Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Here in Montreal, the public transportation system is only able to accommodate handicapped passengers on the buses as there still are no elevators in the subway stations. They do have specially designed buses that can lower and raise on command, with ramps and removable seats to ease the boarding of wheelchairs. In addition, there are signs at the front of the bus near the entrance instructing the rider to give up this seat to passengers with "reduced mobility" and a symbol indicating a person with a cane. This applies to the seats nearest the door at the front of the bus. This is a good system, honored by most. But I have one problem with it. I think there should be another sign stating that if you have reduced mobility, please wait for the fully mobile people to get off the bus first. Before you denounce me as an impertinent asshole, let me explain.

Look, if you are suffering and your ambulatory skills have been compromised, I'm all for infrastructure that helps alleviate mobility difficulties. Handicapped parking near the front of the store. Cool. Specially designed movie theatre seats near the exit. Right on. Extra help getting on and off the plane with priority embarkation. Super. The shotgun seat on the bus each and every time you ride. Bitchin'. Just let me get the fuck off before you so I don't have to be further inconvenienced while you (in the most excruciatingly slow and trepidatious way) navigate the stairs leading to the curb. Because nobody behind you wants to help you, they want to push you. (maybe I'm projecting, hmmm) I've seen an entire bus packed full all have to exit from the rear door, one at a time, before a sole cane toter was able to succeed in exiting the vehicle.

I thinks it's only considerate to let the other passengers (who paid twice what you did) get off before you. After all, you're clearly not going anywhere in a hurry, as many of us are.

Anyway, it's crankified me more than once, so I just decided to vent a little. I feel better now.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Waning and faltering

Oh my god, I'm officially a broken record. I wrote something and then it turns out I wrote about it already back on July 9th. This must be why our grandparents are always repeating themselves.

I don't mind most of the stuff about getting old. Sure there's gray where once there was none. The proliferation of wrinkles and freckles are somewhat upsetting. But there's also added perspective and a better sense of oneself too. None of it all that bad.

But here's what I hate. The robustness is waning. Stamina fleeting. Mental retention faltering. This is what leads to canes and walkers! Sad, sad I am about that.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Warning this post may be dangerous to your appetite

I've tried to get rich quick on several occasions, and I'm not talking lottery. You've proabably heard about the million dollar homepage (dot com). This college student who got the idea to sell a million pixels at a buck a pop made a million in four months. This is the kind of get rich quick scheme I'm talking about. I can't hide my petty bitterness for the college student, even though I acknowledge that it's based on envy.

Five years ago, I had a plan to make some money. I've always been attracted to enterprises that make all of their money during a certain season. You know like a Christmas tree peddler. They work like fiends for a couple months and then sit around the rest of the year. So that was why I was so gung ho for my calendar idea. People only buy calendars for a couple months of the year, so if you could sell enough, sitting pretty for the rest of the year seems viable. I think I've mentioned it before, but I created the Outhouse Calendar, wherein each month featured a gory shot of some overflowing shithole in an outhouse. I spent many weekends visiting hundreds of outhouses in search of the most gruesome scat scenes.

This was one of my favorites (replete with bloody tampon!). It has made some people gag.

Wait for it....

(pic removed, too gross)

I'm lousy at marketing, and so I only sold one. To my father. But I had a website and everything. I thought it would be a great gag gift, and then I could find different themes for future years, like "scabs" or "diapers".

Went through a spate of selling clothes on Ebay which was lucrative, but a lot more work than you can imagine. (Ladies, don't throw out your old flip-flops, weird people will pay like $50 for used ones - especially if it includes a picture of your foot in them.)

I also seem to remember a summer of painting terracotta pots and selling them at crafts fairs. (I shudder at the man-hour to revenue ratio.)

I would go on (and maybe make some kind of point) but you've probably already clicked away by now, horrified by the photo. I'll take it down tomorrow, wouldn't want that stinking up the page all week.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I fell flat on my face yesterday in the bar where I went to meet spouse after work. Because part of the seating area was slightly elevated, with a small step surrounding it, and the two "floors" were the same color, I didn't realize until it was too late.

