Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sinking in

I don't think it has "sunk in" yet.

Or maybe it's just starting to. It doesn't quite feel like reality yet. That she's gone. None of it went as planned.

I couldn't be reached this afternoon. I was playing a half-day's hooky from work to be with a close friend who's enduring girl-troubles of the most serious kind. The kind where the girl is a cohabitant and his bed may soon - at short notice - cease being his. He's been taking stock of which friends and family have guest rooms or a decent couch at their disposal. We hit the road in a big way and cruised some dear old familiar landscapes along with one of our favorite lunch venues and one of our favorite old dessert venues too.

Meanwhile Blue, the miracle dog was running out of miracles. She was facing the veterinarian yet again and being diagnosed with cancer.

"There's nothing we can do."

She appeared to be suffering, I'm told. It's her fifteenth year. The decision was a no-brainer.

So it was done without me. A blessing that I didn't have to endure it but a huge bag of guilt and regret too. It's tough to put aside the massive illogical sentimentality that surrounds it all.

"They're like one of the family," everyone says to me. Everyone. As if they've held a secret meeting to strategize my handling.

I'm not sure 'family' is the right word. I don't suspect a dog has any concept of 'family' but sure as hell there's a bond. Sure as hell.

She will not be buried at my parents' farm as was planned either. The ex suddenly objects. For reasons that are bizarre and selfish of course as is all altered reasoning that comes out of that sadly deranged head but I won't fight about it. I relinquished claim of guardianship when we split up five or six years ago. So the decision is not mine. Blue's body will be quietly and anonymously eliminated.

I have pictures, videos and some of her toys and most importantly - memories. That will suffice. I'm not sure a headstone is altogether appropriate for an animal anyway.

Damn. I would have liked one though. And she deserved one if any dog ever did.

You were an exceptional dog, Blue. I'll write stories about you.

I'll miss you always.

Monday, October 16, 2006

But it was on the way home!

Okay. Lesson learned.

Just because it's on the way home from work - is no excuse for shopping at No Frills. Not if it's as dismal a crap-hole as this particular No Frills at Bristol Road and Creditview. Oh - by the way - there is no view of the Credit River from Creditview. None whatsoever. That's a myth I refuse to propagate.

However misguided, the No Frills is on the route home and I see it coming just as I realize I'm much too low on groceries to make a worthwhile dinner, so I pull in and park in their chewed-up debris-ridden parking lot.

Steak and salad appeals - and is compatible with the detubberization project.

The entrance door places you in the produce section which is a bit of an Alice-in-Wonderland experience. The mushrooms are lettuce-green in colour but the lettuce is mushroom-brown so at least there is balance in this alternate universe.

I choose some Portobello shrooms that don't look too bad. They're all undersized so I get three instead of two. I can find no baby spinach and no arugula so I resign myself to settle for the spring mix. The problem of course with spring mix is the gamble. It comes in a big clear tub which seems as though it will yield a great many servings but then you only get a couple days out of it before a few pieces suddenly turn zombie, becoming this sea-weedy black mushy slime. And then it's all over. It spreads like cancer and you're done for.

But at this No Frills there is no gamble. The longevity of their spring mix is clearly indicated and guaranteed. The little black zombies are already present in each tub for sale thus indicating that it will last precisely as long as it takes for you to drive it to your home and throw it in the garbage.

So I search through all the heads of lettuce instead and choose the one that is closest to lettuce-colour.

The red peppers are all shriveled up so despite the intriguing purplish discolorations, I pass. I don't even bother to inspect the green peppers. It occurs to me that the greenish-looking peppers might actually be red peppers gone wrong and the reddish ones might actually be green peppers for all I know - or perhaps they're just oversized raisins with reddish discolorations.

The goat cheese is all on the watery side for some reason but I'm impressed they even stock it so I take one. It's plain. They offer no pepper, dill or herb varieties of course. That's against their principles. Those snobby uppity types who eat goat cheese with dill and drink imported chardonnay are simply not welcome here.

It's like the old Sawmill Creek commercials from years ago when I used to watch TV: No pretentiousness! No attitude! Just really really horrid wine for nice simple people like you who don't know any better! - or something to that effect. I remember stopping at the liquor store once to pick up a couple bottles of decent wine to package as a birthday present for my friend. I spied a display of Sawmill Creek White Zinfandel on sale for $6 a bottle. The cheapest thing in the entire store but still overpriced in this case. I passed on that of course. At the party later my friend's next-door neighbor showed up. He was relatively new to the crowd and popular on account of being good-looking and on account of all my friends at that time being hopelessly incapable of detecting freaks and losers when they see them. I had long ago learned that professional freak-detectors like me must bite our tongues in these situations and allow our poor companions to clue in for themselves ever so gradually. The usual period is about nine months. Some things just can not be taught.

So anyway - Freak Neighbor showed up for the party toting a bottle of wine - non-wrapped and without a card. The wine was - anyone? Anyone? That's right. Sawmill Creek White Zinfandel. He proudly marched up to birthday boy and held the six-dollar investment up for they and the crowd to see and proudly announced that this was his favorite of all wines and that he's sure birthday boy will like it. The crowd tilted their heads and batted their eyelashes. There were very high contingents of straight girls and gay men in this crowd, you see. I just yawned and checked my calendar. The bozo had just a few months to go.

