Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Goodbye, Smokey

He's gone.

He couldn't hold out until Friday. We were sure he wouldn't last the night. He was unable to stand, he was unresponsive and his eyes wouldn't close when he passed into sleep. I held him for a long while on the couch. He melted into my arms and breathed slow breaths and I could feel his little heart beating. He was so skinny.

We knew we had to put him down tonight. He couldn't get to the litter anymore, he could no longer stand up to drink. He was not going to enjoy his last day alive at that rate. So we took him to the emergency vet clinic. We got there around 10:00.

Crying in a strange reception area, giving your information so strangers can end your cat's life is a terrible experience. Watching people watch you, sobbing while you say your phone number, confirming this is your final decision.

I walked into the room where the Dude and Smokey were waiting for me. Smokey was being examined and when it was over, he laid down and in an awkward position managed to rest his head on the Dude's arm. Then he relaxed and stayed that way till the end.

The Dude and I held Smokey and pet him, telling him he was a good boy. He was barely conscious, not really struggling to live, not really fighting death. He seemed peaceful as we waited. When the time came, I could barely notice as his life slipped away, he was so far gone already.

He kind of looked like he was smiling when we left. That's my Smokey.

I know I'll cope and move on. But something in me already knows I'll never fully stop missing him. He was my friend.

Smokey's Last Dance

If I believed in jinxing myself, I would not have written this last post about Smokey. He's dying. My old Smokey is on his way out. He's 17 and a half and he's showing all the signs. He's stopped eating, he's restless, losing mobility fast and he's less interested in attention and increasingly reclusive.

It started a couple days ago. I made the decision to not treat his symptoms or take him to the vet. He's old, too old for advanced medical attention. He's 86 in cat years and I wanted him to relax at home instead of being dragged out in the noisy street in a cat carrier to be needled and handled somewhere he doesn't like. He hasn't been in pain, from the looks of it. I'm the one who seems to be hurting.

But the Dude and I made an appointment for Friday for euthanasia. Smokey's ability to walk is failing him at a rate I can't let continue. It's heartbreaking to watch. I've been picking him up and putting him where he seems to want to go: near his water, close to the litter box, somewhere cozy. He's been crawling around this afternoon.

He's been quiet, eerily so, and yet still finds the strength to mew for ice cubes for his water dish. I love him so much.

He seemed interested in being on the couch with us, so the Dude picked him up and put him on the blanket beside me. He stretched out and rested his head on my leg. This cat has been everything I'd want in a pet. I don't want to do without him. I knew this day would come, but I never wanted to really think about it.

If you're reading this, next time you have a drink, raise a quiet glass for Smokey. I don't pray, and I wouldn't ask to keep him in one's prayers. But if it would be alright with you, toast him for me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Patry Hardy, Sicky Icky

I'm sick. The Dude's brother's wedding is done, the Halloween party is over and I've contracted a sore throat bug that's been going around and I can barely swallow. Dude's out getting me some Buckley's in the chill and rain as I write this. God love 'em.

This weekend really kicked my ass, whilst kicking some ass in general. The wedding was a pretty attractive and delicious affair, which every wedding should be if it can be managed. I always get a little teary-eyed during the vows or the dance. Usually only if I have faith in the union. And since I do for this one, I got a little misty while the officiant was reading off the vows and seeing the bride smile at the groom. I love love.

I couldn't help but think of my own upcoming nuptials, though it's a year away. And when the wedding was over I thought of the "now what" part. They're going to continue work on their house and everyone is going to be curious about potential children. Marriage always seems to lead in that direction. Few people get married without wanting kids, and in fact I think a lot of couple choose marriage because they want children and don't want to procreate outside of marriage. I've heard a number of people ask why get married if you're not going to have kids? But some couples just want to be together for life, and share everything sans children. And those marriages charm me in different but equally nice ways.

Honestly, I can see the appeal, too. I think I would regret not having children. I want the joy and challenge of raising them. But I'm not a baby person. Oh, I like babies the way an average human being does. And babies born to people I care about give me a happy feeling. But I don't really respond to them the way I do to kids. Kids, I like. Hell, I feel like I'm on their wavelength sometimes. Kids and I tend to get along.

If I had to adopt in order to be a parent, I'd want to bypass the baby part. I think only my raging maternal post-delivery hormones could induce me to fall in love with and happily care for an infant. But a 3-year-old kid? That would be more my speed.