It was just like when you're falling asleep and you have one of those awake-dreams that you step off the sidewalk, and you snap back wide-awake.

Only this was for real. Bunged up my wrist pretty bad, but nothing more than my ego was severely damaged. On the bright side, I received scattered applause.

And this was before any consumption.

This is just another example of my oxymoronic character. I am a dignified clutz.

I like to plan spontanaeity and I'm anxious to both start and finish a project. My appetite is behemoth, while my frame stays wiry.

And like many people, I have a disorganized method of organization.

Anyway, after I took a small bow, I found my seat next to spouse and ordered a drink. (Actually, it was a double.) I thought about Ella then.

I saw Ella Fitzgerald at the Hollywood Bowl about a decade ago and about half way through the show, she fell flat on her face, not having noticed the small step demarkating (what word do I want here? Delineating?) an elevated area of the stage where she had been throughout. Right in the middle of "Summertime" she rose from her seat and slowly moved downstage and SMACK, fell flat on her face. The entire audience gasped and people rushed out from the wings. She was dazed but insisted on staying and continuing. She brushed herself off, and finished the show. I read later that she had suffered a fracture from it.

And so I forgot about the pain and humiliation and enjoyed a lovely evening with friends. This morning though, my body is reminding me that I am injured. Darnit.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Who wants to be a politician?

One of my student's family members recently ran for election in a local riding for the conservative party. Seizing the conversational opportunity, we talked about the run-up to election day and how much work was involved in campaigning.

The funny thing was that the candidate had always been a "pequiste" (someone who supports the Bloc Quebecois party) and had just switched to the conservative party because the BQ already had a candidate for that riding.

This led to a discussion about what leads people into politics. For the person in question, it seemed to be more about being center stage, and in the spotlight that attracted him to running for election. Certainly it wasn't because the party platform represented tightly held beliefs.

If this is a common phenomenon, our elected officials are comprised of vain, self serving individuals looking for glory.

I had always suspected so, but now I have some evidence.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

HNT and the job upshot

Burning up with the flu last week, spouse thought I looked "cute". (No, I don't see it.)

The decision has been made, I'm sticking with the job I've got. Once I'm done with this post, I've got to call the principal to decline the job offer.

Some of you bloggers seem to know me better than I know myself. I think my attraction to this other job was simply a matter of restlessness. And that maybe this is all a big lesson, a la The Wizard of Oz, that you don't need to go looking for something when you already have it in your own backyard.

And now I'm back in gratitude mode, grateful for the things I have and the people who surround me.

If for nothing else, this whole thing was worth it for helping me adjust my attitude about my current jobs.

(don't know what HNT is? Click here.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

S%*t or get off the pot!

What a rollercoaster I've been on. I think I've changed my mind 5 times now. And I was so touched to see all the comments yesterday addressing my dilemma. Everybody brought up such good points, both pro and con, even though I was less than clear with the specifics. In the morning I was rarin' to take the job/risk/challenge/adventure, and then in the afternoon, I was fully on board with staying put. Of course that was after I spoke with the person responsible for the current bulk of my income and told her everything and said, "Now is your chance to tell me anything you want to convince me not to go." And boy did she tell me some things. First off, she has already worked that job (enough of the mystery, it's for a 1 year full time English teacher position in an upscale suburb's high school to replace a teacher going on maternity leave for a year) and had lots of comparisons between what we do now and that job. Essentially, I'll be giving up my autonomy and freedom and extremely relaxed work to take on (albeit sometimes fun, exciting and rewarding) beaurocratic administration, petty colleagues and hostile parents. More work, slightly more money (probably), but some people love it. Maybe I'm one of them. Finally, she said, "look, if you go now, you leave me in a very difficult position. If there is a shortage of teachers and you want to explore that, go ahead....in September. Because the shortage isn't going away before then. And nobody is put out, not me, not your existing students." She talked a good rap. (Plus I think if I were an eskimo, you could sell me ice)

Still (as Patricia pointed out) I feel as if the universe is nudging me. There have been more than a couple coincidences that led me to that interview Monday.

