Monday, December 30, 2013

she shoots

The table top air hockey game has proven to be an inspired addition to the Christmas games collection. Fun for the whole family, evidently. Now we just need to find a little jersey for the SRK to wear, as she triumphantly accepts the Zombie Cup for winning this tournament.

I shall be taking the laptop in for repairs today, as I haven't really been doing much work on it anyway (unless by "work" you mean rising to the tops of the rankings in Free Cell and Bejeweled), a situation which is more likely to change next week than this. So I shall be set adrift on the great computerless ocean for up to ten days. I foresee books in my immediate future.

 
I leave you with a snap of this year's Christmas mystery parcel. As anticipated,it is a depiction of eleven pipers piping, surprisingly tasteful and well constructed. The SRK quite likes the feather, too, so thank you to the mystery sender for that cat-friendly addition.

I wish you all a stellar New Year. Catch you on the flippety flip.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

touching down

We have begun the descend into slothdom, hopefully not past the point of no return. I am hopeful that with today being Get Your Own Damn Supper Day (and for some family members, the parallel high holiday of Wear Your Pyjamas All Day Day) perhaps tomorrow will bring a renewed interest in the world beyond the discarded Christmas wrappings.

My annual Christmas board game purchase has gone rather more high tech this year, with the addition of a table top air hockey game to the games cupboard. I expect that once I establish dominance by slaughtering all family members with my dining room table hockey prowess, the game itself will eventually be transported out to the lake place, where it will bring a little culture to the internetless wilds.

In the meantime, my only nod to civility has been to use a china tea cup and saucer passed down from my mother-in-law, as an accompaniment to the Christmas squares scarfing.

Good thing I exercised by playing a couple of games of air hockey.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

into the dark

My computers have a history of crapping out around Christmastime. Subversively singular entities, they just know, deep in their hardware, that the best time to strike back against the human intruders is when all repair shops are closed for days at a time.

My current laptop has not yet crapped out entirely, but it is definitely considering the possibilities and rubbing its digital hands together in glee. The A/C plug seems to have loosened or something, so that the connection to electrical sources is tenuous, at best. And with my battery being highly unreliable (it can last 5 hours or it can last 5 minutes, you never know which), I like to keep it plugged in whenever possible. Lately, I pretty much have to press the plug in place with one hand, while pecking away at the keyboard with the other. 

However, with the Offspring now safely at home for Christmas (after a harrowing snowstorm run to the airport), screen time will mostly be replaced with face time anyway. And with board game time, and cooking up a storm in the kitchen time, and cookie scarfing time.

As we head into the depths of the longest night of the year, I wish you all warmth and comfort and tranquility. And a rapid return to the light.

Monday, December 16, 2013

peeking in windows

Looking Around: 
A Journey Through Architecture
- Witold Rybczynski

When I came across Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture at a book sale earlier this year, I knew I had to buy it, not just because it was only $3 for a hardcover, but because Witold Rybczynski writes such compelling architectural criticism. I remember getting quite absorbed in his earlier books, Home and The Most Beautiful House in the World.

Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture is divided into three sections: Houses & Homes (a treatise on the history of houses and how domestic spaces affect us and define our culture), Special Places (airports, museums, malls and shrines), and The Art of Building (the history of architecture and its feuding architects). At times, particularly in the final section, Rybczynski's writing does devolve a bit into what I call begatedness (name listing reminiscent of the Bible's endless so-and-so begat so-and-so lists). But these paragraphs are relatively easy to skim over (as I did) and they did pique my curiosity enough to do a little back-checking into some of the more prominent names. 

This is how I discovered that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who coined the term "less is more", was the architect whose clean-lined glass and steel designs ushered in the era of modernity. His buildings never fail to fill me with a sense of peace.

Rybczynski wrote this particular book over twenty years ago, and while it is predictably dated in places, at other times it proves to be remarkably prescient. He predicts, for example, that unrealistic expectations for housing prices, coupled with increasingly easy financial credit, could lead to dire consequences in the housing market. Which, of course, is exactly what happened when the American housing market crashed a decade later.

Architecture being so visual, it would have been nice if this book had contained some photographs. But even lacking the coffee table aspect, Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture will interest anyone with an interest in the sociological implications of how we design buildings. Worth a read.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

pass the pipe (and all eleven pipers)

It has arrived. For the eleventh year, without fail, the annual mystery parcel has appeared on our doorstep. There it was, at 5:00 AM, before the newspaper had even arrived.

