Friday, May 12, 2017

not in my backyard

During The Great Backyard Restoration of 2017, the resident kitty has taken it upon herself to maintain security by establishing dominance against all interlopers. 

Be ye Bobcat or be ye any other kind of cat, she gives not a single damn.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

book nook in morning sun

You'll find me here a lot these days. Ever since giving myself permission to sit down with a book during the day, instead of trying to stay awake for more than two paragraphs in bed at night, this has been my favoured reading spot.

The comfy chair by the big front window is also an ideal perch from which to keep a judgmental eye on the goings-on in the street. Surprisingly, all that vigil-keeping has yet to interfere with my book reading. Multi-tasking at its finest.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

reprieve

Lately, I crave silence.

The past several years of nonstop renovations on my street - houses beside me and across from me being ripped apart and rebuilt in the vision of their new occupants - have created a constant din along a once-quiet roadway. The whine of the rip saw, the percussion of the nail gun, the middle-of-the-lane conferences held between open truck doors, diesel engines running - this is the new symphony of the street.

We are equally to blame, of course, our own tear-downs and rebuilds adding to the decibels. It's all part of living in a house built 45 years ago.  

When I lived in an 80-year-old house - with styrofoam packing peanuts being used as insulation behind the lathe and plaster walls - I thought of a 45-year-old house as relatively new. But evidently, to the thirtysomethings with far too much money who seem to be buying up all the houses on my street, it's just a gut-job.  

Is it lake time yet?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

rufescency

Touches of red punctuate the day.

The way rose-coloured glass stands on guard for a hub of domesticity.

How curling rocks roll up to camouflage against painted Timmy's cups: red granite on pebbled ice. 

The way road closure maps scream a blood-coloured warning. Stay away commands the network of red lines, a spider's web of blizzard-blocked highways. There's a good reason you don't travel to the cottage in winter. 

The winter tomatoes, though, are pale pink, at best.

 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

every picture tells a story

Since I have clearly become crap at writing anymore, but since I am not quite ready to bury the old blog just yet, I am going to switch to photos for a while.

In fact, I challenge myself (and anyone who cares to join me) to use this latter half of February to post a daily photo. A photo that hints at having a story to tell.

No other rules, no boundaries. 

Here is the photo I took today.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

things that get you through January

- pools of lamplight in a darkened room

- turkey stock

- new slippers before the inner fuzziness gets trodden down

- sun on new snow, seen through a window, when you have already shovelled and have no place you need to be

- sweaters still warm from the dryer

- finding that last bit of Christmas baking at the back of the fridge

- landscaping sketches

- continuing the Christmas tradition of curling up with a glass of port and a short story

- mid-week matinees at the cheap seats

- ignoring the fact that you haven't blogged in months



Friday, October 21, 2016

from one chair to the next


















I sometimes think that I should just admit defeat and announce that my blogging days are over. It's getting downright embarrassing, the amount that I don't blog. The gaps between my posts have surpassed mere negligence and are approaching criminality. But then I get a bit of breathing room between writing jobs and suddenly I find I do have a few words left in me after all.  

As is the case now.

These are just some of the things that I have not blogged about during the time span between afternoons spent in deck chairs at the lake and frosty mornings awaiting newspaper delivery in the city (almost two months, for those keeping track):

Back to the lake - the final trip to close down the cottage in September was so glorious and the weather so fine, that we broke with tradition and stayed on an extra day. If anything, we generally head back home a day early.

Master angling - during the waning days of cottage season, the Spousal Unit landed his first official Master Angler brown trout at our lake. On a fly that he tied. Much strutting ensued.

Dinners with family and friends - breaking bread, pies, and curries at our house, their houses, our cottage and as the token elders at an extended family Thanksgiving dinner.

Books read and never discussed - including a Canadian novel that I still intend to review for the Canadian Book Challenge (so stay tuned). Also Mary Roach's latest book and a horror story, written by Stephen King's kid, that I picked up from a Little Free Library near my house. (spoiler: he writes an awful lot like his dad)

Bloggy meetup - the first new bloggy meetup in a very long time. And it was a gooder. During the first snowfall of the year (of course), I met Halifax's finest, the Gifted Typist, during her brief touch-down in my town. We have known each other via the blogosphere - which morphed into the facebookosphere - for ten years. We lunched for three solid hours and still had to leave an entire encyclopedia  of unexplored topics on the table.  

