Friday, October 30, 2009

Shopping with the Ancient and the Insane

I took last Friday afternoon off to get some stuff accomplished prior to a busy weekend.  First, I decided to do the grocery shopping.  What's going on with Friday afternoons in grocery stores?  Why are so many weird people allowed to be in public on Friday afternoons?

Immediately upon entering the store, I was confronted with a man who seemed to like talking to pumpkins.  He then turned to me and discussed the prices of produce as compared with all of the other local stores.  Pumpkins, he assured me, were cheaper here than in the other shops, but then he seemed a little perplexed that I did not buy any, but then neither did he.  Pumpkin man moved sideways to examine the butter nut squash and he tried to persuade me to buy one, which I did, because I needed one.  He then went off to have a conversation with the avocados.

I had to wait to select apples, because someone had unfolded his flyer across the entire bin, as if it were his personal table.  And, let me tell you, all of these people were armed with flyers, man.  They were buying items simply because they were on sale.  How else do you explain someone buying liver?  I know, some of these people are from that age group that still believes that liver is good for you.  Suckers!

I put my earbuds in and walked the aisles with a great deal of difficulty because Friday shoppers seem to have no understanding of how to park one's cart so as to let others pass by.  I was stuck behind a woman accompanying her blind husband who, quite frankly, was squeezing the mangoes a bit too hard.  I felt worried for the melons in the next bin.  Is it possible that he thought that he was at home and that those mangoes were really his wife's ... ?  Well, never mind.

I continued around, marveling at the toothless hoards drooling over the saltines, the aged ambling about with able walkers, one of whom was sniffing chicken wrapped in plastic, and those who seemed to have no business in a grocery store whatsoever.

I quickly skirted the near riot by the Depends, and then made my way to the check out, where the person in front of me had all of her credit cards declined; she had no cash to speak of with her.  Quickly, I backed out only to end up behind some belligerent jerk who argued over the limits.  For some reason, he wanted more than 10 cases of pop.

So, my new rule is to avoid Friday afternoon shopping, unless I have no choice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trip Recap, part 2

What was I saying again?  Oh yeah, I never argue with free.

One's senses always seem to be heightened when one takes to the streets of a new city.  Cities smell different.  They look different. They feel different.  Dragging my suitcase over to the world's smallest apartment, I keep noticing how weird everything was.  I blame part of that on sleep deprivation.  So, over to the apartment, from one tiny elevator to another tiny elevator, past a smoking dog.

I am not claustrophobic, but this free apartment is insanity.  Now, if someone gave me title to this apartment for all time, for me to use whenever I dropped into Paris, I might say no.  Free accommodations are fantastic, and I never say no to free, but next time I just might.

Once the bed was unfolded, the entire room was filled, save a small alleyway around the perimeter.  Now, you might think that would be OK, but the roof had a serious pitch on the east side, upon which I bashed my head several times.  Of course, I am well accustomed to head bashing, and have reduced my brain cell count by a factor of ten over the years, so I ought to be used to this, but it turned old very quickly.

To stand at the sink (yes, there was a sink in this room) meant that one had to tilt one's head a good thirty degrees to port and stand as far west as possible.  Below the sink were an assortment of pots and pans, but bending over proved problematic.  Next to the pots was a small bar fridge.  Above the fridge sat a two burner hot plate, but I feared actually using it without a good deal of scrutiny because I felt that the sloping ceiling, skimming the tops of the pots, would burst into flames at any second.

Believe it or not, they managed to fit a shower stall in the room, right at the entrance.  Aside from when I was sleeping, this was the most comfortable spot in the room, but I did keep smashing my arms against the enclosure and usually managed to accidentally turn the water off a few times during each shower.  So, we had a room not much bigger than a double bed, a sink with bar fridge and shower stall.  Oh, and there was no bathroom: the whole place was a shower room, really, what with the steam flowing out of the shower stall.  I just had to hang up my shirts and let them steam.

So, to use the facilities, one had to trip down the hall (bonjour here, bonjour there, along the way) until one came to a toilet room.  Now, if I stood in front of the toilet to micturate, the entire quadrangle became intimately acquainted with my anatomy.  There are no secrets in Paris, I guess.  If one had to sit, they quadrangle people got a view of the back of your head.  No big deal there.

There was no sink in the toiletroom, but there was a sink that looked positively Roman outside, or you could walk back to your room, tilt your head 30 degrees to the port side, and wash your hands there, but jumping into the shower was actually easier.  If you hung your towel and clothes correctly, you could get a good motion going and be fully clothed with just a few twists and turns and grunts and almost no bruises.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trip Recap, part 1

It's funny how I spent three weeks in Europe and haven't really said much about it. So, I guess it's time. Speaking of time, I am aging. Years ago, I took the night flight to London and, when I arrived, I continued throughout the day even though I did not sleep on the plane.  By the way, I am envious of those who can sleep on trains and planes. I can't do it. Anyway, years ago, I popped off the plane in London, and engaged with the city. I slept later, as usual.  It was no big deal.

