Friday, August 29, 2008

A Place Called Home

With the Olympics over (what do I watch on TV now?), the Engineer off to grad school in the Big Apple, and all my friends back at work, the Rainy City felt a wee bit lonely.

I decided to bundle the boys into my Volkswagen and head for the hills (ie.  the Rockies) and go home.  Odd isn't it, that although spending 8 years in the Rainy City, I still call my parent's house home?  The house they live in now isn't even near where I grew up!  They just moved into Cowtown from a small farming community so this house is literally brand new to the family.  And yet it is home.

That is nice, for my mum.  But will my home ever be home?  I suppose when I get married and have kids of my own, the home that I build for them will be home.  Meh, it will be home for them.  I think your parent's house will always be home.  

Comforting thought, for some, anyways. Maybe the idea of spending more than one night under your mother's roof is too much.   I know that for most, spending the night under your mother-in-law's roof is definitely too much.

I always revert to being a child when I am at home.  It's ridiculous.  At my own house, I make my bed, put my tea cups in the dishwasher, sweep my floors.  Here? Nope.  I also cook my dinner and clean up after it.  Here?  Nope.  I let my dad bustle around in the kitchen last night and ate the mussels, then went back to the couch.  I sleep in.  I don't shower until noon.  Lazy bones.

It's nice though, to always have a home to come back to.  Even when you are in your sixties with kids of your own who are grown. Or maybe my mum just did a good job.

I am going to make a lasagna to show my appreciation.  I wonder where the pan is . . . . 

Friday, August 22, 2008

I can't watch! I can't watch!

The Olympics are definitely a new obsession.  I haven't been this obsessed since 1992's Norway Olympics and I have never been into the summer ones.

Oh God, the stress the stress!  I have stayed up three nights in a row (Beijing is a bazillion hours ahead of Rainy City) to catch my favorite, Adam Van Koerverden in the kayak.  I could barely watch as he started to race and then hid behind a pillow as I saw him fall back.  This is the guy expected to win the Gold and he came in 8th in the 1000m.  Poor Adam.

The worst thing about Olympics is watching dreams shatter.  The camera followed him and you could see his dissapointment as he held his head in his hands.  The worst part though, was that he had to be interviewed RIGHT AFTER THE RACE!  GAH!  He has won every single race to get to the final so he was supposed to win this one, all the reporters were ready.  But instead of a celebration he looked like he was about to cry and apologized to us.  APOLOGIZED!  I just wanted to take that big, muscular body in my arms and tell him that he has nothing to apologize for.  And possibly cop a feel of his biceps.

This is why I hate watching sports - you get invested, stress out and then hide behind a pillow.  The Olympics are amazing when you see the win and the smile, they are horrific when you see the pain and anguish.  No wonder the world is tuned in.

The pressure these people are under is incredible.  To apologize for letting his country down?  NO!  And for heaven sakes, he's from Canada.  Clearly we are still going to love him and all our athletes, we're nice.  Unlike other nations that practically abuse their athletes from a young age.  Not mentioning any names . . . . China

Wow, times have changed.  In 1992, when Kurt Browning fell and lost his gold, my mum and I sent him a TELEGRAM.  Telegram!  All we have to do now is sign Adam's wall online to let him know how hot he is . . .  whoops, I mean how good at sports he is.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Go for the Gold . . . and the speedo

I have suddenly become an Olympic addict.  I love tuning in and seeing what new lengths the athletes are pushing themselves to each day - unfortunately when I tune it, the sport is often something I find terribly uninteresting, like softball.

I have always been a fan of swimming.  Until this year that is.  Some weirdo has deemed that full body suits are more ergonomically speedy.  I say phooey to that.  The whole point of watching swimming is to watch the speedos!  Technically, I frown on speedos in society - unless they are worn strictly in competition.  ie.  The Olympics.  They do not belong on a chubby Dutch man on a Thai beach accompanied with a bum bag.  They do belong on the long, lean, muscular body of a swimmer.  Mmmmm, Michael Phelps anyone?  It's okay to talk like this, even the Engineer has a man-crush on the guy.

