Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Sad Post

My husband and I returned to the vet with Indy on Saturday after a round of medication, hoping beyond hope for a miracle. We did not get one. The medication was only succeeding in maintaining his already poor condition. He had not worsened, nor had he recovered any. He still wasn't in any condition to survive surgery, and if he were, chances were very small there was anything to be done for him. So, my husband and I made, what was for me, one of the most difficult decisions of my adult life; to have our family pet euthanized.

Indy was a unique cat who very quickly wove himself into the fabric of our family. He will be very dearly missed. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pancakes and Watermelon Martyrdom

My daughter turned 13 at the beginning of the month. Yes, I heard the hiss your breath made as you sucked it back in through clenched teeth. And yes, having a 13 year old daughter is as scary as you think it is. Scarier, in fact. I remember being 13 years old. If she is doing half of the shit I was doing at 13, I need to remain blissfully ignorant. Ponder that for a moment, your 13 year old self and what you got up to. Oh, I know. You need to sit down? Yes, please go right ahead. I understand. No, no, please don't talk about it. My Dad reads this blog and he thinks I was a good girl (I was Daddy, I swear. This is all for fun. You know that, right? Right?).

Anyway, she wanted to have a sleepover. You have that image I helped you conjure of one 13 year old girl? Now picture 5 of them. They are Lululemon wearing, ipod Touch toting, Twilight watching, gossip mongers. Just listening to their interactions exhausted me.

As is the sleepover tradition, I cooked a smorgasbord breakfast. Kings and Queens have not known such plentiful fare! Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit; there was scrambled eggs, bacon, chocolate chip pancakes, blueberry pancakes, and watermelon. I am usually a fantastic pancake maker, but I require an electric skillet to make my fantastic pancakes. Sadly, last fall, my skillet was in the dish rack drying (I do not dry dishes, they will dry themselves if you let them) atop a mountain of similarly drying dishes. I may have accidentally brushed the the skillet with the fold at the elbow of my shirt as I turned to reach for something and wouldn't you know it! The damned skillet jumped right out of the dish rack, threw itself on the floor and broke! Now I have to rely on a cast iron frying pan for my fantastic pancakes and it usually takes me 6 pancakes or so (3 fit in the pan at a time) before I get the temperature just right and those first ones are always a little darker than the average taste bud prefers. Who usually gets these? Why, me of course! I also got the ends of the watermelon. And so I pose this question: Why do parents do this? Why not make the kids eat the burnt pancakes and watermelon ends? Oooo, that sounds mean. Is it 'cause we love the little buggers? Do you think 20 years from now they will remember my pancake and watermelon martyrdom? I don't think so. Why don't I throw them out you ask? Because then I can hear the little voice inside my head that sounds suspiciously like my mother reminding me of all the starving children in Africa; waste not, want not, etcetera etcetera. So I eat the burnt pancakes and watermelon ends.

Mr. Sprite and I got our movie on this weekend. In fact, we watched 3. Allow me to play critic a moment.

The Reader

I sat down to this one blind. I had read something, somewhere about this movie but I was damned if I knew what, where. Ahhhh, Kate Winslet, is this the one she won the Oscar for? By the time the movie had finished I decided it had to be. That was definitely the type of performance the Academy folk like. I haven't bothered to verify that. I may still be wrong. It was good. I enjoyed it. I don't want to get all spoilery so I will be brief and vague. She has an affair with a 15 year old boy (that's not a spoiler! It happens in the first 10 minutes or so), as he is young and impressionable, when the affair has run it's course (that may be an inadequate description, but I'm gettin' tired, sorry), she continues to plague his thoughts. She lacks a particular skill the rest of us take for granted. The lack of this skill, her inability to admit to it and the fact that she is a guard for the Nazi's lands her in a heap load of trouble. I'd recommend it. Not the happiest of love stories though, so if that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mmmmm, Brad Pitt......Oh! Sorry! Yeah, so unless you've lived under a rock this year, you have to have heard of this movie (the same could be said for The Reader, I know). A baby is born old and as he ages he gets younger. The baby is played by Brad Pitt. His love interest is played by Cate Blanchett. I think I may trade in my current girl crush, Scarlet Johansson, for Ms. Blanchett. She has such classic beauty. Is there anything she can't do? Anyhoo, not much to say. If you are talented at suspending reality and ignoring the numerous questions this premise begs, then by all means, see this movie. You will enjoy it.


