Sep 29, 2009

If All Else Fails, Add More Wine

Yesterday I was going to talk about wine, but I got a little distracted by that creepy people ranch in Cobble Hill.

On that same drive with my mom we went into Cowichan Bay to have lunch, and on the way out we passed Divino Winery. I'd seen it many times over the years driving up and down Vancouver Island. It's right off the highway with a big old sign, and every time I'd think that I should check it out, and every time I wouldn't. In hind sight this is weird. I love visiting local wineries. I love wine. This one was so easily accessible and yet I'd never pulled off the road to check it out. Strange.

I mention this to my mom as we drive by it and she makes an executive decision and pulls into the driveway. This leads us through the vineyard to an old wooden structure composed of a covered area packed with bins of apples and the smallest tasting room ever. As we get out of the car we're greeted very enthusiastically by a short, round, old Italian man who immediately starts teasing us with a thick Italian accent and in such a friendly manner I feel like I've known him and have been exasperated by him for years.

We smile and nod our way into the closet sized tasting room. Four other tasters are in the process of being entertained by the half cut middle-aged man behind the counter, and we are ignored. I take in the shelves of wine, the massive clock that is two hours behind schedule and the big magnets that say Tell the truth, and then leave immediately and Today isn't your day for service. Tomorrow isn't looking good either.

The other tasters finally leave, and suddenly we have a new best friend. Joe begins to fill our glasses with very generous samples and talk our ears off about wine. Everything we try is an "unpretentious, bullshitting wine". We have no control over what we taste. Joe even snatched the bottle away from my mom as she moved to turn it around so as to read the label. "Not until you've tried it," Joes says. "Yeah mom," I say, "this obviously isn't a wineocracy. Drink your wine and like it!"

Joe suddenly disappears and is replaced by Joe - um, really? Two guys working here and they're both named Joe? Fortunately old Italian Joe is lovingly referred to as The Old Man, so it`s not too hard to keep them straight. Mom asks a question about the vineyard and The Old Man starts trying to get us to work for him. "You should pick a grapes. People they a lovin' it. You a pretending each a stem is someabody you don't lika so much. Then, snip! You a cut them!" (Please excuse the poor written translation of an Italian accent. I was shocked and appalled to find no English-to-Italian-English translator online.)

As we leave I ask Joe if he's serious about needing pickers and he writes down my name and phone number on the back of a piece of cardboard, then shoves it in a drawer. This filing system does not fill me with confidence. I figure I`ll never hear from him. So I'm surprised when a few days later I get a call asking if I can pick on Friday. This meant cutting into my valuable sitting time, but I decide to make the sacrifice and try it out.

Friday at 9am I'm back at the winery. There are just two of us picking, me and Lois, a middle aged woman who works for the Ministry of Education by day and is a duck keeper and occasional grape picker by night. We're each armed with a pair of clippers and a large bucket. After been warned repeatedly about the various ways I can maim my hand with the clippers and how to avoid them, we're left at the beginning of row of vines and told to go nuts.

Here's how you harvest grapes. One person stands on either side of the vines. You put your hand under a bunch of grapes and snip the stem away from the vine. The grapes fall into your hand, and you drop them into your bucket. You try to remember not to actually touch the grapes as this will lead to you likely chopping off your thumb with the clippers.

That's it. You work your side of the vines, your partner works theirs, and you try not to cut each other when reaching for the bunches that are in the middle.

When I`d arranged this on the phone with Joe a few days before he`d asked if I had any experience picking grapes and seemed slightly concerned when the answer was no. I have no idea why; after about thirty seconds of working I considered myself an expert.

It's a beautiful, sunny day, and despite the very repetitive nature of the work, time speeds by in a thoroughly enjoyable fashion. Lois and I are a good picking team, both happy to chat about anything or just enjoy the sounds of the vineyard. Joe comes by regularly to empty our buckets and supply the occasional beer. By the end of the day my lower back is starting to make itself known due to the thousand or so squats I've done moving from upper to lower branches, and I'm getting the hint of a blister on my thumb from the clippers. But I'm happy to report no cut or missing fingers. Lois and I sit on the back of Joe`s tractor finishing our beers as he drives us back to the shed and I start thinking that farm living can be pretty damn sweet.

We hang around for another hour or so sampling wine and eating a selection of bread and cheese and buffalo jerky, and I learn the meaning of a "bullshitting" wine. It's a wine you can drink while your sitting around bullshitting with your friends. Not that I'd ever walk away from a social situation saying I'm sorry, I can't hang out with you. This wine is too pretentious for a conversation. But this wine does seem to lend itself to lounging outside and talking about nothing.

