Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"...we've forged a connection we shall not break" - M. Hadley, June 27, 2007

English 354 is complete. Tonight we wrote the (grueling) 3-hour final examination. I say grueling only because one of my weakest skill sets was torn open, exposed for all to see.

Memorization. When it comes to memorizing endless lists of terms and their textbook definitions, frankly, I suck. Sparing you the crap, suffice it to say I honestly felt bad about this exam.

What I felt great about was the conversation I had with my prof. following the exam.

As a matter of course, I had bumped into a former client of mine who, as it turned out, is also a former student of M.'s. When she found out I was taking English with M., she brightened right up:

"You have Hadley??! Wow, I took her 240 class two years ago - she's great, and I want to take her Detective Fiction class in the Fall!"

I relayed this information to M. tonight, saying,

"...and she's signing up for your Detective Fiction class in the Fall..."

Prof. M.'s response?

"As will you be."

(apparently she reads minds, too?)

The words that followed made me forget the negativity of my feelings about the exam. She said,

"David, we've forged a connection we shall not break. To use your verb, we'll 'do' coffee."

This journey of mine into academia has proven to be quite soul-satisfying. I can't say for sure that it's because I'm in the 'Social' sciences, but there seems to be a most fulfilling component present that I believe cannot be found simply inside of the bounds of a text book.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Update in the middle of the craziness

Today, two things of note.

I FINALLY did my in class presentation, and it went rather well. I was pleased.

Also, I met up with a friend of mine from years gone by. C. was one of my locker partners in Grade 12. (I had two) We met for drinks after class tonight to catch up on... 19 years of history.

3-hour final exam tomorrow at 7:00PM.
I'm so not ready.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Definitely a step up from Maxwell House

Further to the previous post, the REAL coffee was a hit. I'm not aware of anyone to whom Maxwell House brings as big a smile. (Note to self... check the date stamp function on the camera... it's slow!)

Maxwell House: Good to the last drop? NOT!

Anyone who drinks coffee on a regular basis will tell you that not all coffees are created equal. Over the years I have become a coffee snob of sorts. I'm drinking far less of it than I used to, and as a result I tend to be rather fussy because it's gotta count!

On Tuesday I went for my regularly scheduled massage therapy appointment. My student-therapist and I usually banter about this and that, and on this day we talked about coffee. Clearly, A. is a student. She went on about how much coffee she needs to "keep going", so I asked her what she preferred to drink.

To my shock and near-horror, she said these words:


My dear student-therapist...
We must have a little chat.

A few years back, the local independent coffee shop in my neighbourhood ran a weekend theme called "Trailer Park Days". The lunch special was K.D. and Wieners, the drink specials were J.D. and Pilsner, and for dessert you could choose from a King Dong or Twinkie plate. To emphasise the point of the theme, the manager had placed a card table to the right of the counter. On it sat a pot of Maxwell House coffee, a number of those old brown diner-style mugs and of course, the Maxwell House tin. The sign read,


You would think that free coffee in a coffee shop would cripple sales, but that week his coffee sales went up, not down!

So there I was, expressing my shock and horror at A.'s quite obviously BAD choice in coffee:

ME, SARCASTICALLY: "You know what we used to call ground coffee that comes in a tin?"

A., SHEEPISHLY: "Um, what?"

ME, IN A STERN TONE: "Sawdust coffee."

A., QUITE MATTER-OF-FACTLY: "Well, I can't afford anything better..."

ME, CONFIDENTLY: "Not true. You will use LESS of the good coffee and be a happier person for it."

Yesterday I picked up a bag of one of my favourite coffees. A. is in for a treat, not to mention an education, when I return today. THIS is good coffee!

Any coffee that comes bearing its own legend has GOT to be good.

They even post the rules.

Sorry for the fuzzy photo, but I will share with you Rule #3.

"Always use fresh cold filtered water. Some municipal waters have been chemically treated adding an unpleasant taste to your coffee. Remember, coffee is 99% water."

So there you have it, Maxwell House drinkers... that 1% makes it "Good", (or not) "to the last drop".

Thursday, June 14, 2007

'Just' the way we are.

For the last two successive classes, we've had a
guest speaker. One of M.'s grad students has been
instructing us on Creative writing.

Tonight's class was a blast!

To the right are a few photos of those of us who showed up to class tonight.

Although M. was absent (along with half the class, what's up with THAT??) we dug right into the mechanics of writing poetry.

Apparently, this exercise usually takes about
thirty minutes before most students become
distracted and off-topic.
Not us.

Before we knew it, we'd spent an hour and a half writing poetry together!

