Sunday, September 30, 2007

This n that

Good Sunday morning to you. Last week, one of my students said, "Happy Monday," and I snorted and said, "That's an oxymoron!" Then I had to explain what that meant even though it's the same word in French. They finally got it when I explained, "You know it's like saying a kind asshole, or a fat anorexic." It's not quite the same as redundant phrases such as "free gift" or "unexpected surprise", though both are frowned upon in writing.

Yesterday, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at our friend Dan's house. He made cassoulet. It was delicious. Afterward, we were sitting around and I asked, "Is everything already formed when it comes out, or is it more like a pastry bag effect down there?" Dan felt that everything is previously formed, while Serge felt that at times it's more like a pastry bag. We agreed that the worst is when there's air caught in the pastry bag. That always complicates things.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday blah blah

The view from my desk, looking out the window.

I couldn't post yesterday. The internet was down at home. As was the telephone. The problem wasn't resolved until we called the cable company later in the day and they remotely reset the modem. It was probably just as well, as I hadn't really prepared much for the blog. Instead, I read the newspaper and went out to breakfast before work. It was a nice treat after my hellish week. I've reached my maximum work capacity now, and it will remain this way until the holidays.

I've kept an amazingly buoyant attitude for work this session. And this translates into me being a good teacher. I find myself working more in my off hours to make the lessons better. Usually I dread the off hours work and complete it hastily. But this session is different. Maybe because of the magical 42 thing. (my age) Or maybe it's because I'm sleeping. All through the night. Every night. Whatever it is, I'm going to ride this wave as long as I can. (I've got to work all day today and it doesn't even bug me.)

Did you hear about the hyphen thing? How 16000 of them have been eliminated from the dictionary? Apparently, their use is dwindling and seen as clunky nowadays. Since proper English morphs to follow how it is ubiquitously used, the new Oxford dictionary has reflected the changes. Ice cream is now two words instead of hyphenated. This was news to me as I don't think I ever hyphenated it. Crybaby is now a word, which I thought already was. Chickpea too. Test tube is now two words. Still, you have to say twenty-odd people to estimate numbers, otherwise it's twenty odd people, which doesn't quite say the same thing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More lamity

I heard this dripping sound the other day. I was reading on the couch and kept noticing it, but it was so faint that I put it down to the bubbles popping at the top of my Diet Coke, which was sitting on the table beside me. A few minutes later, Serge walked in and said, "Hey, what's that?" He was pointing at the carpet. I got up and went over to look at the carpet too, and said, "Sara peed!" Then Serge started saying, "Bad Sara, bad!" as he walked into the kitchen to fetch some paper towels. Then I heard the dripping sound again. I said, "Something sounds like it's dripping." God I'm lame sometimes. Because it wasn't until Serge came over and looked up that I realized that water was leaking from the ceiling. He puzzled it all together faster than I did. Just like he does with every plot line. I had already accepted that Sara had peed on the carpet, so it didn't play into the "dripping sound" part of the situation. I know, lame.

We went upstairs to Gordon's apartment, but he wasn't home, so we let ourselves in. As it turned out, the filter on his aquarium had a little slow leak that was dripping down the wall. We cleaned it up with some of our towels, adjusted the filter so the water didn't leak out, and left a note. In the note, we mentioned scolding sara before realizing what had happened.

The next day, Gordon knocked at the door and gave back the towels with a box of cookies. He apologized for the trouble and said that the cookies were a little gift for our trouble. I was going to tell him that it wasn't necessary, until I saw that they were peanut butter cookies, with the little crossed fork marks on top, My Favorite! So instead I thanked him and came inside. "Hey Serge, Gordon brought us some peanut butter cookies!" And I showed him the box. Serge made a face, since he doesn't really like peanut butter cookies. I tore the box open and was delighted to see that they were little two bite cookies (one if you're a pig). We hadn't eaten dinner yet, but one of these wouldn't spoil anything. I bit into it. Hmmm. Really hard. Kind of cheap tasting, not very much peanut butter in these things.