But here I am digressing from my weekend. McPal and his boyfriend's Halloween party was the very next day and I was the queen of hearts. I kinda spent a little more than usual on my costume this year and I lucked out when a makeup artist friend of mine offered to do my makeup. These two things won me the best costume prize! w00t! It's a big chocolate ball of happiness. When I'm feeling better, I'll dig in and gain 4.2 pounds.

The party itself was bitchin'. What a good time. I love people who dress up. Though I'm sick and don't want to go anywhere or do anything, I'm still kinda bummed it's over.

Ooh, the Dude is back. Time for some relief from my achy sufferings.

Me and the Dude at the party.
I hope I need not point out that is a mask.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I've been hunting down venues for la wedding. It's been only a week, but I'm far too much of a planner to sit on my hands and twiddle my thumbs (Ha! Doesn't that sound terrible?) Anyway, I want to set a date, which requires a venue booked on a date, which will tell us something significant about how much of our budget is sucked up. And since everyone else on Earth plans this stuff a year in advance, I have to as well.

Our first appointment is this Saturday. Knowing us, if the price is right and we like it, we're not going to look around. We didn't do an extensive search for any of our apartments, so I doubt we'll do it with a place that is for 1 day instead of a minimum of 365 days. Affordability + availability + reasonably attractive = The Spot.

It's looking like November. First it was September, then October, and now screw it. November. It's the off season so it's cheaper, and it gives us a full year to plan and save. The guest list is also huge. At least it's huge to me. It wouldn't be huge for, say, an Italian wedding. But 100 people is pretty dang big to me. My dad's family is over 30 people, the Dude's immediate family after remarriages is around 20, plus his mother's and father's families, plus mine, and our friends. Yeah.

And this 100 number is without plus ones for singles and no kids. Otherwise we'd be looking at 130 or more and then we wouldn't be able to afford a wedding that big.

I know it's going to bother some people. Parents who want to bring their kids will be unhappy and probably won't come. I can respect a decision not to come because finding child care may be too difficult, but it's the displeasure I don't want to see. And the singles who can't bring a date may be irritated with me. But including their dates would require me to remove people I actually know from the guest list to keep the numbers affordable, and inviting strangers over loved ones is not something I'm prepared to do.

It begins. I'm too meticulous a person in this sort of way for it not to begin.

Man, wasn't this post boring? My apologies.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Night After

I am riding the waves of one of the more epic hangovers I've had in some time. I went to a bachelorette party for my sister-in-law to be. I've never actually been to one before, as I have very few friends who are married. I usually cut myself off at two units of alcohol in a night out. Why? Because that's usually enough to get me to drunk town, but not enough to buy me a ticket on the porcelain express.

Well, I had eight units last night. And somehow, some way (I'm thinking all the food, a drinking break for two hours and some reasonable pacing) I didn't get sick. Oh, I'm feeling sick now, but I managed to hold my dignity last night, or at least most of it. The Dude and his father, en route home from the respective bachelor party, picked me up and propped me up and got me home, having a good laugh at my expense.

We're talking four glasses of wine, a champagne toast, a screwdriver, vodka lemon shot and a gin and tonic I was told was water before I took I giant swig of it.

I'm getting too old for this. And yet this is a record amount of les bouze for me. God, I could go for some bacon right now. The Dude, his dad and step brothers are out at boys brunch, probably recapping their evening, which sounded like it covered all the bases. I was promised a greasy meal when Dude gets home. My stomach is begging for something fried.

I had fun. I'm paying for it. But I had fun. And the bride's friends are great.

*Rumble* Oh, the pain... Bring me bacon!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

So Old

My cat is so old. He's so old that he has a specific way he likes his water. He's so old that after he uses the litter box, he cries and howls for me to bury it for him. He's so old his meow has turned into a rolling grumble, and he's missing five teeth, giving him a slightly gummy appearance.

He's cuddling me now. He'd be in bed cuddling the Dude, but he only does that if I'm in bed too. He's 17.5 years old. He's a creature of habit and he likes things the way he likes them.

He's actually a pretty big inconvenience. I have to make plans around being home for him, I can't go overnight with the Dude anywhere without accommodating his needs, and more frequently as the years go by his stream is not true when he uses the box.

And the thought of doing without him breaks my heart. Most cats don't live this long. Many do, but most don't. And most people nearing their 28th year don't have their childhood pets still living, never mind in their exclusive care. Smokey is my buddy, and a sort of lifeline to a life long past and gone. He just sighed in my arms while I wrote that. What a guy.

