I went to Scotland and all I got was this lousy epiphany

Recently, I enjoyed a two week vacation in Scotland. With my mother.

And now you have the same squinchy face that people get when I tell them that.  The crinkled forehead that says you're trying to decide between deluded and completely fucking insane.

But, really, it was great. In fact, it was my idea. Oh, sure, there was one day, about 5 days in, where my mom snarked at some Germans in the B&B because they didn't make small talk at breakfast and in fact excluded us from their conversation by speaking German, and later she huffed and rolled her eyes at some blokes who brought a 6-pack of beer onto the train and proceeded to enjoy it, at which point I thought, holy shit, when did my Mom become a crabby old lady? But that was the same day that I snapped at her for pronouncing "Perth" in a Scottish accent, "Pairrrrth", which wouldn't be so bad except it was the only word she pronounced in a Scottish accent, and managed to do so about 20 times within 5 minutes, and if you are going to do a Scottish accent then do the whole fucking Scottish accent, at which point I'm sure she thought, holy shit, when did my daughter become a crabby old lady?

After that we went back to the B&B and had naps and from then on, at least if we were crabby old ladies we were pretty much crabby about the same thing.

At one point my Mom asked, "What will you remember about this? What will stand out?"

Lots of things, but in particular a trip we took to Lunga, where hundreds (possibly thousands) of puffins were nesting. You could stand 8 or 9 feet away from them and all they would do was give you a worried look, which I'm pretty sure is just the default look for puffins.

Puffins are nice and all but we were on Lunga for 2 hours, and that's a long time to stare at birds. So at after about half an hour I wandered off around the side of the island. Lunga was inhabited once, hundreds of years ago, and I poked about inspecting the ruins of the stone crofts and taking some pictures. 

I kept walking around the island, away from the puffins and the group of people. A rabbit spotted me and thrashed away through the heather. A bee the size of my palm droned by, interested only in the swathes of bluebells that were carpeting the island.

I followed a path and found myself, suddenly, in a small valley. I could no longer hear human voices, and the ocean was far away and down a cliff. The wind died, and I stopped walking. Complete and utter silence crushed down.

I panicked, almost. You are never that far away from some kind of sound or movement. You don't realize the constant humming, murmuring, clicking, rumbling, whooshing, going on until it's gone. It was like the world ended and I didn't get the memo.

Then another bee bumbled past and the undergrowth rustled and the panic lifted off my chest. But it continued to be so still, so muted, that I stood there for a good five minutes just being. I realized at some point I had started crying.

I kept following the path, around the island until I reached a small sign that said "paths may be hazardous, visitors proceed at own risk". Twenty feet past that was a sheer cliff that plunged into the sea. Just a bit hazardous.

So I turned around, and near the small valley I met my Mom, who had tired of puffins as well and followed the same path. We sat down on the springy grass and had a lunch of oat cakes and mandarins. The sun warmed our companionable silence. 

"I could die here," my Mom said, "In perfect happiness."

I felt the same way, but instead I made a sarcastic comment about how much of a pain it would be to get her body back to Canada, because I talk all the time, I never really stop, but when it comes to saying anything that might cut my heart, I have no words.

I'm as silent as that valley.


Might have to just start making things up. Because I don’t already do that. Much.

You know that one friend you have, who gets a new boyfriend, and that’s all she can talk about, and then she sort of falls off the face of the planet and the rest of you are sitting around having coffee 4 months later idly wondering, “Whatever happened to so-and-so?”

Apparently I’m like that with new jobs.

Except, I can’t really talk about it, because it’s all very important and proprietary and has seven layers of security clearance.

Honest.

Okay, fine.  I can’t really talk about it because people at work read my blog.

(Side note: Don’t ever let that happen, if you want to tell a story and maintain any sense of originality.  I couldn’t figure out why they were looking at me funny when I was talking about my childhood blanket burrito, and then they were all, “Yeah.  We already read that on your blog.”)

