Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fighting Hibernation

Now I get it. There are only few options for dealing with a nuclear-type ("nucular") winter.

One, take up snow sports as if your life depended on it, which it sort-of does, getting you up & out of the house nice & early to slip and skid your car up to a mountain so you can slip and skid down the mountain all day, getting home too tired to care about not seeing the sun for weeks.

Two, pack a big bag and get on a plane and fly anywhere the sun is shining and it doesn't get below 60 degrees. Stay there until the temperature here stabilizes somewhere above 50 degrees and it's not raining every day.

Third, hibernate. Eat your body weight in starch along with four or five large steaks every day for a few months, then go to bed. Stay there.

Ignore all the usual reasons you used to get out of bed (except your bladder). Like, the time. Who cares what time it is? It's WINTER is what time it is, which means it's time to stay in bed until it's spring. Cats hungry? Feed them then go back to bed. They'll join you later and make hibernation that much more cozy. Hungry? Grab a baked potato/muffin/doughnut/pizza/beef stew on your way back from the bathroom and eat that in bed.

We've tried the first option and enjoyed it, but then the rain came back and made the roads nasty with ice. Call me a spoilsport, but I don't enjoy sliding all over the road on the way to the mountain. And when I get there, I want to clearly see the run below me.

I'd love to choose option two, but we're not quite there yet. I have a special type of trust fund - it's the We Trust You To Make Your Own Money fund. So, that makes option two a non-option for now.

We're gradually choosing option three. We're waking up later and later, and even after waking up we linger in bed for quite a while. It's warm. And so dreamy comfortable. We can listen to the radio or watch TV. Hang out with the cats. There's no room service, but so far that hasn't been a deterrent.

The more we sleep, the faster time passes, which means spring will be here in just a few cat naps.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

It still doesn't *feel* like Christmas, but it helped to call the whole family and talk to parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.

At one point the MagicJack crapped out - the phone just stopped working, demanding a break from the nonstop jawing.

But before that happened, I got a fantastic present from one of my nieces - one of many gifted children in the clan who told me English & Creative Writing is her favorite class - she's a junior in high school. That wasn't the present. Wait for it...

She's babysitting some kids in the neighborhood now and said one night they wanted her to tell them a story. She couldn't remember any stories so she started making them up. She told them a number of elaborate, lengthy stories that they loved, yet still they wanted more.

Tired of coming up with new stories, she instead told them the story of Beverly Hills Cop. I couldn't stop laughing.

Merry Christmas Bloggers!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet Chocolate Christmas

It's almost Christmas. How the frick did that happen? Are you sure? Now? It's happening now? This week? Serious? But it was just August! Where's August? Who took my summer?

I keep thinking I should make some cards. Bake some biscotti. Tomorrow. Next week. There's time. Got lotsa time. NOPE. Time's UP!

No cards, no cookies. I'll get to it. Maybe by April. Sure.

Somehow I managed to get a small tree and set that up, but had I not walked by it at the store when I was there for something else, I doubt that would have happened.

Even without the madness of shopping for gifts it all comes up too fast and I can't seem to make the time to get it done. It's like trying to mail something.

If I have to find a box, put the thing in the box, put some padding in the box, tape it up, put the address info on it, THEN leave the house and take it to the post office, OMIGOD it's just too much and how does anyone ever mail anything it's sooooooo haaaaaaaaard!


Why can't I pay attention to the calendar and be more on top of these things? I can take on all kinds of work, but can't keep up with what should be the fun stuff.

I'll probably never be on top of all the fun stuff, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking of my friends and family and wishing them all sorts of holiday cheer.

I am, and I do. Merry Festivus!

p.s. Happy Birthday Ms. Crafty! Wish I could take you to Town Hall for a "Dohthee Pahkah."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BC Living - My New Show

Just found a show on TV, Vancouver Living - an entertainment news show full of helpful information about enjoying the Vancouver lifestyle.

I didn't watch the show but saw the teaser for an upcoming segment, "Learn How to Get a Good Workout Without Increasing Your Carbon Footprint."

They showed a lady on cross-country rollerskis out in the rain on a wet, soggy path, and that just looked so sad. It made me think of having my own show full of helpful hints about enjoying the British Columbia lifestyle.
  • Learn How to Enjoy Being Damp
  • Learn How to Embrace Bone-chilling cold
  • Learn How to Eat Your Body Weight in Potatoes
  • Learn How to Put on Your Winter Weight in Three Days
  • Learn How to Wear Four Sets of Clothes at Once
  • Learn How to Train Your Cats to Sleep On You
  • Learn How to Adopt Enough Cats to Make a Living Cat Blanket
  • Learn How to Heat Your Feet Using Microwaveable Socks
  • Learn How to Find Ways to Not Leave the House Until Spring
  • Learn How to Make Every Meal a Soup Smorgasbord
  • Learn How to Wear an Electric Blanket - Everywhere
  • Learn How to Withstand 300-degree Showers
  • Learn How to Turn a Down Blanket Into a Sassy Dress
  • Learn How to Properly Chop Furniture for the Fireplace
  • Learn How to Hang Mirrors Around the House to Maximize Those 15 Minutes of Sunlight On Days When it Might Be Sunny
I'm sure I'll think of other important segment ideas. If you're a producer at a TV station nearby, give me a call. I know there's an enthusiastic audience for my show.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting Gussied Up

