Tuesday, November 30, 2010

we'll make dinnertime more sufferable

I admire a can-do attitude. I particularly admire people who try something unique to fund something that they believe in.

You may recall that last week, I reviewed Lohio's beautiful new album Family Tree. It made me very curious about this band, so I was pleased to receive some additional information from their record label the other day, including a couple of live sessions they did recently with Draw Us Lines. If the gorgeous music and pretty people isn't enough to win your heart, that big old lazy dog is sure to.

And here's the really cool part. Lohio has started a Kickstarter project in an attempt to raise $4,000 to produce a music video. Kickstarter is an innovative method that musicians can use to raise funds through direct interaction and exchange with music lovers.

Do check out the pledge video that Greg and Liz from Lohio have made.

They are so cute and funny, I just want to throw buckets of money at them. Too bad that house concert reward is limited to the USA, or I would be sorely tempted.
****
I have now completed my NaBloPoMo commitment. Thirty posts in thirty days. You know what? It was very satisfying. Thanks so much for reading. You are why I do this, you know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

bunny break is over

There are two or three giant jack rabbits that live on our street. They've been around for years. Well, to be honest, I'm not sure if it's the same rabbits that come back year after year, but they sure act like they own the place. When drivers have to stop their vehicles because there's a jackrabbit in the middle of the road, glaring at them and daring them just try to run me over bitch, then you know those rabbits feel pretty secure in their social status.

I will often get up in the morning to find a couple of rabbits sleeping in the yard and in the summer I am constantly sweeping turds off the sidewalk.

But during the almost two week cold snap that we had recently, those rabbits were nowhere to be found. And since the Slightly Retarded Kitty was also not interested in venturing outdoors, the thick layer of snow that had descended upon the yard was absolutely unmarked, virginal, pure as .. well, as the driven snow.

Now that the temperature has returned to more seasonal values, there are rabbit tracks all over the yard. I think they've been having a barn dance, to celebrate their return home.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

live blogging the Grey Cup

The coffee table is groaning with game snacks. That hot black bean and corn dip is proving to be a winner. More black beans, less corn next time, I think. Glass of white wine at my elbow. The wings should be ready by half-time.

No need for a formal sit-down dinner tonight.

Watching that great Canadian tradition, the Grey Cup game, always brings an age-old question to mind - wouldn't it be great to watch a movie right now?

top five movies on my must-see list:
- 127 Hours
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- the Kids are Alright
- Trigger
- Exit Through the Gift Shop

top film on my never-want-to-see list:
- Burlesque

What do your lists look like (with or without the CFL factor)?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

circle of strangers: The Blue Room

The Blue Room
Sage Theatre

Ten characters, ten sexual encounters, two actors. Sage Theatre's production of The Blue Room is a revolving door of sexual vignettes exploring the power and the politics of loveless coupling. A call girl, a taxi driver, an au pair, a student, a politician, his wife, a model, a playwright, an actress, an aristocrat, each swap their sexual partner for a new one in what has been described as an ascension up the social ladder. Eventually the hand-off comes full circle.

The Blue Room is an odd sort of play. It eschews the conventions of story line and even of character development to portray the fundamentals of human nature through sexual politics. The cycle of intercourse, and the systemic way in which partners are replaced, effectively illustrates the almost robotic pairing that occurs during loveless sex.

There are brief moments of humanity within the play. The only moment of real romance – the missed opportunity for a chaste kiss that happens between the final couple – imparts the exercise with much needed pathos, and adds humanity to the bleak cycle of soulless coupling.

The (cheating) politician and his (also cheating) wife, as they reminisce about the wonders of their early married life, also hint at a sense of real affection, or perhaps just the remembrance of what real affection was once like.

When The Blue Room was written by Arthur Schnitzler in 1900, the delineation of sociopolitical classes was more evident than it is today. Although this adaption, by David Hare, is "set in one of the great cities of the world, present day", and although the costumes and the props are quite contemporary (spiked heeled pumps, cocaine, cell phones), some of the sensibilities espoused by the characters are so out-dated that that they feel stilted and anachronistic to the ear. "There are two types of women in the world..." is a social more that (thankfully) belongs to Schnitzler's world, not to ours.

But there are also deep truths buried within the characters' words, truths that transcend time and changing social mores, truths that resonate with us 110 years on, truths that are timeless within the human condition.

The Blue Room is a play that leaves you with more questions than it provides answers. Ignoring the obvious question of STD transmission, The Blue Room makes us question not only sexual politics, but also how our own identity is shaped by our relationships. That the characters are different people when they are with different partners makes us wonder who we would be, in other circumstances.

