Thursday, June 30, 2011

Falafel.

In July, 1999 Mr Wrath and I quit our jobs, gave away half our belongings, stashed the rest in a storage locker and took off for northern British Columbia. The impetus for moving was the decision to get a dog.

At the time our lives were neither conducive to dog ownership nor long term sanity. Mr Wrath's job involved travel, and long hours. Plus the company's future viability seemed doubtful. Or so Mr Wrath began to think the day it was announced employees should start supplying their own toilet paper. His concerns were not assuaged when later that day the sheriff pulled up to repossess the boss' car.

For my part I was working at my university alma mater.  I'd taken the job two years earlier hoping to parlay job connections and union membership into a position utilizing the public relations and communications courses I was taking at a community college in the evenings. Only too late did I realize that the administrative side of universities are ruled by politics. Once you are employed in a certain department (in my case, the library division) other areas of the university are loath to poach you lest the move come to back to haunt them at some undisclosed future date.

Also I had a new boss, and he was unbelievably dumb. It offended my entire moral code that someone without an ounce of business acumen or intelligence could coast on their good looks and boyish charm for so long. Eventually the highlight of my days became the occasions when I would have this one particular emeritus professor arrested for physically assaulting library photocopiers and computers or casting aspersion on whether certain female librarians had functioning genitalia. Yeah. I hated that guy. But not nearly as much as I hated my boss. I began to fantasize about him being banned from campus, declared incompetent and placed under the financial guardianship of a responsible adult. This was, I should note, the fate of the angry emeritus professor.

Deeply unhappy with our professional circumstances, we also couldn't afford to rent (much less buy) a  non-crack-den house with a yard for our theoretical dog, who we planned to name Falafel.


So we moved.

Within 3 months, Mr Wrath had a great job, and we bought a house. Keen to start pet ownership, I went to the SPCA one afternoon just to look at a cat. I thought it would be nice to start out with a cat, who are (lets face it) much less labour intensive than dogs. But when I went to the Used Dog Store there were eleven crazed dogs, barking, and lunging at the gates of their kennels.

All except for one. Who didn't bark. She just silently wagged her tail at me and said, "Hey. Look at me. I'm a rottweiler-husky cross. I'm the mellowest, friendliest, non-barkiest dog on the planet. If I were to be portrayed by a human, it would be Keanu Reeves as seen in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. But with less air guitar. You should take me home. I will shed my black fur on your white home furnishings, and white fur on your black home furnishings. I will keep your backyard free of marauding squirrels. When you have children I will never nip at them or bark at them.  I will lie under their chairs and eat everything they drop on the floor. And when your youngest child gets old enough to spend lazy mornings reading comic books on the chesterfield, I will lie placidly beside him and let him warm his cold toes on my fur. And I will never complain."

So we took her home.  And she has lived up to every single one of her promises.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

100.

This my one-hundredth post. I am wallowing in phlegm, tissues, and self-pity so this is going to be something less than substantial.

Currently, I'm watching a Remington Steele episode. I'd planned to spend the afternoon reading in bed, but this was not to be. Firstly my older son is also sick with both a flu and a stomach bug. Secondly, I have nothing to read. The public library is closed til Tuesday, there's nothing of interest in the library's ebook collection, and I just can not bring myself to spend more than $10 for a book on the Sony Reader Store.

I'm cautious about what I read when I have a fever. My dreams are weird enough when I am healthy. But when I'm fevered, they get really trippy. Which is why I'm setting aside my current read, which is about the inevitable and colossal earthquake that will devastate the coast of BC at any point in the next 200 years. When I was sick in January (or was it February?) I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I had freaky dreams for days. I think pretty much everything you need to know about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is that it was originally published under the title Men Who Hate Women. It had been recommended to me by several people, including someone in my family who is very religious and who loved it. Also a very soft-spoken, demure, crunchy-granola, yoga-loving type woman who -- when I asked her if it was graphically violent -- said, "No. Not at all." I now have LOTS of questions about her personal predilections and history.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the most recent title recommended to me that was a grave disappointment. A few other titles: Twilight, The Kite Runner, The Road, The Help and Marley & Me. I am not a fan of pies made of poop, people eating one another, dogs that need to be shot, rape and/or poorly written prose about vampires. At this point I'm going to either stop soliciting book recommendations, or preface my requests with the statement, "In the event that the title you recommend sucks, I will think less of you."