How a woman from the Bay Area dresses for a party in BC:
  • Take scalding hot shower - stay in there as long as possible
  • Eat scalding hot bowl of soup
  • Put on thick black tights
  • Put on thick camisole
  • Put on Under Armor running shorts over tights
  • Put on thick fleecy socks over tights
  • Put on long-sleeved blouse
  • Put on knee-length skirt
  • Put on knee-high boots
  • Put fleece scarf around neck
  • Put on camel hair overcoat
  • Put on fleece gloves
With the Under Armor shorts over the tights, I looked like a cyclist getting ready for a winter ride. They really helped add a nice layer of insulation but after being at the party for a while, I was almost too warm. Regardless, I'm calling it a success. I was all dressed up but didn't freeze my buttons off.

I'm gonna need more boots.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Going OFF, Eh

I admit it, I can be an asshole when shit goes sideways - when something that should be easy and straightforward becomes a clusterfuck, I come unhinged.

Maybe it's age, maybe it's DNA, maybe it's winter - I'll never know. Maybe I should "work through my issues" or maybe it's OK not to accept bullshit.

As I mentioned to Rooty, maybe we shouldn't quietly turn a blind eye to incompetence or laziness. Maybe that's part of the problem - maybe too many people don't speak up and then there you are, drowning in mediocrity and lameness.

What I *do* know is that if a bank is holding my money, money they SAID would be available in 14 days and when I call today to find out what's going on I'm told it will actually be 21 DAYS, I'm not going to politely say "OK! Thanks so much!"

Kurt, a telephone rep at Coast Capital Savings and Hoard, was nice enough to talk me off the ledge, at one point arguing with me that HE didn't mistakenly tell me the hold on U.S. checks would be 14 days.

Yes Kurt, I know YOU didn't tell me such and in the future, it would be better to SIMPLY APOLOGIZE for the shoddy communication and FIX THE PROBLEM.

I should have looked at their website before opening an account. Any financial institution that puts a guy in a gorilla suit on the home page, or now, has the online "rep" playing with balloons or peeling potatoes should not be trusted with anyone's money.

In my defense, I was told TWICE by the SAME TELLER that there would be a 14-day hold on any U.S. checks I deposit. Still ridiculous in this day & age, but I can live with 14 days. But 21 days? Are you fucking KIDDING me?

What the FUCK takes 21 days? Is it Canada, too lazy to give a shit, or the U.S., unwilling to let the money leave the states? I DON'T CARE what the problem is. It shouldn't take anyone 21 days to clear a measly business check.

Or is it just Coast Capital Savings and Lies? Maybe it's time to find a bank that knows how to clear a check in an acceptable time frame. They can't ALL be this lame.

At any rate, I got what I wanted. Kurt now understands his colleagues are MISINFORMED and when you jack with someone's money, they're not going to chat with you calmly about it. Mr. Kurt sent a message to the branch to release the hold first thing in the morning.

They couldn't do it today, you see, because the branch is closed on Mondays. Yup - that's right. CLOSED on MONDAY. Because god forbid you might have BUSINESS to take care of on a WEEK DAY and need access to your bank.

The only reason I opened this account was because David has an account there. But guess what? There are other banks and I'm betting one of them has a more attractive U.S. check policy.

I honestly do think it's a combination of age and the DNA. I don't have time to waste on bullshit and I've been gifted some crazy genes. When the bullshit comes in contact with the DNA, bad things happen. Kind of like The Hulk, without all the green and expanding and raggedy short pants.

Combine that with a fucked up hold on my money and I can't be expected to mind my manners.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

That Darn Border

Had a lovely day oot & aboot today, starting with a hearty breakfast at the IHOP down the street.

One thing I really enjoy about living here is the enthusiasm for little things. When we walked into the restaurant to be seated, the manager asked if we needed a table for two. We said Yes please and he quietly said, "Awesome" as he checked the floor layout to assign us a table.

The servers are always extra attentive and helpful, checking on us often to make sure everything is fine. Today when I asked if they still had the coffee cake pancakes, the server said they did. Then she came back and said they didn't. So they comped me a stack of buttermilk to go with my eggz.

When we paid the check we chatted up the Awesome Manager and I told him I was soory to have missed out on the coffee cake pancakes, but the buttermilk were very good.

He explained his frustration with That Darn Border they have to deal with, that they'll have a promotion going on - say, for coffee cake pancakes - but by the time they get the next shipment, the promotion will have ended weeks earlier.

He went on to tell us about a fabulous bone-in ham special they've got going but the ham comes from the States and is sitting in cold storage at the border. There's one line in the product description that wasn't written in French.

We're imagining the customs agents enjoying ham dinners every night until they work through that red tape.

On our way out of town to explore the northern environs, we stopped to get gas at Petro Canada. None of the gas pump handles here have "kick stands" - you have to stand there like a tool, freezing your ass off while the tank slowly fills.

