30 January, 2010

food, man!

last night we had company for dinner.

it's been a good long while since we have had an official dinner for people. sure, there's been plenty of informal noshing, some drop-in-for-teaing, and even the occasional come-have-some-cakeing, but very little actual sit-down-dinnering. and you know what? it was fun! not only was the company delightful (the way to my heart is to have seconds!) but i had forgotten how much i love feeding people. that polish part of my soul that had been lying dormant for a good long time has burst forth and is ready for more.

one of the glorious little byproducts was my re-discovery of brown butter. brown butter, you ask? isn't it just butter...that has been browned? why yes, yes it is, but "just" is not the word i would use to describe it. browning butter, takes an already glorious thing (oh butter, how i adore thee!), and raises it to olympian heights. it has a nutty, rich, beautiful, mellow flavour, a symphony of goodness. oh yes.

what did i do with the brown butter, you ask? well, i thinly sliced up a bunch of brussels sprouts, very quickly steamed them until they were bright bright green, tossed them into the pan of browned butter and sauteed them until they were tender crisp, just a few minutes. i suspect you could skip the pre-steaming entirely but mr. monkey was not convinced. so you say you aren't that fond of brussels sprouts? i dare you to try them this way and not want more. i tossed in some locally grown toasted hazelnuts into the mix as well, but they just seemed unnecessary. far more glamorous in theory than in practice, so save yer nuts!

we also had a garlic roast pork that had been cooking for nearly 4 hours until all the bad bits disappeared, the good bits got all fall-aparty and the onions surrounding it turned into a jammy gravy, with mashed potatoes, and maple-glazed carrots.

i was going to make this for dessert, because it is so damn good, but was defeated by the 5 cabbages and several kilograms of beets that have taken over the counter in preparation for some heavy duty pickling and sauerkraut production that will take place later today. i swear they sit there and snarl at me. so no baking. however our guests brought a trifle comprising cake, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and bits of skor bar. we poured irish cream over the delicious mess and all was well with the world, at least for a wee while.

so, drop by next time you're in the neighbourhood. i'll cook you something!

29 January, 2010

run, fat girl, run! part deux

yesterday was my run day.

i did not go because 1. i have been experiencing, for the first time in my life, the glory that is shin splints and 2. i had a doctor's appointment at the time that is normally reserved for the prerequisite pre-run negotiations which (quite frequently) actually lead to an actual run.

i placated my sense of guilt by telling myself i'd go for a long walk. this i did not do. instead, i bought and ate a very large slice of very rich cake. the cake wasn't nearly as satisfying as it ought to have been and thus i felt vindicated. if the cake had rocked, i'd most likely have felt terrible. behold, the human psyche: a veritable minefield.

28 January, 2010

gender bender

new friend on facebook, moi: looking at baby pictures of their little munchkin* who happens to be so deliciously adorable i decided to share with mr. monkey. i showed him several pictures, the cutest of which was a close up of the baby with a big pink bow on her big bald head.

mr. monkey: is it a boy?
moi: um...no (i frown and flip back to the big pink bow picture).
mr. monkey: well, it's just that the mother is a feminist.

*for a die-hard anti-babyist, i sure do love looking at pictures of friends' offspring. i also have had more than one emotionally raw dream of having/loving/taking care of a baby. perhaps Brain is giving me an inkling of what i'm missing. of course none of these dreams feature chronic lack of sleep, temper tantrums or non-existent social lives**

**at which point you would be completely reasonable in asking what social lives, precisely, i am talking about, reclusive hermit tendencies having been the order of the day at the monkey household in the post-christmas weeks. but we could do stuff, is all i'm sayin'. if we wanted.

mmm, mmm, good!

last night we went out to a pub for cheap shrimp night. as we sat waiting for our food to arrive, i picked up the classy laminated menu and took a gander. what caught my eye was "scalps and bacon." without thinking much, and rather baffled, i asked the table at large what "scalps" were. our friends immediately perked up and started talking a mile a minute.

s: you don't know what scalps are?
c: you've never had scalps? they're so good!
s: oh my god, they're delicious!