This time, I was whacked after the flight to Paris. I could barely keep my eyes open. Eventually, I decided to take a nap, and left instructions to be woken in 1.5 hours. I woke up in a daze and stumbled around the apartment as if I hadn't slept for days. I was confused, couldn't think straight, and hardly knew where I was. But then, I looked out the window and saw the Eiffel Tower and the traffic on Rue Montparnasse and quickly figured it out. So, the lesson to be learned is that I am getting old. Crap

The good news about the flight is that Air Canada came up with very good gluten-free food options that were also free of dairy! I was quite impressed. Ages ago, when Air Canada offered no such menu choices, I requested a fruit plate, thinking that such a menu item would contain fruit. Sure, there was a bit of fruit, but the thing came with a baguette, half a pound of cheese, and a piece of cake. In what universe is that considered to be a fruit plate? The poor fruits were seriously outnumbered by glutinous substances and congealed bovine slime!  But, back to the story.

This trip to Europe was so many months ago, I can't even remember what we did on day one, other than transport our bags to the smallest apartment I have ever seen.  Really, it was a room, a closet, in fact.  It was so small, that to rent the place would be illegal according to the various laws of France.  But, it was free, and I never argue with free.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

I bought two pairs of shoes last weekend in Montreal. On Saturday night, we had a couple of drinks at Bily Kun, and met up with a friend from TO.  Damn, it gets cold early in Montreal.  Winter must suck in Montreal.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I am off to Montreal tomorrow and will return Sunday.  Have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I know a woman who collects funny ESL sayings. I think she started this because her mother referred to the the HMV music stores as HIV. I knew another person who called a hangover an overhang. Hilarious indeed. A colleague just sent me an email, and instead of saying, "no one can remember anything," she wrote, "No one can remember everything!" I can't argue with that, can I? Anyway, this reminds of a Bruce Cockburn album called You've Never Seen Everything.  So true.


Check out this freaky email message I received in two different email accounts:

Sent Monday, October 12, 2009 12:30 pm

with respect to you i signed a contrate deal to accasinate you, but my feeling's wont allow me to do that because of your personality. please reaply me now.for forther information.I expect you to reaply withen 3 days of reciveing this message.

I have grown accustomed to all manner of spam that insults my intelligence, like that from Nigerian Princesses, who think that they need my help to cash a cheque. It's ludicrous. But, threatening someone with assassination (or, accasinatation) is going too far, if you ask me.

But, what really irritates me is illiteracy. I know that spammers routinely misspell words to get past spam blockers. So, if it were up to me, I would construct an email filter that blocks any messages with more that a few spelling errors or grievous errors in syntax.

Maybe someone could do that for me. Please!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Comments Comments Comments

I am not certain if I am busy or distracted or lazy, but, as you may have noticed, I have not gone out into the blogosphere and left a trail of pithy comments for ages.  You may have also noticed that I have not posted very much lately either, and that is because I am either too busy or too distracted or too lazy.  You see, the post is part one, and then one has to turn around and leave a trail of pithy comments all over the blogosphere, a task I currently find too troublesome since I am either too busy or too distracted or too lazy.  This is odd, really, because no blogger should feel that s/he can't blog simply because s/he feels that s/he will fail to uphold the other end of some tacit social obligation.  So, that's that.  I plan to post more soon.  As for commenting, we will see how it goes.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


As I was walking down the street, a bird fell out of a tree and landed on my shoulder.  It was difficult to see it, because of where it chose to alight.  Have you ever tried to look at your shoulder?  I could feel its feet, gripping my flesh, making me a bit nervous.  Just then, I looked to my right and noticed two other birds on a branch right near me.  Clearly, they were siblings.  I had no idea what kind of birds these were, and I felt foolish, because I should have known.

As I was deep in thought, trying to put a name to these birds, a man walked past carrying a black bear.  I asked him if he knew what these birds were.  They were owls.  Yes, owls, but they looked like they had been bred with penguins.  I panicked, ducked a little, looked to the sky, fearing I was about to suffer the same fate as Lord Sepulchrave, 76th Earl of Groan.  My companion, to whom I hadn't paid any attention until then, clearly had no such fear.  All I could think to do, once I had noted that the sky was clear, was to take these orphan birds to some sort of animal hospital or bird sanctuary.

I strapped them to my bike, and headed out, finally finding such a place. However, when the warden of the bird sanctuary inspected my owls, he concluded that they were stuffed.  Indeed, as I ripped open the plastic bags that I had sealed them in, I agreed that they were plushies.  But, as he left to finish building his grand piano, these owls became more animated and then I realized that they were hungry.  Seeing no mice or other types of rodentia lurking about, I found apples in a neighbouring farm.  I stole some apples from the hens, and fought my way into the dusty road (feeling a bit like the father in The Road, who finds ash-covered apples in a dead orchard), and tried to orient myself.

I decided to head south, toward the amber light, and then my son woke up and woke me up too. It was 4:55, and I never got back to sleep, but I heard the little one sawing logs for the next two hours, while my brain obsessed about things, like why I couldn't get back to sleep.