Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

Really tall blue people with mobile ears…

February 17, 2010

So, it has finally happened. Rumpole took me and Lookingforbeauty to see Avatar in the 3D version. The result of this screening has been an ongoing argument between Rumpole and me. He firmly states that my “inner child” has gone and left the building, leaving behind old husk of crone who is impossible to amuse. I keep telling him my “inner child” is very much with me, thank you very much, but perhaps it is a much more discriminating and discerning “inner child” than is his.

“What you really are saying, “Snakebite” (his pet name for me when he is not pleased by my reactions), is that you are of superior intellect, aren’t you?” he snarls back at me.

“Not at all, my dear one. I am just merely being me.”

Apparently this critical me is one of which he is not at all fond. You see, I committed the grave error of uttering a loud guffaw during the screening when the term ‘unobtainium’ was used to refer to a chunk of glowing, floating hunk of rock. And of course, from that point on my reactions travelled south rather quickly, to the point that no amount of visual splendour and technical brinksmanship saved the movie for me. I felt stupid being a one-eyed woman wearing 3-D glasses along with the rest of the crowd in the dark. My derriere grew roots into the plush seat and my legs started jiggling along to the beat of the Disneyfied music, all on their own. I experienced the weird sensation of sitting through a tedious video game I was never going to be able to win.

But what really got me was the blue people of attenuated Barbie and Ken physiognomy with their Anime-styled eyes, their o-so-cute mobile ears referencing their status as animal-like aliens, their cat-walk fashion loin cloths and their stylish dreads. I so lusted after an elegant and mobile braid which could magically link me with all other living creatures, like the plug on my lamp connects to a mysterious-to-me electrical source.

“Keep watching their tails,” urged Rumpole, “They are somehow important.”

I watched and watched, but could only see the tails registering various emotional states in the blue people. This was Rumpole’s second viewing of Avatar, and boy, did he get that business of the tails being important wrong!

References to Transformers, Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas abounded. The dialogue was truly lame. The story arc comic booky. The acting predictable. I confess to being thoroughly bored and made the error of telling Rumpole so.

“Well! I won’t be going to the movies again with you any time soon. This was supposed to be entertaining.” He is adamant. He will not go to the movies with me again.

Oh well! I am so shattered…Not! Those blue people did me in for popular movies. Now, if James Cameron had somehow mixed in a story line with a blue Mr. Bean or a blue M. Hulot, or the overacting goofball antics of a blue Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, there might have been some snorts of needed laughter from little old me, squinting like Popeye’s mother through the 3D Glasses.

Yenta is “touched”, or has lost her “touch”…

November 3, 2009

Rumpole has ordered me to take down my matchmaking shingle. That latest foray into connecting single souls has been an utter failure. Sparks, Nada! Entertainment for all of the four of us… yes, in a queer sort of way. It has taken me four weeks to come to grips with horrible reality of it all.

Luck would have it, Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis still talks to me and visits chez nous. However, she has said that I am hapless and not very good at this matchmaking business. She did say that she enjoyed the evening dinner with us and Rob, and that the food was delicious and the conversation…surprisingly entertaining. But she made pointed comments about Rob’s sartorial elegance, comparing his attire a cross between Don Ho and one of the Darryl Brothers (as in, “Howdy, My name is Darryl, and this here is my other brother, Darryl”).

Picky, picky OLPC. What did she expect, someone out of Gentleman’s Quarterly Magazine? But then, should I take her comments about stylishness to heart? She, who breezed in looking a bit like a dominatrix, all form-fitting black with what looked like chains strong enough to restrain a 100 pound Rottweiler hefting up her lush triple-Ds and snaking around her shoulders? I had to keep kicking Rumpole under the table to prevent him from gazing at her prominent poitrine. Poor Rob, he with the quaint old-fashioned mannerisms and attitudes, didn’t seem to know where to look.

But mercifully, they did get along well enough to make fine conversation. Whilst choking back the schnitzel, the flatulence inducing cabbage, roast potatoes and pickled beets OLPC did manage to put questions to Rob about his life, his grown children, his confirmed and adamant solitary state. Oddly enough, Rob, shy generally and not a man of many words, opened up and went into considerable detail about his life and experiences. The torrent of interesting information had the effect of open-mouthed fascination on Rumpole. OLPC didn’t miss a trick.
She would be a smooth and clever interrogator in Gauntanamo. And all that without the aid of extremely bright lights and water-torture devices. Under her subtle questioning Ron revealed things about himself, as pertaining to his most recent relationship, that should not be even mentioned in a session with a relationship counsellor, let alone at a matchmaking dinner. I was aghast at what my well-intentioned soiree had unleashed.

