Tuesday, August 31, 2010

See ya, summer

So many good things about today!
  • The angry fish are gone (turns out they weren't angry, they were just beautiful and very, very vain)
  • I was actually productive today (I wrote AND shopped)
  • I may or may not have purchased a ravishing purple dress 
  • Okay, I did actually purchase a ravishing purple dress
  • Cooling weather means I don't have to worry about wearing shorts any more
  • Ditto bike ride for undue lengths of time
  • Ditto climbing up big mountains
  • A babysitter (free!) was here all day long 
  • My car once again works, after having been drained of its vital juices by a Nintendo DSi left charging in it all night some two weeks ago by someone who shall remain Luke
  • Dog smells not too bad 
  • Nice manicure (Opi Glitzerland)
  • Banking scare turned out to be a clerical error 
The best thing of all, though:

(doing a little dance)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Meet Elvis

This is Elvis:

He's a mixed hound, mostly coonhound, although with a little bloodhound or foxhound thrown in for good measure. He has many virtues.

He dances.

He accessorizes rather well.

He performs high-diving feats of derring-do.

He has a dignified bearing.

He was once a Hurricane Katrina refugee from New Orleans. He was found under a truck near the intersection of Paris Road and Maria Drive. This is what it looks like from space:

He had a broken back leg, a broken jaw, heartworm, scars from where he'd been attacked by other dogs, and was starving to death. I won't show you the picture of him at the St Bernard Animal Shelter when those good people first took him in because it would make you cry. (If you have spare cash lying around, they would be glad of it--apparently the BP oil spill has forced lots of people to surrender pets they can no longer afford.)

Needless to say, we're not stingy with the gravy around here as far as he's concerned.

A nice American woman who lives around here rescued Elvie and three other large dogs, flying them to the Banff area and finding homes for them all. That first winter, Elvis was one perturbed coonhound--not just the ice and snow, but also the boots and ski sweaters.
It's been 5 years since Katrina. Up here in the voodoo bungalow, we cheer you New Orleansianites on, we wish hard for your recovery, and we're sorry that one of your finest citizens was forced to emigrate. We're taking pretty good care of him though, so don't worry about him in the slightest.

We're sure you'd do the same for us.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Falling Asleep

I once fell asleep while teaching an English class at UCDavis in the spring quarter of 1990. It was 8 in the morning, a muggy bathtub of a morning, with jasmine or something else heavy and soporific in the air, but still: I was sitting at a desk, teaching people about some thrilling point of rhetoric or another, when I suddenly got droopy, drooly, and then shut my eyes and fell asleep. While talking.

That was the morning I knew I wasn't cut out for that professoring thing. I fell asleep and when they woke me up I was mad at them. Not embarrassed, not apologetic. Peeved. I just wanted them all to go away and let me be.

Now I'm a stay-at-home writer. I lie about software, mostly. Sometimes I tell Oriental tales about agile teams or spin a salty yarn about quality control. One memorable day I wrote a series of haiku about travel expense forms. I might have been the only person who realized that the structure was actually a very intricate meshwork of image and internal rhyme derived from a medieval Japanese handbook about haiku. I might have been.

Today, though, it was all earnestness. Earnestness about activating responsive tactical teams and leveraging things and people (should people ever be "leveraged"? It sounds so. . . cold. . . . ).

Anyhow: earnestness + conference call + time zone shift + looming realization that another weekend is about to be sacrificed to gods I do not worship = nap time. When I snapped awake, I was once again peevish with those "around" me and wanted them all to go away and leave me alone.

If I'm not cut out for this writer thing, what next?

Sister 1 is MBA. Sister 2 is lawyer with an eye on higher things yet. Father is millionaire oilman. Dog has press-worthy survivor story and is much sought after as example of how the spirit of New Orleans endures even here in the frozen north. Husband is tenured professor with massive brain and elegant vocabulary--and speaks many languages fluently. There is some pressure here to keep up.

Or--maybe--give up?

If I had a number of diamond bracelets and perhaps an abalone cigarette holder, I could probably pull off the stay at home mom thing with elan, but I've discovered I require a fair amount of mad money. Like a LOT of mad money. Would not working make me less angry, but madder still? Could I really do this thing, this quitting work thing?

One thing's for sure: if quitting my job means feeling compelled to go on Grade 2 field trips, you can just forget about it right now. I'm in for the gold watch.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shades of grey

Or: all cats look grey at night.

There are good things about letting the grey grow in. The savings, for one thing. Those little foil thingies are fun and make a girl all stripey and rocking, but I can fund a greatly accelerated M&Ms habit for an entire year on what I used to spend per month in roots maintenance.