Back to the present. Enough Alice's adventures in produce land. I head for the meat. There's a large area of bare shelves in the meat section. Very strange. And sure enough - it is the steak section. They have the usual half-ass selection of pork and chicken products, a couple trays of cubed beef for stewing and one single steak. Just one. I kid you not. I scoop it up. It's a dismal $3 blade steak affair. I roll my eyes and put it back down. But wait. I pick it up again and hold it just the right distance from my eyes. Right at that sweet spot where I can still focus. My eyes have been deteriorating when I wasn't looking. My eyeglasses are losing effectiveness. I now observe that the steak actually looks nicely marbled. Perhaps it will do. I keep it. No Frills is now officially steak-less. I grab a quart of 10% cream for coffee and on a whim I cruise the nasal-burn aisle - you know what I mean, right? The nasal-burn aisle? The one that reeks of laundry detergent? And I'm delighted to discover that they carry replacement flushable pads for our Super Happy Fresh Brush. Excellent. Kudos to you, No Frills. I'd underestimated you.

Back in the parking lot I begin to cross from one aisle to the next by route of a pair of empty parking spaces end-to-end. But a gal in a pick-up truck wishes not to wait for me and pulls in from the opposite side. I stop, sigh and turn around to pursue another route. I can hear her running over and crushing glass bottles as she parks. I can't help but smile. I owe thanks to whatever gang of teenage boozers had been loitering here on the weekend.

I see the gal is now out of her truck and squatting, inspecting the broken glass beneath her tires. I keep having these experiences. No one who crosses me prospers! I am some kind of supernatural Karma Man. I need to get me some tights and big letter K for my chest. And a cape of course. I suppose an old towel will do.

Back home I cook the steak carefully to medium rare and use a little more Montreal steak spice and pepper than I would normally and I also add a little salt and melt a bit of butter over it. Measures I don't normally resort to. And though it pains me to confess - I must. The steak was actually pretty good. A bona fide bargain at $3. Thank you No Frills.

The cream however - was no bargain. I've been hoodwinked. I should have noticed that the blue colouring on the carton was a suspiciously lighter shade of blue. Or should I say tint? I finally discover that the boldface text reading 10% is actually part of a greater message reading Tastes like 10%! Way over in the corner in regular non-bold text is the label 5%.

Let me explain something in case anyone's confused.

Everything tastes like what it is. Apples taste like apples and oranges taste like oranges. 5% cream tastes like 5% cream and 10% like 10%! Never will one taste like the other! It's all ipso facto!

Get a life, Nielsen. You suck.

They don't even offer any explanation - BS or otherwise - on the carton as to how they supposedly pulled off this miracle of making one thing taste like another. Perhaps they're making lead taste like gold while they're at it. Morons.

I tell you folks. It's astonishing - the outrageousness of the lies that we hear constantly in this society. Constantly. Every day. Every minute. How are we so retardedly docile that priests, politicians, marketers and every ass hole wanting to make a buck can say whatever the hell they want without fear of consequence?

Three cheers for the misinformation age. Three cheers for freedom of speech. Accountability? What's that? No cheers for you, accountability. Why are you even in the dictionary?

How are we such unthinking sheep? How are we seduced into playing this game? Just drifting along fulfilling all our societal expectations without question.

Or is it that we all know about the bullshit but we're happier to play the game? That fighting it will only yield frustration and misery? Maybe that's it. Happiness trumps misery any day, I concede. Maybe you're right and I'm wrong. Maybe I should shut up about it. But I can't. I need the truth. I gotta have it. It's a drug for me. It really is. It's why I write.

Oh dear. I've turned a nice fun little No Frills bashing session into a terrible rant. I'm sorry. I shall stop now. Or as Galadriel said:

I shall diminish, and go into the West, and remain Fantasy Writer Guy!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Trek

A dissertation of my dear friend's birthday dinner - um - not exactly written in the usual style:

And so the trek begins
In a boat of bananas
Shooting down the forbidden highway
Tracked by the omnipresent electric eyes
Of the profiteers
Kin of the treacherous grits

Safe in the town of Burl
We coast unto the rows
Of homely homes
Where the professor awaits
With Calicoco
The looniest cat in the West

Where Ice box foraging yields the nectar
Of barley and berries
Where the cellar dwelling farmer's blend
Too long confined
Is brought forth to the light of day
Where it dances like prunes
On a ticklish tongue

Where the Captain arrives at last
Safe returned from Fidoland
With six shoes for the six-legged beast
Only to gather us into the mothercraft
And wisk us away to the land of the cask

To the great hall
Where people are milling
And firewater is spilling down our gullets
Chased by the radish of horses

Beams of crimson light
Dancing on the mage's disc
Summon us to our place of honour
Among the commoners

The three Brads
And a servant not named Brad
Who pours the essence of the grape from down under
Into our goblets
And summons a flask of the Pelegrino
To appease Captain Vino

And the tid bits from the sea
Are brought forth and arrayed
On the feasting table
Neptunes shrooms afluffed
And unspoilt fishes sliced and dressed
And scallops disguised in pig's clothing
And the limbs of the great calamari
Torn asunder and layed in a platter
Of the finest adornments
For no defilement be too great a sacrifice
When a Brad's craving demands sated
And there new words are created
And the legend of Percentametrus debated
And life's years counted and celebrated

Bellies fair bursting with the slain cow
And the lowly potato
And the servent well rewarded
We all are reboarded onto the mothercraft
And forth go we on dark roads
To the now familiar abode
Where the beast is shoed
And the chamber door barred
And songs of the Z are sang
Unto the heavens of the Gods of slumber


So there you go. I'm thinking of making this the permanent style of the blog. Everything will be a Homeric epic poem from now on - or - not. Okay, maybe not. Maybe I'm the only one who likes that sort of thing.