We're a pretty happy bunch, and I'm impressed with how closely we've bonded as a class. I expect class size has a lot to do with it, but I didn't get the same sense in the English Lit. class I took in September. (42 students to start, 21 by year-end). There may be some truth in that the students who sign up for Spring semester truly do want to engage.

Some find poetry dry, but we English students can ham it up some...

Some of us appear to suck our thumb...

...some of us can be conservatively silly...

...while still others of us clearly march to the beat of our own drum. Here we see C. truly engaging with the assignment: getting a 'sense' of the subject matter.

Here is K., who has spent the last two classes teaching us the Creative Writing aspect of poetry. She was a truly delightful addition to the curriculum.

In closing, here is a shot of our class 'Just' Jar. It's our version of a 'naughty word' jar, as M. has a particular dislike of the word 'just'. Over the weeks we've added 'sorry' and few other well-chosen, mis-and-over-used words. The money collected will contribute to funding our year-end party at the Grad Lounge.

More photos soon as our in-class presentations take place over the next week or so.

(tech note: Blogger is a bear when it comes to
justifying text around photos. I finally gave in to
a few inconsistencies... I'm sure it will drive A.C.
crazy - he's so very great with posting wonderful
pics around beautifully constructed text!)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

With breakfast in hand this morning, I started surfing a few web sites. One was for the yoga studio I attended on Tuesday. They have an Etiquette page listing all the Dos and Do Nots of attending sessions. One of the Dos struck me as funny... not to mention, odd.

"DO bring your own mat and a towel if you sweat a lot, and arrive clean and free of scents that might distract or offend others. "

What do you see here?

Because of the bolded words at the head of the line, which were a graphic enhancement on the page, I read it as,

"DO bring your own mat and a towel - if you sweat a lot, and arrive clean and free of scents, that might distract or offend others."


"We encourage you to bring your own mat and towel. This will annoy your neighbour, and we think that is good." OR "By arriving clean and free of scents, that will distract others because normally everyone smells."

Perhaps this might be better:

"DO bring your own mat and a towel if you sweat a lot. Arrive clean and free of scents that might distract or offend others."

This minor oversight could not, however detract from the final Do Not on the Etiquette page:

DO NOT push your practice. Instead of trying to go as deeply or completely into a pose as others might be able to do, do what you can without straining or injuring yourself. You'll go farther faster if you take a loving attitude toward yourself and work from where you are, not from where you think you should be.

Words to live by, not only at the yoga studio.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Suspicions confirmed

I spoke with the vet this morning. Bob's kidneys are shutting down, and as a result, he is losing weight consistently and he has developed Anemia.

We can keep the Anemia in check with weekly injections, which we'll try but I'm not about to make his life miserable with weekly trips to "that place" if he really puts up a fuss.

On the up side, he's maintaining his regular routine, and doesn't appear to be in any discomfort.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The dog days of yoga

Before I begin, Happy Birthday wishes are in order. My sister turns 40 today. I'm not far behind, so I will be kind. (Oh, gosh, would you look at that... the poetry class has taken over my head!)

Speaking of which, with yesterday's midterm break (a whole day off from class at the U.), I decided to try something I've been only thinking about.

I attended my first-ever yoga class.

I've been spending a great deal of time focused on looking after my body as of late. What with a regular chiropractic and massage therapy programme, cycling and the mental stimulation of academic courses at the University, it's been a whole new world for me over the last year or so.

I've always dreamed of being strong, but going to the gym seemed out of my league. Starting in Junior High, I looked upon the crazy gym freaks as just that. I believed (and to some degree still do) that I simply didn't have the stature, frame, build, or whatever you want to call it - to take on the gym.

I've heard of people who are amazingly strong inside of what outwardly appears to be a slim or slight frame, and that some forms of yoga are the vehicle by which they attain and maintain such amazing strength. This fascinates me, because it defys the stereotypical image of "big and bulky = strong and fit". What makes even greater logical sense to me is that less bulk, less size, is typically easier on the heart, the frame and all the other inner workings of the body.

A number of months ago, a good friend of mine (who is almost twice my size, physically) said to me,

"Dave, you're a strong guy who doesn't see yourself as a strong guy."

His words were running through my mind as the instructor guided us through several motions and positions including

into the...

through to...


What we're talking about here is Ashtanga Yoga. I would easily call it 'power yoga'! It was an incredibly intense hour and a half. The intense part wasn't so much the new and different stretches and positions that my body wasn't used to. The intensity was in the repetition and on-going motion. You are allowed to "find your breath" if necessary, but continued motion is key. We didn't 'stop' for the entire 90 minutes, except near the end, to lie flat and focus on our breathing.

