Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has resigned as chief executive of Apple.

As a reminder of his awesome contribution, here is an inspiring commencement speech he gave in 2005.

"Trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever - because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path."

Do what you believe to be great work.

Don't settle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Husband 'o mine



This time, 26 years ago, I was just arriving at my chichi downtown Montreal hair salon to have my hair styled for my 11 a.m. wedding. I'd been up all night with my out-of-town girlfriends, sitting on my bed and drinking champagne and talking for hours. I went to bed around 3 a.m. and was dragged from sleep by a phone call at 5 a.m. It was a friend of Doug's working in Saudi Arabia asking if we'd like to get together for dinner in Paris (where we were headed on our honeymoon.) I gave him Doug's number at the hotel and told him go ahead, call him, he'd LOVE to hear from you even if it's at 5 a.m. on the day of our wedding. I staggered around looking for coffee, put on some makeup, and headed downtown (on the bus) to get my hair done.

The stylist turned out to be a no-show.

I wasn't a long-term customer, having just moved to the city a few months before, but still, you'd think the hairdresser would show more respect for a bride. All around me, the employees of the salon went into a minor panic mode trying to find a junior to fill in and do something with my hair. I was surprisingly calm. We'd kept the whole wedding very simple, no fuss, and to me this was a minor glitch.

"Who's doing your makeup after?" a breathless assistant asked. It's already done, I said. I did it myself.

"Oh," was the response. Clearly staying up all night to catch up with girlfriends couldn't be hidden with a light coat of mascara and some blusher. I didn't care.

The hair finally got done, a little half-halo of baby's breath was affixed to the back, and I was back on the bus to go home and change into my wedding dress. It wasn't an official wedding dress, per se, but a Nicole Miller off-the-rack number that cost around $200. We were saddled with student debt and we were paying for the wedding ourselves, so it made sense. Besides, I loved this dress. It was white linen, dropped waist, and looked like something out of Brideshead Revisited, perfect for a tennis match perhaps, or a stroll through the rose garden.

I stepped outside our flat in Westmount to see the little kids next door hugging themselves in excitement, waiting for me on their porch with fistfuls of confetti. Then a car arrived to take me to the church, actually the chapel at McGill college.

I waited downstairs with my friend Marg, my matron of honour, as per the minister's instructions and he said his assistant would come and fetch me when it was time to go upstairs to the chapel. Everyone filed in to the church and waited. I fiddled with my hair and traded jokes with my friend. Neither of us wore a watch.

What we didn't know at the time was that the assistant, owing to some early dementia, forgot about us and left.

Upstairs the processional music began, the groom and his best man and the forty-eight invited guests stood and turned to look down the aisle. I chatted with my friend out of earshot of the music, both of us in blissful ignorance. The organist played the entire song, and everyone sat down. Then he started again, everyone stood up and looked again, and bride. The entire song played a second time. Ten minutes late, and Doug thought maybe I'd changed my mind and bolted. Everyone sat down, whispering to each other.

Finally the minister sent someone to find me and the music started up for the third time. A visibly relieved groom met me at the altar and the wedding went off without a hitch.

It rained a bit that day. They say rain on your wedding day brings good luck.

We came home from our honeymoon pregnant, and brought our first daughter home nine months to the day we got married. By year five we had three children.

We raised those three kids together, added rabbits, dogs, cats, canaries. There have been long road trips to PEI in a rental van that was returned smelling like vomited strawberry shake and fries, campouts under the stars, sleepless nights with kids burning with fever, long summers at the cottage we built together, a basement flood, and the satisfaction that comes from helping people in one of the best dental practices in Montreal.

We created this life together. And we'll continue to do so in the next chapter of our lives as our kids leave the nest.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. I love you with all my heart.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Whale of a Tale

With a happy ending.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dog Portraiture?

I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, after years of exhaustive research, I've found the right photographer, one Carli Davidson, to do a portrait of Buddy.

I'm a fan of HER WORK.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

And now for something completely different

Anderson Cooper gets the giggles when he tries to report on Gerard Depardieu and the public peeing incident on a plane. What? You don't know what Depardieu did? Oh, mon Dieu.

The "Je veux pisser!" moment is summarized HERE.

