31 May, 2016

bamboo gone wild

yesterday afternoon 3 of the 5 amigos came over to our place and we lounged by the pool until the wee hours (well, some lounged; some went to bed at a reasonable hour - you can guess which path i took). we ate, we drank, we laughed, we swam, and we had a hella good time. i am now covered in mosquito bites and am once again a little hungover. still, it was the perfect ending to a much feared weekend. at one point 3 drunk engineers (2 electrical, 1 materials) finally managed to figure out how to turn on the jacuzzi lights and the garden lights. the best part? waking up and finding all the dishes washed and neatly stacked. nothing like thoughtful guests to wrap things up in a bow.

this morning, my gardener* began the arduous task of getting the bamboo under control, and he just arrived with a truckload of plants: several gingers, a large rosemary, an elephant's ear, a red yucca, and a gorgeous variegated agave. several plants will be moved (bamboos for greater privacy, a small palm for greater exposure) and several old ones removed. once done, i will do the necessary maintenance myself (until i get a job, at which point we'll see what happens). coming from canada, it's shocking to me how cheap labour is in texas. i'd never be able to afford the work i can farm out here and i really don't know if it's bad or good. sure, i may rejoice in a relatively cheap garden job but the big picture beckons and it often ain't pretty.

and there you have it.

*not to sound utterly douchy: he's not just my gardener. he's a gardener that i hired for the day. i needed to clarify that lest you start to imagine a whole throng of liveried servants catering to my every whim. shudder.

30 May, 2016


after my bellyaching post about the woes of socializing, zhoen shared this with me. my initial reaction was, "wait, i'm not an introvert! i'm a 50/50 intro/extrovert*." but the truth is that most of the cartoons hit home and it made me think about what the 50/50 actually represents. i guess i just figured, without analyzing it at any great length, that it meant i was one half the time, and the other half the time. it'd be easy to say that i'm an introvert based on my reaction to most social events, but then i think back to my year living in chicago where i didn't know anyone and how crazy i was to talk to people. i'd go into stores and talk to anyone who would listen. when i returned to edmonton and started working as a hygienist again, i was thrilled to see people daily. but then i think about how stressed out i was about this weekend, and every other large social or networking event, and i start to think that perhaps it's really more about control.

when i invite my people over, i choose whom i will see. even then, when there's more than a small group i tend to have a mini-meltdown (new year's eve parties, i'm looking at you!) when mr. monkey goes away for work i often choose to hunker down and see nobody. these things are my choice, as is the number and type of people i see. my best people (crusty juggler & d, sanity salad, bj, c, tb, etc.) are people of my heart. they are family in the best sense of the word and having them around is in no way an imposition. they are people whom i will want to see even if i'm in my deepest anti-social funk. they simply don't count as...people, but more of a corporeal manifestation of myself. or something like that but not totally creepy.

so i guess that the 50/50 isn't really about time, but more about choice and gathering size. the extroverted part of me is extroverted in specific situations involving specific people in small groups. which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue as well as 50/50 intro/extrovert. so there you have it, 44 and still discovering some new bits about myself with the help of cartoons! once again, thanks zhoen!

*proven by one of those personality tests administered professionally several years back. i was so taken aback that i retook the test and got the exact same result.

29 May, 2016

simmer the hell down

we spent the whole day yesterday finishing taking apart the bbq into its component bits, taking it to the car wash, scrubbing the gunk off it, and putting it back together again. the day included a stupidly lengthy visit to whataburger where the whole restaurant was in a training session, with the end result of some very angry customers, then a jaunt to home depot for assorted screws, nuts, bolts, bobbles, nubbinses, and widgets. despite intermittent communication with the boys, mr. monkey really seemed more interested in his project than in heading south to houston to hang out. we also waited for our pool guy but he was unable to make it because so many of the roads were closed due to flooding. rescheduled for today.

we finally did make it to houston somewhere around 9pm, having had to make a wiiiiide circle around the flooded roads, and ended up having a really good time. this time it was mr. monkey who decided it was time to go home, and i meekly followed. his reason? he wanted to hit the junkyard early today (50% off all weekend!) and grab some essential volvobeaste bit. we invited the boys over this afternoon and they may or may not come: their plans, as they say, are organic and evolve naturally, and i'm fine with that. it was funny last night to see them stand around glassy-eyed and yawning, proudly telling tales of friday night (or is it saturday morning?) excesses where they closed the after hours club down at 6am. i suspect they didn't go out last night after we left, and if they did, they did it purely for the principle of the thing rather than a deep desire to whoop it up again. all i'm saying is: 40 don't lie, no matter how much you try to tell yourself different.

