Friday, May 30, 2008

How do I hate Bell Canada? Let me count the ways…

These past few days I’ve been pretty much incommunicado. Our internet/email system was down at work. Despite Ma Bell’s contention, the problem wasn’t us. They finally had to admit they were the problem. Surprise surprise

Amazing how annoying it’s become to have to resort to prehistoric 20th century methods of communication like the fax and phone.

Amazing how quickly we come to depend on technology, and how frustrated we are when we don’t have it.

Amazing how much time we waste in a day answering pointless emails.

Amazing how, when the problem is found and the techie calls Bell they refuse to do the easy fix because it’s not “procedure”. We are temporarily “fixed” and hoping it doesn’t go down again until they find a really complicated way of fixing the problem that doesn’t entail us losing access for at least a week – ‘cause this is a BUSINESS fer chrissake!

How close are we to dumping Bell and going elsewhere? Yeah, about thiiiiiiiiis close.

The whole situation is completely surreal.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quebec vs. Montreal

In his latest post BB wrote about how he loves going back to Quebec city, how he feels he has deep roots there.

Neither of us were born there, but our family (on both sides) hails from Quebec city for generations. So yeah, there are roots I suppose.

But unlike BB, I feel the exact opposite. Don't get me wrong, Quebec is a nice place to visit, but I would never want to live there again.

I've never felt comfortable there. I always felt just a little off, not quite in the groove of the place. As though the track is right there and try as I might I'm always six inches out of it.

And despite BB's contention, it's not because I'm into the nightlife - I got over that, like many people do, in my 30s. And I don't prefer Montreal because of Mr. Jazz - I didn't like Quebec way before Mr. Jazz ever entered the picture.

I don't know what it is about Quebec that grates on me. The fact that, other than the old town - approximately 5 square km - it's one big sprawling suburb where everything has a sort of cookie cutter sameness about it? That's definitely part of it. The fact that I've never felt I fit in? Also part of it. The francophone whiteness of Quebec city also doesn't do it for me (of course, the all white all french thing is pretty much par for the course everywhere in Quebec outside of Montreal).

Whatever it is, no roots there for me, or at any rate, roots that were very easily pulled out.

When I got to Montreal, on the other hand, I felt at home right away. Montreal has an energy that Quebec simply does not. It has a huge diverisity of people and styles and cultures. It was an easy fit for me, there is no set path. When I set foot on the corner of Maisonneuve and Peel I knew I had found my place, that this is where I was meant to be. I never looked back, never missed Quebec, and honestly pretty much the only reason I ever go back is to see my sister and mother. I'd perhaps go once every few years to play tourist, but no more. It holds nothing for me, it doesn't draw me. At all. Contrary to Montreal.

In the past 25 years, I've put down my own roots here, I've found the love of my life, and made a life for myself that I'm not at all sure I could have found in Quebec. When I'm on the highway, on my way back from Quebec, I'm coming home. It's as visceral and BB's feeling for Quebec, and for a city that, unlike me, he's never really warmed up to.

Funny that, same family, same roots and such a different take on two perfectly neutral places.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dear young woman on the bus

I couldn't help but overhear you saying to your friend that your boyfriend is obviously laughing at you when he says he doesn't think you're fat - and for the record, he's right. You obviously have body image issues you need to deal with. But then we all wasted tons of time at your age on body issues....

That, however is not the point of this missive.

Thing is, your boyfriend? He really doesn't think you're fat. Even if you were 30 lbs overweight he wouldn't think you're fat. He'd would (and does) think you're hot.

There's a thing you gotta understand about men. They're simple creatures, they are. Your extra weight doesn't even register on his radar because he's in the same room with A. NAKED. WOMAN! He's so thrilled about that little fact that a "poofy" stomach or a "fat" ass isn't an issue in any way shape or form. All men are still 13 somewhere inside (especially if he's your age, somewhere around 25). They long for the day when they'll have a flesh and blood naked woman to play with, rather than a centerfold in their dad's Playboy. Real flesh is so much better than paper flesh, and they are forever grateful they have access to it.

So relax, he thinks your hot. Accept your body - it makes sex ever so much better if you don't have to worry about it. Don't waste the next 10 or 15 years beating yourself up over your body; try to learn that lesson more quickly.