I took the box and looked at it again. President's Choice. Wow. The first time I've been disappointed with one of their products. Are they expired? I looked for the expiration date. Then I noticed the littlest font sized words where it says "pour chiens". Then I noticed the dogs in the picture. Then I showed Serge and we both about died laughing in the kitchen. He howled, "This is the second time you've accidentally eaten dogfood." He was referring to the time I unconsciously licked the fork after dishing out wetfood from a can. You probably had to be there.

This post brought to you by Little Kenny's Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Life cafe

You walk in, take your seat and peruse the menu. You see a pasta dish that looks particularly good so you order it. When it arrives, you notice that there are peas in the dish. You don't like peas. You'd complain, but really, you probably just missed that little word in the description. You dig into the pasta, carefully avoiding the peas. It tastes good. It tastes so good that you finish all of it and soak up the remaining sauce with your bread. All that's left on the plate are the peas. The waitress arrives to clear your plate. "Uh-oh," she says. "You didn't read the fine print, did you?" she asks, smiling. You reply, "Why, what do you mean?" The waitress says, "I'm sorry but for every pea left on the plate, you need to pay for with one of your teeth." Then she adds, "Or you could just eat them."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flowers for michael

So I popped home yesterday for a 30 minute break and checked the blog. There hadn't been too many comments, but there was one individual who had taken issue with my writing and then took issue with one of the beloved and faithful commenters. I was instantly hacked off. I felt much as I do when I see someone let their dog shit on my lawn without picking it up. I fired up my fingers to write a definitive and scathing response in the comments as I couldn't respond to the individual privately. But before I clicked "post comment" I remembered to breathe. Now this is progress. I actually stopped myself before acting on the rage. I just told a story about this very thing a couple days ago, from when I was 10 years old. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am a slow learner.

I left the house and cursed drivers and traffic instead.

Arriving at the afternoon lesson a bit early, I had 20 minutes to enjoy before beginning. I took my book and sat in the adjacent park and opened to the next chapter. I had to read the first paragraph five or six times because the angry voice inside me kept dragging my attention away. To what I should say, or should have said. To what I will write the next day about the silliness of the word terrorist. I'll spare you the details. Okay, except maybe just one. You know, I much preferred "suicide bomber", as it more aptly described individuals now known simply as terrorists. Trust me, we (the west) sow plenty of terror. Yes, I had a veritable masterpiece of vitriol I was composing in my head. These thoughts made my stomach contract and my jaws clench. So I kept bringing my attention back to the paragraph, much like you try to ignore a toothache. Finally, I read.

Sometimes you have to be hit over the head repeatedly to understand something. Cue hammer.

The chapter was like a direct lesson to my current experience. Funny how the universe does that sometimes. The chapter titled "The Carpet Guy" tells of how he swindled the author out of $50. (She talks about God a lot in this book, which doesn't bother me that much, because I just substitute the word universe when I'm reading. A little "higher power" trick I learned at a meeting somewhere.) Once realizing she had been cheated by the carpet guy, she flew into a self-righteous rage. But at the end of the tale, she sends the guy some flowers because she actually learned something about herself. She never got her money back.


I started to giggle at myself. A whole hour of my interior life for a semi-anonymous comment from one of what, six? seven? billion people on the planet. I just offered up all my power on a platter, didn't I? Relinquished happiness, my specialty. And then something strange came over me, as the lesson, ding ding ding we have a winner, really sunk in. And I just loved myself. Not in the boastful gloaty way. More like in the motherly way when her child shits the bed, or lets the skunk inside to play. We're all just awful messes, we human beings. Well, maybe not all the time, if you're like me, long stretches of non-messed-upness can come off quite convincingly. Still, there is always death, and that's bound to be messy anyway.

A broad smile implanted itself on my face, like it was taped there. I went inside and greeted my students.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Changes afoot

It's sunrise season again. That is, the sun rises late enough for me to catch it and the location where it breaks through the horizon is directly out the back of our place.

The trees are just beginning to put on their technicolor coats. The colors will slowly turn symphonic until the middle of October when the traditional coloring peaks here.

