Friday, January 30, 2004

People keep adding to my 'gotta do' list while I'm trying to get rid of 'gotta do's so I can get some of my 'wanna do's done.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Amidst all the noise, confusion and craziness that is our family, Banana turned 12 today.

Friday, January 23, 2004

It is still dark as I rise from a warm, comfortable position and venture into the day. I sit on the edge of the bed and s-t-r-e-t-c-h, bringing blood and life into muscles that have laid dormant for the past few hours. The cool air of the house isn't prickly enough to penetrate the warm fog of tired that I wear. Feet are jammed into my heavy, comfortable slippers before I stand, then walk to the hallway and down to the shower.

I gently introduce my eyes to light - first the dim glow of the range hood light (a mere 15 watts), then the distant brightness of the light above the stairs (a 60 watt bulb here) and down the stairs and round teh corner to the twin-60-watt-luminosity of the bathroom. I reach into the shower and turn on the water, adjusting the water pressure lever to a position that I know will produce a soothing-but-not-scalding temperature. I allow the hot water time to reach the shower stall before I venture in. A quick pee, then I'm ready, as I prepare to step into the coursing stream, eyes still squinting to block out the harshness of white lights against white tiles. The basement floor is cold and I surrender my slippers begrudgingly.

Soon, the water envelops me, fifty tiny streams hissing into my scalp and running in rivulets through my hair and down my neck, back and chest. It's right about here that I start to wake up and realize what is going on.

It's morning.

The Missus is gone off to work already, and I begin my breakfast of oatmeal, apples, brown sugar and a glass of milk. If I'm really hungry, I'll steal a bit of the kids' cereal for a second bowl. By now, I have woken Banana and McMonk up and they are having breakfast with me. We are talking about what we have planned for the day, what we are doing that night, what is coming up on the weekend. It's a great ritual that brings me closer to them and helps wake us all up before leaving the house.

I have shaved before breakfast in my comfortingly traditional routine. I make two passes over my face with the Braun, going with and against the grain of my whiskers, making sure to be smooth and thorough. I dab on a discrete amount of aftershave balm (Perry Ellis 360) - I know razor burn will follow if I don't. I try not to use too much as to be aromatically intrusive. Next, a few quick swipes with an industrial-strength deodorant, just in case, then open my razor and tap the whiskers into the sink (four taps, always) then close up the razor and wash the whiskers down the drain.

Onwards into my routine - I next find myself in front of a my closet. I pick something comfortable as my job demands, but always clean and (preferably) pressed. I like shirts that button up with button-down collars. Denim or at least cotton pants and always, always a belt. When I'm not feeling like a dress shirt, I'll sometimes choose a sweater, or sometimes a t-shirt - perhaps a vest overtop. My sleeves will be rolled up by the end of the day. I may roll them up as I put on the shirt. I like having my hands and forearms free of fabric, to the point of choosing shirts without sleeves, and not wearing watches or jewelry. I mentioned this to my mother one evening, and she noted that as long as she can remember, her father was the exact same way. How peculiar.

With lunches made and placed in backpacks, I leave the house with the girls and head up the alleyway to school. As soon as we get to the end of our property, Banana and McMonk see their friends and rush off to walk with them. I stop at the end of the driveway and watch them walk the 1/2 block to the chain-link fence surrounding school grounds, then they dissappear into the gate.

Then I turn to go back into the house and see the sky.

It's beautiful. A thin, high layer of cloud has lit up with purples, oranges, reds and other colours that there aren't names for yet. Even though the crisp January air isn't the least bit warm, the fire in the sky touches something deep within me and I send out a "thank you" to God, the Collective Good or whatever it is that brought me to this spot and made me aware of all of this. The sun is still lingering under the horizon.

So, I stood for a full minute and drank in the moment. And that's why I was late for work yesterday morning.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Someone asks you to do something.

You hesitate before saying you'll do it. Then they ask you, "Oh, do you mind?"

What they're really asking is, "Do you want me to be all pissy at you for the rest of the day?"

Answer accordingly.
This evening, at the dinner table, my youngest daughter informed me that I don't have a bum.

She tells me I have a gluteus maximus. What are they teaching these kids in school these days?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Sweet like maple sugar on pancakes.
Sweet like a long stalk of grass that you just picked on a warm summer afternoon.
Sweet like a recently-cut Granny Smith apple while it's still cold from the fridge.
Sweet like hot chocolate afer you've been outside tobogganing.
Sweet like a bit of icing that you gently remove from the corner of your lover's mouth.
Sweet like juicy watermelon slices, dripping and running down your fingers.
Sweet like brown sugar on warm oatmeal after sleeping in.

That's the kind of sweet I'm talking about.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Contentment and a busy work schedule don't do much for blogging fodder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Every dog has it's day, and Devon (our dog) has had a few extra. Her time with us is just about up. She is no where near the active, friendly, ever-barking dog she once was. We've noticed that her energy level had dropped substantially as of late. Devon is quiet, almost to the point of not knowing where she is in the house, even if she is right behind you. Her fur is looking awful - it is thinning out substantially and has bald spots along her spine, on her hindquarters and around her neck. Her back legs shake when she stands still and she finds it hard to jump up onto the sofa (which she's not supposed to do anyways but does). She's lost about 30% of her adult body weight and feels quite bony when I pick her up. Her stomach is quite weak as evidenced by the dog puke she leaves for us when she gets a treat that she can't handle. She can only eat dry kibbles (regular dog food) and not much else. Devon has always been a dog that has loved her treats (dog biscuits, toast crusts and the very occasional scrap of cheese) are the only treats she gets, but lately, unless it is something really tasty, she's not too interested in taking it when it is offered.

