Thursday, January 31, 2008


There are not many occasions in January for which I'll don a bathing suit.
For instance, traditional New Year's Day Polar Bear swim down at Goose Spit?
Uh uh. No way.
Are those people insane?
Nope, I don't care for winter-time beach fun much I have to say.
But I guess I'll put on a bathing suit (somewhat reluctantly I'll admit) if I'm indoors. And the pool is heated. And if I have a friend who invites me to go a-aquacizin' with her. And if I talk myself into it.
Yep, Tuesday night is Aquacize Night at the local pool, and I thought I'd give it a try because:
a) Melanie is my friend and I want to hang out and talk with her more
b) it sounded kind of fun despite the whole sorry mental bathing-suit/body-image/skin that glows white-in-the-dark thing
c) exercising in a pool means there is no sweatiness involved
d) Note to self: Go bathing-suit shopping and find something like the 1920's suit pictured here. Elegant. Refined. Covers one's butt completely. It's all I ask of a bathing-suit.
What I Learned:
a) The aquacize class is actually called The Power Hour ....because it hour. And it's well, vigorous. Non-stop. Taxing. ( How do all the little old ladies who take these sorts of classes do it?) Hey, wasn't there some sort of bizarre evangelical television program called "The Power Hour"....hmmm...
Anyhoo, whatever happened to the Twenty-minute Workout-and Go-Relax-in-the-Hot-Tub class? The instructor actually smiled as she told us, "I'm not paid to be merciful."
b) Despite the initial shock of having to exercise harder than I have in (*gulp*) quite a while, it is actually quite fun thrashing around underwater to songs from Flashdance and the extended dance-mix version of I Will Survive .
c) You can't sink if you try with one of those floater-belts around your waist. Which is a good thing when you're like me and sinking is mostly what you can skillfully do in a pool.
e) If, like myself, you suffer from Aerobic-Class Choreography Dyslexia where your legs jump out when the instructor's legs jump in, and your arms want to go in exactly the opposite directions as being demonstrated at the front of the class, this might be the kind of class for you. You're underwater. Nobody can see you thrashing around.
And that's a GOOD thing. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It was just after dawn on a crisp winter morning not long ago, Christmas Eve day actually.
I was on my way to work, and some happy quirk made me take a different route than usual.
As I drove slowly down a quiet street I saw an unusual huddled and bulky shape on a telephone wire and I pulled over to get a closer look at it.
It was a large owl.
I've very seldom seen them, and the ornithologically-minded side of my self combined with the superstitious omen-seeking side of myself to give me a momentary shiver of delight at such an unusual sight.
I walked slowly across the street and we regarded one another.
I don't know what species it was, but it was tall and had ear tufts so it may have been a Great Horned Owl. It looked down at me with that slightly unnerving round-eyed glare, and then took wing down the street until it alighted in a tree not far away.
I love the way owls fly--it's like they are drifting through the air. *shivers happily again at the memory*
The last time I saw an owl was in Kenya, two years ago. I was at Fishermen's Camp near Naivasha and had to leave my tent on a nature-call in the middle of my first night in Africa.
I was feeling a little bit nervous because even though this was not a game reserve, there was still plenty of unfamiliar wildlife making strange sounds in the dark. Hippos laughing in the nearby lake and giant two-hundred pound frogs (no, wait, those were later determined to be colobus monkeys making the strangest monkey-sounds I've ever heard). There was also a creeping white ground fog that bounced my flashlight's beam right back at me and made the way to the outhouse particularly daunting.
But despite initially regretting drinking so much Tusker beer right before bedtime, I was so glad I ventured out because of the owl.
He was perched on a branch by the showers. I wouldn't have seen him except that I'd followed the sound of his calls. Hooooo...hooooo....hooooo. He was large and by my flashlight I could just make out his large shape. I was thrilled.
A bird book from the overland truck we were travelling in identified my owl as most likely being a Verreaux eagle-owl, a kind of owl that will actually wade into the water to catch fish and who may particularly like to snack on hedgehogs.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Shiny Things

Ah, an insulated stainless steel French coffee press that was being sold at a party I went to last night.....

Sleek-looking. Elegant. Its seductive siren-song promise to keep my coffee so much hotter.

And, drat it all, the little black crow in my head was happily shrieking Ooh! Shiny thing! Pretty shiny thing!

Obviously, while it wasn't only hours ago, such a thing is surely now essential to my life.

I decided it was. :)

Some of you who know me will now probably remind me that I'm supposed to be in the process of paring down, decluttering, simplifying. Yes, it's all true.

Which simply means in this case that I have a plain but perfectly functional glass coffee press that will now be up for grabs to the family member, friend, or neighbour who would appreciate it. Let me know.

