August 3, 2010

Third ownerversary present

I thought this was something squirrelish when I grabbed it at the store, but upon further inspection...

Of course

a true connoisseur

can taste

the difference.

July 13, 2010

The Swimming Sentinel

This morning the neighbour's cat, Tiggy, was in my yard, standing over a bird that was still very much alive. Luke chased him away, and so began a three-way standoff, with Tiggy on one side of the fence, dog and bird (his only movement a silent scream when Luke nearly stepped on him) on the other. I hadn't even gone to the bathroom yet, and so parked the dog on the front stoop while I dashed in and out -- to pee, get dressed, find a cardboard box to put over the bird, call Animal Services (what, I'm going perform field surgery or break its neck myself?) -- and God love him for being so good at stay.

In other news, after a week of practice at Cherry Beach, Luke can now take his feet off the bottom of the lake like a real live dog. He favours a very splashy front crawl, but is learning the evolution of the dog paddle has something to do with the evolution of things that float and the ability to breathe while fetching them. Last night we didn't once need to employ a Lab to rescue a ball (they invariably launch their missions with a cannonball entry that soaks humiliated dog and owner), although he still whimpers softly on return trips as though he's saying, "I can't believe ... you threw it ... so goddamn far..."

Update: The bird is a baby robin, now perky and chirpy and inside a large open box on my stoop, out of Tiggy's view and waiting for its mother, who is hovering nearby. Animal Services says she'll put the baby on its back and fly it home. Wish I could do the same for some friends who are much too far away from their loved ones and have been feeling very lonely and very stressed (minus the part where, if the baby is still there in 24 hours, Animal Services puts it to sleep).

Update 2: I moved the box under a tree. This attracted some attention from robins, so I decided to tip the little guy onto the lawn. Yeah, that sucker was out of the yard, across the road, and under my neighbour's deck in about 30 seconds flat. Before he dove under the latticework, he turned and gave me a look that was all, "Screw you and your no-worm cardboard hotel you pale, sweaty, featherless piece of crap. Nature HATES you."

February 3, 2010

December 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Welcome to Tanzania

In April, I arrived in Dar es Salaam after midnight and was driven to the Mediterraneo Hotel in darkness. I awoke to roosters crowing and stepped out of my room into paradise. The beach. The tropical flowers and trees. The old fishing boat bobbing in the water.

Flip-flopping down the garden path towards the restaurant—it has only one wall and some glass panels to keep the ocean breeze from carrying away your napkin—I was taking photos and scolding myself for my not-so-secret fear about equator-sized spiders and lizards and fleas when something fell from the branches above, landing just ahead of my big toe with a splat.

A wet, headless rat. Seemingly boneless, organless, as though it had been eaten from the inside out, all that remained was the furry wrapper, tail, and bulbous brain stem still attached to the body by a stringy spinal cord.

Not pictured.

Best of 2009: The Midnight Garden

During my spring stopover in France, I spent about 36 hours in Narbonne visiting a friend and his two sons while the missus was out of town, and did nothing untoward, by the way, unless you count suggesting the boys wear buttons that say I Heart my New Mom. Just after I turned out the light, my friend knocked on the guest room door and ushered me down to the garden. “I heard something outside,” he said. “Whatever it was went into the bushes and I couldn’t rustle it out, so I stuck in my hand.”

Now see, this here is your proof of the nothing untoward. Genius STUCK HIS HAND IN THE BUSHES. He stuck his hand in the bushes BECAUSE he didn’t know what was there. Would I, with such a man?

And then: “I felt something prickly. So, I grabbed a towel from the laundry room to throw over it and dragged it into the light.”

Seriously, there is not one reasonable statement in that whole story.

The towel was lying on the ground over a small mound. About the size of a large, headless rat. He lifted the corner to reveal a hedgehog, curled up tight, playing dead. We could just make out its adorable little scrunched-up storybook face. And that, well, that was worth getting up for.

On an unrelated note, shaved truffles and mascarpone encased in brie and served on a baguette with a side of eggs will not in fact stop your heart. Not for dangerously long anyway. Fortunately, Genius served this for breakfast AFTER the hedgehog story, because I might with such a man. Yessir, I might.

France, meet Africa. Africa, meet France.

December 29, 2009

Best of 2009: Culture shock

After 28 hours of traveling, from Dar es Salaam to Toronto via Amsterdam, it was so lovely to see my friend Chad at the airport. He very kindly offered to take me to Tottenham to pick up Lucas from the kennel so I wouldn’t have to rent a car and drive through a haze of jet lag the next day. We just had to make one little stop on the way.