Friday, August 31, 2007

what a long strange trip this has been

11.5 hours there, 10.75 hours back - potty breaks were more orchestrated than an Indie 500 pit stop. We were a finely tuned, highly trained, road chewing machine.

road games played:

- Marry, Shag or Cliff
- Who would win in a fight?
- that song title game where the final letter starts the next song title. It's harder than it looks as it would appear that all song titles end in either "e", "s", or "d"
- and a new one I invented called "Five Dice Game", named after a scorecard that my sister showed us for which she was trying to remember the name (and it turned out to be nothing but a generic version of Yahtzee) in which you have to name five things which fit into a category, like song titles that name a mode of transportation or song titles with containing names of countries


- best travelling cat in the history of travelling cats (and she only puked once and not on the new carpet either and only peed over the edge of her litter box once). But she did growl at my sister and brother in law after they arrived home before us one day.

- Heather's new dimples

- fart walks through the cemetery

- Kristen bringing only one shoe with her from Winnipeg to wear to the wedding, as she thought the other one might be at her mom and dad's place.

- Beth's Tim is apparently a media darling. He appears to be the favourite subject of the front page of the Melita Times, having appeared there more times than anyone can remember and they've only lived in town for half a year. We imagine next week's edition will lead with the story "Tim L brings salmon sandwich for lunch two days in a row".

- An evening of remembering Kristen-isms, like the time their family was travelling in Italy and the girls stayed out late to play with some Italian boys. Beth told Kristen to tell their mom and dad that they were "mingling with the natives" and 4-year-old Kristen came home and told them that they were "nimbling with the Indians". Or the time she told her teacher when they were doing family trees that she was half-German, half-human.

- The finger puppets we brought for some birthday gifts - Ghandi and Che Guevara (although I believe Kafka and Ghandi are pictured).

- Bruno's Spotted Dick.
Made by Heinz, no less.

Into each life a little rain must fall:

- the fly that snuck into the car at that gas station with the nasty bathroom at Moosomin, Saskatchewan and stayed with us for the duration of the trip.
- pulling my lateral muscles in my back moving a box of books. That smarted for a few days.

the best bits:

- Jerry going on two fishing trips with the menfolk
-said menfolk participating in drunken sandwich making

- getting to see the entire family

- being able to visit my mom every day, and twice on Thursday.

the neat stuff:
- that cat at the tea room that had tufts of hair in its ears like a lynx

- the 97-year-old lady in the wheelchair at my mom's place who, when stopped from leaving the building by her wander guard, caught sight of us waiting for the door to reopen, and broke into a huge smile, jazz hands awaving, and exclaimed "I caught them!"

- seeing Margaret Laurence's grave stone

- finding that hep album, oh those sassy Neepawa Variatones

- fishing stories

-telling the roadside veggie guy that corn on the cob was double the price in Calgary. Apparently this is not quite correct and I will likely put him out of business when he jacks his prices accordingly.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Caution: tipsy blogging ahead

You should see the size of the wine glass I am holding in my hand right now. It makes it rather difficult to type, but whatever.


In fact, I had the boxes down to the mailroom at 3:15pm MDT. However by the time I sent some required efiles to the granting agencies and cleared up my shit that I had strewn about, I ended up walking out of the office at exactly the same time I normally do. Which was mildly disappointing as I had visions of myself swanning out of the office a couple of hours early. In my vision I also drove away in a sports car with the top down, giving the finger to my building as I passed.

But I always knew there would be a giant glass of red wine at the end of it all.

Speaking of sports cars, on the way home there was a little red MG trying to merge onto the Deerfoot at one of the god-awful merge intersections , so I let him in of course, and he gave me a friendly little wave, which is always nice. But then he needed to get into the next lane in order to get off the feeder lanes, and the guy in the van next to me wouldn't drop back to let him in. Naturally MG dude had to slow down in order to to wait for an opportunity to get into the right lane, and I could see what he needed to do, so I backed well off, so he didn't have this big honking urban assault vehicle on his ass, and then when he finally was able to merge, he gave me another friendly little wave. That was nice. I'm glad there are some considerate drivers out there. You go, sports car dude!