Meh. Jean-Claude Van Damme is cool, don't get me wrong. Cute, too. But this? This was meh. I didn't hate it. I wouldn't trip over myself to watch it again. It's supposed to be sorta, maybe, a little bit, kinda autobiographical, so I'm told (again, I haven't bothered to look it up. I'm all about repeating all sorts of unsubstantiated shit tonight, sue me). Back to the maybe, could be, sort of, might've been autobiography. Reeeeally? I raise one eyebrow at you, Mr. Van Damme. I imagine I would have to be a bit more of a fanatic type fan to fully understand what happens in this movie. Perhaps, if I had an inkling, I could do a little research and be enlightened. I'm not so much into researching my movies to be quite honest. I had a similar experience not so long ago, where I felt so strongly about my experience I was compelled to write an email to a website I frequent regarding a movie I had watched recently. Awww, What the hell, I'll include that too, since I am playing critic tonight. Oh! If you are looking for Jean-Claude patented ass kicking, don't watch this. If you are a fanatic, go right ahead, fill yer boots.

I'm Not There

Now, just in case you’re a huge Dylan fan let me explain before you hire a hit. I like Bob Dylan; in fact my affection resides in the much stronger territory of love where certain songs are concerned. My Father made sure I was well acquainted with the music of, in his opinion, the best musicians on earth. Bob Dylan was one of them. So, when I saw a preview for this movie I was excited. Unfortunately, life happened and I didn't get to see it as early as I would have liked. I happened to be at the movie store without the other half last weekend, and there on the bottom shelf, in the corner of the bottom shelf, were two copies of this movie. I got all excited because I had forgotten all about it and I remembered how much I wanted to see it. I scooped it up, paid for it, drove home, popped me some popcorn and fired up the DVD player. I watched all 2 hours and 15 minutes of it.

If I had an ounce of knowledge on the subject, perhaps I could say this movie is visually remarkable. I didn’t invest 2 hours of my time for the cinematography. If I had wanted to see the result of Todd Haynes flexing his writer/director muscle, then I might have been impressed (although I was intrigued by the idea to use 6 different actors to portray one man). What I wanted was to learn a bit about the legend. To walk away feeling as if I had been audience to a small portion of Bob Dylan’s life. What I got, however, was a whole lot of “What the…?!?”
I thought I should sleep on it. Maybe I would feel better about it in the morning, you know, digest a little. I woke up still confused. What was I missing? Everything seemed out of context, nothing tied one event to another. I mean, what in the name of all that is good does Billy the Frikkin’ Kid have to do with Bob Dylan? I obviously was missing some very crucial information here. And that’s it. This movie left me feeling like there exists some secret VIP Dylan Club for which I was not a card holding member. Amateur’s need not apply.

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the acting. Heath Ledger can (could?) do no wrong. Christian Bale was broody and he does that well. Cate Blanchett is amazing and everything she touches is gold in my eyes. Richard Gere, well, again I ask you, what does Billy the Kid have to do with Bob Dylan? I should add that I did look up Billy the Kid’s relevance shortly after I woke up and the explanations I found left me still confused. I did find a satisfactory explanation of Marcus Carl Franklin’s character. Even when I didn’t know why he was there or why he was calling himself Woody Guthrie, I was amused by the kid.

This movie should come with a warning; if you aren’t a die-hard, a Dylan aficionado, get your kicks elsewhere. This movie’s not for you.

