Things we Hate to Love

Talking about stuff we love to hate is fun and makes for rip-roaring good rants. We can all ream off a good many things on our pet peeve list – the things that irk us, piss us off, annoy us, drive us crazy, etc., etc. We’ve all blogged them in various forms.

But what about the things we hate to love?

Those little things we don’t talk about very often —  or at all sometimes? Those things we enjoy, indulge in and look forward to eagerly while at the same time hating that we enjoy, indulge in and look forward to them eagerly?

For me, the first thing that comes to mind is my stupid cat, Bazel. Whenever I’m away, even for just one day, I’m close to almost being giddy with excitement to see his bitey little face again. When I’m out shopping I always look to see if there’s a fun new toy he might like. When I get home, before I even take off my coat and shoes, I actually spend valuable time scrunched on the floor next to him, petting him for as long as he lets me and… (gulp)… talking nonsense at him about what a handsome boy he is and trying to guess what he did all day (out loud) and telling him what a good kitty he is. Yes, he is.

It makes me cuckoo that I do these things because I never wanted a cat in the first place. We only got him because, after years of XUP Jr. begging me for a pet, I finally caved when some woman was giving away kittens. I went out of my way not to bond with him because he was supposed to be her cat. And she did a marvelous job of looking after him and playing with him, she really did, but it was always me he wanted to hang out with and gnaw on. He’s my albatross, the little bastard.

What about you? Is there anything you hate to love? I’m not talking about so-called “guilty pleasures” so much. I don’t mean those junk food binges we sometimes enjoy or the crappy TV shows we all watch or the occasional bad novel we enjoy reading. Because we just usually love to love those things, we just don’t like to admit them.

I mean something that you really wish you didn’t love/like so much. Or something that you really enjoy doing but it makes you feel like a retard for doing it. Or something that you do that perhaps makes you feel like a big hypocrite.

Like an avid vegetarian secretly sneaking off for a big bacon breakfast once a month maybe. (Not me.)  Or a married fundamentalist Christian televangelist keeping a male lover on the side. (Not that that could happen). Or like David Suzuki loving to tool around the bush on an ATV on his days off. (Not that he would. I made that up.) Or a regular working joe type guy wearing silky panties under his dungarees and toolbelt. (No butt crack.) Or even something a little more innocuous???

‘Fess up.

Hope you’re all having a great Two-Four Weekend Canada people!

Gourmet Pets

I had a discussion one day, a while ago, with some fellow cat people, about what they feed their pets, how much it cost to feed their pets and how it relates to what the people feed themselves.

As you know, I’m fairly particular about what I eat. I like to buy organic. I don’t eat junk food (usually). I like my food to be as natural and as additive-free as possible. So, for me it seemed obvious that I would feed my pet the same way.

Bazel gets Wellness brand cat food (A different flavour each day of the week – he only likes the poultry or fish ones). He gets one 5.5 ounce can per day at $1.99 per can. Then, on the vet’s recommendation, Bazel also gets a scant ¼ cup of the Hill’s Prescription Diet dry – the one that keeps his teeth clean. One bag of that stuff is about $30ish, but it lasts for months and keeps his teeth tartar-free. Teeth cleaning for cats can cost thousands since they have to knock them out to do it, so I reckon I’m saving money in the long run.

 On Sundays, Bazel gets a special treat. I get him the small cans of Snappy Tom  tuna or tuna with salmon dinners. He gets one of those in the morning and one in the evening. Each can is $1.69. They’re yummy because they look like actual chunks of fish, not all pasty like the usual cat food. (Zoom’s cat, Duncan, gets his special treat on Tuesdays)

I also always try to have some cat grass in a pot growing somewhere he can gnaw on it.  Sometimes he eat a whole bunch of it and throws up. Apparently cats enjoy throwing up cat grass. They eat it specifically so they can barf it back out. Cats are mental.