at first i thought they were playing along in good spontaneous fun. then i realised that what they meant (and what the menu probably meant) was scallops. and yes, i have had scallops. i've just never had scalps. at least not with bacon.

on a side note, as we entered the above mentioned establishment, our eyes were immediately drawn to a table near the bar, a table peopled with scraggly haired, raspy voiced, blearily drunk individuals of both genders, individuals of the type that make me want to give up drinking right then and there, if that's what the future holds. one unwashed middle-aged maiden in particular caught my attention as she hollered at the bartender to "give'er annoder beer." her hair was matted, her voice deep and as well worn as the restroom laminate, her face coincidentally resembling the very same flooring. this, i thought to myself, is me in my golden years. and then i had a beer.

27 January, 2010

life: a poem

deer pellets roll about my path
the eagle sits majestic
i've fragrant salts fit for my bath
i've decreased incidents of wrath*
i've never read ms. sylvia plath
i'm getting worse at doing math
but good at arts domestic

*well, sort of. i'm working on it, honest!

26 January, 2010

midlife crisis? pourquoi pas?

i think i may be having a midlife crisis. the timing's about right: sure, i still have a couple of years left to forty, but that number has been on my mind. (did i tell you that i am dreading turning 38 because i hate the number 8? due to slight synesthesia (no, not the extreme exciting psychedelic kind, so sorry to disappoint) it is a number that seems sluggish, greyish-beige, vaguely damp and thoroughly unpleasant. i am far more looking forward to the red-brown nuttiness* of 39).

so how is this manifesting itself? mainly through an overpowering urge to run away from the (thoroughly pleasant) life i am currently living. i want to go shear sheep in the australian outback. i want to dig wells somewhere in south america (somewhere obviously in need of wells for this to be considered useful and not very strange vandalism). i want to deliver babies in rwanda (not that i have much, or indeed any, practice, but it is possible that having been a dental hygienist all these years would give me somewhat of an edge). i want to scrub elephants in whatever part of the world elephants get dirty. i want to smuggle arms to small third world nations fighting for independence from the lurching behemoth of american pseudo-democracy. i want to be a superspy. i want to kick some ass.

ok, so you're getting the general gist of my existential angst and not only ain't it pretty, it's downright dumb. still, it keeps the imaginarium nodes of my frontal brain cortex well lubricated and humming.

so, anyone want to come with me?

*oh, go ahead, make the joke. i know you want to.

20 January, 2010

run, small furry animals, run!

i was out running errands and on my way home i hit and killed a small bunny rabbit. despite what you might think, especially given my history with squirrels and all, i actually didn't mean to kill him. he came out of nowhere, hurtling at a ridiculous bunny velocity right across my path and before i had a chance to react there was that tell-tale thud. i looked in the rear view mirror hoping against hope that i'd see it hobbling along but no such luck, which means, i fear, that i now have a small furry bunny corpse lodged somewhere in my vehicle's undercarriage.*

i'm hoping it'll fall out or get gnawed off at some point.

*i think it's called an undercarriage. i really wouldn't know, though. it could be called something completely different and i would not have a clue. but somewhere in my vehicle's underbelly is the final resting place of a little critter that failed to learn how to cross the street properly.

run, fat girl, run!

shamed by my creeping* poundage as ascertained by the briskly efficient nurse of yesterday, this morning i went for a run. because i haven't been running since the rains of november washed away my will power, this was an exercise in exhaustion, pain and did i mention the exhaustion? i managed to run for the majority of the time, but gave myself a pass to walk up the steep bits, on account of not quite being ready to expire from cardiac arrest just yet.

for the first time ever i ran with my i-pod, and must say that there is something to be said for embarrassingly bad music in your ears when you're trying to shed some excess weight. bring it on, britney! dj champion, rock on! you kissed a girl and you liked it, you say? hah! i ate a cake and i liked it and look at me now! i listened to the lyrics of pink's "sober" for the first time and thought that they had an interesting message, one i might have to consider in light of the caloric content of alcohol. all in all, metric's "collect call" now tops my list of good running tunes, followed closely by britney's "piece of me." good rhythm, that's all it is, people, good rhythm.

i came home, awkwardly took off my shoes, waddled to the kitchen, ate some of mr. monkey's spectacular baked beans (which, in case you missed it the first time, are fucking spectacular), and continued to waddle to whatever my destination happened to be. god, it hurts. or i guess it's more of a stilted wooden feeling. a sort of pain once removed by the stunned reaction of my neurons to the sudden influx of swift** forward movement. will this ever be fun?