Th-th-that's all folks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Indiana Jones and His Last Crusade

This is not a tale you will be familiar with. If you are drawn here this evening by a whip carrying, adventuring archaeologist, then you may be disappointed. Stay awhile though, listen to the tale of a girl and her kitten and you may be glad you did.

My childhood pet was, more often than not, a cat. As an adult, I continued tradition. When my husband and I first moved in together, we got a cat. After having our second child, our son, it became painfully clear the cat had little tolerance for the curiosity and mischievousness of a young boy. Sadly, Fidjet was given a new home with my father-in-law, where he lived to old age, never having his tail pulled, or cuddled against his will, or riding in the dolly stroller. He began his new life with my father-in-law in February. By April, I was in desperate need of a feline fix. After making many promises I never had any intention of keeping, my husband agreed to take the whole family to the local Humane Society to look at all the potential....err, nice animals.

When we arrived, we learned there had been a box of kittens on the door step awaiting the employees arrival. In the short time since discovering them, the employees had determined the kittens were barely old enough to have been weened. I asked if they were ready to go to a home. My husband scowled. The kids squealed. I was told it was unlikely they would be ready to go today, they needed to be thoroughly examined. My husband heaved a sigh of relief. I frowned. The children groaned. They asked if we planned to give the kitten we chose all of its shots and have it spayed or neutered. I said we did. My husband said we didn't because we had no intention of taking a cat. I pouted, batted my eyelashes, pleaded. The children watched, wide-eyed and hopeful. He broke down. Admittedly, I wasn't playing fairly. I had picked up a brown tabby female and she had nestled in the curve made by my neck and shoulder and began purring. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to leave without her and he knew it.

When it was obvious a decision had been reached, we were taking a kitten, one of the staff said there was one more kitten from the litter. He was in the back because he wasn't very friendly. Not unfriendly, but not friendly either. They couldn't let me go in all good conscience without seeing all of them. So they brought him out. A ball of black fur that fit in the other neck-shoulder curve perfectly. He began purring right away, and what a purr it was! My husband took one look at me and said "No! We are not taking two cats home, you can forget it!" The staff told him they would give us half of our money back when we brought in proof we had had the kittens fixed. I said "It's a discount! 2 for 1 sale! Please! Please! Please!......" The kids joined in "Please, Daddy! Please, Daddy!" The three of us are in the Humane Society, we have him surrounded, I have two purring kittens wrapped around my neck and we're jumpin' up and down chanting "Please!" Resistance is futile. To fight us was useless, our pitiful faces, our pouty pleading; you couldn't have denied us anything. The kittens were ours!

During the car ride home, we discussed names. Sitting in the front seat with a box with two kittens in it in my lap, I asked the children for suggestions. They wanted to call the female "Beautiful", because she had beautiful marks on her face. We decided beautiful was a little long, but settled on "Bella". When it was the males turn, my daughter suggested "Indiana Jones". At the time, she adored Indiana Jones (I pity the man who aims to be her husband), we were subject to watching the movies on a regular basis, so it came as no surprise that she immediately went in that direction. Everyone agreed that was definitely too long and maybe a little too much of a reputation for just a little kitty to live up to. "Well," she says, "we can call him Indy for short and I think it fits, 'cause he hasn't stopped trying to get out of that box. He's looking for adventure!" Now, you can't fault us for not arguing with logic as sound as that and so we named the male kitten, Indy.

As happens once in awhile, an animal that was intended to be a family pet ends up taking to one member of the family more than the any of the others. Such was the case. Our daughter and Indy quickly joined the ranks of Mutt and Jeff, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, inseparable. Hers was the first lap he would seek out (although he would never turn down a good petting). He would sleep with her, under the covers, until my husband and I turned in. At which time, Indy curled up between my husbands feet and there spent the remainder of the night (a good nights sleep has been few and far between for my hubby). They spent hours together, her petting, him purring. She was the only one he would play with and only her hair at that.