I have also discovered the kayak event.  Not one to usually like watching that sort of thing, I couldn't help but notice the Canuck cutey, Adam van Koeverden.  What's not to like?  Men powerfully paddling, the sun glinting off their tanned, strong man arms.  Drool.

Okay okay, I know the Olympics are more than eye candy.  They are amazing feats in human determination and dreams being realized.  Blah blah blah.  

I was especially glued last night to the pole vaulting in which the Russian lady, Isenbayeva, broke her own world record.  This woman is a rock.  She ran with her big pole and not one bit of her shook!  Even in slow motion as she arched over the pole, her abs, butt and thighs stayed firmly in place.  Bitch.

And it was really exciting when she finally made it on her third try with only 10 seconds to go.  I jumped out of the  . . . .  couch.  And spilled my ice cream dish.  Nothing makes you feel fatter than the non-shaking, toned Olympians.  

I think that is what the Olympics are about (not the feeling fat bit):  cheering for people who are pushing themselves further and further.  Total inspiration.  It doesn't matter what country you are from (even though my heart does swell when I hear our national anthem), what matters is watching dreams come true.  Pure joy on the faces of those who work hard to get on that podium (or just to the games for crying out loud!).   I cheer for those who don't even qualify past primaries - I mean heck, they're there right?

Today I discovered a new sport in which we won silver:  the trampoline!  Ummm, hello?  Sign me up!  I could totally be that person!

Who am I kidding?  I would be so distracted by the swimmers that I would probably miss my own event . . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Shower Curtain

The Engineer and I are moving in with each other on a semi-permanent basis.  He has moved to the Big Apple and I have remained in the Rainy City.  The plan is for me to go every other month, for a month; hence the 'semi-permanent' basis.

With moving in comes a whole new set of relationship discoveries:  who does more laundry, how long does the other tolerate dirty dishes in the sink, who has better decorating taste, etc.

I actually have no idea how the Engineer decorates - as his own home here was shared and not really decorated in any particular style.  I myself am only really discovering my decorating taste - but I know what I like and what I hate.

So came up our first 'semi-permanent-moving-in-together-decorating' fight.  And it wasn't even a fight.  It was more of a "I hate that, take it back and I'll pick one out" discussion over our shower curtain.  The Engineer came home with a  - oh god - world atlas printed shower curtain. Ugh.

I am sure no man would understand this, especially not my Engineer, but three girlfriends who have heard this story have groaned audibly when they hear the words 'world atlas shower curtain'.  I think the problem is this:  shower curtains with world atlases, dancing pigs, and flamingos all belong in the home of a student.  Yes, the Engineer is a student but a grad student.  Shower curtains are meant to be calming and make a bathroom a sanctuary of peace - not a study item.

Bless his heart though, I love him for making himself at home, I just have to help him a bit.  So apparently he didn't like me flat out telling him I hated it.  Apparently this whole compromise thing means we have to agree on things.  I wish he would just compromise that I have better taste.  Alas, that will not work as he is as stubborn as I.  He said that he both have to like something.  Well, I didn't like the Atlas - so it went back.

Instead, I found a shower curtain on CLEARANCE from Pottery Barn (see?  at least I am going for clearance).  I liked the pattern, somewhat busy but nice, and let the Engineer pick the colour.  He chose blue.  I would have gone with grey but whatever - I compromised, he compromised.  That's how a relationship works right?

I am going to try my best to be less anal, but he has to give me the space to create a nice home.  Just because we are only there for two years does not mean we have to live in a hovel - especially when I work from it.  A home is your safe place, your heart, your comfort zone.  It has to be pretty!

Sheesh, if that was the fuss over the shower curtain, I fear the day we pick the dishes . . . . 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Friend, the Cow

As a bridesmaid, I have seen many girlfriends walk down the aisle, look into the one they loves' eyes, and vow to stay together for better or for worse.

But what comes after the marriage?  You got it:  the baby carriage.

Three of my gal pals who I have played bridesmaid to, are now mothers of little girls.  My oldest friend is among them.  

We have been friends since the tender age of 8, but really solidifying our friendship at 11 when I spent a week at her cottage.  We bonded over our shared love of Anne of Green Gables and Paul Christie (or was it Brent Hobday?)