*more galloping, really, since i decided to use a tactic that seemingly worked for a roman friend of mine, i.e. "i eat what i want and have been losing weight," a tactic whose failure has been as spectacular as it has been total, entire and unmitigated. le sigh.

**well, it's all relative. faster than walking, i suppose, but chariots of fire this ain't.

19 January, 2010

lady bits! look at my lady bits!

today i had a lovely south african doctor look at my lady bits. it isn't often that having a doctor conversing with me while in-medias-speculum is even mildly acceptable: typically i employ all my remaining* faculties to pretend i am elsewhere, anywhere at all, preferably with my knees primly, fiercely and securely together. today i actually enjoyed the conversation and engaged in it actively. i like this one; she is calm, and friendly and very matter-of-fact. she wants to know what's wrong with me and then she wants to fix it. she also seems to have a fondness for liquid nitrogen and employs it frequently to burn off the bits of me that i no longer need.

(this is a continuation of a theme of good solid doctoring i had in edmonton. that one did not talk while in-medias-speculum which was a good thing: she was a good friend of my parents and it was odd enough showing my lady bits to a friend of the family, without actually having a chat while doing so. "so, what's your dad up to these days?" does not qualify as appropriate lady bit perusing topic. i'm pretty sure emily post would back me up on this.)

one other thing that was not fun today was having to pee in a cup. never mind the whole mid stream thing, the hopping about with your pants around your ankles thing and the hovering thing, but try and fucking pee IN the goddamn dixie-cup sized receptacle when you're a girl. we don't come with a hose attachment like our male counterparts and damn if i didn't pee all over myself. i then had to wash my hands while my pants were still firmly ensconced around my ankles, because i had to use my clean hands to put the lid on the pee-cup, wipe the pee-soaked cup with some toilet paper, wash my hands again, still pantless hop to the small door wherein i deposited my hard-won sample, pull up my trousers, re-wash the hands for good measure and be done with it.

the verdict, until the tests come back, is that i'll live a little longer, though i seem to be getting fatter and fatter no matter how much liquid nitrogen is used on me.

* the ones not actively engaged in keeping my knees "relaxed"

notice to terminate tenancy

when we came back from our little weekend escapade, something outside our window seemed off. i pondered, wandered and ogled the landscape before realising that the eagle tree is gone.

bastards came and chopped down the eagle tree, was my first thought. of course given the gale-force winds that have lately been terrorizing the neighbourhood, it is far more likely that the tree, a half-dead relic of days when the earth was ruled by dinosaurs, or at least men with far too much brilliantine in their hair and women with pointy breasts, simply gave up, gave in and checked out on its own.

but i like to think that the eagles' landlord, a smirking greasy chap forever dreaming of a quick buck, tired of the eagles' partying, irregular hours, the overpowering smell of dead fish, and the vast piles of eagle poop, finally evicted them and sold their home to the lumber mill for a modest profit.

gone is my morning diversion. goodbye eagle tree. goodbye my bald neighbours.

"the house that the squirrels ate" by william shakespeare

"tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day," quoth macbeth, and i quoth him, faultlessly it seems (i checked that most thorough and trustworthy of wikisources) despite the vast chasm of time betwixt moi and the learning of it (grade 10, gentle readers, many maaaany years ago).

a point? you want a point? too fancy shmancy for me to be randomly quoting shakespeare at you, you say? well, alright then. let's roll up the sleeves and dig up a point.

tomorrow (hint: references opening sentence, AND explains things! is this a segue i see before me?) our house will officially be sold. the house that mr. monkey and i spent two years buffing up to a high gloss shine and whose roof has been shamelessly gnawed by satan's little minions, the squirrels (yes, the cuteness is just a ruse, for inside they are pure evil, unadulterated!), to the tune of 5K off the selling price. the house will be gone and we will be free of shoveling snow and mowing lawns and fretting about squirrel-mediated roof cave-ins. sigh. it will be a good day and i hope you raise a glass in a toast to stupid people who waste their lives making lovely domiciles for someone else.