So I can’t talk about work, and I don’t discuss my relationship, and the whole point of this blog was NOT to talk about my kid.  I’ve effectively narrowed my bloggable options down to the state of my uterus, and what I had for lunch.

(The same, and leftover spinach salad.)

Hm.  So.  See you in six months?

I know some people that remind me of this cat. Minus the shoe thing. Mostly.

A little while ago when I posted my financial woes, I mentioned My Stupid Cat, who got hit by a car and forced me to pay for her recovery on my credit card. So I thought I'd tell you about said Cat, because she was a Character. (Also the cat-ownership equivalent of birth control.)

(And as I'm writing this I'm realizing that I tell you guys a lot of stories about days gone by, but not much about my life right now. That is because MY LIFE IS BORING.)

My Stupid Cat's name was Horse.

I can't take credit for that little piece of brilliance; it's a direct ripoff of the NZ cartoon Footrot Flats. But it suited her.

She came into my life via Party Guy, whose parents ran a farm. Horse showed up at their door in -40C weather, obviously not "local" but the result of of someone dumping her. How could someone dump such an adorable little black cat? I wondered, as I peered into her deep green eyes, and fell in love.

Three days later, she went into heat and I totally understood. Maaaaaaow. MaaaaaaaaoOOOOW. Mooooaawwwwaaahhhhaaaaawwwhhh! Maow? MaoaoooaoaoaoaoaoOAOMGOMGOMGOMGAooowww! But by then it was too late; I had promised to keep this obnoxious feline safe.

One of her ears had been badly frostbitten during her trek to Party Guy's farm, and she shed the shrivelled skin in a spray of blood shortly after coming to live with me. It didn't do her any lasting harm, but I thought it made her look tough, so I christened her Horse after the farmyard bully in Footrot Flats.

(Actually, at first I think I named her Tequila, because I was 18 and that was cool. But I quickly outgrew that phase and moved on to Cinnamon Schnapps as a beverage of choice, which didn't sound nearly as badass for a cat's name.)

(I thought she was even more tough-looking after she lost a front tooth - not to a fight with a hellhound or anything but to gingivitis. I overlooked the fact that it meant she couldn't keep her tongue in her mouth so she would sit there, glaring, with the tip of her pink tongue sticking out and completely ruining her image.)

Anyway.

She was tough - she was an outdoor cat, against my wishes, and regularly hunted all kinds of birds and rodents. Once, she came home covered in a wiry grey fur that baffled me until I later spotted her beating the crap out of a possum twice her size.

Horse, who I pretty much just always called The Cat and my mother referred to as Stegosaurus Brain, followed me to the west coast when I went away to college. There, she and I moved in with Politika, who had a cat of her own. A Siamese.

I'm not sure if it was a class thing or if Horse just didn't like other felines in general, but the blending of our families did NOT go well. Horse, correctly identifying Politika as the source of this other pet, began pissing on all Politika's stuff.

Towels. T-shirts. Feather duvets that needed to be expensively drycleaned.

Horse left everyone else's stuff entirely alone, but it got to the point that Politika couldn't leave a laundry-related item unguarded for a nanosecond before that stupid cat dribbled ammonia-stench piss all over it. Eventually Politika had to keep all her things in her room, with the door closed, at all times. This workaround kept household harmony for many months, and Horse and the Siamese were eventually content to pretend the other didn't exist.

Until the incident with the car and the credit card.

A professional-sounding phone call woke me around 1am to inform me that my cat had been hit by a car, and some kind soul had scraped her off the pavement and taken her to the nearest vet clinic. Could I come and help them decide what to do with her?

Disoriented and upset, I raced to the clinic, where a tired-looking tech brought me to Horse. She was lying on the table, her eyes glazed, blood leaking from her ass. She stared me down, daring me to underestimate her, as the vet explained that both her hips were broken. He laid out my options:

1. Hip replacement surgery, which was some-exorbitant-sum-plus-a-baby-finger per hip,
2. A plaster diaper cast, which gave her a 15% chance of recovery at a slightly more manageable dollar amount,
and 3. Putting her down, which would cost approximately the same as the cast.