• • • •

It's later now. Mr Wrath and Klaxon (who are both healthy) have gone for walk with the Wunder Dog. Upstairs Zarf, has eaten six saltines and a bowl of rice and not vomited. And I feel so badly for him, I'm letting him have my humidifier. He is sitting up in bed watching Scooby-Doo. I've got another mug of hot lemon with honey and another episode of Remington Steele is playing in the background. I guess as far as lazy Sundays go, this one isn't bad. But that might just be because these non-drowsy Advil Cold & Flu pills pack a pretty good punch.

I fear this maybe the most boring post ever composed. I wish it weren't, but this is all the creativeness I can muster. Does it elevate the status if I include a snap of the awesome present we received from The Awefull Family? Look at it:

I'm adding this bobble-headed bowling girl trophy to the list of ten things I will save if the house burns down. Sorry, boys, your baby books have been demoted.

And on that (possibly unintelligent and/or cruel) sentiment, I'm going to take a nap.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Twilight Zone.

The internet has exposed me to lifestyles and philosophies that are not represented in my daily life in this small northern town. For instance, in real life I do not know a single solitary neo-druid or wiccan. Based on the number of people who commemorated yesterday's summer solstice, there are LOTS of devotees of alternative religions in my blog roll and twitter stream. And so long as they don't come knocking on my door trying to convert me, I'm not judging their choices. Publicly, anyway.

"It's going to be winter soon," is the comment my father traditionally makes the day after the summer solstice. Because he -- like I -- enjoy Canadian winters. Also because he -- like I -- find it amusing to make people cry.

My singular annual ritual is tacking a black bed sheet over the south facing window in our bedroom in the middle of June. It's been overcast in the mornings for the past few weeks, and the earlier arrival of the sun had gone unnoticed. Until yesterday when I awoke to our bedroom bathed in sunlight. I thought it was 8 AM and that Mr Wrath and I had slept through our alarms. It was 4:30 AM.

Last night I stayed up too late. The very last yellow rays of the sun were still visible at quarter past 11.  At 1 AM the street lights flickered on for a few brief hours, the solar lights in the neighbours' gardens stayed dim, unable to respond to the prolonged twilight. The horizon from the north-eastern point where the sun had set, to the north-western point where the sun would soon appear, were a beautiful electric blue. I felt like I had jet lag, my body clock out of synch with my time zone and my northern life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Missionary Position.

I don't like missionaries.

Firstly, I distrust anyone who thinks their belief system or values are the ONLY CORRECT option. People who pontificate on the merits of their moral code, are often motivated by doubt. The fervency that someone exhibits while trying to convert me to their belief system (be it centered around organized religion, politics, parenting philosophies, or the value of reality television shows), is generally in proportion to the doubt they have about the validity of their choices.

Personally, I find nothing more compelling than someone who says, "Here's what I believe, I am not bothered if you have a dissenting opinion."

Secondly, missionary work (be it domestic or international) is contrary to everything I learned in my university anthropology classes. Societies are holistic. Imposing a belief system that developed in another cultural context undermines the very fabric of a society and leads to ruination. As proof of this I offer up the entire history of Canada since initial contact between Europeans and First Nations.

Thirdly, I do not come from a religious tradition that values this behavior. Say what you will about the failings of the Catholic church (and there are MANY), but we don't do this shit anymore. Let's hear it for the Second Vatican Council! Nuns get to go out in public! No more Latin services! Catholic clergy in developing countries now focus upon social justice not religious conversion!

And lastly: missionaries are doing normal Christians a great disservice. Yes, it all comes down to bad public relations. Many people (ie, my children) have their initial and primary exposure to Christianity when people come knocking at the door with tracts and sermons and offers of prayer.

Only recently did I realize (to my horror) that Klaxon and Zarf think ALL Christians want to convince people to -- in the words of my 7 year old -- "buy their religion." Such was the case, on Saturday morning. Mr Wrath and I were sitting on the chesterfield drinking coffee and chatting, when he jumped up and ran out of the room.

"What the --" I said,

"Missionaries. Coming up the driveway!" he yelled. Well, maybe not yelled as our house is rather small and he was standing in the windowless safety of the hallway to the bedrooms, three meters from me.