But, as with most of the choices I've made on this earth, the decision had nothing to do with money. No, they had to do with:
  1. Gravitas. People might take me more seriously if I bear the real signs of wisdom and maturity. Serious people don't have to deal with compost. Ever. 
  2. Fear. Certain other people (I'm talking to YOU, Kid) might learn to obey me because of my growing resemblance to the witches they're always on about in children's books.
  3. Surprise! I have grey hair! And I'm so frigging youthful! I KNOW. How do I do it?
  4. Community spirit. Scouts love to help old ladies across the street. 
  5. Safety. No one is going to challenge me to a fight because I looked the wrong way at them. No one beats up old ladies. 
  6. Grey is the new black. My hair goes with everything. Like that Mercedes CLK. . . . 
  7. Victorian hair pieces. Silver hair works beautifully with my recent steampunk hairpiece obsession. (So recent as to be about 5 minutes old at this point.)
  8. School field trips. No one expects the elderly to traipse around frozen wastelands looking for small-animal scat in the middle of deepest February. 
  9. Movies. I can speak loudly in theatres now and no one will think it's because I'm hyper and rude, they'll think it's because I'm hyper and old. 
  10. There must be a tenth thing but I can't think of it right now. If you can, let me know. Where did I put my glasses? Why am I clutching this? I came here for a reason and now I cannot remember what it is. IS THIS THING ON?

Apple Picker?


Before you answer, get up at 2 in the morning for a glass of water and just happen to glance out the kitchen window.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Apropos of nothing. . . .

. . . 7yo says over dinner with my parents (his father being absent on account of weekly lawnbowling commitment):

"Laur, I don't mean to be cruel, but I think Daddy is the most enslaved man in this house."

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I just adopted this word at savethewords.com. I believe I was inevitably drawn to "gleimous" because of what I found in my son's bedroom this morning. And that is the last I will say about that.

I used to enter his room slowly, gently, savoring the way the nursery smelled. Everything like caramel and baby powder (fine, it's toxic, fine, I used it and he lived and neither of us have lung cancer) and clean laundry. Sometimes I would just stand there, in the middle of the room, eyes closed, inhaling in rapture.

This morning, I wrenched the door to his room open, holding my breath, quickly tore the sheets off his bed, gathered the socks and boy panties and t-shirts and shorts and jedi outfits and Mountie costumes into one reeking armful and didn't exhale again until I was safely past the open door in the kitchen, which marks the half-way point to the laundry room. I gulped in another lungful of fresh air and tore down the stairs and threw the whole pile into the washing machine, which I had readied with its door open. Slam! Start! Relief drenched me in grateful sweat. Life--ah, it is sweet to be alive.

In all the books they write about parenting--even about parenting boys, specifically--why is there no chapter on "Your Angel: Soon Enough He Will Smell Like a Goat"?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hi you guys

I just got home from a funeral for one of my in-laws' closest friends. They all met when they were in their 40s and were all up in each other's lives and families, jobs, sorrows, celebrations, ski disasters and irrational car purchases for the next 50 years or so. I kept thinking the whole time of you (yep, you) and how lucky I am to have you here with me as we all try to get from point A to point B here on planet earth. Thanks for everything. I will cry at your funeral when you die at 90 if you'll cry at mine.

Actually, no funeral for this girl. Please have a party, wear nice dresses and tiaras, and drink all Luke's wine. The good stuff is on the left, hidden behind the panini maker and the blender and the chutney from 1997. And have a cat fight over the paste jewelry.

That is all. Thank you and good night.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

10 reasons why today is okay by me

Hot, sticky afternoon, with bored kids sulking that we didn't make it to the movies. Work not fulfilling me as a human being at the moment. Pouty husband struggling to complete 4 months of work in the remaining two weeks before Fall semester 2010 begins. Three insanely angry guest fish. And a funeral, for an old (very old) friend, who has gone on to the next adventure. To make myself feel better about basically living in the American Deep South but without the benefit of pie, juleps, those marvelous  accents or local music that isn't sung by a white guy in a straw cowboy hat, I shall compile the following list of why today is better than at least ten other days I have already lived.

  1. I did not appear topless in a doctor's examining room that was already occupied by an Azerbaijani man, causing him to whoop and holler.
  2. I did not step right in front of a Belgian bus because a chocolate covered cherry caused me to temporarily lose the use of my eyes and brain. 
  3. No child has simultaneously pooed and barfed on me and then bitten my nipple with sharp little teeth.
  4. My water did not just break all over my aged father. 
  5. My sister did not tell everyone I know where I have a secret mole. 
  6. I was not forced to eat squid in a Vancouver restaurant and I did not fail to make it to the ladies' room before projectile vomiting a five-course meal in the lobby, ruining the establishment's bowl of mints. 
  7.  I was not forced to express the anal glands of an angry poodle because I had just taken the worst summer job in the history of the world. 
  8.  I was not prevented from re-entering my vehicle in a hailstorm by the potent combination of a big tree in front and a moose in back. 
  9.  I did not just ask my mommy to explain what this business of a meat pole was all about in the opening pages of The Godfather. 
  10. No Girl Guide leader forced my reluctant hands into a large bowl of raw hamburger, causing me to faint and land on the floor with uncooked meat all over my face. 

I feel better already.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Over on The Book Depository, the fastest moving book as of right now is.... wait for it . . . . THIS:
Oprostite, ali čini mi se da ovdje nešto nije u redu.