Did you catch the interview on 60 minutes last night? The one with the president of Iran? Ablablabla? (kidding) The interviewer seemed quite disrespectful to me, it was as if he were interviewing OJ. This is the leader of a nation, and I don't know about you, but it seems like he should at least be treated as such. I really don't understand the outrage at his intention to visit ground zero. After all, according to everything I've heard, he had nothing to do with the demise of the twin towers. The whole bit where the interviewer tried to get Ahmadinejad to say something he admired about Bush? I'm sorry, but I wouldn't be able to answer that question either. It seemed like they wanted me to think that he was an arrogant prick, but I just got the impression that the interviewer was.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This n that

I loved the comments on yesterday's post. Here I thought I was the villain in that story, and yet many of you see the teacher as the villain. Huh. Not at all the reaction I expected.

I went down to the library yesterday as I'm bookless. Only one book on my list was available (I'd love to get a few book recommendations btw) and it's by one of my favorite authors. Anne Lamott. She can write about the messiness of life and make it beautiful. And funny. By page three, I was crying laughing. (a bit having to do with poo of course) I had to put the book down though because this needs to last me the week, and I would have just read the whole thing through yesterday. This one is her newest called "Grace (eventually)".

The trees are yellowing around here. Some are even redding. The wind kicked up yesterday and leaves were flying through the sky, riding the currents and waves and eddies. For me, this is a bittersweet time. I adore the changing seasons, but dread the frigid icebox of winter. I'm working on embracing instead of dreading, but hey, I'm only human.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The strawberry and Miss Chives

Shame is such a powerful thing. In "The Kite Runner", the protagonist commits some very shameful acts as a child. These acts, while we can forgive them due to his age, influence nearly all of his choices well into adulthood. It was hard to read it because I found myself "wishing" he had been good as a boy, instead of bad.

It made me think of my own life, my childhood, and what shameful things I did then that I would never do now. A memory from fifth grade kept popping into my head. I don't believe I've ever told anyone, ever, about this event. But I still smart with shame when I think about it. (Which isn't often, as our self defense mechanism enjoys burying these memories under layers and layers of happier times.)

It was the beginning of spring. Our teacher, Miss Chives, was a very large, affable woman, with long dark hair and an imposing stance. In truth, I was a little scared of her, as she could turn her smile into a sword at the strangest of moments. She once gave me a silver star for my homework assignment and then took away my recess because I didn't say thank you for the star. She showed us that she could do that if she wanted, sour the best of moments, and this was a nice tool for keeping us kids off balance and under control.

One weekend, I asked my mom if I could bring Miss Chives a Happy Spring gift. And while we were out shopping, we picked up a little strawberry plant, with one nearly ripe strawberry hanging from one of its stems. On Monday morning, I arrived in class with my 12 fellow 10 year olds and placed the little potted strawberry plant on her desk. Some kids brought apples, but I (giant ego I) had brought a plant bearing fruit. When Miss Chives entered the room, she immediately brightened upon seeing the plant. "What a marvelous gift! And with one little strawberry, how adorable. And who do I thank for such an unexpected yet delightful gift to start the spring?" I'm pretty sure my head filled every square inch of that room as I crooned, "I did. I did."

"Thank you Ricky," she said as she took the plant and placed it on the bookshelf behind her. Then she immediately went into teacher mode, and I suddenly felt robbed. That's it? It was almost as if she was disappointed that it was me bearing the gift. And I had resisted plucking that strawberry all weekend, and she doesn't even appreciate it! Perhaps I had learned one of her souring the moment stunts, but I was mad. And I sat through the morning lesson eying the strawberry dangling from the plant behind her. By recess, I had decided she didn't deserve that strawberry. She was probably going to eat it as soon as we left the room, after all she is fat.

At morning recess, I snuck back into the room when no one was there, plucked that strawberry and ate it. That was probably when I learned that eating your rage with spiteful acts doesn't taste good.The strawberry slid down my throat, and I felt it, like the poison it was, settling down into my stomach.