After the last 3 weeks of grant application drudgery, driving to Manitoba, followed by grant application panic, I am just aching to do nothing but hang in my sweatpants with no makeup on and finish reading Harry Potter this weekend. Naturally this is not going to happen. I've just been informed we are having company all weekend. I love our impending guest and normally I would be thrilled, but his timing is gruesome.

And I forgot we are going out to a mega-concert tomorrow night too and I am really looking forward to it (668, are you still planning to come to Calgary for this show?). But I just wish I had a couple of days to veg out first. Oh well, there'll be plenty of time to sleep when I am dead.

I AM going to finish Harry Potter this weekend though god-damn it, because it is really exciting (Neville Longbottom, you rawk!)and it is almost time for the fall reading challenge. Hey, if you want to get involved in this reading challenge, talk to Karen. The summer one was super-duper and I read all my books (once I finish HP). It's kind of neat to keep track of what you will and have read and to see what others are reading.

Okay, my glass is empty. Going to the kitchen for a refill, maybe order a pizza.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thursday 4:30 pm

That's when the FedEx guy will arrive. That's when it all ends. Until then I am pretty much living at work.

I'm not certain why granting agencies have such insanely complex application processes, but I suspect it is to save time on actually reviewing the applications. "Aha! This dude used paper clips rather than elastic bands, and did you see this? He didn't include a self-addressed stamped envelope." REJECT. "And what's this I see? Is that, why yes it is, that is 11 point font, not 12. You are so busted, mister!" REJECT.

But most likely the agencies figure that demanding 7 copies of the complete application, plus a common cv with each go to the national agency, along with 12 copies of double-sided and stapled copies of select pages in a separate envelope, while the provincial agency gets 4 copies of the complete application with common cv in each and an abridged version of select pages, and don't even get me started on the Personnel award application, works very well in culling the weak from the herd. If you can't stay organized, I can hear them thinking, you shouldn't call yourself a scientist.

Oh and did I mention that the photocopier isn't working? Before I left on vacation, I thought I would be proactive and make the 25 required copies of a (amazingly already completed) 30 page document which I had to attach. However, with the copier jamming every 5 minutes (and not just in one spot either - these were quadruple jams) and feeding several pages through at a time, so that each document had several pages missing, I only ended up making 10 copies. And now the god damned copier doesn't work at all. I should have kicked it in the arse a few more times.

So today I have to find a place off campus where I can go to get all my copies made. And some of them have to be colour as well.

The other fun part will be tracking down letters of reference which people have promised, but which have yet to materialize. They are just trying to give me a heart attack. And I suspect the departmental secretary is being passive-aggressive when she doesn't return my calls. She seemed far too happy to tell me that the Department Head is away on holiday when I finally reached her and that I should write the critical appraisal letter myself and she would send it to him to sign. Now I have never laid eyes on one of these babies before and nobody can seem to tell me what is expected, so I filled the thing up with hyperbole. I figure when all else fails, baffle them with bullshit.

If I am still alive by 4:30 pm Thursday, I promise to be a better blogger and visit you all again regularly. Until then, I'm off to work.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

and you thought your grapes were well-travelled

We're back from Manitoba.

As suspected, the grapes we brought along as road grub went untouched, and can now brag that they have been on two fishing trips as well. So those grapes have travelled 3200 kms (~2000 American miles) without anybody having the slightest inclination to eat them. They are truly survivors.

We had a great vacation. It felt like we were actually gone for two weeks because we packed so much into that trip. I'll bring you some highlights and show you some pictures after I tackle the laundry and groceries. How odd that we still feel like eating - I thought we already ate enough to last us for the next month.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Road trippin with my two favourite allies, fully loaded we've got snacks and supplies

We're off to Manitoba! We're hitting the highway with a big case of tunes, road snacks, and our cheap sunglasses. Sputnik is coming along, so we'll have the windows set on "lock", so as not to have a repeat of the trip we made one Christmas when she stood on the window switch whilst watching the prairie whiz by, and we watched in horror as the window started opening at 110 km/hr and -30C with the cat hanging out of it.

