Curiouser and curiouser

Good morning friends!

This is my morning view. Also how do people take photos before eating their treats? It is almost impossible for me.

My cat (who is in stealth mode in the above picture) is currently tearing about our home (which sadly means she is also tearing up our carpet each time she reaches both the top and bottom of our stairs.)

If I wasn’t so madly in love with her, there would be repercussions.

When she gets into these scamp moods of hers we like to say that she’s “riding her little horse” because of the way she gallops about the house (and the way her gait sounds like that of a young steed racing around a track.)

We adopted Ms. Nymeria from the SPCA a little over four years ago.

I had been badgering M forever to let us get a cat.

She is giving you five.

Being a remarkably patient, and loving man, he withstood this constant bombardment quite well (and with much grace at that.)

Because seriously, anytime he inquired about gifts, I would immediately, without thinking, blurt out: “A CAT.”

Hey Ethel, he’d say. What do you want for Christmas this year?

A CAT, I’d respond.

Hey Ethel, what would you like for your birthday this year?

A CAH! I’d say, not bothering to swallow that bite of my sandwich before taking the time to respond.

Hey Ethel, what do we need to pick up at the grocery store tonight?

A CAT! I’d answer. And milk, bread and cheese. But mostly though, a cat.

(That joke was always a laugh and a half for me, but obnoxious as heck for him. Still, I couldn’t stop myself.)

Lovers in a dangerous time.

Come February 2008, M ever so nonchalantly asked me to come over to his computer. He picked me up, sat me in his lap, and together we looking through the pictures of the kittens that were currently available for adoption over at our local SPCA shelter.

Now, I don’t know about you folks, but there is a very limited time frame in which I can stay on one of those websites and remain a functioning, coherent human being.

Just looking at all the little ones that need homes thrusts me into sensory overload, and I become overwhelmed between two very conflicting reactions.


It’s like all of my life force swells to epic proportions but is simultaneously sucked out of me. Like I turn into a superhero just before being administered a Dementor’s kiss.

Luckily, it wasn’t before long that we saw Nymeria’s picture and we both fell head over heels in love.

A go-to pose.

At the time she wasn’t Nymeria. She was Faye, who – “didn’t play well with others.”

We knew immediately that she had a touch of both Rhoyne and direwolf inside her.

The next day we went to the shelter, and along with the help of two stellar friends of ours, adopted the little Miss into our arms, heart and home.

And she’s been there ever since. Snuggling, purring, meowing (she talks, like, all the darn time), furring up furniture, ripping up carpets, going absolutely bat shit crazy when she sees other cats, sleeping on my feet, and sailing 1,000 ships to Dorne (just like her namesake of course.)

The beauty cat. And M's hair pants.

I always joke that Nymeria is my daughter – and while there is a healthy dose of both tongue and cheek in this statement – she is a dear, dear part of my family.

She was with us during our engagement, our marriage, both of our post-grads; she forgave us for going to England without her (that one took a while, let me assure you).

She is with us when we wake up, and when we sleep.

And I love her. (Even if at the moment she is scoping out my lemon bar.)

So what about you dear readers? Who are the furry friends in your life?

Nymeria and I would love to know.

Danke schoen, darling

I really feel like a crazy Haligonian opening every one of my blog posts with a report on the weather.

But it’s something that I just cannot help. It’s in my friggen DNA for goodness sake.

(Using the word friggen is also a trait inherent to my east coastness, along with my undying love for biscuits topped with molasses, and raucous, foot stomping fiddle music.)

I'm blue, dabadee dabadie...

Seriously, if you talk to anyone from the east, it’s inevitable that you will eventually have a frank, relatively long (and always in-depth) exchange of information covering the current temperature, wind speed, cloud cover, chance of rain, possibility of snow flurries, or likelihood of category five hurricanes – it’s pretty much conversation law.

My grandfather used to sit and watch the weather network. On TV. At home.

For fun.

So in that (weather) vein, it must be reported that today has been absolutely blooming gorgeous. Cool and crisp as all get out (it was minus five walking to skytrain this morning) but beautiful – in a way that felt as though you were living inside of an icicle.

