Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I guess some joy woudn't kill me.

In my last post, I whined about things that make me more upset than they should, because they're history and it's time to move on.

I will now counter that with a list of seven things that make me a hell of a lot happier than they should:

1. Loverboy
2. Puritan beef stew in a can
3. Finding an open, half-full can of Coke in the fridge at lunchtime
4. Blue eyeshadow, applied prudently
5. Celine Dion perfume
6. Squirrels
7. Star Wars III, Revenge of the Bad Actors Sith


Here's one thing that made me exactly as happy as it should have, maybe even happier: Kobe beef burgers, served up at Murphy's Law, a local pub. Well, the fine print reveals that it's "Kobe-style beef-cattle being raised in Canada using the same techniques" as the real thing, hence the price tag of $14.95 for a burger with fries and slaw, not $300/lb. But my Good God, it tasted so. completely. amazing.

There - see? I'm not a total grump. Now piss off.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

all gone.

I had a gig in the old 'hood last night, and made the mistake of going for a walk.

As I mentioned months ago, Pirri's fruit market is gone; now it's a computer place. Now, every second house on Churchill - the street next to my old one - is fenced in and slated for demolition. My favourite mock orange bush is half cut down, the other half crushed by an orange plastic fence - its house will be torn down and turned into a monster home. So I went to check on my favourite iris garden in the next block. It was bulldozed, save for one lone iris. It was then that I burst into tears.

That's it - nearly every remnant of my childhood is gone. My mother is dead, and my father might as well be. My grandparents are gone, and so by extension is Parry Sound. The home I grew up in was bulldozed thirteen years ago along with the other houses on the block, and I have to sell the cottage I spent my childhood summers in (long story, please don't ask). The few remaining things I enjoyed about Willowdale, like one silly bush here or a loved garden there, have been destroyed, or soon will be. So that's it. There's hardly a single damn thing left.

If you're as nostalgic and sentimental as I, you might have an idea how brutal this is for me. Of course, the impending anniversary of Mom's death has had me in a bad space for a while. Last year I was distracted by academic life; this year it's hitting me hard.

There's nothing left to do but swallow hard, say "screw it", and move forward.

About last weekend

Last weekend was the long-longed-for Long Weekend, and, unusually enough for me, it felt like a Long Weekend! I rarely have a real weekend; I'm so often rehearsing or concertizing on Fridays and Saturdays. But this one was different. I had Friday free to go to the gym, buy groceries, and visit garden centres, and Saturday I TOOK DOWN THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and planted pretty things on the balcony.

Last year I didn't sit on the balcony once. Clutter and dirt covered it completely - there was nowhere to sit, and I was unmotivated to do anything about it. My final paper was stressing me out thoroughly, and that, I'm sure, was just part of my general malaise. My heart was there - I planted impatiens and watered them occasionally, and they thrived in spite of me. I bought a tomato plant and tossed the poor thing out there too, never repotting it or fertilizing it, and watering it about twice a month. It was still sporting enough to cough up two small tomatoes.

Now there's plenty of room, clean chairs, and properly potted and fed impatiens, tomatoes, geraniums, and herbs. It's nearly an oasis (it would be perfect if we didn't have to keep our bikes out there), and I plan to keep it that way. It's bad enough not having a yard; at the very least, we must have a balcony we can relax on with a glass of wine, or a beer for him and G&T for me on hot summer nights. At some point we will have juicy tomatoes, and flourishing herbs.

I've gotten a big kick out of gardening like everybody does on the May 24th weekend. It's uniting. Our balcony overlooks many yards, and our neighbours were out getting their hands dirty. The garden centre was a total zoo by 9:30 last Saturday morning.

A week later, nothing's dead yet! Huzzah.

We (R, R and I) also managed to see the not-quite-dead-yet-either Gordon Lightfoot at Massey Hall, and he was just excellent. Hard to believe he was in a coma for six weeks a couple of years ago. I grew up listening to him, and he sings about so many aspects of my life and family history - Georgian Bay and the railroad - as well as love and nature in ways I find refreshingly straightforward. Despite being introspective as I am, I adore good music that reflects on outward things, like the beauty of a good sea yarn of the wonder of nature.

Friday, May 27, 2005

On unsolicited advice

Last night the following realization - a general observation, not sparked by anything specific - occured to me: Others are about 100 times more likely to say 'You should [do this, try this, etc.]...' when speaking to me as I am likely to say 'You should...' to them. It's true. I hear those words almost daily, but I say them to others about once a year, if that.

I rarely, maybe even never, give unsolicited advice. Why do others offer it to me so freely? Is my life in such dire need of improvement? Or am I not alone in being the target of those who like to hear themselves talk?

Maybe it's my problem, and I should be saying 'You should...' to everyone and their dog, but my communication skills have fallen victim to my fear of being responsible for the effect of my words.

Holy God, I'm boring. Time to sing cabaret tunes in the shower.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

some rare Canuck excitement

Normally your humble narrator likes to avoid discussing politics and just eat, drink and blather on about pretty flowers, but Belinda Stronach has crossed the floor. This is so darn exciting, I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl.

No, seriously, I am. I want to chase her down and hug her and squeeze her and call her George.

Not only that, but our Prime Minister says he can count! Does it get better?

Monday, May 16, 2005

How the asparagus met its end

While in Chilliwack last month, I tried to be good and not load up on cookbooks. It was hard to avoid. What is with West coast folks and food? I know - the bounty of the ocean and rivers, the great growing conditions - it's a foodie's paradise. Everywhere I went in BC's lower mainland, gift stores carried the Nature's Gourmet series of cookbooks by Carol Ann Shipman. The Salmon Cookbook seemed the most useful to me, so now I own it, and tonight I christened it by cooking up a lovely, delicate recipe for pasta, smoked salmon and asparagus.

The perfect spring dinner - just what I've been waiting for. The wild smoked salmon was also something I brought back from BC - I must ask my aunt to go to the Save-On and mail me another pack of it. It was an actual smoked fillet - not the sliced smoked salmon I was expecting, but it went perfectly in the pasta.

Good Lord, I love asparagus. And salmon. And BC. I want to move there and eat and eat and eat.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

So long, and thanks for all the instant scalloped potatoes.

Instant scalloped potatoes are so damn good that I just raided the fridge and ate tonight's leftovers cold. They are so damn good that one wonders why one would ever bother scalloping one's own potatoes. Then one reads the ingredient list on the box of instant potatoes, knows why one ought to scallop one's own, and prays that death comes quickly.

I blame my aunt Jan in B.C., the queen of the can, bearer of the box, the Great Reconstitutor. Upon returning from our gourmet vacation out there last month, I decided that the odd canned stew won't kill us - just save us a bit of money and preserve us well into the next century. Hey, it's a nostalgia thing; I grew up on canned soups and stews and Kraft Dinner galore, though my mother did indeed scallop her own potatoes.

We saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tonight and had a ball. I read the book in high school, and so knew enough about it all to enjoy it, but didn't remember it so clearly that I ever thought, Hey! It shouldn't go like that!

So tonight, when I die in my sleep, at least there was a good movie, and there were some damn good reconstituted potatoes, graced by a delicate sauce of corn starch, MSG, mono and diglycerides, and eye of newt. Burp.