We've got a 13 hour drive to get there, so we'll have to pace ourselves on the snacks. I plan to wait until at least Brooks before tearing into the Ritz's mini cheese sandwiches (aka crack in a box). I'm going to see if I can hold out until the Saskatchewan border before I start pounding back the M&M's. The carrots and grapes will probably still be untouched by the time we reach our destination. And with some strategically spaced potty breaks and the use of this official map we should be there by bedtime.

No doubt some wise guy will start singing the chorus to Footloose as we pull out of the garage, and that will trigger random quotations from Romey and Michelle's High School Reunion until somebody gets sick of it and demands that we play Who Would Win in a FIght instead. What kind of road games do you play?

It'll be great to get together with my whole family. We'll drive Jerry crazy with our inability to make a group decision in less than 3 hours, because that's what we do best. I haven't seen my mom for over a year, so there will be buckets of tears shed, no doubt, because that's what she does best. She's pretty awesome at remembering embarassing things that I did as a teenager as well. Looking forward to that part!

I won't be able to check up on you all, so I expect everybody to be on their best behaviour. And if anybody does anything really inappropriate and outrageous, I want to hear about it when I get back. I want details. Write them down.

Here are a couple of songs I've been a little hung up on lately.
Perhaps we could have an online singalong when I get back.

Be nice to each other and I'll bring you something back.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dear Wilco: you've still got it

I take back any and all reservations I may have had about you playing at the Jubilee Auditorium last night. You did not let a sea of comfy seats hold you back from tearing the roof off. If anything, last night's concert was the best I have ever seen you play, and from our slightly elevated super-duper awesome seats, we were able to see all six of you at all times, something we've never been able to achieve at Mac Hall. My god, you guys are amazing musicians! You were a joy to watch.

Thanks for playing all my favourite songs. I was a little concerned that you were going to totally mellow out the evening with mainly songs from Sky Blue Sky, but I needn't have worried. I have to admit it's still not my favourite album, but you did do a great job on Impossibly Germany, and I loved the way you guys took it into a real jazz groove for a while. But of course the standouts for me were mostly from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Another great point in the evening was the spectacular juxtaposition between sweet country slide guitar with soft vocals and crashing feedback with strobe lights on Via Chicago. That was truly a spectacle and I mean that in a good way.

And thanks for the two great encores. I loved the way we all clapped out the rhythm together on Spiders (Woodsmoke) and kept it going even after the instrumentation had stopped, and then of course you guys burst back into a musical onslaught again. That felt pretty special. I feel like we connected, didn't you?

Dear Jeff Tweedy: thank you for losing the cheesy facial furniture you were sporting last time you played here. You don't need to look 15 years older, trust me.

And thanks for taking the bull by the horns after you guys finished playing Via Chicago and addressing the fact that some people wanted to stand, whilst others wanted to sit in the comfy chairs, and encouraging us to make a group decision. I'm really glad we chose standing.

Dear Vest Guy (aka Pat Sansone): You were our favourite (but don't tell the others). The general consensus amongst our group was that you have the stage presence to be a front man, but you also looked like you were having way too much fun doing the big dramatic moves on keyboards and guitar and maracas and tambourine. Did you see us playing keyboards along with you? We loved your guitar god poses too.
Dear Nels Cline: I'm really glad you're feeling better. Chicken pox is nothing to be messing around with, and I'm sorry you had to cancel shows in Duluth and Winnipeg this week, but am awfully glad you were well enough to play Calgary last night. Appreciate the effort, man.

Thanks again, Wilco! Come back any time, any venue.

your best friend,
- the Bad Tempered Zombie

Friday, August 17, 2007

I was crawling through a festival way out west, I was thinking about love and the acid test

One of the things I love most about Fringe plays is that they are fringe plays. It's not that the other theatre I see is not edgy (check out Sage Theatre's production of Trainspotting if you want edgy), but that Fringe productions are so irreverent. There are no boundaries at the Fringe.

