Saturday, March 29, 2008

Skinny Saturday 5

Just heading down to the basement to bike my 21 km. It's a beautiful morning here, still -5 C, but sunny and nice. Our nextdoor neighbours called to invite us over to their place to mark Earth Hour this evening. We'll sit around their fireplace with candels and wine. Should be nice. Remember to turn YOUR lights out tonight at 8:00 local time!

For your Saturday enjoyment:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Don't Blaspheme, for Christ's Sake!

I think I swear more than I used to. Is it a function of aging, I wonder? Do we swear more as we get older? As a kid, I never swore - for the very real fear of getting my mouth washed out with soap.

But I think these days that swearing in general, and the "f" word in particular, have become more normalized. And, when used as punctuation, they no longer pack the punch they they once did.

I really don't swear ALL that much. Scouts honour! I think it's simply that I have less tolerance for the idiots that often surrround me. Just this morning, for example, I caught myself cursing under my breath as I sat and watched my bus driver leisurely chat with his reprobate colleagues and finish his smoke before moseying over to the bus and climbing behind the wheel when we were already running 7 minutes late. (Oh yes, gentle readers, I know " ... and it's ALL small stuff." Bullpuckey! I've got things to do and I've just had a couple of coffees ya know!)

And you can be sure that I cursed that blighted bitch who slapped me squarely in the face a couple of months ago as she was walking past my seat when the bus lurched and she lost her balance. Belted me one right in the kisser! Unbelievable.

And the dawdling blue-haired biddy who came into the darkened theatre the other day who grabbed my head and damn near put an eye out with her opera synopsis as she careened toward a seat in the row behind me.

I mean Jesus-effen-Christ. Enough already! It's one of the reasons I am resisting facebook. I really don't like to get poked!

Actually, for the most part, I swear in Spanish, thanks to the 2 and a half years I spent with my first partner, who hailed from Caracas. It works out well in my neck of the woods because no one even knows I'm swearing! I often use "Coño!" (The Spanish "c" word). If I stub my toe or slip on the ice, then "coño" is generally what passes my lips. Coño in Venezuela is like saying "Shit!" here, though there are varying degrees - coño de tu madre and coño de tu puta madre, when directed at someone else, become progresssively more insulting. Then there's pendejo (asshole, basically), mamahuevo (literally egg-eater, meaning cocksucker), and cara de cullo (ass face/dickwad), cabron, and on it goes.

I use the English "c" word some, too. In fact, it is no doubt at the pinnacle of my cuss words. If someone is a real prick, then (oxymoronically, I suppose) they are a cunty mother-fucker, which is probably about as bad as it gets in my books.

Pray, what sayest thou when provoked or distraught?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One Toke Over the Line

LOL... This is TOO funny. I heard on CBC radio that it was on this date way back in 1971 that radio stations across the US started banning this song by Brewer and Shipley because it was about drugs and immoral. (Ha! How's that for a time warp?) In any case, I Googled it just now on YouTube and found this version from the Lawrence Welk show. It's priceless. Be sure to watch till the VERY end!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lights Out: Earth Hour 2008

This is a great idea that started last year in Sydney, Australia, where over 2.2 million people turned out their lights for one hour. The results were really quite startling. This year, on March 29, more cities are joining in around the globe, including Toronto here in Canada and several large cities in the U.S. It's something we can all do that will have an impact and, perhaps even more importantly, raise awareness with respect to the growing problem of global warming.

Check it out and get unplugged on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Did you see where some 400 people were stranded the other day for more than an hour on the London Eye while engineers worked to fix a mechanical problem?

Can you imagine? I'm glad it wasn't me! It served as poignant reminder, however, of a similar mishap that DID happen to us on our first trip to Europe as a couple way back in 1994. We decided to go to Switzerland and Austria, and "we" decided to take my mother along with us. She was 74 at the time and, though she had travelled elsewhere, she had never been to Europe. The trip got off to a bit of a rocky start. We flew from here to Montréal, Dorval (now Trudeau airport) and then had to transfer by bus to the now defunct Mirabelle airport. After waiting around there 3 or 4 hours, we took off for Zürich, where we arrived about 8 and a half hours later. In our wisdom, rather than stopping and spending that night in Zürich, we had decided to start our adventure in Interlaken. Hence, after collecting our luggage, we had to wait another couple of hours for a train to central Switzerland. Brad and I were tired enough by the time we boarded the train, but my mother was completely exhausted. She drifted in and out of sleep as we made our way to our desination, mumbling and groaning and making other funny noises that we'd never heard her make before. Brad and I just looked at each other. What had we done? Bringing mom all this way only to have her croak before we'd even arrived! Once we reached Interlaken, we somehow managed to walk the short distance to our hotel, whereupon mom collapsed on her bed and begged us to just let her rest for a while and then bring her something to eat. A McFish Burger and fries constituted her very first meal in Switzerland, and ours too, I think.