Besides, one word: Gravity.

Whatever your "problem" is, it'll only get worse, better enjoy your body now. It's quite ironic that we begin to love ourselves only once gravity hits. Women? Not simple creatures...




Dear young woman on the bus:

Mr. Jazz has a totally different take on what I overheard.

When I told him, he said that if you were saying loud enough to be overheard, you didn't really believe it and it was just a bid for sympathy. Basically, he thinks you are a moron.

Mr. Jazz has his cynical moments - probably from living with me for 20 years.

Mr. Jazz also has no patience with the "oh I'm fat" thing - as I learned quite quickly many years ago.

Maybe your boyfriend will run out of patience with your whining too.



Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blogging blogging blogging

We had friends over for supper Saturday, blogging got on the subject and my friend (and reader) the divine Ms. M – who has been lurking for a while now – said something that has been trotting around in my head since then.

Basically, she was saying she would never blog because she’d feel uncomfortable about the amount of personal information being put out. For instance, she pointed out that I’m posting pictures of my house and things in it . Personal stuff, stuff that’s not politics or snarking celebrities. Like for instance, I suppose, talking about this conversation we had. Stuff about me. It would, she said, make her uncomfortable to do that.

Even though no one knows who I am – except for those I’ve met (this blog is impossible to find through my real name for instance) I still have information and stories about myself here that could, conceivably be found by total chance (i.e. for some reason someone I know is searching blogs and hits on mine and sees pictures I’ve posted and I’m busted).

Not that there’s anything I want to hide on this blog. Other than the odd comment now and again, I don’t spend my time snarking, or being nasty about people I actually know (other than the CFH once or twice). That’s why I have a journal…

Basically, she made me think (wonder) about why I do this. Beyond the basic “why do I blog” thing, it’s more of a “what exactly is the point of blogging” thing.

Why do I feel the need to talk about myself here? Obviously there is – to some extent – the “community” thing. I know between 10-20 people regularly read this, mostly other bloggers, some friends and family who lurk… But seriously, what would it change if I stopped? Not a whole helluva lot.

Are blogs a worthwhile form of expression or just the expression of a bunch of “self deluded exhibitionists”? I can understand, perhaps, a professional writer, like Ian who has said his blog is a writing exercise, it keeps him limber.

Actually, it's really simple. I love writing. I don't kid myself into believing that I'll ever write a novel or anything else that will be published. I’m not interested. Nor will I ever be a Dooce who lives off blogging. I'm just too damned lazy really. But still, I love putting words down. Playing with them, getting them to say exactly what I want even if I have to spend lots of time looking for that perfect word. And blogging allows that. A journal no one but myself will ever see just doesn't quite cut it. Besides, the journal is for whining.

I entertained a huge correspondence with friends when I was young, many many moons ago, some just a few miles away, some thousands. It wouldn't have been much more expensive to call most of them. But we wrote. Lots. I think blogging is my middle aged version of writing those letters, of chatting with someone, of putting the words down where they’ll stay, like they never will over the phone. Phones are for arranging to meet for dinner.

There is also, of course, the flattery factor. Knowing that people find me entertaining in my own right. There are people out there who don’t even know me and find me interesting enough to come back to again and again. I’ll admit it. It’s nice. Having these 20-odd strangers (who needs hundreds unless you have serious ego problems) come read what I have to say, yeah, it is nice. It’s validation of a sort.

So, do tell, what keeps you blogging, whether you’ve just started or are a long time fan? What is it that makes you keep opening Blogger and putting yourself out there for the whole world (or 20 people) to see? Use the comments, or blog about it. I’m really interested in your answers, and so, no doubt, is the Divine Ms. M…

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday - Brain Dead Day

The Friday before a long weekend. Damn, you gotta love it... You know, I'm getting into this posting of pictures thing, it demands so much less thought on my part. And this morning? Thought is fleeting to say the least. My brain has deserted me, probably ran away in the dead of night with that damn squirrel. There will be no thought provoking posts, there will be no snark... Instead, pictures! Can't believe I've had that digital camera since October and have hardly used it until now....