As I leave I get two big hugs from my new friends Lois and Joe, and an invitation to come pick again. Now comes the hard part. Do I accept payment in cash or in wine? Hmm...

Sep 27, 2009

Cobble Hill's Mysterious Road

Last Saturday was one of those rare September weekends, where it's sunny and warm and feels like it's still the middle of summer, even though fall is only days away. We get lots of days like this in September, but they often fall during the week, fading to rainy cool days in time for the weekend. So when we had this really beautiful day on a Saturday, my mom just had to get out of the house. She was hell bent on going for a drive and enjoying the weather - on what was possibly the last really nice weekend day before next June.

I magnanimously decided to grace her with my presence. So into the car we hopped, and over the Malahat we drove. We had a flimsy purpose to our travel. Mom had found a farm that offered horse rides and she wanted to check it out. Easy enough. Drive up island, turn left at RONA's, right at the first pub, straight on until you see horses. We found ourselves on a pretty narrow country road and when we saw the horses we weren't ready to stop driving. So drive on we did, and shortly after the horses the main road ended at the beginning of a forest. There was a smaller dirt road leading into what looked to us like a place where you could rent cottages or camp or something.

We followed the sign to the administration building, and ended up in a large, empty parking lot. We got out of the car and headed towards a path that lead to a long log building that looked like a lodge of some sort. Now, I should mention that we didn't really know what we were doing. We ended up in this place and it looked interesting, so we were looking around.

That's when a rather large fellow that we'd passed on the road a few moments ago (and who had made no attempt to flag us down) appeared in the parking lot behind us and started calling and waving to us.

"What are you doing here?" he said.
"Well-" my mom started to answer, but he cut her off.
"You can't be here. This is private property."
Enough said. We start heading back to the car.
"Okay, sorry," mom says. "We thought it was-"
"You can't be here."
"Sorry, we're leaving now-"
"There are people here other people aren't supposed to see!"

Um, excuse me?

Does this strike anyone else as a ridiculous thing to say? Let's break it down, shall we?

First of all, we were leaving. Getting in the car as he said this. Obviously we were not challenging his authority, we weren't about to cause a scene. We didn't need further convincing to leave. "No, we're staying!" "But there are people here other people aren't supposed to see!" "Oh, okay then! We didn't realize that! We'll be on our way, and sorry for the trouble!"

Even if we were being unruly, that wouldn't make us leave. If anything that would kindle our interest in the place. What people? Why are they here? Why can't other people see them?

And if they can't be seen, this implies that other people aren't really supposed to know about them either. But now we do. Because he told us. If he'd just let us leave we would have forgotten all about that place. Now that place is etched into my brain, all because of this strangers weird comment. Mom and I talk about it. We tell other people. And we all try to guess at who these people are and why we shouldn't see them.

Are they famous? Is it a retreat for Hollywood's prettiest celebrities? Are they criminals? Is it part of an underground railway system for thieves or murderers or corrupt American mortgage brokers? Are they in the witness relocation program? Victims of abusive families? Are they filming a reality TV show? Is it Survivor: Cobble Hill? A cloning ranch? A porthole to an alternate reality where I'd encounter myself, causing a molecular paradox that would make the universe implode? Hmm? IS IT?

On the way out we noticed a big red sign that read "ABSOLUTELY NO UNAUTHORIZED ENTRANCE". Oops.

Sep 23, 2009

Consumer Warning: This Blog May Contain Material That Is Hazardous To Your Brain

I've had ones and ones of people (equaling two) coming up to me in the streets (not really) asking, pleading, BEGGING for me to update my blog more often (hi Granny!). You are so fascinating and wonderful, they cry. Please, please write more and fill us in on all of the fabulous details of your life. We love you! We miss you!

To be honest, I didn't think you all could handle the awesomeness that is my current existence. It's pretty fast paced and full of trendy, sexy hi-jinx. You would likely not believe me, or if you did it would blow your mind. Literally. Your brain might explode.

So think about it. Is being privy to the minute details of my life worth the risk of your brain exploding? Think hard, as it may be your last chance to think about anything. Ever.

If you decide you must know, then tune into my next post.


You have been warned.

Sep 17, 2009

Thursdays That Look and Smell Like Mondays

I'm at Fennell's RV Repair this morning, dropping off my van to have the propane system checked out. I'm not really sure what this means, other than it has propane somewhere "behind the scenes" that can either run the fridge and the stove and heat water, or make the van explode in a firey death ball with me in it. To reduce the likelihood of the latter I needed to take it to some trained professionals and have them look at it and then pat me on the head and either assure me everything is fine and I probably won't turn into flambe, or that I likely will unless I sign over my savings account and several organs.