The sun shone long, and the sky burned blue, and the mountains stood stark and snow capped, fogged only by the slow, even rhythms of my breath.

And confronted with such beauty, well – there isn’t much else you can do save mention it to every single person you possibly can.

I wear my the sun doesn't burn my eyeballs.

It’s something to celebrate!

Today at lunch I meandered around the Robson Street corridor, dropping in on clothiers and admiring their new spring collections.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the goods on display at Zara, a store I have been consistently disappointed in for a while now.

While I didn’t purchase anything, I did try on a rather adorable capped sleeve sundress – the cotton stretch material was a dark navy, speckled with a beige palm tree print, and an asymmetrical hemline – longer in the back than in the front – a styling that I actually find quite charming.

I didn’t take any photos because I’m making a concerted effort not to be so dang weird.

(For all of you who know me this is an epic undertaking.)

If I’m still thinking about it tomorrow, well, as one General Douglas MacArthur said, “I shall return.”

(For different reasons entirely, I assure you.)

I also managed to find my way into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Love, love, LOVE this place.

Although, to be completely honest, I kind of get to the point of some perverse, nihilistic panic every time I find myself in this store. I undergo something of a sensory overload that eventually reaches the level where I start to think, “I’ll never be able to taste all of these delicious looking treats – what’s the point in even trying!?”

Especially because I know that I’m just going to buy the same thing I always get.

Oh skewer of marshmallows dipped in chocolate and sprinkles – where would my life be without you?

(Wait. I probably don’t need an answer to this question.)

Like ice cream flavours, I’m not very good at branching out and trying new things – especially when it comes to the simple, but amazing taste-bud tickling pleasure of moulds of sugar, corn syrup, water, and gelatine covered in processed cacao and more (multicoloured) shards of sugar.

When I put it that way, doesn’t it sound downright delicious? No wonder I love them so much.

Side note: What will they think of next? Dipping it in yogurt? Covering it in chocolate buttons?!

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Okay, now that I’ve got weather, fashion and chocolate out of the way (the blinkin’ trifecta of my life here folks), it’s times to get down to brass tacks (aka the real reason I wanted to write this post).

P.S. Did you know that ‘brass tacks’ can be defined by: “engaging with the basic facts or realities” and that the origin of the figurative expression – “getting down to brass tacks” – originated in a Texas newspaper The Tri-Weekly Telegraph in January of 1863. One of their editors wrote:

“When you come down to ‘brass tacks’ – if we may be allowed the expression – everybody is governed by selfishness.”

The more you know, eh?

OKAY, for real, I’m getting back on topic.

Last night I watched the Oscars. This is both an exercise in brilliance, and brutality.

(Also, is it just me or is Billy Crystal turning into Wayne Newton?)

This is how the majority of my person feels about (all) awards shows:

Award shows…ugh…WHY CAN’T I QUIT YOU!? You’re like the friend I no longer know anything about, and have nothing in common with, but refuse to stop having that one really boring, vapid lunch with every year because, well let’s face it, YOU’RE FLIPPING GORGEOUS.

I wrote that after watching the mind-numbing dreck that some fool advertised as the 2012 Golden Globes.

(The fact that I watched the entire bloody thing lends me to believe that it is in fact I that is the bigger fool.)

Seriously though, no matter how much I want to leave these programs in my past, and never, ever look back, I cannot stop watching them for two small, but very important reasons.

1.)    Growing up, my family used to always watch the Academy Awards together. It was our thing. Inevitably, amongst the five of us, we would have seen all the nominated films, so we would actually have some kind of vested interested in the outcome of the night. It would be spring break, so we kids would be allowed to stay up much later than our usual bedtime, ensuring that we would get to see the full scope of the program (this was at the time that the ceremony would run 5+ hours long). Often time we would be on vacation somewhere, which only added to the mystique and brilliance of the night, particularly during the years spent at Silver Star (ski resort), which meant lots of cozy clothing, warm rooms, roaring fires and carnation hot chocolate.

Almost as cozy...

My family didn’t do much together as a team – after the age of twelve I hardly remember eating a dinner that had every member present. In fact, due to our frantic, conflicting schedules, I pretty much ate every single meal outside of school hours alone.