No postage mark this year either, so either the sender is local (the Spousal Unit's suspicion) or the sender has friends in town (very good friends, evidently) who hand-delivered the parcel in the middle of the night.

Part of me is impressed by someone who can maintain a secret for so many years; part of me is creeped out by someone who can maintain a secret for so many years.

I do hope that after this wraps up, with a flourish of twelve drummers next Christmas, the sender of the mystery parcels reveals themselves. I know I am not the only one who is curious about the originator of this tradition. 

As long as they don't decide to start all over again in year thirteen.

For those curious about parcels received in years past, here's the chronology:

-  (2012) ten leaping lizards, errr ... frogs
-  (2011) nein injured dancers
-  (2011) the arrival of nein
-  (2010) eight milk maids and one unibomber
-  (2009) the swan has escaped from the castle
-  (2008) alaying those six geese
-  (2007) those five golden rings only get a #7 mention on the list
-  (2006) four calling birds from Philadelphia photographed on a mantel 
 
The three French hens, two turtledoves and the partridge in the pear tree all arrived prior to the invention of the internet. Or at least before I began blogging.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

awesome and holding

Rather than a lakeside deck in bare feet, the Spousal Unit is celebrating his birthday with a pre-dawn downtown commute through gusting snow over ice-packed roads.

It's a cruel season. But the sun will eventually return to linger in the sky and sparkle off the lake. And we will bask in the warmth of summer.

Meanwhile, we don fuzzy slippers in front of a roaring fire and a sparkling tv and take turns doling out belly rubs to the resident lap cat. And we wait for the OFKAR to return home for the holidays. (soon, soon)

Tonight there will be cake.

Happy Birthday, Spousal Unit!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

face value

You know those people (mostly men, it seems) who grow into their ugliness as they age? Maybe ugliness is a bit harsh, but you know what I mean. People with awkward faces - asymetrical perhaps, or raw-boned, goofy, just generally not what you could call conventionally attractive.

Then you look at them twenty some years later and you realize that hey they've really got that ugliness/awkwardness/goofiness working for them somehow. You know that moment? 

Yeah, that doesn't seem to be happening with me.

I was never much of a beauty, although like Liz Lemon (minus the sense of humour), there were about two weeks in university when I was pretty hot. I keep hoping that I will grow into my face, turn into an adorable old lady, but really all that's happened is I see pictures of myself from five years ago (which at the time I thought were abominable) and think hey I looked pretty good back then. 

I guess I will be saying the same thing five years from now. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

winter of mixed mulch

The composting, I suspect, has stalled. 

Two days of blizzard, Trans-Canada Highway closure trapping people in their cars for eighteen hours, snow drifts isolating entire communities. And when the winds finished polishing the snow banks covering the sidewalks to a nice solid crust (perfect for igloo construction, if anybody is game), the plummeting mercury freezes nostrils shut. 

This is why they invented shortbread.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

cars big as bars

Maybe it was just the fact that, with the calendar officially clicking over into December, all shopping restraint gets tossed by the wayside. Maybe it was the blizzard warnings that we have been hearing all weekend, the certainty of being pounded mercilessly with snow and wind and ice. Maybe it was just the final dregs of all that Black Friday nonsense dragging people from their beds and into the stores.

All I know is that there were far too many people at the grocery store today. Sure, canned Christmas music may have been piped through the PA system, but the hohoho factor was a trifle negligible. Judging from the piled-high grocery carts snaking around the checkout area, most of the population of the south-end of Calgary is ready for snowmageddon. Or the zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

make a million for you overnight

Stories, poems, essays. 
All written on paper bags.

That is the intriguing premise for a new creative website founded by my friend Corinne Litchfield. It's a beautiful tribute to her mother, with whom she used to exchange letters written on airline sickness bags.

When asked if I was interested in getting in on the paper bag action, my answer, of course, was an unqualified hell yes!  

I am honoured to be the featured writer of PaperBagWriters' Thanksgivukkah edition with my story A Manual for Living with Defeat. I am not sure where the narrator of the story came from, but I am pretty sure I don't want to be hitching a ride with him.

I invite you to take a glance at my little story. Do check out some of the other fine submissions over at PaperBagWriters, while you are there. After all, it's not every day you find a story on your lunch bag.                

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

watch stop

I am sure I am not the only person who is way way way behind on holiday preparations this year, but sometimes it feels like it. 