Horse and I took the 15%, and I unfroze the Mastercard to pay for it.

I brought her home the next day and made her a comfy bed, and spent the day spoon-feeding her. With no use of her back legs, she was almost completely immobile, and I'm sure wearing a plaster diaper was humiliating, even for a cat. She would maaaow at me pitifully one second and give me a fuckoffanddie glare the next instant.

But the next day I had to return to school. I couldn't blow off an entire semester for a convalescent cat. I arranged her comfy bed in front of the television, left food and water and the remote control (shut up) within reach, and headed off for my 10 hour day, hoping she wouldn't be too bored. Politika, though sympathetic, muttered something as she headed off herself about, "At least I can leave my bedroom door open now, cat."

When I got home, Horse's comfy bed was empty.

Oh, god. She could barely move - where had she gone? Did she drag herself away looking for me after I heartlessly abandoned her?

I checked my bedroom, which was the first door down the hall. No cat.

Then I checked our other roommate's bedroom. Horse liked him fine, because he hadn't introduced another feline into her life and because he doted on her more than should be appropriate for a human-feline relationship. She wasn't there either.

Which only left Politika's room. Why would she have gone in THERE? She disliked Politika and the Siamese intensely, and it was the furthest room possible. There was no WAY she went in there, but I checked anyway.

And, yeah. She had. Horse had dragged herself all the way down the hall using only her front paws, through the door Politika now felt free to leave standing open, into the furthest reaches of her closet, and shit all over Politika's shoes.

Yeah.

Do I need to mention how that 15%-chance-cat not only recovered completely, but weeks before the vet had predicted?

No wonder I'm a dog person.

I'm all about the child labor around here, ninja or not: Random Tuesday Thoughts

randomtuesday

It appears it's Tuesday again. Damn Tuesdays, with their regularity.

Well, you know what that means! It means it's time to dump all your random thoughts into a post and sew it up neat with the fugly button. Then link up, visit a few other people who are like me and too lazy to come up with an actual post random!

Shall we?

I have another appointment with my naturopath tomorrow. She said I clearly have a hormonal imbalance (duh) and wants to do some technique called Auricular therapy. Which is...like acupuncture on your ear only?

Is it just me, or is this getting flakier?


In a semi-related note, a few weeks ago I went to my GP to get her to make another referral to a gynecologist, because it can take up to a year to get an appointment with a good one here and I may as well have it waiting in the wings if the naturopath doesn't figure things out, y'know?

Not that I think the naturopath won't figure it out. I'm sure she will, if I belieeeeeeve hard enough and cross my fingers and twinkle the right amount of fairy dust.

Anyway. The GP looked at me suspiciously when I told her I haven't had a period since December, because the last time I talked to her I was getting them every two weeks. I interpreted her look and sighed in reply, "No, I'm not pregnant."

"Are you sure? Because I've seen many a blood test come back positive when the home pregnancy test was negative."

Then she sent me for the blood test and I spent two weeks obsessing over the possibility that I was harboring some kind of ninja fetus that didn't show up on pee sticks. (Hubby was okay with it, because every time I demanded, "Are you sure my boobs aren't bigger?", he got to check.)

Not surprisingly, the blood test was negative. I was disappointed.

I really wanted a ninja.

I've noticed that I make excuses for people's behaviour a lot. Oh, they're very young. I made lots of bonehead moves when I was younger, too. Or well, maybe they're stressed and carrying a lot of anger.

Conversely, sometimes I wish I had an assassin on retainer.

I'm a complicated soul.


If I'd birthed a ninja, I would have had an assassin at my beck and call. So now I'm doubly disappointed.

Admiral Ackbar toilet. Holy trap.

My bathroom is still not finished. I have resorted to this:

What? He works cheap.

It's Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, you guys. You should go. Not that I'm trying to convert anybody, or anything. It's just that it's FREE COMICS.