During dinner, we discussed politics, religion, the arts, the new Conservativism, the environment, economics and yes, modern sexual behaviour. As a case study, OLPC, brought up her friend, Cowtown Donna’s difficulties at negotiating the relational quagmire prevailing among middle-aged divorced singles. As she asked all of our opinions as to what was proper etiquette among dating senior singles, Rob nervously wrapped the linen table napkin around his left hand, much like a bandage, and punctuated his comments by tugging the ends closed to choke his fist. That sure was an indication of his extreme discomfort with the conversational vein.

As hostess, I tried to steer the conversation to less discomforting topics – like Municipal shenanigans and “what about our dorky Mayor saying…”. Mercifully, the time passed quickly, although neither OLPC nor Rob showed the slightest indication of wanting to take their leave. Were they having that much fun? Certainly they laughed a lot. Rob tugged on his napkin bandage a lot… but was that in fun, or just out of sheer nervousness? It was really weird!

Because it was a Sunday evening, and everyone had to be up early the next morning, Rumpole did last call. He said. “All right all of you. Tomorrow is a workday. We have 15 minutes before I kick you guys out. Because I am 65 years old I need my sleep.”

I poured more tea for us all. OLPC and Rob left afterward, both at the same time. I looked out the back window and watched them exchange a few words before they hopped in their vehicles and drove off.

Rumpole’s comment to me as he went off to “dusterize” was. “Well, that was a bust as far as those two matching up. But by God! It was a most enjoyable evening.”

All I can say now, is that even though I am a failure at matching people up romantically, at least I have the wherewithal to pull disparate characters together for an evening of lively exchange and some stimulating conversation. And although OLPC and Rob did not form a firm friendship or demonstrate romantic chemistry toward each other, whenever they meet casually in our little town, they will at least have the basis for polite casual conversation with each other.
And, most amazingly, they both still are talking with me, even if it is to mention that I should give up trying to match them up with anyone, ever again. Yeah! I’m a failed Hungarian Yenta.

Writers retreat…

August 20, 2009

S, H, D and I, members of a writing group comprised only of our four selves, decided to spend last weekend, hole up in luxurious comfort and write, work on manuscripts, share meals and leisure in the late evening hours.

It was the most revivifying getaway; just what I needed to get down to polishing a piece of creative non-fiction weighing on me for the last several months. Rumpole bought us a new to us laptop. He felt I should have ease in editing my work. I decided to wing the process long-hand; a way which always helps me attain the meditative focus I need when working.

We stayed at D’s Mom’s waterfront Belcarra home. It perched up-hill from a rocky shore. The vista from my room was of Deep Cove across the inlet and of the tip of Belcarra at the end of the little bay where the house was situated. Ravens called; water lapped the shore with hypnotic regularity. The resident cats perched on lawnchairs next to me where I wrote at a patio table overlooking a delightful garden.
My writer friends were tremendous companions for a weekend of self-imposed silence and labour.

After dinner, we gathered in the comfortable lounge, shared progress reports and played “dictionary”. Inventive wordsmiths come up with some truly hilarious word definitions. “lanuginous” was one word for which invented definitions caused us to laugh hysterically and for me, to roll on the floor in helpless abandon. Some of the definitions cannot be told in decorous company, they were so risque.

I feel rather pleased with my progress last weekend. I rewrote and edited for submission an @1500 word non-fiction piece. It took about 12 or so rewrites, edits and continuous polishing. I received some excellent advice from my retreat companions and acted on them to arrive at a (for now) finished bit of writing I am not ashamed of submitting. It is as clean and spare as I could make it. And I feel more confident of the editing process.

All in all, it was a great weekend!

Rats! There go the Brussels Sprouts…

June 19, 2009

My family loves Brussels Sprouts – those perfect little piquant globes of green goodness in the wintertime. So, there had to be a row of these plants in my new vegie garden. Of course, if there were going to grow Brussels Sprouts, there also had to be had a supply of Kale and Kohlrabi, two cruciferous vegetables I associate with my early life in Hungary. There were already three burgeoning Zucchini plants taking over one end of my little plot, promising enough produce to satisfy our Zucchini-loving Scottie, my tendency to hide shredded Zucchini in all sorts of dishes (Rumpole hates Zucchini! – so it has to masquerade as something else) and to provide ammunition for my planned late-summer stealth Zucchini bombings by night of our neighbours front stoops.

