bogeyandruby

Random stuff, reflections on the meaning of life and death, humour, self-deprecation, a bit of bad poetry.

The best dog walks are the ones where I don’t bump into anyone. Just me, the fur kids and nature.

I know I’m not the only anti-social, lone wolf out there. Indeed, I recognize the body language in others: head down, eyes averted, the abrupt change in direction, the slowing down or quickening of pace to avoid that awkward crossing of paths, ducking into the woods to stare up some random tree like you lost your favourite kite/kitten/raptor, pretending to look for dog poop in long grass, untying then re-tying your shoelaces in double knots real slow.

Yep, I’ve got dozens of strategies to avoid people, but alas, they are only effective when it comes to adults.

I’d almost made it home intact this afternoon when I heard the sound of running feet, lots of them. Flashes of navy blue and Kelley green. Reflector strips on grubby sneakers. Three pairs of sneakers.

“Can we pet your dogs, lady?”

I looked up. Three boys already crouched down with arms extended before I could answer.

“Sami, sit!” I tugged on his leash to stop him from jumping and he sat.

“Hey, my name is Sam too!”

I looked more closely at the boy named Sam and recognized him from my son’s former elementary school. They are about five years apart and I hadn’t seen Sam since my son was in grade six.

“Oh my goodness, you’ve grown, Sam! What grade are you in now?”

“Five!”

I asked the other two boys what grades they were in and they replied five and three, respectively and told me their names were Natarajan (pronounced Na-tarzan) and Santosh. Both boys had their left ears pierced, one with a gold stud in it and the other with a small gold hoop which I thought was totally cool.

We chatted about school and homework and they tried to get Gamin to sit, switching to French when I told them Gami was French but of course, he still wouldn’t sit which they thought was a hoot.

After a while, I was itching to get home so I pulled the dogs away from the boys and headed towards the house, thanking them for the visit.

“Bye Sami! Bye Gamin!”

Almost home. Running feet again. I turn around.

“Hey, we got snacks for you!”

Sam with outstretched hands. In them, a Kirkland granola bar, a cheese and cracker snack pack and a small bag of sour patch kids. Natarajan and Santosh flanking him to the left and right.

“That’s really nice of you but the dogs can’t eat those.”

“But they’re for you!”

You know the scene where the Grinch’s heart grows three times bigger? That was my heart then and there.

So thank you, Sam, Natarajan and Santosh for interrupting my walk today. Thank you for your running feet, your guilelessness and most of all, thank you for your generous hearts.

I always thought a pomade was a type of waxy paste that you slicked through your hair when going for that pompadour look, open palm at your hairline, fingers spread wide as your rake them back towards your crown, then up to the heavens with a final squeeze, tease and tug of your digits at the end of the maneuver. This required you to lock eyes with the image in the mirror, tilt your head downwards while maintaining that gaze, sneer your upper lip, raise your collar with a shrug of your shoulders, and sling your 1956 Gibson around your back.

The only time I ever performed this move myself was in the 1980s. My version required a comb for teasing a little more texture into my bangs, followed by extra-hold hairspray. Here’s a hair hack for you: use a blow dryer with your head tilted downwards to keep it all in place.

Yesterday, I discovered that in some Francophone cultures there’s a “pomade” for every skin ailment you could possibly think of : dry skin, itchy skin, painful skin lesions, and mushrooms, which explained why the gentleman in question insisted on putting some between his toes.

Apparently the origin of the word pomade is from the Latin root pomum meaning apple (the world’s very first hair gel back in the 16th century) and the French word pommade which means ointment.

Ahh …

Next time I see my family doctor, I will ask him to prescribe some pomade for my eczema.

In the meantime, I have traded in my 1980s hair pomades for some calming balms to tame the voluminous Brillo pad growing out of the top of my head.

Have a great hair day, everyone!

This showed up as a memory on my facebook feed this morning:

“It’s never a good sign when a dying patient says you look tired and the next day a 95 year old man with Liberace hair and a tan tells you the same thing.”

Eight years later and I’m still tired. Mind you, back in those days, I used to gulp down two cups of coffee before leaving the house. I’ve since reduced it to one cup, mainly because the second cup was never a mindful one and I was working on mindfulness back then,

My fashion sense is definitely tired. And my hairstyle.