When recess was over, we all settled back into our seats, and Karen raised her hand and asked Miss Chives, "What happened to the strawberry?" Miss Chives turned around to see the plant, only green now, no splash of red anywhere. And she flew into a rage. "WHO DID THIS! WHO ATE THIS STRAWBERRY? WE ARE NOT LEAVING THIS ROOM UNTIL WE KNOW WHO ATE THIS STRAWBERRY! WHO! WHO? I'M GOING TO FIND OUT!" This went on for minutes. At lunchtime, we were all forced to stay in the room to eat our lunch and then put our heads down on our desk. She taught the rest of that day with an air of bitterness and disgust. What vile creatures we were. At the end of the day, she announced that there would be no recesses until the person who did this fessed up. Everyone but Ricky that is. He doesn't deserve to be punished.

Looking back, I think she knew. My face must have smarted redder than that strawberry when she said that. But I was as shameful a creature there ever was. For the rest of that week, I played at recess while my classmates had to stay in the class with their heads down on the desks. Recess that week was one of the grimmest experiences I can remember. If there's one glimmer of redemption there, it's the fact I was consumed by terrible guilt, a guilt sadly never acted on. On Friday, she took the plant home with her, and on the following Monday, everything was as if nothing had happened. She never mentioned it again. It took me 32 years, but I have finally confessed.

Friday, September 21, 2007


* I finished "The Kite Runner" yesterday. The last third of the book had me gripped. The author was good at stirring up my emotions and I loved the blunt prose.

* One of my favorite lines in the book was "Time is sometimes a greedy thing, hoarding all the details to itself."

* For example, what did you have for dinner last Friday? What were you wearing?

* Sometimes I think that our fear based society is born of modern evolution. Courage kills so cowardice endures.

* Mom sent me a couple pics from her visit. This one is great of Serge and his giganto plate of pigfoot.

* "Protecting the homeland" sounds more apt for an environmental organization rather than a battle cry by warmongers.

* There's a big brouhaha up here about the election commissioner's decision to permit fully veiled women to vote without having to have their face matched with their identification. Big. Brouhaha. Still, if you vote absentee, you don't have to show your face. So what's the big deal? I see many possible solutions to mollify everyone.

* Overheard on the subway, "All she does is whine about her ailments, if I want that I can go see my grandparents." (I had to stifle a laugh.)

* Does a hibernating animal defecate? I can't imagine not pooping for months.

* Spandex is jast a rearranging of the phonetic syllables in the word expand.

* I know I'm a judgemental person sometimes because if you approach me with a cocky swagger, I don't like you already.

* Me and Serge in wine country last Sunday.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How does supply and demand relate?

We live across the street from a gas station. I'd rather it were a Starbucks, but it's probably better that it's not, as I would spend way too much money there. Yesterday was ridiculous with the gas prices. I woke up in the morning to see 99.4 cents a liter. I stroked myself (no, not that way) because the day before I had filled up for 95.4 cents a liter. But then a couple hours later, I noticed the price was 97.4 cents a liter. Then I showered and got ready for work and as I headed out, it was 100.4 a liter. I gave my class and came home a couple hours later and it was 96.4 a liter. Later in the afternoon, for maybe an hour, it was 95.4 a liter, and then at dinner time it was back up to 99.4 a liter. I know they fill the underground tanks twice per week at this station. But it's crazy! It's like the stockmarket - wild intraday fluctuations. Last week, when I saw it had gone down to 93.4 a liter (why the point 4? Do we really pay attention to that?) I filled up. The next morning it was 108.4 a liter. I was really glad I had filled up when I did. But it's crazy! (I guess I mentioned that already.) Imagine if milk and bread were like that and that the price might change WHILE you were shopping. This morning it's 108.4 again.

One of my students who had worked previously at a gas station told me that they get the call from corporate, and they have 15 minutes to make the change at the station. He said it was extremely challenging to do this when it was busy, as no one can be pumping gas when the change is made.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Back in my days at the Ritz Carlton, I used to hang with a gang from work, the gayboys, and we often went out late together following work functions. There was another gayboy group who were more A-list and either "married" or into the meth-disco-sex thing that was rampant at the time. (Is it still? I wonder.)But they didn't hang with us, and a couple of them would even pretend not to see us if we went out and ran into them. We were more of the misfit type, all single, kind of looking for love, kind of figuring ourselves out, not totally comfortable with who were were yet - you know, growing up. We encouraged each other to get laid, and secretly resented it when any of us did. I remember it fondly as a younger, gayer version of Sex and the City. I've only kept in touch with one person from this gang, but this story is not about him.