But the following day, refreshed after a good nights sleep, we were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. After several days in Interlaken, we continued on to Lucerne. On our second day there, Brad went off to explore a bit on his own. Mom laid down for her afternoon rest, and I went to a café and indulged in an enormous bowl of café au lait. It was yummy. So good, in fact, that I had two. Two gigantic bowls. Of café au lait.

Reunited at the hotel, Brad regaled us with a story of how he had found the most excellent view of the city, which mom and I just HAD to see. He was quite adament and convincing, so we followed him back to the bottom of a hill where an automatic funicular was waiting for us. It was one of those hillside railway contraptions that haul people up and down every 15 minutes or so - in this case up to a lovely hotel with stunning views of the city and the lake below. There were already some people inside, so we got right in, making for a total of about 15 all told. Soon enough, the doors closed and a little electronic bell sounded to announce our imminent departure. The Swiss are big on little electronic bell sounds. And ... there we sat. Nothing happened. Rather than wisking us to the top of the hill with Swiss efficiency, we simply sat there. The funicular didn't budge. And the doors were closed and locked. They wouldn't open. A couple of the locals hit some buttons and muttered away in Schwitzerdütsch, but to no avail. We were trapped inside this small compartment with about 12 other people, including one guy who hadn't bathed in at least a week and whose breath smelled like a distillery. And then there was the matter of those two enormous bowls of coffee that I had recently consumed. The caffeine had quickly travelled through my system and was looking for a way out. Ahora mismo. I had to pee so bad my back teeth were floating. I verbalized my predicament several times during our confinement. After about an hour in, one local woman jokingly remarked that perhaps I should just "tie a knot in it." I was tempted to shower her with my thanks for her thoughtful suggestion!

Finally, we spotted a couple walking nearby. We pounded on the glass window and attracted their attention. They were an English couple who understood our pleas for help. They went and fetched someone who was able to open the doors from the outside in no time. Somehow, I made it to a nearby washroom where I stood, I'm sure, for close to 10 minutes relieving myself. And what a relief it was!

On this same sojourn, still in Lucerne, we walked across the famous covered bridge that is a city landmark. I was happy the bridge was covered because, as had been the case on many days of our trip up to that point, it was raining. (There's a reason that Switzerland is so green!) Mom's spirits were not dampened by the weather, though. As we strolled across the bridge, she exclaimed, "Oh, this is just like a dream!" "Yeah," I deadpanned, not really thinking, "a WET... uh ... um... nightmare!"

To Beat about the Bush

I've been meaning to do one of these for a while now - a photo celebration of the smirking chimp. Though his administration is winding down, he can still do a lot of damage in the months that remain.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Things that Go Boom in the Morning

A house exploded here in our small city this morning. We were alerted to the fact by an e-mail from M, who, along with her husband S and university-student daughter K, live very near by. (S & M are going to Italy with us in May/June.) Anyway, since it was a nice day- relatively speaking, 34 F with a stiff breeze, but sunny - we decided to walk over to check it out. Early reports said that the house belonged to an elderly couple who go south every year. The parents of a colleague of mine live on the same street and fit that bill exactly, so that was another reason we trudged over. Thankfully, it wasn't the house of my colleague's parents, but it was a house just across the street. A natural gas leak is the suspected cause right now, I believe. The place was a complete wreck, with just the civic address of the house left standing essentially. Incredible. Houses on either side had their windows blown out and some of their siding melted. Suffice to say that Brad and I will never have natural gas.