The pumps *usually* shut off when the tank is full. I was standing there squeezing the damn handle thinking, this thing should be kicking off pretty soon when I heard a gusher below.

The fugging pump kept going full tilt, dumping about a gallon of gas all over the side of the car and the pavement, puddling under my boots and splashing my jeans. Awesome.

After our lightheaded drive to the small village of Belcarra, we hit a Hortons on the way back. Just to see if it would be any more palatable, I ordered a small coffee with sugar. Holy SHIT was it awful.

I thought it would come with sugar packets so I could dose it as desired. No, it comes out of a huge box where someone in a Hortons uniform presses the Coffee w/ Sugar button.

Every beverage they serve comes out of an automated box in the back. Every night a giant tanker truck pulls in, hooks up myriad hoses to the appropriate spigots and fills all the tanks.

It tastes like industrial solvent. It's so awful it's awesome.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Lost in BC? I Can't Imagine Why

Here's something funny about here... If you're looking for a place on a particular street, you'd better get a map or ask for a cross street, because if you manage to find the street in question, chances are it's going to take you into a river or forest before you find your destination.

See, there's lots of creeks, rivers and parks here. If there's a street that starts on the east side of a park/river, where it dead ends at such, do they choose a different name for the different street on the other side of that park/river so as to avoid confusion?


You end up with the same street name that spans the same imaginary line through the map, regardless of how many times it's interrupted by natural (or man-made) obstacles.

I'm all for efficiency and simplicity, but seriously. Seriously? Doesn't it just seem lazy to reuse the same street name when it's clear across the river or in a NEIGHBORING TOWN?

Some examples:

That's Coquitlam River bisecting Patricia Ave.

Here we have Lincoln Ave. turning into Lincoln Dr. before you levitate your car over the nature area to rejoin Lincoln Ave. on the other side. Bitchen.

In North Vancouver, one can hovercraft from one Evergreen Pl to the other. Rad.

And my favorite so far - Dewdney Trunk Road - it goes through Coquitlam and ENDS where you see that street END in that town. At the END of the street, where it ENDS.

Then a few miles down the highway, after you cross the Pitt River and enter Pitt Meadows, Hey LOOK! There it is again! Yay! Dewdney, Dewdney, Dewdney, DEWDNEY!!!

If you scroll along the Google Map through Pitt River, you'll see that Dewdney Trunk Road continues through town a ways north of the Lougheed Highway. Scroll down when you spot the Meadow Gardens Golf Course.

What? What's that you see? Why YES - that's ANOTHER (the same?) Dewdney Goddamn Trunk Road, and it continues through the next town - Maple Ridge - and BEYOND - all the way to... wait for it... WAAAAIIIIT for it... DEWDNEY!

I'm guessing it keeps going all the way to Labrador.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Zero to 60

Been a while... sorry about that. Got busy - quick.

Last week we had a marvelous AmeriCanadian holiday with friends from SF. Had to clean up a bit, make the loft into a suitable guestroom, gather up the requisite groceries and run a kajillion errands.

Shopping on Robson, suspension bridge fun @ Capilano, Wii, tasty dinners out, Thanksgiving dinner at home and of course, Tim Hortons goodness. Good times - very good times.

Unfortunately, it rained like a bastard the whole time with dense clouds that obscured what would have been lovely snow-capped mountain vistas all around us. Instead, it looked like any damp, rainy area anywhere - say, New Jersey maybe, with a little less mob activity and quirky Pacific-Northwest architecture.

I wanted to post sooner - I've missed you - but my head's been full of syrup. I've been homesick, yet still happy to be here. I know we're where we're supposed to be, but my whole life is somewhere else.

Well, not my *whole* life - most of it's right here in this house. But family, dear friends and favorite haunts are all far away. It's difficult to start over when you're in your early fogey years.

I get by with email, a brand new magicJack and... Facebook. For reals. It really helps. I don't feel so disconnected from everything. Fun photos of friends (alliteration rules!) in festive situations, silly status messages... if only Scrabulous was still there... fugging greedy licensing bitches.

Driving back from Seattle last weekend where I dropped off our fabulous house guests, I felt torn. Part of me wanted to turn around and keep driving to California, but the pull was much stronger to keep going north, back to my little family.

I feel unsettled rather than settled. It feels like I'm dating two guys at once. Both have fun qualities and annoying flaws, but one is the guy I know a lot more about - the one who feels comfortable. The other guy *seems* nice & interesting and may be a refreshing change of pace, but his pants don't fit him quite right and he talks funny.

I don't think I can break up with America. Definitely not San Francisco. There's no leaving the Bay Area without regrets. The food, the wine, the Peet's, Target, North Beach Pizza, and the fantastically liberal, accepting, bubble... god I love that bubble. The dark blue, No-on-8, I'm Getting an Abortion at Lunch bubble. That's my home. And I miss it. I cannot wait to get back to it. There, I said it.

Right now, I miss it more than Thin Mints when the freezer stash runs out. I know I was ready for a change and I couldn't wait to get here, but now I think what I couldn't wait to get to was David. I need to be wherever he is, and I hope one day it'll be back in our Bay Area bubble.