Le Picbois

In an unexpected turn of events, a lack of internet has brought me back to blogging (written in Word and hoping the internet returns soon).  That and someone starting to follow me in an impressive display of hope.  Some big changes have happened since last I attempted to bring my blog back from the dead.

I think you could probably trace my overall happiness with where I was in my life by how regularly I posted blogs – my level of enjoyment in writing, my ability to think creatively and write short stories.  Kind of sad when I realize how long it’s been since I last wrote consistently.  Or wrote fiction, even that not posted on this site.  Man.

That isn’t the important thing, though, so move out of the shade.  Listen to music, feel better.

 

The long and the short of it is that I realized that my obsession with finding/buying a house in Toronto was, to put it bluntly, an effort to distract myself from the actual issue. My strong dislike of where I was in my career and life in general.  Some things popping up at work, combined with the dog’s injury (full recovery, fyi), and my friend (and also coworker) leaving work to go on maternity leave brought things into focus.  So what if I bought a house in the city?  It wouldn’t change anything else, other than adding pressure to stay where I had an income. Not exactly a real solution to my ennui.  Enter thoughts of job hunting for the first time since I was in university.

In a twist of fate I promptly got called by not one, not two, but three separate headhunters over the course of about a week.  And unlike previous calls, I said “yes” to all of them.  Salmon Arm, BC?  Love the name, gosh that’s far, let’s give it a go.  Mississauga?  Why, it’s just down the road!  Collingwood?  I was there… once…maybe… as a child… it’s… northish.

Well, it turns out that the location in BC is one of the hottest dryest parts of Canada, and nearly impossible to even find a rental.  I was feeling my yes-man attitude, but I really like having a roof over my head… and the Ontario bears are more interested in sewage than hunting people.

Mississauga turned out to be a job in which my entire job would be construction site administration.  RESPECT the people working on construction, people.  LONG days, rarely any shade, and even as basically a photographer/construction journalist, just doing it for a month at a time leaves me completely drained.  Necessary work, but not for me.

Collingwood, though.  Collingwood hit ALL the marks.  Interesting job, interesting company, interesting place.

I quit my job.  I tidied up 7 years worth of deck clutter and paperwork, said seven years’ worth of keep-in-touches, and headed north.  To a town less than half the size of the smallest place I’ve lived for any length of time.  I QUIT my job!

And promptly realized that, while most places that aren’t Toronto and are much smaller than it would have much cheaper rent… places that cater to cottagers, boaters and skiers… do not.  Especially when you add in a dog.

It takes about 15 minutes to get anywhere in Collingwood.  It’s got a village-ey rural vibe with a great downtown strip, multiple grocery stores, multiple independent coffee shops and easy access to basically EVERYTHING outdoorsy, and an assortment of great local things.  For example, while at the local farmers’ market a few weeks ago… sampling some delightful Georgian Hills Wine and Cider… I met a couple who’d moved to this area for the rock-climbing.  After that, I checked out the local alpaca farm’s wares (and the two alpaca they brought with them!), and bought locally made pierogies.  Had this town ever been on my radar before now, I might have realized that I’m not the only one who thinks this is pretty cool.

I found a place and moved in the day before I started work at my new job.  And boy did I ever find a place!  My little cottage has cows down the trail in one direction, horses in the other.  Still within a 10 minute drive to downtown Collingwood, but unexpectedly rural.  I could go on and on, but sufficed to say: gas fireplace.

I’m a month into living here, and my only complaint is that my friends from Toronto aren’t quite as close as I’d like them to be.  Luckily, there’s a lot to be said for visiting me.

Work-wise, I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying I think I’m doing well.  A bit of a learning curve for sure, but my new boss is excellent, and I think that on the whole I’m taking on enough of the work-load.  My new coworkers are friendly, my new work really seems to care about its employees, and the cafeteria is full of fruit in a much appreciated display of that care.

Living-wise, Gwynn is adjusting to the new strange noises, my rental is charming, and I have mostly successfully adapted to living on my own for the first time since university.  Minor incidents of cheese-and-crackers for dinner aside.

I’ve still got things to do… but overall…

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Happy.

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Quilt of Fate

What? Participating.  I feel like I keep having to start-up again, but at least I’ve always got some great prompts to start the gears turning.  Check out the rest of the responses at the link below, and add your own:

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Also check out the artist AquaSixio, otherwise known as Cyril Rolando.  His work is below, one of many works of art painting a picture of a story I want to know more of.  What I love about this particular piece is the eerie colour of the scene, and the way it makes me wonder if this person is running away from something or towards something.  Either way, sometimes making a choice, right or wrong, can feel like leaping from a moving train.  The artist also includes a piece of writing that perfectly describes that stagnation of routine, the reward of jumping from the train.  Read it at Train Train Quoditien.

