27 October, 2010

if i only had a brain!

one of the problems couples encounter (at least i certainly hope other couples encounter this problem) is that once one partner exhibits a gift in a certain direction, the other partner feels liberated to completely slack off.

take me, for instance. since mr. monkey has a natural way with numbers, historical events and geography (i.e. how many poles killed in world war two or the population of vancouver) i have completely abdicated responsibility in this area. what's the population of canada, you might ask me. somewhere between 50 thousand and 32.5 billion. i mean, i know that's not precisely the case, and i know i really ought to have at least a general idea (ok, i have the general idea that canada's population is roughly that of poland, which always freaks out north americans who cannot conceive of that many people living that close together: "what do you mean not everyone has their own lawn mower? how can they live in such barbarity!?"). still, when you have your own personal google-man next to you, in some areas you tend to stop thinking for yourself.*

add to that my complete inability to make my brain remember certain things (i once had to make up a file on my desktop entitled fennel.txt, because i could not, for the life of me, remember the name of fennel. why i needed to is beyond me, since i have only recently started using it in my kitchen, but the frustration was very very real.)

case in point: we have a purveyor of fine quality sausages in our neighbourhood. he is a handsome young man from the former yugoslavia. and here is where it ends. all i know is that he is from that there part of the world. which particular part of yugoslavia he is from escapes me completely. i know i once made a monumental faux pas by asking him if he was from one and he, rather gently, told me he was from the other. you know, as in the mortal enemy side. like i'd just asked a jew if he was a nazi german. or something. and you'd think that being mortified by this would have indelibly etched his ethnicity in my brain. no such luck. mr. monkey, a lover of history, has had to (repeatedly) give me a crash course in the who's who of the serbian/croatian/bosnian thing, and all i have managed to internalise so far is that the bosnians are (i'm certain i think probably possibly) muslim. and that's that. i know he's not bosnian. he's one of the other two. whatever he is, his sausages are amazing!

the thing is that i get so annoyed by the geographical/historical ignorance often exhibited by north americans ("belgium...that's in europe, right?"**) that i really hate exhibiting it myself. so i just buy my sausages and shut the hell up.

*and lest you think this is all one sided, just ask mr. monkey where the coffee grinder lives. no, really, ask him. he has NO idea.

**actual quote, i kid you not, from one studying education. another reason to be thankful for childlessness.

25 October, 2010

the old soap trick

while watching a disturbing scene on twin peaks* last night wherein a man put a bar of soap in a sock, in preparation for beating his wife:

mr. monkey: you watch out, woman! i've just gotten my inspiration! you misbehave and i'll put soap in a sock, too!

moi: ...

mr. monkey: ...except i'll use liquid soap.

*yes, i realise i am the only person of my generation who did not watch it when it came out due, most likely, to some ridiculous born-again-christian** qualms.

**yes, i do realise it's hard to believe. still, it's true.

24 October, 2010

october kippered pics

this is the one about the things

on friday, i drove my parents to the airport after a week-long visit. for all my fears and trepidations,* the visit was a joyous one, filled with much passionate conversation,** generous wine consumption, walks, day trips, cookery and fantastic sunny weather. we showed them some of our favourite places and even managed to stare with wonder at a river filled with hundreds of spawning salmon. they, as pretty much all first time visitors to vancouver island, knew it would be nice, but had absolutely no idea at how spectacularly gorgeous this place really is.

i really do wish they lived closer and not more than halfway across canada. the perfect length for a visit is 4-5 days and with that distance it is hard to have a trip of less than a week before the end of which i get antsy. i get a craving for my own space, my own house, my own time. one of the nasty side-effects of being an only child...or my growing misanthropy.

it felt really good to cook and bake for my mom for once. her last visit to me was early last summer when i was all alone with a barely finished kitchen, after a year without, and i felt overwhelmed with the expectations of hosting not just a guest but a parental guest of the motherly variety. i fed her good fresh bread and very good cheese but i am fairly certain i did not cook once, and i have felt guilty over it for a while. now that i have my kitchen mojo back again, it was a breeze.

the weather, which had been stunning, deteriorated sharply after their departure, and i have been cocooning inside, listening to the sound of the rain, enjoying the feeling of autumnal grayness contrasted with the warmth of our quiet home. today i baked a banana-nut bread and mr. monkey has a big pot of chicken stock percolating on the stove. life is good.

*my mother and mr. monkey have a long fraught history that seems to be mostly over, but there are flashes on occasion and it twists me into an emotional pretzel. oh, family...