A lot of people think I spend too much money on cat food. But that cheap stuff in the grocery store just doesn’t even look like, smell like or contain ingredients that resemble real food. And yet, I know plenty of pets live long and happy lives on it. I don’t know if Bazel is any better of with his all-natural food or not, but it doesn’t make me gag when I open it first thing in the morning and that’s the important thing.

I usually buy Bazel’s food at Global Pet Foods on Bank Street. What a great place. They don’t sell animals, of course, but they have pretty much everything else pet-related you could ever possibly want or need. Lots of natural pet foods and healthy pet treats; toys, crates, leashes and other gear.  It’s also a very social place. The owner’s and/or employees’ dogs are usually there. Customer’s dogs wander in gamboling with each other. Cat people are in the cat section exchanging tips and ideas on cat toys and cat entertainment and cat food. 

Occasionally a gerbil person can be found in the gerbil section. They’re usually alone looking at blocks of wood shavings or little gerbil mirrors.

So, anyway, I’m wondering what you feed your pets? Back when I was a kid our pets foraged for food on the farm. They’d get table scraps and when (and only when) foraging and scraps were scarce they’d be supplemented with store bought pet food.

Now vets are horrified by the idea of pets getting people food. They’re horrified by the idea of pets being outdoors and eating mice or birds or plants or random bones they’ve dug up.

Of course back in the day, pets didn’t live to be 36 years old either.

I once worked with a woman called Marissa (yes, that’s her real name) who was one of those certifiable vegans who give normal vegans a bad name. She only fed her cat potatoes and beans because cat food was made from “the putrid flesh of murdered animals“.

I once had a cat named Dwight who was obsessed with spaghetti. Whenever he smelled it cooking, he’d try to dive into the pot. I had to lock him out of the room if I wanted to eat my spaghetti without being killed for my meal.

Bazel is only obsessed with normal cat things like fish and cheese. He will also happily kill me for either.

Now that I think about it, I always seem to have very aggressive cats.

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Disclaimer:  I am earning no revenue nor am I receiving any gifts for mentioning any of these pet food brands or pet food shops….though I would happily accept gifts and/or revenue should they be offered.

Creatures Great & Small

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We live just outside the city – a 10 minute drive – in an old residential area with lots of big, big trees and large areas of designated green space/brush. So, there’s a fair bit of wildlife that has made its home alongside the human residents of this neighbourhood. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that the wildlife is struggling to exist in the tiny bits of green space that haven’t yet been taken over by the human residents.

Anyway, when I go running, I go very early in the morning, just as it’s starting to get light. First, because I still have some energy then and can get the whole exercise business over with and get on with my day. But also because the air is fresher, there are no cars and only a few people around that early (dog walkers and other runners).

So, most mornings I also get the pleasure of communing a little bit with the local wildlife before they go back into hiding for the day.

However, this morning, I hit the jackpot. I don’t know what was going on last night in the critter world, but it was like a freakin’ no-petting zoo out there. A Disney movie’s worth of chirpy, prancey, skulkly, scrabbly, creatures. In 45 short minutes here’s what I encountered (along with the usual assortment of birds, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, squirrels and chipmunks):

  • 5 rabbits
  • 2 raccoons (Together)
  • A wild turkey (On someone’s roof)
  • A deer (Looked like a fully grown doe. The second deer I’ve seen this week)
  • A fox (At least I think it was a fox. It scurried by very quickly and was in among the shrubbery. It might have been a coyote or maybe a small puma, but I don’t think there are too many of those in Ottawa)
  • And, a big fat waddling gorgeous[1] LePew . (Fortunately I could smell him just before I saw him so was able to give him a very wide berth without having to make any sudden movements that might have scared him).

 I really need to get a pair of those camera sunglasses I’d been fantasizing about inventing for years until I found out they already exist. It’s just impractical to carry an actual camera while running.  And I see the most amazing things. 