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My mother spent her life on scraps, collecting the discarded leftovers of other peoples’ lives and putting them together in new ways.  I spent my childhood desperate for the things that others took for granted.  Patches disguised the holes in my jeans from everyone but me, and the hand-made cardigan wasn’t at all like the GAP sweatshirts of my peers.

Just once, I begged, just once might I have a blanket all in one tone?  Monochrome, I pled, to the bafflement of my family.  New.

I rejected the colours, the patterns, recycling and making do.  I ran away to the real world,  and relished my drab wardrobe, cookie cutter condo and processed foods.  I became the happiest of cogs in the machine.

I met a perfectly ordinary girl and fell in love with her family’s staid ways, the generations of suburbanites and shiny new IKEA furniture.

My fiancée forced a strained smile and gave me a sidelong glance when I introduced my mother in her draped shawls and bangles, and I felt embarrassment.  My mother’s eyes sparkled with pride and love.

My bright-coloured family capered and laughed and drank, young and old dancing late into the night in celebration of my wedding to this woman they’d never met, in celebration of my future happiness.  A reminder of my fond memories of home on the open road, each wedding, funeral or crossing of paths a reason for joyous revelry.  My family brought us gifts handcrafted and brimming with love and pride.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when my new wife suggested that their gifts would fit best in our storage locker.  I was surprised I hadn’t suggested it myself.

But not the quilt, I said, stroking the colourful tree my mother had hand-sewn for us, a symbol of good fortune and happiness in marriage.  Every leaf stitched with a member of my family and hers, with room for new additions.  My wife gave me a strange look out of the corner of her eye and pressed her lips together.

Her mother had gotten the burnt umber bedspread on our registry.  Had no one in my family thought to look on the registry?  She clucked her displeasure at their selfishness in denying us a KitchenAid stand mixer in taupe, and I looked at this stranger and questioned myself.

I tucked it away in my closet and brooded.  I wondered if I’d actually intentionally bought 4 pairs of near-identical navy slacks.  Why I ate so many beige foods.  She, meanwhile, cut her eyes in disapproval of the introduction of brightly coloured dress-shirts into my wardrobe.

We scheduled date night in the same way as we scheduled dental work and with as much enthusiasm.  Every moment of my parents’ lives was a breathless run through the deluge of their affection for each other and for life.

When she left me, my first thought was for my mother’s quilt.  I took it down, spread it out and smiled.  My family spread out in beautiful chaos, with blank spaces for my future wife, her family and room to grow.  My mother spent her life taking up the discarded pieces and putting them together anew.

I left with only the necessities, including a vibrant purple shirt in need of mending.

Scattered Marbles and Physics

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I’ve lost my marbles.  I was so good for a while, with the healthy eating and the flexing of my imagination and the general adulting at life, and then the seam ripped and all my marbles scattered.

The fitness one rolled under the desk and wedged itself in the corner with the dust bunnies.  I keep trying to get it out again, but the gravitational pull between my bum and the couch feels insurmountable.

 

bernard-illust6The writing marble went off somewhere, I don’t know.  I keep catching sight of it out of the corner of my eye but when I turn to face it, it’s vanished, like the escaped class-pet in the ducts of every parent’s nightmares.  If the hamster came home not-pregnant and lived in the walls for all of Christmas break… then how is it now pregnant?  How?  I’d come up with a story, but my mind is a blank.

I keep finding and then dropping the arts and crafts marble – at this rate, those mitts will be ready to wear around June.  I’ll have to give them to my friend whose baby is due in June.  The magic eight ball’s sources say the likelihood of my starting and completing my baby themed project is no.

I know exactly where the ‘being a functional adult and taking responsibility’ marble is.  It’s kind of lego shaped, I step on it at the most inopportune moments and the instant stubbed-toe agony it produces tells me which marble it is.  I just don’t like it, so I leave it where it is, even if that means I’ll step on it again in a month or two.

Healthy eating is a slippery one, and I think it rolled under the fridge.  Every time I think I’ve caught it I realize I’m actually holding on to a gobstopper.  Which I then proceed to eat.  Lint and all.  Pretty sure there’s a magnetic field between junk food and my face.

