Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

A year -- another year -- has rolled by oh so quickly. Does time speed up as we get older? I remember being a kid and every day lasting a year. Now, a year passes in a day. Sheesh. Slow down, wouldja?

Today is a day of reflection for me and many of us, je pense. We may be making lists of resolutions, determined to become better people... or we may be planning on going out and getting shit-faced. I am home, with my pets, in my beloved little run-down condo, cozily nested between the Plateau and The Village. I am happy to be home tonight.  I am sick with a cold, and I have a lot on my mind, too.

I bundled up earlier and took my beloved Chewy dog out for a walkie in the deep snow, playing with him, watching his joy at getting stuck in the snowbanks, licking the balls of ice from between his toes. I swear, this guy has a perpetual smile on his face. It wasn't always like this. I adopted him just over five years ago. He was one of my foster dogs.

As a volunteer for Sophiesdogadoption.com, I have been on the front lines for about 10 years. I have seen some sick sick things ... a puppy who was punished with a pot of boiling oil, a dog who was used as bait .... so many horrific things that it makes me wonder what is wrong with so many people. We don't really know Chewy's story. Sophie thinks he was probably a squeegee dog. He was found in Jarry Parc, where he had been roaming for 2 days. A moving day dump, no doubt. He was then passed around from foster home to foster home. He was even adopted once, but the guy sent him back. I was baffled why no one wanted him. He was a great dog ... sure he had his issues. But he was clean in the house, very smart and well-trained. Except for stealing squeeky toys. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to break this habit.

He was a sad dog. He was afraid of tall men. He was afraid of brooms. We could not touch him on his back. He was afraid of children. He was afraid of hockey sticks. I shudder to think. My boyfriend at the time ... let's call him Funky Cat ... and I adopted him. After about a year, he became such a gentleman (except for the squeeky toy thing, and the killing squirrel thing). Just a terrific dog.

I am grateful for Chewy. He makes me laugh when he plays so hard. He is my love. I will do anything for him. I almost died for him last January when he fell through the ice in Lachine. I stood, watching him drown, and acted. Did not think, just got on my hands and knees and started crawling towards him. We never took our eyes off each other. He held on until I crawled out for 30 or 40 feet, the ice cracking under my knees ... until I reached him. I grabbed hold and pulled out my chunk of ice dog and crawled back. He lived!

I thank the Gods and the Angels for holding that ice up until we got back. I am grateful for this.

I feel like I reel from one emergency to the next. I am still under the burden of trying to save my cat two years ago.  A lot of stuff went down (I previously posted about this) and I lost a lot -- friends, a baby, etc etc. But I learned a lot too. I learned who my friends are. I am grateful for this.

I am grateful I can continue to save dogs with Sophie. I am grateful I have a great job as a prof here in Montréal, at a great college, where I have some pretty terrific students. They continue to amaze me with their big hearts.

I am grateful for Maggie, and her family who has adopted me. I am grateful for Dana, who let me share Christmas with her and her husband and their 2 cats. I am grateful for my good friends, close and far. Sheryl, you saved me. Donald, you are my hero. Bonnie, I love you. Patinski, Liam and Tim. Gin and Mark, you guys rock. I am grateful for FB for putting me in touch with my high school gang.

Even though I am down with a bug, I am grateful for the myriad invitations I have for tonight. I am grateful for my warm home, with food in the fridge. Wine ready to open, if I so desire.

So I end the year on a bittersweet note. I have a new crisis to face in the new year. I am scared but am determined to face my MRI bravely. If you read this, send me your prayers dear friends, that my brain is okay, and this constant vertigo will go away.

Happy New Year and I pray you all stay safe tonight and every night!


The Older I Get, the Less I Know

Today, Monday December 17 2012, just before the apocalypse and I am standing in my kitchen, feeling ... helpless. We reel at yet another senseless tragedy ... but shooting children?? Good God. A young, extremely intelligent and troubled young man walked into an elementary school in Newtown CT and shot a bunch of little kids. What? Is this a tasteless video game ad? 
And this most recent shooting spree follows so closely on the heels of our own sad memory/commemoration of the massacre of so many young women December 6, 1989. A young enraged man walked into the École Polytechnique and shot 28 people. He separated the men and the women, targeting women. He claimed he was fighting feminism.

The mind reels. The soul hurts.

Today, December 17 is a snowy fluffy white and gorgeous day here in Montréal. I feel helpless. I stand in my kitchen, watching my dog Chewy  roll joyfully in the snow in my backyard and I am terrified. I cannot imagine the pain of the those poor parents. 

Imma bake bread. The staff of life. Better than being paralysed with fear and helplessness, I suppose. I will bake bread and I will share it with people. I am using this recipe, with a few minor changes on my part, from one of my favourite food blogs.

I feel guilty that I don't suffer personally and that I am grateful for peace today.

I am going to stay in my jammies, drinking tea and cooking all day in my safe kitchen. Fuck it, I am cracking the vodka.


Don't Go Away Angry. Just Go Away.

How do you deal with a very sensitive personality? It is all very well and good to be Zen-like and say that other people's behaviour has no effect on you. Is it true that the happier you are, the less offended you get at unintentional and thoughtless comments?

What if, say, there is a person at work who is such a character? Dealing with people at work is a trickier  dance. We are expected to work together for a long time, maybe even many years, so we have to be colleagial and respectful and mature.

Yeah right.
What if there is someone who stomps around and stops talking to people at the drop of a hat. Spurns colleagues in the elevator? Defriends people on social media? After the second or third time of this, how does one react?

Do you give in to this tyrannical behaviour? It is a form of control, after all, non? Do what I say, act how I want you to act, or I withdraw my precious friendship. My love is conditional upon you pleasing me. 

One of the biggest problems with this kind of problem solving, and I use that term very sarcastically, is that you never know what you have done wrong. People who are easily offended are offended at everything and everything can set them off. 

You can choose to respond in a myriad ways. One is of course, ignore the high school ridiculousness of it all and stay professional. Two is to also be hurt and withdraw. And three is to point and laugh. Every time you see this person.

I like number 3. That won't get me killed at all.


Smells like Fall

Night falls quickly and tis a cold wind that blows through Parc Lafontaine. Perfect condition for hunkering down with a blankie, a scary movie, a beloved and a plate full of deliciousity. I was in the mood for asparagus, or as I like to call them, asparaguys. (I don't know why.) It's been a long week at work -- cegep teachers are in the midst of end of semester chaos -- and I felt like some comfort food. Risotto with asparagus and mushrooms. Have I mentioned I am now vegan ... 99% of the time. At home, all the time. I cook me to mati, as the Greeks say; which means I rarely measure. I got a pot, and crushed some garlic, which I threw into said pan with olive oil and fresh greek oregano from my summer garden. Salt. Cook it a bit. Add the arborio rice. I wish I could find arborio rice in whole wheat. Stir stir stir. Add bright green asparaguys and shitake mushrooms while there is still water in the pot. Stir stir stir. Add pepper and a splash of tamari. Stir stir stir. Serve in pasta plate and enjoy with a glass of red wine. Salad on the side. "Insidious" on Netflix. Ahhhhh. Deep sigh of relief.