Nearly two decades later I stood up for her on her wedding day and then became 'auntie' to her adorable little girl.  I went to visit them last month in Toronto and discovered things that one can only discover when someone who is your sister, or like a sister as I am an only child, has had a baby.

Knowing someone for as long as I have known her, makes it a bit easier to say things like "what happened to your nipples?" or "they had to put stitches where?"

Not that I stared at my friends' boobs, they just happened to be right there, practically in my face.  Baby M was not latching on that day and I simply looked over when Ali said "come on M, get it".  Get what?  I think I recoiled somewhat as I discovered that the 'thing' baby M was supposed to get was the 'thing' formerly know as Ali's nipple.  It had been replaced by some alien formation that resembled a large swollen cookie.  At my shock, Ali nodded and said that yes, this is what happens to ones nipples when one breast feeds.  Oh.

I was then informed of the stitches that comes when one gives birth.  Excuse me?  Readers, I am not that dumb, I know there is some tearing.  But when I hear the phrase 'stitched up like a turkey' I can only run to my nearest doctor and request a lifetime supply of birth control.  STITCHED UP LIKE A TURKEY?  GAH!  This isn't even Ali's phrase!  It's her doctor who said it!  Shouldn't he have a better bedside manner?  No woman should ever hear those words.  

Later in the evening, Ali's hubby was helping me on my computer.  I was paying close attention to his words when I became distracted by an odd sucking noise.  I looked up, and there was Ali on the couch, an odd contraption at her breast and her holding a remote in her hand.  She looked at me and said flatly, "I'm a cow".  I nearly fell off my chair.  She pumps her milk so that dad has some bonding time with baby M - which is sweet.  But I had never seen a pump in action before, well I have, but only on an actual cow.  The resemblance was uncanny.  I was in hysterics.

Having a baby takes all the modesty out of you.  Never before in our two decade friendship would Ali (a) show me her breast (b) talk about her nether regions as if they were some country in Europe or (c) discuss the consistency of poop but here she was doing all three.

I stood back and watched her:  feeding her baby who has her eyes and saw something way beyond the cow pump and alien nipples.  My best friend is a mom.  The way she looks at her baby makes me feel like she joined a club to which I am not a member.  I love my mum and I love my boyfriend and I love my dogs.  But I don't love anything the way Ali loves that baby.

So even in the embarrassment and discomfort that childbearing brings, it has also brought something else to my friend that is magical and lovely, and mysterious to me because I don't know what it is . . . yet.  

Welcome to the world baby M!  

The Pooches

The thing about watching Oprah is that one is often inspired to change their lives.  This is how she has made billions.  I should have known to look away from the set one rainy afternoon when Oprah and Lisa Ling warned viewers that the content would be disturbing.  But did I?  No.  The end result?  I now have two dogs.

The show was about puppy mills - you can imagine the horror - and I was entranced. Oprah stated that from now on she would no longer buy purebreds but rescue dogs instead, and I too felt the call.  I spent hours scouring the Internet to find out about puppy mills and humane societies, finding a way to help.  My way to help came in the form of Mr. Mop.

I went to a website ( that matches rescue dogs in your area.  I love bichons and found an adorable photo of a little bichon mix up in the North West Territories.  In a patch of snow there stood a white dog, with long hair resembling a mop (hence the name), one ear cocked staring at the camera.  I could hear his little voice crying 'take me home'.  I melted.  I enquired about him and didn't hear a peep.

In the next few days, my then casual dog mission led me to a puppy that would later become Brooklyn.  A breeder saves mum dogs from puppy mills and this little guy was part of her litter.  I called her up, just an inquiry, and within five minutes I agreed to take him home.

The Engineer was more that perturbed (see:  'The Doglema') when I called him at work to inform him of my rash decision.  

The weeks went on and I prepared for the arrival of the puppy. I spent hours looking at his photo, reading dog training books at the library and going to pet stores in preparation.  I decided on the name Brooklyn to mark the move (see:  "My Apologies") and started talking about the new arrival with lots of excitement.  