Felines are normally aloof. They usually have loads of personality, but are incredibly choosy about when and to whom they show it. Cats are usually solitary, content to lounge in an empty room, an out of reach shelf. This is not Indy. Indy has oodles of personality and doesn't mind showing it. He is aggressive in his search for lovin'. If my daughter is unavailable to satisfy his cuddle need, he is not above crawling into another family members lap or even a strangers. When he is hungry, he follows whoever he can, meowing. He insists he is an outdoor cat, despite the fact he has never been allowed to be. An open door is another opportunity to escape. Where does he go, you ask? Nowhere. He's never gone beyond the backyard. He eats grass, chases butterflies, tires quickly and comes back to the door that let him out in the first place, waiting to be readmitted. Oh! He was fat. He was the biggest cat I had ever seen. Garfield had nothing on our Indy! And he purrs. When he is happy, I mean, delightfully content, he sounds like a diesel engine. Except for the squeak. When he purrs, I'm not sure if it's when he inhales or exhales, he squeaks. If you have met him, you know him and know there aren't words to do him justice. He is just about as perfect as a feline can get.

About a month ago, he began to lose weight. I wasn't too concerned because we had recently added another kitten to the growing zoo and I thought his rambunctiousness was doing the Fat Cat some good. Then I noticed he wasn't eating much. My husband and I began discussing a trip to the vet. The very next day Indy was basking in a sunbeam and I noticed his skin had a decidedly unhealthy yellow tinge. On Tuesday we took him to the vet. The vet determined there was no infection because Indy was not running a fever. All signs pointed to a very sick liver. He spent the night in the vet's office and after a barrage of tests and an early morning ultrasound -which confirmed that his liver was indeed grossly enlarged), it was looking as if our worst fears were coming true. Our dearest Indy, the friendliest kitty (I once watched my toddling niece drag him and his substantial weight by his head across the floor and he did nothing), my daughter's friend was knocking on deaths door. Cancer of the liver seemed the likeliest culprit but a biopsy would be necessary and Indy wasn't strong enough to be anesthetized. If he survived the biopsy, there was very little hope what ailed him could be cured.

After a tearful conversation with our veterinarian, I called my husband to relay the news. I told myself it would be selfish to put the cat through the trauma of trying to make him well enough to have the biopsy when the chances were so small there was anything to be done for him other than diagnose him. My heart ached with love for our family pet and the devastation my little girl would know when she learned his fate. I resolved to have him put to sleep. Knowing this would also be my husbands suggestion, I was already prepared when I had finished telling him what the vet had said. Chances are slim, not looking good. Hubby had questions I had not asked and so called the vet. Then he called me back to tell me Indy was coming home. We were going to treat him in hopes of him gaining enough strength to undergo surgery. I was surprised because I am usually the one who clings to the smallest of hopes. I normally think with my heart rather than my head. Our roles have been reversed. And I love my husband all the more for it.

I don't know if one decision makes any more sense than the other. I know our cat is home and we are giving him medication and it seems to be helping. That could be wishful thinking. But you know what? My daughter has doted on him since his return from the vet. She has been near tears the whole time but she is stoic. His comfort and care are paramount. This morning she spent 10 minutes kneeling by the edge of the bed Indy was laying on with her forehead pressed to his. Both of them, their eyes closed. Him purring for all he was worth. It was painful and enchanting to watch.

Because there was never a feline like him before, because he is my daughters friend, because he's a part of our family, I hope he makes it through. If he doesn't, I am glad we have known him, because he's part of the family, he's my daughter's friend, because the mold broke when they made Indiana Jones, Feline.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where'd it go?!?!

I published a post tonight I had started on the 17th of May. So where is this post you ask? Filed chronologically, of course! Grrrr.