This has been the status quo for more than EIGHT MONTHS.  Interspersed with random flare-ups of art or writing that are the equivalent of an “I aten’t ded” sign to the universe at large.  While this past summer can be blamed on my atrocious work schedule and location (10 hrs x 6 days of broiling hot site work for 3+ months WILL melt all the get-up-and-go from your body and leave you a dehydrated Iced Capp junkie potato), the rest of it is entirely on me physics.  I did the adult version of the toddler-flop and became an object at rest.

Has letting everything go made me happier?  More relaxed?  Surely I’m at least caught up on the laziest of pseudo-chores, the television? Hah.  My globe-trotting friend over at The Mundo Express is doing a better job of that while living out of a backpack and maintaining a blog!

 

Physics is getting tough on me and I hate shopping a lot, so with the goal of breaching the gravitational hold of the couch I signed up for Krav Maga classes last week.  This object had better get in motion if she doesn’t want to come down with a bad case of forcefully applied physics!

Next step: find something healthy and filling that’s faster to make than a  microwave chocolate mug cake (link… and paleo link… for when you want to pretend that it’s healthy.  Because I care about you and your sudden inexplicable desire for microwaved cake.  Blame it on me physics.).

Children

I recently had an experience that reminded me how important it is to be a parent.  I am not a parent, just to be clear.  I just spend a lot of time in parks, and in the neighbourhood so I have plenty of opportunity to judge them.

You (in general), as a parent, are responsible for teaching a brand new person the ins and outs of life, and interacting with the world.  That’s a big thing!

Scene 1:

I was walking Gwynn through High Park after he’d gotten his spring hair cut this year.  Right out of his haircut, he looks like the most delightful teddy bear on earth to cuddle and squeeze and pet.  Beautiful day, tons of people around, and I was on my way to the dog off-leash area to let him run around a bit (and, as is inevitable, get some mud on the wheels, as it were.).

With that many people around I pay a lot of attention – make sure to keep Gwynn close when walking past that person who is looking nervous of him, or that kid holding an ice cream cone at dog-level, etc.

So I noticed when a girl – probably about 10 – locked on to Gwynn and began speed-walking away from her mother and directly towards Gwynn (from behind him), hands already outstretched.

Gwynn is friendly.  But He. Is. A. Dog.  And coming up behind a strange animal and surprising him with a random pet from a stranger?  Nuh uh.  And this is where I judge the kid’s mom, and intercede in the teaching of life-interactions.

Placing myself between Gwynn and the little girl, I told/asked her, “You know you always need to ask permission before going near a strange dog?  Right?*

I got a blank look in response to this, but at least she’d stopped moving forward.

“You have to ask, because the dog might be scared of people, or mean, or sick, or not like kids or surprises, but if you ask, I might say yes,” I add, when it becomes clear that Mom isn’t taking advantage of this teachable moment.

I get through to her.  “Can I pet your dog?” she asks.

“Absolutely!  He’s very friendly.”

End scene.  I really hope I got through to her, but frankly, I. Am. Not. Her. Parent.  or friend, or relative, or teacher/person of authority in her life.  There is just as much chance that she will go off and complain with her mom about that weird rude (possibly even that B word) who tried to lecture her about dogs, when her dog isn’t even not-friendly, so why? why?  And if her parents aren’t bothering with agreeing with me on this, then why would she?

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Why yes, he is friendly… but I’m friendly too until a stranger surprise-touches my butt

Scene 2:

Gwynn and I are walking through the park near me last weekend, on a pretty high traffic multi-use trail.  Enter a little boy on a bicycle going the opposite direction to us.  I moved off to the side, but that wasn’t necessary, because he came to a stop, dropped his bike and says, “Hi,  my name is (Let’s call him Timmy), can I pet your dog?”

Delighted, I said, “Yes!  And thank you for asking!  His name is Gwynn.”  And we spent the next few minutes talking about Gwynn, and bicycles.

Younger brother caught up, asked the same question, and, getting another enthusiastic YES-and-thank-you, started walking with his bike towards Gwynn.  Mom shows up on her bike at this point, and immediately says, “Stop and put your bike down, you’ll make the dog nervous.”

Brilliant.  As I walked away, I overheard the older kid telling his mom about how “That lady with the dog thanked me for asking if I could pet him!”

It warms the cockles of my heart, it does indeed.

directly after grooming

directly after grooming… everyone wants to touch him

In conclusion:

Parents: teach your kids proper animal etiquette.  Always ask, and always be gentle with animals are the rules they need the most.  And try not to pass your own fears of animals on to them.  Also, you are doing a fantastic job, in general (not that my opinion matters, here, but still.), at raising children and handling the screaming and the constant energy and the many MANY ‘Why?’ questions, and oh god, it just seems exhausting.