[1] I’ve seen a lot of skunks in my life, but nothing like this beautiful creature. It was huge and dark, glossy black with two thick dazzlingly white stripes down its back and an enormous, proud, feathery tail. Seriously, this is the first time I’ve ever gawped in admiration at the beauty of a skunk. (While veering carefully away from it)lepew

How I Know For Sure That Aliens Live Among Us

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Dog poo in plastic grocery bags by the side of the road. I’m human and no matter from which angle I examine this phenomena, I cannot explain it. You walk your dog. Your dog poops. You go to all the trouble of bringing a plastic bag; wrapping your hand in the bag; picking up the warm poop, tying a knot in the bag; and then you just drop the bag? Why not just leave the poop so it has some hope of biodegrading in the next thousand years?  Only aliens could do something so inexplicable. capers

Capers. What are these things? They taste weird. They look like nothing else on earth.How do they end up in jars? Where do they come from? No one knows. I checked with my grocery store manager and one or two restaurateurs and they all claim jars of capers  just show up periodically at their back door. No one orders them. No one asks for any payment. There are no bills of lading. No one has any idea where they come from. But people buy them, so nobody has made too much of a fuss about this. Go ahead, try to explain it. I think they’re little alien scrota. That’s what I think. And this is their way of impregnating earthlings. Watch out for capers.sponge toffee

Sponge toffee. Again, no human would have invented such a thing. It looks like insulation. It feels like insulation. You can’t eat it.  Your tongue gets stuck to it. Yet it’s sold as candy. The ancients tell tales of an alien space craft circling the earth once upon a time and suddenly exploding, sending a shower of debris throughout the universe. The ancients go on to tell of a wily convenience store owner who gathered this debris and wrapped up the chunks in cellophane. And then lo, he sold it in his shop.   And the people from far and wide bought it. Well, not really far and wide. In fact, a lot of it was left to gather dust for hundreds of years. But it’s still occasionally being bought to this very day;  so they say.

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Yoga. So a bunch of aliens living down in SoCal back in the 1960s were sitting around one night talking about how bored they were getting with life on earth. So, after a big night of drinking and hilarious brainstorming they came up with this awesome practical joke to play on the humans. The next day, after  a few Bloody Caesars,  they waved their magic alien wands and opened up a “yoga” studio. (“yoga” in alien, means “huge practical joke” — from the same root word as “yoke” or “joke”). Anyway, that very afternoon, the  aliens went on a big marketing binge and managed to convince a bunch of human hippies to come into this yoga studio and then they bent and twisted them into all sorts of unlikely shapes and played really quiet zitar music in the background and babbled in hushed voices about chakras and stuff. And then they charged the humans money for it all! What fun the aliens had. But, never in a million years did they expect the humans to take it so seriously and for so long! Ha ha! When they finally got tired of laughing about that one, someone came up with “yoga clothing” which sent them all into fresh spasms of laughter.

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Cats. No, not the musical, although Andrew Lloyd Webber and many, many, many, many (too many to mention) other well-known people are obviously aliens or at the very least, bi-planetary. No, I mean these kinds of cats:

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It’s no coincidence that cats and the pyramids appeared on earth at the same time.  Cats have to work very hard to seem just stupid enough that they’re amusing and endearing without being maddeningly stupid like fish.  Cats seem to spend most of their time just sleeping, but when you think about it, what real earthly animal could survive in the wild if it just slept all the time? Especially a purely carnivorous animal? It’s all an alien misdirection.  Cats are sent here to spy on us and report back to their planet.  That’s why  they’re not allowed to get too involved with humans.  And why we sometimes catch them looking at or listening to stuff that doesn’t seem to be there. And why the longer they’re here, the less interested they seem to be in everything — they’re like long-term public servants, just putting in time until they can retire and get beamed back to their home planet.

Now THAT’S Entertainment!

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This is our TV.

Our one and only TV.  I know some of you are suspiciously thinking, “Hey, that looks an awful lot like Alison’s one and only TV.” And you’re right. It does. But it’s not.