The Blue Room is at Sage Theatre until December 4, 2010.

Friday, November 26, 2010

you never really forget how to pick a brain

All those years I spent toiling away in Neuroscience have paid off after all.

While I was planning BlogCon (beta), I was struck by the fact that so many of my music nerd friends were also passionate about other art forms - writing, theatre, photography, art. And it got me wondering if there was something peculiar about the musical brain that makes it adept at these other pursuits.

Turns out there is.

For more details, please read my latest BC Musician Magazine article, The Musician's Brain. Don't let the neuroanatomy scare you off.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

com se com sa

The good news is the latest issue of BC Musician Magazine arrived today.

The bad news is the new issue is not up the BCMM website yet.

The good news is my article got nice placement on page 8 and my photo on the contributors' page has been updated.

The bad news is I can't upload the pdf onto my file manager site. Again.

The good news is the administrators usually reset it, or whatever it is they have to do to get it working again, within a couple of days after I contact them.

The bad news is my first email to them didn't get delivered.

The good news is I got a really lovely automated failure notice from the server:

I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

That computer is nicer than some humans I've encountered today.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

scratch that last one

I should have known that -42C is not really all that unusual for a December night in Manitoba.

Because I just found that button. And yeah, it said -49C.

My apologies to Hitchhikers' fans. Synchronicity has not been achieved after all.

I wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong about my highest ambient temperature either. I do clearly recall that the humidex was 52C that day, though. I remember thinking that attempting to breathe at 52C is akin to breathing through pudding.

Still, it's probably best to disregard anything you ever read on this blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

life, the universe, and everything

It's been nippy around here lately.

The -30C (-39C windchill) conditions this morning turned the windows into massive sheets of ice. The Slightly Retarded Kitty jumped right in to assist my glass clearing efforts by attempting to lick those windows clean, bless her soul. And no, I did not have to extricate any frozen kitty tongues from the ice.

It made me realize that both the coldest and the hottest outdoor temperature (without considering windchill or humidex) that I have encountered have been the same.

42

The former, of course, had a minus sign in front of it.

I like the completeness of that quirk. Douglas Adams was correct, it would seem.

I think the OFKAR might still have the button that her Opa made for her when we visited my parents at Christmas when she was a toddler. I Survived -42C it proudly proclaimed.

What the hottest/coldest outdoor temperature you have encountered?

Monday, November 22, 2010

bringing the sun

Family Tree - Lohio

I've been housebound for days, while the north wind whips the snow across glassy roads and the mercury plummets to -22C. It's pitch black by 5:00. Days like these, you need an escape.

I found it in Family Tree, the new EP by Pittsburgh's Lohio, a quartet that somehow manages to come across like a vast musical army. The comparisons are inevitable - the breeziness of Sufjan Stevens, the symphonic sensibilities of the Polyphonic Spree, the grandeur of Arcade Fire, with touches of Wilco's experimentation.

It all makes for an exuberant blast of musical sunshine. Yet with discordant fuzziness playing off against spritely pianos, complex lyrics belying effervescent harmonies, the five tracks on Family Tree are no mere beach music.

The lead track, Leave The City, Leave Your Room, may burst forth with the bounciness of an offering from I'm From Barcelona (minus the annoyance), but it soon becomes evident that this music has considerable legs. One minute I am breezing down the highway with the wind in my hair listening to the title track, the next I am lost in a masterful guitar riff that morphs into a band camp chorus and a splendidly cacophonous finale in Wind and Leaves. The military tattoo drum arrangement on Adelai belies the breeziness of the boy-girl harmonies and the plunky piano, questioning whether the wolves are coming after them. The gentle sombre beauty of the final track, Funeral Song, provides a solid counterpoint to the overall pop sensibility.

Family Tree is an solidly satisfying album, an unexpected melding of influences that manifests in a strangely addictive sound. I want more.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

both barrels blazing

straight shooter
Texas temptress
mistress of sassy shoes,
suave charmer
puppy mama
artist of the bead,
glitter gal
wily wordsmith
canner of the earth,
story teller
post-punk priestess
blogger beyond compare

An ode to Phlegmfatale, who knows her music and is one hell of a guesser.
Chapeaus off to you, girl!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

curious compendium

The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities:
an unconventional compendium of health facts and oddities, from asthmatic mice to plants that can kill
- Nicholas Bakalar

The title pretty much sums it up.

