Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time

Our furry friend Memphis, a mainstay here on Ultra Fine Flair, hadn't been feeling well, but I should have known something really wasn't right when I opened her bag in the exam room at the vet and she didn't hiss or growl or swipe at the vet (or me). This is a cat who had a "Caution" sticker on her chart at our vet in Brooklyn, and who generally required two vet techs with a towel and a pair of chainmail gloves to just listen to her heartbeat. This time, she placidly let the vet examine her eyes, teeth, and even take her temperature the, uh, old-fashioned way.

I really wish I could say that everything looked fine; that it was probably just a flair-up of her pancreatitis or her aversion to a recent stay with a couple of apricot poodles that was causing her to feel so down.

The sad news is, an x-ray later that afternoon showed a mass in her abdomen that is probably cancer.

At the ripe old age of 14, there isn't much we can do for this sweet girl, except love her to bits - a project that's well under way. With Christmas just a few days away and my preparations woefully behind, I still come home every day to this furry beast and feel madly grateful that she has been with me through thick and thin, for almost 15 years. And also, that she still promptly shows up at the door whenever I come home.

I'm also much more patient with the two - or three - nighttime requests for food.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wild Wild West

A certain 80-year-old is in Alberta this week to join her nursing school classmates for their 55th-year reunion.

As KG was a huge hit at Sunny's birthday party in May, he's been invited to play backup to her lead guitar and vocals at Friday night's sing-along. (Between you and me, I think some of the ladies are also looking for another opportunity to touch his hair.)

We arrived in Edmonton last night, and tomorrow morning we'll pile ourselves and various guitars and cameras into classmate Barb's SUV and drive to Canmore, where two dozen or so graduates of the University of Alberta's School of Nursing's Class of '56 will gather to reminisce.

And with a subject this photogenic, obviously I will be taking lots of pictures.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Somehow, I blinked and missed August.

It's solidly a summer month, and yet, yet, all of my summer fun ended before August even began.

California, Italy, and Chicago, came and went. Swimming and dogs and ice cream were all jammed into June and July, and by the time August rolled around, I was securing x-rays and buying crutches and making sure our stairs had the requisite railings. And with a mere few hours in the hospital I was fully committed to a season (or two) of braces and rehabilitation. There's no Ctrl+Z in real life.

And so, here we are, not even September and already my tan is fading. It was a good summer, if abbreviated. (Let's not forget that there are technically still three whole weeks left, even if Labour Day is always and forever the seasonal demarcation in my mind.)

Late summer is lovely in these parts for its abundance of harvest. This year, being in the know, we easily secured a half-bushel of crab apples (the good ones, in case you were wondering). Whilst at the market we couldn't pass up the peaches, green beans, and red peppers, all of which are currently available at ridiculously low prices. We brought all of these things home and then marveled: What to do with them?

Sunday Supper this week involved a tomato and red pepper tart, curried green beans, and a peach-blueberry cobbler. And that barely made a dent. With an overstuffed fridge, alternate preservation was obviously in order, so we fired up the grill to roast some peppers, Abel-style.

Abel is a porteño, and one of our first and best friends from Buenos Aires. When we had asados, or bbqs, with him, he made red peppers this way - grilled until charred, seeded, then layered, while still warm, with garlic, salt, and olive oil in a sealable jar. We added red pepper flakes, too, which might make up for our use of the gas grill instead of charcoal. The real secret of these peppers is to seal the jars, then turn them a few times a day for a couple of days. The peppers will be delicious wherever you'd use roasted red peppers (sandwiches, salads, pasta), and the oil will be some of the most flavorful you've had.

Best of all, they'll extend summer for a little while.

Monday, August 22, 2011

One year, nine posts

We've been in Canada for exactly one year, 28 days.

I've posted on Ultra Fine Flair exactly nine times (10, if you include this post) since we landed.