The hotel lobby that I walk through on my way into work has been in full white tree/silver bow glory for two weeks now. I have to admit that I have been enjoying that touch of beauty and light when trudging into work in a pre-dawn fuzz. My neighbourhood has also been steadily lighting up, when I haven't been looking, in twinkling blues and reds. 

I, on the other hand, finally replaced the autumn leaf wreath on the front door, slapping the standard winter one on in its place. No finesse, no careful arranging. It was really just a matter of one trip to the basement and another to the front porch, so I don't know why it took me so long.

I have been logging quite a few hours at my temp gig these past few weeks, and while I have been really enjoying it, it has kept me from the usual Christmas prep. Staying on top of my freelance commitments in between shifts is about all that I have managed to do.

No cards procured, no Christmas letter written, and we will have to rely upon the leftovers from last year's fruitcake that is hiding somewhere in the deep freezer. But I am decorating the tree at work tomorrow, so there is that.
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

recurrent

 fascinated by reflections lately, 
views from windows framed in art framed under glass, 
and on and on 









Monday, November 18, 2013

the world in pitch

This is not a b&w photo.

By the light of day, the walls are red, the curtains brown, the bedspread blue and white. By the light of day, the evergreens beyond the window are ever green.

I love this accidental photo. I wish all accidents were this satisfying.

Also by happy accident, two links gone live today:

- at National Music Centre, my review of Basia Bulat's new album, Tall Tall Shadow.

- at Latent Image, the inaugural issue - a stunning and evocative juxtaposition of imagery and words. I am thrilled to have a short story included in the magazine.

I invite you to dip in at your leisure. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

advent paper

Thursdays are always banner days for the newspaper flyer cartel, of course, but today especially so. Today I received six, count 'em ... six, identical flyers for Toys Backward R Us in my morning paper. 

It's possible that my newspaper carrier gets paid by the kilogram. It's not unlikely that my local newspaper is secret front for the forestry industry. But my suspicion is that I have been subjected to personal espionage by the toy-makers' cabal. Somehow they know that I buy a new board game for the family every Christmas and that I have not set foot inside a Toys Backward R Us for about a dozen years. 

Where's Edward Snowden when you need him?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

facial fur-niture

All the sketchy mustaches that have been sprouting on faces all over the continent this month have got me thinking about panel vans, fringed suede jackets and aviator sunglasses. The association with 70's porn stars and pedovans pushes all other stache minutiae to the very back burners of the mind. 

That's probably why until this very moment, I forgot all about the mustache-growing advice that my dear departed papa used to freely hand out to all who would listen. And even to those who wouldn't.

I never saw my father without a mustache, always the same style - vaguely Hitlerish under the nose and tapering out to an abruptly abbreviated Snidely Whiplash at the sides of the mouth. A bit Don Corleone-esque, actually.

Although I never saw him take his own advice, he would coach wannabe mustachios that the sure-fire recipe for a thick luxurious lip rug was to religiously apply a poultice to coax the hair follicles:

honey on the outside, chicken shit on the inside,
because chicken shit pushes and honey pulls

How my dad ever came up with this, I never did find out. But then, much about the man was an utter mystery to me.

Good luck with the Mo-staches, gentlemen. Remember to filter your advice wisely.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

ramp city

I am working a five-week gig downtown these days and since the Spousal Unit is away this week (and especially since the snow and wind chill has made the lengthy trek from my usual parking lot less than desirable), I have decided to save us a few bucks and use his parking pass for the parkade which is just a couple of blocks from my work. I have always been hesitant to park there, partly because I didn't actually realize how close it was to where I work, but also because of all the insane ramps you have to take to access and egress the place. Mostly, though, I was terrified of the dropped ceiling between the east and west sides of the parkade. I have gotten trapped in a low-ceilinged parkade before and it scarred me for life.

But the Spousal Unit convinced me that there was no danger of me getting the Urban Assault Vehicle hung up in that parkade, even if I sat up really tall while driving, so I gave it a go.

The parkade is attached to a hotel complex, in a very convoluted hodgepodge manner that spans an entire city block. It includes not only a +15 walkway, but also a +30 walkway (which I didn't even realize was a thing) that overpasses a set of railroad tracks. Trust me, it's just as complicated as it sounds.

