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Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Gutting approximately 30 chickens was my choice this past Saturday morning, simply because it was quite chilly in the October wind, and working in the pumphouse (the ad hoc bird-gutting station) and having my hands in one chicken's body after another were the best ways to keep warm. Jean and Tyke spoiled everyone afterwards with a huge lunch in which chicken was not featured, thankfully. I agreed with one of the other gutters that you don't really feel like chicken for a few days after such doings. However, now I do feel like a nice bit of roast chicken, alas--alas, because my birds are up in Jean and Tyke's freezer.
That's because I left them there to drive up to Edmonton for my mad auntie Nick's 60th birthday, a fest reminiscent of family gatherings of old. This time, though, I was watching the kids rollicking around together instead of being one of them. The passage of time, etc. etc., although some things, like the mountains of food that an army couldn't finish, never change.
Went to pick up the dogs last night from Shauna's farm, and they greeted me with exuberant body-checks and much vocalizing. I really have turned into one of those middle-aged dog ladies, except I pride myself on having real dogs, not little lap ornaments, no matter how much Riven and Piper believe they can fit on my lap at the same time. Such varmints.
I rarely have much of an idea of what I'm doing in my job each day, so the gods of irony decreed that I have a practicum student for the next two weeks. The student, Kim, is eager, smart, and quite creative. Lightbulb shines over Jane's head: hand over all the work you don't want to do! Except that, right, you can't hand over that stuff, you have to hand over the fun stuff. Anyway, we're on Day #2 of 10, and so far so good. Now to go and tell her that the most important part of the copywriter's day is writing the project summaries (which have languished on my desk since, oh, July).
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Fabulous. That's my Nylons review after the party on Monday night. I only recognized one of the four singers as being from the original group, not that it mattered. They were relaxed, friendly, silly, and full of voice. I must say my funny little company really knows how to throw a decent bash. I even met one of the Nylon singers later in the bathroom that I didn't know was co-ed. Saying a quick and silent thanks that I wasn't adjusting a foundation garment when he walked in, I then thanked the singer for an excellent concert. He was the bass voice, and had a range that had my every follicle standing to attention. And he washed his hands after using the biff. Top marks all around.
The Return of Jane, Doom of Chickens: This coming Saturday will see me back at Jean and Tyke's with my hands in chicken carcasses. After that I'm driving up to Edmonton for my mad auntie's birthday. In between I intend to wash and change clothes, blood and feathers not being part of my new look.
Speaking of which: I've bought a couple of pairs of Levis on eBay, more for the experience than anything, and today I'm wearing the latest pair to arrive. They feature embroidery and studs. So apparently I've reverted to my teenage wannabe-cool days. In keeping with the teenage theme, I ate a few cheese puffs in the afternoon. The acne should be here any moment now. And where DID I put those Bay City Roller albums?
Monday, October 16, 2006
Old, cold, condoled. So for the first time in years I watched myself act on camera. We all did our audition pieces on Saturday, which were taped and played for the whole class afterward. I thought my audition piece had gone fairly well, and made myself promise to watch my work, not gaze at the floor while it was on. So I steeled my courage, looked at the TV monitor, and HOLY CRAP I'M OLD. And I made so damned many faces all the time...can't that multitude of wrinkles ever keep still? Apparently not for more than a half-second at a time. The other astonishment was how much I look like my dad. Put a curly wig on Mad Melvin and you couldn't distinguish between us. And how was the acting? I think it was all right, actually, and I'm surprised by that. So maybe I'll get some head shots done after all. What the hell.
Despite the chilly weather yesterday morning, the first Shock Walk took place in south Calgary in the company of my old pal Bryce, his devilishly cute son, Jack, and good old Theo Wonderhound. Poor Piper didn't know what hit her, and in fact I had accidentally raised the shock level too high at first. Anyway, it was almost incredible how fast her behaviour changed after getting zapped. I think I only buzzed her three or four times in total, and we were surrounded at one point by about eight yappy, stupid little hors d'oeuvre dogs, Piper's usual warm-up. By the way, yes, I tried out all the shock levels on myself before putting the collar on the dog. The highest level feels like getting snapped by a thick rubber band, although the pain doesn't linger. It definitely gets your attention. My brother says that after awhile he didn't need to hit the zap button at all. As soon as he put the collar on his dog, she'd smarten up. Here's hoping.