With segment lengths ranging from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages, this is the perfect book for people like me to read in bed, people who can generally only stay awake for a few paragraphs. Filled with fascinating little snippets from the world of medicine, The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities is written in a fashion where you can easily skip around from section to section, finding those distinctly gruesome or disturbing bits that always ensure a good night's sleep.

A singularly nice touch is the relegation of footnotes to a dedicated appendix. I personally have an issue with MLA style footnotes. I find them disruptive and untidy and, unless they happen to be especially witty, quite unnecessary for me to read right away.

I particularly enjoyed the gruesome diseases segments, as well as those times when I was able to condescendingly sniff that of course I already knew that.

Nicholas Bakalar has a delightful sense of humour and I found myself chortling frequently, which is not generally what you expect to do when reading about maggot therapy, for example. He does have a curious habit of referring to himself with the royal we, but somehow this little quirk only serves to make his writing more inclusive. Like there is this cozy group of white coated professionals sequestered in a room somewhere, ready to assure you that no, you don't actually have Ebola.

Friday, November 19, 2010

shall we dine al fresco tonight?

Which chair would you like?

It being Friday and all, it felt like the right time to resurrect the Friday Random Playlist. This poor neglected playlist game ends up on life support so often that we can't afford the electricity bills any longer.

Since this playlist was lifted from a Facebook shuffle meme that I was finally shamed into playing today, it features fifteen fabulous tracks rather than the standard ten. Living on the edge, I know.

For the record, I have no idea how my shuffle managed to play three consecutive Weakerthans songs. But to my itunes shuffle, I say kudos, you have impeccable taste.

1. Comment (if all men are truly brothers) - Wilco

2. Under my thumb - the Rolling Stones

3. Lettuce and vodka - X

4. That's not my name - the Ting Tings

5. Summerrain - Dubblestandart

6. We're a happy family - the Ramones

7. I don't love anyone - Belle and Sebastian

8. Laydown - Chikita Violenta

9. Drunk on aluminum - Wintersleep

10. Chinball wizard - the Wet Secrets

11. You cheat yourself of everything that moves - the Verlaines

12. Anchorless - the Weakerthans

13. Without mythologies - the Weakerthans

14. Fallow - the Weakerthans

15. Broken broken broken heart - Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard

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There are two songs on this playlist which I have not only never heard before, but I have never even heard of the artist. How they ended up on my itunes is beyond me. Apple elves?

Care to make a guess as to which ones?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

standing right next to giants


Dan Mangan
w/ the Burning Hell & the Crackling
Knox United Church
Nov 17/10

Dan Mangan has a history of engaging a crowd despite the most challenging weather. During the folk festival, the crowd's spirited involvement on the most searing day of the summer threatened mass heat stroke; last night's concert in the midst of a particularly brutish winter storm overrode frostbite, wind chill and deadly road conditions. It's a testament to the ever increasing popularity of this affable musician that we all fought our way through gridlocked roadways to make it to the sold-out show.

Knox United Church is always a wonderfully intimate venue, its dark wood glowing in the warmth of stained glass that looks benevolently down upon congregated hipsters, but last night, while the wind whipped the endless snow into eddies and polished the roads to glass, the church felt more like sanctuary than ever.

Tickets for this concert were sold as assigned seats, which was fortunate since we only managed to arrive mere minutes before the beginning of the show. But what good seats! Third row, in the little alcove to the right of the stage. From that vantage point we had to sacrifice some of the resonating acoustics and impressive visuals of the stained glass, but we had perfect sightline of everything that was happening on stage. And quite a lot happened on stage, as it turned out.

The Crackling opened the evening with a short set. The trio are all members of Dan Mangan's band, with the drummer swapping his kit for a guitar and lead vocals. He has an impressive voice too, big and booming, not unlike Mr Mangan's himself. A cute touch happened when Dan joined them on the drums for Keep Me Drunk, much to the delight of the assembly, and then later complained about the Crackling's crappy drummer.

And in a move that established precedent and mood for the entire evening, we ended the set on a singalong.

I was really excited to see The Burning Hell again, after having been charmed and delighted by their wonderfully subversive performance at the folk festival this summer. During our conversation at the folk festival, Dan cited the Burning Hell, when I had pressed him to name his favourite act of the weekend. That they were now touring together was rather heartwarming to me. It was evident that there was a great deal of mutual love and respect happening, as was evidenced by Dan's pronouncement at the end of the night, arms outstretched, voice booming out to the congregated "I am so in love with the Burning Hell!"