To get to my work from the parkade, I need to head off in the opposite direction than the Spousal Unit normally takes, so he wasn't really able to give me directions as to how to get out of the complex and onto the street that I wanted. And that was how I ended up wandering around on the ground floor with no idea of how to get there from here. I inquired of the workers at a sub place as they were preparing for the day and they told me I had to go back up to the third floor, which made no sense to me, but the next two people I encountered told me the same thing, so that's what I did. This led me to the aforementioned +30 walkway which took me over those railway tracks far beneath. Success!

Or so I thought. As I took the stairs back down to the ground floor, over on the proper side of the tracks, I realized that once you got into the stairwell there was no way out unless you had a key. Not only was I super late for work by now, but unless I busted myself out of there, some poor fool was eventually going to find my mouldering skeleton heaped in a corner. 

Fortunately before I even had time to remember that I now carry a cell phone and that it can be used for something other than just texting inanities to the Spousal Unit and the OFKAR, I found an unlocked back door out of the stairwell, that led me out into the parkade, but right near where I wanted to be.

So I just walked down that ramp like Arnold Schwarzenegger, not looking back at the explosion behind me. Damn, I lose at parkades.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

down to the basement

Quite possibly my favourite Hallowe'en party ever came about as a result of a labour dispute. It was the year that the OFKAR was in grade one, the year that Ontario teachers went out on strike, right around the end of October.

We were already getting together with friends/classmates to play school during the strike, so it wasn't much of a stretch to offer up our house for a daytime Hallowe'en party.

About a dozen kids came over, and we played some games and ate a bunch of candy and then, after I got them all warmed up, I led each child one-at-a-time, blindfolded, down into the basement to check out the dead witch. 

It was just the usual bowl of grapes for her eyeballs, bowl of pudding for her brain, bowl of spaghetti for her guts type of setup, and I guess the kids might have been okay with having their hand plunged into something cold and squishy down in the basement of an 85-year-old house if they had all been suave and sophisticated six-year-olds. But the problem was that quite a few of them had brought their younger siblings along. 

Judging from the shrieking and expressions of utter horror on the faces of some of the kids when I tried to lure them down into the basement, I think I may have scarred them for life.

But after we hosed them all down and fed them some graveyard dirt cupcakes, I brought each of them individually into the OKFAR's bedroom (after the basement fiasco, that took some coaxing) where I read their fortunes on a crystal ball that I think was actually a globe in disguise. 

I have always loved Hallowe'en, but that one in particular ruled. I had so much fun terrifying those kids that day that it's probably a very good thing that I never wanted to be a teacher.

Do you have a favourite Hallowe'en memory?
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

nights like black cats

Less than 24 hours until the undead and the creepy clowns and the Miley Cyruses and the Batmans descend upon the neighbourhood and this house is still fully stocked with the original purchase of mini chocolate bars.

I don't know whether to be impressed or slightly freaked out.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

trouble dying

The Book of Negroes
- Lawrence Hill

I am not generally drawn to historical fiction, but found myself one day a couple of months ago in the situation of needing a new novel to read, having The Book of Negroes close at hand and deciding to give it a chance. I am glad that I did.

The Book of Negroes is a sprawling tale that crisscrosses the globe, from a village in Africa to an indigo plantation in South Carolina, from New York to Nova Scotia, from Sierra Leone to London. It is the story of Aminata Diallo, possibly one of the strongest and most resourceful female characters to lead a novel in quite some time.  

The Book of Negroes opens in London in 1802 where Aminata, now an old woman, has relocated in order to testify on behalf of abolitionists. The story unfolds as the former slave looks back on her life. It has been a life filled with brutality and hardship, but also with resolve and friendship and humanity found in unlikely places.

Snatched from her African village by slave traders at the age of eleven, Aminata is marched in a slave coffle for three months before reaching the coast and a slave ship destined for America. Having learned midwifery from her mother and reading and writing from her father, Aminata draws on those skills for survival in a brutal world. She proves to be a resourceful, determined woman, able to live by her wits, to teach and inspire others, despite the loss of so many dear to her.

The title of the book (which comes with its own side-story of controversy) comes from a historical document kept by British naval officers to document black loyalists who, through their service to England, were permitted to flee Manhattan in the late 1700's for freedom in Nova Scotia. I was chagrined to realize that I knew very little about the former slaves who struggled to make a life for themselves in Nova Scotia. My knowledge of Canadian history has some obvious gaps. 