recent conversation with mr. monkey concerning the above:

mr. m: you know, when we get the money from the house, i'd like to use it for something that will give me satisfaction...something that will make me happy.

moi: (nodding sagely and thinking about land) of course, of course.

mr.m: i was thinking of a maserati.

moi: hm, and how much do those puppies cost these days?

mr. m: about that much.

moi: so if we lose everything else, we can always live in the car? "we're homeless, we live in a maserati down by the river."

a question for the desk whores

good lord, i have nothing to write, nothing to say, and nothing much is happening. i am now working mondays and a careful selection of a few other days of the week (don't want to overstrain myself) and although i am not hyperventilating with hatred sunday nights, i am hardly basking in the glow of contentment and pleasure. it's more of an existential "meh." and while that hardly warrants a career change, my increasingly achy back might.

try as i might to agree with the predominant opinion (of the pragmatic masses, not the optimistic hippies) that any career change will most likely plonk me down in front of a desk 9-5 (and never mind the fact that this seems like heaven to me...well, not the 9-5 bit), i am getting to the point where let's just say i am not getting any younger, and contorting myself into a polish pretzel each time i hit an oral snag that requires the peak of my physical prowess, is not getting any easier. and frankly i am a little sick to death of this headache which refuses to go away for months on end.

so, for any desk whores out there - do you figure that sitting at your desk all day is marginally better for the body than twisting myself around patients to get out the big chunks? and if not, i guess there's always the park job of a bear pooper scooper. g, i'm counting on you to get me in there! or if i get fed up, fed up, fed up, i can just go ahead and take the damn sustainable community development program already and shut the fuck up about it. but there you have it, i am a scared little whiny child who apparently requires a good thorough thrashing from life before she becomes capable of change.

15 January, 2010

this, that, and The Other

we're going away for the weekend to tofino, for some mid-winter* storm watching. it'll be two days of long damp walks on the beach, drinking wine by the fire, and trying to pry mr. monkey's fingers off his laptop's keyboard. my inner bitch is hoping their wi-fi won't work.

mr. monkey emailed me to remind me to bring bear spray. god knows this is the time of year that black bears abound, lounging on the white sands of long beach, umbrella drinks in hand, towels modestly draped over their midriffs.

to get there, we must brave a steep and winding road. i believe i might do the thing i usually do, and spend the time with my head neatly wedged between my knees, hyperventilating lightly. it doesn't really help, but does make the time pass by.

*it feels patently bizarre talking of winter in this here land. it is green. yesterday i walked by a tree whose one branch had already burst into tiny pink blossoms. the magnolia buds are huge, silver and furry, and ready to go. winter, indeed.

13 January, 2010

will you still love me when my brain is gone?

if you think that i am indulging in the very worst kind of hypochondria when i say that my mind is failing, let me tell you that today i almost forgot to buy wine. yes, you heard me correctly. i almost failed to buy wine. i almost drove right by the liquor store and only managed to turn off in a highly dangerous manoeuvre in the last nano second that nearly killed me and the van full of nuns and preschoolers that happened to be in the next lane.*

and then i picked up 6 bottles of wine for me, and a bottle of rum for mr. monkey. if you think that's a bit unfair, let me tell you that i bought him the good expensive rum that he likes, not the captain morgan's crap that he claims makes him violently sick (and yet, scowling, making ptooie faces, retching all the way, the brave man managed to kill a bottle in a disturbingly short amount of time, go figger).

all is well in the monkey household, now that we have our liquor. no more fist fights brought on by DT's. no more growling at each other from our respective corners where we hole up sipping mouthwash. no more smashed up furniture in a howling rage at the lack of somefink to take the edge off. nah. we're good. we're good.

and lest you think i am some kind of uncultured lush, let me tell you this, mister - today i also bought tickets to the ballet. yup. me and my man are gonna get gussied up, and go see some fruits in tights prance around the stage to joni mitchell music. whaddya think about that?

