Saturday, May 30, 2009

A few more portraits from the wedding

You may kindly disregard this post if you are not a member of the family. I won't be offended. Some garden shots will be up tomorrow morning if flowers are more your thang, but for the moment, a brief sampling.

Mother of the bride greeting one of the shorter guests. I can say this now because probably in a matter of months, I will be the shortest member of the entire clan.
And father of the bride.Son and nephew, looking fine in suits. I almost don't recognize them without sweats. I think they should dress this fine every day.
My husband with his sister, three brothers and parents. My brother-in-law and family. They abandoned Canada to live in the U.S. but we try not to hold that against them. He sells drugs for a living. (He says they're vitamins....whatever)
My nephew Mike. He abandoned Canada to live in Germany. At least he's coming back in six months. Right? Right?!
Danke. Unt vielen Dank für das Zurückkommen mit einem reizenden Geschenk für Ihre Tante. Ja Ja. Wienerschnitzel unt gesundheit.
This is where a portrait of John and Maureen and family should go, but Moe was always behind the camera.Proud dad with daughters. I had a hand in that gene pool, thank you very much.
How cute is my nephew? Here he is in a brief moment of introspection.

and a moment laterMy mother-in-law, looking beautiful as she always does. I think there's a smidgen of her gene pool in my daughters as well, lucky them.
My nieces, the bride and her sister, at the rehearsal dinner. They were getting fed up with all the photos and hoopla but bravely posed while muttering threats under their breath.

I have the video as proof.
My daughters and niece making a cousin sandwich. My daughter later complained about her "sore lobes" after those big red earrings pulled on her ears all day. Such is the price of beauty. It has become a catch phrase around the house. Say, how are the lobes today? Not bad, not bad. It's a good lobe day.wait just a doggone minute....
how did Medved sneak in here?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

And what was I up to last week?

We had a birthday (Eldest Daughter), a dinner and slide show with the Canadian Chinese Cultural Society (awesome), a rehearsal dinner to meet my niece's new inlaws, my niece's birthday (same night), a wedding (Birthday Niece again) here in Montreal and then a graduation from university on the east coast (Eldest again) all in the same weekend. There was a lot of running around both to and from the airport, although the trip to the convocation in New Brunswick almost didn't happen.

A ride to the airport that normally takes 10 minutes turned into an hour due to accidents blocking every available road early Monday morning. Every alternate route we tried was clogged with cars and trucks and I had no choice but to breath deeply and try not to freak out while my husband tried every side road and service road to no avail and my daughter sat quietly in the back seat. We finally arrived and raced to the desk at the airport within minutes of the departure time only to be told the doors were closed, too bad so sad, you're out of luck.

After I did some serious begging, the rep called over a manager who confirmed it was not going to happen. We had been up until the wee hours the night before at the wedding reception and I basically poured myself out of bed and into the car that morning, so I had few reserves left and even fewer inhibitions. I did what any mom would do - I burst into tears. The manager shifted his walkie-talkie, hesitating, mentally calculating the problems he'd have holding the plane for a few minutes versus talking this hysterical mother off the ledge and having to deal with the aftermath. He wisely, nobly, unbelievably opted to hold the plane for us if we agreed to run. All I can say is thank goodness I chose comfortable shoes that morning, my feet having given out on the dance floor at the wedding. We did the Amazing Race style bolt down moving sidewalks and corridors, yelling "COMING THROUGH" at hapless passengers and threw ourselves onto that plane. The flight attendant took one look at my red face and heaving bosom and said, "I'm thinking you could use a bottle of water, am I right?" Bless his soul, I needed more than a water at that point, but it was gratefully accepted.

Long Live Air Canada!!

So....Eldest graduated from university with a degree in English Literature and minors in French studies and Political Science. Here she is with her buddy Curtis, pondering their futures.

There was a lot of hugging and kissing this weekend, both at the grad...

and at the wedding of my niece.

And here are the cousins. The cousins are really close. A holiday of any kind is always prefaced by "Are the cousins going to be there?!" It's a really special relationship they share. (Note the traditional Canadian bouquet the bride is holding.)

Ooh, a The Hills Are Alive moment.