"Are you sure?"

"Two antiseptically clean, white guys in dark suits. Who else could it be?"

"Crap!" I said, scuttling out of the room in a most undignified pose, hoping that the missionaries (who were now standing on the stoop) couldn't discern my silhouette through the thin cotton curtain hanging over the front door window.

From the kitchen, Klaxon yelled in a too-loud voice, "OH, MAN! CHRISTIANS! AGAIN?! WHY?!"

Yes. YES, INDEED. WHY ARE THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES AT OUR DOOR!? AGAIN! ON A SATURDAY! It was bad enough when they'd drop by occasionally on the weekdays. I was fine with opening the door, exchanging pleasantries, then declining their tracts with, "We're Catholics -- all our salvation needs are currently being met," or "Thanks, but I'm already so full of the holy spirit, I can't read one more single bible verse or hear one more sermon without busting out of my temple garments."

But now that the missionaries are dropping by on weekends, I'm done opening the door. It's the first, and the easiest way of rehabilitating my sons' incorrect ideas about Christians (By the way, I totally own up to doing my kids a disservice by not openly discussing the many different ways people live and practice their faiths. I'll work on that, too.).  Rather than resort to hiding in the hallway, I'm going to post a sign on the front door. But I'm undecided about the text. Tell me which option you prefer:

Option A.

No Unsolicited Callers.

Option B.

Unsolicited Callers -- you are not welcome.

Option C.

No salespeople or religious canvassers. 
Thank you.

Option D.

No Soliciting.
No Religious Queries.

These three are very common and quite direct.  But they're rather dry. So I've come up with a two more that are just as succinct, but with a bit more humour:

Option E.
No Cold Callers.
We don't buy goods or services
or gods at the door.

Option F.
STOP!
No Sales.
No Surveys.
No Canvassing.
No Cold Calls.
No Offers of Eternal Salvation.
NO EXCEPTIONS.

Which do you prefer?

(Disclaimer: I'm not sure a sign will work, but I'm willing to give it a go.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hockey Wars.

Wednesday night at 11 pm, my 7 year old stuck his head into the living room and asked, "Are the hockey wars over yet?"

Sadly, no.
• • •

From my twitter stream:

• • •

On twitter this morning I expressed my incredulity at a photo taken by Rich Lam during the Riots@Threeandholding suggested it be captioned "Crushing hockey defeat makes me so horny."

@NotSoSage offered this:


This is mine:


Ew. I hope these two are up to date on their shots. I don't know how a city where it rains 90% of the time can be so filthy, but Vancouver's downtown is dirty. When I'm in Vancouver, I don't even like to wear sandals. Much less dry hump in the middle of the street.

• • •

"This is why you don't let me watch hockey, isn't it?" asked the 9 year old this morning while I watched the news coverage.

"Hell, yes." was my honest reply.

 • • •

Two more pithy comments from twitter:




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Random Randomness.

Check out the amazing similarities between Deanna Troi (from Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Mother Gothel (from Disney's Tangled):

I love it. Sadly Marina Sirtis didn't supply the voice of her celluloid doppelganger.

 • • •

A sign on the dock at camp:


Did the sign company get paid by the -S?

 • • •

What are your thoughts about the Canadian Postal Strike? 

As much as I love the songs and rhetoric of Utah Phillips and Pete Seeger, I'm not a fan of unions. Historically unions helped bring about necessary legislation to protect the rights of workers. But in this century unions are just impediments to Canada competing effectively in the global economy.  Also, for the last month I've been planning to order a Kik-Step library stool, but I don't want it to be stuck in the postal system.

This is gonna look wonderful in my kitchen!

You know what wouldn't look good in my kitchen? Me, fuming that Canada Post was forced to privatize because the CUPW would not do their bit to fix the $3,200,000,000 pension deficit of this crown corporation. Enjoy your lockout, postal employees whose average starting salary is $23 per hour. See ya in September!

• • •

Here's a clip of Samuel L Jackson reading "Go The Fuck To Sleep." Before you listen to this, I highly recommend that you usher the kids out of the room. And pour yourself a nice mug of vodka:

 
• • •

Here's a gratuitous shot of Chris Pine:


I would like to point out that Chris Pine's facial hair looks really nice in this picture.  I believe  when it comes to facial hair, a little goes a long way. This is why I'm less than thrilled with Chris Pine's newest look:

He looks so...so...Canadian.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vexed.