Frankly, I am too.

This Peterborough band, fronted by the deeply baritoned and diminutive Mathias Kom, plays highly engaging and wickedly humourous songs with an absurdist twist. But these aren't mere novelty songs; if you didn't understand the language, you would think you were just listening to some really compelling music.

I had a moment during the Burning Hell's set, while they played the ballad Remote Control, when I was transported. Warm lights illuminated the suited men on stage, rapt faces of those seated were upturned and bathed in what felt like candlelight. I was acutely aware that there was a storm roaring outside the walls, and the room felt like a haven on a windswept prairie night, with the band performing at a dance in some long forgotten prairie hall. And when Darcy began playing an achingly lovely waltz on the cello, the moment was perfect.

And then we all had a singalong.

I met with the Burning Hell in the lobby during the break, had a lovely chat with them, and received the most uniquely autographed CD of my life (see above).

Dan Mangan performed with a full band, complete with stand-up bass and horns, which made for a larger and more robust sound than I had heard on previous occasions. It's obvious that, after so many years of touring solo, he really enjoys playing with other musicians. The joy was evident in the enthusiasm with which they attacked each song. Those songs with a rock bent were decidedly even more rockish last night. There was still the touch of the troubadour in the music, but there was also musicians playing off one another and even a great glorious cacophonous jam.

A particularly nice side story was the tale of the forgotten concert posters. Earlier that evening, Dan Mangan and his band had been guests on The Homestretch, the local CBC radio drive home show. In the course of the radio program, somebody realized that the special silkscreened posters that had been designed specifically for the Calgary show had been left behind in Edmonton. Tweet were sent out, in addition to an over the airwaves announcement, that if anybody was willing to drive the posters from Edmonton to Calgary (in the raging snow, mind you), they would be welcomed at the sold-out concert with kisses and swag and a place to stay and likely even have somebody's first born named after them.

And some brave (or possibly foolhardy) soul did come through. Such is the power of music. And Twitter, evidently.

The set ended in what has now become tradition, with a rollicking singalong version of Robots, complete with The Burning Hell back up on stage, and eventually winding their way through the audience while Dan walked the backs of the pews, arms held aloft, conducting. The significance of this pew surfing was not lost on me.

But if one singalong ending is good, two is better. The night's encore culminated with the band stepping away from their mics for an even more intimate singalong. At Dan's invitation, the audience left their seats and gathered at the front of the stage ("so that our voices can lift together") and everyone sang together on the final chorus.

If church was always like this, I would sign up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the nearer your destination

Despite the fact that I have new tires on the Urban Assault Vehicle, I have to admit that I am a little terrified to drive downtown tonight. The horror stories of extremely icy conditions, ramps being closed because people can't navigate them, double commute times, were doing nothing to make me want to test out the safety of the new rubber. I have faith in my tires, just not so much in anybody else's.

I felt so badly when my concert date called. She will be arriving home just in time to let the dog out for a quick wee and to throw back a much needed glass of wine, before I pick her up. We should have just met up downtown, from whence she is driving, the poor thing.

I think the wisest decision of the day was to take the train down to the Dan Mangan concert tonight. Dan better appreciate this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

when the winter took the tips of my ears

I thought I had it all organized. In fact I was pretty proud of my foresight, collecting all the necessary proverbial nuts, as the winter storm warnings came over the airwaves, all prepared to hole up for a few days while outside the forces of nature raged.

With the Spousal Unit away at meetings for a few days, and with no obligations to leave the comforts of home, with the exception of tomorrow night's concert, I had grand plans for my solitude. I even bought Christmas cards. You know, just in case the muse visited.

It was such a romantic vision. The Christmas fruitcake would be baked, ensuring that this year it would have sufficient time to soak in the brandy's golden embrace. And afterwards, there I would be, ensconced in the living room with piles of books on the coffee table, art supplies spread out in the dining room, guitar lying on the floor where I left it after I had finished charming the cat with my performance, the laptop's warm glow enticing the most profound words out of my soul. Naturally, in this vision the house was also spotless.

But somehow I forgot about the realties of snow. And wind.

I have never quite understood the Spousal Unit's insistence that we leave a snow shovel propped up outside the door year-round. Sure we have experienced snow in July but it didn't really accumulate. I put my foot down on leaving a shovel at the front door as being too trashy, but did compromise and turn a blind eye to the small shovel that now has a permanent place at the back door.