People with dogs: also educate kids if they don’t seem to know about the ask rule… and if they do know – make sure to let them know that them doing the right thing is AWESOME.  Because sometimes hearing something from a stranger can reinforce good behaviours that parents are teaching.

*Blog readers – you know this, yes?  If you didn’t before, you know now.  “Is your dog friendly?”, “Can/May I pet your dog?”… “Is it ok for my (child too young to speak coherently especially to strangers) to say hello to your dog?” And, regardless of what size a dog is, how happy he seems to be to see you, and how experienced you are with dogs, if the owner says ‘no’, then give them space!

Walking on Eggshells

Dear Sir,

I wish I could say for sure that it was an accident – I’m not sure why, but I really believe that would make it better.  I think it’s because you would seem less selfish that way.  They don’t publish the non-accidents, though – like it might give someone an idea.  Someone like you, perhaps.  You weren’t in the newspaper.  I googled you.

I can’t and won’t try to imagine what must have been going on with you for this to have been the alternative you chose.  It must have been horrible.  I just wish you’d taken the time to imagine the consequences for those around you.  I wish things hadn’t gotten so horrible for you, but mostly, I wish you’d been able to step back and take a look at the future, beyond your choice.

Did you think of the driver, before you took that last step?  You might not have known that this driver is unlikely to ever go back to work after that.  Most, if not all, spend the rest of their lives on disability after going through that kind of nightmare.  You forced a complete stranger to blow out the unhappy flame of your existence – that’s not the kind of thing someone gets over.

What about the people who saw you?  Saw you close your eyes, look up and walk forward?  Were you too busy looking forward to look around?  You might have picked a less busy time of day, but that’s no excuse.

And the people who saw what remained?  Hollywood might numb people somewhat to violence, but not enough for this.  I wish you’d been able to think of this, make a better decision.

I wish that you had found a less final alternative.  It sounds selfish, but I wish I’d driven downtown.  I wish we hadn’t stopped for dinner before heading home.  I wish we’d taken the streetcar instead.  I wish SO MUCH that the man who opened the subway car door for us had opened one of the other two doors, instead of that one.  I wish I hadn’t looked back.  I really wish I hadn’t looked back.

I hope it was worth it – that you’ve found the happiest ending you could.  But I also hope you are in some way able to feel some compassion for the strangers you left behind.  The ones who walked, horrified, across the blood – your blood – spattered across the tiles, who looked back and saw what remained of the life you didn’t think was worth keeping.  I hope you feel guilty about the fact that you left behind strangers who saw you make your choice, saw you look up and take that step.

We don’t know each other, and we never will.  You made your choice on Saturday.  You left half an empty shell on the platform.  I looked back and left a little bit of my happiness.  I haven’t made it through a day since then without crying.

My condolences to your loved ones, and everyone you left behind.

AM

Have you got the Time?

I forgot my phone at work.  I also forgot my watch, from when I took it off for a gym class.  I take my watch off for classes because A, I don’t want it to get sweaty and gross, and B, there’s a clock in the classroom, and I can read its reflection in the mirror while flailing along in some semblance of what the instructor is doing.

I check the time a lot.  Sometimes, I check the time immediately after having just checked the time, to confirm that the time I thought I read was, in fact, the time that it actually is.  I only just switched from a waterproof sports-proof indestructible watch (one that allowed me to leave it on through showers, swimming, hiking, and whatever else) to one that actually looks good.  It ticks.  It ticks so softly that I only ever notice it when I am lying in bed at night, my left arm tucked just so, up near my ear.  It’s a strangely soothing sound.

My dad got it years ago.  One of his coworkers used to go to New York on a regular basis, and this guy got it into his head that my dad wanted a knock-off watch.  My dad never wears a watch.  Instead, he asks someone who has a watch something like this: “It’s about 10 to 8, right?”

The person who has a watch glances at their watch, looks suspiciously at my dad, and replies, “Yes.”

Because he’s always right.  And he never wears a watch.

He has no idea where his coworker got the idea that he was desirous of a watch.  He just thanked him politely and stuck the Swiss Fake in a drawer until a few months ago when I was bemoaning the fact that I wanted an analog watch, but hadn’t found one I liked enough to buy yet.  Change the battery, set the time and date, and bam.  I sleep to the soothing tick-tick-tick of a watch whose face glows in the dark, just in case I wake up enough to want to know what time it is, but not enough to put my glasses on and read the time on the alarm-clock-radio I’ve had since I was 10.