(Free!)

(In case I forgot to mention that.)


Your turn! Get outta here, yous crazy kids, and be random!

My job is eating my soul, but I promised not to blog about work, so you get this

On Tuesday Cristin at Tiptoeing Through the Tulips did this thingie with her blog and I demanded to know how she'd done it. Of course she didn't answer me within 30 seconds so I got impatient and googled it and it's possible I've broken my blog template, but anything I can break that easily is not worth having.

At least that's what I always told myself about men.

Anyway. Right-clicky, please. I'll wait.

So there you have it. Now go read Cristin's blog, she's brutally honest and touching and wicked funny and she swears a lot. She may present me with some competition for Jason Mraz, but I think I can take her because she has that big heart.

I've got this AND the crack habit under control, thank you for asking

Todays post is brought to you by everybody's favorite beverage, COFFEE. Why? Because Blissfully Caffeinated just gave birth to the beautiful and perfect baby Half Caff, and it sounds like she had a bit of a time of it. So Jenni and Sprite's Keeper suggested we all post about coffee, to let Bliss Caff know we're thinking of her.

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I'm madly, passionately, in love with it. I love the enticing aroma, the fragrant beans, the whole OCD process of making the perfect cup. I love it black, with its sharp edge and impenetrable depths, and I love it sweetened (brown sugar or honey). Add cream and it's practically a fucking dessert.

At one point in my life, however, I loved it a little TOO much. It was college.

Don't the addictions always crop up during college?

I would get up in the morning, have a couple of cups of coffee, and get on the Skytrain to go to school. That took, like, an hour, so by the time I got there I really needed that triple mocchacino from the coffee cart. Then I had a really boring class or two, so I needed another triple after that.

But I never had any coffee after noon! Hey, you have to make rules sometimes.

About halfway through my second year of college my stomach went into revolt. It told me I had to cut out the caffeine or the booze, one of the two, or it wasn't going to let me eat any more of those chocolate-chocolate-chip cookies from the cafeteria, and oh yeah maybe make me throw up some blood.

Clearly, I had to decaffeinate. So I did it in what seemed the most reasonable manner - cold turkey.

I slept for 3 days straight.

I stayed decaffeinated for about a year, at which point my stomach and I came to a tentative understanding. I would only drink one cup of coffee a day, two MAX, and if I ever felt it get out of control I would quit.

I've danced back and forth over that line over the years, but for the most part I stick to that rule. I only have one cup of coffee a day. I mean, it is kind of a BIG cup. When I offer it to guests at my house - "would you like the big mug or the little one?" - their reaction often includes bulging eyes. So maybe it counts as two cups.

Well, and sometimes I have two of those. So, four cups.

Hm.

Excuse me, I'm going to go see if the detox centre has any openings. And maybe throw up some blood.

The mosquitoes are trying to tell me something in their tiny, annoying voices. Like Fran Drescher tried, before I punched her in the throat.

Our summer has been so fucked up. All our lovely hot 30 degree* weather, which usually happens in July and August, is showing up NOW, long after everybody's gone back to school and taken their vacations from work. And where mosquitoes normally plague us in June and July, this year they're having an autumn feast.

After less than an hour in the garden yesterday, I came inside with 10 large welts. Seven of them were on my ASS.

What the fuck, mosquitoes? Is it that large of a target? No - wait - don't tell me - it's so big you got sucked into its gravitational pull?

Fucking mosquitoes.

I'm going to just assume that mosquitoes have great taste, because despite the fact that I've completely fallen off the exercise bandwagon, I still feel great, my clothes still fit (mostly) and I have a couple of fairly valid excuses as to why I'm watching said bandwagon disappear over the horizon.

Mostly, and I'll just get this out of the way right now, it's that I'm just a terrible human being who had four desserts today. But also, I had to stop running because I screwed up my back. Again.