We only managed to take in two fringe productions this week, but considering I barely had time to wipe my own bum, that's actually quite a feat. Plus we managed to do a walkthrough of the Shatner Show at the Uppercase Gallery at Art Central, and buy some Kafka, Dali, Ghandi, and Guevara finger puppets to boot, so I would actually consider the afternoon to be a model of modern time management.

Jihad Me at Hello was a play that I have been wanting to see since hearing a lot of excited buzz about it at last year's Fringe. It's staged by the Obscene but Not Heard theatre troop from Winnipeg (adding another brick to my argument that Winnipeg is the most creative place on the planet - I suspect because you can never go outside there). We saw the production at the Glenbow Musuem on a Wednesday afternoon, and the theatre was close to half full, pretty remarkable really considering the time and the day. We ran into the artistic director of Sage Theatre there, who was sitting one seat over from me actually, and it was nice to touch base with the small circle of the Calgary theatre world again.

The play is a series of sketches woven around the theme of hell, your own personal idea of hell. The fact that the Macarena is playing endlessly as you enter the theatre gives you a small taste of what that means on a personal level (as does the 17 month long Leonard Cohen remix) and that Hitler makes a big comeback through the machinations of an ad agency puts the idea of hell into a broader context.

Jihad Me at Hello is twisted and irreverent and it's in your face and sassy and it's very politically incorrect. Mostly though, it's really bloody funny. I howled through the whole thing, even whilst cringing (as I did during the consumptive clown's pathetic act). If you are more intrigued than disgusted by a discussion of the sexual capabilities of the virgins one would receive after a suicide bombing, or by audience participation in the decision about whether or not a character should get kicked in the box, if you have a yen to see a retarded Elvis impersonator or a damned good Journey air guitar, this is the play for you. Everybody gets skewered.

We then watched The Circus is Coming to Town, which was considerably more sparsely attended, more what one would expect on a Wednesday afternoon. It's a one-woman show about moving to Calgary to get away from your dysfunctional family in Winnipeg (again Winnipeg!) and then having to explain them to your live-in boyfriend after they announce they are coming to visit. It had some great moments too, some memorable characters, whom the playwright swears are not embellished, and it was a little like listening to your girlfriend rant about her crazy family over a bottle or two of Merlot.

The Calgary Fringe Festival runs until Sunday, so you still have a chance to take in a bunch of shows, if you find yourself in the vicinity.


I had completely forgotten that we are going to see Wilco tonight. I'm a little conflicted about it. On the one hand, the last time we saw them, they were spectacular. Plus Elliott Brood opened for them, and those guys are always a good time. But on the other hand, this show is at the Jubilee, which is a fancy sit-down auditorium. An opera type of place. The acoustics are fabulous at the Jubilee, and after the week I have had, it will be rather nice not to stand all night, but I just wonder how hard one can rock in that sort of atmosphere.

Although to be honest, I really didn't care for Wilco's new album, Sky Blue Sky, so I guess I'm rather expecting a show along those lines anyway. But I'm still hoping that please please please they play lots of songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You've got me under your spell: the Total Absorption Mix

I've been over at Splotchy's place recently, playing a fun new game he invented. He graciously invited some of us other kids in the neighbourhood to join in, and since he brought his own ball and everything, and since he was looking at me with those big puppy dog eyes, how could I say no? Obviously no was not in the equation.

So I joined up with those cool kids, Beth, Dr Monkey von Monkerstein and the aforementioned Splotchy, and we hid out behind the equipment shed and surreptitiously played the Total Absorption Mix game.

This was based upon a series of games that Splotchy has been playing with work colleagues and in our version, we each listed 10 or so songs that we absolutely must listen to from beginning to end once they start playing. These are the type of songs that we would rather gouge our eyes out with a spoon than abort listening through to completion.

Please head over to Splotchy's for the entire list plus all the mp3s, so that you can judge for yourselves why this rock n roll music makes the kids so whacko, and head over to Splotchy's , Beth's, and Dr Monkerstein's place for a recap on what those songs mean to them.