In The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill has written a compelling, well-researched novel that seamlessly weaves documented historical events and real people into a story that is at once rivetting, shocking, and uplifting. And his greatest triumph is in his creation of Aminata Diallo herself. She may be a product of Hill's fertile imagination, but to me she is very present and very real. Her courage and heroism will stay with me for a very long time. 

I am certainly not the first person to praise this book, of course (despite the Dutch fellow who threatened to burn it). The Book of Negroes won the 2007 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the 2009 Canada Reads contest. It has also been chosen by the Calgary Public Library as this year's One Book One Calgary selection, the one book that all of Calgary should read.

You should read it too.

Addendum: Many thanks to my dear friend Matthew for passing along this book to me, which I just realized has been autographed. No take backs.
 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

post frame

I have unclasped the tool belt, dropped it on the floor, and am tossing the hammer and the angle iron, plus a few stray nails that I found lying around, back into the tool kit. Reconstruction, at least for now, is done.

I'm quite happy with the new look of the blog. It feels tidy and fresh. Now, as I fluff a few pillows and arrange a throw blanket artfully over the arm of the chesterfield, I realize that I need to stop standing here with my arms crossed admiring my handiwork. Time to actually start using this place.

For today, baby steps. When pressed for time, link. Please check out my latest review on the National Music Centre blog: Matthew Good - Arrows of Desire.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

slash and burn

Astute readers may notice that things are starting to look a little different in this little corner of the blogosphere. After squatting on this piece of digital real estate for over eight years, it was time for a renovation. No more duct taping the torn carpets and painting over the rotting window frames. It was time to gut the homestead, rip out the mouldy joists and rebuild from the ground up.

Rebuilding is not going to happen overnight, but I hope you will enjoy the increased elbow room and the high-end fixtures. Breathe deep for a big lungful of that heady new-blog smell.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

easy to swallow

Gulp: Adventures on the 
Alimentary Canal
- Mary Roach 

In the final paragraph of  Gulp, Mary Roach says something that confirms that she and I are indeed kindred spirits. I have long suspected as much, frankly. One of my favourite writers, Roach has always charmed me with her humour, her insatiable scientific curiosity and her bravery in letting her geek flag proudly fly.

But when Roach describes the awe and amazement that she felt while witnessing her own colonoscopy, I was really tempted to track her down and give her a call. Because I know we would be best friends.

Here's that final paragraph of Gulp:  

 "There is an unnameable feeling I have had maybe ten times in my life. It is a mix of wonder, privilege, humility. An awe that borders on fear. I've felt it in a field of snow on the outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska, with the northern lights whipping overhead so seemingly close I dropped to my knees. I am walloped by it on dark nights in the mountains, looking up at the sparkling smear of our galaxy. Laying eyes on my own ileocecal valve, peering into my appendix from within, bearing witness to the magnificent complexity of the human body, I felt, let's be honest, mild to moderate cramping. But you understand what I'm getting at here. Most of us pass our whole lives never once laying eyes on our organs, the most precious and amazing things we own. Until something goes wrong, we barely give them a thought. This seems strange to me. How is that we find Christina Aguilera more interesting than the inside of our own bodies? It is, of course, possible that I seem strange. You may be thinking, Wow, that Mary Roach has her head up her ass. To which I say: Only briefly, and with the utmost respect."

I, for one, would be delighted to swap colonoscopy stories with Mary Roach and I have a feeling she would even be interested in viewing my colonoscopy photos and report card (A+ for adequate bowel preparation), which of course I kept. I plan to show it to my grandchildren at every possible occasion.

But I digress. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal is a fascinating look at the digestive tract, from top to bottom. From Roach's visit to an olfactory lab and a dog kibble plant, from early crude experiments in human digestion to modern day fart science, and of course all the way through to the wonders of excretion, this book is drop-dead fascinating. Strangely, I do believe it to be suitable for the squeamish, although I wouldn't recommend reading certain chapters at the dinner table.

But do read it! It's fabulous! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

soup pot rebellion

With the leavings of the Thanksgiving turkey dispatched to the soup pot, this year the cook broke with long-standing tradition. 

No noodles. 

Shocking, I know, but this year the remains of the noble bird were accompanied by the humble barley. And with that stunning swerve away from the beaten durum wheat track came a few tweaks - the addition of a considerable amount of spinach, quite a few more carrots, a soupcon of hot sauce.