I am sad that the long weekend coming to a close. It didn't really feel like a long weekend, since we had so much on the go. I biked 3 out of the 4 days, though, for a total of 63 km (almost 40 miles). Our walk today was for a total of 1.5 brisk hours, so I think I have got my exercise for the weekend. Tomorrow I start back at the pool and will swim at least a half hour. I WILL be 160 lb. when we go to Italia!

Our very good friend, Maurice, over at (link in the sidebar) is moving from Halifax to Montréal this coming weekend. Good luck Maurice! We're sure all will go smoothly, especially since Cleopatrick is there to help you! And YAY! Someone else to visit when we hit Montréal. (Now looks like our next visit to the big MO will be in July, after we get back from Italy. Hopefully the snow will be melted by then!!)

Here, it remains cold and VERY wintry. It is supposed to go down to minus 18 C tonight (that's 0 F) with more snow coming on Wednesday and the high temp for the week is a balmy 36 F. Sheesh. Enough already!

To keep us warm:

Surely you're warming up to shaved pits by now Mark?! There's NOTHING femme about boy No. 1! :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vespertilian Nightmare

I've always wanted to use that word - vespertilian - but the opportunity never arose. Now it does. Unfortunately. It seems that bats have been dying out on a massive scale in the northeastern US and probably in Québec. Not good news, since bats are a major part of the food chain. They eat HUGE amounts of mosquitoes and other bugs. I think we are screwing this planet royally. We (mankind) are becoming unsustainable. Here's a link:

In other news, the opera yesterday (Met broadcast of Tristan und Isolde) was good and bad. First off, Ben Heppner was still ill and was replaced by Robert Dean Smith (flown in at the last minute from Berlin). He did a fine job - it must have been very tough, filling in on such short notice. Deborah Voigt performed admirably as Isolde, as did very tall Michelle DeYoung as Brangäne. The Met foolishly, however, experimented with the broadcast presentation and there were many [intentional] split screens, multiple images, etc. supposedly designed to enhance the experience at the theatre. It DID NOT work though. The main reason one goes to these broadcasts is to be able to imagine oneself at the Met. To pretend for a few hours that you are at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The "effects" denied viewers that escape. I may as well have been sitting at home watching TV, glancing out the window every now and then at the 4 feet of snow in the backyard. Please don't do this again, Met Broadcasts!

We also got down to see mom today. She's doing well, though she's managed to kill the Norfolk pine someone gave her at Christmastime. It was bone dry with branches falling off left and right. I've watered it every time I've been down, but what can you do? Mom and plants just don't do well together. That is why I gave her a real-looking fake plant at Christmas. She swears that it has "opened up" since I gave it to her.

Off tomorrow. Ah, Easter Monday! You gotta love a 4-day weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Skinny Saturday 4

Another week has come and gone. Brad's concert was great last night, but it was blusterly and cold outside... Time for another incentive-providing round of fit lads to kick off the weekend. I've lost 2.5 pounds and am now just a little over 170 lb. Just another 10.5 to go!

Good weekend all

Friday, March 21, 2008

More bits and pieces

It's Good Friday here in Canada, a statutory holiday. Some of us also get Monday off - YAY! Brad's away at a choir practice. They're singing the Fauré Requiem tonight.

We are going to the live Met broadcast of Tristan und Isolde tomorrow at our local theatre. I'm very much looking forward to it. It's over 5 hours long with 2 intermissions. Canadian tenor Ben Heppner is singing the lead role of Tristan. We saw this opera at Covent Garden when we were in London celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2000.

Since I'm quite new at blogging, I thought I would do one of those "about me" lists so y'all can get to know me a bit better. I'm going to start with 25 because more than that and we both might get bored, plus I've got porn to surf, ya know! Here goes:

1. I am fluent in English and French. I speak a little and understand a lot of Spanish (my first partner was Venezuelan). I also speak a tiny bit of German and Russian.
2. I used to smoke, but quit about 10 years ago.
3. The hardest thing I've ever done... See No. 2 above.
4. I've never owned my own car. We have a car, but Brad bought it. He tells me I'm going to take over the payments next year.
5. I'm a door-locker and blind-closer. It's what I do. I lock doors and close blinds (at night).
6. I hate drive-thrus.
7. I enjoyed high school.
8. I'm a spendthrift, though Brad continues to try to change my ways.
9. For the past several years, I haven't slept well. I take a little blue pill almost every night now, but I am determined to stop using them very soon.
10. We have a dishwasher, but I never use it, even though I hate doing dishes. I do a better job, especially with plastic. Brad does use the dishwasher from time to time. We take weekly turns doing the dishes. We each do the dishes the week we get paid.
11. I really dislike spitting. Heavy fines should be levied on them that do it.
12. I am the youngest in my family and have 5 siblings. There is 16 years difference between me and the oldest.
13. I believe in guardian angels and believe I have been the subject of their intervention on more than one occasion.
14. I have had an out-of-body experience, a couple actually.
15. I believe in UFOs (Nina Hagen was right!) But this is not related to No. 14 - I've never been abducted, to my knowledge.
16. I am a Slow Food adherent; we never eat at fast food joints.
17. I feel naked without a watch. I always like to know what time it is.
18. My favourite food is fresh pesto. And raspberry pie. And strawberry-rhubarb pie.
19. If I could switch careers, I'd be in advertising or running a bakery or restaurant.
20. I hate getting dressed up (like for formal events). Theme nights at Daddy's are a different story.
21. I've been lucky in the lotto a few times. Biggest prizes to date: $2,800, $5,000, $10,000.
22. I have a pretty good memory, especially for seemingly trivial things, but films and actors and stuff like that I forget almost immediately.
23. I dislike winter for the most part and would like to travel south (Caribbean, Mexico, etc.) at least once a season - so far, I've done this only once - Mexican Riviera two years ago. It was terrific.
24. I believe in paying top dollar for quality.
25. I am something of a germophobe and dislike it when people around me sneeze, especially cashiers at the grocery store, particularly when they sneeze into their hands and then continue ringing your order through. Brad generally buys our groceries now.
...Okay, one more...
26. Best day of my life so far - November 9, 1990. I can't imagine my life had I not meet Brad on that date.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fun, Feasting & Frivolity

English rugger Ben Cohen is throwing a party... And we're all invited!

"Moving away from the more traditional rugby testimonial theme, the Ben Cohen Testimonial Committee is holding a ground breaking event at The Dorchester in London,” his publicist Jill Tipping said. “BENediction is an exclusive evening of fun, feasting and frivolity aimed primarily at including his legions of fans in the gay community in the testimonial celebrations.” Guests are promised a “whole host of treats and surprises making this event a real one off and not to be missed. Ben Cohen fans need to make sure that they reserve their places quickly as they are expected to snapped up fast,”

For a long while now, Ben has welcomed his gay fans with open arms. Good on him, I say. Stephen Gerrard, who plays football (soccer) for Liverpool, is another straight English sports star who isn't afraid to hit the local gay club after a match and dance the night away. It's how it should be. Gay guys, straight guys getting along, sharing a laugh, and not being afraid of each other.

Many of our male friends are straight. They're comfortable in their own skin and know we represent no threat to them or their masculinity. I think we all recognize that we have a lot in common - as guys - regardless of what we get up to in the bedroom (or the, ahem, den).

Argh... and wouldn't you know it! With our upcoming trip to Europe, we could almost - ALMOST - make this event in London... La prochaine fois...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reason 517 why I am often ashamed to belong to this species

They say that humans are the only creatures capable of feeling shame. In my opinion, we are the only ones who ever have cause to feel that emotion. This is one poor elephant that somehow managed to escape from poachers in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. I hope it has lived. Scenes like this truly break my heart. Just like when I see huge, magnificent whales being hauled up the sides of boats for "research purposes," or sharks having their fins hacked off on deck and then thrown back into the ocean. Or cows, that can't even stand up, being poked and prodded with forklifts, hoisted up with chains around their necks, to get them to walk to the slaughterhourse floor. Fcuk. Don't these things somehow damage our collective kharma? Can such atrocities - nevermind what we do to each other - continue unabated, unpunished?

I'm sorry for this. I know it isn't the most uplifting of posts. Sometimes, especially when I see a photo like this, it's just overwhelming.

Monday, March 17, 2008

This and that...