Me and my back have a rather rocky history. It started when I was in university and I was doing a lot of pottery, and all the time spent hunched over the throwing wheel sent my (supposedly youthful and pliant) back muscles into spasm. I spent several months in physio, but it's been a bit of an albatross ever since, and it often derails my exercising efforts. One of the more memorable is pre-child, when I was playing squash daily with FoN, and while showering off after one game I innocently bent to pick up the shampoo. When I stood back up something went POP.

POP is a good sound when associated with kernels, or bubbles. Not spines. That unhappy incident introduced me to my chiropractor, with whom I am now on a first name basis.

(His name is Bill. In case you were wondering.)

So I wasn't kidding a month or so ago when I said that in order to go running, I needed to visit the chiropractor at least once a week. It was getting closer to twice a week, and it was getting kind of fucking pricey. And then it wasn't keeping the pain at bay, so I had to stop running.

I was still kind of enjoying running though**, so when I've done enough stretching and had enough visits to Bill, I keep trying again. And I then I'm reaching for the Aleve-Robaxacet cocktail, and voice-commanding my cel phone to "Call. Bill."

Anyway. I think I need to give up the marathon dream, and start looking at something that's a little more suited to my general personality. Low-impact and hippie-esh.

Yoga anyone?

*It's Celsius, I'm Canadian, just deal with it. It's about 86 F, plus.

**I know. I don't get it either.

Nerdy Bits

I stumbled across this post over at The Park Bench the other day, and it really made me feel like maybe my nerd-girl credentials are a little dusty. Mostly because I don't know who the fuck Liz Lemon is. But I have been slacking off a little lately in the nerd department. I mean - what if I got all NORMAL? The shame.

So, here's what's going on in my Nerd World lately.

Champions Online, the next big superhero MMO, is now in open beta (that means anyone can give it a go)(if they're willing to sit through a several-hour download, that is). So far, I give it a resounding 'meh'. I really, reeeeaaallly wanted to love this game, because superheros and MMOs are my 'thing', and I'm getting a tad jaded about my beloved City of Heroes, after a mere 4 years of playing it.

I know! I'm so fickle. Anyway, there are lots of clever things you can do in Champions (burrowing under the earth as a travel power? Okay, that's pretty cool), but most of the missions seem like a grind (kill X amount of X) and my artsy brain just can't get past the fact that it requires some video-card-on-steroids to render a game that's essentially in 2D. We get that it's a comic book game, you don't have to put a thick black line around everything. Honest.

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Season 3 of The Guild came out on Tuesday. For XBox Live subscribers, anyway. Which I am not. So if you ARE, please shutthefuckup until it's available to the rest of us, m'kay?

(If you're unaware, which I was until recently, The Guild is a web-based series about a group of MMO players. Each episode is 3-5 minutes long. Even if you don't play MMOs, it's a freakin' hilarious look at the weirdness that has evolved out of relationships over the internet. Like, say, BLOGGERS. Ahem.)

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Dollhouse, Season 1. Yeah, I know it came out on DVD a little while ago, but I just got around to watching it now. I wasn't super pumped about it. The plot sounded like an excuse for a lot of scantily clad women, and I always considered Eliza Dushku to be one of the few weak links in the Buffy series. I mean, anyone can play "bad girl with a vulnerable side", and she didn't even do the 'vulnerable' part that well in my opinion. But Dollhouse? Rocks. Eliza Dushku has totally upped her game, and the storyline so far is fan-fucking-tastic.

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Faunasphere, that strangely addictive little web-based gem of a game that I wrote about a while back, is now live. Anybody can sign up and play for free, and they've added a spooky new world: The Swamp.

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The first in Kevin Smith's new Batman series, The Widening Gyre, came out on Wednesday. The story has definite potential, though not so much the art.

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Apparently Frank Cho and Doug Murray want ME to draw their upcoming comic, 50 Girls 50. ME! Well, okay, not me specifically. If you're a comic book artist, they want you to take a shot at illustrating the first 6 pages of the script, and they'll pick a winner.

Hey, I draw comics.

Fancy that.