This morning, I was very glad it was there. I needed it to dig my way through the knee deep snowdrift to get to the garage to retrieve the big shovel. You know you are dealing with a nasty wind when you have snow piled up against both the north and the south doors of the house.

As I was clearing the tri-layer snow on the front walk (wind-polished crust, sticky wet middle, pebbled ice layer on the bottom), my neighbours drove by in their motor home, stopping to say see you in January. I have never had the inclination to visit Las Vegas, but this morning, I was ready to ditch my lofty fruit cake baking plans and hitch a ride.

I will feel a lot better if I hear they lose a piss-pot of money.

How's the weather in your neighbourhood?

Monday, November 15, 2010

considering the connections

The Lightning Bug Situation - Call

Haunting, reflective, beautiful, introspective, earnest, intimate.

Left to my own devices, it is so tempting to just keep listing adjectives that come to mind while I listen repeatedly to Call, the enigmatic album recently released by The Lightning Bug Situation. Maybe if I conjure up enough words, I can find one that captures the essence of this rare gem. Maybe I can begin to understand how this music can be at once so sensitive and yet so powerful, so personal and yet so universal, so immediate and yet so timeless.

But this is not a task to be undertaken alone. In lieu of a traditional album review, I have collaborated with EverythingisPop, my wonderful friend and fellow music aficionado, resulting in a discussion of our respective perceptions about this album, born of the questions we asked of each other. Such an extraordinary recording deserves unique treatment, after all.

Below is one half of the discussion, my answers to his questions. His half of the discussion, far more insightful than mine, is here. I urge you to click, to be swept away by his insight.
-*-
Tell me about the first time you listened to this album
I remember it well, that Sunday morning; it's filed away in my cortex for safe keeping, part of my library of perfect moments that I can retrieve when needed. The CD arrived the day you left here, postmarked Philadelphia, wrapped in a personal note from Brian Miller (aka The Lightning Bug Situation). I knew it was something special, something that required more than a casual listen, so I put it away until the moment was ripe.

There was a fog descended upon the trees that morning, a brush of frost on the roofs, and the street lights were cutting through the gloom that seemed far too deep for 8:30 AM. I sat in that ugly green chair that faces the window, cup of coffee cooling beside me, one small light cutting through the dark, listening. And I was transported. I was quite literally mesmerized by the quiet power of the album. The music affected me so powerfully that I almost afraid to breathe, not wanting to miss a single nuance.

You don't forget transformative moments like that.

Why has this record captivated you to the extent that it has?
This is a record that takes its time. The spaces between the words are as important as the words themselves. You are forced to listen closely in order to absorb the subtlety of this highly reflective and intensely personal work. The deliberate and measured pacing allows the songs to unfurl gradually and almost organically. The songs on Call are not what exactly what I would call building songs, in that they don't build into a large anthemic chorus, rather they start as small seeds that send out tentative tendrils to break through the earth. They are the roar of the dormouse, the howl of the firefly.

Is Call a morning, afternoon or evening record?
It's a Sunday morning, Tuesday afternoon, very late on a Friday evening record. Call is an album for those times of the week when you are at your most pensive, those times when there is a pause amidst the routine, a moment of clarity amongst the flurry, those times when you come face to face with the questions in your life.

What colour is this album?
Grey. This is not a negative, as grey is my favourite colour. But it's also a colour that both absorbs light and reflect it back. Much like this album.

Brian Miller writes from a very personal place. Does it ever feel like you are eavesdropping when listening to his music?
Constantly. The instrumentation itself is very intimate, and coupled with the deceptively simple and introspective lyrics that pepper this album, the whole effect is that of rummaging though Brian Miller's bedroom, breaking the lock on his diary, and reading his most guarded secrets.

The lyrics "deep inside I'm just scared/I want to be a good dad/clear-eyed and true", (Fall) are so intensely personal, so introspective, and yet I think they reflect a universal truth. It's not a truth that is voiced very often in rock 'n roll, and I am not even sure if he is supposed to be confessing these fears, let alone allowing me to hear them. But, somehow, I feel honoured that he is.

What song from Call should be included on every mixtape?
Every mix tape needs a song to shake things up, a song that makes you stop and ask what the hell just happened here? Pull does just that.

It's an unsettling song, rife with social awkwardness, the suggestion of drum machine nonchalance juxtaposed against a backdrop of darkly ominous drums. There's a quiet moment halfway through the song, a restrained pronouncement of "it pulls you in/like a shadow over the earth" that absolutely devastates me with its sense of futility and subdued acceptance of inevitability. By the time the final instrumental kicks in, whales calling out their heartache to one another through the depths, I'm completely shattered.