While I am here explaining the mystery of the missing post, perhaps I will give you a little insight into the post. I started and abandoned it because it is very opinionated and even though my blog title may suggest otherwise, that is not always the point. Yesterday, however, I watched He's Just Not That Into You. On the surface, it's a cute movie. Not a a cinematic masterpiece, but it'll do for some lazy Saturday afternoon viewing. Mindless entertainment. The more I thought about it (as much as I tried not to, the damn movie had wormed it's way into my brain) the angrier I became. My anger focused on Scarlett Johannson's character and her love interest. Not her character actually, but the indifference her character showed toward another's marriage. For his part, Bradley Cooper's character seemed marginally more concerned. But not much. And so my rant was given new life.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Road Rage

I have a dirty little secret. I like to drive fast. I am usually a good little law abiding citizen, I would never demean another person for following the letter of the law, even when I have chosen to bend a law a teensy bit. Normally, I have no problem whatsoever sharing the road with drivers who obey the speed limit.

I grew up in Toronto, the 401 ( the MacDonald - Cartier Freeway or Highway of Heroes, as it is more recently known) was where I learned my highway etiquette. Granted, it may have bred a slightly aggressive driver where speed is concerned. But the aggression was not unknown. In fact, if you were of a less aggressive nature, you knew your place on my fair city's highway. The unspoken rule (one the Ontario Provincial Police would, I'm sure, love to rid the highway of) is the actual speed limit is 15 - 20 km/h above the posted speed limit. At least. If you cannot bring yourself to follow the flow of traffic, remain in the far right lane and deal with merging traffic. Otherwise, prepare to be tail-gated, flashed at (lights, dirty minded!), or flipped the bird. If you are the reason a driver going faster than you has to brake or *gasp* cancel cruise control, prepare to be ridiculed. You most likely won't hear it, so the emotional damage is minimal, but know that it is happening. The other driver is most likely cursing the day you were granted a driver's license.

Mr. Sprite is a member of our fine country's esteemed military -no, I didn't just choke, why do you ask? A couple of years ago, the powers that be determined my husbands ability would better serve another military base and so being the patriotic family, we obeyed orders and were relocated. Since relocating, I have to travel a good portion of the 101 highway in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley in order to make it to work. I don't mind. I like to drive. I like to drive fast. Fast is not a word that often enters the common resident of the Valley's vocabulary. So much so, they have robbed Mexico of their laid back motto and more often than I care to admit, I hear the locals refer to Valley Time.

Even though I grew up in a city where anything I could ever want was literally at my front door, where I could buy diapers, roofing nails and roti all a four o'clock in the morning, it wasn't hard to get used to "Valley Time". I polished up on my organizational skills, adjusted my expectations and voila! I am no longer a child of instant gratification.

I cannot, however, handle the drivers in this portion of the province. While in Ontario the posted speed limit suggested the slowest you should drive, here, I am lucky to encounter a driver actually approaching the speed limit! It is not uncommon for an entire caravan of vehicles to be trudging along at a leisurely 90 or 95 km/hr. The speed limit is 100! To add insult to injury, the majority of the highway is a single lane in either direction. The passing sections, where the line is not solid to one or both sides of traffic, is use at your own risk. Because I know a guy, who knew a guy, who has a degree in civil engineering, I am confident when I say; this road was not designed to support a 100 km/h speed limit. 80 maybe, but not 100. Attempting to pass in the oncoming lane is a game of Russian Roulette. It's a twisty, turny, sort of hilly stretch of road and those passing sections may be sufficient if drivers were coasting along at a comfy 80. But when you are trying to pass the Pappy Parade, propelling past at 130, it is grossly insufficient.

So, I often find myself chomping at the bit. Inevitably, I am usually the 32nd car in a line of 50. I await the opportunity to pass with baited breath. I used to enjoy driving. I drove in a city that boasts two of the country's 10 most dangerous intersections and rarely felt stress as a result of driving. After moving to a more rural location, my anxiety behind the wheel was usually weather related. Here, in what is peddled as one of the most relaxing provinces in the country, I fear my daily commute. I would hardly have cause to complain if my complaint were speed limit obeying drivers. But it isn't. My complaint is people who can't seem to find the strength in their right foot to apply the pressure required to the gas pedal to go just a leeedle bit faster. It may be my sanity's undoing.