And in the end, they all lived happily ever after....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A few cottage photos

This weekend is a buzzin' with activity. Eldest is graduating from university and my beautiful niece is getting married. Here are some shots from last weekend at the cottage. It was wet, cold and buggy, but that's life in the Great White North, eh?

I thought I was taking a shot of some pretty blue flowers, until I zoomed in and saw the remains of a bird massacre. We do have a resident sharp shinned hawk, so I guess she had a picnic lunch.

Decades ago, our property was often used as a dumping ground, so there are bits of pottery and glass and tin and leather buried in the banks of the lake. Every so often I dredge the sand and pile the bits and pieces on our big rock at the point. After a long, snowy winter, this little pile was still there, just as I'd left it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The family has a couple of new babies

Baby Number One.

Meet Austin.

He belongs to my brother-in-law and family.

Baby number two.

Meet Medved.

My niece belongs to him.

Yes, Medved is still a baby. Yes, he is still growing. Yes, I was a little freaked out when I offered him a chicken treat and he almost swallowed my arm. It felt a bit like feeding a herring to Shamu.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Room at the table

It's been a crazy few weeks full of drama and excitement, both good and not so good. My husband and I decided to head up to the cottage and check on things and try to relax a little this past weekend, but we hadn't anticipated how COLD it was going to be. I stepped outside on Sunday morning and could see my breath! It did, however, keep the blackflies in check. And we (okay, my husband) managed to get the dock stained and ready for another summer of heavy use. Despite the frigid temperatures both on and off the lake, two brave souls went forth, clad in wetsuits, and christened the lake on a Seadoo. Behold The Cousins, Matt and Chris:

I (my husband) installed the bird feeder again, and my little friends found it almost immediately. Even the hummingbirds paid a visit, chirping their impatience, so I filled their feeder too. They were too fast for me to capture before the blackflies moved in, but the chickadees have always been more accommodating.
Last night we stumbled home late and exhausted to find a house full of kids and friends plus our niece up from Colorado (who is getting married this coming weekend) along with her Newfoundland puppy, the gentle giant Medved. We threw together a last minute dinner of bbq'd chicken and salad and potatoes and beer and a homemade rhubard cake from rhubard pulled from my country garden. Then my son surprised us when he walked in the door so we made room at the table and put out another plate.

Just like love, there is always enough for everyone.

More photos to come, but this week is going to be a logistical challenge. You'll see....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Part Two: Boris and the Big Yellow Pills

This follows yesterday's post of our visit to the vet....

Part Two

I tried to explain that Boris doesn't DO pills. The vet took a semi-smug tone and began to explain how to give a cat a pill, see, hold his head back like this, and then push the pill with your fingers right to the back of the throat...At this point, I held up my hand to stop him.

Yes, yes, I knew all this, but Boris is a trickster and can not only hide a pill in his cheek or under his tongue, he can spit it out a few feet, sometimes several minutes after I've given it to him. The vet clearly didn't believe me, perhaps thinking me a wuss. So he smiled at me, benignly, and asked if I'd like him to do it.

Sure, says I. Give it your best shot.

While I held him from behind (the cat, not the vet) we got Boris to open his mouth and the vet quickly slid the pill down his throat, and looked at me with a satisfied smile. See? Easy as...whoa. Hang on there sport. Boris started to foam and salivate like a rabid animal. And he spat the pill onto the examining table. Saliva was now pouring out of his mouth, and before the vet could soak it up (eventually using THREE paper towels) Boris shook his head sending a thick arc of cat goober into my face, the vet's jacket and, to my daughter's horror, across the room onto her bare legs. Oh, that's normal, says he. Those pills are quite bitter.

More attempts, and after several tries we finally got Pill Number One to go down and stay down. However, there was still the issue of Pill Number Two. Boris, naturally, was wise to us now and was getting quite a bit more feisty. The vet pulled out a secret weapon. A long syringe with a rubber cup to hold the pill which in theory allows one to both give the pill and avoid injury to soft tissue like fingers.

The vet picked up the second bitter little pill. Boris didn't move, but as I held him I could feel his muscles tensed for fight or flight, or both.