Although this was a beginner class, perhaps I should have taken the "introduction" class which is offered tomorrow, but I had the time yesterday, and it was a last-minute decision. My instructor, Colin, told me:

"We're going to drop you in the deep end tonight, but don't worry, there's another first-time student here -- see how you like it..."

I do like it, and I will go back because I'm stoked about finding something that isn't 'relaxing'. It's time to move, and I refuse to become a gym freak.

I must admit, however, it's the first time in my entire life, I swear, that I've gone from normally-human-dry to completely soaking wet with sweat inside of 10 minutes. Oh, and the sweat doesn't stop... ever.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Down four pounds and counting...

Bob and I just returned from the vet. He's lost a lot of weight, and it doesn't look good.

About two months ago, I noticed he was losing weight. When I took him to the vet, the results of the blood work indicated possible kidney failure. I was instructed to put him on this medication along with an ant-acid because the medication itself was hard on the stomach.

The medication made him puke.

He was already regurgitating his food.

It seemed to me that the kidney end of him was working just fine, thank you very much. I was sure what was bothering him must be digestive, or something unrelated.

We went for a second opinion. At this point he had gone from about ten pounds to seven.

On examination, the new vet discovered an infection and inflammation in Bob's throat. No wonder he wasn't eating. We treated the infection, along with bi-daily IV injections of Ringer's Lactate - a volume filler akin to saline solution. We also switched him to canned food from his regular dry.

He started eating, drinking and gaining weight. Bingo! We continued the treatments.

Over this weekend, his food intake diminished to about a half-can per day, and over four days he became noticeably thinner. The weigh-in this morning was shocking. He'd gone from seven pounds-seven ounces to six pounds-six.

We managed to get the IV solution into him, but there was no way he was going to submit to an exam, let alone giving a blood sample. It took the two of us and some expert skill on the vet's part to administer a tranquilizer.

The exam went well, but the blood was hard to get. His blood pressure was extremely low.

Bob stayed at the vet's office for a half hour to "sober up" while I went for a coffee at the mall.

The results of the blood work will be available in a couple days. Meanwhile, the pacing continues...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A day in the dirt, trees, grass and creek

As promised, an update on my visiting cousin, Fred.

But first, there was work to be done. At something around 7 or 8AM, I was on site at the landscaping supply yard to get the second load of soil for my sister's expanding garden.

I was most impressed with the fellow running the bobcat. He very gently loaded my little trailer. He also took care to evenly distribute the load.

I then delivered the trailer and its contents, quickly running away before I could possibly be put to work with a shovel! (kidding!) In actual fact, it was my duty to deliver, then run taxi service out to Bragg Creek for our scheduled family gathering at my Uncle D.'s cabin. (Uncle D. is my mom's cousin, not to be confused with Uncle David, who is me.)

My dad and I went out together, and having arrived quite some time before the rest - including those with keys to the property - we spent some time in the sun. I propped my camera on the fence and set the timer to take this photo.

Once through the gate, here's a shot of the cabin, and Meg, Uncle D.'s Golden Lab.

It wasn't any surprise that there were other animals on site. These were resident deer who, prompted with carrots, peanuts or just about anything edible, will very boldly eat from your hand if you're gentle and quiet enough.

Speaking of animals and food, here we are at lunch. Aunt M. made chili, and there was salad, buns, pie and ice cream. From right we have Aunt M., Uncle D., Dad, Uncle R. and cousin Fred. Clearly, Turtle needs a lesson in centering subjects in the field of view.

Meg, Fred and Uncle D. heading for the water. Fred wanted to ceremoniously dip the wheel of his bicycle in Bragg Creek, as he had on the West Coast, and will no doubt do on the East Coast upon his scheduled arrival in August.

Dipping... and is it any wonder why they call Golden Labs "water dogs"?

Uncle D. loves trains. So much so, he's installed a garden railway on the property. This section of track crosses the pathway to the outhouse. The section of track in this area is affectionately, and quite appropriately named "The Loo Line".

The track then splits off in a couple of different directions. There had been some winter frost-heave damage that prevented us from running any trains, but to a fellow train-lover, simply seeing the track running over the one piece of the property was satisfaction enough.

Today, Fred is off on a 40 KM round-trip tour of a couple Calgary parks to be followed by tomorrow's scheduled departure. I heard the number "120" in reference to the expected number of Kilometers for tomorrow's run.

Best to you, Fred, for a safe and exciting expedition.

About Me

My photo
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.