Then one night I had a new message in my inbox:  Mr. Mop was available.  Oh god.  The idea of two dogs was ridiculous but my heart went out to this poor little mutt up in the Arctic.  I decided to call just to see what the chances were of his adoption.  It turned out that Mr. Mop had a bit of an unfortunate past.  His owner treated him like a husky, meaning he had been left to roam around the snow-covered tundra all winter with no love.  He had been caught by the dog catcher several times and finally his owner refused to pay the 'bail'.  Up north, everyone wants big dogs and Mr. Mop was having a hard time finding a home.  Gulp.

I called my biggest dog advocate, little K,  for advice.  She convinced me to take him and we would find a home for him here.  The stars had clearly lined up as the shelter could transport him to Edmonton but not all the way to Rainy City.  Luckily, Little K's mom was driving out from Edmonton the next day and was willing to pick him up.  Within minutes, Mr. Mop was organized to board the one plane flying out of his hometown and I was now a mother of two.

I know this story is long but hear me out.  

My intentions were good:  find Mr. Mop a home when he arrived.  He did find a home:  mine.  Mr. Mop turned out to be a bichon crossed with jack russell.  Adorable, sweet and with eyes that would make even the coldest hearts melt.  In fact, everyone, and I mean everyone loves this dog.  He is so full of personality and spunk.  I have offers all the time from people who want to take care of him.

At this point, the Engineer was ready to leave me (and the dogs) and things got a bit sticky.  I couldn't imagine giving Mr. Mop away as I had fallen so in love with him.  And when Brooklyn arrived, I couldn't resist his teeny tiny cuteness.  It was the Engineer or the dogs.  But luckily the pooches wormed their way into the Engineer's heart and I never had to make that decision.

Yes, two dogs is crazy.  Yes, I travel a ton which leaves things a bit difficult.  But I just got back from an hour long walk around the seawall on a beautiful sunny morning. I NEVER would have left my house before 8 (make that 11) if I didn't have to let my dogs pee.  Now I love it.  I love going outside.  I love meeting all the other dogs and their owners - it's such a community.  I love people stopping me to play with my energetic pups.  I love taking them to the lake and teaching them to swim.  I love feeding them and bathing them and playing with them.  I would even go as far to say that I love picking up their poop (only because I am so proud Brooklyn is finally housebroken!).  I simply love my dogs.

I think everyday should be a dog day - they just make life a bit sweeter.  So thanks Oprah for inspiring me to rescue two little guys who needed a home.

Where's your dog?

P.S. I have to give a wee mention to the dog that first made me love dogs: Molly Dog Groundwater - the best dog a girl could have growing up - I hope she is having fun chasing squirrels in doggie heaven 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Apologies

Wow, I have really fallen off the bandwagon with my vow of writing every few days.  It's been a month!  I apologize faithful readers (mum) for being a lazy girl and drinking iced mochas rather than sitting at my laptop.

Granted, there have been a few distractions this summer that have made my life a little wacky (more so than usual).  Firstly, I solved the 'doglema' and got a dog.  Then I got a second dog.  If you can do math then you just figured out that I am a proud mama of TWO little dogs!  That means two walks, two bowls of food, two bags of POO (I obviously did not that that through)! It all comes down to Oprah; but that story is for another day.

Secondly, the Engineer and I are going through a big fat move.  He has decided to go back to business school in the Big Apple, which leaves me in Rainy City:  single once again.  I am going half time, however,  so all is well. 

If you are keeping score that means I now have two dogs, one Brooklyn address, two closets (!!), and an airpass that takes me from coast to coast.  The life I lead eh?

Thirdly, it has been wedding season.  A slow one for bridesmaiding  - the only one this summer has been in the tropics - but a busy one for guesting.  Three in one weekend!  THREE!!! GAH!

But enough of the excuses and back to the blog.  There is so much to catch you up on:  from friends that have turned into milking cows to the joys of decorating decisions with the Engineer to ethnic weddings.  Alas, now is bed but don't fear faithful reader (ie. friends who are bored at work) because Stella is back and the follies just got follier . . . . 

Stay tuned