PechaKucha - used to attend these evenings all the time, but have lapsed the past couple of years. The theme was TOPPLE and it was held in a dance studio, suitably.

Power couple shingles vaccination - to celebrate our recent 28th wedding anniversary. Who ever said we are not romantic? This is a bad one, warned the pharmacist. Three days later it still hurts like hell. But that won't stop us from having our Power Couple Flu Vaccination hot date in a week or so.

Consider yourself all caught up. What have you been up to?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

from the ground up

I have been walking increasingly larger swaths of my neighbourhood this summer, not exactly first thing in the morning, but as soon as I am sufficiently caffeinated. Part of my rationale for foregoing the basement exercise equipment (aka torture chamber) in favour of outdoor exercise is that winter will be here soon enough so I had better enjoy the ice-free sidewalks while I can, and the other part is that it's getting tougher with each passing year to maintain my workout regime without injury or burnout. Walking may not get my heart rate soaring and leave me dripping in sweat, but it's much easier to distract myself. I look for landscaping ideas while I walk. 

Now that the interior renos are largely complete and the siding is finished, the yard is starting to show its age and its limitations. We plan to do a complete overhaul in the spring, the whole shebang - fence, patio, retaining walls, sidewalks. We are even going to demolish the cute little playhouse that nobody ever used and now exists just to store a hockey net, a little red wagon, and a whole lot of spider webs. Cute it may be - even though it is basically non-functional and a little fally-downy - but it also takes up considerable space in our tiny backyard. But other than a vague notion of tall grasses, washed pebbles and slate stepping stones, I have no idea of what to replace it with.

Hence the walking. It's the best way to compile ideas, to check out what others have done, and what will and won't work for our house and yard. My neck gets almost as good a workout during my walks as my legs do, what with the gawking and the swivelling from side to side. Some may call it snooping, but I call it research.

There have been a lot of commercial landscapers doing work all around our neighbourhood this summer and I always stop and chat to them. It's not unusual for me to come home with a mittful of business cards. They are quite accommodating, often inviting me into the yard to take a look at what they have done, seemingly not put off by the old lady in mismatched socks, no makeup and a fright-wig of bed-head. 

Come winter, I will break out the graph paper and pencil sharpener and plan my future urban oasis. Comfy seating will be a given.

Monday, July 18, 2016

harvester birds and cottage sports

Cormorants, they are called, but we have dubbed them harvester birds. Like a giant combine moving slowly across a wheat field, they cross the lake in a single massive line, scooping up all the small fish that get caught in their avian dragnet.

The lake, famed for its trout fishing, has lately been plagued with perch - a lesser fish amongst anglers - who compete with the prized rainbows and browns for food. It will be interesting to see what effect the sudden appearance of dozens of these cormorants will have on the area's ecosystem. Nature is an opportunist.

On land, we have upped the cottage gamesmanship, trying out the new archery set with great glee and more enthusiasm than skill, until we lost all but one of the arrows. We combed the grass around the target over and over again, looking for the arrows that went astray, but they were gone. We can only assume that they were shot so deeply into the ground (which has a slight rise to it), that future archeologists will marvel over the hunting and gathering culture that populated this very specific area of the central continental basin. 

The spousal unit recently found a portable ping pong game, to help keep us sane on those rainy days or - as is more likely in this area - those days when the incessant winds threaten our very humanity. It's not only far less clunky than the air hockey game that we have tucked into a closet, but it's way more active. The trick is learning how to hold back on your delivery, though. It's far too easy to send the ball pinging off the kitchen cabinets and ponging across the entire cottage when you forget and smash it back at your opponent. 
  
 


The cat, not surprisingly, is not a fan. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

greetings, summer

When spring goes all El Nino on you and replaces those May snowstorms with barefootedness, the first day of summer feels a little anticlimactic. I'm not complaining, mind you. In fact, I could easily get used to a summer that lasts well beyond the standard eight weeks.