Thought I'd post a few pics of how I spent part of this past weekend. Brad was working on the computer on Sunday evening, so I didn't have a chance to post. A couple of pics of the winter wonderland (sigh) that is our back yard. Our good friends George and Barb came down Sunday afternoon for a short visit with Barb's mother, who was visiting them for the weekend. Barb's mom is a delight and we like her very much. Moreover, the occasion provided me with a good excuse to make a pie.

Many years ago, when I was first learning how to make my own pie crust, Brad used to flee our apartment the minute he heard me take the rolling pin out of the drawer (we were still living in an apartment - one of many - back then). The crust would be too dry or too wet. It wouldn't roll out properly, or it would crumble and break apart as I was trying to maneuvre it into the pie plate. I would curse and spit (not really, I frown on spitting), but suffice to say that the air would turn blue in the kitchen. Finally, after much trial and error, I got the knack (and a pastry cloth!), and today, I could make a pie crust blindfolded.

For Sunday, I decided on a raspberry pie (Don't worry Mar, I still have a few more containers in the freezer!) Come the end of July or the first of August, I put my local u-pick on speed dial and I usually end up taking at least one vacation day to spend in the patch. I try to freeze at least 9 quarts to last us throughout the year. We've also planted some canes in our backyard, so I hope to get 2 or 3 quarts from that little patch next year. I could pick raspberries till the cows come home. I find it therapeutic; just letting my mind wander as I hone in on the biggest and ripest berries. You know, those fat, shade-ripened suckers that hide beneath the lower branches toward the middle of the row that most other people miss. And I never seem to learn and wear longsleeves. By the end of the day, my arms look like I've had a run-in with a pack of ferral cats, but no matter - I got what I came for! Happiness is walking into the kitchen with a flat-full of wooden quart boxes mounded high with of ruby jewels that smell like summer itself. I freeze them in 1 litre ice cream containers and use the berries almost exclusively for pies, though I sometimes throw some into a muffin batter. So Sunday afternoon we had pie and English Rose tea. The pie didn't last long.

Sunday evening, I also made a shrimp curry for myself, and just plain fried shrimp for Brad, served with rice and baked potato respectively. The shrimp curry is very easy. Simply throw a quartered onion and a 2-inch long peeled piece of fresh ginger into your food processor and finely chop (this step could, of course, be done by hand, too). Seed and dice 1 or 2 hot peppers (I use jalapenos). Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion and ginger along with a half teaspoon each of salt and sugar, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 and a half teaspoons of curry powder and the jalapenos, then add a 14-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk and about 3/4 cup of water. Cook over moderate heat until sauce is thickened (about 10 minutes). Then add 1 lb of shrimp (I use large white Pacific frozen shrimp that I thaw by running under cold water for 2 or 3 minutes). Simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in the juice of one lime and serve on top of basmati rice.

Monday morning quarterback

Top of the morning to everyone! And Happy St. Patrick's day! Please check out this video. Some of you may have seen it already, I suppose, but it's very funny. Enjoy:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Son of a wha??

I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am...

And you think you're so clever, and classless, and free

Paper Planes (M.I.A.) & Big City Life (Mattafix)

How about a little music for a Saturday afternoon...

Skinny Saturday - Ides of March edition

Well, here it is time for another Skinny Saturday, and this one, I`m going to take to heart... We've just over 2 months before we head to Italy and I have 13 pounds that I want to lose. I am currently at 173 lb and I want to be at 160 lb when we arrive in Italia. Wish me luck! My biggest problem with losing weight is that I have very little will power and almost always end up eating things in the evening that I shouldn't - peanut butter is the devil! On average, I bike 85 to 100 km per week on a stationary in our basement (that's 53 to 62 miles). I used swim 2 or 3 times a week as well, but have gotten out of the habit - must remedy that, too.

Good Saturday all. And be careful out there!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Travel woes

Here's an interesting article from today's Moscow Times.

It cites TripAdvisor, which lists Moscow as the 3rd rudest city in Europe. I will agree that Moscow is perhaps not the friendliest place we have ever been, but we did run into some friendly folk. One man kindly gave us directions (in English) at a Metro stop, and others were helpful when we visited Volkonsky Bakery. That was our very first desination after we arrived in Moscow. It's an incredible bakery I had read about on the Internet prior to our visit. It's owned by Parisian baker Eric Kayser. It was well worth the trip on the Metro (thank god for Brad's sense of direction!). Here are a couple of pics of the bakery.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In the cellar

Eddy & Pats in France... I did mention we're going to Tuscany in a few months, right??