Like most people, I hate that Monday feeling. Not crazy about the Sunday before Monday feeling either. And when I have a Monday off I get that Sunday before Monday feeling for two days before it’s Tuesday but feels like Monday rolls around.

I think I need to practice a little gratitude today, and put on a happy “yay, it’s Friday” face.

How do you cope with Mondays? One cup or two before leaving the house?

The worst part of yesterday was hurting my back. I’m not sure how I did it. It’s possible I overdid it at the gym before work. Could have been reaching for something on my desk with these Hobbit arms. Or maybe it was just a random poke reminding me that I’m no Spring chicken.

I first felt it trying to put a client’s shoes back on after removing them to check his ankle movement. I was on a joint visit with a collegue, an occupational therapist to boot, who suggested jokingly that like most of the kids today, I had been spoiled by velcro. Almost. My feet are child-sized but I wear a ladies 6 in an effort to make my feet appear more adult below Chidren’s Place yoga pants. Essentially, I can slip my too-big shoes on without having to untie and re-tie the laces.

It’s been almost 35 years of back-breaking work but knock wood, it’s been over 8 months since I’ve had to pay a visit to Doctor Andre, my go-to person. Yesterday’s pain was located around my left sacro-iliac joint, radiating through my left muffin top. Today, it’s much better. Doctor Andre will have to wait. Phew!

The best part of yesterday was when that same colleague confessed to me, in the elevator on the way down to the lobby, that prior to our visit, she’d been ready to pack this job in but that our mutual visit had inspired her to stay on. Thank goodness ‘cause this OT is brilliant and the universe needs her brilliance.

On January 3rd, 2020, I will have worked 35 years in public health care. I could retire but I won’t. Not yet anyway. I’m not ready. And I am too attached to the people I work with Monday to Friday.

Instead, there will be cake, for the whole team, with gratitude, for inspiring me to stick around for all these years.

I now have 10 followers on the WordPress version of my blog versus the 11 i boasted on Blogger (two of those followers were the same person). Confession: I am following myself, not because I am desperate to increase my stats but rather because I want to make sure each new blog entry is emailed to the others. Uhn huh.

The opposite of follower is leader. Honestly, I am more comfortable following than leading though I am sometimes in the latter position by default at the office (i.e. being the oldest person there and having survived several health care reforms).

In other news, I was up with the birds this morning. Actually, it was so early they were still sleeping under cover. Apparently a good night’s sleep discourages egg-laying so we try to keep the females covered at least 12 hours straight so that they get their beauty sleep and have less time to think about nesting.

I heard Limoncello, our Linnie, stirring under the covers first, her birdy oink-oinks letting me know she was awake. Between the oinks I heard what was clearly the faint whistle of the Addam’s Family theme. Now that’s definitely Eugene’s shtick (he copied famous social media cockatiel Pidgey after listening to me play it over and over again on instagram).

Linnies are known to whistle but not the females. Linnies also like to burrow which is what Limoncello “Chelly” is doing now between the two layers of newspaper flyer lining the bottom of her cage. Hope that’s not a sign of nesting!

Happy Sunday to the followers and leaders alike!

Namaste

My friend Marisa in Vancouver texted me on Monday to ask if I’d seen Shawn Bergman’s emotional facebook post pleading for information on Canuck the Crow who’d gone missing. I barely got through the video, an awful feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, creeping up through my heart and throat. And I didn’t sleep a wink on Monday night. I’m not the only one. He has fans and followers across the country, world wide even.

If I you don’t know the story of Canuck and I, watch this documentary. It’s how I first became acquainted with the very special bond between Shawn and a wild crow and I’ve been following the story on social media ever since.

A couple of months ago, Canuck became a federally protected bird and now wears a numbered leg band to add to the red leg band on his other leg. It’s what will identify him if he’s spotted and as such, a close-up picture of Canuck’s banded legs is being shared throughout social media, a wanted poster of sorts, offering a $10 000 reward for information leading to his safe return home.

I share the photo over and over again because it’s the only thing I can do being closer to the East Coast than the West. Many of my social media contacts have shared it. I write periodically to my new Vancouver friend, Janet, a lover of all things feathered too, and a volunteer at the Greyhaven Bird Sanctuary, to ask if there are any leads. She has trouble sleeping too.