Well, sadly, that state-of-the-art syringe was no match for a large cat in a bad temper so reinforcements were called in, in the form of a lovely assistant with a blue sparkle gem imbedded in her canine. (Her canine tooth, not her dog. I have no idea if her dog has jewelry encrusted teeth, it's just that since this is taking place in a veterinary office, I could see how one might be confused.) So again, I held Boris from behind, gripping his front legs firmly, the sparkling assistant pried his mouth open after some effort, and the vet took aim with the syringe. Well, Boris didn't take too kindly to that approach either, and he exploded in fury and panic, using his back legs to claw his way free, his head a paroxysm of gagging and spitting yet more saliva and the second pill.

I was beginning to think that the only way we were going to get him to accept this pill was either under general anesthetic or if he was encased in cement with only his head showing, and even then, my money would be on The Boris. After several more attempts and the odd scratch, we got him to "accept" Pill Number Two. As we mopped up the room and our brows, the vet revealed that he and his wife, also a vet, had a cat for 13 years and not once, in all those years, were either of them able to give him a single pill.

"Be careful driving home," were his parting words. Oh, and also, "these pills often cause vomiting so watch for that." I couldn't bring myself to ask what we were supposed to do if the pills made another appearance on the way home.

Boris has recovered, although this morning, as he was peacefully eating his breakfast, I accidentally rattled the door of his crate and the sound made him tear across the room to the back door in a blind panic. I've given him post dramatic stress disorder and he's not a forgiving boy. Time to open a tin of tuna to make it up to the old man.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Visiting the Vet or I Told You So Day

It was time for our Annual Pet Check Up so I decided to save myself some travel time and I booked my dog and two cats for one joint visit. Pretty smart, I thought. Piece of cake. They all get along at home, so why not bundle them together? I decided to take Youngest Daughter with me so I could get them from car to waiting room. Buddy was on his leash, and the two cats were in two crates.

For reasons unknown, over the past few years Buddy has evolved from being a fairly high energy yet reasonably normal dog into a neurotic nightmare when we go into a public building and there are people around. It seems the more acoustically rich the location, the more vocal he becomes. He doesn't bark so much as "talk" in a way not unlike a yodeler swallowing jello shots and reciting the alphabet. Give that pooch a marbled floor and walls, like in our local bank, and within seconds he's positively operatic. My girls learned that the hard way when they stopped at the Instabank and left humiliated and cashless.

So today, Youngest and I got to the reception room and Bud whipped himself into his usual lather. He began his bow wow yippy yippy yay solo which would have been comical if it wasn't so mortifying. He literally tipped his head back and formed little "o's" with his mouth, then chewed air and ranted like a mad dog. Worse, oh so much worse, is after a few minutes of this, he sucked in air through his nose, over and over, with laboured breathing and great loud snorts and grunts like a truffle-hunting pig, which alarmed everyone except his owners (who are so used to it they feign ignorance or claim it's a rare medical condition too bad, so sad but he won't die on the spot, despite all evidence to the contrary so just ignore it.) He may, in fact, be possessed.

We finally charged into the examining room, bashing cages into door frames as Buddy lunged and jumped all over the vet. That's because he got a cookie there, once, years ago, and anytime anyone feeds him anything, it imprints on his brain and from that moment on, that person is nothing but a giant snack machine.

What he didn't remember was that he also needed to have his annual anal probe to empty his anal sacs, hence the cookies, used as a distraction. I may have forgotten to mention this detail to Youngest when she agreed to accompany me. She watched in mute horror from the corner chair as the vet used his BARE HANDS to examine Buddy, and by "examine" I mean he jammed his index finger up where the sun don't shine, which sent Buddy's yowling up an impressive octave. The resulting liquid was most foul, the stench overpowering in the tiny room. I looked over at Youngest, and her expression told me she had definitively crossed veterinary science off her list of potential career options. Before I could protest, the vet slapped on a liberal application of faux mango soap to Buddy's nether bits, which meant Buddy now smelled like two noxious odours.

Kicia the tiny white cat was a piece of cake. At seven pounds, she was easy to placate (once we pried her off my shoulders.)