i'm currently at tb's doing laundry. our house (which i will henceforth call The Canoe*) didn't come with a washer and dryer, and we've run out of time to buy them. tb kindly offered his facilities - it was either that or a laundromat (i suspect they might not have those in the woodlands because only the poors need them and we don't want to encourage those people) or the pool, and i feel like the pool guy might object.

the weekend, despite my darkest fears, has so far turned out to be just fine and dandy, flooding of the surrounding areas notwithstanding.

*not just randomly - the address is canoe birch place, which i insist on misspelling as canoe bitch place. either works, really, though i'm not sure what a canoe bitch might be. ideas welcome.

28 May, 2016

(un) sociable

mr. monkey came home from his week in chicago and instead of going out to a bbq in the neighbourhood (where our 5 guests-to-be were partying) we ended up drinking bourbony drinks and (he) taking apart the bbq and cleaning it and (me) watching bad television*. the volvobeaste threw a hissy fit and refused to start in the torrential downpour which provided a bit of an excuse for not going out. our understanding was that the group would come over after and sleep here, and so i set up mattresses and sofa beds etc. and left the lights on. alas, they did not show up and this morning i saw a 2am text telling me they were continuing to party and were thus taking uber to houston instead of coming here.

i'm conflicted about this. i know i am not considered a "fun" person because my natural rhythms dictate that i go to bed early and get up early and that's seen as "old" and "boring" and a whole host of adjectives i'd resent if i chose to care. i know it's got nothing to do with age because this has been me since...always. alas, this group likes to party hard and takes a certain grim pride in going to bed at all hours of the morning. this, i think, is part of my worry about the visit: having to explain to a hardy-partier that you really truly would rather go to bed than stay up and have "fun" is really difficult to do. they tend to refuse to believe you and insist that if you just stay up and go out and go dancing (or whatever) with them, you will start to have fun. having gone to several concerts in bars in chicago and having waited to see the headliner start at 1am (!!!) i can honestly say that the only thing that happens is a growing sense of resentment and exhaustion. i am not judging their choices, far be it, but i just don't want to be part of it.

still, i feel bad about this, because mr. monkey wants to see his people and i am starting to feel like an asshole because i sort of sabotaged last night's festivities and then they failed to show up. so now i think i will suck it up and get in on the "fun," whatever it might be, or else let mr. monkey go off with them. i really do wish (sometimes) that i was more of a party person, but the siren song of my own bed is irresistible. however, mr. monkey is sad this morning and i can't have that, now can i? his social life is 98% dependent on mine, so i really should support this 2%, or just get out of the way. so wish me luck, eh?

*i'm watching this show, and its main character is utterly charmless** and fulfills all the holywood stereotypes of "strong womanhood" (i.e. bitchy and angry all the time, pouty, refuses to listen etc.), and the writing is increasingly erratic and illogical, and it's making less and less sense, but a. i love most of the supporting cast, and b. it's nearly over and now i just need to see it through to the end. there's a sense of desperation in my watching - i want to kill it dead. there's no joy or anticipation other than the anticipation of it finally being over. what a strange beast man (or in this case woman) is, but alas, this is how it is.

**reminds me of what my english teachers used to tell me about good writing: "show, don't tell" and in the case of this series, the writers are doing it wrong every step of the way. we are told again and again about the heroine's charm, beauty, kindness, attractiveness, magnetic personality, and we really do need to be reminded because all we are shown is her whinyness, her anger, her inability to stop and think before rushing into idiotic situations, and her utter lack of charisma.

27 May, 2016

an (unofficial) guide to living in the woodlands

1. drive a really nice and large shiny new car. the bigger and newer and nicer and shinier the better. the only people who drive old cars are the poors or mexicans. ew.

2. don't signal when driving: it's nobody's business where you're going. anyone who signals or expects others to signal is against freedom and likely a crypto-communist.

3. don't ever open your car windows; god gave us air conditioning for a reason. the only people who drive with their windows open are the poors or immigrants or, worse, poor immigrants. ew.