What is it about this wild crow that has touched us all so?

Meeting Canuck was on my bucket list of things to do while I was in Vancouver this past April. It certainly was feasible as he used to hang out with Shawn not far from where I was staying. On my last day in Vancouver, I visited Janet and her birds instead. The other to-do item was to visit the Still Creek Rookery in Burnaby, where Canuck and hundreds of other Vancouver crows go to roost each night. That bucket list item was ticked off and folks, it was the most mystical, spiritual experience I’ve ever had. It’s likely Canuck was there that evening. It’s possible I saw him and didn’t know it, a crow shadow on the edge of a building top, or a black bird profile in a tree.

Still Creek Rookery at dusk. 2019-04-21
©️Sharon Cheema Photography
Waiting for the other crows to arrive. 2019-04-21
©️Sharon Cheema Photography
The crows arrive. 2019-04-21
©️Sharon Cheema Photography

It’s been over a week since Canuck was seen. Is no news good news? That’s what I tell myself to avoid the awful alternative. In the meantime, I will share the wanted photo again and again until there is no hope because doing something, anything, is better than worrying.

Why this bird? Why birds at all? You can read about my reasons In a blog post here.

Or read something better written from this list of favourite books about birds:

  • Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation — Kyo Macclear
  • Corvus: A Life With Birds — Esther Woolfson
  • H Is For Hawk — Helen Macdonad
  • Grief Is the Thing With Feathers — Max Porter
  • Bird Therapy — Joe Harkness
  • The Genius of Birds — Jennifer Ackerman
  • The Wonder of Birds — Jim Robbins
  • Penguin the Magpie: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family — Bradley Trevor Grieve & Cameron Bloom

I may have forgotten some. Feel free to add your bird-themed recommendations. Joe Harkness writes a blog called Bird Therapy and June Hunter runs The Urban Nature Enthusiast blog and makes beautiful bird art.

And please, do share Canuck’s poster. You never know. As my friend Marisa wrote, “ Thousands of candles can be lighted by a single candle. And the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Wherever Canuck is, he lives on.”

Note: this is an older post from a couple of years ago that I never published. 

I saw the Cowboy Dental Surgeon again today after a three year hiatus. It’s taken me that long to recuperate from the cost of my dental implant.

This consult was to extract an upper wisdom tooth that had already been removed in 1995 by another dental surgeon. Yeah, I know. Either I got scammed, paying for an extraction that never happened while I was in my Ativan-induced happy place, or it grew back.

Cowboy dentist has the most luxurious waiting room I’ve ever experienced or should I say, never experienced. You see, his office tends to run ahead of schedule so I haven’t had the opportunity to take a selfie while sitting in one of the plush, red leather chairs, chairs arranged in strategic, geometric groupings of three (strategic because you’ll never meet another patient’s terrified eyes if you happen to look up from your smart phone).

There’s a nespresso machine and accompanying pyramid of coffee pods set up on a console, a television set, and wifi password. A sign above the coffee machine warns us that coffee cups are forbidden in the consultation area. Not a problem. There’s no time to make a coffee. At least not for patients.

There is something very fishy about a dentist with a well-equipped waiting room and no actual wait time between consultations. My theory it that he has skillfully eliminated all small talk during the process, deftly ushering us out once he’s explained, holding a model of very white, perfect teeth in one hand, and a frightening model ( horribly deformed peaks stained yellow with necrotic looking roots) in his other hand, inferring the consequences of not following his recommendation. I choose the less scary option, please. Appointment booked.

Long story short, I will have to sneak into the waiting room during someone else’s consultation in order to take that selfie. Either that, or show up an hour and a half early for my appointment and roll around those red leather seats a bit.

I did it, peeps! I read 52 books in eight months, four months ahead of schedule.

On January 1st, I made it my intention to choose reading over social media, Netflix and general farting around.

I am simultaneously chuffed and satiated, not the least because, simply put, I love reading soooo much (arms spread as wide and high as possible).

Over the past years, reading has taken a back seat to boring stuff like responsibility and adulting. Not that working full-time, taking care of fids, fur kids, a teen, and aging parents stopped me from purchasing books left, right and centre. Yes indeed, I have a serious literary habit.