I've always loved barley, and my affection for turkey is well documented. It was only a matter of time before the two became a whole lot cozier.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

immediacy

Strangely, for a time of year that sees the wild critters in a flurry of planning for the future, autumn really forces you to live in the moment. Particularly here, in the shadow of the Rockies, where the brilliant season passes in a flash, you don't have the liberty of waiting until tomorrow to take in the colours and the smells of autumn. 

Basking must be done now. Two weeks of colour and the autumn winds will bring down any clinging leaves, inevitably followed by the first snow of the year. 

In Alberta, in the autumn, we are all Buddhists.

Monday, October 07, 2013

twenty-five

 I still find it hard to believe that I have been married to this guy for a quarter century now.

Smartest thing I ever did.

Happy anniversary, Spousal Unit! Here's to the next twenty-five.

Friday, October 04, 2013

host vector

Being a freelance writer is sort of the exact opposite of being an elementary school teacher in a lot of ways, but particularly in regards to one crucial factor. A major advantage of the freelance lifestyle, by nature of working largely from home and just darting in and out of events that are usually free of runny-nosed kids, is that one can generally dodge the current disease vectors. I haven't been sick in years.

The downside to the freelance lifestyle is that when the unsuspecting freelancer is suddenly thrust into an enclosed office situation, as I have been for the past month, those viruses immediately recognize the newcomer as an unprotected target. When office worker zero starts passing around the latest and the greatest of the seasonal contagions, those pathogens waste no time going after the new guy. Me. 

Granted, I did manage to stave off attack until about three-quarters of the office resembled a poorly-maintained microbiology lab (which I credit to good clean living and the fact that I have no social life), but eventually those keyboards that I was licking on a daily basis transmitted that nasty microbe to me. 

This is not the ideal time to get sick (although if there is a time that fits that description I have yet to come across it), so I am very glad that today I don't work until late afternoon and that this weekend I only have a few hours of work per day. So I am stocking up on oranges, pain-killers, blankets and down-time. We shall overcome.
 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

to never be found

The last time this unsavoury bunch got together in its entirety, in Seattle last fall, we were on our way to see Frightened Rabbit. Half of that same bunch - the Calgary contingent of Communique - are doing so again tonight. We will be thinking of our fellow Communiqueters as we howl along with the Scottish indie-rockers. I am getting a little creaky for standing concerts, I admit, but for Frightened Rabbit, I will remain on my feet. Hell, I will even darken the doors of a less than favourite venue, and I don't do that for just anybody anymore.

Working full time, albeit temporarily, has taken a toll on my extracurricular activities. As is evident by the date of the last post on this little blog, that includes any sort of writing that is not strictly deadlined. So, my apologies to the two faithful readers who still frequent this blog. The rumours of my blogospherial demise are, in fact, exaggerated.

I am actually considering giving this blog a bit of a facelift. A little nip here, a bit of a tuck there. The way it is laid out doesn't really reflect my reality any longer and maybe a little surgical work is what is needed to freshen up my feelings about blogging in general. I still love the platform, but it is a dwindling format.

It is September, after all, the season of fresh starts.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

slack like me

As I slumped in the armchair tonight, after getting home from work at 6:30, I became almost giddy to realize that I do not have to work at all this weekend. No events to cover, nothing to write. I can't honestly say I got up and danced a jig or anything like that, but in my head I sure did.

And then, of course, I realized that the weekend is still two work days away. How is it I feel like I have already put in a full work week? Oh right, because I am spoiled by my habit of only working a few hours a week.

The extra money will be nice, of course, but all those hours otherwise engaged do take their toll upon the family dynamic. Weekends are ruled by a two-foot long to-do list, we are starting to realize what an empty fridge actually looks like, and housecleaning (admittedly never a major consideration) has been completely abandoned. 

Mostly, though, I feel sorry for the Slightly Retarded Kitty. Last night the Spousal Unit had a work dinner so by the time I got home, the poor SRK had given up all hope of ever seeing human life ever again. She had moped herself into such a state that she didn't even want to go out, just stared listlessly out the window. She really misses her belly rubs on demand and her on call doormen.

Friday, September 13, 2013

to take me into the night

The city is buzzing with Beakerhead mania. It's not every day you see a guy climb a ladder up into a retro-futuristic rocket right in the middle of downtown. When the guy is wearing a kilt and rocking a robotic crow on his shoulder, the situation moves into the surreal. And when this all happens on your lunch hour within easy walking distance of work, it becomes beyond awesome.