So there we were, outside by the rows to be planted – Jessica, Lookingforbeauty and me. Seedlings at the ready we busied ourselves planting before nightfall. Lookingforbeauty was placing onion seedlings into available unplanted spots in the rows. I was fluffing up Kale fronds and admiring them, when all of a sudden Lookingforbeauty uttered “Shoo, dog!” I looked up from my admiration of new green seedlings to spot Jessica sprawled, nonchalant among the Brussels Sprouts rows, working her jaws over a healthy bit of growth. I leaped up and made to chase her away, at which threatening gesture she merely hopped to her feet, threw herself onto the grass verge and began to roll around luxuriously, meanwhile keeping a beady eye open should I reach her to give her a swat on the bum.

I made like a shreaking scarecrow, but she simply sprinted around in the garden, making spectacular leaps over the vegetable rows. I looked at the damage she had done to the Brussels Sprouts. Four plants chewed down to their roots in the ground! By this time, Jessica was hiding behind the already planted Kohlrabi on the other side of the row. She was starting in on the Kohlrabi leaves, meanwhile peering out at me from under her awning-like eyebrows. I chased her around some more. She is short and fat, but boy can she move when motivated!

“You’re going to have to keep her out of this garden,” commented Lookingforbeauty. “It’s your own fault, G, for giving her all kinds of vegetables as treats. You spoil that dog!”

“But, just look at that little mug – those saucy eyes, that gooofy clowning she does. I can’t resist her in the slightest.” I said. “At least vegetables are good for her – the vitamins, you know?”

But, I have decided. Those remaining Brussels Sprouts will be in the forefront of my vigilance against the depredations of my vegetarian pooch. So will the Kohlrabi, Kale and Zucchini. If she behaves herself for the rest of the growing season, I promise to let her sample the produce come harvest time. I’m sure Rumpole will not be heart-broken to share the Zucchini bounty with her. Hah!

New lens through which to view life in suburbia…

June 16, 2009

Last Friday, Dr. Seemore carved into my left eye, for what I am hoping is the LAST time, and stitched in a brand new hard lens. I insisted that the radio be turned off during the operation, so no Barry Manilow crooning would ruin the clinical atmosphere. Unless of course, a station with Mozart could be found, which was more acceptable to yours truly. Dr. Seemore rolled his eyes above the surgical mask and ordered the radio turned down.

Recovery is a boring process. No bending down, no gardening, little spurts of reading, lying on one side or the other but not on the back and lots of resting. On the positive side, the days’ heat has been tolerable and the birds have kept up chatter throughout the long wait. This morning, as Jessica and I were taking the early morning vapours outside, we stood still and silent as we watched and listened to a family of crows engaged in instructing fledglings to fly from Lookingforbeauty’s lovely old maple tree next door. Much raucous exhorting of the young crows by their elders to dare take the leap to flying freedom, to coast onto the nearby lawn and then to return to the lower branches of the tree. Much birdish mutterings and complaints from the fledglings, who were more content to hop from branch to branch rather than attempt to take flight. Jessica stood absolutely still under the tree, looking upward in amazement. On any other occasion she would break into fierce barking, but not today. She knows better than to interrupt lessons. Smart dog. And, oddly enough, a Scottie who poses and points.

Today, Glasgow Girl and Mousey are coming to take me for a drive across the new Golden Ears Bridge spanning the Fraser River. We will stop in Fort Langley, walk about enjoying the sunshine and eat lunch at one of the many funky little restaurants there.

Hope all of you are enjoying the balmy days of summer.

Single in Cowtown…

March 30, 2009

Of recent weeks I have been a shut-in, and not for reasons of my own choosing. The stomach flu has felled me and kept me captive of the ‘salle de bain’ as one might politely put it. This naturally has zero amusement quotient. Friends have kept me at phone-call length, in between bouts of delivering broths of various sorts. Rumpole, too, keeps a necessary distance, going so far as to make food and libations for mainly himself so that I cannot contaminate foodstuffs he plans to ingest.

A couple of days ago Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis phoned again to check on my progress or lack thereof. Having her for a friend is like having a personal stand-up comic in attendance and on call to lift the spirits when occasion demands. She regaled me with anecdotes about a particular co-worker at the hospital rehab unit where she works. Apparently this particular chap keeps recovering stroke victims in stitches. Naturally, OLPC is also such a caregiver and provides much levity in a situation that is often fraught with frustration for patients.

