December 25, 2008

Nothing says "Merry Christmas, owners!"... the acrid smell of doggy diarrhea at 5:30 in the morning.

Pity me.

While many people were woken up in the wee hours of this Christmas morning by the squeals of excited children, Scott and I were stirred to consciousness by the smell of... you guessed it, dog poop. Montana had dutifully slept next to our bed throughout the night, but Ferris must have been pacing by the back door hoping some magical elf would let him outside. No such luck. I wandered downstairs in barely more than my skivvies and immediately armed myself with paper towels, plastic bags and disinfectant wipes. One look at the two mats at the back door and I was convinced that they were goners. They are great mats for the dogs to dry off on after playing in the back yard; they have firm, deep pile in a pattern like tire treads. Perfect for trapping snow and ice from wet paws. Also perfect for trapping runny stools.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, smell no evil.

I did my best to clean up the mess before hurling the two mats outside onto the deck. Perhaps the snow or rain would cleanse them. It has never worked before, but I was far too tired to think of a more intelligent course of action. Not Scott, though. Declaring, "We've thrown out enough mats!" he got dressed, went outside, sandwiched the soiled mats together and headed off to the coin-operated car wash. In the meantime, I let Ferris outside to do whatever business he had left. When I let him back in fifteen minutes later, he vomited all over the freshly scrubbed floor. I'm not making any accusations here, but the puke smelled an awful lot like crap.

So I cleaned the floor again, consoled a very unhappy-looking Ferris and headed off to bed in the hopes of catching a few more winks. I could be forgiven for thinking it was Groundhog Day rather than Christmas when I awoke to the very same disgusting smell a few hours later. Let's just hope this isn't the beginning of a new Christmas tradition.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and the best of the season to those who don't. Happy new year to all!

December 12, 2008

Dough for dough

It is my Christmas tradition to bake cookies which I then give to folks like my doctor, dentist, letter carrier, neighbours, etc. Since regular readers know that I'm not particularly skilled in the culinary arts, it will be no surprise to learn that I make my cookies from prepared dough. In the spirit of giving to the community as well as to friends and acquaintances, I like to purchase my cookie dough through organizations that sell it as a fundraiser. Sure, it would be cheaper to buy the dough directly from the company that makes it, but where's the holiday spirit in that?

I used to call the dough company each year and ask them what charitable organizations in my area were selling their products. I was able to support a day care centre and some youth activity groups. How nice. A few years ago my mother informed me that one of her colleagues was selling the dough to raise funds for her choir. Without thinking, I went ahead and placed an order. I have been ordering dough from the same woman for the past three or four years, and it only struck me this year that her particular cause is a bit off the mark for me. It's wonderful that her choir is keeping well-to-do middle-aged women busy, otherwise they might be out hosting tea parties and getting manicures, but that isn't the demographic I had in mind when I decided to pay a premium for cookie dough.

Never mind. Today was my baking day. Somehow I managed to screw up a two-step process. Roll and bake. That's it. Roll and bake. Once again my mind inserted "drop onto floor" into the instructions. This time I didn't bother to photograph the fur-covered dough blobs. I did, however, take the time to photograph my favourite batch of completed non-floor cookies:

Cookies only Salvador DalĂ­ could love

December 06, 2008

"Prop 8 - The Musical"

I have to give credit to my very vocal adversary from this post, as he was brave enough to send me a link to the movie below.

I love shrimp cocktail.

November 30, 2008

How much is that doggy through the window?

You wouldn't want to be a French door in our house. Last year, Scott somehow managed to put his thumb through one of the panes in our French door. He skillfully "repaired" it with Scotch tape. A few weeks ago he slipped and put his knee through another pane. This was actually a fortunate occurrence, as the cats now have their own entrance to our little enclosed porch. Since our basement is out of commission, we had to relocate the litter box to a more frequently used area of the house. Not pleasant. Now we are able to put it in the front porch and still keep the French door closed. As an added bonus, this is what greets me each day when I come home from work:

November 17, 2008

Ten points and twenty pictures

If a picture says a thousand words, then below are several thousand words to describe our wonderful wedding day. First, though, a few actual words:
1. It was a very chilly day, but the rain cleared up in the afternoon. Mother Nature doesn't hate me after all.
2. There were still leaves on the trees as well as the ground. I couldn't have been more pleased.
3. After panicking for weeks prior to our wedding day, I awoke that morning completely free of stress. I don't know why, but I was perfectly calm.
4. A few minutes before the ceremony I was informed that the venue's audio/visual equipment wasn't operating properly and that the video I had slaved over might not work. Good-bye calm!
5. Our computer-savvy friends fixed the problem and the guests enjoyed the video. Hallelujah!
6. Scott saw my dress for the first time when I walked down the aisle. He was very moved.
7. I saw the rings that he made (yes, he made them) for the first time when they were presented at the ceremony. I was very moved.
8. At the last minute I had decided to wear white Sketchers rather than high heels. I credit that choice with the fact that I did not stumble or fall all day.
9. A group of wonderful friends and relatives arrived early to decorate the ceremony and reception sites. I am still gushing over their talent.
10. Oh my gosh, we're married! Yippee!

Enjoy the images.

November 14, 2008

November 07, 2008


My wedding was beautiful and I thank everyone for their good wishes and their interest. I promise to post photos once we receive them from the photographer. Today it is not my own wedding that I want to write about, but marriage in general.

I was saddened to hear that some loving couples will be denied the right to marry thanks to ignorance, right-wing xenophobia, and hatred disguised as religion. On Tuesday, when the United States made history by electing the country's first bi-racial president, just over half of Californians voted to strip gay and lesbian couples of the right to marry. About 18,000 same-sex couples have already married in that state. Voters in Arizona and Florida also approved amendments to ban same-sex marriages. Similar bans had already been passed in 27 states before Tuesday's elections.

My marriage is not negatively affected by the rights of others to marry. If anything, it is enriched by inclusion, by the ability of all adults to celebrate their commitment to another person. I do not want to belong to a discriminatory institution, and thankfully, here in Canada, I don't have to. Between 2003 and 2005, same-sex marriages became legal in every province and territory.

I am rejoicing in Obama's win, but it is a bittersweet victory. Based on the popular vote it was a very close race. Both the high number of McCain/Palin supporters and the banning of same-sex marriages in three more states illustrates just how far there remains to go before equality is a reality.

Egale Canada

November 06, 2008

Back by popular demand... beautiful niece. Here is Haven, trying to nap.

October 28, 2008

Who replaced my Prozac with TicTacs?

The following is a post I began writing prior to our wedding day. I will write more about the big event soon. For now, enjoy reading about the mental breakdown I had a few days earlier.

Is this what pre-wedding stress and sleep deprivation does to a person? Recently I became emotional at work during a meeting with my co-workers, our branch director, a supervisor and some people (I use the word loosely) from the legal department. We were discussing the impact of certain new pieces of legislation on our work. From my point of view, the impact is devastating. Not just for my co-workers and myself, but for our clients as well. My co-workers, being mature, rational women, were able to convey this opinion with clarity and conviction. I conveyed it with tears and tissues. Nothing embarrasses me more than crying at inappropriate times. (When I say nothing, I mean nothing. I've tried everything, and nothing has embarrassed me as much as crying.)

Help me feel better. What's your most embarrassing workplace incident?

October 21, 2008

What did I do... piss off Mother Nature? I am preparing for my earth-friendly wedding and what happens? It SNOWS.

Me on my wedding day?

The forecast isn't actually calling for snow on my wedding day, but it's supposed to be cold, grey and rainy. Almost makes me want to put on great big tree-killing, gas-guzzling, smog-producing boots and stamp gigantic carbon footprints all over the conservation area where we're holding our wedding.

Sorry. I don't mean to get all Bridezilla on you; it's just been a particularly trying day.

I'll try to look on the bright side. At least I'm not getting married beside a pool.

October 04, 2008

Calamity, ink

You would think that, with a track record like mine, I would avoid activities like bungie-jumping, hang-gliding and mountain-climbing. You would be right. You might also figure that I would steer clear of things that, while generally less lethal, could have lasting negative consequences. For instance, when Scott and I were in Hawaii we considered getting matching tattoos. I was gung-ho about the idea, but Scott was wary of the sketchy-looking tattoo shops. Unwilling to bring Hep C home as a souvenir, he eventually nixed the idea. Instead, as some of you might recall, I had a lovely picture of sea-turtles done in henna on my arm:

The image was supposed to last for a few weeks, but with all the time I spent hot-tubbing on the cruise ship, it faded within a few days. It wasn't the smartest expenditure I had ever made. I didn't miss the $40 as much as I missed those henna turtles, though. I had grown quite fond of them in the short time they spent on my arm.