Telephone Becky

Pour ceux et celles qui parlent français...

Jocks on Thursday

Not a lot of time today, so just posting some pics of some sporty types.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

For all intensive purposes

I have to admit, I just about fell out of a tree the first time I saw that expression. It is, of course, a perversion of "for all intents and purposes." I have been thinking this morning about some of the funny expresssions we use in English, and a few that might be particular to my family and posse. Not surprisingly, a few that spring to mind have to do with the cold: It's colder than a whore's heart, for example, or colder than a witch's tit. If it's extremely cold outside, it could well freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Speaking of animal expressions, if something sounds very mournful or just really bad, we say it sounds "like a dying calf in a hailstorm."

And some others that I haven't heard a whole lot outside my own family: If my mother was having a particularly bad hair day she'd exclaim that she looked like "the wreck of the Hesperus." (Which is Longfellow poem about a shipwreck.) If my father thought that someone was really stupid, he'd say that he or she "didn't know if their ass was bored or punched."

And from way back when, when I was still wearing a beard, a girlfriend's family would sometimes have a callyption fit, which always gave me a mental image of a group of steel drummers running around in a tizzy. Crazy as a bag of hammers they were.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Well, I was successful in getting my cluster map up, but a YouTube blogger account continues to elude me... I enter BLOGGER, I enter the e-mail, I enter the password, and it just keeps saying, "Fetching your information, please wait." And I wait, and wait, and wait... And I think we've already established that I am not the most patient person on the planet... Fetch this, you effers! (Any pointers would be greatly appreciated :-)

Not much new otherwise here. I got to say hi to three dogs on my walk home from work (most days, I bring a bus part way and then walk the rest). It was a beautiful day here and EVERYONE was out walking their dogs it seemed... Don't get me wrong, we still have five feet of snow on the ground, but it was 1 C (34 F) and sunny, so it was a beautiful day, relatively speaking. It's difficult to get our car out of our driveway now because the snowbanks are so high... You peek out as much as you can and then go full throtle when there seems to be an opening (we live on a fairly busy street). I'm taking tomorrow afternoon off to take some stuff down to my mother, about a half hour away. (She went into a special care home last fall.) They have restricted visitors at the home because many people are sick with a cold or flu, so I will just drop off her new large-print library books and some foodstuffs I take her. We'll get down for a proper visit next weekend (Easter). Mom is 87. She's in fairly good health and has all of her mental faculties, but she just wasn't able to keep up her own place anymore. She has arthritis and high blood pressure, and the usual complaints that go with her age. Ugh... Growing old isn't for sissies, as someone once said...

Hasta pronto

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Holy Mac!

Where the hell have I been?? How could I never have heard of Bettye LaVette in my 46 years? A friend loaned me her latest CD (The Scene of the Crime) this weekend and I was literally blown away. Amy, honey, you good 'n all, but wow... Check her out and buy the CD ASAP. Listen to the start of Somebody Pick Up My Pieces here:

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Skinny Saturday

Well the sun is trying to come here, but we are supposed to get a major storm tonight, mostly a rain event in this neck of the woods... Rain in winter sucks. Really makes a mess. Enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's Friday - Hallelujah!

Since Survivor was on last night, how about a pic of one of my all-time faves - James...
I also wanted to post a couple of music vids for your Friday enjoyment, but I've not yet been successful in establishing an account with YouTube... Will work on it this weekend. For now, I'll just copy and paste a few links... Please check them out. I don't think they will disappoint. Have a great weekend tout le monde!

k d land sings Hallelujah

And in memory of one of the best dogs there ever was, Regina Spektor sings Samson (which I think is about the Biblical character's first lover, who undoubtedly was a guy:

Garçon, bill please!

Patience, as my 87-year-old mother continues to remind me, is a virtue. It is not, I fear, one of mine. Those who know me probably think I sometimes become annoyed rather easily – at restaurants, in the grocery store, at the cinema, etc. I prefer to think that I merely have a modicum of standards and that I don’t suffer fools gladly.