So, this time I innocently enquired about any good stories and gossip which might amuse me presently and in times to follow.

“How goes Daphne’s life in Cowtown? Has she sold her house yet? Has she found herself a new man upon whom to lavish her attentions and affections?”

“You know, G,” said OLPC, “Daph hasn’t been able to get a bite on her house yet, and it’s been a year since she’s had her place up for sale. She absolutely hates Cowtown and says it has not much to recommend living there.”

“Is she still boarding the Uni’s water polo boys?”

“Oh, yeah. It keeps her out of trouble. Besides which you know what a controlling den-mother she can be.”

“This must mean she has not found a suitable man her age to hang out with,” I suggested. “I’m surprised she hasn’t given up the quest.”

“On no!” chortled OLPC. “Daphne never gives up the quest, as long as she is breathing. After all… you realize… she is Cougar Extraordinaire. You’ve got to hear a bout the toe-sucking farmers from Canmore!!!”

“The what? The who?…. yuck, blech!”

OLPC proceeded to fill me in on Daphne immersing herself in the famous Cowtown Briar Curling Bonspiel – a mad whirl of watching teams skid flattened bowling balls down the length of ice whilst madly sweeping their brooms ahead of the coasting objects. Apparently this is a well lubricated event, with non-playing teams retiring to the on site watering hole called the Briar Patch, in between their turns on the ice.

Naturally, to a Cougar Extraordinaire, this is prime stalking grounds. Maybe easy stalking grounds. The game tends to be variously inebriated, which makes the hunting unfairly weighted in favour of the hunters, not the hunted. It so happened that Daphne bagged a whole passel of drunken farmers from Canmore, who proceeded, each in turn, to demonstrate that long-lost art of toe-sucking in public spaces. As OLPC was telling me this, I had a mad vision of Daphne, lounging at a bar table with her leg elevated onto the edge of the table, while each Canmore farmer took turns in nibbling at her stockinged toes. Hand kissing, in the French Manner, is something of which I am rather fond, but toe-sucking in the Canmore Fashion defies even my imagination.

We were laughing, helpless with mirth. Naturally, to be fair, there is something in the atmosphere of Cowtown which compels even the most decorous lass and lad to let down their hair and behave in an unthinkable manner in public. I admitted to OLPC that back thirty some years ago, while attending a three-day International Ceramics Symposium in Cowtown, I succumbed to the wild lure of the place and danced on tabletops in a number of bars on the blow-out evening after the symposium.

I never knew I had the capacity for such wanton wildness. Must have been because I was still single then. Got to spot Daphne some leeway, now, since she is once again single, although a middle aged matron with two grown children.

I do wonder how she feels whenever recounting vague memories of this toe-sampling incident. I think I might feel compelled to sign up for a body transplant so no one could ever recognize me as the scandalous recipient of such public and serial attention.

As for the farmers from Canmore, let’s hope they used plenty of mouthwash when they returned to bunk in at their hotel suite.

Still madly chortling in Suburbia…. a shocked Stepford Wife.

First solo ‘white cane’ outing…

January 19, 2009

The morning started out foggy; the suburban streetscape softened and made mysterious seeming by the enveloping haze. The huge cedars across the street loomed a half-tone grey in the pearly atmosphere. The bus stop sign, directly across from my house, was a marginally visible standard. It was to be my destination upon making my first foray, alone and without companions, into the streets. The objective was to travel the few miles by bus, downtown, and run some errands with a hopeful and uneventful return home within a couple of hours.

At breakfast, Rumpole gave me my marching instructions. These were to move slowly, cross streets with great care paying especial attention to my blind left side and to deploy my brand new cane while doing so. “Give drivers exta time to spot you, before crossing a street,” he cautioned, “and, brandish that cane to make yourself noticed.” Then, he added, “for Heaven’s sake, don’t get yourself run over!”

“Yassuh, boss-man,” I growled at him while unsnapping my cane and taking an “en Garde” position to skewer him, if my depth perception might allow. I made a feint to my left and promptly knocked my sunglasses off the table. “You know very well I am not completely blind.”

“Yeah, right.” He shrugged into his winter coat and braved his way over to plant a kiss on my lips. ” Take care, but enjoy yourself,” he said, smiling, as he let himself out the back door.