What’s this all about?  Well, it sets the scene for last night, when I realized, after pulling Gwynn out of the car and while heading towards Sadie’s house, that I didn’t have the time.  I looked around, as though expecting to suddenly find myself in the kind of small town with a clock tower that you can see from practically anywhere in town.  The kind of clock tower that bongs on the hour and half-hour, so that even though I might not know the time, I would know roughly where, in time, I was.

I went on a walk anyways.  We walked to the middle entrance of the creek valley, and headed north, to the furthest entrance.  The dogs raced around the field like it was the most exciting place.  I threw the ball a few times for them and lost myself in the complete happiness of two dogs running.  We headed back to the middle entrance, and I pulled back my coat to look at my wrist.  Oh.  Right.

Well, the sky isn’t all that dark yet, and it is still winter, so that probably means… something.  Too bad I have about as much of an internal clock as I do an internal compass.

It was light enough that I could go down to the south entrance through the woods without finding myself in absolute darkness.  It was a beautiful evening – the creek valley is protected from the wind, no one was about, and the dogs were staying out of the stinky creek, but still having a great time sniffling and snuffling through the underbrush.

By the time I reached the south entrance, the moon was high and bright in the sky, a narrow crescent not quite at the first quarter, so sharply defined that you could see the shadows and texture of the moonscape.  I seriously considered heading back through the park to the middle entrance, just to keep the walk going a bit longer.  The waspish hum of three cyclists as they dart past me, ninja-like in the darkness dissuaded me.  The path ended near the highway, so chances were good that I would see (or not see) them again on their way back down.  Someone needs to give them the memo about having a light and having a bell, and how it’s the law, but I’d rather not have it emphasized by a bike-dog collision.

It was getting a bit colder, anyways, though, so I headed home.

The whole walk took a bit longer than two hours.  If I’d known the time, chances are I’d have gone back up the way I came in.

There might just be something to the whole ‘living in the moment’ thing.

How Life is Like a Poorly Maintained Road that you Swim Through… or a box of chocolates, or something like that…

My sister (the girl who stands a few inches taller than me and goes clubbing in Hull, but is secretly still 8 years old and it was practically yesterday that she was a terrorizing toddler and bit me on the cheek…) is waiting for her final grades for her first term at University.

She reads this blog… we’ll see what her reaction to it is, hopefully not a resurgence of biting.  To be on the safe side, I won’t be trusting her innocent overtures of a hug for the next few days.  Fool me once, shame on you…

She’s worried.  From what I can tell, her main worry is that, in the worst case scenario of this particular saga, we will be too kind.  “We” being all the people in the family who have graduated from university.  I think the worst case scenario that she is picturing is rather like the scene where the Death Star blows up, but also where Luke loses his hand, and maybe mix in a bit of that awkward scene when Han is trying to establish what kind of feelings Leia has for Luke, and she doesn’t reveal the whole ‘we’re siblings, and just love each other as siblings’ thing for a long while, thus creating awkward.  Just remember bloglanders – Twihards make trekkies and star wars fans look normal.

... and the winnner is... the woman who tattooed the characters of Twilight onto her whole back!

I see it more as a speedbump or pothole… just a brief slowing, possibly altering of direction.

... but not quite this big a speed bump...

When I went off to University, my dad told me this: “University is like a big party, but with work.  It’s a lot of fun, but you have to do enough work that you don’t get uninvited from the party.”

Doodle is worried that she might get uninvited.

She’s worried that she will disappoint us, but that we will be so nice about it that we will never tell her just how disappointed we are… and, for some reason, part of the concern is that I got through high school and University relatively unscathed.  She seems to think I have never failed at anything in my life.

What do I think?  That I was basically ‘pity passed’ through most of elementary school, which is fair enough considering I once submitted a picture of a horse instead of a book report.

That one of my university courses was such a haze of incomprehension, that I came home from the final exam and signed myself up for summer courses.  While crying.  I passed the course… barely.  It was my lowest grade since high school gym class.  Have I mentioned how terrible I am at things requiring hand-eye coordination?  There’s another pity pass.

That it took me two goes to pass both the G1 exit driving test and the G2 exit driving test.  I curled up in the back of my car on the way back from the first G2 driving test and sobbed for an hour in the parking lot of a Sobeys.  I also cried at the person testing me the second time around when he told me that I passed (and listed off all the reasons why it was a barely-pass, and all the things he decided not to count that could have made it a not-pass), which is why my current drivers’ license picture is really truly dreadful.  I look like a prison inmate who just finished watching Marley and Me.