After heavy drinking and dancing one night, and having a nightcap at my apartment, the gang dispersed except that one member stayed behind. When the last person left, he yawned an "I'm tired" and went into my bedroom, took off his clothes, got under the covers and shut off the light. Now normally, the more I hang out with people and get to know them and consider them a friend, the less I can imagine sexual relations with them. Luckily or unluckily, alcohol has this amazing effect - it makes you reconsider. So, without saying a word, I too disrobed and got under the covers next to him and he rolled over onto his side, facing away from me. I stayed flat on my back.

A minute later he reached around and took my hand and brought it over his shoulder. That's a sign right? Well I thought it was, so I snuggled up in the spoon position. Ah youth, things spring into action so effortlessly. This was turning out to be quite exciting. It was the first really hairy guy I had been with, and that was more thrilling than I had thought it would be. At some point in the next few minutes, I managed to do the accidental brush with my hand to verify whether or not he was excited (or awake). Indeed he was. I rolled him over and started working on him. He did absolutely nothing. Zero. No movement, no sounds, nothing. It was really weird, I felt like I was the commander of a ship, a ship I knew nothing about. Long story short, I got him off, then myself, cleaned us both up and went to sleep. The whole time he was virtually still.

We never spoke of it.

Yet it happened again, and again, and again. Each time was like the last, me doing the work and him just lying there. We continued going out with the gang, never speaking of it, and every once in a while, we'd end up in bed. Looking back, I suppose this is what might be called a fuck buddy, and despite the lopsided nature of the efforts made during sex, I started to have some feelings. Ugh. How does sex do that? Makes you overlook nearly everything. He was rather flaky, and certainly always broke, plus, a lump in the sack. I liked his dick though. And that seemed to trump everything else.

A few months later, the gang decided to go to Hawaii together for two weeks. We were so excited and used all our employee benefits to stay free at the Ritz Carlton in Maui and the Big Island as well as an Outrigger in Honolulu. At the last minute, fuck buddy backed out and I knew that it was finished then. I can't say I wasn't disappointed, as I had imagined maybe sleeping with him on the trip. Hawaii ended up being one of the best experiences of my life, but it also served as the pinnacle for the gang, for there was no way we were going to top that, and little by little life chipped away at our cohesiveness and eventually we lost touch. In Hawaii, I met a boy who decided to move to California to be with me. And that was only one month before I met Serge. But that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The road is my playground

Why is it that when people are in their car, they revert to being a kid again?

I mean, remember way back when, the teacher would say "Line up!" and everyone would rush to be first in line? Pushing and shoving to be first. I'm sure I was scolded more than once for that. Over time, we learn not to push and shove, and to discount that innate "me first" mentality. (Well, some of us anyway. ) We learn courtesy, we understand that "me first" means "fuck everybody else", and we control ourselves enough to fit into a civil society. And we understand the rewards of that behavior. Smiles of thanks and gratitude. Warm feelings for and from our fellow human beings sharing the planet.

But on the road, it seems that many of these things that we learned growing up go right out the window. I don't understand it. The tailgating shouts, "Get the fuck out of my way!" Imagine at the supermarket someone bumping you with their cart while you're waiting for the cashier. One would never do that! Or speeding up to get in front of you and then slamming on the brakes. That's like jumping in front of someone to enter a building and slamming the door in the person you just cut off's face. You'd get punched for that!

Somehow the metal wrapping lets people drop their civility. Even I feel these urges when I'm behind the wheel.

It's only been a month and I'm already sick of driving.

Monday, September 17, 2007


This is my haul from yesterday. That hunk of cheese in the middle was $40. But it is simply the best cheese I've ever eaten. And it's only available at the farm where they make it. So I had to buy a big piece.

Ditto with the wines. They are such small operations that they can't produce enough to market the wines on a large scale. So again, you can only get the wines directly from the wineries. I could have sworn I only bought 7 bottles, but I guess I purchased 9. I wonder if they'll taste as good at home.