4. walking on the pathways as a sportsing-type activity is encouraged, with yoga leggings mandatory regardless of the heat or humidity. wearing normal clothes and walking to an actual destination like a shop or a restaurant is weird and highly discouraged. the only people who actually walk somewhere are the poors or immigrants or weirdos.

24 May, 2016


  1. as we slowly drove along the residential streets of our neighbourhood, a gaggle of children watched our majestic passage. one boy, about 10 years of age, ogled the mighty volvo and yelled out, they're driving a hearse! look! it's a hearse! i had to comfort a shaken mr. monkey with the fact that driving a hearse is a very cool thing indeed. clearly, cars of such an advanced age and so lacking in aerodynamicity are a rare breed in our new home town. 
  2. we took a first dip in our pool, even though its chemicals are likely out of whack seeing as we know nothing about no pool maintenance and haven't had the time to get someone out. we have not broken out in boils or syphilis... so far. also: it was great fun and will allow us to survive the summer. mr. monkey has really taken a shine to skimming the pool and finds it a meditative and relaxing chore. i just have to get him to do it in shorts instead of underwear, at least until we plant something to shield us from the neighbours out back.
  3. i met our next door neighbours, who are from south africa. their next door neighbours on the other side are from romania. i guess this means we can cook as smelly as we like and nobody is likely to object! woohoo! international ghetto!
  4. lizards: we haves them. larry is not alone and i suspect there is colour changing going on and tail regrowing. it seems sort of unfair that lizards get to do all the cool things like regrowing bits of themselves and changing the colour of their skin. i bet i would look fabulous in a nice bright teal or chartreuse!
  5. the unpacking is slowly progressing. slowly because the big stupid house is big and stupid and what it has in space, it makes up for with utter lack of storage. note to self: when buying house in future, don't be a dummy, check for storage. then again, my next house is more than likely going to be small and simple and here and i find the thought delightful. 

22 May, 2016

(living on) the edge

i'm fine. i don't miss our old home except in the most practical of ways, a.k.a. don't make me mention the lack of deep pull out drawers here again!!!!! i'm busy: painting walls, unpacking, finding places to put things, finding the things i put in places i don't remember, and i'm fine. i am busy and i am doing things and i'm checking things off my to do list and i'm dealing with issues as they come up, and i'm fine. and then, suddenly, every once in a while i'm not. i sit at the top of the stairs and i suddenly realise i now own a large suburban home with a garden and a pool and a large number of bathrooms and bedrooms and it requires maintenance and cleaning and new knowledges and skills and i feel like i am suddenly tottering on the edge of an abyss. i curl my toes and dig in and breathe deeply and talk myself out of the rising tide of panic and then i'm fine again. after all, many people live this life or aspire to this life or dream about this life, and here i am, actually living it, and daring to even consider having a panic attack about the sheer awesomeness of my existence. and then i'm fine again.

we went out on friday night and had very delicious margaritas with a deceptive amount of tequila hidden within them and so yesterday i was badly hungover and not particularly happy and then we had a social engagement engineered by mr. monkey (a very rare occurrence in itself - very very rare!) and i so didn't want to drive an hour into houston to hang out with a bunch of people and be nice and polite and interesting and interested, but i did, and it was fine, but then driving back (i was the designated driver), driving along the highways and byways, driving along the rampant development, driving under the huge ads for medical centres and cancer treatments and mega churches, driving along the overpasses and underpasses and flyovers, there it was again, the edge of an abyss, and i had to concentrate on driving and changing lanes and making sure i kept us safe on an interstate that was still inexplicably busy near midnight, and i breathed and focused and made it home, but some of the darkness remains.

next weekend is a long weekend here and we will be hosting a big bunch of uninvited guests* and i am nearly sick with anxiety about it. i'm nowhere near ready to receive, not to mention that a big part of moving here was the implication of reduced social obligations, but we will suddenly be inundated with 5 people who want to spend the weekend together and who want to spend the weekend with us, all because one friend whose wife is out of the country seems unable to travel without a pack. i know you will advise me to call the whole thing off. i know you will say i don't have to do it. but the alternative (for them all to stay in the tiny apartment of the people we visited last night) is not feasible, and these are friends of mr. monkey's and they all have plane tickets purchased already and i don't want to be a dick about it. plus it'll all be over by tuesday and i will survive. but my reaction to this is colouring everything leading up to the weekend in the darkest of colours and it's taking all my mental wherewithal to keep even keeled. mr. monkey is going away until friday and i usually relish small bits of time alone but this time the long weekend looms. not to mention that since moving here, mr. monkey has lost his every second friday off privileges (oh, america!), and a long weekend is the perfect opportunity to go exploring. instead, i'll be picking up empty beer cans and making sure nobody gets my couch dirty. yeah, yeah, i really should relax, but you know what? it ain't happening.