Now I just need to get that Clonomatic 6000 up and running so that I can do everything that I want to do this summer. Anybody got a spare flux capacitor they could lend me?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

life as a time bomb

 The past several weeks have been a bit of a blur, figuratively at first, but ultimately in quite a literal sense. The recent discovery, during a routine eye examination, of a schisis in my left retina and a small hole in my right, along with strict instructions to avoid any straining or heavy lifting, have left me feeling slightly invalid and more than a little paranoid. Suffice it to say that I am glad that we carried all that living room furniture up and down stairs (and then back again) before the diagnosis.

Following the completion of The Great Siding Replacement of 2016 at the end of April, we tagged along with my sister and her husband out to Vancouver, for a bit of a family reunion and to cheer on my brother-in-law as he ran his gajillionth marathon. They drove, we flew. Come to think of it, that flight would also have been nixed by my optometrist had my diagnosis come sooner.

My sis and brother-in-law stayed with us for a couple of days on their drive out to the coast and gamely put up with living in the midst of a renovation zone. The siding was complete at this point, but since we had moved all the furniture out of the living room to prepare for the installation of hardwood floors, things were a bit cozy. We toured them around East Village, where I realized that years of writing about the area's development have turned me into some sort of maniacal tour guide. Later we squeezed in a quick reunion with our niece, whom we haven't seen in decades and who, it turns out, lives a couple of blocks away from us. Shameful, I know; long, convoluted story.

In Vancouver, we shared some of our favourite haunts and hung out with the Offspring. My sister, in turn, shared the illness that she had picked up from her grandsons. Turns out she is quite an effective vector, as we were sick for weeks. And we never get sick.

But despite the throat razor blades, we had a blast, especially since they switched hotels to stay at ours. I was particularly impressed with our resident marathoner, who spent the day walking the seawall and wandering through Stanley Park with us after running a half-marathon in respectable time earlier that morning.

We returned home to a living room with hardwood floor instead of the old cat-pukey, wine-stained carpet. Obviously, there was simply no way we could put the old ass-numbing futon back into that room; it was time for a grown-up couch. We were feeling so grown-up, in fact, that we bought a white one. How ill-advised that may have been will be determined after the first dinner party.

It was during the post-renovation deep cleaning (down on my knees, scrubbing the floor) that I missed my initial eye exam. Being excessively hausfrauy may not kill you, but it may just make you go blind.

After a great deal of should I stay or should I going, I did eventually get the green light from the eye surgeon to make the trek across the prairies to the lake place, with the proviso that I seek immediate medical attention if my retinas start to detach. I never did have to test out the rural Manitoba medical system, thankfully, but the anticipated long days of lounging on the deck were not exactly in the cards. A week of gale-force winds, that only abated long enough at night to allow the mosquitoes to take over, ensured that I did a lot of reading. And eating. And Sudoku. 

We did have one gloriously calm evening that allowed me to photograph the Spousal Unit testing out his home-tied flies.

In a couple of days, I will see the eye surgeon and find out what comes next. Regardless of any surgical intervention, I don't expect I will be allowed to exercise for a while, so I may have to go shopping for some bigger pants. And I have some podcasts (aka TV for blind people) lined up, just in case.

 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

south of Olha

I watch a flock of pelicans, some two dozen strong, lift and freefall across the waters of the lake. Something about the physics of flight - a half-remembered discourse on wind-shear and turbulence - comes back to me. As massive as they are, these big white birds are as unperturbed by the incessant wind as we landlocked bipeds are buffeted by it.


The prevailing southeasterly is their ribbon of highway. Wingtip to wingtip they curlicue, rising and soaring with the up-gusts, swooping low and skimming the choppy surface with the down-drafts. Wordlessly, perfectly choreographed, in innate unison, the flock coasts as a single being. Meanwhile, on land, we strain against the gusts and struggle to even talk to each other over the gale forces.

A remarkable bird is the pelican. Its beak can hold more than its belly can. It can hold in its beak enough food for a week, but I really don’t know how the hell it can.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

scaffolding

When there is scaffolding around your house, you tend to stay away from the windows. To maneuvre the delicate etiquette between hired and hiring, you quickly learn the Venn diagram of who owns what space. You both avoid accidental eye contact through the kitchen window.

When there is scaffolding around your house, you open doors slowly. You look up, down, left, right, and back up again.

You go out every morning to talk about the weather and to offer coffee, but you pee with the blinds closed.

Monday, April 18, 2016

up for air

There is absolutely no excuse for my lack of blogging over the past month, but that won't stop me from trying.