It was the postcard kind of day, with a fierce blue sky punctuated by cotton candy clouds.
After a few stops, we laid out a picnic amongst the rolling hills and farmland sounds (what's that noise? a goose? turkey? pig? horse? sheep? etc)

Today, I'm back to the grind. Tonight is our farewell dinner together.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dining bliss

Despite the chilly and sometimes rainy weather yesterday, we managed to get in a little sight-seeing with mom. But the big fun of the day came last evening when we went to Au Pied de Cochon. What a treat. Everything was so perfectly prepared and concocted, I'd go back daily if I could afford it. I convinced Serge to get the specialty - Pigs foot stuffed with foie gras. Mom and I ordered the foie gras (of which they have 9 preparations) and helped Serge finish his. We still couldn't finish it. (Notice how Serge's plate is way more than both our plates.) I would've taken the rest home in a doggy bag, but that's still viewed as tacky here, so I didn't. It was so impressive though, that the lady at the next table asked if she could take a picture of Serge's plate.

At the end, we asked the waiter what kind of cuisine we had eaten was. (Try explaining that last bit to a student learning English) He said simply, "Terroir." Which is like country cuisine from the local region.

Today we're off winetasting in the countryside.

Friday, September 14, 2007


* Wouldn't castration for rapists and child molesters be better than sex offender lists?

* Call me a socialist, but I believe sustenance, water and shelter should be guaranteed to all in our society. One way or another.

* Britney might be lame, but she's not fat. What is wrong with people?

* Apparently "milkshake" is the new term for ass. I find this rather disgusting. Especially when I ponder it too long.

* No one knows who first invented the umbrella. Apparently, the Chinese, the Aztecs, Native Americans and African tribes all "invented" umbrellas independently.

* You know how a car can be all rusted out on the outside but the interior and motor are just fine? Yeah, that's like tanning.

* I remember phone numbers more easily than names.

* Why aren't squatters called trespassers? I mean that's what they are, aren't they? (I had a bad dream about squatters.)

* My mom and my cousin arrive this evening for a three-day visit. We have a reservation tomorrow for the restaurant Au Pied de Cochon. (At the foot of the pig.) Their specialty is pig's feet and foie gras. I don't anticipate spotting any yarmulkes.

*Speaking of Jews. I can honestly say I've never met one I didn't like. This is probably why I don't comprehend anti-semitism.

* The biggest problem with youth today is stupidity coupled with invincibility. Come to think of it, that was probably the same problem when I was one of them. But today, you throw in a sense of entitlement, and whoa......

* I found a sock that Em left at my house 3 years ago. It had survived, unseen, stuck inside our comforter cover. (Which has been washed many times during that time.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Beauty lurking

I'm back to this early morning grind. It's so early, that I usually see several homeless people still sleeping on my way to work. A favorite sleeping place seems to be stairwells leading to Metro entrances. Yesterday, I saw the tell-tale lump of blankets and garments nestled in one of these stairwells, and the only thing indicating that there was a human being there were the two bare feet sticking out from the pile. The feet were smooth and clean. Perhaps the man had washed them before retiring. I had an urge to tickle them the way they were just out there like that. But what struck me most was the beauty of the feet. They were as if chiseled in alabaster, the faint blues of the veins barely shining through, the soles free of blemishes and callouses. They looked like the feet of royalty.

I continued on my way and behind me, I heard a small girl exclaim, "Mama, someone is sleeping there! Someone with big feet!" And there was a small beat until I heard a frantic, "Don't touch them!" presumably from the girl's mother. I had to smile as the little girl was just as intrigued as I was by the beautiful feet (some might consider that an oxymoron) sticking out from the pile.

All day, the image of those feet played across my mind. I wondered who they belonged to and why they were so pristine. And I remembered that beauty lurks everywhere. Simply everywhere.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blog day off

Sorry folks, the workload and wake up times have conspired against me. I'll try harder tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Weed is the new homo

I got all riled up watching the CBC news last night. They did this report about how they are now drug testing soldiers before sending them off to Afghanistan. It turns out that 4 percent tested positive for marijuana and were therefore required to stay home. Then they interview some retired general guy who talks about the soldiers who have to do a second tour of duty because of the "soldiers who are unable to resist the allure of illegal drugs." End of story. How's that for balanced? God that chapped my hide. How many soldiers got rip roaring drunk before heading off to the war zone? Weed is detectable for 30 days after consumption, though the effects last 90 minutes tops. It was SO propaganda, it reminded me of this video from 1959 that Serge found on Youtube.

