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Everything is better with ice cream


All pets have personalities that are as unique as that of their owners. In our case, the male cats’ personality can be best described as ‘asshole’.  He is stubborn, obnoxious, needy, ungraceful and stomps around the house wreaking havoc and catastrophe.  He’s lucky he’s really really cute when he sleeps, otherwise he’d be throttled.


His quirks are legion, from locking himself in the bathroom then screaming his indignation on top of his lungs, to choking himself on the rim of a garbage can, to the most annoying of all – the nocturnal burst of energy.  Every night between three and five AM he stomps into our bedroom and proceeds to ensure SOMEBODY wakes up and pays attention to him. 


Like Simon’s Cat, he begins with a few plaintive meows. Since we ignore those like the champion sleepers we are, he escalates to jumping on the bedside table, knocking off the stray books, hair ties, water glass with his crash landing, and mournfully meows some more.  He is deaf, and cannot modulate his voice, so his meows generally have the same tonality as a cow. 


If by then someone hasn’t woken up to a) kick him out and shut the door b) lock him up in the bathroom c) attempt catricide, he escalates by doing something incredibly obnoxious, like finding a plastic bag to rummage through, or his new favorite game of launching himself into our wooden blinds, headfirst, to great rattling.


We have kind of tried everything over the years – a visit to the vet ruled out medical problems,  water spray is just a fun game, locking him up pre-emptively ensures he yells himself hoarse all night. Keeping the bedroom door locked gets us a serenade under the door, as well as indignant scratching of the two girl cats, who see no reason to be punished for his behavior.  We generally resort to blearily waking up, tossing his furiously snorting butt out, and going back to bed with the precision of a racing pit crew member.


Lately James has been working a lot less due to a back injury. Since he is nocturnal at heart, like me, his schedule quickly shifts to staying up quite late, and sleeping in.  This means I get a hope of uninterrupted slumber, since him staying up means that *I* get my beauty rest. 


However he does it, is fair game – food, toys, whatever it takes. Despite his best efforts, Cheney often wakes me up still by hollering in his nasal whine on top of his lungs.  The other night was no different – cat yelled, I blearily stomped him into the bathroom and locked the door.



This week we had the following conversation: 


Me:         Bad cat management last night.


James:   OMG, he was so bad. You obviously put him in the bathroom, I didn’t even know until I went upstairs. He was in there yelling, so I got him out, and put him in the downstairs bathroom. He yelled in there for like a solid hour. Then I took him out and gave him ice cream.


Me: <Crying I’m laughing so hard>  This is going to be the extent of your parenting skills, right?


James:     Ice cream fixes EVERYONE.



Zero weddings and a funeral



My grandmother passed away last week, and the entire family has been busy sending her off.  Please, no condolences are needed – she was a very respectable 85, and had cancer which left her very frail and tired at the end.


My grandmother loved entertaining more than anything, and had a full life, with plenty of drinking, eating, singing and friends.  She sang beautifully until about a year ago, and lived independently until the last couple of months. All in all it was a life lived to the full, and up until the last few days she enjoyed a teaspoon of cognac in her tea. Given that she called vodka her elixir of life, this was a concession indeed.


The funeral was very simple  – a private service, and a road trip some three hours away to a small Orthodox Convent where she was buried. The convent is located in the middle of Nowhere, Alberta and was once a place of sanctuary for a scholar turned monk.  Upon his death he turned it over to a convent, as there was a shortage of fellow monks to carry on the tradition. There is a wee church built without nails that still stands on the grounds today. The nuns live simply with the support of the varied parishioners who help them homestead on their free weekends. They also have a small cemetary where those who desire can be laid to rest.




The service was simple and beautiful. There was a soft snowfall and rustling wildlife in a remote chunks of the woods that surround the convent.  I’m not a religous person by nature, but like all people find a lot of comfort in ritual. And even though I never grew up going to church, I find liturgy calming, especially in the chanting manner of the Orthodox Church. Our priest is a very colorful friend of the family and was a great tension breaker on the drives to and fro.  Orthodox priests are allowed to marry, which generally means they don’t molest children, which greatly mitigates the disgust I have for the transgressions of the Catholic priests.


In fact, I think that’s a great contribution of religion, to provide a framework for celebratory and solemn occasions alike.  We are social animals and have developed a number of rituals to mark special occasions in life, from the vision quests of puberty to elaborate wedding ceremonies and funeral rites.  Which is great at connecting a community and providing guidance when dealing with charged emotions. It’s a template for behavior, when you badly need one.  In a multicultural country such as Canada, different cultural groups have less of a sense of community to bind them, so belonging to a religious community provides continuity of culture.  But enough with crazy theories.


After the service we had a colorful wake, joined by family and friends, and toasted her often.  All in all it was a wonderful way to say good-bye. May she rest in peace.