Fast-forward six months. With only four weeks to go before my wedding, I decided it was time to get my "something new" to go with my something old, something borrowed and something blue. Designs in hand, Scott and I went to a reputable local tattoo shop. I showed the artist my design and suggested that a saltine-sized image would be appropriate. He insisted that he couldn't squeeze all the detail I wanted into such a small area. I realize now that I should have sacrificed detail for petiteness, but instead I went along with the artist's advice. All I asked was that he place the tattoo in such a way as to cover the vampire-bite-like scars on my back. After all, I wouldn't want all my wedding guests staring at those unsightly marks, would I?

The tattoo artist disappeared into the back of the shop, taking the next half hour to obsessive-compulsively prepare his workspace. The place was hot and I stood by the counter fanning and second-guessing myself. Finally, the artist called me in. He sat me down and made a point (no pun intended) of showing me that the needles he was about to use were brand-new, still sealed in their sterile wrappers.

I don't like needles. I never have. If I were ever to cut off one of my fingers, which isn't all that unlikely, I would sooner sacrifice the digit than have it stitched back on. I am also terrified of bees. So why I would get a tattoo when I had heard that the pain is similar to a bee-sting is beyond me. But I did it. I sat down, bared my back and acted nonchalant. I had noticed the signs on the wall: "Yes, it hurts." "No whiners." I was going to be tough. I could handle this. I had been through worse; remember the crushed toes? I did not cry, jump, turn and punch the tattoo artist in the face or even so much as whimper. And then he started tattooing.

For the first fifteen seconds it wasn't so bad, and I proudly said so. Next, I began to lose consciousness. I was determined not to faint and not to admit how dizzy and overheated I felt, but when I thought that the possibility of me hitting the floor was very real, I had to confess. Especially since, with a strapless dress and 110 wedding guests in my near future, I knew I had to go through with the whole damned procedure. The outline of half a turtle's leg would not do.

The artist paused for a few moments while I shook myself into full consciousness again. He resumed, and I fanned myself madly while trying to remain still. It felt very much like I was being stung by bees for the next 70 minutes. And I was paying for the privilege (by the hour, I might add).

When it was finally over, I scuttled to the front of the shop to recover while Scott took his turn. I did go in to sit with him later on and I could see that he was enjoying the experience just as much as I had. Since he already has a great big tattoo, it must be true what they say about forgetting the pain. I'm looking forward to that. When all was said and done, we looked like this:

The next day, we removed our bandages. Scott looked like this:

Awesome, no? I was immediately envious. Why? Because I looked like this:

Oh, the price of vanity. The tattoo artist didn't quite hit the mark. The two vampire-fang-puncture wounds (actually cat-claw puncture wounds that I couldn't stop picking at) now straddle the turtle's back leg. One of them, right by the tail, could be mistaken for turtle crap. So now, instead of maybe noticing two faded dots on my back, my wedding guests will be gawking at a giant blue pooping turtle. To make matters worse, the turtle is so large that it will show even when I'm wearing a regular shirt. Its head sticks juuust a little bit out the neckhole: that's right, it's turtleheading. Tell me that isn't humiliating.

September 24, 2008

Insidious lint

I'm heavily medicated here so bear with me. My mind is moving v e r y s l o w l y and everything strikes me as funny. You'd think I was on something illegal, but in fact I'm taking nothing more than Buckley's Complete Extra-Strength Non-Drowsy Cough, Cold & Flu caplets. The adult dosage is "1 or 2 caplets" and I figured that I was big enough to require two, so that's what I took. Wheeeee!

Okay, so where was I? Right. Lint. But first, to dog fur.

I am attempting to be a green person. Not green as in the mucus that has been streaming out of my head of late, but green as in environmentally friendly. I fail in many ways, but I'm trying very hard. What does that have to do with anything? I can't remember. Oh wait, yes I do. So. I was doing laundry the other day and I decided to wash towels. Not wanting to waste water, I figured I would put all the used towels in the same wash. Tea towels, dishcloths, bath towels, dog towels, you know, ALL the towels. That's what I did. The only towels that didn't go in the wash were the brand-new super-soft yummy fuzzy chocolate-brown ones that I received as a bridal shower gift. I don't believe in washing brand-new towels, no matter what people in the store may have done to them. Anyway, I washed, I dried, I folded and I re-hung. The end? Not the end.

After Scott's shower that evening, I heard him spitting and cursing in the bathroom. I didn't have to ask; it all came perfectly clear: there is a very good reason to separate dog towels from other towels. Poor Scott had dried himself off with his usual bath towel and ended up covered in dog fur from head to toe. He then tried to wash his hands and face and dried them with the hand towel, which only made the situation worse. I didn't want to incriminate myself so I burst out laughing, thereby incriminating myself.