I began making preparations for my outing. Dug out the bus tickets from my purse; detached a chit, and put it into my coat pocket. Retrieved my sunglasses from the kitchen floor; double checked the bus schedule; downed half a cup of coldish coffee; readied my carry-all; shrugged into my coat; grabbed my purse and keys and took a final look at the kitchen clock. Only ten minutes to go before the bus would stop across the street. But wait! That allowed just enough time to nip into the bedroom and blast myself over thoroughly with my Elizabeth Arden perfume. Even if I am one of the invisible group of ageing women, people might as well smell me from a mile away! (Lookingforbeauty, whenever she drives me downtown makes hideous gagging noises and covers her nose if I have been the slightest bit spritzer happy with the perfume bottle, or, rather if I had forgotten she cannot breathe in the presence of perfume) I figured by the time the bus arrived, the miasma of Elizabeth Arden within which I moved might be somewhat dissipated by the foggy air outside, so the bus driver would not be overcome by my olfactory splendour.

I left the house and locked up. made my way gingerly across the road at the corner and took up position by the bus sign. To busy myself while waiting for the bus to arrive, I carved little animal footprints into the nearby snowbank with the tip of my cane, and then to leave permanent mark of my passage carved in my initials. This activity occupied me until the bus arrived. It slid to a stop on the icy road; the door sighed open and I clambered aboard. Had a bit of difficulty remembering which end of the bus ticket to feed into the reader. The driver, tiring of my attempts to turn the blasted card this way and that in a confusing and idecisive manner, smartly plucked the ticket from my fingers and fed it in. He grabbed it from the machine and read off for me for how long the ticket might be effective. I had 90 minutes to do my stuff downtown. I sat down behind the driver, figuring that he might appreciate the wafting of delicious smell from behind him; after all, he did not pass out while I was fooling around at the ticket reader. He did not gag, but then maybe he was holding his breath, because he was kind of surly and quiet when I attempted to engage him in small talk. Maybe he was deaf?

Since my last trip by bus downtown, the vehicles have been equipped with a system whereby a woman, who sounds suspiciously like the woman they have on recorded messages for all local utility companies, read out the names of all stops. Very irritating, this. She sounds a bit like a breathless radio announcer. Maybe all the bus drivers in the Bus Drivers Union demanded that a recording spare them from using their voices; or at least maybe this installed system allows the bus company to interchange drivers at will – they won’t have to know where they are if unfamiliar with the routes. Sally tells them where they are.

This driver was in somewhat of a hurry because he took turns as if in the LeMans car race – with great verve and insouciance. It was a fun, but brief, trip to town centre and I felt as if I had survived a wee bit of adventure. I clambered down from the bus at the end of the line and took my bearings. Still the fog; not too many cars going by; not many persons on the street. I pitter pattered my way south in the direction of the mall where I had to do some business. Played with my cane, tapping and testing all and any surfaces along my passage to learn their characteristic sounds – ping, for metal; thunk, for wood; swish, for shrubbery; crisp scrunch, for frozen snow-banks; and finger-nail-file scraping for concrete. The place where crossing became necessary I misguaged the depth of the sidewalk and came down hard and short. Stood there craning my neck in all directions to spot moving cars and waited for them to roll to stop and let me make passage across. The left side vision is problematic for me, so I held out the cane and waited before proceeding. What a bother. No more nipping and skipping across the streets for me. Aargh! I hated feeling so vulnerable.

The walk was not the usual brisk one; it was more of a cautious creeping. The terrain was not familiar, and like all unfamiliar terrain must be learned to negotiate from scratch. No more automatic pilot for this old Gal! The walk, slow as it was, did feel good though, especially since I was independent and alone. The air felt moist and cool on my face; my hands were warm inside gloves; and I was snugly buttoned up in my wool coat.

I did my errands in the mall. Dropped in on a shop-keeping acquaintance, checked out her new shipment of beautiful spring clothes and gossiped a bit with her. Her shop dog, a spoiled Bichon Frise, bared her fangs at me and snarled. Nothing has changed there! Checked out a big sale of discontinued foot-wear, which did not tempt. Went into the childrens’ shop and browsed for books for Mousey. Nothing caught my interest there. I decided to retrace my steps back to the bus loop, if indeed I would be able to return home on my ticket before it expired.