I'm still paying off his $1,400+ dentistry bill from the summer, from when I had to choose between putting him down or removing his ruined teeth to end his misery. Now I have more reason than ever to get it paid off, so I can incur other life choice debt. I wonder if he'll be around next fall. His hips are getting stiff, he's so feeble that if I cuddle him in a certain position he no longer can squirm out with ease, and of course there is his diabetes.

When I first got Smokey and Jerry when I was 10, I used to have nightmares about them getting old. Now it's here. It's not as sad as I thought it would be, but it is still a bummer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Le Planning, she begins

So now it's the aftermath of the initial engagement shebang stuff. Friends and family were called, texted and told in person and the almighty Facebook status was changed when we were done. All wanted to know when and where. Namely, family wanted to know if we'd be doing it in our mutual hometown.

It's a reasonable question, but it's not going to happen. I'm not planning a wedding in another city. No dice! I'm also not going to be planning a budget-blowing extravaganza.

The Dude and I hammered out a guest list and budget this evening. Budget aside, we're looking at 105 people-- no kids. Yeah. I know. But that would be an extra 17 guests and I think that many small ones running around, most of them under 6 years old, would prevent me and others from being able to relax and have fun. My family tends to be paralyzed with inactivity when the little ones are around, so I don't think that would be a good time for anybody.

A number of people might wind up staying home, but we would understand. You can't expect parents of youngin's to be available to do everything. Though I'm not looking forward to having to explain to some disappointed parents that we can't accommodate their kids. Cross that kinder bridge when we get to it.

This blog is adding yet another holy-crap-I'm-getting-old factor to it now, but not something I want to take over the entire thing. There's only so many things of interest you can wax poetic on about wedding planning and there's 11 months to go. So I'll be keeping it mixed up, and having posts that have nothing to do with wedding anything. I have about zero interest in becoming a Bride. Yeah, see I capitalized the "B", as in the word "bride" becomes a title and hence an identity. Not me. I be a small-b bride, yo. Hell, I've already found a wedding dress under $200 I want to order online.

I know a lot of women turn planning a wedding into a hobby, and then when it's over they have little left to do and then they feel like, "now what?" There is actually a term about getting the blues about it. I don't know it offhand, and I don't want to know. I don't want to invest too much of who I am or my energy into a one-time party. I think the Dude and I spend our time better when we discuss what sort of marriage we'll have or how we'll raise our children or manage our finances.

So, here's me being all adult 'n stuff. If I keep this up, I may have to start regressing. I still have my stuffed goose around here somewhere. But that's a story for another day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Four Years

Yesterday was a four-year anniversary for the Dude and I. It was a pretty good day. I had to work, but that was normal. He came home with flowers for the first time. I love getting flowers. He once tried to get me a bouquet back in 2007 when he was visiting me (we lived in different cities until 2008). I was walking home from work (an hour's journey at the time), stopped to get a chocolate bar, ate it on a bench and saw him walk past.

So I decided to follow him for kicks. Then I sped up quietly. Then I scared the bejesus out of him, grabbing him from behind and screaming. The jig was up and we went back to my place, flower free. Somehow didn't seem quite so romantic to buy some after that. So getting the flowers yesterday was lovely.

We went out to dinner at this nice Italian place in the Art & Design District. But before we got there something unusual happened at Bathurst Station. As we were going up the escalator, this meth addict lady ahead of me blacked out. And then she fell back on me, nearly taking me down with her. So I caught her, got her upright and gave her a guiding shove off the moving stairs.

She was grateful, high and completely disoriented. I was shaking like a leaf. I normally don't have my wits about me, so frankly it's pretty lucky I was alert at the moment. I mean, can you imaging taking a spill down the up escalator? Hell, you'd never run out of stairs to tumble down. What a nightmare. Surprisingly, I forgot about it over dinner. In Toronto, weird and alarming shit happens all the time and you move on pretty fast.

After our dinner we head out to McPal's and his boyfriend's new coach house. My God, what a charming little place. I had house envy, but the good kind where you're happy about it. And the cool thing is that now we're neighbours-ish, like a 20-30 min walk away. Yay!

So we left and went for a bit of a walk and when we passed through a park, my feet needed rest so we parked ourselves on a bench. And the Dude proposed to me. So now we're engaged. Wild, eh?