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not complaining about this. It’s just the way things were. And perhaps why those nights with everyone crammed around the TV set, wondering who would win, or why someone would chose to wear what they did, so special.

It was so out of the ordinary, it was extraordinary.

2.)    As much as Hollywood is well, Hollywood, there is so much else going on at the Oscars that I find remarkable, and inspiring. The short film makers, the animators, the documentary filmmakers, the foreign film nominations (and yes, of course, many of the “mainstream” films, their casts, and crews) are all heartening examples of individuals who have committed their lives to a passion, pure and simple.

And I like to be reminded of that.

As I continue to walk the line between my creative and academic pursuits – stretching my legs a little further into both ponds, I like to see those beings rewarded for their efforts.

BIG pond it is.

I like the reminder – it gives me better reach.

Give cheese a chance

So on Monday I wrote about a few things that I have tried to bring into my life, that despite my most valiant efforts, remain firmly entrenched in the lonely city of No Way Jose, and far away from my day-to-day routine.

(Simply put, I cannot like them no matter how hard I try.)

La belle Suisse!

In response to said post, I received a pretty hilarious phone call from my father-in-law, who (being Swiss) was pretty darn unimpressed to read about my general (and enduring) distaste for soft cheeses.

“Argh!” He exclaimed. “I was so disappointed reading your last blog post. I cannot believe you don’t like soft cheese.”

“Don’t give me too much grief!” I responded. “I already know that people are judging me!”

“Well it’s obvious you’re just not eating the right kinds of soft cheeses…” he trailed off. “And that is just going to have to change!”

I sensed there to be plan a foot. (Seriously I could practically hear the cogs and wheels in his head turning at break neck speed – although not said aloud, it was pretty apparent that reading my words had awoken some kind of nationalistic need to bring me over to the dark side, dairy-wise.)

E (or Darth Gruyere as I have come to know him) is a man who really knows, and really loves his cheeses. I’m pretty sure at any given time, you could open his fridge and find at (the very least) four different kinds of cheese (and that’s not even counting those so-called “soy cheeses”) two of which would without a doubt originate in the motherland, or you know – Switzerland.

Add to the mix a good loaf of bread, some landjäger, and some Lindt chocolate for dessert, ship him off to a cabin in the alps, where he could hike and canoe at his leisure, and well, I’m not sure he’d need anything else for the rest of his days.

(On second thought I’m pretty sure he’d want to include the components for a rocking good salad, to the above mentioned foodstuffs. Because as awesome as I imagine a life-long supply of bread, cheese, and meat could be, one would eventually require some roughage – would they not? Plus he makes a darn good vinaigrette. Also, my mother-in-law is pretty much head constable of the vegetable police and wouldn’t like the idea of spending forever sans garden candy.)

Seriously, no she wouldn’t like that one bit.

For reals. If you run into her, ask her about GOMBS – it’ll give you super-immunity and phenomenal badminton skills.

Anywho, on the topic of cheese, last night Mr. M and I had a fabulous fondue, made from raclette, white wine, a touch of brandy, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.


We dipped fresh French bread and pink lady apples into this sweet, smooth, melted madness – it was decadent and filling in the extreme.

After dinner we watched Canada’s Handyman (or woman, or woman) Challenge and completed New York Times’ crosswords; ate heart cookies and lemon bars; drank tea and enjoyed the fire.

Nymeria chose to contemplate her life, staring intensely into the flickering flames. Either she’s finally figured out a way to take over the world, or she’s solved cold fusion.

Same thing as I do every night Pinky...

I’ll keep you posted.

Between the food, the fire, and our funny, funny conversations I was pretty much knocked off my feet by 9:30. It makes me laugh to think of a Valentine’s when you cannot even keep your eyes open past ten o’clock at night – next year I’ll ask for one of those walk-in bathtubs.

Nothing says romance like sitting in your private, old-lady baignoire waiting for your water to drain so you don’t flood the entire floor.

If the ins and outs of plumbing, or just bathroom apparatuses in general aren’t your bag, here are my four of my favourite movies about “love” (this word can be interpreted in many different ways) that are hilarious, moving, and overall brilliant.