Before we moved to Halifax in 1998 we divested ourselves of all our stuff except for a few suitcases and boxes of essentials. Then we had fun getting new stuff once we got there. We picked up the TV from a Canadian Tire about 4 months after we moved.

The TV has a 13 inch screen. (Coincidentally, I once knew a guy wh….. er, nevermind).  So, our cute little TV sits unobtrusively in a corner with its perky, decorative rabbit ears antenna.

The cat loves to sit up there watching us while we’re watching TV. Sometimes his tail hangs down over the screen which drives my daughter crazy because it pretty much blocks out the whole picture – and the cat doesn’t have a particularly bushy tail.

She yells at him, “Move your tail!” And then he swishes it back and forth. This makes her even angrier because she believes he’s deliberately mocking her.  

I laugh and I laugh. It’s better than anything they’re actually broadcasting on the TV.

Anyway, I’ve never had cable in my life. I’ve never felt any impetus to sign up. I don’t like the whole idea of paying for cable.  I can get the 3 major national channels with the rabbit ears along with the provincial public broadcasting channel, a couple of local channels and a bunch of French channels.

The Francophones really seem to love shows where people film each other, their kids and/or their pets falling off or under stuff, tripping over stuff, bumping into stuff, getting injured, maimed, electrocuted, losing their clothing or being spotted doing crazy stuff while naked and/or urinating. As far as I can make out, there are at least half a dozen French Canadian versions of America’s Funniest Home Videos. On top of Juste Pour Rire, which I think is really awful and doesn’t make me rire at all. (Click link for video samples).

Sometimes,  I’ll look through the TV listings to see what I could be watching if I had cable and there’s almost never anything that I can’t already watch on the channels I have.

The kid, of course, is totally horrified, completely embarrassed and extremely fed up with our “home theatre system”. Every time we change the channel (and yes, we do have a remote control), she has to get up and adjust the rabbit ears, shift the TV and find a place to sit that doesn’t interfere with the airwaves.

Her exasperated grumblings and exhortations are also always quite entertaining.

And then there’s the ultimate good time of getting ready to watch a DVD. The TV needs to get hooked up a VCR player, which then hooks up to a DVD player. Coaxial and perhaps some other sorts of cables are involved, I think.  (I let the kid take care of this too since she does it so much more often, she’s gotten to be a pro). Everything then needs to be plugged into the wall. And then it all needs to be turned on. And then a video needs to be put into the VCR in order to start the whole thing rolling. Then the video is removed.

Only then can the DVD can be put into the DVD player player. Then the cables need to be adjusted for a clear picture. Then we get to watch a 13-inch movie.

Her friends don’t much like coming over to watch movies. Not that she would ever invite them specifically for that purpose. (Perish the thought).  It’s just that when teenagers gather and get bored of the computer, the only other thing they can think of to do is watch DVDs.

So, the kid has been lobbying mercilessly to a) get a new, bigger TV; and b) get cable.

Basic cable starts at around $30 a month + +. It’s not a lot, but the idea of being suckered into another stupid bill every month when I already pay a ridiculous amount of stupid money for internet, home phone and cell phones irks me. 

I think I could get away with not getting cable if I cave on the new TV. It’s probably high time anyway – especially in light of the upcoming digital conversion scam. BUT! Will I still be able to use my rabbit ears antenna with a fancy schmancy new digital TV?

I went to Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs so that I could find out everything I needed to know about getting a new TV and now I’m scared. When did a television get so complicated?

So before I run out to Future Shop and end up slapping some condescending salesgeek, I would appreciate any tips, advice, inside information, warnings, opinions, suggestions and/or hilarious anecdotes.

Thanks.

Blog Post Updates

Over the past months, all the lovely people who read and comment on this blog have given me a lot of excellent feedback on blog post issues that arise in and around my life. So, I thought it might be a nice to go back to some of these posts (in no particular order) and let you all know how they turned out.

I am a Pathetic Whiner:  YES! For anybody who hasn’t yet heard (like maybe Monah from Russia) The Ottawa transit strike is over as of about 5:30 pm on Thursday, January 29 (Day 51). Nobody won anything and almost everybody lost a lot.