Here are my offerings to the list:

James - Ring the Bells
I just need to hear the first note of this song and I get a big shit-eating grin on my face. And it lasts right through till the final note dies out. This song is so empowering and speaks so much about kicking out against the system and against the bullshit of organized religion, and all in such a damned catchy way. And that is all without seeing Tim Booth do his whirling dervish dance.
Neutral Milk Hotel - King of Carrot Flowers
When I feel the need to throw my head back and howl along with a song, I often choose a Neutral Milk Hotel song. Nobody howls like Jeff Mangum. And how can you resist singing along to lyrics like "and your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder and your dad would throw the garbage all across the floor, as we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for"?
Joy Division - Transmission

To this day, nobody has come close to matching the sparse and powerfully hypnotic drum of Joy Division. And it's eerie to look with hindsight upon the lyrics and realize what a tortured soul Ian Curtis actually was. "Dance dance dance dance dance to the radio" may have become an anthem of sorts, but it was also a eulogy.
Chad VanGaalen - Blood Machine
I cannot say enough about Calgary's own Chad VanGaalen. He is a renaissance man of modern music, building his own instruments, drawing his own artwork and videos, and all the while teaching art to kids and building his own half pipe in his backyard. And then there is that haunting voice. This is an eerie yet stunningly beautiful song that mesmerizes me regardless of how many thousands of times I have heard it.
Pixies - Holiday Song
Words fail me on this one. That howl (which, try as I might, I can never emulate), those subversive lyrics, and above all that beat that makes me want to bang my head forever.
the Constantines - Young Lions
This is the first Constantines song that I fell head over heels in love with. Bry Webb's voice is a powerful weapon of mass destruction and that incessant beat will never let you out of its hypnotic grip. Nobody rocks harder than the Cons.
Ballboy - Avant Garde Music

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a thing for a Scottish accent. It's no small wonder, then, that there are three Scottish bands on this list. But Gordon McIntyre sings with as thick a brogue as he talks. And the stories he tells, my fuck they are amazing! You really have to love how he dissed music snobs on this song.
Belle and Sebastian - the Boy with the Arab Strap
In true twee style, Belle and Sebastian take the most perverse lyrics and disguise them behind the most angelic music you'll ever hear this side of heaven. If Stuart Murdoch's voice doesn't break your heart, then you haven't got one. This song also has handclaps that last throughout the entire 5 minutes, and that my friends is cause for celebration all on its own.
Radiohead - Let Down
I think Thom Yorke has one of the most evocative and emotional voices in music today. In Let Down, his voice soars to amazing heights and lifts your spirit, whilst all the while singing about your spirit being repeatedly crushed (like a bug in the ground) despite your efforts to escape the brutalisms of society. This song simultaneously makes my heart ache and my spirit soar.
the Jesus and Mary Chain - Happy When it Rains
Pretty much any JAMC song would fit this category, but this one is a infectious blend of shoe-gazer inspired noise and perfect pop music. You could absolutely forgive them for the drug-addled 10 minute concerts that ended in riots if only they would play this song first, cause they tried so hard and they looked seewww guuud...

And that, my friends, is my excuse for why I simply cannot answer the phone if one of the above songs is playing. Now if you will excuse me, I have a few dozen other songs to listen to which have been holding some friends of mine hostage.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

and what do you care, when the other men are far, far better

It's the weirdest thing. I'm sitting out in the backyard with my laptop on the glass patio table and for the last 20 minutes there have been about 50 or 60 seagulls swarming overhead. They are just circling and swooping, but really high up in the atmosphere. I wonder what's going on up there.

I can see their reflections in the tabletop and they look like those
little balls of mercury that you see in your peripheral vision sometimes. And now I have the urge to rub my eyes really hard so that I can see all those patterns and colours and spirograph shapes. I used to love doing that.

Eva took a couple of pictures of the circling seagulls, but they just look like somebody trying to fake a UFO shot.

I'm really glad I'm not going to work tomorrow, even though I still have so much work to do on this grant application, because I snapped at my colleague today when I misunderstood him and thought that he was saying that we should change the budget.

It's like Henry Ford said, the time when you should be taking a vacation is when you can least afford to be taking a vacation.