But. I should describe the job I have now a bit to show you why I'm so (hating myself viciously for this) undecided. This is a life that I've worked to create over the past few years. It was long exhausting low paying hours at the beginning, but by slowing proving myself and making the right connections, it has come to this: Each August and January, several business english schools and several families call for my services as ESL teacher and tutor. The schools offer me four month contracts where I go to a place of business to teach the executives conversational English, some grammar and vocabulary once per week. The families call who want help for their kids. I set my price. I can accept or decline based on what I want. There are always way more offers than I can take, so I choose the "best" ones. I always have to decline offers once I've deemed my schedule "full". Most of the classes are based on the student objectives, and I prepare exercises to help them improve in this or that area. I decide. I run the class and have full control.

And. Right now, I have the sweetest schedule yet. 11:30 to 6:00 Mon to Thur and Fri 11-1. Oh yeah and Mon to Thurs I have a break from 1:30 to 4:00. The families pay cash if you know what I mean.

A couple of you mentioned my gut feeling. My gut feeling is of course "I want to do both!" which is impossible according to my brain (and that 24 hours comprise a day).

Taking a risk was mentioned, and I'm on board with the sentiment, but at 40 I'm more into calculated risks.

There are other pros and cons worth mentioning, but I think it boils down to how much I value my free time and autonomy, because I'd be giving up a good deal of that.

I tossed and turned a lot last night anguishing about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Let's say you spend several years working to develp a client base that finally affords you both financial stability and enough free time to nurture other interests.

Then when you're on vacation half way around the world, you meet by chance someone in the same field (and city) as you who encourages you to come and work with his clients.

You think, "Maybe I could be interested in that," and say so.

Yesterday, you meet the vacation acquaintance's boss who (though unable to confirm salary) beseeches you to join their team.

Today, you need to decide if you're going to drop everything you've built up over the last few years to take on a new challenge/adventure.

Well, I don't know what you'd do, much as I don't know what I'll do. And so the platitudes swirl in my head:

-It's not the things in life that you do that you regret, it's the things you don't do.

-You never know until you try it.

-A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

I wish I were more decisive. I've got until thursday to give my answer.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Until tomorrow

Well my friends, it was inevitable. I've got nothing for you this morning. Unless you want more whining about coughing, cold and Mondays. Which I'm pretty sure you don't.

At least you're already done with this post. As am I. Peace.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

People are interesting

I know someone who...

- puts a small item under a large item that will remain in the shopping cart. That way, most of the time the small item doesn't get scanned or noticed. The activity causes no guilt.

- shaves the genitalia clean daily in order to receive oral gifts. In a relationship, everything is negotiable.

- resents me deeply. I know why, but the subject has never come up.

- will not under any circumstances wait in a line. Restaurant meals and movies alike have been missed due to this.

- is in a polyamorous relationship with both sexes.

- must defecate in the nude.

- leads a double life of love.

- went born again and never spoke to me again.

- complains about every single meal in a restaurant, often sending plates back.

- has a fetish passion. One is deep sea fishing. The other is skin care products.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday update

Sara in her favorite position where she spends most days in the winter.

Well this has been one lousy week to remember. Burying a family member and falling sick were the themes, depressing. Both of us had to call in sick and though I (expertly) have avoided the docter, Spouse had to go in after having some kind of asthmatic response. (Which means he couldn't breathe.) We had also planned to quit smoking this week, but with the funeral and the sickiness, it has been postponed once again. (I don't set myself up for failure, there must be at least 3 consecutive zero-commitment days where I can hole up, or wander out to a movie or something in my state of whacked out withdrawal.)

Monday, everything gets going in my work life, with a full schedule before me. In effect, I've had four weeks off, and as usual, it never feels like it's enough. I remember working all year for two weeks off of vacation for many years in California. That was dreary. Why do we put up with it? Why do we agree to work for a company that needs 50 weeks of your life per year? Money just isn't that valuable.