At a restaurant, por ejemplo, I don’t want to wait 15 or 20 minutes after being seated for a server to glance our way and then, if the spirit moves them, to wander over to see if we might like a libation or if we’re ready to order our meal. There’s one place in town that has notoriously bad service. Trouble is, it's close by and, during our two and a half weeks of summer, they have a pleasant patio that overlooks the beautiful river that runs through the city. Sometimes the draw is irresistible, particularly for unsuspecting out-of-towners.

Take, for instance, the time that Brad’s sister and brother-in-law were visiting from Ontario a couple of summers ago. They wanted lobster and they wanted it al fresco. We tried to warn them. We did everything in our power to steer them toward our favourite haunt. But no. It had to be outdoors and by the river. Only one place would do. So off we went. Long story short, it was a disaster from start to finish. Of course, there was lots of waiting involved, and the server was a complete, gum-snapping bimbette. Brad’s sis ordered a chardonnay, and at least 15 minutes later, “Hi! My name is Tammy and I’ll be lookin' after you this evening” unceremoniously plops down a glass of red in front of her. “I’m sorry,” said K, “but I ordered a chardonnay." “Yeah,” Tammy burbled, “That’s it. That’s your chardonnay.” And so it went. (By this point I have to say that I was actually kind of relishing the I told you so-id-ness of it all.) The evening culminated when K and M naively requested some melted butter in which to dip their lobster. After looking at them as though they were from some outer moon of Juipter, Tammy returns with 2 small metal containers, each containing soft, but not melted, butter. With something akin to pride, she explained that, since she couldn't put the containers in the microwave, she had put them under the heat lamp to soften the butter up, but had been unable to leave them there too long for fear they’d get too hot and she wouldn’t be able to handle them. K patiently explained that, despite her valiant efforts, softened butter was not what they wanted – that they wanted MELTED butter for dipping their lobster. Tammy rolled her eyes and heaved a heavy sigh as she traipsed back to the kitchen yet again with the two metal butter dishes. Ten minutes later (by which point most of the lobster had been consumed, sans buerre), back comes Tammy with one glass bowl of melted better. “You two are married, aren’tcha?” she inquired of K and M. She had, you see, brought just the one bowl and hoped they could share.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Like sand through the hourglass...

... No story of our days would be anywhere near complete without a whole lot of Samson thrown in. Sam was our beloved golden retriever who was our constant companion for 12 years. We brought him home when he was 7 weeks old and never looked back. When he was about six, we moved into a new home and brought Kaiser into the picture. They got along famously and became fast friends in no time. At first, Kaiser deferred to Samson quite a bit. If Sam wanted the blanket Kaiser was laying on, all he would have to do was stand there a few seconds and Kaiser, grumbling under his breath, would get up and move, leaving the blanket for Sam. After settling in some more, though, Kaiser became somewhat harder to budge... He'd simply lay there and say, "What? You talking to me?" One day, when he just really had to have Kaiser's bed, Sam sauntered over all waggity-wag, a frisbee dangling from his mouth. Kaiser jumped up beaming - big brother wants to play!! Sam dropped the frisbee and took possession of the blanket... Oh, if dogs could smirk.

On another occasion when the 4 of us were back-woods camping in Fundy National Park, Brad set off with the dogs on a short hike. For some reason (yeah, yeah, so maybe I'm not the keenest camper who ever pitched a tent in the woods), I decided to stay at the campsite to count mosquitoes. A short time later Samson came bounding back into camp, with Kaiser and Brad bringing up the rear. Sam was a little older and apparently was really dragging along on the hike. Brad thought he might be sick and asked him if he wanted to go back... That was all it took. He ran back to me as fast as he could. He wasn't "old" or "tired," he simply wanted all of us to be together.

Yesterday I read about the US Marine in Iraq who threw a puppy off a cliff. I guess there is a YouTube video, too. I couldn't watch it. There simply are no words. Were the authorities to consult me on an appropriate punishment, I would probably recommend resurrecting that lamentably long-lost Roman tradition of setting up a cage match between the undesirables and some rather hungry lions and let karma take its course.

The first two pics were taken in our backyard and the two others are from our last vacation together. PEI in October 04. Sam loved to go the beach and he loved to swim. He was a huge part of our lives for many years. He died on October 26/04. Fifteen days after his 12th birthday.

Till we meet again, old friend...