Good thing I'll soon be taking a vacation.

I love Stanley Donwood's art. He was just recently named one of the top illustrators in British media, though he is better known for his Rad
iohead album cover art.

Monday, August 13, 2007

All his friends will smile as he waves to greet them

It's nut-cuttin' time around here.

I've got two days at work to finish pulling this grant together as far as possible before I leave on holiday for a week, and when I get back I don't expect to see my bed for a couple of days until this baby is handed over to the courier. I sure know how to plan my holidays, don't I?

But I'm pretty much at the point where it's just a matter of waiting for other people to get their parts ready, so ... I'm taking my kid to the Fringe Festival! We can only spare Wednesday afternoon, so we are only taking in two plays - Jihad Me at Hello and The Circus is Coming to Town. The first one was at the Fringe last year and I really wanted to see it then, but couldn't fit it in, so I'm chuffed that it's back.

You may recall me going on and on last year about the Marthas doing the fringe, when we saw Drinking in America, PS-69, and that zany zombie survivalist production, Eat My Brain
. And if you are planning a trip to the big show, the granddaddy of western Canadian fringe festivals - the Edmonton Fringe Festival - you must see Eat My Brain, which has a half dozen showings there this year. You'll be glad you did. Honest and for true.

I've had the theme song to Postman Pat stuck in my head all day, possibly because we watched 24 Hour Party People last night. I guess if you have never watched the film, the connection between those two seems tentative, but there's a character in 24 Hour Party People, John the Postman, who's ... well, he's a postman. Like Pat. See?

Anyway, I used to make Eva watch Postman Pat when she was a toddler and now I 'm trying to force you to watch this clip. Awww, go ahead, it's really cute.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

How Not to Roof

The people next door are replacing their shingles. And one of the major downsides of the hot labour market in this city is that companies are resorting to having to scrape the bottom of the competency barrel when hiring. At least that's what I assume happened with the roofing company that is doing our neighbour's house.

Jerry came home from work on Tuesday to find 5 guys up on the neighbour's roof, each with a nail gun, but instead of the rapid-fire thunka-thunka-thunka that you would expect to hear from 5 guys with nail guns, there was just the periodic thunka, punctuated by a lot of loud machismo talk projected over the blare of the crap radio station that was blasting from the rooftop. You know the radio station - I'm sure every city is cursed with one -All Nickelback All The Time, with the odd smattering of VanHalen.

Jerry said that he was down in his office trying to get some work done, and was getting a headache from the roof party. And then the neighbours on the other side of us came home and went over and told the lads to turn the music back, which they did. For a while.

When we had our dinner in the back yard later, the radio was back at full blast and the dudes were standing on the roof, each with a cigarette in one hand and a nail gun in the other, watching one guy work. Here is how their conversation went:
"Fuck, that's fucked"
"You're fucked, you pussy"
"Fuck you"
"You're a fucking cunt"
"Fuck you, you fuck"

It got a little tedious after a while, and you know how sound carries on a rooftop. I can't imagine what the parents of all the little kids on our street were thinking.

Now don't get me wrong, I love creative swearing. Some people can take it to an art form that should be celebrated and if these guys had thrown in the odd "he's a right dodgy fuck" or something similar, I would have been highly entertained, but they were so obviously misogynistic machismo cretins whose knuckles dragged when they walked and who had never read a book in their lives, that they were merely offensive.

And then they started firing their nail guns at each other from across the roof.

When I was out in the yard a few days later I found a pile of roofing nails, the barbed
kind (second from the top in the picture), in our yard. This was to be expected. I have replaced shingles before and I know that you can expect to find roofing nails for a year afterward. But I was finding these ones on the other side of our two-car garage! They must have been going for distance when they were firing those ones off in the air. I don't want to think about the consequences of running over one of those with the lawn mower. That would make some wicked shrapnel. I got hit with a stone when I was a kid from a city mower that was cutting grass in the ditch across the road, so I know how those things can fly.