So, how about a weekend at the cottage?

Saturday morning, we had to pay taxes, so while Mr. Jazz went to the town hall (below) I took a few pics of the village. It's a quiet village (some would say dead boring and they'd be right):

The church (which is sorta cute actually)

The park in front of the lake (Lac St-Joseph) I'm really happy we don't live on this lake as they're allowed to use motor boats on it. Annoying and noisy...

Main street, didn't I tell you it was b-o-r-i-n-g?

Then we went to the organic farmer's market in Val David. During the winter it's held in the school gym once a month. In summer (starting at the end of June) it's held weekly, outside. I can't wait for June...

Last Saturday's haul:

An organic free range 3kilo chicken from Diane (of Le Picardier farm) and a much smaller guinea fowl which we (um, Mr. Jazz) cooked on the BBQ Saturday night. I just realized that that was the last meat I ate last week (if you discount fish) until Wednesday evening when Mr. Jazz made a pizza with the leftover portion of guinea fowl and tons of veggies. There wasn't much left over. I seem to be eating much less meat of late...

Actually this picture looks pretty bad, but the left tart is caramel, covered by chocolate hazelnut ganache with a crunchy hazelnut caramel on top. On the right is a chocolate pear amandine. Every time we go to the market in winter I get one of those chocolate tarts and scarf it down immediately. They are pie orgasm they are.

A box of tea (green tea with bergamot, lime and orange essential oils - LOVELY) and two small jars of garlic flower pesto and a jar of some sort of herb and garlic flower paste to use as a meat rub... (Yeah, I don't think (I'll become a vegetarian just yet).

Other cool stuff - the leaves are starting, oh so slowly to come in (actually they probably pretty much in by now, it's been a week)

The hummers (the real thing) have arrived

And I brought out my old, beat up bamboo windchime (it wasn't old and beat up when I got it though)

This is my evil cat plate from JazzSis

And the frog I bought in Oz. Hmmm I'm really going to have to stain that crack that just showed up on the chest. It's nearing 100 (the chest, not the crack) and when mom passed it on to me it was painted cement grey. A complete monstrosity. One of my better refinishing projects.

Green (G-R-E-E-N!!!) stuff growing between the rocks.

And Red, doing his "I am the master of my domaine" thing. An obsession with rodents? Me? Ya think?

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

I'm reading a very interesting book right now, Twinkie Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger, which takes the ingredient list for Twinkies and looks at where each ingredient comes from, how it's made, etc.

The baking powder (the same one we use all the time) contains phosphorus - an ingredient which, when it comes into contact with oxygen bursts into flame... OK, well, it's not in its pure liquid form in baking powder, but still, really bizarre.

However it's this little paragraph that really caught my attention:

"Indeed, this is what innocuous, everyday baking powerder is made of, but most of this elemental phosphorus is used to make acid for Monsanto's Roundup, the most common herbicide in the world (the one that Monsanto's genetically modified corn and soybean plants resist)..."

So farmers use this herbicide and then must use Monsanto's grain (soy, corn, canola) in order to actually have a crop that can survive the weed killer. It seems Monsanto basically owns most of the grain used in the world today.

They. Own. The. SEEDS!!!

That freaks me right the fuck out.

Not only do they own the grain farmers plant but farmers cannot use saved seed for the following year because it violates Monsanto's patent. And Monsanto is taking farmers to court, sueing them millions.... Check this out and this. They're even patenting animals.

Of course I had already heard about Monsanto's way of doing business, but today it really hit home. They pretty much own our food sources now. How can this have happened?

Seriously. How?

While I was looking for an image to illustrate this post, I came across this blog Marginal Notes. (The image comes from this blog, but seems to be floating around the internet. Who knows who it belongs to.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The god of things falling from the sky

He was sitting there minding his own business when suddenly a piece of bread hit him on the head.

“Bread?”, he wondered “What is this manna from above? Have I been wrong all these months? Was my grandfather right? Is there really a god who looks down on us with kindness and love in his heart and feeds us now and again?”