1. Rushmore

“Maybe I’m spending too much of my time starting up clubs and putting on plays. I should probably be trying harder to score chicks.”

2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

“Dwayne told me. Chuck told me. Even Rachel told me. I heard about it from everybody. You gotta stop talking about it. It’s like “the Sopranos.” It’s *over*. Find a new show.”

3.Four Weddings and Funeral

“A toast before we go into battle. True love. In whatever shape or form it may come. May we all in our dotage be proud to say, “I was adored once too.”

4. Annie Hall

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

So what about you folks? What movies make you laugh, at love, or otherwise?

Or more importantly, what cheese, amongst other rations would you need to survive a lifetime living in the wilds of the Matterhorn?

For the best day of my life

Hi friends,

As a palette cleanser from my last post, I would like to offer you a portrait of some of the incredibly rad ladies who populate my life, who not only accept me for my bonkers self, but who make me at least sixty-five percent less likely to blow a rage-out gasket and/or move to Baffin Island for a life of solitude and frost-bite.

Last week whilst I was out to lunch (there’s a double meaning in there somewhere, I’m sure of it) my mother phoned and left me the most heart-warming, highly comedic voice mail that perhaps has ever been recorded.

It went something like this:

Okay, let me explain why this photo of my mom is one of my favorite ever (she's the one all in black with the hood) A hurricane arrived just as my cousin was set to wed, so my mom went in her rain gear and helped keep everyone under control. Awesome sauce.

Hi there. You’re probably out somewhere, trying on clothes and taking photos of yourself, you weirdo. Just wanting to chat and I’ll try to you again later. Bye!

Holy smokes. This nearly bowled me over when I listened to it.

And while I wasn’t out skulking around my favourite fashion haunts, just knowing that this is what she pictures me doing on my lunch breaks not only cracks me up, but fills me with such a simple, sublime happiness, I could probably power a small household appliance (or at the very least, a key-chain flashlight) from the wattage of my smile alone.

Love you mom!

Today, along with of my two lovely coworkers, A and J, I ventured out at lunch in search of food-truck treats and a reprieve from the cloying warmth that has infiltrated our otherwise freezing office space. Seriously, the place is normally plagued by random frosts and sub-zero temperatures. Brutal!

Unfortunately, the establishment we were hoping to buy from had a 1+ hour wait (for a grilled cheese from a van? Outrageous!) so we decided to try out the Philly cheesetake cart and its offerings.

This, in retrospect was not the greatest choice, especially on my end – I don’t know whose idea it was to put fried onions, processed cheese and thousand island salad dressing on top of French fries AND THEN MARKET IT, but having tasted that vile concoction, I believe it should probably be banned in all ten provinces, and three territories.


A and J were wonderful in so far as they didn’t mercilessly mock me (when it could have been oh-so-easy) on my choice of food (and in my defence let me say I didn’t know the cheese would be processed and that the “secret sauce” would be the dressing equivalent of a bloody archipelago), nor did they take the piss out of me when they saw what said “meal” looked like.

Their food wasn't much better but at least there was no salad dressing to be found.

I kind of wish I had a picture to post on the blog, but at the same time I really don’t need to be reminded of that hot mess of a plate for the discernable future (aka for the rest of my life.)

These two ladies are brilliant, and beautiful (both inside and out) and make my days at work (especially the ones where my stress level is ratcheted up to eleven) considerably less overwhelming. Plus they can turn a lunch populated by long-line ups and tasteless gruel into a fun, funny outing where conversations range from the etymology of the word ma’am, to the absurdity of men’s couture fashion.

Because that stuff is just darn bizarre.

Finally, while I am not intimately acquainted with these women (in fact, I not acquainted with any of them in any sense of the term) I have had the opportunity to watch many of the Olympic Women’s Qualifying Soccer (erm – Football) Tournament and it has been awesome! Sure, the talent disparity between many of the teams exists, and has been evidenced by quite a few blowouts (mostly from the hands of the highly-skilled, incredibly fit American team) but I have really enjoyed watching the different teams play and interact with one another.