Awhile back when we talked about rings, originally I wanted a sapphire. But increasingly, I wanted to wear my mother's/grandmother's ring which has been sitting in my jewellery box for years. It didn't fit and being a diamond cluster, it was too fancy for casual wear. And the fact I never had a reason to resize it, never mind wear it, always kind of bummed me out. It's so sentimental to me and incredibly beautiful and I could never wear it.

So I retracted my sapphire request and gave the Dude my ring, and asked that when he was ready to have it resized because that was the one I wanted. He asked if he could engrave it and I said yes. It's not the typical procedure, but everything about it felt right. And as a bonus, it was economical, so we can have more money to put towards our wedding.

So there we were on the park bench and within seconds things had suddenly changed while staying the same. Made me realize that we've been engaged for a year or so already, only now we were ready to plan and we could tell people about it. And it's not like it was a secret. We talked about it to whoever asked. We talked about it together a lot, researched a few venues, and we've been planning our marriage, financial and child-rearing plans for a long time. But, I don't know, it was still on the backburner. The Dude's been building up his business and life has been presenting us with some other priorities.

So odd that we're now ready to get this show on the road. Part of me already feels married to him whereas the practical and logical side of me always reminded me I was not. I've contacted a bulk of my friends, and some family out West and now we're going to our hometown to spend Thanksgiving with my family. They'll ask all kinds of questions, as is their way. I enjoy the inquisitiveness; I'm used to it and I know it means they care. The Dude is less accustomed to it, so good luck to him. Heh.

I took a random lame laptop photo of the ring for those who are curious:

Yeah, you can't really see anything.
It looks like a flower, I swear.

And now the saving, planning and preparations begin. Basically, to formalize what we've been doing for years now and make it official in front of loved ones. It's funny. I'm happy about it in a calm way. I'm not energetic and excited. But that's the way the Dude makes me feel in general. Calm and content, not nervous or jittery. I guess it just feels natural. And that's a pleasant feeling.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sugar Coated

I never enjoyed hockey as a kid, but it's hard to grow up in this country without developing at least an appreciation for it. And I have. I like hockey, specifically, I like the Leafs. My mother would be proud. My brother, to my father's chagrin, also loves the Leafs. But that's what happens when your son is raised by a Leafs fan.

It's also a sign that winter is coming. Fall in the past always felt like a transition and a blip, kind of like spring feels now. Summer with its blistering, humid heat and winter with its bitter, biting chill seem to be the main events. And I like fall. I like the colours and the cooler air and the food. I love Halloween. But when you grow up wearing snow suits under your costumes and trick or treating in the snow, it's hard to look at the following November as part of the fall season, but now climate change means not seeing any snow until December. And I have mixed feelings about it because it means more lovely fall.

It also means selecting a new winter coat. I've worn the same one for three years, a combination of laziness, frugality, and being very selective, the last one being a newer aspect of my coat shopping. It was frugality in my teens. My mom didn't have a lot of money, and I liked to blow my own money on nonsense. I wore the same damn coat grades 8 through 11. It was Northern Reflections, basic forest green and it was durable, man. That thing really went the distance. I only got rid of it because kids in school were starting to comment on it. You know, teenagers.

Then I wore a coat I loathed and that did nothing for me for about, oh, four or five years. It was gray, shapeless, unfeminine and not terribly cozy. It was bought at a skater-type place when I was still unsuccessfully trying to figuring out my style. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I got a sherpa style coat that was so popular in 2003, which was replaced shortly thereafter by a charming red wool coat with toggles.

Oh, that coat... It was a nice little number. Until one fall evening I drank some tequila in the Beaches and on the streetcar ride home I lost my dignity all over it. The Dude woke me up early after I had dozed off en route home. I asked if we were home yet and he said no, we were still 10 minutes away. Then I knew I was going to vomit. So rang went the bell and we waited by the doors. The driver inched and inched closer to the optimal place to stop while the Dude hollered to him to open the doors, for the love of God.

The driver without the love of God or perhaps just minus good sense kept jerking the streetcar forward by inches and left the doors closed. The Dude's warning of you'll be sorry was quickly followed by a cascade of my evening's activities bursting out of my face. The coat was covered in my shame and when we finally piled home we wrapped it up in a bag, where I refused to deal with it for weeks. Coats aren't salvageable after marinating in puke, so that was the end of that.