I tap-tapped my way back and noted the metal grating around the trunks of decorative trees planted in the middle of the side-walk. Explored the pattern of the grating with my cane and the music that could be made by riffling the cane tip across the patterns. Very charming sounds! The tree trunks were smoothish, and I dragged the cane around the girths to hear the texture. This way of moving about intentionally gives rise to new and different sense experiences. One’s passage is accompanied by novel (to me) soundscape. The walk took me back to where the bus had ejected me. The time it took to take the walk was immeasurable. For one, I do not wear a watch. For another, I was happily occupied with new sensations.

The bus ride home was more leisurely; the driver more amenable to chatting. We exchanged sightings of Julia Major, a local woman who parades around topless as soon as the weather turns springish, and who is the bane of all public utilities which have to provide service for people with all kinds of ability and disability. She is litiginous in the extreme, and I told the driver of a Julia sighting where she threatened to sue Translink, when the bus’s ramp for wheelchairs broke at the stop she was insisting on getting off via the ramp, rather than walking off as she had walked on. The driver joked, that had Julia been on the bus with me this day, she would have given him an earful of diatribe for him allowing me to climb solo on to the bus without him helping me. We had a good chuckle.

The driver stopped the bus next to my driveway, so I wouldn’t have to stroll across any snow or ice. I thanked him and waved my cane in good-by, let myself in through the back door, hung up my coat and made myself a cup of coffee. It had been a satisfactory first outing with my white cane, and I had enjoyed myself.

Martha travels to India for Christmas…

December 20, 2008

Rumpole was off this evening, having gone into the city for dinner with Man of Science. So I made dinner of gulyas for Martha, Lookingforbeauty and me, what I jokingly called “The last Supper”, given that Martha will be enjoying more exotic fare during the next two weeks. You see, she is flying off to Delhi tomorrow, where she will meet her sister-in-law to travel around together. To prepare her palate for more spicy food, I had been rather liberal with tossing in hot Hungarian paprika into the gulyas while assembling it this afternoon. Martha dutifully choked back the meal, but it was a bit apparent that it was a slight bit too hot, as she consumed many glasses of water during the meal. She is far too polite to make pointed comments, but is known on occasion to grab her throat in a dramatic fashion and cough dramatically, but it is not something she did tonight. She just drank her copious amounts of aqua and regaled us with airport experiences.

It is apparent that she dislikes the airport checking-in routines, and maybe is dreading her upcoming experience at YVR tomorrow evening. She fears being singled out for extensive searches and frisking with the screechy wands. As she puts it, if there are several Hell’s Angels types languishing in the lineup with her, it is inevitably she who is selected to have her suitcase ransacked and picked apart with close scrutiny – she who looks like your average middle-aged lady teacher of French, complete with matching sweater set, sensible shoes and perm, jauntily accessorized with a cavalierly tossed long scarf about her neck and shoulders. Sort of like your every day middle-aged female terrorist, she snarls with sarcasm.

As well, she may be anticipating being mugged, because dinner conversation thoroughly covered the topic of older people being set upon by hooligans on the prowl for easy pickings. She and Lookingforbeauty engaged in a lively exchange over a recent sting operation set up by the Vancouver Police Force. With the aid of local film make-up artists, they made male and female decoys up as elderly or indigent persons and sent them out on the mean streets to entrap the thugs who victimize the helpless and infirm. There seems to be a theme during our women’s dinners that keeps cropping up lately with more frequency than I can remember from previous years. It is the theme of personal safety, and how fearful and increasingly cautious each of us is becoming when out and about on our peregrinations.

Martha smartly pointed out to us that her chances of being mugged, here in our own small municipality, is as great or maybe even greater than that happening to her in India. Of course, I was too busy stuffing my face to counter-argue with an observation that whilst one is in familar territory with known landmarks and a businesslike manner of moving positively toward known goals and not distracted by unfamiliar and fascinating sights and details, one tends to be more attuned to what is happening in the immediate surroundings. Hence, more watchful, aware, and less likely to be taken by surprise, although that possibility does exist even here, on known turf.

Martha demonstrated to us how she planned to carry her money and Visa and her passport – in a small zippered purse she can sling around her body and grab in front, close to her body, with one hand. Killjoy that I am, I pointed out how I could come up close behind her on a crowded sidewalk, cut her purse-strap and yank the purse from her grasp. Of course, she pooh-poohed my cautions and asked how on earth she was supposed to visit restaurants and shops with her goodies hidden in a pouch under her clothes.
“What, am I supposed to do a strip-tease every time I want to buy something?” she asked irritably.
Lookingforbeauty commented that chances of being mugged are probably higher in Italy than in India. Martha was going to India. She was going with a tour and would be safe. But, Lookingforbeauty reminded Martha never to leave her purse on the floor, or just sitting at her side at a restaurant table.

