bad reputation by leaving me negative feedback on eBay (I had left them neutral feedback). Now they're challenging my "Item not Received" complaint. Their feedback implies that not only did I get my money refunded, but somehow I evilly made them send me two clocks for free! Yeah, because that's how my sly mind works. There's only one small hitch, the fact that the liars never sent anything my way, ever. So go ahead with the challenge, you morons. I welcome it. Brought to you by Friday's Pointless Fixations, Inc.
An entry in which we comment on world affairs: The latest terrorist attempt to disrupt worldwide air travel is upsetting, of course. But what makes me incredibly encouraged is how defiant travellers can be. "I'll fly naked if I have to, but I'm still going to fly," said one traveller at Heathrow. Naked flying, hmmm. I can just picture the Air Canada flights: Economy Class filled with naked flesh, First Class (also starkers) given blindfolds. And hey, if you forced people to fly naked, wouldn't that thwart some of those fundamentalist terrorists? The ones who can't even look on female hairdos without derailing? It's a thought.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Urgh. Back home from casino at 3:00 a.m. Up at 5:15 a.m., unexpectedly and unmistakably sick to pants. This is no good. What, chills? Cramps? Who can we blame this on? It could be the casino buffet, which tasted fabulous, or the Colombian guava jelly, sausage mcmuffin, or coffee at the office, all of which I enjoyed at the various times of ingestion. Oogh. At least the casino volunteering was a blast, even counting out five hundred $100 bills for some 28-yr-old pachuquito who'll be first up against the wall come the revolution (I say something similar every time I'm a casino cashier, and each time I mean it).
Ebay follies, 2006: Despite my knowledge that eBay is heroin to my willpower, I still cave a few times a year and go for something I can't buy here in Calgary. With two exceptions, the sellers I've dealt with have been paragons of professionalism. But if you see any items listed by Garage Sale Closeouts, run the fuck away. I bought a Wallace & Gromit collectible clock from them in mid-June. By the 3rd week of July, nothing had arrived. I wrote a query. "Oh, we sent the clock to you already, but we'll send you another one, and you can keep both." End of July, still nothing. Query No. 2 gets e-mailed. "Oh, we sent the clock to you already, but we'll send you another etc. etc. etc." I call bullshit on them, and threaten to proceed with formal complaint. No reply. I begin formal complaint. One week later, they refund my money. And write: "Oh, your package was returned with an "Undeliverable" stamp." I write a curt yet professional note that says, yeah right, pull the other one, and remind them that in each of my previous queries I had asked them to confirm the address they mailed the clock to. "Oh, we sent two clocks, and you can just keep them when they arrive." I leave them neutral feedback, since they did refund my money, although I was itching to leave a negative one. This morning's message: "We can't track packages into Canada, but you can keep the two clocks when they arrive." The gist of my reply: Stop writing me, and die screaming. Remember, Garage Sale Closeouts. Liars. Busted.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Mad Aunties Take Lake. So I and Aunt Nick showed Pigeon Lake a thing or two about luxury and indolence this weekend. It was one of those vacations where even the smallest details were uncannily right--for example, every dish we cooked tasted great on its own, but even better with its companions. Where to begin? The gourmet burger, the pork tenderloin, the pasta, the hand-baked bread, the beer can chicken, the grilled ham sausage, the parmesan toast points, the garlic/caper salad? The buttered eggs that transformed breakfast into indulgence right out of 1001 Arabian Nights? Man oh man.
Of course, food aside, what made the weekend extraordinary was how simpatico Nick and I were--we each did our own thing, except that our own thing consisted of spending a lot of time yakking with each other. I spent almost all of Sunday in my pyjim-jams, not changing until 5:00 p.m. We were at a lake, but really only accepted the water's presence when I cajoled Nick into canoeing with me. I nearly backed out when I realized that first we would have to wrangle the thousands of spiders that had wintered, springed and summered in the canoe, but Nick was there with a broom to help out. I decided there and then to try very hard not to flip the canoe and mad auntie into the lake upon takeoff. I managed a plausible paddling technique, too. For further leisure pursuits, Nick had brought vintage movies that were absurdly and absolutely right for our weekend. In long, every day was perfection upon perfection. Even my retardo beer can chicken, served one hour after the side dishes, was grand.
Of course, reality intrudes. I had every intention of heading out to take Abbie for a ride down country lanes tonight, but then Fearless reminded me that I had stupidly volunteered to be a cashier at the Elbow River Casino tonight from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. At least it's easier to stay awake when you're a cashier. But dammit, I had sloth and indolence planned for tonight, in honour of the weekend. Now I have to remember arithmetic in real world terms, not 2 cups of coffee plus 2 cigars equals 1 great hour on the deck.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
No Abbie pictures yet, sorry. I went out Monday and Tuesday night for twilight rides, taking Piper and Riven (my friend Shauna's Aussie Shepherd) along. Riven is a great asset, in that he is super-smart--smart enough to drop gloves with Piper when she wouldn't stop zooming Abbie. One high-pitched yelp from Piper, and all was well; she stopped with the zooming and the barking. I sure hope Shauna decides to let Riven live with us this fall. Another really great dog, company for the rotten Piper, and a good travelling companion.
Travel, was that what you said? Yes, I'm off this afternoon for an extra-long long weekend, heading up to Pigeon Lake to stay at my aunt and uncle's charming bungalow. I'll be spending time with my cherished mad auntie Nick, she who has already bought enough food for a year. As usual I am completely disorganized, more than usual even. But who needs extra socks or toothpaste or a comb when you're at the lake? Not I. I'm planning to come back on Sunday and go straight to the stables to take Abbie out for a ride. Let the horsey obsession resume.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Sorry, SuperBeryl. I tried, I really did, but there's no getting away from the fact that "Beryl" just isn't my mare's name. I remember before I got the dog, I had originally intended to call her "Tillie." Then, on the day I was driving up to get her, I happened to be thinking about Tyke's recently late and much-lamented dog, Rowdy, or Rowdy Roddy Puppy. That got me thinking about the wrestler, Rowdy Roddy--Piper! Clang-clang! Name.
This morning on the drive to work I was muddling over the realization that while I loved the name "Beryl," I knew I was going to have to change it. The mare is a grand old dame, and if the grand old "Beryl" had to go, I wanted another vintage name, like--Abigail. Abbie. Abbie Hoofman. Abbie Rode. Ab-dab.
Abbie it is. I'm going out again tonight for a short ride and photo session. Expect Abbie pictures tomorrow.