These 5 guys (remember: each with their own nail gun) spent two days on that roof and they are still not finished. Jerry could have done the whole thing in one day with a hammer, and he hates doing shit like that. And then of course it rained for 3 days. And all their shit is still sitting on the roof, piled in the front yard, or parked on the street. Today was a beautiful sunny day, but no sign of the roofers. All their equipment is here, so they're obviously not at another job.

I'm going to find out the name of the company from the neighbour, so I make certain never to hire them, when it comes time to replace our shingles.

I am not one of the seemingly millions of people who are now claiming to have been at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976, but I am mourning the passing of Tony Wilson today, founder of Factory Records. Tony, thank you for bringing us Joy Division, New Order, the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays. Too bad about the Smiths.
RIP Tony Wilson

Friday, August 10, 2007

Smooth as a baby's bum

I get a facial a few times a year, which usually involves having my face vacuumed to get rid of the cruddy old dead skin. It's called microderm abrasion, which sounds kinda scary, like someone is going to take some #40 sandpaper to your face, but it feels strangely cleansing and besides it seems to suck all the wrinkles out. Today though, she wanted to give me a moisturizing facial massage.

This may shock you, but I have never had a real massage. Oh my hairdresser massages my scalp when she's washing my hair (which I love!), but I think I'd like to have a strip-down and lie on your tummy type massage some day. Because it felt so good to have my face and head massaged for a good long time. I didn't realize how much tension I hold in my temples until she pummelled the knots out of them. She had some kind of weird energy transfer hocus-pocus going on for a bit too where she would just pass her hands across my face without touching it (I peaked) or maybe she was just resting her hands, I don't know.

But the combination of the massage and the nice lavendar-smelling mask and creams she applied made for a pretty blissful experience. I wonder why I like the smell of lavendar, but I can't stand any other perfumed substances on my skin? It does remind me of my mom's garden and it's a strangely comforting old-fashioned type of smell.

How about you? Do you recommend I try a real massage some day?

And what bodily maintenance are you willing to pay other people to do for you? Me, I'm a firm believe in the pedicure. Strictly for medicinal purposes, of course. And I can't see myself ever dyeing my own hair. But I will shave my own legs, thank you very much. And don't even talk to me about Brazilian bikini waxes.

And now without further ado, may I present your Fresh-Faced Friday Random Playlist:
Bells On - Sloan
Teenage Kicks - the Undertones
Alison - Elvis Costello
Johnny - Violent Femmes
My Own Summer (Shove It) - Deftones
Chipped Paint - Shoulder
Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Last Great American Whale - Lou Reed
Twill - Elliott Brood
Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I am in my element

A wonderful thing happened yesterday morning. I woke up to a cloudy sky.

People here think I am barking mad when I tell them that it is too fucking sunny here, but it really is. It's been relentlessly cloudless for the past 5 weeks or so, and with the high altitude, the sun is really very harsh. But for the past two days, the sky has been that wonderful mix of various greys and blacks that make my heart glad. And last night it even rained. And it rained some this morning as well., with promises of more overnight.

Not even the sun-mad Calgarians can complain about that, seeing as most of their favourite camping grounds were closed over the recent long weekend because of extreme fire risks. So now everybody is happy.

It was a perfect Radiohead day. Not that Radiohead is necessarily rainy day music, but they are not exactly the Beach Boys are they? Thank god.

Is there a weather type that makes you happy, at least for a few days?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Has it really been that long?

How rude of me; it's been forever since I last posted a cat macro.
This should fix things.

It's also been forever since I worked as hard as I did today. I wasn't even supposed to go into work today, but I am starting to get a little antsy about this big grant application getting finished on time, and I'd rather put in some extra sweat now than wait until a week before deadline and give myself a heart attack.
And do you know what, it was really satisfying and reminded me why I used to love my job.
Turns out that everyone was assuming that the other person was going to be in charge, so we were floundering. Guess who caved first and declared themselves in charge? The same person who caves first at home and opens that bill that been lying on the table for a week, or caves first and picks up that sweater from the floor, or caves first and defrags the computer.
The mom!
This photo of Sputnik is my new wallpaper.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Return to reality

I've finally shaken that fog of post folk festival nostalgia which has caused me to have my head lodged firmly up me own arse this past week. I think it was the rhubarb that did it. We may not be able to grow much around here, but by the Billy Bejeezus, we can sure grow rhubarb.