"What did you do?" Scott demanded. I admitted my mistake and quickly fetched one of the brand-new super-soft yummy fuzzy chocolate-brown bath towels. Scott scrubbed himself with it and emerged from the bathroom seething, covered in dog hair and brand-new super-soft yummy fuzzy chocolate-brown balls of lint.

I'm sure one day he'll laugh about it as much as I did.

September 14, 2008

Getting the lead out

Last year I had our tap water tested and we discovered that it contained more than twice the allowable limit of lead. That explained a lot about those members of the household who had been consuming tap water for the past few years. After an 11-month wait, I finally received a phone call informing me that the city was ready to send out some workers to replace the lead-filled water pipes leading to my house. Those workers arrived last Thursday and spent several hours cutting, digging and napping. Yes, I said napping.

Working hard or hardly working?

I was at home that day, so I was able to glance outside periodically to watch the progress of the workers. The nap took the longest amount of time, by far. I never did see any pipes. It wouldn't surprise me if the workers simply dug and filled two holes to make it appear as though they had replaced the pipes.

Am I growing cynical in my old age?

August 27, 2008

Don't go yet, chlorophyll!

It's too early for fall colours.

I don't like weddings. I never have and I likely never will. I'm not even keen on attending my own, and I'm the one planning it. They're usually frilly and frou-frou and steeped in outdated symbolism.

That being said, even though I've been coerced into having a relatively traditional ceremony and reception to launch my marriage, I've been able to detect in myself a smidgen of enthusiasm about the setting. If the weather is kind to us we will be wed in a forest in autumn. I love autumn. I envision being surrounded by trees that are cloaked in russet and gold and crimson, the bottom of my dress rustling through a scattering of brilliant fallen leaves as I walk up the path toward my soon-to-be betrothed.

I do not want to envision myself slipping on slimy, decomposing foliage against a backdrop of naked, spindly trees. Yesterday, however, I saw some leaves turning red, and the meteorologist on the local news remarked that the colours are already changing just north of the city. Crap. I'm getting married just north of the city, but not for another two months. By then the trees could be bare, the skies could be drab, the air could be damp and cold. There is a literary term for the weather reflecting the mood, but the only terms I can come up with at the moment are "pathetic fallacy" (close) and "manifest destiny" (not even in the ballpark, and not even a literary term). If it is too chilly or there is -- egads! -- rain, we will have to hold the ceremony in a cramped and lacklustre covered patio with uneven interlocking stone floors. The literary term for that is "sucks the big one."

I have been accused of being awfully pessimistic by some people (namely Scott, who ironically is the winner of the Crankiest, Most Negative Person Contest, an imaginary contest that I just made up). I wouldn't call myself pessimistic, but realistic. Have you ever known fall colours to last for two months? They barely last two weeks. And we all know what happens next. The leaves turn a dull brown and fall off the trees, the air becomes bone-chillingly damp, the skies open up into five solid months of rain and snow, and everyone north of the Tropic of Cancer sinks into a deep and unrelenting depression. Pessimistic my foot.

Did I mention that I don't like weddings?

August 12, 2008

Let there be light.

Zombie Mom recently asked if Cayman has been keeping us up at night with his kittenish antics. In fact, Cayman has been the least of our worries. He has been a very good boy, aside from the fact that he bullies all of the other pets, including the dogs. One hundred and seventy combined pounds of canine are no match for three pounds of ferocious feline. Rawr!

Mine. All mine.

What does keep us up at night is our new ceiling fan and light. Like our old fixture, our new one is operated by remote control. Inside that remote control are DIP switches which control the frequency between the remote and the fan. The instructions recommend changing the DIP switches from the manufacturer's settings to avoid being on the same frequency as other remotes nearby. We have been on two different frequencies so far. Evidently, we have neighbours using those same frequencies, and they use them at all hours.

Voila, DIP switches.

We could be enjoying a perfectly good slumber when tadaaa! the overhead light would come on, or the fan would suddenly begin spinning at high speed. At first I would get up, hit the switch and go right back to bed. The more it happened, however, the more annoyed I became. It reached the point where I would wake up, stumble over to the wall and flip the switch several times. I would do this even if I was only awake because I had to pee. I don't know if I was turning a nearby light or TV on and off or if I was opening and closing a garage door, but it gave me great satisfaction to imagine my neighbours scratching their heads in bewilderment. Wake me up at night, will ya? Take that!