I was sure that I would never move back home when I was done university… It’s been nearly three years, now.

I suffered in silence through nearly 6 months of my crazypants cubicle-wall-neighbour’s crazy prostitute-murdering, cuss-filled mutterings before I got up the nerve to tell my boss about it.  Finally telling my boss was a tearfully written email (too chicken to talk face to face) sent once I was sure he’d gone home for the weekend so that I could escape without any kind of conversation.

I'm just so... *sob*... angry!

This is not my pity party.  I have failed and been rather pathetic at a lot of things in my life.  I cry if I’m sad, at sad movies, if I’m angry, if someone’s angry at me, if I have to stand up for myself… all the time, really.  I really need to work on that.  The point is that, if you look back, overall it has been pretty successful despite the road bumps.  The point is that we are all thrown into the deep waters and expected to swim like Gertrude Ederle (first woman to swim across the English Channel) and achieve great things.  And that we are all, at one point or another, going to flounder (like she did, on her first attempt to cross), but that the important thing is that we’ll keep swimming eventually, with or without the help of a life buoy.

If it turns out that you are a December grad, what do you do?  Tread water for a while, shake it off, and then keep swimming.  Your final destination might change a bit, so might the swim itself, but it’ll still be a fantastic journey.

It’s my Pity-Party

Shocking, I know… a second post in one day.  But how could I NOT share this?  Come on in and sit down… this is my pity party, and everyone’s invited.

I have a coworker who is, in my opinion, legitimately a crazy person.  As in – should be locked away before he shows up with a machete.  He doesn’t like me, partly because some of his past crazyness led to me complaining to my higher-ups, and partly because, the few times I’ve had to work with him, I’ve also had to either ask him a question about his work (because I didn’t understand it) or tell him that his work is wrong/not complete.  He doesn’t like being questioned, and sees it as a personal attack.

I may or may not go into the sordid details at a later date, but, suffice to say, my boss had to tell him that it is inappropriate to talk to yourself (particularly, talk about… what he was talking about…Think the guy from the Office Space movie… and then multiply by a bazillion) in a cubicle environment… and I am definitely the only one who could have been to blame for ‘telling on him’.

The result of these issues is that Crazypants* doesn’t like me.

And, apparently, his retribution today is to copy my coughing.

I am having some allergy issues today that mean that I’ve been alternating between trouble breathing, watering eyes, sneezing and… you guessed it… fits of dry coughing.  It feels like I coated my throat with sawdust, no matter how much water or tea I drink.

Before you start wondering if it might, perhaps, be me that is wearing the crazy pants in the room… I’ve gotta say – I performed a simple scientific experiment, and the results are conclusive.  You know in cartoons, when one character knocks, and mysteriously, the wall knocks back, the same knock?  Yeah.

I clear throat in a ‘two separate noises’ kind of way… and he does, immediately after.  Any cough, whether it be one, or a few in a row… is immediately, mockingly mimicked by Crazypants.  He also fake coughs in a kind of yappy-dog rapid-fire way every time he walks past my cubicle… while staring at me.   I couldn’t make this shit up.  And why would I?  There is plenty of ammunition without going into the realm of the imagination.  If I do imagine situations with this guy in them, it is in order to plot my escape route for the day he cracks.  I borrow the soundtrack to Indiana Jones for it.

We could consider the version of events in which he doesn’t like noises, and is trying to (impolitely) embarass me into silence…

But this is the guy who snorks, snerks, hocks and spits his way through the day (yup, right there at his desk… ), EVERY DAY, and has continued his talking-to-himself, albeit in a more Rated G manner.  If anyone should be trying to force silence on a cubicle-wall-sharer… it should be me.  I bought noise-reducing earbuds to reduce the number of times I uncontrollably cringe or feel the flesh crawling up my back each day.

oh, if only that were an option. Unfortunately, along with all his marbles... he lost the receipt

*names have been changed to protect the criminally insane.  And to protect me, in the event that Crazypants isn’t at war with the internet for not giving him exactly what he was looking for, immediately, when he typed his demands into Google.  “I typed cheeseburger, where is my cheeseburger, slave-bot?!”

I bet he mockingly flips over an hour-glass every time the computer slows up and flashes the loading-hour-glass.

Thanks for coming to the Pity Party.  I bet the unreasonable complaints you’ve heard/had about today don’t seem so unreasonable, knowing that somewhere out there, a girl trying to set fire to a man with the force of her brain… because he’s cough-ying her.