**driving on the highway and having a screaming fight about my father's perceived homophobia, thereby introducing him to that endearing phrase "jesus fucking christ" is, in most likelihood, not a safe thing to do. still, we got over it rather quickly.

just call me the black death

the enlarged lymph nodes i had noticed prior to our august kayaking trip refused to go away so, being a person of pronounced paranoid and hypochondriac tendencies*, i hightailed it to my lovely doctor. she ran a series of tests on me that required that i provide the lab with dozens of vials of my blood and get prodded with a variety of gauges of sharp poky things in an assortment of body parts.

the end result is this: i have been infected with toxoplasmosis. mr. monkey, never a cat lover, did not take the news well, and for a day or two eyed me with suspicion and slight disgust. he's over it now, but i do emit a small meow every once in a while to keep him in line.

several days later it was revealed that i have tested positive for a TB skin test. this, in case you're worried about spending face time with me, does not mean i have tuberculosis. it simply means i have been exposed to it at some point. i'd blame the walking oozing plague that is the population of fort mcmurray, if it weren't for the fact that i had already tested positive 15 years earlier, before fate's cruelty had landed me in that particular cesspool of human affliction and pestilence.** yes, you can still talk to me unmasked. yes, you can still bathe and eat at my house. hell, i can even donate blood, if you'd like some.

still, i think it's pretty funny that over the course of a week, i have gone from generally*** healthy woman of a certain age, to walking contagion (figuratively speaking, of course).

in marginally related news, i poked my finger with a prawn, and am wondering what trans-epidermal wonders of crustacean infestation are now lurking in my blood stream.

*just because you're a hypochondriac doesn't mean you can't die of cancer. just sayin'.

** if you think i exaggerate, i invite you to spend a few months up there. once you've recovered, we can talk.

***the bum thing has worked out ok, in case you've been staying up nights, worried sick about it.

love chez les monkeys

moi: i love you.

mr. monkey: i love you more.

moi: more than what, exactly?

mr. monkey: more than all the stars in the world.

moi: even more than lady gaga?

mr. monkey: yes. even more than lady gaga.

now that, my little poultries, is love.

11 October, 2010

why i'll never be a fashion bloggeuse

as i get more and more entangled in the wonderful world of interwebs, as i meet more lovely people and read their blogs, sometimes, for fun, i go off on links to see what i can find. and what i've sometimes found is a sense of, how shall i say this, inadequacy, there! inadequacy.

women, lovely, intelligent women, often british, talk lightly about designers whose dresses they covet/purchase/wear and 1. i have no idea who any of these designers are and 2. i would never, not in a million years, spend £500 on a piece of clothing because it's like, twice that in dollars! and i'm cheap! that tom ford lipstick that's as much as half a mortgage payment? not for moi. it'd just end up decorating the rim of a wine glass anyhow.

so while it is conceivable that i will share the odd recipe with you, maybe some pictures, and probably even a rant on grammatical sins, you will not ever read me extolling the virtues of miu miu or louboutins. chances are, i'd spill red wine on them anyway, and then i'd be really pissed off.

are we all ok with this?

p.s. i like to think of myself as adequately put together and, if i do say so myself, i know how to wear a scarf like nobody's business, but my problem (if you want to call it a problem) is that i refuse to be uncomfortable (or broke) in the name of fashion so take me as i am.

10 October, 2010

how i learned to overcome my shortcomings and become a better person (or: weird shit that happens sometimes)

confession time: i have been a dental professional* for 15 years and have only been a daily flosser for the last 4 or 5 of those. so, not to put too fine a point on it, i've been a hypocrite for over a decade before mending my ways. how'd i do it, you ask? well, it's this little thing i like to call Mind Over Matter™. let me explain. sometimes i sit my brain down for a little talk. occasionally harsh words are spoken because it needs to know who's boss. (i'm boss.) during these talks, i tell brain that its behaviour on this or that issue is unacceptable and needs to change. stat. what happens next can often be summed up in the following way: crickets chirping. but occasionally, for no reason apparent to me, it actually works!

case in point: one day i decided that i was tired of being a dental hypocrite and i would start flossing. i would not ask myself if i felt like it, because that's a sure way to acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, but, employing the revolutionary Mind Over Matter™ method, i would simply do it. just do it is all. and, little poultries, i've been flossing daily ever since.

i've also utilised Mind Over Matter™ in changing my attitude towards one of my least favourite places of employment: i simply told brain i was sick of the pouting and from that day forward i no longer minded going there.

moreover, Mind Over Matter™ has helped me get over my utter hatred for drying and putting away dishes from the dishwasher or the sink. i used to pile them up and up, in blatant defiance of the laws of physics, until a frustrated mr. monkey put them away** or we ran out of knives. now, after several Mind Over Matter™ chats with brain, i'm drying and putting dishes away immediately! and even finding a bizarre sort of zen peace within the act! frankly it's a little weird, but whatever.

if only i could use Mind Over Matter™ to lose a few pounds. or kick this insomnia. or my atrocious attitude to the world at large. or my total inability to care about the middle east. or the constant bitching. but i'm working on it.