Knitting has found it's way into my life much as this blog has, in blocks of time that I didn't know I had. When I'm working, I might scribble out a blog post in my notebook on the bus during the day, and then set my alarm a half an hour early so that I can get up and have enough time to post it. (the malady is known as obsessive compulsive disorder) And now with the knitting, I can't seem to watch TV without it. So that's how the extra ball of yarn I have is also becoming a scarf, as we try to tune in the local stations with the rabbit ear antenna that we bought. (Construction on the house has prevented Satellite reception.)

At least it hasn't been cold. It's been a wild weather week with lots of rain, freezing rain, and snow causing double the hospital visits due to falls. But it hasn't been very cold, with the temp staying around freezing. I'll take that in January any time.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Four for Friday

Four jobs you've had in your life:
-camp counselor
-flower seed peddler

Four movies you could watch over and over again:
-American Beauty
-Hannah and Her Sisters
-The Matrix
-Harold and Maude

Four TV shows you love to watch:
-Trading Spouses/Wife Swap
-Le Couer a ses Raisons (Quebec spoof of soaps)

Four places you've been on vacation:
-Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
-Lake Powell (Utah/Arizona)
-Hawaii, Maui, Oahu
-Europe (Spain, France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Austria)

Four websites you visit daily:
-everyone on the bloglist at the left

Four of your favorite foods:
-Goat cheese pizza
-Toro (sushi)
-Foie gras

Thanks t for this one.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

HNT and the 33 hour scarf

Stayed home sick yesterday. The upshot of that was finishing the scarf. AND, though I was worried that it was going to be too short, it came out WAY longer than it was supposed to. Which is even better in my book. In this picture, you can see another use I discovered for the scarf. (I know, I need to work out....but I'm sick, so you'll be cutting me some slack, thank you)

When I finished it last night, I spent a good half an hour playing with the scarf, admiring it's many excellent qualities. It's stretchy! It's warm. It's long. And I made it all myself.

Which is why there are a lot of holes in it. It looks like maybe the moths got at it. But not from a distance. I plan to study the holes to see what I did wrong, since my learning curve is recorded on it as weather is in tree rings. I knitted the long way, so each row took me about a half an hour to complete (300 stitches) and at the beginning, the rows look really mangled, but toward the end, they are mostly error free.

I'm toying with the idea of joining the Knitting Olympics, what's the next easiest thing to knit after a scarf? I'm thinking maybe a cap.

Happy HNT !

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Heart exercise

We both woke up sick and coughing. Brother in law's funeral lay before us like a platter of inedibles. Spouse parted before me to help his mother through the morning. Our friend Daniel came to take me to the service. We listened to the soundtrack of Brokeback Mountain in silence, I knitting my scarf, he driving of course. The sky, blue in the east and hazy clouds wisping in from the west, framed a haloed sun as Willie Nelson crooned. Wasted lives. The refrain from the film as well as the deceased. Hah, I chuckle to myself. Pattern upon pattern.

The cold was noxious as we got out of the car in the parking lot of the church. Minus 9 (16 F) and windy, humid, cloying cold. So fitting for a funeral. The Rolling Stones popped into my head as we walked toward the entrance. "You can't always get what you want....You can't always get what you want" What was it he needed? Who could know. The long and twisted story of his life ended in misery and suffering, not all of which was self inflicted.

We enter the building and walk in on the chorale practicing. We think we are at the wrong church. Upstairs, we hear talking and find the family members gathered inside. Spouse cries when I greet him. This is unusual. With genuine handshakes and double cheek kisses, we find our seats, mine next to Spouse's and Daniel's further back. There is a small altar set up with the cremated remains in a box.

The full Catholic funeral mass begins which is like a regular mass with extras. There's a neat ritual with incense that I find particularly pleasing. The priest who led the mass seemed to reach inside me and get right at the nut of my feelings. "Think not about the life that Richard led, for it is not for us to judge. Think only of the mystery of one's life, the enormous potential or burden, nobody can know one's suffering." Potential, or burden. I chewed on that for a while.