* why is it always nuns and preschoolers and never a limo full of mafia bad guys, huh? makes you wonder about the nature of this world we live in, don't it?

12 January, 2010

4ever luv, or some such bunk

i went to a crap film today. i knew it would be crap but i went because i had a hankering for a romantic comedy of the type i would not want to subject mr. monkey to, and this was the only one playing. it was called leap year and you can safely pass it by.

this is a movie whose plot follows every single expected plot device known to mankind since cavemen hosted theatricals. it is so immediately obvious what will happen next that there is a certain comfort to it. it's like mashed potatoes: you know exactly what they'll taste like and sometimes you want some. with plenty of butter. and there's butter. the gruff irishman is plenty butter enough.

amy adams, on the other hand, really needs to stop playing wide eyed ingenue roles what with those prominently visible crow's feet. not that i'm judging. i've gots'em too, but then again the last time i played a wide eyed ingenue, i was maybe 14.

and finally, the thing that always gets me in romantic comedies is that grown up adult people, people with jobs, pasts, credit ratings, vehicles and mortgages, people, in a word, who should know better, continue to mistake the lust that is likely to develop between two strangers thrown together for several days for True Love which, as every scriptwriter knows, leads to Marriage. despite my deeply romantic disposition, i am continually offended by this notion, that after 3 days of sparks, of being forced to share a bed (oh the hilarity!), a kiss or two, and many zany adventures, a couple would decide to spend the rest of their lives together. how très irresponsible.

why not just shack up and call it quits when the grumpy, unpleasant, burping, albeit rather scruffily handsome cad turns out to be precisely the same, after the sexy times have worn off?

of course, the better question might be why the hell i went in the first place?

08 January, 2010

nary a drink in days

since i have come back from edmonton, i have not had a single drink. not one solitary sip...wait, scratch that. my parents gave us a mini-giftie: a hip flask filled with the last of my mom's homemade cassis liqueur which one would gladly sell one's first-born for. well, i would anyhow (and you thought i was childless the natural way) and i did have a teensy little sip of that. but it doesn't count. it barely coated my soft palate and only lightly tickled my uvula. it was hardly a drink.

i have eaten fruit every day.

true, i have taken several sleeping pills but i had to work in the morning and didn't want to frighten my patients with the drooling zombie face of death.

i have looked in the mirror and seen the Alarming Growth Of The Gut. no wonder, given the complete and utter pork-out and wine-swill that the preceding two weeks had been. i must do something about this. i cannot stand the sight of myself. and yet, here i sit, instead of hoisting my arse off the soft sheep-covered glory of the couch and going to work out. my excuse - laundry. not that laundry requires active participation these days. no longer must one hoist one's unmentionables in a bundle over one's head, waddle to the river and beat them over a rock. no. they now have a machine that does all the work. but no matter. i am doing laundry, sweaty brow and all.

over and out.

07 January, 2010

unicycling through fire

recently, from a hotel website:

"room is modified to meet the needs of those with different abilities"

what, exactly, are those abilities to which they so cryptically refer? x-ray vision? the ability to converse with the dead? contortionism? maintaining sang froid in the face of belligerent customers? perhaps that rare ability to juggle three coconuts, a chainsaw and a lactating rhesus monkey?

these days every special interest group gets a room.

04 January, 2010

oh for the sweet sweet taste of smoked pig arse

is it so very wrong that i should have developed a sudden urge to have a BLT?

no, really, is it?

03 January, 2010

to sleep, perchance to poke oneself in the eye

we spent our holiday at my cousin's gorgeously renovated home, all sleek open spaces, dangerously unsupported staircases, slippery hardwood floors and a wood fired oven which made it the ideal place to hole up during the -10 to -20C weather.

our bedroom was a large, airy affair, with some sort of despicable water veins running underneath, for how else to explain my descent into an unprecedented two week long insomniafest? the vast quantities of wine, you say? the overexcitement? the hours spent poring over the minutiae of what my mother meant when she said...? the late hours and rich foods? well, sure, yeah, but this was insomnia of monumental proportions, both in severity and duration. and, most importantly, it was shared by mister monkey, the man who can maintain a deep and angelic lack of consciousness in the face of the most hostile conditions. a trio of tuba playing neighbours? no problem! the hungarian olympic clog dancing team practising upstairs? wha? huh? zzzz... the man has the market cornered on the ability to sleep well.