Now, you can ask anybody and they’ll tell you that I have been that big of a soccer fan – in fact I’ve lived the majority of my life with a never-hidden (and often voiced) aversion to the sport, but I feel as though this tournament has somehow completely erased this condition and replaced it with a healthy need to learn more, watch more, and maybe even play a game or two (I just need to get over my fear of headers. They scare the crap out of me.)

Our tickets on our, erm, colourful cork board.

I was supposed to go to two games last Friday, but alas the terms of my illness dictated that I couldn’t leave the confines of my living room, wrapped in a blanket, plunked down on the couch.

However, Mr. M and I will be going to the finals this coming Sunday and I am very excited to see the game live, and gather energy and inspiration from the passion, teamwork and dedication on display from these remarkable women.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (and again, and again) – the power of sport is something to behold, and the way it brings together such a vibrant mix of people, from disparate countries and cultures serves as terrific reminder of the beauty and strength inherent to humanity that is so often lost among the folds of everyday life.

So thank you to the competitors, the dynamic duo that is Ms. A and J, and of course my answering machine comedienne mom. You, and all the other strong, stimulating women in my life help me breathe and believe.

A cup of kindness

It’s pretty crazy to think that we are only two days away from beginning a new year.

I don’t know whether time is speeding up, or if I am slowing down, but events seem to be happening at a much quicker pace, than say, ten years ago.

So, to whomever turned up the dial on the world’s treadmill, could you slow it down a tad friend? I need to catch my breath and get my bearings!

I find that doing something that really pushes your physical and mental limits is a great way to help both time run away from you, and yet somehow make it hang suspended in mid-air, like some crazed escape artist, hanging from a tightrope wire.

For instance, yesterday, M, my dad, and I climbed Mount Haystack, all 3560 feet high and 8.6 miles long of it.

Just a hop, skip and a jump to the summit!

It was an adventure and a half, especially seeing as though for the actual ascent we didn’t have a marked path.

I have never scrambled up so much loose rock in my life.

I have never been pricked by two different types of cacti, nor have I ever seen a coyote while mid-mountain descent ( they are usually only skulking around my backyard back home).

Nor have I ever seen a view quite like this one before:

This is the definition of man-made (and man-maintained).

We started out at 7:30am, to get a jump on the crowds (there weren’t any) and the heat (there was quite a lot of this).

It was a seriously fun, seriously taxing hike.

Other things that I learned while out on the trail:

1. Barrel-head cacti always grow leaning to the south, and look like giant prickly cucumbers.

Keep those barrels rolling. ROLL HIGH!

2. An oasis will crop up in just about the most remote, random place that you could ever imagine.

Yet not a drop to drink.

3. Making your sandwich with a tomato in it the night before is never a good idea, even if you think you’ve protected the bread with both lettuce and cheese, because the lettuce and cheese will also make it grow soggy.

I don't have a photo of my sandwich so please accept this glowing cactus.

4. I am the queen of the world.

Leo ain't got nothing on me.
A room, erm, peak with a view!

It’s quite insane to really mediate on 2012 as a tangible, real thing. I remember ringing in 2000 as if it was yesterday.

You've got to put one foot, in front of the other...

It’s not that I am weary of the new year, but more curious, filled with a subtle sense of wonderment about all the new (and completely bonkers) adventures I will embark on next.

So here, in no particular order are my resolutions for the approaching three hundred and sixty-five days:

– Run the Victoria marathon in 3:30:00 – Begin training in April, qualify for Boston in October.

– Travel, explore and take on the (sometimes scary) unknown with the love of my life, Mr. M.


– Continue having a positive relationship with food and my body, because without this, there is no way I will be able to accomplish numbers 1 and 2.

I am also so happy to be writing regularly again through Rant and Roll.

Many, many thanks to all of my fabittyfabfab readers and subscribers. Your encouragement, comments and support mean the world to me! Without a doubt, you all make my little, slightly daft heart smile!

I wish you all a brilliant and beautiful coming year, free of prejudice, and bias, but always REMEMBER: should you encounter any of this in your daily life, do not despair, for after I wrench myself from the corner from whence I have curled myself up in the fetal position, I WILL TAKE THEM ON AND I WILL CRUSH THEM!!!



Smile, little heart. SMILE!

Happy New Year to you all!

– Ethel the Dean.