With prior commitments and factoring in the exhaustion equation, I am not going to be able to absorb as much of Beakerhead as I would have liked. But this little science-art-engineering sponge does hold tickets to tonight's Tremendous and Curious World of Beakerhead

Astronauts, science show hosts, music psychologists and a robot band. 

Osmosis, baby!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

just like flies

I've been going for a walk every day on my lunch break.  I am but one of a legion of office drones, stretching our legs and soaking in every drop of unseasonably warm and unquestionably beautiful September sunshine. We walk and walk until every precious outdoor minute has ticked by.

I often think I should bring my camera, to capture the angles and the reflections in those glass towers that puncture the relentless blue sky. Today, a window washer rappelled down the side of a building to come to a firm landing on the sidewalk not ten feet away from me. 

I was tempted to ask if I could have a try.

Friday, September 06, 2013

word pile

As I remain in the midst of this full-time, every day - just like a normal person - working downtown stint, the freelancery is being churned out at a slightly slower rate.

Here are some pieces that hit the presses recently:

Murky Water Music - my BC Musician Magazine article about the impact of the spring floods on a couple of Calgary music festivals

my National Music Centre review of Rae Spoon's new release, My Prairie Home

Read em and weep.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

pretty daze

The pause before the headlong rush into life, Labour Day weekend lends itself to lazy contemplation. With delightful bipolarity, Arizona-hot days morph into extra blanket nights. Morning shadows stretch out and slow the movement away from coffee pot and easy chair.  I crave new pencil crayons and unchewed erasers.

Under turning leaves at Casa del Zombie, milestones are marked. Notably, the Spousal Unit chalks up 30 years with Company X. Retirement inches closer, counted down in trips to the Lebanese barber. 

Coastally, the Offspring moves into new digs today. An entire house this time - mid-century ranch - with a yard and a windows above ground, close to campus. Five will share the space, a mix of Canadian and American, female and male, old friends and new. The excitement is palpable in her keystrokes, amplified by the finality of no longer being asked by the landlord's mother to stream Farsi soap operas every 45 minutes. This being the first unfurnished rental place, though, I foresee a couple of weeks of thrift store scouring and alley furniture picking in her future.

For me, there is a little loin girding to be done, in amongst the delicious laziness. Preparing for a few more weeks of every-day, full-time, just-like-normal-people downtown work weighs a little on my mind, not gonna lie. Preparing meals after getting home at 6:30, packing lunches right after dinner, collapsing on the chesterfield before an early bed, I am still unaccustomed to that routine. And squeezing in my freelance work is challenging. 

But I did finally buy some proper office attire, so that my coworkers no longer have to look at me wearing the same ratty clothes every day. I've got this.

Monday, August 26, 2013

gathering

What is it about clouds that makes us get lost in them? Sure, there's the whole that one looks like a puppy and that one looks like an evil axe-murderer clown thing. And there's the fact that clouds draw your eyes up from the screen or the page in front of your nose (or the to-do list bouncing around in your pre-frontal cortex) and make you consider the larger, much larger, picture. Clouds are, after all, but curtains drawn over the portal to the cosmos.

We channel our inner farmers' almanac to read the coming weather in the skies - wispy streaks of cirrus, billowing altocumulus that hint at a building thunderstorm, the towering thunderhead of cumulonimbus that leaves no doubt. We can read the future in the clouds.  Or at least whether or not to bring an umbrella tomorrow.

And even more, we can read the past. It's hard not to consider that this is the same sky - the same clouds - that the dinosaurs gazed at idly as they chewed their palm fronds, contemplating that the cloud over there looks an awful lot like an evil axe-murderer clown.

Let's hear it for the water cycle.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

speed date

It's all been rather whirlwindy. We made the 10 hour trek to the lake place the morning after we said a regretful goodbye to the OFKAR at the airport. We spent a few days finishing the siding on the foundation, then turned around and raced back home to do laundry, buy groceries and dole out feline belly rubs, before I headed downtown for a week of full-time every single day work. Just like normal people do. 

I have no idea how other people ever get anything done when they have to leave the house at 7 in the morning and don't get back till 6. Evidently I am lacking real world survival skills. 

It has quickly become abundantly clear that I also lack proper office clothes.

But I am enjoying hanging out with my work colleagues, people whom I normally only see in passing as I come in for a shift when they are leaving for home. They don't even seem to mind seeing me in the same ratty clothes every day.