Bur surely, tourists from North America stick out like sore thumbs whilst in India. And not just because they walk about gaping at everything about them, either. Their clothing sets them apart. Oh, well, both Martha and Lookingforbeauty dismissed me as a well-meaning Nervous Nellie and changed the subject. As I ate my way through dinner, I half-listened to them chatting about previous overseas adventures, while being distracted by thought of what kind of footwear Martha might choose to wear on this trip.

As a non-sequitur I blurted out, “I hope you are not planning to wear sandals. There are monkeys about in India, and they bite.”
I was visualizing Martha hopping about on one foot screaming her lungs out in pain, while the offending, biting, monkey sauntered off licking its bloody chops. Then the rabies shots at the local clinic, and what have you, AND limping about with a bandaged foot at the ghats in Varanesi.

Of course, Martha is excited by an opportunity to ride on an elephant at one of the stop-offs. Shades of her camel riding adventure in the Australian outback! I just hope, this time her room-mate, her sister-in-law, doesn’t end up Mace-ing her during her elephant trek. But true to form, Martha will have somethings unlikely and unexpected happenings during her India adventure, with which she will entertain us for months upon her return.

As she prepared to leave for home, Martha complained that she probably not going to get much sleep tonight. She was nervously excited. I imagine she will unpack and repack her bag several times during the night just to double and triple-check that she had everything she might possibly need on this trip. I nipped into the bathroom drug cupboard and brought the over-the-counter sleep aids that I use from time to time. Whatever is in it sure knocks one out cold, with no lingering morning hangover. I doled out 4 tablets and read her the dosage instructions while she wrapped the pills inside a twist of paper.

Martha wrapped herself up in her sheared fake beaver coat, wound her long Bolivian scarf around her throat, struggled into her winter boots. We hugged and kissed good-bye at the studio door and she went out into the bright snowy cold night.

“See you in two weeks,” she called back from her car.

“Stay well and have great adventures! We’re looking forward to your marvellous reports!” I closed the door and waved at her through the window as she drove away.

Not another sweater…

November 26, 2008

Anyu always held close to the belief that appropriate Christmas presents for men in the family were either a sweater, an LP of music beloved by the recipient or a book of some esoteric character that was to edify the recipient.. She really looked askance when I gifted Renaissance man on his 18th Christmas with a stuffed ‘Bill the Cat’. Rumpole has long disabused me of the gifted sweater. So for these two men in my life, Christmas gifting has proved to be an adventure, of sorts.

A couple of years ago I gave Renaissance Man a fold out huge cultural history of the world. It opened up the length of his living room, and he seemed to enjoy reading esoteric bits of information from among the ages. The gift that both he and Rumpole took particular delight in was when they received guitar lessons for 4 months. This was 18 years ago, and I must say, it has been a gift that has kept giving. They joined a band, and have played together for 12 years now, and entertain us at home with musicales regularly.

This Christmas seemed particularly problematic. What does one gift a grown man who has alost everything his heart could desire? I stewed and fretted about this for months now. I want him to enjoy life, to keep learning while he can and to model that learning and enjoyment for his young daughter.

Last weekend, he and Glasgow Girl brought Mousey over for a visit. Here was the perfect occasion to put the query to him. I had cleverly and casually placed the new second-hand recorder I had bought at the thrift store, as an inducement to pique Mousey’s curiosity. True to form, as soon as she spied it, she picked it up and asked, “What is this?”

“Blow in the end,” suggested Rumpole, “It’s a recorder.”

She picked it up and tooted away with it in great delight. “Here, Mouse, ” said RM, “I’ll show you how to put your fingers.” He played the scale for her, but she couldn’t when she tried; her hands were much too small.

She marched about the kitchen and tooted away, experimenting with blowing through breaths.

“Mom, you’re such a trouble maker,” said RM. “Every time you introduce her to new things, she keeps bugging us to keep playing with them.”

Heh, heeh, that’s the plan – I thought to myself. it’s never too early.

“You know, R.M., you have a really good singing voice,” said Rumpole.

“Yeah,” I agreed, ” you have perfect pitch. Every time you sing with the band I have to pinch myself. You nail the songs so perfectly. But you lack confidence.”

“How would you like to receive singing lessons as a Christmas present, this year?” asked Rumpole.