What happened was the Feds finally got done with nap time and jumped into the strike playdate sandbox with the City kids and the OC Transpo kids who were all grumpy and pouting in corners because they missed their own naptimes and didn’t get enough juice boxes at snack time. But then when the big Feds came along everybody freaked out because they sure didn’t want them at their playdate. So they all got out of the sandbox and yelled “FINE!” And then they all went home mad and so now everybody’s Binding Arbitration Moms have to step in and figure out a way for everyone to play nice again.

Of course it’s going to be more than a week before any buses start rolling and months before they’re all back up and running.

The First Date: Was there ever a more exciting day at Chez XUP? Not that I can recall. The girl spent hours getting ready, all twittery. The boy was five minutes late, which didn’t impress me much and got the girl all worried. But he was cute as all get out when he did arrive. And ultra polite. And very, very nervous. He shook my hand and answered all my questions fully and thoroughly and even volunteered additional information. I put him out of his misery within about 2 minutes and off they went.

 He brought her home slightly before the appointed hour and while there didn’t seem to be any little hearts circling around her head, it sounded like the evening went well overall. And, there was a lot of smilingly mysterious texting going on just before bed.

The Naughty Molar:  I got the crown. There was an excruciating 2 hours of prep work involved during which I lost the almost 40-year-old filling; the dentist replaced it and then broke it while he was whittling down the tooth, to he had to do another filling. Then there was a 2-week wait and now I have a lovely, shiny new crown. No problems so far. (I know it dulls in comparison to the date story, doesn’t it?)

Help! Wanted! This is the one about the criminally insane pharmacy assistant – I switched to a slightly less insane pharmacy as per your recommendations.

Teens and Right to Privacy: The central character in this ongoing saga, my daughter’s friend Carly, was invited not to return to the school for second semester and will be attending a high school with a less arsty environment and with stricter enforcements in place. There were many tears (of sadness and relief) as the girls bid each other good-bye. We wish her well.

 Romancing the Undead:  The post where I despaired over my daughter’s new obsession with this crazy vampire series of books and movies – Twilight. She recently started reading the 3rd installment. We were both sitting quietly with our books the other day. After about an hour she throws her book down in disgust and says, “this book is stupid”.  I clapped for joy –silently in my head.

Meeting Bloggers:  From way back in November when a bunch of Ottawa bloggers got together for brunch. We had intended to have another brunch in January, but there have been some transportation issues within the city, so we’ll probably aim to try another one late February or early March and/or whenever all the transportation issues are finally resolved. We’ll keep  you posted. Meanwhile a few of the people who first met at the November brunch have gotten together in various small groups and bonded. Isn’t that sweet?

5 Mysteries of the Universe Explained: Not too long after I posted this I was in a mall near a Subway kiosk and overheard this conversation between 2 young women:

First Woman: “Eeewww, what’s that smell?”

Second Woman: It’s the Subway. It stinks like that because they make their bread from flour made from that black crud you find down on the subway rails.

First Woman: What? Really?

Second Woman: Rolls eyes.

She could only have gotten this idea from the blog, right? If anyone would like to confess to being Second Woman, that would be cool.

Meet My New Fiancé: Bazel and I snuck off to Reno and got married on New Year’s Eve. We are as much in love as we ever were and look forward to a good 10 years or so of wedded bliss. Oh sure, he has a few little annoying habits, like sometimes rolling a ball of poo out of his litter box and playing soccer with it all over the house when he has several perfectly good actual kitty soccer balls in his toy collection. But overall we understand and adore each other — although he never says it in so many words…  I know…

Meet My New Fiance

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Does every year in a cat’s life equal seven years like it does for dogs? Because I reckon in another six years, Bazel and I are going to be close to the same age. And then that would be a good time to turn him human. And we could get married.