*if that phrase makes you throw up a little in your mouth, worry not. it does the same to me. just rinse with water and don't brush your teeth right away or you'll brush the acids into the enamel. free tip, that.

** this is always fun. you'd think the man did not live here or use the facilities. his putting away of dishes can only be termed...creative. takes me hours to find simple things like measuring cups or frying pans.

bramble cottage this ain't

i've been having more and more misgivings about the land and our plans for it. as much as i adored its bushy wildness, now that bits of it have been stripped and seeded with hay, the business of getting on and doing things* is staring me in the face and i am questioning my and mr. monkey's sanity.

luckily, he seems to be feeling the same, so rather than plunging in with a resounding belly flop, we're standing at the edge, toes dangling apprehensively over the frigid waters and discussing the investment potential of the pool.

either it's PMS or belated realism, but the idea of running a bed and breakfast for someone who, year by year, is turning into more and more of a bitter misanthrope, is frankly odd. mr. monkey and i decided that if we do, we'll call it the Fuck Off Bed & Breakfast. our motto will be simple: "Welcome, Now Piss Off." i think the web design might be fun to do and i suspect there's a type of clientele that would love to be greeted with a hearty "fuck you." perhaps all those who have the latent tendencies but not the guts to hire a dominatrix, or those confused souls who'd think it was all a gimmick and that underneath our gruff, middle finger-popping exteriors we're really just sweet old souls who didn't mean it about spitting in the granola. as if.

so if we manage to go ahead, build ourselves a little solar powered house with a large garden and chickens, y'all are welcome to come and stay.

fuck you, come again.

*weird things. things i know nothing about. things to do with wells. and septic fields. and power lines. and all manner of incomprehensible stuff.

as well as can be expected under the circumstances

hi. my name is mrs. monkey, and i'm a total twit. also, possibly, an alcoholic. but definitely a dumb one.

last night we had r&k over for dinner. as is typically the case when we commune with these two fun lovers of food, wine and conversation, much wine was consumed. when much wine is consumed, good sense typically exits the premises, being replaced in short order by a rather fine selection of our home made liqueurs (cherry, plum, apricot and god knows what else mr. monkey managed to find hiding under the kitchen sink).

perhaps my formerly useful IQ has been bludgeoned atrophied into the slimmer end of the single digit spectrum, but sweet lord on a pogo stick, can i not find it within me to remember the one rule that keeps my face out of the toilet at ungodly hours of the night? the solitary piece of advice given to me in increasingly acerbic reminders by my long suffering liver: that i should just bloody well stick to wine and wine alone.

still, when the shower curtain was pulled off the tub, it was not yours truly who did the deed. just saying. and i am fairly certain that in between loudly discussing medieval art (all those bulgy eyed miserable looking vaguely greenish christs - could it be that everyone was that disturbingly hideous all through the middle ages?) and taiwanese politics, i managed to spill nothing on myself or others. kudos to me. i take these small pats on the back wherever i can get them, especially in light of the night's later activities.

i feel that with less than two years to enter my forties, i really ought to know better. and i really ought to know better than to broadcast my idiocy on the interwebs. so, shh, don't tell anyone i'm a moron. (they'll likely figure it out themselves in fairly short order.)

07 October, 2010

just when you thought it was safe to...

goddamn it all to hell, y'all know how much i like john irving: a lot. and then the bastard goes and uses "comprised" incorrectly and now i feel like there are no safe havens left in this universe. i feel punched in the literary solar plexus and i think i might cry myself to sleep tonight. or not. but i am so very very disappointed. almost as disappointed as if he'd written "jumped off of" or "for doris and i." almost, but not quite. why, the latter would have been a blatant deal breaker.

john, next time, use "composed" and leave "comprised" to those who know how to use it properly. ok? thanks.

whaddya mean did i take my dried frog pills?

03 October, 2010

an inspirational list of things rustled up from the dusty corners of my addled brain

inspired by this, i thought that instead of shouting out to the heavens for advice, perhaps i could look within and rustle up something useful. here goes:

1. colour is best.
2. coffee? no, just no. not any more. irritability and the shakes are not a winning combination.
3. perhaps it might be a good idea to stop at that second glass of wine? just sayin'...
4. i can on occasion look great in pictures.
5. sunlight is gorgeous but there is a subtle quiet beauty in the fog

6. we should forgive those we love for small things more often than not, because, more often than not, they do the same for us
7. breathing deeply is sometimes all you need
8. newly discovered soothing music of melody gardot
9. slow. the hell. down.
10. not every nasty thing you think needs to see the light of day - sometimes shut-upping is the best course of action. really. no, REALLY.