In other news, I'm giving a business writing class this session. We were reviewing the forms of salutations yesterday and as we discussed Mr. and Ms. one of the students asked me how to spell Ms. when it's not abbreviated. I had to laugh because there is no word. Crazy English, we have abbreviations for non-existent words.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cake decorating

Here it is Monday morning already. I haven't stopped. Still, I got everything done I had put on my list. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at MIL's house on Saturday evening and then had FIL over for dinner for his birthday yesterday. When I was grocery shopping yesterday, I picked up a cake for Jacques' birthday. When I got home, I realized we had no frosting to write on the top of the cake. Spouse, ever the resourceful one, had a solution.

I made another very, very long video as Serge wrote the Bonne Fete Jacques on it, but it's boring. So I'll just post a pic of the final product.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

This n that

It's better today. The insurance will cover the theft (supposedly, I won't believe it until it happens) and all the cards have been canceled and reordered. He still has to get his ID and insurance cards, but you can't do that until business hours Monday.

At least the laptop had a password entry. They'll have to format the hard drive to be able to use it. Ha! It was interesting that the police gave Serge the name of specific pawn shops to check, as they are known to be crooked. They said to go in and pretend to be interested in buying a laptop. Then check the serial numbers and if we find it, to call the police. I think Serge would rather just collect from the insurance.

Lemuel did a meme the other day and I found one of the questions interesting because I had never thought about it before: Which body part do you wash first in the shower? Lemuel answered "right thigh" and when I thought about it, I realized I always wash my left armpit first. Always. How about you? Which is the first part you wash?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A sad weekend at the roost

So terrible how yesterday ended. Spouse called me from the regular Friday night after work watering hole nearly in tears to tell me his bag had been stolen. After years of yearning, he finally bought a laptop two months ago. Now it's gone. Along with his wallet and all his keys including all the work keys that he was in charge of. I grilled him immediately on credit cards in his wallet and called them in stolen while he went to the police station. Poor Serge. He is gonna be so bummed all weekend. Apparently, he stepped 10 feet away from the table to smoke, claimed he was keeping an eye on his stuff, but somehow it disappeared anyway. It's eerily similar to my McDonald's theft in New York.

The only lesson I am able to glean is, keep your shit on you, as there are thieves lurking everywhere.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Return of snippets

* I'm a firm believer in "if it isn't broken, don't fix it." Spouse, however, thinks everything needs fixing.

* Once, spouse noticed the empty space in the top of a lavalamp. He opened it up and topped if off with water. It exploded, naturally.

* Spouse and I bet $1 that gay guys can't donate blood. (I said they can't, because we are forbidden to donate in the US.) Turns out I was wrong. Canada has no problem accepting homo blood. UPDATE: It turns out spouse was wrong. Ha! Thanks to this here internet thingy, a lovely commenter set us straight. If you are male and have had sex with another male since 1977, you are not permitted to donate. This, even though every single sample is screened for HIV anyway.

*Pork and beans are served at breakfast in Quebec.

* One of my fondest childhood memories is that of designing, building and then flying kites with my dad. All you need is balsa wood, garbage bags and glue.

* I adored playing rhummy with mom too, even though she never let me win.

* It's hard to believe I'm sure, but I never talk about poop in English class.

* 20 years ago, I lived for the day. Now, I am very protective of tomorrow. Moderation today ensures a smooth tomorrow. Sigh. I'm so old.

* I read that if you quit smoking before the age of 45, within three years life expectancy returns to nearly that of a lifelong non smoker. I'm 42. There's still hope.

* When our friend Bob came to visit, he looked at me, aghast, and said, "You always have the same shoes." He was trying (unsuccessfully) to hide his revulsion. True, I admitted. I've bought the same sneakers four years in a row now. Apparently, this would be unthinkable for him.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Class story

I've been discussing an article about visual illusions in class this week. (It's not the same as an optical illusion.) You can see an example of the visual illusion here. It looks like the tower on the right is leaning more than the tower on the left. But really, it's two identical photos side by side.