Excuse number one: Work. I just finished up a major assignment for the magazine work that I do. With the exception of one or two days, I have been writing every single day for a month. I had very few words left at the end of the day. Certainly none that made any sense. 

Excuse number two: Renovations. With the woodpeckers and the Northern Flickers declaring victory in the decades-long battle for our cedar siding, we finally threw up our hands, talked to our banker, and called our contractor. Technically this should not have prevented me from blogging, of course, but I was distracted.

I am looking forward to reading all the wordy gems that you have been writing recently. And to adding a few words of my own. Now that I have some words left at the end of the day.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

birds: 1, humans: 0

We liked having the house ripped apart so much during last year's renovations that we are doing it again.

This year's strategy continues the campaign of gross carpet slash and burn that we started last year, this year in the living room/dining room. Without having to bisect the house by blocking off three sets of stairs for hardwood installation like we did last year, this should be relatively straight-forward. The Dexter kill room tarping should be kept to a minimum.

Also on the previously planned agenda is the construction of a back deck to tie together the piecemeal cement blocks, shale and half-dead grass that currently define the area. We will be able to move the patio furniture to a nicely shaded area so that we don't have to spend alfresco dinners huddled under the meagre protection of a sun-bleached umbrella, squinting against the glare off the glass table.

In addition to these previously spreadsheeted campaigns, there is another - significantly more substantial - reno that we have recently decided that we need to address. It is one, alas, that signifies an air battle lost. After many years of skirmish with the local avian community, we have thrown in the white flag and will be replacing our cedar siding with something that birds don't eat. Vinyl, likely.

What used to be a March to October annoyance of birds hammering at the house has become year-round. The last few winters we haven't had a good solid deep freeze to scare house-eating birds further south, so the attack on our abode has been relentless.    

Yes, we have tried all the tricks, but none of them have made any difference. We surrender. I wonder if we can get some local birding community to sponsor the job?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

hiatus interruptus

With the drying up of the local economy in recent months, so too has much of my paid work. I haven't minded having the extra time, to be honest, to tackle the list of home improvement schemes that I have imposed upon myself (and others). Things have been painted, rooms have been rearranged, no longer needed crap has been given away by the truckload. Dozens of Disney movies on VHS, anyone? I have even gotten into the luxurious habit of reading a bit in the afternoons and accompanying the recently retired one to matinees at our local cheap seat movie theatre.

That all ends now, though, with a recent batch of new assignments (first one due tomorrow) and the promise/threat of an avalanche of same just around the corner.

Now, I just need to relearn how to write.
 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

brotherhood of the travelling gun

The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt

I have been hearing rumours that The Sisters Brothers is scheduled to be made into a film, with John C. Reilly playing the part of the narrator, Eli Brothers. I am glad for this. Not only does pretty much everything that John C. Reilly touches turn into gold, but he closely fits the mental image that I had of Eli. I am counting on the filmmakers not to muck it up.

The Sisters Brothers is the story of Eli and Charlie Sisters, two assassins-for-hire who travel from Oregon to California during the height of the gold rush to carry out a hit on a prospector. Charlie is impetuous and brutal, Eli is introverted and has a certain sweetness to him, despite the fact that he has no problems murdering people. The novel is at times gory, at other times touching, and it is woven throughout with generous strands of dry humour.

The Sisters Brothers is inventive in its scope - a darkly comic western noir - and its sparsely worded pacing fit the genre perfectly. I will admit that it took me a couple of chapters (they are very short chapters) to appreciate the narrative voice and to understand why everyone seemed to love this book so much. But once I did, I was hooked.

I could easily have kept reading, had the book been twice as long, and it would take very little prompting to entice me to revisit the world of the Sisters Brothers, be it in a film, a reread, or (dare I hope?) a sequel someday.

The Sisters Brothers has won a mitt-full of literary awards, and for good reason. You should read it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

if you squint just wrong

Sometimes my favourite photos happen by accident. 

While peering through the view-finder to get a better angle to photograph something else entirely, I noticed that a collision of overhead lights had doubled up to make the shadows cast by the camera in my hands look sort of otherworldly. Or at the very least, like a fabric pattern left over from the 60's.

I think it swings.

In other - more linky - news, I'd like to offer up some of my recently published scribblings:

In the latest edition of Latent Image, my short story called The Handbook of Facultative Morphology.