“Well,” I felt like telling him, “No, there isn’t. Mr. Jazz just threw the leftover bun onto the roof, knowing some bird or squirrel would eat it. That’s all. No use going into paroxysms of philosophical pondering. You’re just a squirrel after all; it might be somewhat taxing for you”

He (she? It?) lives in the roof of the storage shed across the alley (just under the left hand corner there). Generations have nested there. Twenty years I’ve lived here and there’s been some generation of that family sqatting there all that time. And lord knows there can be plenty fo generations of squirrels in 20 years...

And periodically a member of the family is bombarded by a crust of bread, an overripe strawberry, a yummy peach pit.

But my friend across the alley has an attitude. There he sat on the sawhorse that holds up the electrical wiring (really good workmanship there to whoever took care of that particular job - what happens when the sawhorse collapses?), nibbling on his piece of bread, when I figured, “Hey! Photo op!! Cute rodent eating bread.” (Photo op? A rodent? I am perhaps – along with Mr. Jazz – the god of squirrel manna from heaven, but I’ve also gone quite inexplicably insane it seems.)

And so it began.

He did’t think much of it at first.

Then he started to turn his head, hiding from the flash I suppose.

Annoyance began to rear its ugly head. "Damned papparazzi!" he thought, swishing his tail.

Off his sawhorse he hopped...

He ran up the electrical post in the alley and sat on the metal support staring at me. Trying, poor dear, to stare me down. Me! Feeder of alleyway squirrels, purveyor of peach pits and cherries! I stared back.

Then he stopped staring and started screeching. Swinging his tail, stomping his feet - not that you can tell by the pic. The boy (obviously a boy, so testosterone laden was he, or is testosterone not a squirrel thing? Or, it might be argued, the girl with her hissy fit) was mightily pissed off. 'Course I’d sort of be annoyed if people insisted on photographing me while I was eating, but still, you’re not supposed to bite the hand that feeds you. Or so I’ve heard. Now he knows what it feels like to be Britney Spears. I'm sure he had no sympathy for her whatsoever until yesterday.

And I have no doubt he would have bitten me, had I been close enough. Five minutes after I went inside, he was still sitting there. Ready to face down the evil papparazzi. And as soon as I opened the door he started up again. I’m sure he thought he was forcing me to flee with his terrifying carrying on. He really needs to learn to get over it already.

If only he knew I was the god of lovely sustenance falling from the sky. I mean seriously, how often does a Montreal squirrel get to eat pineapple or mango?

He’d probably give me attitude anyway.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bedroom treasures

Once upon a time, lo, these many years ago, there was a little girl. A version of little girl perhaps three or four years older than this one.

She was a happy little girl, except for glitches now and then - after all she had a BB and sister to torture her. But again, that’s par for the course when you’re the youngest isn’t it? Now seriously, would you torture someone so angelic looking??? Apparently, looks can be deceiving, I'm told, but I digress.

Mom had a fascinating object on her dresser. As far back as I can remember I have loved this object, a glass perfume bottle. It just seemed so perfect. Round and shiny, with no extra embellishment. Just the round shiny bottle with its long thin stopper.

I could spend hours looking at it, touching it, holding it in my hands. It just seemed the epitome of elegance and perfection to me at the time. It still does. Plain is better - at least in regards to perfume bottles.

Recently mom told me its story.

She and Dad were living in Ontario at the time. BB and my sister were just little kids. One Sunday, they strolled past an antique shop and Mom spotted this bottle in the window. She immediately loved it. Of course, this was in those prehistoric times when shops weren't open on Sundays. Besides, it was in an antique shop, and so, as far as she was concerned way too expensive. After all, raising two kids on an air force salary, even back then didn't leave that much wiggle room for indulging in useless perfume bottles. So it remained nothing but a pretty trinket in a window.

A week later, Dad came home from work with something for her. Yep, the perfume bottle. And to make things even better, as far as my Mom was concerned - because no one hunts down a bargain like my mom - he paid fifty cents for it.

That fifty cent perfume bottle became my treasure, even though I wasn't allowed to take it from her bedroom dresser. Once in a while though, she'd indulge me and let me pick it up and open it, hold its weightiness in my hands. Those days were wonderful. I had held IT, my personal holy grail.