as it was, the two of us lied awake night after night and my well-practised equanimity in the face of insomnia transmutated into vicious anger and frustration. after a week we moved the bed into a marginally better spot and got something resembling regulation amount of shut eye but not without a lot of dry eyed perusal of the ceiling.

ley lines? bad flow of chi caused by the incorrect placement of the door vis-a-vis the window? the unnaturally bright winter sky? the moon that seemed to remain full for an unnaturally long stretch? whatever it was, last night at home i fell asleep like a small person on big drugs. let's hope the same happens tonight, or i fear my internal organs will begin to disintegrate.

back and better than bob

hi. i'm back. this season, we took up our many burdens and went off to spend christmas in the snowy wilds of alberta. and it was good.

the weather cooperated and was beautiful, crisp, sparkly, fluffy and all manner of ingratiating in an obscenely obvious ploy to make us miss winter. almost worked, but getting back here last night to plus 7C broke the spell immediately. as did the cellular-level knowledge that the motherfucker lasts till late may.

christmas chez la famille was lovely and warm. vast quantities of beet and cabbage-based foods were consumed resulting in week-long bloating and other unsavoury side-effects. for two weeks each night but one, i drank a bottle of wine or thereabouts and stayed up way too late. one night we were fed a homemade korean feast of 16 courses that was unbelievably delicious. on another night we ordered in malaysian, being far too drunk to either cook or walk anywhere. on yet another night we were treated to multiple courses of chinese food brought out on platters for what seemed like hours. lobsters in cream sauce featured prominently. overall things were good.

my parents were in town which added to the experience. much fun was had but the holiday was punctuated by several moments of ridiculous and entirely pointless tension. at one point my mother (mortally offended by what, exactly?) stood up from the table and went to her room in a restrained version of herself circa 1962. there were occasional recriminations, pouting, snappy words and eventual peace. i love them people, but they sure is exhausting. perhaps living closer to each other would be the answer - less stress in the occasional drop-in tea than a week long festival of familial quality time.

i did no christmas shopping, and no boxing day shopping. in fact other than chauffeuring the mother and the aunt on a shopping trip one day, i did not set foot in a shop the whole two weeks and it was glorious.

the low point came when i noticed a disturbing trend in the media - celebrating the end of the decade. what the fuck? has the world sunk so low that it can no longer even count to ten? i kept bringing up the example of the fingers (1-10, not 0-9) but it did little good. newspapers tripped over themselves publishing "best of the decade" lists which, i am sorry, feels just wrong in 2009. while i do realise that the whole thing started when ignorant people celebrated the new millennium in 2000, instead of in 2001 when it actually mathematically began, on account of 2000 being a far sexier and rounder and curvier number and all, i find it hard to stomach celebrating a decade (there's a ten in that word, look it up) in 2009. one day, perhaps, i shall make peace with ubiquitous human stupidity, but for now i shall continue waving my stick at windmills. i cannot help myself.

it was good to see some old friends, sad to have missed seeing others, and absolutely gratifying to see that the man i chose to marry is the one person i don't mind spending extended time with. for the next several weeks i want to see no one, speak to no one and have no social life whatsoever. after i emerge from hibernation refreshed and glowing, i will call you and we can go have a drink.

we took a half-hour car ride, 1.5 hour plane ride, half hour train ride, half hour bus ride, 1.5 hour ferry ride and a 15 minute cab ride to get home last night. all because i was too cheap to buy the more expensive tickets closer to home. all this would have been fine if it wasn't for the arse-numbingly vast quantities of luggage we were carrying. i swear, we looked like those people, you know the ones i mean - three day weekend and they bring a goddamn steamer trunk. aside from the vast loads of laundry i still don't know what was in there. other than mister monkey's beloved saucepan, the hunt for which was the joy of his season.

and so we return to the normalcy of island life.