Aside from this little splurge, I've been pretty good at getting rid of non-essentials lately. I recently attacked the Cupboard of Doom in my kitchen and reduced its contents by at least half. Many of the storage boxes in my basement are now completely empty and clothing items that are holdovers from the early nineties are being marched out the door.

However, I had a close-call weekend before last when Jeff and I were visiting down in Victoria with Tai and Chris (and even a surprise appearance of Kim and Shawn and Zoe). Our wanders took us through antique stores and upscale furniture emporiums and I was hard-pressed to look away from items like those pictured here.

Especially the tall black jewellry chest with doors that swung outwards to reveal hidden drawers and unexpected side panels and secret little hidey holes.'s a good thing to have friends to talk you down from impulse purchases.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Books, Books, Books

I sometimes think of a passage out of Roald Dahl's book " Danny, Champion of the World (a favourite childhood read), in which Danny's father (a keen naturalist as well as a pheasant poacher) explains to his son how birds have the amazing ability ability to hold onto a branch while they sleep. They close their eyes and fall asleep, but their little claws somehow hold on tight and keep them from falling from the tree.

I'm reminded of the scene from this book, occasionally, when I myself fall asleep holding onto something and I somehow manage to hold tight to it anyway. I'm not about to fall off a tree branch though. I will,however, maintain my Sleep -Grip of-Death on the book I am reading in the bathtub. As I slip peacefully beneath the bubbles, my fingers simply lock into place. I start awake at some point, and my book is still held high, with nary a soap bubble to mar the page.

I asssure you:

1. I have never yet dropped any book into the water.
2. And particularly I would never EVER drop your book that you lent me into the tub. Just so you feel more reassured about lending me your books.

I thought I'd post about this because it seems that a LOT of you are lending me, even giving me books lately.

Marvellous books.
Inspiring books.
Mediocre, but excellent-for-curing insomnia books.
Books that I might need to rush out and buy so I can own a copy myself.
Books that I'm sure glad I didn't spend thirty dollars on at the bookstore.
Books that I wished I'd written myself.
Books that I'm planning on recommending to my friends.

I've devoured ten books in the last two weeks.

Blogging? Er, oh yes, I should do that too sometime...

My boss at work has lately begun referring to me as "Belle". You know, from the animated movie, "Beauty and the Beast"?

Belle was always reading as she walked, and so do I. A co-worker said that some of them watch me returning from my coffee break and wonder how I'm able to walk without tripping over things or wandering into traffic.

Like my talent for not dropping books in the bathtub, so far so good. *Touch wood *

I walked home from work today reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. (It was lent to me by one co-worker who raved about it; another co-worker wrinkled her nose and told me the plot was sideways---me, I like it so far but my walk home only got me to chapter three).

I walked home last week accompanied by Ivan Doig's The Whistling Season, which was a thoughtful book with cozy characters, and I also particularly like a recent book of short stories by Elma Marston called Figs and Fate: Stories of Growing Up in the Arab World.

I also recently drooled over a book of architectural design and interiors called Northwest Style by Anne Wall Frank. Some books are just made to sigh over the photos.

Well, tonight (thanks to Chris lending me the entire series) I am taking Book Five of the Dresden Files to the bathtub with me. It may not be high literature, but it's
got a wizard's detective agency, werewolves, gangsters, plant-monsters, and great one-liners.

Keep lending me books, my friends! I love it!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everybody!
May 2008 bring you interesting conversations, time with friends, renewed creativity, and good books to read!
(Yep, just wishing you all what I'd like for myself...seems only fair).
Me, I've been writing in a luscious new red journal---yes, pen on paper instead of hands on keyboard. It's been a while since I've indulged in that perhaps old-fashioned habit but I'm rather enjoying it.
I visited with friends I hadn't seen in a while over the holidays and the talk turned to writing. I mentioned that I had a blog (sadly neglected but only for the moment) and invited them to read it if they liked. They had no idea I had one, or indeed really what that was. I explained that it was a good way to keep in touch with people I seldom saw, and a fantastic shared writing outlet.
"But anybody can read it!", said a friend, sounding alarmed.
This is true. But I assured them I only share in my blog what I'm willing to share and no more--truly private thoughts would only be written in my private journal.
"But what would happen if somebody read that one? What if you'd written something about them that they didn't like?" My friend was frowning.
I laughed and said then they'd be in big trouble for reading my journal, but I guess they'd know me better. (Of course, this reminded me of what happened to poor Harriet the Spy---I just re-read that book over the holidays.)
"But what if you died, and then everyone read what you wrote?" She sounded really alarmed.
I couldn't help but laugh again. I said words to the effect that I can only hope that my life is exciting enough for everybody to want to read them after I die.
(Note to self: Write more interesting things in journal so post-humously I don't bore everybody silly.)