Afterward, a small group convened at Mother in law's house where coffee and cake was served. People were getting along fine, laughing and joking and enjoying the relaxed nature of such an event. Not too much laughing, just enough for healing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Could this be why

I don't have so many gay friends?

- my eyes glaze over at the first mention of this or that DJ

- fashion bores me

- I have trouble saying up past 12

- I can have a full conversation in a public place without saying "check out that hottie over there." (Who cares?! You can see as many naked hottes as you want via internet)

- I buy used clothes and welcome hand-me-downs.

- I like the outdoors, camping and roughing it. Dirt is my friend.

- farting can be a fun sport

- if you're on the friend list, you're off the potential sex list

- I'm a lightweight in all things inebriating

- I can't stand around in a bar for long. This has got to be the boringest (non) activity on earth. I yawn a lot in bars.

- doesn't anyone want to sit around, share some wine, smoke a joint and play cards anymore?

Monday, January 16, 2006

What a stinker!

I was so looking forward to seeing it, all I've heard are wonderful things about it, so we finally went out to a matinee viewing of Brokeback Mountain yesterday. The one good thing about the experience was smuggling in cokes and candy which we purchased prior for $3.16. At the concession stand it would have been $14!

The movie....long story short, spouse fell asleep, and I kept wondering when something was going to happen. I am very sentimental and cry easily at movies, yet I only experienced marginal wetness right there at the very end. Marginal.

Problem #1 Nothing new thematically. A little like Same Time Next Year meets Maurice (both of which were better movies.

Problem #2 Unintelligible accents. Note to moviemakers: in your struggle to achieve verisimilitude, I understand it's necessary to have thick accents and mumbling characters at times - Just put some subtitles in that case! I can't believe I'm the only one who couldn't understand Inis (or however you spell that character's name.)

Problem #3 "We was". I can't help it, my job is to correct this error, so it jumps out at me every time.

Problem #4 It was, gasp, BORING.

There are more problems but I'll stop there. I did love the scenery and cinematography. And a couple of the minor characters turned in excellent performances.

Wanna see a great gay themed film? Check out C.R.A.Z.Y (if you can where you are) It's far superior to Brokeback, in my opinion.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

2006 Goals

1. Read two books in French

2. Quit smoking

3. Learn a new skill

4. Travel to a place I've never been before (Fort Lauderdale? Nova Scotia?)

5. Maintain workout regimen

6. Increase income by 10%

7. Finish 2nd bedroom remodeling

8. Write every day

9. Compose two new songs

10. Find and participate in a local sweatlodge ceremony

Every year, I make a list of ten goals and tape them to the side of the computer screen. That way, they are always there to remind me. It is a good method to help focus your energies and to gain a sense of accomplishment. The trick with the list is to make some of the goals VERY easy to attain. For example, in this list, numbers 1, 3, 5 and 8 are at least partially accomplished. (I've begun reading The Alchemist in French, I've already learned to knit, I have maintained my workout regimen for over a decade already, and you already know that I write every day.)

Whatever goals you have been unable to attain previously automatically go on next year's list. The only repeat this year for that reason is number 2. (Dammit!) Sometimes I repeat an attained goal, because I liked it. Such as #1 and #4.

And then there are a couple of new goals like # 7 and #10 which I look forward to accomplishing (though this will become dread if it hasn't happened by fall)

Resolutions don't work, but a goal list that you have a whole year to get around to does.

Try it!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This and that, Saturday edition

What a week, man. It feels like I could have posted five topics a day. We found out the cause of death of Serge's brother - basically heart failure from a blocked artery. Also the doc said if he hadn't died this week, it would've been next. It seems to have alleviated some family guilt, since there was nothing to be done to prevent it.

I have been quietly on vacation this week. I say quietly because spouse is working and it would be unkind to gloat about it. Frankly, it's been marvelous puttering about all day, doing what I want. I start work next week, but only minimally so, only six hours committed. After that, it's full time again until May.

Was supposed to quit smoking this week, but didn't, I'm shooting for next week now.

We have had no television since we got back. Actually no satellite because of the construction. It feels good to live without it and rent movies.