What song slays you every time?
For Nancy, With a Bruised Heart very much makes me feel as though I am intruding upon a private conversation, one that was not meant for me. Yet in a way, it was meant entirely for me. I mean, who doesn't love boys who make mix tapes?

"And I know you have a hard time sometimes / but the next time you're driving in the sun / through the city and put on a mix tape / that I made for you / I hope that this song comes on / and heals your insides".

Simple heartfelt words, certainly, but so brave and so awkwardly certain. Those words, deceptive in their simplicity, elegant in their intent, reflect the quiet optimism that infuses this lovely album, and leave me hopeful.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

zombie food

I've always loved Korean food, but have never really tried to cook it before. Until today.

I found this recipe for bulgogi in the newspaper the other day, and despite the fact that I couldn't locate any accompanying kim chee, thought it turned out remarkably well. And it was super-duper easy. I did end up making more marinade, as I thought it looked a bit skimpy, so next time I would probably just double it right from the start.

I would also tweak a couple of other things next time - a little more heat, maybe thicken the sauce a bit - but generally give this recipe a big thumbs up.

Bulgogi

750 gm rib eye steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp chili oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 medium red onions, halved and cut into 1 inch wedges
1 green pepper, cut into 1/2 inch slices
4 tsp vegetable oil

Freeze the beef for 20 minutes, slice across the grain into 1/8 inch thick strips.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients. (I couldn't find chili oil so doubled the sesame oil and added a tsp or so of Chinese chili paste instead). Toss the onions and pepper with half the marinade. In a separate bowl, marinate the beef with the remaining sauce, for at least 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tsp vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the onions and pepper until softened and nicely charred, ~ 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl or something.

Heat another 2 tsp oil over high heat. Add half the meat, turning often until browned, ~ 2 minutes. Remove and cook the rest of the meat. Return the first batch, the onions and pepper, and any accumulated juices to the saucepan and cook, tossing, until heated through.

The recipe in the paper called for this to be served rolled up in lettuce leaves, but I served it over big round Asian noodles and it was yummy.

The house still smells insanely awesome.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

little drummer pumpkin

It's rather hypocritical of me, I know, being disturbed by the plethora of Hallowistmas decorating I encountered on my walk this morning, when in fact we are going to a Christmas party tonight.

The Spousal Unit's company does seem to nudge their annual festivus celebration a little further ahead each year. Eventually we will be showing up in flip-flops and tank tops. Christmas themed tank tops, of course. Possibly of the moose versus moose variety.

I think the SU and I are partly to blame for this creeping summerification of the company Christmas bash. We haven't attended in the past five years or so, and the organizers likely think it's because we are too busy with other social engagements in December. In actuality, we are sitting on the chesterfield watching the Food Network.

Sooo ... are you all ready for Christmas?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

running through the whisker wheat

I probably would have walked back through the park late this afternoon to pick up the urban assault vehicle, despite the fact that it was already getting dark, if I hadn't encountered that coyote this morning.

At first I thought it was somebody's dog, getting too far away from its owner, taking a few too many liberties with the freedom offered by being in a provincial park. But as it got closer, I realized that it was, in fact, Canis latrans.

My first reaction was delight. Although I often hear the chorus of the coyotes while lying in bed at night, I have only personally encountered them a handful of times, but never this close and never in broad daylight.

It appeared to be standing and waiting for me to approach, so as I got closer, I veered off onto a parallel path that ran alongside the one on which the coyote waited, separated by about 20 feet of grassland. The coyote turned and walked the same direction as me, as I drew near to it, and so we walked along together.

At this point I became a trifle concerned that perhaps it was stalking me, waiting for an opportunity to attack. Suddenly I was glad that I didn't have a Pomeranian tucked into my pocket, and I looked around for a large stick or something. Just in case, just to assert my dominance. Being smack in the middle of the open veld, the best that I could come up with was a handful of dry prairie grasses, or the pin from my lapel poppy.

But then the coyote lost interest in me, its attention diverted by the rustling of rodents in the switchgrass. It began to leap playfully into the tall grasses lining the pathway, a beautifully fluid arc of wild dog, dancing for its breakfast.

But late this afternoon, when it was time to retrieve the urban assault vehicle, I decided against returning through the park, having no desire to test my luck with a cougar or a bear at dusk.

What wildlife have you encountered lately?