Then Anderson Cooper attempts to report on the incident with so many double entendres that he loses it and giggles like a little girl.

I can't watch this without laughing.

Oh, Gerard. What happened to you?

Hands up those of you who remember him from Green Card.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Game

It's called "spot the mistakes in this spam" and we can all play!

I found this in my junk mail file, and if he/she is telling the truth about being a retired teacher, well, no wonder we're in so much trouble.

How many mistakes can you spot from this one little 'ole excerpt?

Good Evening, I was bored and started just visiting on PBSs city entrepreneur section early last monday and then was infatuated with this new online based job where retired teachers continue to earn up to $3900 every few days and she did not really trust some of it at the start yet we really had to try it & thank the lord I did because I somehow made $258.04 my very 1st full day. its surprisingly easy I've already gotten paid once straight into my checking account! it's definently the best oppurtunity that has happened to us all year,

Monday, August 15, 2011

My brother-in-law

With one of his tomatoes.

He grew it from seed.

He looks a bit....smug, don't you think?

And there's a hint, a whiff of a challenge, methinks.

He's a food engineer.

I'm just a lowly housewife/writer with no tomato qualifications.

However, I hereby challenge you to a Tomato-Off.

This time, next year, we'll see who can produce the biggest tomatoes, buddy.

Watch your back.

Also, fry up some bacon,
wash some lettuce,
toast yourself some whole wheat,
and grab the mayo and freshly ground pepper
because I'm going to be providing some major
BLT action.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kris Carr and why happiness is important

(shot of niece with sparklers because life is better with sparklers, no?)

Why have I never heard of this Kris Carr woman before?

She is some kind of awesome.

I read an article about her (I hope the link works) in today's New York Times Magazine. She calls herself a "wellness warrior" and if you are fighting cancer, or depression, or migraines, or any other illness - chronic or acute - that is threatening your ability to live your life to the fullest, then Carr's website is worth a look. It's not sad and it's not preachy, but informative and uplifting and funny.

Her website leads to a documentary she made in 2007 about a young woman "looking for a cure and finding her life."

And here's her equally wonderful blog.

She asks the question:

"Why, when we are challenged to survive, do we give ourselves permission to truly live?"

Why is this, do you suppose? Why do we feel so guilty for seeking out pleasure and fulfillment?

That's the big question. The little one is do you eat enough fresh veggies? One of the things she promotes is lots and lots of vegetables.

I believe in the power of veggies! To quote that famous pusillanimous lion, I do believe, I do I do I do. And here is my first home-grown crop of tomatoes to prove it.

Sure they're tiny fellas, but they're pretty tasty with a sprinkling of sea salt and a side of bocconcini cheese and a drizzle of olive oil and I grew them myself. Doug keeps asking if they're cherry tomatoes, and I keep telling him no, they are normal tomatoes. (I actually don't know what they are. I bought the plant on a whim for $5 at a farmer's market. But I am becoming defensive about his size-ism. These are just as good as those big beefsteak showoffs.)

Earlier tonight, I had to defend my crop against marauding raccoons. Actually, the family of raccoons were busy unscrewing the "animal proof lid" on my birdfeeder which was right beside my tomatoes but I'm sure my baby tomatoes clinging to the vine and calling for their mamas were going to be their next course.

For those of you who care about my well-being, the thumping and screaming of those raccoon babies in the dead of night on my deck just a few feet from where I sat calmly reading almost killed me on the spot from the shock. Then I was relieved it wasn't a bear, which had been my first thought. (Actually my first thought was that it was a thief. Then bear. Then I ran out of options until I saw beady little masked eyes staring me down.) I banged a pot, kept the Budster from bursting through the screen door with a well-placed foot, then dropped on the couch and tried to breathe normally again.

That can't be healthy.

But these puppies are.

Aren't they lovely? When you've finished basking in my awesome farm skills, go check out Kris Carr.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Lake Louisa Great Relay Race 2011

Last week, fourteen teams of six participated in the annual Lake Louisa Great Relay Race. They were competing for bragging rights and this much coveted tree stump trophy.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the race. Founder and organizer Lawrence Irany was honoured with a commemorative paddle painted with the race logo. Lawrence is quick to downplay his role, citing help from others, but Lawrence is the heart and soul of this event. At age 83, he still handles the bulk of the work; he prints posters, places marker buoys in the lake, supplies medals, even sweeps sand off the roads the day before the race, and provides beer and soft drinks for all competitors.