Bazel would make an excellent husband because:

a) He’s got really good hair

b) He’s very clean and well-groomed. Grooming and cleaning himself is in fact one of his favorite past-times

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c) He’s very handsome, suave and debonair

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d) He always takes his time to make sure all his business is completely covered up in the litter box, so I reckon he’d never leave the toilet seat up and would always remember to flush

e) I’m his favorite person in the whole wide world (though he’s always happy to meet and spend time with my friends)

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f) He’s an excellent listener and only interrupts me occasionally to ask a question or two to help clarify the issue in his mind

g) He’s not needy, very independent and seems quite happy with his life

h) He’s very tenacious and will focus on a project completely and for hours at a time until he achieves success

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That’s all very well and good, you might be thinking to yourself, but how am I going to turn a cat into a human? Well, I discovered this thing on the internet called The Human Race Machine. I’m sure with a little tweaking I could get it to transform animals into humans. Anyway, I have six years to work on this so I’m not worried. Plus, there are many incidents of “shape-shifting” in folklore, mythology, history and fiction so we know it’s entirely possible (e.g.: Frog Prince, Leda/Swan, Beauty & the Beast, Harry Potter)

There would, however, be a few drawbacks to having Bazel for a husband:

a) He’s been neutered

b) He bites; and not in a good way

c) He has an obsessive interest in birds

d) He eats bugs

e) He sleeps and awful lot

f) He’s been neutered

 Anyway, this is what I think he might look like as a human. Can you see the resemblance?

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Nice Kitty…

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that my cat, Bazel, (rhymes with dazzle) was one of a litter of 4 feral kittens rescued from the basement of an abandoned building by a local crazy cat rescue lady. We took his mum in too, but she kept gnawing holes in the screen door attempting to escape. She hissed and spat at us, hid in dark corners and didn’t eat or use the litter box. We had her spayed and then gave her to a nice family who had a farm where she could roam or even disappear if she wanted to.

Bazel was just about 8 weeks old at the time, but apparently that was long enough for him to be imprinted with his feral roots forever.

He has never, ever sat on my lap or even next to me and submitted to a petting. When I first come home at the end of the day, he pushes his head into my legs – hard. I take this as an invitation to touch him. I can usually manage one or two strokes before he rolls over, grabs my arm with front and rear paws and begins gnawing on my hand.

At night he sleeps by himself in the best chair in the living room, but every morning between 4:30 and 5:00 he stalks into my room and makes loud, angry noises to wake me up. If I don’t spring out of bed immediately, he jumps up and sniffs my nose and mouth to see if I’m still alive. I know he is checking for signs of life because I’ve read that cats will eat their owners if the owners die and the cats have nothing else to eat.

I can see the half-hopeful look in his eye when he does his inspection. I can see he’s thinking that perhaps today’s the day. But when he realizes that I’m still alive he, takes it in stride begins playfully to attack any exposed body parts. If I lay perfectly still, the attacks are relatively mild.  If I try to fight back, he gets really vicious. His ears flatten back on his head, his pupils expand and his eyes get that glossy cover which makes them shine like demon orbs.

I don’t mind admitting that I get more than a little scared of him at that point.  I saw a cat outside today with a screaming bird in its jaws.  That cat had the same look.

Bazel can be fun, too, though.  He likes to play soccer with his squishy ball and often bats it to me so that I’ll throw it for him to fetch, over and over and over. He can also amuse himself for hours hunting his furry mice or stalking flies or ants. He can jump almost 6 feet straight up a wall or into the air in pursuit of a fly. It’s quite something to see.

He also talks a lot, like a Siamese.  I feel sometimes we’re actually conversing. He has a lot of very expressive grunts and groans and mews and gurgles and squeaks and squawks and noises that obviously mean disappointment or enthusiasm or pleading or embarrassment.

So, while he’s totally unaffectionate and completely uncuddly and has absolutely no sympathy or intrinsic animal understanding of human moods or need for rest and will probably kill me in my sleep one day, I’m amazingly fond of him and miss him a lot when we’re apart.