Speaking of movies, we watched some this week. The Corporation was depressing, this concept that man has created will be the end of us, surely. Bewitched was cute but rather lackluster, almost like a big setup for sequels, of which there probably won't be any. The War of the Worlds was exceedingly lame, we couldn't stop rolling our eyes at the predictability and at the many inconsistencies. I enjoyed the Upside of Anger, seen mostly from the corner of my eye while knitting.

Knitting, I was a fiend yesterday, spending 7 obsessive hours on it. I am starting to clearly see (I know about the split infinitive rule, but it sounds better that way) all the errors I made at the beginning.

I've been working on my goals list for this year, a practice I was forced to learn while working as a manager, and one that I've kept since leaving the corporate world. When it's done, you'll see it here.

It's raining hard outside, maybe I'll stay home today.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Learning a new skill

Here's how it happened. First, back in December, I received this afghan from my grandmother. It is huge and covers the whole queen size bed. It is deliciously cozy and made even moreso by the knowledge that I know who toiled away to create it. What a skill, I thought, to create such a beautiful and useful item from a long piece of string.

Here, admire the closeup of perfectly even and error free knitting.

Then on December 13th, one of my favorite bloggers Yarn Harlot posted this little recipe for a 2-hour scarf. (She's an awesome writer, even if she does mostly write about knitting) 2 Hours? She made it sound so easy and dolt-proof. Still, I would have to learn the meanings of such terms as "gauge", "worsted" and "casting on". I printed out the post and put it on my pile of papers.

Then I forgot all about it when we headed into the holidays and vacation.

On the last night in California, Em was making the very scarf that I had the directions printed out for, and she let me get closer and watch until I said, "I want to try." (Very clever on her part, had she said "Here, you try" I would've felt too much pressure and fled.)

Within a few minutes, I was knitting. My tongue poked through my lips in deep focus: under and though, wrap from the back, pull it back under and slip it off. This was just the dash of encouragement I needed and when I returned home, I went out to buy some needles and yarn.

Since then, I have left two pathetic messages on Em's machine lamenting my retardation inabilities. I had to cast on 6 times before (I think) getting it right but then I had a meltdown to "start my row". I have mistreated the yarn, yelling at it and throwing it to the floor twice. But later, after my frustration level fell, I returned and tried to figure out what the hell I did wrong. I didn't know a fucking piece of string had so many qualities to be aware of. Twistiness, tightness, looseness, evenness, tension applied when making the stitch. They are all so important and induce madness especially when boo-boos are made. (As a novice, I get to refer to my knitting fuckups as "boo boos")

Here's how far I've gotten from 9 hours on the project.

I'm trusting that eventually it will look like a scarf. But it doesn't matter really, it's rather meditative and time warping and I find myself strangely energized and relaxed when knitting. I sat down yesterday just to "start the next row" and before I knew it 3 hours had passed. Seemed like maybe 15 minutes to me. Maybe I could get into this hobby.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Random Vacation Observations

(HNT will return next week here.)

- Stool quality suffers when visiting Mexico (Is further explanation necessary?)

- Too much alcohol causes me insomnia (Three sleepless nights out of fifteen. Anybody else experience this?)

- Sex is more frequent while on holiday (Maybe this should go in the "duh!" column)

- In California, Starbucks and Netflix seem to be obsessions (And Hummers are popular too)

- Traffic is still the biggest drawback to living in LA (smog is second)

- Baby shark is yummy (I can't believe I wrote that)

- I felt safer in a bus than a taxi in Mexico

- I'm too tall for the coach seats on airlines (My knees touch the seat in front and when they recline, I have to move them)

- No matter the length, vacation is never long enough

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I forgot how easy this was

While vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, I tapped into my old networking skills honed at business conferences and as a food server. Normally, I'm rather reclusive, shunning social events and avoiding large groups of people. Early on in the trip, we decided that we would speak to strangers at every bar. Serge was wide-eyed as I easily approached people and had them telling us their life stories. As at a business conference, it was likely we would never see these people again after vacation. It's really simple actually:

1. Introduce oneself and compliment something about the stranger (clothing, body part etc.)

2. Inquire as to origin and duration of stay of stranger (work hard to feign interest)

3. Share same info with stranger

4. If stranger gives a compliment, say "I think I like this one" to spouse.

5. Move on to other strangers

This was how we met dozens of people whom we waved at and kissed during subsequent encounters. This is the skill that makes potiticians and business moguls alike, but one which I am loathe to employ. Why? Because it's boring, inconsequential and nothing like real connections among people. Funny, the fake connecting skill can take you places, whereas a little too much honesty is a connection killer.

By the end of the trip, we would take our place in one of the watering holes as all the other people came by to chit chat and review activities partaken in the previous night. A few passes were made and rebuffed (only because not enough alcohol had yet been consumed). I don't remember all the Gregs, Mikes, Johns and Peters, but I do know they hailed from Northern cities like Vancouver, Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Minneapolis, Calgary, and New York.

Rather pointless, actually.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

When news is both good and bad

One of the characters in our lives has died. If this were a movie, this would have been the character you were hoping would die, but in real life, it is decidedly more complicated. We arrived Sunday evening from Los Angeles to an airport choked with end of vacation travelers. The taxi line was at least an hour long so we took the bus to downtown and grabbed a taxi there. We arrived home later than anticipated and Spouse's mother and boyfriend were waiting in front of our house in the car with our dog. I ran over to their car as mother got out to greet us.

"Have you been waiting long?" I asked.

Mother in-law embraced me and burst into tears, heaving sobs into my chest. Something was wrong. This is the family of "non-emotional display" similar to my own, so there was no question but that something grave had occurred. After many years, I have learned that it is not important to ask "What's wrong?" in this situation, but it is important to squeeze, caress and hold someone in such a state to let them "let it out".

Nonetheless, by the time we got into the house, we learned that Spouse's brother had died. That mother in-law had just come from his place where she, with the police's help, had broken down his door to discover him dead and cold on his bed. He was 42.

We came inside and fired up the heat which we had turned down for the vacation. Mother in-law asked for something strong and we all had shots of tequila. Mother in-law's boyfriend smoked cigarettes though he had given it up long ago. Details were shared, questions asked, guilt lurking in the shadows everywhere. ( If you'll recall, the last interaction with brother was Spouse throwing him out of our house at the early Christmas celebration before vacation.)

While the men in the room were feeling relieved (and guilty for feeling this way), mother in-law had lost her child and was having a tough time of it. Strange, I took on the role of comforter, embracing her a few times, each of which elicited more sobbing. The other men didn't seem to know how to do this. Good thing I was there.

We will know more tomorrow, after the investigation and autopsy are completed (they are treating it as a potential crime) as everyone comes to grips with their mixed feelings about the matter. Except for Mother in-law, who is not mixed up - just grieving heavily for the loss of her firstborn. It is she who needs help right now.

As for me, I feel like rejoicing, not because someone died, but because a hopeless alcoholic has finally found a way out of his misery. That a family can now move through life without the baggage of this failed family member who caused them all so much grief over the years. That death is a natural occurence as magical and necessary as birth.

Goodnight Richard, we hope you have found peace. (Ok, there's a little welling up happening in my eyes now, best go.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Vacation photoblog

Here is a selection of photos from our last two weeks. I apologize in advance if you have a slow connection. If you would like to see larger versions of the photos, just click on them. If you object to your mug being posted here, let me know and I'll remove it. Enjoy!

The first day in Puerto Vallarta, we headed down to the beach for some cerveza.

Enjoying the beach.

About six, we met up with our newfound Montrealer friends for martinis. In retrospect, I'm not sure this was wise.

Soon, the parasailing called out for Serge, here he is taking off. (I'd done it before)

Hanging out at the rocks south of the Los Muertos beach.

The gay section of the beach.

Chillin by the hotel pool.

Did I mention the martinis?

Every day an unbelievable sunset.

High tides and big waves wrought havoc throughout our stay.