On the National Music Centre website, two articles about the new exhibition spaces - Amped Up Exhibitions at Studio Bell and Behind the Scenes: Developing NMC's Exhibitions. 

May you always see the good in the weird.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

some assembly required

I don't bake very often, other than around Christmas, because:
(a) I would just eat it, and
(b) you pretty much have to follow a recipe while baking, and I like to think of recipes as mere suggestions.

I'm not good at following formulas - too many flashbacks to Biochem 235. With cooking, I can make stuff up and it usually tastes pretty good, and if it doesn't, I can usually figure out how to fix it. Not so with baking.

Until today.

I had an almost full container of ricotta that I wanted to use up and have been thinking for a while about making the Spousal Unit (aka the Resident Macaroon Aficionado) some coconut macaroons. So I threw the ricotta together with a bit of crushed pineapple that I had in the freezer and some icing sugar and almond extract, with the idea of making macaroon balls. The mess tasted fine but was not in any way rollable. And, not containing any chocolate, it wasn't worthy of eating with a spoon.

So I figured I would turn it into a cake. Not able to find any suitable ricotta-coconut-pineapple cake recipes on the interwebz, I figured I would just make a white cake and incorporate the mess into it.

But I discovered that all the white cake recipes on the internet start with Take one box of white cake mix ...

What the what? If you are using a cake mix, why would you even bother to post a recipe? It's on the side of the ding-dang box. That's not baking; that's paper shuffling.

But from somewhere in the recesses of my tiny brain I pulled out enough cake chemistry data to remember that you have to cream together butter, sugar, eggs and flour (with baking powder and salt mixed into it) at a roughly 1:1 ratio. 

I alternated adding the dry ingredients with the pineapple-coconut-ricotta mess (more latent cake chemistry knowledge), threw it into a greased pan and baked it for about half an hour. Oh, and I tossed in a bit more almond extract and also some lime juice, because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Turns out it was a darn good idea. Turns out you can hack a cake recipe after all. Especially when you slather it with a lime-coconut buttercream icing.

Who wants to come over for dessert?

Friday, January 29, 2016

a story a day brings Santa to my yard

2015 Short Story Advent Calendar
- compiled by Michael Hingston

This is a brilliant idea for an advent calendar, for those of us who would rather read than choke down some cheap dollar store chocolate. The brainchild of Edmonton author Michael Hingston, the 2015 Short Story Advent Calendar is a collection of 24 stories and one bonus novella, featuring Canadian and international authors. Many of the stories have never been published before and they were all handpicked by Hingston for inclusion into this compendium.

The advent calendar aspect (besides the concept of reading one story per day) comes from the fact that each story is individually sealed, with no identifying marks as to the title or even the author. So each day brings a literary surprise.

The cover of each booklet was designed by graphic artist Natalie Olsen and features simply a number which corresponds with the day of the month on which you are meant to read the story. But look carefully and you will find that the number is drawn in such a way as to give you a hint about what happens in the story. I found myself observing a little ritual of pouring over the cover, speculating about its contents, before carefully unsealing that day's story.

The stories come nestled in a solid cardboard box, reminiscent of the ones that hold the question cards in Trivial Pursuit or Cards Against Humanity, and the package looks quite attractive sitting on your coffee table or under your Christmas tree, waiting for you to read the next one.

I found it hard to find time to sit down and read first thing every morning and started falling behind. Eventually, though, I realized that late afternoon worked better for me, and that had the added bonus of letting me swap the accompanying cup of coffee for a wee snort of Christmas port. Port and short stories are my new favourite combination.

I loved both the concept and the beautiful design of the 2015 Short Story Advent Calendar and I hope that 2016 brings another edition.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sin City: the good, the bad, the ugly

Las Vegas is a polarizing place; you either love it or hate it. I definitely did not love it.

Everything in Vegas, it seems, is fake. Fake volcanoes, fake Eiffel towers, fake Statues of Liberty. Even the grass is made of plastic. I did, however, get very excited when I spotted a stand of what I think were real trees...