© 2007 Kingdom, Yoonessi & Gheorghiu (Read more about these illusions here)

When we finish reading the article and comprehend it, I ask, "So if your senses can deceive you, what exactly is reality? If we all share the same perception, does that make it real?"

We've all heard things that didn't really make a sound. I mean sometimes I think spouse has called my name and I answer, "What?" And then he tells me that he didn't say anything.

Then we talk about the expression, "seeing is believing", and the oft repeated business axiom, "Perception is reality." It's made for some interesting conversation.


I had a (fervently religious) student who exclaimed, "This is philosophy! I'm here to learn English."

That certainly popped my soufflé. So I sighed, and moved on.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Poo happens

Okay, I am not making this up. True, I could be silent on the matter, but that's not like me.

It's not totally my fault though, it seems that poo things keep happening. First, I wake up in the middle of the night with HORRIBLE cramps in my gut, I think I'm going to die, but wait, maybe it's just a BIG POO coming down the pipes, and OUCH ARGH, I slog out of bed and plant myself on the bowl, to try to coax something. It was a grueling 5 minutes and finally the sphere exited. It felt like I'd had a baby. Then back to snoozing.

Then yesterday, I took Sara out for a walk and she snarfled up some little dog poo (she loves little dog poo, I don't know why) before I could stop her. THEN, not 10 minutes later, I caught her snarfling up remnant floating turds in the toilet. (I'm blaming spouse for that, though he would surely disagree) Gah! How can I love my pooch when she does such disgusting things? No kisses for her for a week at least.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What the ?

We came across this sticker posted in the nature reserve. It reminded me of Sesame Street. One of these things is not like the other. One of them doesn't belong.

Let me see if I can comprehend. For a collective conscience, McDonald's and bombs are bad, trees and Quebec are good? What if the American flag was in the bottom right corner instead? Frankly, I just don't get it. And why so angry at McDonald's. They just feed us, don't they? I mean, I 'd rather see Halliburton or even Walmart in that bottom left corner.

And finally, why are you sullying up the nature reserve with stickers? That's not really loving the trees, and anyway, if we are in the nature reserve, it's probably a good bet that we like trees. Dumb hippies. (I love hippies, but this is just dumb.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Magical forest

It was a 25 minute drive to the nature reserve. But it was worlds away. I loved the admonition at the entrance - If you're silent, the mountain will sing. Sing she did. I kept looking everywhere for "something", anything different or special. Serge kept saying, "It's all the same. Trees, trees, trees." I said no, everything is different, there's not one tree or leaf or rotting log that's quite like the other. No, nothing is the same, in fact, everything is one-of-a-kind. And then "poof" Serge started seeing all kinds of things that I missed. He was particularly good at spotting mushrooms, of which there were some marvelous finds. (you can click the photos for screen filling versions)

There were lots of mushrooms like this, yellow, gold, white, brown and beige.

I have never seen such a bright orange mushroom. (It's about a foot across) It's probably a warning as to its poison level. It would not have been out of place on the sea floor.

It was a nice payoff at the top, an unfettered 360 degree view of the surrounding land. You can see the Montreal skyline in the background. While we were up there, we saw a peregrine falcon. (This is the fastest bird on earth, by the way) They like to nest on the steep cliffs on the west side of the mountain.

We both oohed and aahed over the sunlight playing with spider's web.

Finally, we stumbled upon this amazing work of fungal art. It reminded me of a limestone cave formation. I had to touch it. Spongy.

Today my legs are noodles. We did a little over 6 miles, and then ate lunch by the lake. Afterwards, we visited an apple farm and bought some cider.

I'm putting the video I took at the top here. My camera is fucked up, there's something inside on the lens or something that makes spots on the image. Still, you can get an idea of the lay of the land.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday story

We were supposed to go hiking yesterday, but we had to meet with the balcony guy (we've been waiting over a month for this) to get started with the replacement of two rotted balconies. Then we did chores. I did take a minute to tape a little story for you. Tomorrow I'll have a few pics of our hike today.