He is rarely seen without a loudspeaker in his hand.

When he's not organizing the race, he's standing on his driveway calling wolves down from the hills. And yes, they come when Lawrence howls.

The idea for the race began more than 25 years ago when Lawrence met with Lake Louisa’s Social Club summer program coordinator. He proposed a relay race around the lake with teams of five, open to all ages - junior teams average fourteen years of age, while senior teams are fifty-plus. “The race wasn’t meant to be easy. It was designed to be a challenge.”

It has always kicked off at the clubhouse with cyclists hurtling 7 km around the lake to the end of Louisa North. Each cyclist passes a numbered wristband to a runner who sprints 4 km through the woods, and a few backyards, to Black Bay Road and the shore. The runner jumps into a canoe with two paddlers and can “flake out, steer or paddle like mad” another 4 km, said Lawrence. Most choose to paddle because the competition, though fun, is also fierce. The canoeists accompany their swimmer for the final ½ km leg from Hope Island to the club wharf, arriving to a cheering crowd on the beach. Last year, kayaks were added to the relay, so now there are teams of six. The largest number of participants was 102 in 2010. Here's a team from 2010 featuring some of our local lads, including my second-cousins-in-law. (It's complicated. They usually just call me Auntie.)

Meticulous records for every team go back to the very first race. The weather has always been fair bar one day when thunder and lightning loomed. Lawrence sent a rescue boat to bring in the last remaining junior teams, but they managed to finish the race on their own before the storm hit. It’s an event that brings out young and old, locals and out-of-towners, and family members who sometimes compete against each other, pitting brother against brother or husband against wife or men against women. Silly uniforms and team names are optional but encouraged. In the early days, no one used racing bicycles, they dusted off standard bikes pulled from the shed. One young girl biked with her dog Zipper running alongside, and when she got a flat, she walked the bike to the finish line. This girl is now in the cottage next door and she competed again this year with her two young daughters cheering her on.

Aside:This is our friend Bruce and his daughter Katherine. They pilot their small plane to the cottage. When Bruce comes and goes, he makes a point of flying over our house so I can run out and wave, and he always tips the wings in return. Even Buddy knows the sound of Bruce's plane and he'll run to the door in anticipation.

Canoeists are swamped, scrapes are bandaged, and stories are swapped and embellished. Many have long traditions of participating in the race, and some who were in this year's race were also there in the beginning!

We salute those hardy souls of Lake Louisa, testing the limits of physical endurance, and to the relay’s tireless organizer, Lawrence Irany. May your enthusiasm inspire others to follow in your footsteps, and the cheers from your loudspeaker echo across the lake for years to come.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What does drowning look like?

Not like what you think.

I almost drowned when I was five.

I swam like a little fish by that age. Jumped or dove in fearlessly.

This time, I fell off the end of the dock.

I still remember tumbling upside-down, the sensation of breathing water into my lungs and hearing myself cough underwater.

I couldn't stand up. I couldn't get my bearings because I didn't know where "up" was. I couldn't get to the surface to take a breath. I couldn't reach up to grab hold of anything in order to pull myself back on the dock.

My grandmother was sitting a few feet away. Probably knitting or reading a book.

If my grandmother hadn't seen me, if she hadn't come to the end of the dock and hauled my little tush back up, I wouldn't be writing this today.

Drowning looks like THIS.

Read it, remember it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hummingbird Garden

Remember I posted some hummingbird photos a while back? I mean, I love the little buggers, I really do, but one or two at a time suits me just fine. After watching this video, I'm so thankful I don't live in the Ozarks. Seriously. I have a friend with a bird phobia (I won't name names but her name sounds like "Darlene" without a D) and I wonder what she would do if she stepped out of her house and she was swarmed by hundreds of hummingbirds like these people.

(It would make an awesome blog post, though.)

(Sorry "Darlene" but it would.)

(And you know you'd watch that video. Don't lie to me.)