I understand the whole mirage-in-the-desert concept upon which Las Vegas is built. I get that. I realize that there is a certain allure to playing make-believe with pretend glamour and reproductions of exotic locales that you may never get to in real life. I realize that a lot of people find escape in Vegas' excess, in its over-the-top tacky architecture and in those elusive pipe dreams of instant wealth that define the city

But I didn't realize, before our trip there last week, just how pervasive that I will have fun even if it kills me mindset is. And I never really realized how ultimately sad and desperate that mindset is. Just ask all those people with oxygen tanks, smoking and feeding slot machines for hours on end, how glamorous their Las Vegas lifestyle is.

That said, rant done, there were some things that I really enjoyed in Vegas. Behold then, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly list:

The Good:

The Continental Cup of Curling
On site and a five minute walk from our hotel room to our arena seats, this was four great days of curling featuring the very best curlers in the world, ending with a right-down-to-the-wire photo finish. 

The National Atomic Testing Museum
Fascinating display of the political, scientific and cultural history of the atomic arms race, including the astonishingly naive atomic testing that took place in the Nevada desert. Set up your lawn chair and watch the mushroom cloud!

Don't bother with the add-on Area 51 exhibition, though. It's pretty hokey and not terribly well done.

Casa di Amore
Billing itself as "Vegas the way it used to be" this old-timey neighbourhood Italian diner - far off the Strip - has wonderful food, throwback jazz singers providing dinner entertainment, and a cozy community feeling. More people kept arriving and they just kept bringing in more chairs. The highlight was when the band announced the 70th anniversary of a couple dining with their family. As the singer crooned a Sinatra tune just for them, the 90-year-old couple got up and danced together. We all clapped and got teary.

As if that's not enough, Casa di Amore will drive you home in a limo, for free. And they gave me a tee-shirt because I ordered the cannoli!

The Bad:

Cigarette Smoke
Smoking is allowed indoors in Las Vegas, at least in the casino areas. And there are very few indoor areas that are not casinos. It was disgusting and stinky and my eyes burned the entire time.

Gambling Overkill
I naively assumed that our hotel would have a normal hotel layout - front desk, lobby, some restaurants and services - and then have the obligatory casino in a room to the side. But no. The casino IS the hotel. You walk into the front door and are immediately assaulted by rows of slots machines all pinging away, lights flashing through the cigarette haze. Sure, there is no smoking in the restaurants, but they are all open to the casino, so it doesn't matter a tinker's damn. Anywhere you go in Vegas, you must pass through a casino to get there.

Plastic Carnival
I found the facade and the fakery, especially along The Strip, to be really disheartening and exhausting. It was like day six of the Calgary Stampede crammed into Disney World and stuffed into the Playboy Mansion. All the worst of society in one place.

The Ugly:

The myriad of seriously unhealthy looking people, many with walkers and the odd oxygen tank, wheezing their way through the casinos. 

Chain-smoking zombies endlessly feeding the machines, eyes fixed unblinkingly on the flashing colours, pausing only to order another drink.

Low rollers wandering from machine to machine, sucking on a beer, at 8:00 AM.

The layer of sadness and desperation that seems to have settled over the fragile veneer of merry-making.
 

---

I wouldn't mind seeing some other areas of Nevada. I would love to see some desert tortoises, those atomic test sites, and some of the sandstone buttresses that have been shaped by wind and time. 

But I will bypass Las Vegas.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

just for one day

On the day David Bowie died, I woke up with chest pains. 

I spent the better part of the morning chewing low dose aspirin and checking Web MD. There is no particularly good time for it, of course, but two days before you are set to head south of the border for a week likely ranks right up there for Worst Possible Timing for a Suspected Heart Attack. Especially after the icon you have always considered to be immortal has just died.

As the morning progressed and the pains didn't manifest any further, I stopped blaming the fact that I had unwisely polished off the last of the Christmas chocolates the night before. I had, it seems, merely pulled a muscle while sleeping. 

I have never been a good sleeper, and as the aches and pains and twitchy legs of encroaching old age start to pile up, I have become somewhat of a nocturnal thrasher. It was bound to happen, I guess, especially since the cat (aka The Immovable Object) has taken to lying on my left arm and chest while I read in bed. I sometimes drift off while reading and wake up to a dead left arm, thinking that a stroke has finally taken me.

But for now, I survive and am excited to be heading stateside tomorrow to celebrate the Spousal Unit's retirement. I shall put on my red shoes and dance the blues.