Is she enjoying life? That's something I wonder about all the time. I feel she is definitely at the end of her days on this mortal coil, but when will the end come? And will that end come quickly, or will she get to the point where she can't get around comfortably, or can't keep any food down? I've considered that she might be close to that point, as I've sat beside her when she was resting, and heard her wheezing (in pain or discomfort?) as she lay still. Is she at the point now that life is no fun for her? She constantly needs to be around a family member when we are home, even more than she did in her adult years. I'm almost scared to take her to the vet, as they may recommend a bunch of intrusive medications or procedures to prolong her life, but not add to the quality of it. Devon has already had a bunch of teeth pulled and I fear that she may need more dental work. If she had more pulled, I doubt that she could eat solid food, and her stomach couldn't take anything else - she'd throw anything else up.

One of the things that I have considered is euthanizing her. I'm uncomfortable with this for one reason - I would have to be the one to make the decision and the one to actually take her to the vet for the final time. Also, the question comes to mind of "how much suffering is too much suffering?" We enjoy her company, but I don't want just her existence to be a burden to Devon. The girls would miss her (as I would, too).

Life is something that is a great gift - even for a dog.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The air is crisp and clean. Snow crunches under my feet. My daughters and their friends chatter happily away as we walk along the sidewalk, where melting snow has caused oozes of ice across the once-clean-shoveled concrete. The weight of the ringette stick that carries several pairs of skates including my own presses down through my heavy jacket onto my shoulder. I shift the load to the other side. My brisk pace causes the girls to fall behind slightly, but they don't seem to notice. Evening comes quickly and the last bit of the day is used to travel to the outdoor rink near our house.

Lacing up four pairs of skates in the cool January air brings out the age in my hands - the skin stretches across my knuckles and my fingers become cold and white from the effort. I feel the night nip at my ear, making me wish I'd brought a toque. One by one, the girls rise from the wooden bench that has been painted red too many times. Helmets are hastily added and shoes are left where they fell in the snow as everyone makes their way to the ice. The frozen plywood acts as a sounding board for the solid "ka-chunk" of a puck. The click-clack of the hockey sticks punctuates teenage laughter and conversation as we make our way onto the ice under the bluish-green rink-light glow.

I move across the ice in ways that feel familiar. Childhood has different memories of skating - cold, pinching feet and awkwardness. Now, I glide comfortably, smoothly, as my legs do as they're told. The girls busy themselves, working out child rules for sharing the three sticks that were brought along. Oldest passes on tricks to youngest - raising, where to shoot, when to pull back and fire. They shoot at a goal with a tattered, old shawl of a net, hanging forlornly on the metal frame. A group of teenage boys and girls have silently given up half their ice to our little group. I, like a lumbering old patriarchal bear, circle about on our half of the rink. The biting sound of steel on ice pleases me, as foot crosses over foot in the corners. There's no wind to carry away the warmth I feel at this moment.

The evening is perfect. My children are at play.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Tonight, I'm feeling old. The last of my wisdom teeth is causing me some discomfort (I'm off to the dentist tomorrow). My skin is definitely losing it's elasticity - my eyes are getting wrinkles in the corners lines underneath.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I don't know why I've been so tired lately. It certainly isn't from over-exercising.

Friday, January 02, 2004

If you don't think 45 seconds is a long time, that's because you're not a burrito that has already been in the microwave for a minute and a half.


It's probably a good thing that my coworkers think of me as staid, respectable, family-oriented and boring.

I'm less likely to get into trouble that way.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

As we did last year, our family decided to ring in the New Year with a healthy activity - an 8 km run.

It's an organized event called The Resolution Run. We ran from the Eau Claire Market to the Crowchild Trail bridge and back. There were over 1400 runners out and the temperature (according to the clock/thermometer display at the CBC office on Memorial Drive) was -5c. Banana and I made up words to Christmas carols, modified to match the conditions ("Walking in a Winter Wonderland" became "Running in our Winter Underwear"). As McMonk wasn't up to doing the run, we decided it would be best for her to volunteer on the route, so she stayed with Shawna, one of the Missus' friends. When we met up with Shawna in the Eau Claire Market, the first thing Shawna said was, "Hi McMonk. We should go get some candy to eat while we're out on the course." Right there and then, an instant bond was formed. We ran past McMonk and Shawna twice. Shawna smiled and waved, while McMonk was shouting at the runners to stay on their side of the pylons. They both seemed to be having a good time.

After the run, we headed out for pizza at a Greek restaurant. The girls impressed the owner of the restaurant be thanking her in Greek (it's fun to do stuff like that). After dinner, we headed home and watched the big countdown to 2004 on TV. The Missus was beat, so she headed for be at 10 pm. I could have been out at any number of big events, dancing the night away, but I was home with my daughters, cuddled up on the sofa. It was a quiet way to end 2003, but a comfortable one.