I've never been one to play princess much - boring as all hell, being a princess and having to await rescue. Instead I was a pirate, or the prince on his white steed battling the dragon for its treasure. That bottle always topped the list of imagined treasure.

Mom gave me the bottle at Christmas. Something got caught in my eye at that point, provoking a certain dampness. Now it sits at the cottage and I still love it and pick it up and open it... it's still my treasure.

PS: I also don't do maudlin much, but I need to keep y'all destablized once in a while dontcha know.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday stuff

Are we supposed to boycott nike because they make their shoes in Asia? I have no clue, but this commercial is spectacular - from the point of view of a rookie player.... (directed by Guy Ritchie I think)

Cavendish Microwave Fries sort of scare me. You put these fries in the microwave, nuke 'em for 5 minutes and they come out all golden and crispy. Crispy. From a microwave. That is so very very unnatural. I can't help but wonder just how incredibly many chemicals are added to the potatos to achieve that golden crispiness. Like I said, scary.

Spoiler alert:

I don't usually discuss the TV shows I watch here, because, basically, who cares. But last night's Survivor episode was a classic.

In probably the most ridiculously stupid move ever, Eric (a fan of the show since it's inception who knows everything about every player, ever) gave up immunity in order to "redeem" himself because he had lied. Lied. In Survivor... Well duh.

He gave it away to someone else and was promptly voted out, while believing he was safe because they had told him he was. He trusted the others. You're playing for $1,000,000, there are five people left and you're the biggest physical threat. Hello! How utterly mindbobgglingly idiotic. He deserved to go.

The rabid fan will go down as the most moronically stupid player ever...

(And yes, this is very repetititve, but there are only so many words for stupid.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Things I know to be true...

  • When you have two places (i.e. a cottage and a place in town) they each get about half the cleaning they deserve. You will not double the time you spend cleaning. Trust me.
  • Put me within three feet of a knife and I'll cut myself.
  • Doors frames and furniture move when I'm around, just so I'll bump into them. No, really, they do!
  • I've just started watching season six of 24, and they're really stretching our credibility this time. The guy spends 20 months in a Chinese prison and 1/2 hour after he's out he cleans up and gives himself a really good haircut and an hour after that he's running around LA fit as a fiddle? After 20 months of quasi starvation and torture? C'mon!!! Iron Man move over. Jack is back. I love me my televised comic book heros.
  • Work is highly overrated, even if you like your job a lot.
  • This post by XUP is brilliant. People should be obliged to check this out before they get face lifts.
  • The Millenium series by Swedish author Stieg Larsson is brilliant as well (the first of the three is, anyway). I have no idea if they've been translated into English. Too bad he died from a massive coronary just after he had finished the three books...
  • Fun Home, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel is a must read. Even if you're not into graphic novels
  • Family rocks - whether the one you were born with (if you got lucky like I did) or the one you chose over the years.
  • Never ever ever bet with Mr. Jazz on the name of an obscure character from a comic book he grew up reading (the question being who was Falballa in Asterix). You will lose your money. Guaranteed. 'Cause Mr. Jazz? He knows. A friend of ours learned this yesterday.
  • When the hummingbirds arrive, I am one happy camper. They should be here within the next couple of weeks.
  • I miss having pets.
  • 40 is not the new 30. Your 40s are ever and forever the 40s, the jump into middle age, grey hair, aches for no reason, choosing to stay home over going clubbing, renting a movie rather than going out to see it... (le sigh). On the plus side, the sex is great.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A new documentary...

Hot Quebec actor (hot career and hot hot boy), after writing and/or directing a couple of quite good movies - Bon Cop Bad Cop, Trois Petits Cochons (Three Little Pigs) - is going to Africa to film a documentary on the Millenium Objectives voted by the UN in 2000.

The 191 member countries were going to make sure primary education was available to all, reduce poverty and hunger, promote women's equality, reduce infant mortality among other noble objectives.

Eight years later, Huard has decided to go see what's what, since, according to him, the UN is falling behind on all of these objectives .

Huh! Did he really thing the UN would actually do anything other than sprout good sentiments? If so, he's a damn sight more naive than I am. Obviously, nothing was going to be done. There's no money in ending poverty.

Who me, a cynic?

Friday, May 02, 2008