I harvested 38 cups of rhubarb from under the kitchen window this weekend, only to discover that I still had a freezer full from last year and from earlier this season. So I stewed up a bunch of it and turned part of that into a torte with a shortbread base. Pretty tasty stuff, but you can only eat so much baking before you need to haul out the chainsaw to make the doors in the house a bit wider. So now I have a freezer that is really really full of rhubarb. Does anyone have any suggestions? Like some table top recipes for turning it into a biofuel or anything like that?

My laptop has returned home from its little spa vacation where it had the worms sucked out of it. Then of course we were able to spend some quality time together re-installing everything. And then uninstalling and reinstalling after getting ominous error messages from the antivirus program. God I hate technology. Give me a big knife and a patch of rhubarb to hack through and I can kick some ass; make me the resident computer expert by sheer default and it's enough to make a strong man weep.

The Resident Offspring left for a week of drama camp this morning. I miss the little bugger already, but I now have a chance to finish up Harry Potter before she accidentally tells me another spoiler. She wants a debrief on the book when she returns.

At work we have a major grant application due at the end of the month and I am starting to get a bit nervous about the rapidly shrinking timeframe, especially as this is the first grant application that we are submitting without the benefit of having some established scientists on board. Plus I am going to Manitoba for a week soon. I have a feeling that the last week in August is going to be hell.

But in the meanwhile, I am planning to hit the Fringe Festival a few times next week. Sometimes I am more grasshopper than I am ant.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

eyes forward and ears at the ready (memories of the 2007 Calgary Folk Festival)

For all those who read through the verbose Calgary Folk Music Festival posts of the last few days, and even those who were put off by all those words (I don't blame you), here is a small token of my appreciation for your dedication. Instead of walloping you over the head with a gazillion words, I'm going to show you a few pictures of our festivalling and invite you to listen to some of the music we brought home. Please enjoy - you've earned it.

Lubo Alexandrov - Kaba Horo (2006)
Gankino Horo
- A.J.
the Cape May - Central City May Rise Again (2004)
the Cape May - Glass Mountain Roads (2006)
- Spring Fight to the Land of Fire
- Little and Hook
Chumbawamba - A Singsong and a Scrap (2006)
the Hummers - Modern Entrance (2005)
John Rae Fletcher- Road (2003)
- the Road
John-Rae and the River - Old Songs for the New Town (2004)
- Prayer to God
- Come Back to Me
John-Rae and the River - Knows What You Need (2006)
Just One More
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Hot (1997)
Watermelon Slim and the Workers - The Wheel Man ( 2007)
Hawksley Workman - S/T EP (2003)
Hawksley Workman - My Little Toothless Beauties EP (2006)
Hawksley Workman - Puppy (the Boy's Truly Rough) EP - 2006

- we were allowed, even encouraged to alter our festival shirts to make them more comfortable, to make them our own. It quickly became evident, as I turned mine into a tank, that I can neither sew nor handle a pair of scissors:
- Lubo Alexandrov and Kaba Horo (Thursday night, first show of the festival):

- Rufus Wainwright, Thursday night
(god I wish we had a picture of his Fedex shorts and white kneehighs):

John Rae and the River (Friday night at the alternate stage)
- our first glimpse of Anne's awesome wardrobe:

- Final Fantasy (Friday night at the alternate stage):

yours truly:

- Hawksley Workman (Friday mainstage):

- Neko Case (Friday mainstage):

- hotel room view, Friday night:

- Geoff Berner, Saturday morning workshop:

- the Resident Offspring
(how cute is that face?):
- Final Fantasy and John-Rae and the River, Saturday workshop
(Anne wows us with her wardrobe change):

- crowd scene, workshop

- Betty LaVette, Sunday workshop.

Does anybody really believe that woman is 61? Damn, she's fine:

Chumbawamba, Sunday mainstage:

- till next year -