I needed that. The weekend was made a little strange by the recurrence of low spirits, something that used to be almost the rule, but that has mellowed considerably over the last year or so. Having the dogs to ramble with was a good distraction, but the best thing was watching "I'm Alan Partridge" shows over at Jon and Rory's yesterday afternoon. Steve Coogan nails human absurdity. Jon intends to become a Coogan "completist," and I intend to copy him. I haven't been able to stop thinking of scenes from the show, which means I'm in danger of honking out loud at any second. I hope it goes away before tonight's 30th anniversary company party, where the a cappella group The Nylons is performing. I just know I'm going to think of Steve Coogan at exactly the wrong moment and disgrace myself with a bronchial whizzbang.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Tomorrow's the last class in my Essentials of Film & TV course, and we're recreating actual audition conditions, including not getting the script until 48 hours before the class. My last role is the rancher's wife, Diane, in "The Horse Whisperer." I'm a little dismayed at how easily I fit this character--what happened to the doctors and shrinks? The mad opera singers? But no, I'm just humble and straight-talkin' this time. Yes, I heard that, ruminants--humble and straight-talkin', Jane? As if.
Those extra drawers sure come in handy, especially when you're told to clean your cluttered office on pain of slow and expletive-ridden death. Yeah, like it's MY fault people keep leaving tons of paper in my In box. Anyway, when you can't figure out whether something needs to be recycled or not, in the extra drawer it goes. Magic. Until I need something from those drawers, of course.
A shocking development. The dog huggers in my life are going to hate me for this, but I've reached the "last resort" stage with Piper on two fronts: her continual chasing of horses and challenging of small children and strange dogs. Tonight I'm getting a shock collar for her, and tomorrow Shauna and I are going to start the "Clockwork Piper" process of behaviour correction. My older brother resorted to a shock collar to get the incredible bonehead Carbon in line, with great success. Piper and I are also signed up for a "Click to Calm" seminar next month, where shock collars won't be involved, and possibly we'll both learn a little something. I love that damn dog, but she still needs some fine-tuning, and there's no time like the present. Perhaps I'll rig up a satellite bracelet so that whenever Piper gets zapped, so do I. Because, my little varmint, this hurts me as much as it hurts you. KZOT!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
It's never too late to reinvent yourself. Good thing, that. It's been a year or more of reinventions. Some of them take, some don't. Yadda yadda.
Resolution for Rest of Life, Dammit: Pay that car registration on time. I know you love cops, but there are better ways of meeting them.
Back to reinvention: Humility looks good on you.
Today's dog moral: It tastes better if you're being yelled at not to eat it.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Well, finally... The Calgary Herald today carried the front page story of a bunch of restaurants with Health Code violations. Compared to other Canadian cities and towns, Calgary's Code enforcement has been notoriously lax, but it looks like the City's getting tougher with offenders at last. I wasn't at all surprised to see Singapore Sam's, or as I call it, Salmonella Sam's, on the list. That place has been a festering sore since the 1980s, and well deserves to be shut permanently. I think it'd be cool if one of Calgary's news stations could copy what one Houston news program does: every Friday they read out the "Roach Report," or the list of restaurants that have been closed by the Health Department, not only for roach infestation but for various code infractions. They also say which ones have been re-opened, just to be fair.
What I found funniest about today's story is that every single one of the restaurant owners that the Herald could contact had a ready excuse for why they'd been in violation, yet it was never their own fault. Quelle surprise.
In the pursuit of tradition, and seeing how I was again farm/dog-sitting on the weekend, I took pride in cooking from scratch, starting a complicated cable-knitting cardigan pattern, and romping outdoors with the eight dogs. Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours making a divinely chocolate cake from scratch, which also led to the lesson of the day: there is no point in spending hours making a cake (and luscious fudge icing) from scratch if you go outside at one point to greet new horse boarders and forget that one of the dogs can jump five feet from a standstill, and the counters are less than four feet high. There was part of one cake layer left; when Shauna returned home, I iced the remnant and shared it with her, neither of us being at all squeamish about dog spit.