Renaissance Man looked at each of us in turn. “You know,” he said, “it might be kind of fun. Only I don’t want to go to someone’s house for lessons.”

“Okay,” I said, ” I have the perfect place to order up lessons for you, the local music school. See if you like what they have on offer.”

So, that was that. Renaissance Man is intrigued by the possibility of voice lessons. My job was to do the research on this possibility.

So this week’s job for me was to find the singing teacher, which I did, and to order up lessons, which Rumpole and I did, this evening after having dinner with Lookingforbeauty. We drove to the music school in the dark of evening, and made arrangements with the pleasant director of the school. In January, Renaissance Man is to start his weekly lessons on Tuesday nights. I think he will be well pleased.

While at the music studio, I asked about replacement strings for my cheapo violin. They had them, and Rumpole bought a set for me. We drove home in the dark, well delighted with the possibility of making more music, en famille. I can hardly wait for Christmas – a book of songs for Renaissance Man to go with his singing lessons, and perhaps my newly strung violin along for Christmas dinner to play some reels. Of course, I shall have to practice during the coming weeks. I know for sure that Jessica, our Scottish Terrier will accompany me on the violin. She hates my music, or my singing, and joins in a chorale accompanyment appropriate to my level of playing.

It promises to be a musical New Year for us all. I can hardly wait to hear Renaissance Man let loose with his wonderful voice.

“Dear Heloise…”, er, I mean, “Dear Crabby…”

July 16, 2008

Oh, but we are a world of seekers after information, on how to or not do things, always on the hunt for new, novel or tried and true solutions for our many questions. Having access to a computer is a contemporary equivalent of being in possession of an encyclopaedia set for loftier bits of knowledge, of owning a book on household hints or consulting the “Dear Abby” column in the morning newspaper.

Why, just the other day, I googled some new/old knowledge on how to make my own laundry soap, whipped up a simple concoction of three ingredients and now am happily laundering away with nary a phosphate in the wake of such domestic activity. Can an old dog learn new tricks? You betcha! Especially when having a PC, an electronic oracle, to consult.

To my surprised delight, while perusing the search engine terms used to find my blogs for morning amusement, I find I have now joined, like many other blogger beavering away in obscurity, the illustrious company of “Dear Ann…Dear Abby, Dear Heloise… and er, Dear Martha”. It seems that some of my trove of lore and wisdom is sought after by a few innocents pounding away on their computer keyboards.

How have they stumbled upon my blog? Naturally, via search engine terms, which are the efficient substitute to flipping through volumes of encyclopaedias. As a giving sort of person, I shall humbly attempt to oblige these seekers. But first, I need to have a catchy ‘nom de plume’. Aha! Shall it be “Dear Crabby”? Sort of suits my persona rather well, according to Rumpole and other intimates. So “Dear Crabby” it shall be. Has a ring to it, a famous sort of ring?

First question I shall address is:  “how to avoid chafing armpits in ocean” ?????

Dear Sun, Surf and Sex;

Your question caused me to give a vigorous scratch to my scalp. Even though I search my memory, back, back into the mists of time, I cannot recall an occasion when I ever chafed my armpits in the ocean. But, of course, I am not in the habit of trying to remove armpit hair-growth by rubbing up against coral reefs, which I am told by knowledgeable sources is not a recommended method of depilation. Besides possibly hurting, this action might cause one to develop a severe infection, if perhaps the blood released into the ocean by chafing did not at first attract the attention of man-eating sharks. I suggest you don’t expose your armpits to chafing whilst playing in or near the ocean. Please exercise caution if you want to avoid unnecessary drama in your life.

                                                                                                     Crabby

The second question, even more baffling, is : “cigarette ash for facials”….????

Dear Ex-Smoker;

Please give up on the idea that cigarette ash is an ingredient in facial unguents. The “friend” who gave you the recipe is not your friend, but a hardened enemy. She was perhaps likening your complexion to the surface of a walnut dining-room table which has been besmirched by numerous white water rings and spots. This is definitely hostility being aimed at you. You may not know that one can get rid of white water rings on varnished wood surfaces by mixing a salve comprised of butter and cigarette ash. However, delicate human skin cannot well survive the application of such concoction and I highly recommend against it. Suck it up, and carry on with whatever resulting skin condition has been gifted you by a lifetime of smoking the evil weed.

                                                                               Crabby

Anyone else needing me to dispense with hard-won wisdom, delivered without holding back, please address your questions to “Dear Crabby”.