A dear friend recently asked why I buy books versus borrowing them from the library. I replied: “Carol, mostly I like to own the books. Like works of art, I treat them with reverence.  At the same time, I hope to support the artists. Libraries are wonderful. I borrowed from them exclusively when I was a child. I simply prefer to read at my own pace now and have the books at hand when I need. So yes, it would save tons of money. And possibly a few artists would starve.” Rest assured, I do cull my book piles. What you don’t see here are the stacks in my office, bedroom and living room. 

Here is my book list so far. I don’t have a sophisticated rating system apart from like, love, and blech. Luckily, there was only one major blech so far. For the sake of brevity, I will only identify the blech and the absolute loves on this blog. Anything without a rating merits a “like”. I will re-post this list with any new additions at the end of the year.

(For those of you curious about the lone blech, I leave you with this video review. Click here.)

Books Read 2019

  1. The Little Paris Bookshop — Nina George
  2. I Know You Know — Gillian MacMillan
  3. Life After Life — Kate Atkinson LOVE
  4. Big Magic — Elizabeth Gilbert LOVE
  5. And Then She Was Gone — Lisa Jewell
  6. Bridge of Clay — Markus Zusak
  7. Grit — Angela Duckworth
  8. The Marrow Thieves — Cherie Dimalin
  9. To the River — Olivia Laing
  10. The Atomic Weight of Love — Elizabeth J. Church
  11. Siddhartha — Herman Hesse
  12. Lying in Wait — Liz Nugent
  13. Less — Andrew Sean Greer
  14. The Woo Woo — Lindsay Wong
  15. A Noise Downstairs — Linwood Barclay
  16. Bird by Bird — Anne Lamott
  17. The Organist — Mark Abley
  18. Homes — Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah with Winnie Young
  19. The Haunting of Hill House — Shirley Jackson
  20. Brother — David Chariandy
  21. The Best Kind of People — Zoe Whittall
  22. It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of War and Love — Lynsey Addario LOVE
  23. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye — David Lagercrantz
  24. All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr LOVE
  25. Songs for the Cold of Heart — Eric Dupont
  26. By Chance Alone — Max Eisen LOVE
  27. Life’s too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious — David Dark
  28. Agatha Christie — The Mystery of Three Quarters
  29. The Travelling Cat Chronicles — Hiro Arikawa
  30. Case Histories — Kate Atkinson
  31. Gift from the Sea — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  32. Under the Visible Life — Kim Echlin
  33. The War of Art — Steven Pressfield
  34. A Gentleman in Moscow — Amor Towles
  35. The Leopard — Jo Nesbo
  36. Gingerbread — Helen Oyeyemi BLECH
  37. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman LOVE
  38. The Moon Before Morning — W.S. Merwin LOVE
  39. The Word Is Murder — Anthony Horowitz
  40. My Brilliant Friend — Elena Ferrante
  41. The Wild Edge of Sorrow — Francis Weller LOVE
  42. Warlight — Michael Ondaatje LOVE
  43. Flash Count Diary; Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life — Darcey Steinke
  44. Natural Causes — Barbara Ehrenreich LOVE
  45. Voices in the Air (poems for listeners) — Naomi Shihab Nye LOVE
  46. The Blue Between Sky and Water — Susan Abulhawa
  47. One Good Turn — Kate Atkinson
  48. When Will There Be Good News? — Kate Atkinson
  49. Grief is the Thing with Feathers — Max Porter LOVE
  50. Bird Therapy — Joe Harkness
  51. Lanny — Max Porter
  52. The Tattooist of Auschwitz — Heather Morris

And there you have it, folks. Do feel free to comment about your love of reading below and include any books you are currently reading or ones you recommend I put on my to-read list. The best part of this whole experience has been in the virtual sharing of books, truly an inspiring exchange.

Finally, believe it or not, I am still in search of a real-time book club to join! Nothing like drooling over books with like-minded people.

I stopped by Chapters yesterday after picking up some bird supplies at the adjacent pet supply shop, just for a latte and a little looky around. I wasn’t planning on buying a book. Muah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I said, rubbing long nailed, monster hands together in the thought bubble above my head.