Oh, what a great weekend. Cavorting in the chilly October sunshine with the ball-crazed dogs. Spoiling my mare with crunchies. Watching delightful 1930s-vintage movies on Turner Classic. It made up for the despondency of late last week, occasioned by a call to Dad. His sarcastic laugh can instantly scald my self-esteem, but then I am only in my forties. Anyway, the weekend was the perfect cure, although I am suffering from turkey withdrawal. Perhaps this coming weekend I'll roast another chicken and pretend it's a turkey. Yeah!
Monday morning's lesson, a repeat of myriad others: Go ahead and eat that cupcake. Go ahead. It'll taste really good. So what if you spend the next hour sweating and trembling in your office as you ride the Gastric Dumping rollercoaster? It's fun when your tiny tum makes you do the submissive roll, yes? Sigh sigh sigh...perhaps we shouldn't listen to the Fat Brain any longer.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Because it's still Friday. Meet Abbie!
The eyes that begged a thousand crunchies.
Note the lack of haughty Thoroughbred stare.

FYI: Pictures of Abbie taken by a friend of a friend. I still haven't managed to remember a camera when going to the farm. Typisch.
Because it's Friday, durnit.

You Are a Visionary Soul
You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness. Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connected to your soul. You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable. Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings. You have great vision and can be very insightful. In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself. Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend. You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer. Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

Thursday, October 05, 2006
I'm not sure it's a compliment. Yesterday the office manager, a woman who likes me and feels comfortable enough to offer improvements to my appearance, told me I needed a haircut. No way, I said, I'm having too much fun with it. "It's just that you look like that country and western guy...what's-his-name. Married Julia Roberts once. Right, Lyle Lovett."
I'm pretty sure I don't have a nose like a proboscis monkey, but she could be right about having Lyle's hair. Since I began taking zinc supplements a few months back, my hair started to grow back mightily in sproingy curls. I call it the "Jane-fro" and I'm really enjoying it, especially since it evolves its own style day after day. Yesterday it was apparently a Lyle tribute. Tomorrow, perhaps Harpo Marx.
What a silly thing to be smug about. My second platelet donation of the last 4 weeks took place this morning. There was a man already hooked up to the plateletpheresis machine when I arrived. I got in the chair, the nurses did their thing and I watched the clever machine extract and spin my blood for its multitude of platelets. Which I have, a multitude, that is. So many that it only takes me half the average time for donation. So I filled the little bag and was detached and bandaged and sent for cookies, while Man #1 was still donating away. And I'm smug about this for some silly reason. Like it's something I've done that's given me absurdly low blood pressure, a strong heart, and twice as many platelets as your typical donor. Better I should thank the Scottish field hand forebears, they who worked outdoors in cruel weather and lived on porridge.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
We Farm-sit, We Feast, We have a Grand Weekend: I meant to post this earlier, but had to go get weighed in Edmonton on Monday, and yesterday was too busy blah blah blah. So: the weekend. The Myrmidon Celebration Dinner was utterly exquisite, marred only by the absence of der Krag, who was all gooed up with a bad cold. McDoom and his wife, Laurie, hosted everything with gracious perfection, right down to the centerpiece of autumn gourds and a lawn bowl. Dinner itself was outstanding: pumpkin soup garnished with goat cheese, beef tenderloin, pepper salad, mushroom torte (it turned out, huzzah), green salad, indecently chocolate mousse, a selection of vintage wines, and team T-shirts. The shirts weren't my contribution to the meal, but my thanks to my excellent teammates. I'd designed them a year ago, but finally managed to harass the Karo artist, Bill Burgos, into creating the illustration. He did it in about 10 minutes and the result was fabulous. As was the entire celebration evening.
And what does the Myrmidon shirt look like? Here's one of the final versions (we shrunk the size of the jack for the finished illustration):
Hmm. Blogger won't load the image. I'll try again:
Nope. Sigh. Okay, I'll keep trying and let yez all know.