Who knew it would be so violent?!

A quick hello and goodbye-for-now, since my blogginess has slowed to a snails pace in the past while.  Still alive, although it sometimes feels like it is only barely.  Maybe scheduling two separate vacation plans within hours of each other, a 6 hour drive apart wasn’t… the wisest choice.  BUT it was damn fun while I was in the midst of it.  I’ll share some stories once I am back from a weekend of dock-sitting at my cousins’ cottage.

I’ll leave it at this:  Events transpired.

And, I’ll leave you with this:

… Did all of you ‘get’ it at first glance?  I’ll be honest… I didn’t.  And I was faced with the newspaper itself this past weekend!

Happy weekend, all – Hope it’s entertaining and relaxing!

ps.  A quick thanks to Jodi at jodistone for giving me the Genuine Blogger Award – I plan to write about it (and put up a little award button dealie) when the moment is right (ie.  I have time to breathe and the giant pile of smokey smelling dirty laundry has subsided).  BUT, I had to mention it now 🙂

pps. I won a contest run by Tena at Success Just Clicks, and my winning tug arrived in the mail while I was gone.  You have no idea how exciting that is – firstly, I love signing up for contests… it is VERY rare that anything more than email-spam comes from this (… ever…)… and secondly, I love recieving non-banking-mail, especially packages.  LOVE IT.  So getting a package in the mail was as fantabulous as christmas in Who-Ville.  It’s like I got a slice of rare Who-roast-beast and the last can of Who-hash.

She has plans to run more contests for dog swag from her etsy shop, so keep an eye out on her blog.  I’ll post pictures of Gwynn’s attempts to take the tug (gloriously orange and yellow and red) from me around the same time as I post about my epic adventures in too-much-driving-land.  He loves it.  Has loved it since I took it out of the package.

ppps.  Texas (or anywhere else with ridiculously high temperatures, since I’m guessing Texas is a dry heat, and this was not)- take your weather back!  Yesterday’s high of 38 (feels like 48 with the humidity) was NOT appreciated.  This is Canada, we like to be able to leave the sauna once we’re warmed up.

pppps.  so much for ‘quick hello and goodbye-for-now’.  I have a feeling that short stories aren’t my forte.

What I Learned from Other Peoples’ Dogs

I had a fair bit of experience with dogs prior to getting my own – I did (and still do, though with reduced frequency) dog-sitting and dog walking for people in my area.  This gave me a somewhat good idea of what owning a dog is all about, but it also taught me some things that were obvious at the time, and things that I only realised I learned, looking back on it. 

The Beagle

This is my neighbour’s dog, and I’ve been taking care of this guy while they’re away on vacation since forever.  From time with this guy, I learned that you should always… ALWAYS… ALWAYS ask if the dog is friendly before approaching it with your dog (or, for that matter, with the intention of petting a stranger’s dog, with or without one of your own).  ALWAYS.  Just do it, don’t question me on this.  Some people will get offended (generally, people with dogs that fall into the ‘tough’ category… German Shepherds, Dobermans, etc), and other people will look at you like you’re a moron (generally people with tiny fluffy dogs, or small friendly-looking dogs).  Generally, people will answer ‘yes’, and ‘yes’ again, if you ask if your dog can meet theirs.  But ask them all – because the good-natured beagle I take care of twice a year is not friendly to other dogs.  He is so not friendly to other dogs that he has drawn blood.  His owner does her best to keep an eye out, but she did not see or hear the person speed walking towards her from behind with his own dog on leash, anxious for his pretty beagle to meet this other beagle.  It doesn’t matter how friendly the dog looks, or how big, or what type of dog – the owners whose answer to “is your dog friendly” is “NO” will appreciate you asking before approaching, and your dog will appreciate it too.  Dogs, unlike humans, don’t like to have their ears pierced.  Teach your children about this as well – “Is your dog friendly, and can I pet him” should be asked before they even consider approaching a person out walking their dog.

Also, if the dog is that interested in sniffing a particular patch of ground, he’s probably going to eat something gross or roll in something gross in the next few moments.