It isn't exactly that lots hasn't been going on - au contraire. Sure, there's been domestication, including the rental of a humble abode with a driveway and a backyard and a washer/dryer in the basement. But there have also been travels to New York, Amsterdam, Paris, California, Italy, and Chicago.

There were celebrations with friends, and two babies were born!

We celebrated a certain someone's 80th birthday with a weekend of parties. I could barely keep up with her.

I ate the best meal of my life, with one of my best friends. (I didn't take any photos of the food. I'm not exaggerating when I say that interrupting that meal to take pictures would have been akin to pausing during a series of multiple orgasms (18, to be exact), to take pictures.)

Some not-so-great stuff happened, too. My favourite cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's totally prevailing, because that's how she rolls, but it's still the suck. And other things have happened, life things that aren't mine to write about. Suffice to say I'm blessed to be surrounded by some really strong human beings who are getting through some tough stuff.

Which brings us, as it often does, back to my knees. My third ACL reconstruction (second in the left knee) was two weeks ago, and was, according to Dr. Chris, successful. I'm taking it easy with this one, doctor's orders, and will hopefully be back in the figurative and literal saddle (bike, that is) come spring.

All that in a year and 28 days, and still, only nine posts. Hopefully I can improve that count in the next year and 28 days.

Friday, June 24, 2011

And The Livin' Is Easy

I recently went on a yoga retreat in California. Yes, that is as wonderful and outrageous as it sounds. In the morning after the fog burned off, there was a view of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. There were dogs and kids and a hot tub on a cliff. There was fresh goat cheese, and there were spectacular sunsets. There were upwards of five hours of yoga each day, taught energetically and lovingly by one Miss Kerri Kelly. There was a class with a dance party (featuring Lady Gaga, natch), and a class in a field around a nectarine tree. There was a class with a soundtrack of classic love songs, and 25+ spry yogis decked out in their Lulus enthusiastically singing along.

Unfortunately, there was also a trampoline. Scratch that: Unfortunately I decided to jump on the trampoline, and even more unfortunately, I landed on the off-bounce and tore the ACL graft I had repaired just last year. Wah wah.

But before we start wallowing about that, let's talk about the food. The yoga retreat was about detoxing, but that didn't stop us from enjoying homemade pear ravioli. Or wine-tasting in Los Olivos. No retox is complete without a stop at In-N-Out Burger for a cheeseburger, animal-style, and a superthick chocolate shake. Similarly, no California trip is complete without fresh salads (liberally sprinkled with bacon, of course) and sushi and a cocktail made with sake and watermelon and cucumbers and sweetly named the "Hello Kitty."

As for my knee, well, it looks like it'll be another summer of rehab fun. Thank god for wine and percocet.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Break-Up

Dear Winter,

I don't know how to put this delicately, so I'm just going to come out and say it: I need to start seeing other seasons. I know, when we saw each other back in November after almost two years apart, I'll admit that after a few weeks together, I was smitten. As much as your fluffy white snow fell for me, I fell for you. I was infatuated with your crisp mornings and frosty branches, and I thought your insistence that I buy new boots just for you was charming. I even forgave the more challenging parts of our relationship, like the driveway-shoveling and car-window-scraping and the occasional slip on an icy sidewalk, because I felt that on some level they were good for me, that that stuff made me stronger.

But Winter, we've spent a lot of time together this year, and I really think we both need a break. What I'm trying to say is, you're getting on my nerves, and I'm starting to resent you. It all has to end: The snow, the scarves and sweaters and mittens, and even all that cuddling under cozy blankets. I know, I know, it's typical. The things about you that I found so novel at first now grate on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. That's always the way, isn't it? The other part of it is, you've been keeping me away from Spring and Summer, but it's time for me to see them again. They're good for me in ways that you can never be.

When we reunited this time we talked about it only being temporary, and frankly, you've overstayed your welcome. Please know that all of this doesn't mean we can never see each other again. I suspect it's inevitable that we'll spend more time together in the future; after all, we always rebound after Fall seduces me with her pretty leaves and then leaves me out in the cold.

Warm regards,