There are many lovely, profound, humour-filled phrases and passages in Jane Austen's novels:

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." (Pride and Prejudice)

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." (Northanger Abbey)

"I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other." (Emma)

"Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings." (Mansfield Park)

"My idea of good company...is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.' 'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best." (Persuasion)

"Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can." (Pride and Prejudice)

In theory, being married to a man who quotes Jane Austen should be wonderful. However, over the last few weeks my husband has assuaged me of this notion. Mr Wrath has latched on to a particularly amusing -- in his estimate -- quote and utters it every chance he gets:

"I have not the pleasure of understanding you. Of what are you talking?"

On the one hand, my husband is a genius for employing this phrase. He knows I love Austen. He knows that it's best to diffuse a tense situation (ie the practicalities of him building a fence vs. my desire to see a pretty fence when I glance out the kitchen window) with good humour.

On the other hand, it's bad enough knowing that the Austen hero I most closely resemble is Elinor Dashwood. But to be cast as Mrs Bennet by my own spouse? It's too much. It is as if he takes delight in vexing me. Has he no compassion for my poor nerves? Oh, how I suffer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adventures in Blob Land.

Guess where I've been. Guess! No. Don't even bother to guess because there is no way you'll get it right. I'll just tell you:

I was at bible camp. YES! Me! AT BIBLE CAMP.

More accurately I was at a bible camp, but it was bible camp-lite1. We were attending a camp/retreat hosted by the boys' distributed learning school. It was fun. There was hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and marshmallow roasting. There was archery, a scavenger hunt, a jungle swing, a ropes course, a zip line, a game of stealth tag in the dark, and the general mayhem that comes when children are left to run wild in the forest. My sons also participated in something called blobbing. This is my eldest:


Here's the best part of that photo: he had not yet reached the apex of his flight. He went higher than the 15 foot tall launch tower. Needless to say I have added blobbing to the list of banned activities for our family (Also on this list: watching Adventure Time With Finn and Jake, letting the dog kiss you on the mouth, riding your bike while wearing Crocs, getting a tattoo, voting for the Conservative Party of Canada).

Alas I could not participate in many of these activities because I was injured. Since I didn't let you guess where I'd been, I will now let you guess how I got hurt:

1. Shark attack.
2. I broke my arm while stealing an old lady's Vicodin prescription.
3. "Nothing makes the time at bible camp fly-by like a good ol' fashioned game of Smiting The Agnostic!"
4. Turns out chimpanzees do make bad pets. Who knew?
5. While putting a fitted sheet on my bunk bed, I snagged my big toe on the plywood and partially pulled the nail off the toe.

Correct answer: 5.

It's lame, I know. But it still really, really hurts. There was BLOOD, people. And pus. I was limping. I couldn't wear any of my shoes. I had to wear my Birkenstock sandals. WITH SOCKS! For three days. In the presence of TEENAGERS! There are no words to describe my suffering.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1 The facility was charming, and run very professionally. Grace was recited before meals, but there was no proselytizing. As an aside, if you are uncomfortable with religion, you should avoid places with the term "Bible Camp" in their name. And if you do go, then you've got no right to be offended. Take off your hat, clasp your hands, listen to the devotion, say "Amen" and get over it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Indoctrination.

Klaxon and Zarf get a lot of nose bleeds. They evidently both suffer from a medical syndrome with the single symptom of your nose spontaneously bleeding. There is no warning, or so I am told. They are NEVER picking their noses, they both attest when I suggest easing off the nasal spelunking. They are pretty good at getting to the bathroom when the nasal blood geysers begin. Usually I don't even bother to check on them till the bleeding has abated and I need to contend with a bathroom that looks like a scene from Carrie.

The other day in the midst of a particularly profuse session, Klaxon (age 7) came into the kitchen. "Look. I stuffed wads of tissue up my nose to keep the blood from dripping on my clothes."

"Good job," I said.

"Yeah. I look like I was in a bar brawl. Just like Kirk."


Proudest moment of my life.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hey, That's My Bike.

Once upon a time I loved Before Sunrise. I saw this movie -- about an American backpacker and a French student passing a night in Vienna -- in 1996, weeks before embarking on my own European backpacking adventure. For obvious reasons, it really resonated with me. That was going to be me! Having deep conversations about deep philosophical questions with exotically-accented EUROPEANS in pretty European places!