The Weimaraner

This is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met, and the reason my parents decided that I could get a dog while still living in their house (a radical about-face from my father’s previous assertion that he would never ever get another pet, and absolutely does not like dogs).  This dog’s main lesson was not for me, but for Short Sister, who is nervous of larger sized dogs (like, say, my dog).  His gentle nature brought her around to the possibility that not all large dogs are ticking time-bombs of excited-barking, crazed jumping (she is barely 5’, it doesn’t have to be a huge dog for it to be able to punch her in the face when jumping up), and general frightening activities.  Even she couldn’t resist stroking his soft ears while he leaned against her in complete bliss.  This dog taught her that size is not the real deciding factor about a dog, and taught my parents how a dog could be, in our family, if we found one that matched our lifestyle.  As a counter to that, this sweet boy pulls like a tank – a lesson to me that my future dog absolutely had to be trained to loose-leash walk, because I don’t want my arm muscles to bulk up like Popeye’s from all the time spent straining backwards on the leash, like a cartoon character in a high wind. 

The Scotties

The Scotties had so many hiding-places, I spent a lot of time searching for them to make sure they hadn't somehow gotten out of the house

These two charmers were entirely different to take care of than any of the other dogs.  They could keep each other company, which was different from any of the single-dog homes I had house-sat for.  Their obedience training was also very different, more conversation than orders.  There were small things I picked up from their owners.  The dog is walking down the stairs ahead of you, she thinks she’s in charge, and sometimes tone is everything.  I didn’t even realise this second one until I caught myself using a well-placed throat clearing to get my dog to circle around to follow me out a door (instead of leading me).  I also saw how completely opposite two dogs of the same breed could be – with the black Gandalf stopping continually on walks to sniff things, and the white Firecracker leaping ahead to investigate everything at top speed.  This was helpful when I came to the realisation that Weimaraners (my favourite and most desired breed at the time – and still in the top 5) are not hypoallergenic.  It was nice to know that, by wanting a hypoallergenic dog (which would allow my severely allergic youngest sister to come and visit future me in my future house), I was not guaranteeing that I wouldn’t end up with a dog as gentle and sweet tempered as the Weim I already knew.  With these guys, I also experienced a few of the less fun aspects of dog care and ownership.  At 3am in the middle of a lightning storm, I experienced the one Scottie’s complete terror of lightning and thunder, as he woke me up with his burrowing under the blankets, clawing down my leg in his attempt to reach the foot of the bed and hide.  I experienced the joy of discovering unfortunate accidents as they soaked through my sock when I went into the room the dogs had been in all day, and the shock of finding a dog tucked in behind the toilet when I sat down to use it.

Mystery Lab

the Mystery Lab, pausing to make sure we're keeping up

I have been walking this girl twice a week for over two years now – I experienced the worst dog-walking weather, as well as some of the best, with her.  House-sitting for her, I realised that the hyper racing-dog I took out on walks was just as hyperactive inside the house – no quiet hour in front of the tv was allowed, without some form of destructive objection from Blondie.  With her, I got my first experience teaching basic commands, as well as my first clue as to just how tight a community dog owners can be.  For the past two years, I’ve been seeing, fairly consistently, the same group of dog owners in the creek valley, and, while we might not know all of each-others’ names, I can tell if the Vizsla (heading towards me is the dominant barker or the one who focuses completely on her toys. 

Note: Vizsla is pronounced Veesh-la, by the way.  Tall Sister pointed out that, when the breed was mentioned in my last post, despite knowing how to pronounce it, she still had a bout of hysterical giggling as she tried pronouncing it as it looks.  In her words – VIZ-Sla-ha-ha-ha-ha! sounds like a strange evil villain laugh.  My neighbourhood is full of Vizslas, and I can understand the urge to get one – they are stunning and sleek and full of energy.  But don’t get one without the proper research, because these dogs require A LOT of exercise.

Walking Blondie was like getting a part-time membership into an elite club, and I got to see the good, the bad, and the gross aspects of dog ownership.  I am fully aware of how lucky I am that Dog doesn’t seem interested in eating other dogs’ poop.  And I really wish he’d stop trying to eat all the goose-crap he can find, but I wasn’t surprised to find that he does like it.  I learned training tips and tricks from the dog owners I ran into, learned how important socializing your dog is, how irritating burrs are, types of dog equipment to stop pulling, and good quality toys they’ve found.  I saw a wide variety of dog breeds, temperaments, and obedience levels.  In walking the Blonde One, I heard about cases of distemper amongst the local wildlife, found out whether there had been any coyote sightings, and was alerted to the presence of dead animals near the trail.  And in return, I’d pass this information on to other people I encountered.  Knowing about this network of dog owners, all willing to share their knowledge, pass on an extra poop-bag, and commiserate about the trials of owning a dog – that added to my desire to get a dog.  Now, Blondie and Dog get a good long run together a few times a week, and I practice Dog’s training on both of them.  And that elite club?  I’m a full member now.