And since I "retired" that one, I've been wearing a white woolen Guess coat. And it's looking like total ass. It's pilled, buttons have fallen off and I'm just plain sick of it. So here are my current options for winter coat happiness:

This isn't much of an option, as it's way, way too long for me.
But it's super pretty, so up it goes.
It's what I'd get if I were 5'10".

This is just like the coat I lost, only it's a little cuter
and in the back are some spiffy details.

I'm very fond of this one: the colour, the pattern, the buttons.
It's really mod and the empire waist is perfect.

But this current little retro number has won my heart.
It's sold out, but if and when it returns, it's mine!
And if not, I'll get the one above it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

La Baker

Yesterday I fulfilled a small ambition I've had for years. I went to a cake baking class, step one of learning how to do cake design. I now know about a dozen things about cake baking that I didn't know before. Plus I came home with recipes, and some new tools. Wheee!

I made a bitchin' little vanilla buttercream cake. It was bakery good. I feel like I got my money's worth for the class, which was a prerequisite for the decorating. I can now make a tasty bakery-style cake prepped for fondant frosting. I'm pretty jazzed about that. Unfortunately, I now have 3/4 of a cake in my fridge and not enough mouths to eat it before it goes south.

I also realized something about my current place. I need a bigger home. More to the point, I need a bigger kitchen. Looking about the little box that constitutes my current kitchen, it's totally impossible to make cakes in there, not with the kind of room and appliances I'd need. And I have to bring a prepped cake to the decoration class, which I've made at home. And we're 12 months away from being able to move anywhere. *Sigh*

But it was still a step in the right direction. I learned I love baking cakes. I already knew that (I love baking in general), but working with kitchen mixers and palate knives really brought it to another level. Cooking = meh. Baking = yay!

I miss the kitchen in the house I grew up in. It wasn't anything special, really. The house was not very big. The kitchen was a small-medium size with a regular electric stove/oven and a small double sink. There was enough counter space for a dish rack, microwave, hand blender and a little empty surface area. There was a country-styled kitchen table, long and rectangular. I used to make cakes and cookies then, and it was enough space for me. It's to this day the biggest kitchen I've ever had at my disposal. It was also cozy and charming.

I've made the mistake of not making my household kitchens a priority. When I was first living alone, my bedroom was the most important, the bigger the better. I was still mentally stuck with teenager concerns. Then it was location, and then closets. The next place I live, I'll be thinking Kitchen.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cute Town

Hellllo, October!

I love me some good October, I really do. I love pumpkins, Thanksgiving and Halloween. And it's also the month the Dude and I celebrate our anniversary. Four years now. T'is a record relationship length for us both.

We got our Halloween costumes ready to go. I'll be the Queen of Hearts and he'll be the White Rabbit, only a psychotic version. I really went all out this year. I couldn't help it. I really love dressing up in costume and you pretty much only get to do it once a year. I've always tried to be a little frugal about it: re-using costumes, buying only what's on sale, throwing things together with what I have lying around the house... but I wanted to for once give into my id and blow some cash on a fully accessorized shebang of fun.

So that meant not just a costume, but the accompanying petticoat to give the skirt flounce, and customized socks with playing card clubs on them. I'm not saying how much I spent on all of this after tax and shipping. But I'm going to look effing fantastic.

Since high school ended I've been haphazard about Hallowe'en most years. I bought a cheapo nurse costume second year and wore it twice in a row to Halloween pub night. Then it ripped. I think I skipped the following year. And then after that I was a police officer. The costume fit terribly, but a few pins here and there and it did the job. Then some more nothing.

Bo-ring, right? Things got more interesting with Rainbow Brite. I had some good fun with that, though it was a lesson to pay more attention to the way my body actually looks, as the torso on that dress was a lengthy nightmare on me. Whoever has the body to fill out that costume the way it's meant to, you have my congratulations, but that person is not me.

Then came my favourite to date: the bumblebee. It was actually a "sexy bumble bee", but on me it was not, the way most things are not sexy on me. And I don't mean this in a disparaging sort of way, it's just a fact. I really have to go out of my way to appear "sexy". I'm short as hell, petite everywhere and I have a very innocent look about my face and a juvenile voice. Hence, a short skirt ain't that short on me, and with no cleavage and my childlike looks, what was sexy and adult is suddenly cute and adorable.

It'd bother me, except that means I can get away with a lot more without looking like a skank. And that's what will happen for the Queen of Hearts. I know. I've tried it on. Cute Town, here I come.