11. love is the most vital thing and needs to be nurtured, not poked with a bitch stick.
12. how important will this be in 10 days? years? learn to let it go.
13. walks are nice. repeat daily.
14. more veggies please!
15. sometimes it's lovely to touch something soft and furry, even if it's the sheepskin on the couch

16. reading is preferable to facebook, now act accordingly
17. "mind over matter" is a great mantra, although it isn't always realistic
18. making peace with drying and putting away dishes from the sink feels far far better than expected
19. why not make your own sauerkraut? lacto-fermentation rocks!
20. post more pictures. sometimes words get stuck.

21. try to write a real paper letter, at least once a year.
22. remember to ask yourself if that which is keeping you up at night is actually your problem. if it is, solve it; if it isn't, let it go.
23. enjoy the feel of skin on skin: it will not always be there
24. there's no shame in being a morning person; it doesn't mean you're old, it means you like the quiet early hours and a long day ahead of you
25. real butter, full fat cheese, eggs from the chickens across the street, garlic from the east indian lady at the market, crusty bread and strawberries that taste like heaven

26. say "i love you" first and don't count how many responses you've gotten; it doesn't matter one whit
27. it's important to be surrounded by beauty and order and a made bed
28. try, just try, to see the good side of people and situations. work hard at this.
29. paint more, draw more, push the slumbering creative side of you. try to get over the fear of the blank page, it'll do you good.
30. it could be better, but it could also be worse

31. "calmer" is a possibility, make it a probability
32. you don't always know best and don't you forget it
33. listen more
34. don't read the comments on news websites, people can be supremely dumb and who needs to be constantly reminded of that?
35. remember the poems that fell whole into your lap, perhaps it will happen again, perhaps not.

36. try to be more gracious. it is better to be gracious than to be right
37. feeding friends and family feels lovely
38. love and respect your parents, they will not always be there
39. a great haircut is elusive but essential
40. no such thing as "good" china - life's too short to own ugly things

41. if you're not using it, give it to someone who will; if it's not making you happy, give it to someone who will love it well.
42. quality over quantity, in people as well as things
43. babies are scrumptious! no, i don't want a baby, or a dog...perhaps a cat...one day
44. linen, cashmere and silk really do feel worlds better than polyester and acrylic
45. exercise is not optional, can we once and for all just agree on that?

46. fresh flowers are a lovely indulgence, especially from the farmers' market
47. practise gratitude daily
48. you're not so bad. remember, your friends like you. remind yourself of that fact on those bad days.
49. fight negativity
50. let this be your motto: "leave things (places, people) better than you found them" and try to live up to it.

hey! let's look at pretty pictures, ok?

perhaps i ought to do this more often - post pictures when all my words are gone and i feel weary, stale, flat and unprofitable...

it also comes with cheese

oh, how hard it is to strike a balance between embracing who i am and actively trying to become a better person. as always, i wonder whether it is even conceivable to become that mythical better person. sometimes, like when i'm in the throes of PMS, or going through a mother-in-law visit, i see nothing so much as a beast in vaguely human form peering back at me from the fruit-fly infested mirror (no, i do not know why they tend to congregate on my bathroom mirror, last i checked we weren't cleaning it with apricot jam).

i do not like who i am: i am petty, selfish, hard, prickly, inflexible and obnoxious, fighting to the death about the cultural background of particular kind of pierogi. no, dear poultries, i am NOT proud of myself right about now.

so how do you reconcile the you that you are, and the you that you want to be? i don't want to be a buddhist nun, but a reasonable human being would be nice. any hints? pointers? words of wisdom? and please don't tell me to have a drink; i've been doing enough of that and it doesn't seem to be working.

02 October, 2010

sometimes i like to laugh about butt jokes

today i spent the day at a course entitled "a journey through the GI tract for the dental professional." not only was it informative (oh, the many many ways i could die! and soon! it was, really and truly, a hypochondriac's heaven!) but boy was it funny. the speaker had us in stitches with the prerequisite "things people stick up their bums" gastrointestinal jokes, and much much more. i learned a lot about fibre, floaters and sinkers, supplements and, especially in light of my recent adventures in bumland, i was inspired to finally go and do something about my ongoing gastrointestinal issues.

also, we got fed a good breakfast, a lovely lunch and finished off with various baked bries and many glasses of red wine. i knew very few people and felt strangely shy and self-conscious whenever i cornered someone and talked to them for longer than a couple of minutes, so i largely stood in the corner, ate and drank and wondered if i was looking at all mysterious, or just plain old big and sad. i suspect it was perhaps a combination ("look at that large drunk girl! she sure likes cheese! how she has managed to not spill any red wine down her front is a complete mystery!")

the evening is now coming to a slow and leisurely end, the cicadas are boldly chirping, the cruise ships are behaving oddly, the stars are twinkling in their usual supercilious way, the cbc is entertaining us musically, and all is well with the world. and look, ma, no swearing!