Boris.....well, Boris is Boris. At almost sixteen pounds, he's all muscle and attitude. He tolerates much of the indignities without moving or making a sound, things like injections or wound cleanings. But then the vet said he needed a pill. Two pills, actually.
To be continued.....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On why you should be in the photo

I love Miz Booshay. Not only is she an extraordinary photographer who really captures the essence of the person in her beautiful portraits, but she's just a lovely person.

Today, she posted on Pioneer Woman's blog and her story really touched me. Forget your foolish pride and just jump in the frame, she urges. Why? Because she lost her parents when she was just sixteen and get this - she's not sure if she has even one photo of her with her mother. Doesn't that break your heart?

Why don't you hie on over there and read it.


Thanks, Miz Booshay. Them is wise, wonderful words.

I was going to post a photo of me with my kids to go with this story and guess what? I don't have any! What a wake-up call.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More laughter

This man is billed as having the most contagious laugh in the world. It's the real deal, according to his son who posted the video. I had to hear it for myself and, jaded woman that I am, I thought he ain't gonna make me laugh.

I laughed until I was in tears.

Say hello to Doug:

Friday, May 8, 2009

The New Star Trek Movie Rules!

It's been a challenging week involving hospitals and needles, all day meetings with lawyers, way too many early EARLY mornings and, worst of all, caffeine withdrawal (after 20+ years I finally gave up my daily 20 ounce Jug of Joe as of Monday and let's just say, the symptoms of withdrawal are real, and I have new found respect for heroin addicts.) And to top it off, I have to miss my nephew's wedding this weekend.


On our way home tonight, the Mr. and I decided to check out the new Star Trek movie.

And can I just say....OMG. Stop what you're doing and GO SEE THIS MOVIE. It will not disappoint.

and this bears a repeat:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Joss Whedon Wins the Bradbury Award

Yay!! Joss Whedon, AKA My Lord and Master, won the Bradbury award:

Friday, May 1, 2009

This is the only kind of Snowball I like

From Nathan Bransford via the Huffington Post, have a boo at Snowball (and have a great weekend!)

(Okay, in response to my sister's question about Snowball dancing to Queen, I felt obligated to seek it out. Look at Snowball go!)

A bit of a grumble, and some inspiration

Like many writers, I have my ups and downs. I've been sick since Easter with this rotten cold, and therefore unable to sleep properly or commit fully to the exercise goal I set, and have been following, since January. (A minimum 10,000 steps a day, made more interesting by charting it on a virtual trek across the UK. I'm stalled somewhere around the 310 miles marker in Chesterfield and creeping slowly forward, which is very nice but I'd like to get the heck out of Dodge at this point.) Even my writing has been suffering the last few weeks as I haven't written as much as I should. Okay, not should, as much as I'd like to.

So I'm mired. Flopping about in the mud of Chesterfield while simultaneously wringing my hands and whinging about it (now there's a mental picture.)

But I'm on the mend, and working my way up to my 10,000 daily steps again. And the writing? I have to constantly remind myself that the writing is about me, and not anyone else, and that negative thinking is counter productive. If I critique what I'm writing before I'm finished, or ponder whether or not what I write even has a market, I'm sabotaging the work. It is immaterial at this point and it only bogs me down. The only solution is to just sit my bum in a chair and do the work, without over-thinking it. It's odd, but I don't seem to have this problem with photography. I'm still learning, make lots (lots!) of mistakes, but it doesn't stop me from getting out in the field and fooling around. I still feel that keen sense of excitement that the work brings.
So, what metaphorical smack upside the head works on that inner critic? By understanding and accepting that fear is normal, that a lot if not most artists feel it, but the successful ones just keep on creating. I used to think this kind of thinking was idealistic and therefore foolish, but I have come to realize that idealistic and optimistic are two very different things, and that the latter, when it is applied to writing or anything else in life (like walking my 10,000 steps) is more likely to bear fruit. (Mmm, fruit. Strawberries and whipped cream....)

There is a great little book called ART & FEAR: OBSERVATIONS ON THE PERILS (AND REWARDS) OF ARTMAKING by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This excerpt really rang true for me. They write about a ceramics teacher who, on the first day, divided the class into two groups.

"All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class, he would bring in this bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."

So what's the lesson here?

Get out there and play with your lumps?