July 31, 2008

That's right, I lied.

Cayman didn't REALLY follow me home. (But you knew that, right?) A couple of days ago I was innocently purchasing a bag of cat food at our vet clinic when I noticed five little kittens behind the counter. The clinic accepts "rescued" cats, checks them over and then gives them away to good homes. I had a feeling that Scott's reluctance to bring home a new kitten would melt away as soon as he saw this brood. I ran to the car and dragged Scott into the clinic. After about twenty minutes of handling the kittens, Scott made his choice. Basically, Cayman came free with a bag of cat food.

Here's the little bugger now, doing a very poor job of making friends with Molly:

Undeterred by several open-pawed swats to the face, Cayman tried the same approach with Trooper:

And while I'm on the topic of pets (when am I not?), I thought I would share with you a couple of images of Max, the pug who has been wreaking havoc on our floors and our olfactory organs:

Last but not least, here is a photo of Max sleeping on the sofa with his leg down the back of my jeans.

Now that's what I call a hind leg.

July 29, 2008

He followed me home

When there's already so much chaos in the household, what's one more little pet? Meet Cayman.

July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch's last lecture

Randy Pausch, Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008

July 17, 2008

Did I mention my nickname is Calamity?

Really, with a nickname like that, it's a wonder that Scott ever agreed to live with me. I seem to invite disasters big and small. Recently these calamities collided, making for a very grumpy household.

Where to begin? Well, we recently took in a pug named Max. We're not keeping him, we're justing holding him for a friend. For a month. As you can imagine, the idea was mine, not Scott's. Max was shy for the first two days in our care, but now he is terrorizing our own dogs. He doesn't seem to notice our cats, which is one of the reasons I suspect that there is something wrong with him. Another reason is that he always tries to leave the house through the hinged side of the door. As well, he appears to have forgotten all about housetraining. He will come inside after a run in the yard and promptly relieve himself on the floor. I am guaranteed to find poop on the floor when I get up in the morning and when I arrive home in the evening. Good times.

Also, as you know, our basement recently flooded. That same night, our insurance company sent a couple of men from Bare Minimum Contracting to clean up. After they finished, the basement looked like this:

Much better, right? That's what I thought, too. Unfortunately, when the claims adjuster finally came out, he remarked that the first pair of dimwits did not do what they were supposed to do, which is to remove any water-damaged material. As a result, mould had been spreading while our basement festered for an entire week. (I was too busy picking up pug poop and battling the insurance company over our ridiculously high deductible to notice.) The claims adjuster apologized profusely, which didn't make our basement smell any better, and he assured us that a crew from a different contractor would do a proper clean-up the following day. Unable to afford another day off work, I handed over a spare house key.

Before I left the next morning, I confined the the cats to our bedroom, locked Montana in his crate and shut Max in the bathroom. I didn't want any pets fleeing the house or getting in the way while the clean-up crew carried garbage outside. Ferris, being terrified of strangers, was not a concern. The clean-up crew reportedly arrived at 10:00 am. By "crew" I mean a man named Andre. One lone guy was responsible for boxing all the items in the basement, moving the furniture, and tearing out the floor, baseboards and damaged drywall. He did a thorough job, but when I got home that evening I could barely move around the main floor because the basement had vomited all over it. There were (and still are) stacks of boxes everywhere. On the plus side, we've managed to build walls out of the boxes so that Max has only a small area in which to crap.

This is what our basement looked like when Andre's work was done:

Where is my floor?

Where are my walls?

But we already had an entrance in that room.


Speaking of "ugh," let's move to disaster #3. Scott called me at work to inform me that he was heading to the hospital to get stitches. Scott works with dangerous tools and machines all day long and he has already lost part of a thumb on the job. My stomach was turning somersaults as Scott nonchalantly told me what had happened. Something about a hand-held grinder with a circular blade that spins at 12,000 RPM. Rather than explaining the details, I'll just post a couple of photos of the results:

With all of that going on, when I got home I just needed to lie down for a few minutes. I went into the bedroom where our cats were huddled and tried to turn on the ceiling fan. It didn't work. Neither did the attached light. There was nothing wrong with the breaker; the fan/light unit had simply died. Now, that may seem like a trivial thing, but with a third of the house out of bounds, the main living area full of musty boxes and an unhousetrained dog and the bedroom all dark and stuffy, it was getting to be a bit much. The next thing you know, we'll be forced to bathe in the kitchen sink.