It wasn’t long before a staff member approached me to ask if I needed help. Her name tag said Miri, just like the girl from the original Star Trek series episode. She was very young, a diminutive figure, with long black hair and dark, intelligent eyes. I thought the name Morag would suit her more and at that moment I wanted to be her, way back at the beginning of my life, helping someone buy books they didn’t need to pile on the piles of books already waiting to be read at home. The longing came in a flash and stayed with me.

“You have my dream job.”, I said, my finger pointing to her name tag. “I have my dream job.”, she replied with a crooked smile. “I’m thinking of applying here once I retire.”  “Do it!”, she said, enthusiastically. “Maybe I’ll see you around then.” “Oh, I don’t know if I’ll still be here.” She sounded doubtful.
But this is your dream job, Miri. Where else would you be? Sigh.
In the end, I bought the book Lanny by Max Porter, because I loved his book Grief is the Thing with Feathers so much, I vowed to read everything he writes. I also purchased two wooly cushions, the same blue-gray-green colour as Ian’s eyes, that were on sale, for the new IKEA sofa in the basement, because I need a cushion at my back so that my feet touch the ground. Miri didn’t help me with my book choice but I purposely asked her for help with the cushions, sending her on a wild goose chase for the same cushions without the cushion stuffing, so that I could say her name again and thank her for having my dream job. 
Have a dream job? Care to share?

  1. The brown club definitely hangs out at this airport. The only white people I’ve seen so far are Ian, a young girl wearing a silk skirt, bangles and a bare midriff and a tattooed family who are heading home to England. Someone on the intercom is looking for Passenger Bombidoodle. You can’t get browner than that.
  2. Next time I travel, I’m investing in cabin luggage that has wheels. Either that or a meet and greet service. It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch, really. Today my aching back and forward head posture had golf cart envy. If you’re not fit enough to carry your carry-ons, either stay home or book a cart.
  3. I used to love people watching at the airport. The travellers always seemed to be beautiful people wearing glamorous travel togs, wheeling hard cased, lightweight luggage pieces that don’t need to expand because everything inside is silk and who needs extra undies and socks when you’re a jet-setter? Check-in luggage? Nah, that’s for amateurs. Today, everyone seems to be wearing a neck pillow, even before they get on the plane. I was standing behind a girl in the bathroom who was wearing a pair of light beige, skin tight, spandex shorts. There were no panty lines. I checked. On top, she wore a beige, cropped sweatshirt (I fail to see the point) that had a cream-coloured ruff. Her straight, long blond hair hung down her back to the top of her tighty beigies. I worried on her behalf because that’s what I’m good at. What if she sat on an errant m & m in the waiting area? Never mind trying to keep those shorts intact being jostled back and forth in the airplane toilet? Would she order cream in her coffee so that her spills matched her outfit or would she drink it black? I thought about all of this as she applied her make-up in the mirror and the turbo speed hand driver blasted the water from my hands onto the back of those shorts.
  4. The bathrooms are better at Pearson. They have a lot more stalls and a lot less people needing to pee. I am the only one at my gate drinking a Venti, no foam latte. When the time comes, I will choose my stall. And if it’s not clean, I will simply choose another one.
  5. I see absolutely no logic in traveling further West so that we can wait three hours at Pearson, then board another plane to backtrack our way East. Then again, the brown club is here. Plus there are those lovely bathrooms.
  6. Ian is making friends with the brown family next to him. He thinks the white dad looks like his brother Mark after a holiday in the Carribean.
  7. Our flight from Montreal to Toronto was delayed. I made everyone in my row panic when i told them we only had 30 minutes to fly into Pearson and make our connecting flight. Thankfully, I misread 22:55 pm as 20:55 pm and am now enjoying a latte large enough that I need two hands to hold it.
  8. The only passenger on the entire flight from Montreal to Toronto who reclined his seat was the gentleman in front of me and as he did so, a waft of pungent BO drifted back to our row. Maybe he misread the time of his connecting flight too and suffered a shart. Delays will do that to you. I didn’t dare look to see if he was wearing beige shorts as we deplaned. My son just read this over my shoulder and nodded his head in commiseration. See? Everybody notices these things and I write about them.
  9. Someone just started to sing happy birthday on the intercom. With all these people waiting at the gate, it’s bound to be somebody’s birthday, i guess. 
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