Indundating the gay beach, the shrieking was funny.

On the New Year's Eve cruise.

At midnight.

California had beautiful sunsets too. Here in Donna's backyard.

Gingerbread decorating day. Here's em after I tried to instigate a little frosting fight.

Friday night at Cafe Piccolo with friends. It was great to see everyone.

I got to see Grandma too, here we are after pizza at Dad's house.

Me and Dad at grandma's house before going out to lunch.

Finally, Mom's big party - Hey we forgot to take a group shot this year! She had teddy bears lined up for all the kids.

Now we are home and it is snowing. I think I can say that we had a great time. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Making men

Gingerbread men that is. Yesterday was the annual gingerbread men decorating day which doubles as art day. Adults and kids alike design their own and then eat them. The only way to prove it happened is with pictures.

So many things going on, I'm looking forward to getting done with vacation so I can relax. The big party is tonight and tomorrow we'll be home. Monday will be the cavalcade of photos. (I take big pics so if you click on them you can see a much larger version than you see on the post.)

See you then!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Back in the states

And a great time was had by all. This shot pretty much captures Puerto Vallarta. Beautiful, romantic and cocktail oriented. That was our last day there watching the sunset. We flew to LA yesterday and decided to upgrade to first class for the flight (only 50 bucks!) It was nice to be pampered but I would never pay rack rate for it.

I've got more fun stories about the trip which I will post with more pics next week. We are in the California blender now, a whirlwind of family and friends which will culminate in our annual Three Kings party at mom's house Saturday night. I've still got to shop for gifts for this event.

We checked into a hotel last night and I saw something I've never seen before - an electronic gadget vending machine. Want an Ipod? Swipe your card and watch your new ipod tumble to the bin below. Need an electric razor? New hair dryer, no problem. Truth be told, this is my kind of shopping - no human contact and immediate receiving of your product. I read about this type of thing in Japan and I guess it's happening here now.

Ok, don't want to bore you, I'll check in one more time before I return to my regular daily posting regimen next Monday. All your comments make me feel warm and fuzzy - thanks!

Monday, January 02, 2006

The last day of carefree

Ok, it's the last day of this tequila fest. The last day of too much sun, too little sleep and lots of fun. We've met a ton of people, mostly from Canada (weird, there's more Canadian boys here this week than American) and the northern US cities. There was a kind of circuit party here this week as well so there have been plenty of muscle boys to ogle. Strange though that there are so many couples that I see and I think "They could be brothers." I don't get that, it seems like a lot of people look for a person who closely resembles themselves which leads me to judgements of narcissism. Oh well, to each his own. We've met some really nice people and also some people full of attitude which always makes me laugh. Here was a recent exchange:

Hot guy walks over to ask us for a cigarette. We comply and ask "So where are you from?"

"I live here."

"No, where are you from originally?"

"San Marcos." (As though this is a well known place.)

"Where is that?"


"Oh and what are you doing here?"

"I have a hotel." And then he walks away with nary a thank you.

Later when he (and us) was much messier, Serge decided to tell him about his poor social skills.

Then he was suddenly attracted to us. Very weird. Some people want to be abused I think.

Then there were these two guys from New York who felt it necessary to discuss their vast financial resources without being questioned about such things. (This is an instant turn off for me.) They went on and on about the condo they rented with the servants and the infinity pool and finally asked about our origins. When I said we're from Montreal, one of them said "That's in Canada isn't it? To which I replied with perhaps the weest bit of sarcasm, "Yes, in fact it's a 7-8 hour drive from New York." "Really? I'm not even really sure where Canada is." I thought he was joking and said so and then reminded him that New York BORDERED Canada. He said, I live in New York city, as though it was a completely separate place. Finally I said, "You are shitting me, no one is that stupid." He found this very insulting and went away dragging his cute boyfriend with.

Funny, they were the snobs, but it turned out that I was too, just a different kind.

Ok, people are waiting for the internet station (free here at the hotel) so I'll go. Pictures will be forthcoming as we will be able to post some from California.

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's celebration and Happy new year to you all.