Today I'm not even slightly tempted to watch Before Sunrise, or it's 2004 sequel Before Sunset. I know that the movie belongs to an era, and a mindset that has long since passed for me.

There are some movies and books that you must see at certain phases of your life or you'll never understand their appeal. Today a movie wherein nothing happens, and people just talk about their feelings and thoughts and opinions will not engross me. It'll annoy me.

In high school I owned lots of jewellery, loved shoulder pads, sewed my own clothes, bought men's blazers, wore wacky hats, and was frequently accused of being a Molly Ringwald wannabe. But I didn't see any of her movies until  I was in my late twenties, at least ten years too late.

I don't get Pretty in Pink. Did the poor kids in your high school drive cars? In my school, the only kids with cars were the ones whose rich, divorced fathers were trying to buy their affection. I enjoyed the The Breakfast Club once I stopped obsessing over the title. Why do the kids call themselves The Breakfast Club. No one eats breakfast. But they do eat lunch.  No one even references breakfast. Is it suppose to be a play on words? Are they breaking fast from their cliques?

I watched Grease for the first time three or four years ago. The way my peers revere this film, meant I had high expectation. Understandably, I was disappointed. But I can see how it would be kitschy fun to watch this movie as a teenager at a slumber party.

Dirty Dancing isn't -- as I'd long assume -- a story about an impressionable young woman and her statutory rapist. Was I the only person who watched this as a teenager and was horrified that Baby was dating a guy in his mid-thirties? Evidently the movie suffered from bad casting, and I suffered from an inability to suspend my disbelief.

Am I coming across as a pretentious douche who is criticizing the films you love? Does it help if I confess to you some of the movies that I once loved, but now find trite? Here's a partial list:

Singles: I went to the premiere of this movie. Well, the Edmonton premiere. But still. It was exciting. Just looking at the poster makes me all nostalgic for the days of wearing wide-brimmed hats, black tights, work boots, cut offs and flannel shirts. At the same time! While I worked at coffee house. I over identified with every character in this film. What was it about, you might ask. I have no FREAKIN' clue. But there's something about a giving your lover a garage door opener...


Reality Bites: I use to fancy I was quite a bit like Lelaina, the Winona Ryder character. Did you? What? NO! It was just me? Just like her, I wanted to meet a slacker like Troy, so I could change him. But only because he wanted to be changed! He was a slacker who -- with the love of a good, slightly judgmental woman -- would be a non-slacker. Slackerdom, it's like a siren song to women of a particular age. I'm so glad I grew up.


The English Patient: I saw this movie three times. IN THE THEATRE! Because I evidently enjoyed spending money to watch selfish people engage in a needlessly-complicated, emotionally-charged, depraved relationship.  I still love Ondaatje's more-nuanced, non-linear book, but I'm boggled by how much I loved this film as a 23 year old.

Dying Young: Falling in love with a terminally ill rich dude is a very noble thing to do. As you can infer from the title, this film doesn't have a happily ever after ending. In my early 20s, I loved unhappy endings. Happy endings were for the middle class.

Also of note: this movie was the first time I saw a young beautiful woman with a tattoo (on the back of Julia Roberts' character). Prior to this I'd only seen tattoos on the forearms of my friends' dads. Remember the good old days when hardly anyone had tattoos and you could tell whose father you should NEVER accept a ride from based on the presence of tattoos? "Oh, thanks Allie's dad. But you and your crudely rendered Betty Boop tattoo can just remain seated on the chesterfield. I called my non-tattooed dad and he'll come pick me up."

Want to join me on this celluloid trip down memory lane? Are there films you once loved, but now you can't bear to watch even when they come on the television late at night? Is it too late for me to watch that movie with John Cusack where he holds the boom box over his head in the pouring rain? Does the movie have a plot, or does the previous sentence sum up the entire film?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Delight In The Beauty of the Butterfly.

Tonight. First a flight. Then a feed.


Tonight. Painted Lady on the cusp of freedom.


Tonight.  Let the wild rumpus begin.


Last week. Hanging out.


Twelve days ago. Look up. Look waaaaaaaaay up


Three weeks ago. Feeding frenzy caterpillar-style.