More about fun

So the fun project. It continues. It has its ups and its downs. The downs: I rarely get to have fun with the people with whom I would like to be having all this fun. It's all part of the modern world--my people are a far-flung, rag-tag fugitive fleet, spread across continents, cities and small parks that can sometimes seem as vast as the Gobi. They work. They have families of their own--I know, right? THE NERVE. They have moods and desires of their own. Some of which gets in the way of, say, neon bowling with me at the drop of a hat.

But on Saturday night it all came together. Even the weather cooperated. There was fun dinner. A walk through a downtown so gleaming and new that it was like being in a different city altogether. There were fireworks, Chinese fireworks, that went on forever. There was a closed off river bridge for strolling and, if you like that sort of thing, for enjoying Chinese music. There was a grown-up nightcap under the stars by the river, as the last of the Afrika-Dey celebrants straggled home. There were lovely friends to share it all with.

And you know why I think it was such a huge success? Because I was not involved in the planning of any of it.

So please bring me your fun, people. Save me from neon bowling.

Although, if you want to go neon bowling, just say the word.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Need a Shower

So here's the thing: I have been asked to throw a baby shower for someone. Someone I don't really know, but who seems nice enough. I would like to know her well enough to say that she was just splendid. Perhaps time will take care of this. Or a warm scone with an excellent crumb.

Here's the thing though: we have a mutual acquaintance. A person that I DISLIKE.

It's not a mild, meh, sort of dislike, either: I do not want this person in my home ever again.

And yet I am all about being nice lest someone stab me (something I learned to fear from Jenny at The Bloggess, whom I worship) (I mean, I think she might actually have replaced one of The Trinity)--and not just because I am afraid Jenny will stab me (which she might, and then infect me with some kind of taxidermy plague), but because I genuinely think that every single one of us being good is key to having the world work out okay.


How to solve this thing?

Is it possible to poison only one teacup? Could I "forget" to send the invitation? Should I stage some kind of mock disaster on my corner so that she cannot drive here?

Anyone have a creative idea?

I know that you are out there, lurking, and that you've never written to me before. Let today be the ay that you do.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fun is expensive

In pursuit of fun, I was persuaded to go to Heritage Park with sister and three kids, including mine. Whee! This is more like it, I t congratulated myself. This Fun Project is going to be super simple. I am so great.

As it turns out, historical fun is PRICE-Y. Admission, rides bracelet, lemonade slushies, bags of (historically inaccurate) candy, lunch (crab cakes are somehow connected to Calgary's rich past?). . . .

RCMP outfits.

I got out of there nearly $200 later. I think I could pretty easily have $200 of fun that did not involve watching a draft horse pee for 36 seconds (timed it--we were waiting for the kids to get back from their fifth ride on The Caterpillar). Fun that, for example, included gin or shoes (these Helle Comfort Winonas, for example, would make me very happy, for only an additional $9USD):
It would also be fun to get rid of those vertical lines up there, but not that much fun.

Anyone need some copywriting done? Will work for shoes--as long as I don't have to wear them anywhere "fun."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Idaho and its Discontents

When you see this sign, know that you are well and truly in the middle of nowhere:

The helpful websites that I consulted about where to hike near Sandpoint Idaho with a dog did not mention that the 16 miles of Trestle Creek Road are unpaved, cling precariously to a sheer drop off for much of the time, are approximately 1.25 Subarus wide, and, while incredibly beautiful (wildflowers, trees, blahblahblah), are also so desperately remote that were there to be trouble of any sort (like running out of secret glove-compartment gin), you would disappear like the Donner Party. No head pills. Aunt Flo. And everywhere warnings about bears. I felt like a dripping roast on legs as I began the hike up on quavering legs. In the end it turned out all right. The lake was stupid but it was there, which meant that the hike was officially over. No moose. No bear. Yay.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? (Here's where I think this post is veering off course.....Yep.) This was my much-longed-for vacation and all I could do was sigh and trudge. I'm surprised that the boys didn't just abandon me by the side of the road, what with all the clutching, the bitching, the endless fussing with the air-conditioning and the stereo and the windows and the rules regarding the use of a backseat DS.

Am I too old to have fun? Has fun changed in the last ten years? Do I need to start shopping around for my retirement villa already? Or hook up with a group of similarly dumpy and morose middle-aged people who play whist? Must I learn to play whist, for the love of GOD? Will I ever again do more than wade thigh-high in mountain lakes while everyone else (including the dog) swims?

I've never been one of those very fun people: too shy, too self-conscious, too in love with books. Dancing is fun--as long as I'm doing it alone in my office. But I think I used to be in better practice: I knew what fun looked like, knew the appropriate dosage for my height and weight, etc. I think I am just not in the habit of having fun anymore. I feel stupid having fun.

Uh-oh, I feel one of those awful inspiring moments coming on. Dear God, am I about to embark on a Fun Project?

I think I am.

Pinch me.

That'll be fun.

Off to, I don't know, braid some flowers in my hair or something.

(Every time I try to type "fun" into the Labels box, I keep getting "dream funeral." I think this project might be doomed. Or very weird.)