once again, i realise i haven't been meditating and i'm paying the price. meditation does wonders for keeping the abyss at bay, and perhaps these glimpses of it are a good reminder that while eternal vigilance isn't exactly a good way to exist, being aware of the nearness of darkness might motivate me to more regular self-care.

on a happier note, we just saw our house lizard larry climb up our living room window. we're big fans of larry though he seems rather not as taken with us.

*having stayed with tb for well over a month completely uninvited, i do feel a little bad bitching on this topic.

20 May, 2016

bad porn done badly

this thing just happened to me (or totally failed to happen to me, whatever your take is) and i couldn't not share it with you. i immediately texted crusty juggler to tell her all about it:

moi: so i just had a total porn plot happen to me!!!

i've been unpacking all day, in the house, by myself all alone, so all i had on was a thin little dress - no underwear, no bra. suddenly, the doorbell rings and it's the internet dude. i tell him we don't have internet and he says it should be hooked up, that he's only there for some minor thing, but he comes in and helps me. we go room to room, looking for a plug that's live (the coaxial plug thingy) and FINALLY find it...in the master bedroom! so we then hang out in the bedroom for 15 minutes getting things set up. so yeah, boring ending, but it had the flavour of a really cheesy porn movie!!!

"oh noes! i has no internets! OR a bra or panties! help me!"

truth of the matter, though, is that as soon as he went out to his truck, i ran upstairs to put something on and all i could find was a pair of mr. monkey's old underwear from the laundry hamper.
i can't even do porn right!!!

crusty juggler: no, it's a specific type of porn...just keeps getting dirtier! "all i had to wear were my absent husband's filthy knickers."

moi: rawr!

cj: oh yeahhhhh! installl that internetting!

we then went on in similar vein, but you get the gist and the gist is this: i could have had an internet installation technician google my brains out right on my very bedroom floor, but alas, i failed to live up to the promise of pornography. i am very, very disappointed in myself.

16 May, 2016


spent my last week in edmonton with girl littles, spending as much time with family and good friends as i could squeeze in. arrived in texas on sunday, unpacked what i could in the new house on monday, and started painting the guano-coloured living room walls on tuesday. found out our stuff gets here tomorrow which provided extra incentive to get going and get done, which i did. the thing with painting some of the walls is that the unpainted walls suddenly start to look so much worse. the painfully beige hallway, alas, is two storeys tall and will require a professional intervention. i'm good at painting but alas, balancing on scaffolding is another matter and one not unlikely to end in death and/or dismemberment.

we spent the weekend in austin with tb and his visiting daughter, and had a wonderful time. austin is the antithesis of the woodlands: the latter is all controlled, beige, architecturally uniform, calm, and corporate; the former is a glorious kerfuffle of varied styles, sizes, colours, and uses. the lay of the land is also ridiculously good looking - i ran out of sounds of awe after an hour of rolling fields of wild flowers dotted with huge southern oaks, prickly pear cactus popping up on occasion, everything dressed in brilliant hues of green and red and yellow and pink and purple and white. it was that rare weekend that was busy but not overwhelming, and even though we did and saw a lot and came back exhausted, it only whetted my appetite for more.

today i go to clean the house, get groceries, and make an attempt at beef bourguignon, though i know already i will simplify and streamline. complicated recipes stand no chance with me and quickly become mere guidelines, suggestions. depending on the unpacking tomorrow, we may well sleep in our new home tomorrow night, so i wanted to make a nice dinner tonight to thank tb for putting up with his uninvited accidental roommates.

01 May, 2016

not the dalai lama quite yet

in case you're worried i'm well on my way to becoming too fucking nice, here's an exchange i had with myself just now:

bringing my toes to the window to look at my paint job.

moi: wow. you did a supremely shitty job on those nails. what are you, blind?

moi: yeah. i am blind. and if you weren't deaf and stupid, you'd know that!