So I drop the van off at the early hour of 8:30am, ask them to call me when it's done (Oh, we'll need at least 2 hours. At least.) walk up the side of the highway to a coffee shop, sit down, and promptly realize that I'd left my phone in the van. Sigh.

I haven't had my haircut in many many months, and have been thinking lately that this should be rectified seeing as how I was starting to be mistaking for a victim of freak lightning attacks. But then I'd start to think about all the money I'm not making, and dropping $50 at my favourite salon was difficult to justify. So it's been pigtails and bandannas for me, and I'd be lying if I said this has been doing wonders for my sex life.

As I was sitting in the coffee shop I noticed that there were 4 (FOUR) hair salons on the block. This was a sign. So I marched over to First Choice, one of those cheapy places where they don't take appointments. A $13 haircut has got to be better than my grunge-billy look, right?

A few minutes after I put my name down a woman emerged from the back room. Her hair was so thin from decades of over-bleaching that she was practically bald. Her mascara was thick and gluncky and flaking off onto her cheeks. Her lipstick had disappeared (likely absorbed into dozens of cigarette filters), leaving behind an orangey lip liner on a sour sneer.

Don't judge, don't run. It's okay, I just want a trim. Anyone can do a trim.

So I sit down in her chair and say that I'd like a trim. She starts picking through my hair like it's covered in lice (note: it's not). Our conversation roughly resembles the following.

"If you want to grow your hair out you don't need to cut it."
"I haven't had a cut in ages, so I'm thinking just a trim-"
"If you're growing it out, it'll just take longer if you cut it."
"I'm not really growing it out, I'd just like a trim-"
"Hair grows from up here (jabs my scalp) not from the ends."
"Um...yeah."
"So you don't really need a cut."
"..."
"So what do you want me to do?"
"Um, cut it?"
"Okay, whatever. I'll do whatever you want, I'm just saying you'll need to tell me."
"So you'll trim it?"
"Tell me exactly what you want."
"A. Trim."
"What about these layers? If you want me to touch them you have to tell me exactly how much you want me to cut off."
"For every piece of hair?"
"Trim means something different to everybody."
"Let's start again. I'd like-"
"If you want me to cut it you'll have to tell me exactly what you want. I mean, it's your hair." (She said hair but I heard funeral.)

This is where I get out of the chair and walk out.

Back at Fennel's and the propane check is complete and they hadn't even called to tell me. I mean, they didn't know that my phone was in the van and I wouldn't have gotten the call. Then they have the nerve to tell me the tank is a goner and has been safely removed. So now I can't use it to cook with OR create massive illegal fireballs. Sigh.

I drive by another First Choice and decide to give the chain another go. Having a hairdresser who doesn't want to cut hair has to be an exception to the rule. And I'm right. In round two I get a decent haircut from someone that not only understands the concept of trim, she fully supports me having one. From her. See, being cheap pays off.

Back at my car a coffee I'd jammed in between my seat and parking break before forgetting all about it has tipped on it's side. My change tray is now a fun little pool of greasy creamy cold coffee with receipts and gum wrappers and cherry pits floating in it. No, I don't have a garbage bag in my car. Yes, I put things like gum wrappers and cherry pits in my change tray.

See, owning two vehicles is hard. Pity me.

Sep 11, 2009

The Rod & Gun Club

Question: What is there to do on a remote island that is experiencing a freak late summer four day monsoon?

Answer: Go to the Rod & Gun Club and learn how to shoot rifles of course!


"What's the Rod mean?" I ask.
"Fishing." Dad replies.

We're driving inland, up a hill, to the range. I don't see how fish can possibly be involved.

"I don't think they are." Dad says.
"Then why call it the Rod & Gun Club?"
"That's just what they're called."
"Yes, but why? Why not just the Gun Club?"
I think Dad wants to say We're here to shoot guns. Stop over-analyzing. Instead he says "That's a good question sweetie. I'll have to ask about that."

Later we run into the Rob, the club president, and Dad kindly repeats my question. Rob gives me a look that says You're here to shoot guns. Stop over-analyzing. Out loud he says that the club doesn't have a fishing component, and changes the subject to the outhouse they're planning on adding to the range due to the rising number of women joining the club.

Dad unzipped a .22 rifle from its carrying case and showed me how to check to see if it's loaded, how to push bullets into a magazine, how to attach the magazine to the gun, how to load the first bullet into the chamber, how to take the safety off, how to aim, how to fire. It was terrifying to be holding a loaded gun that would let loose a bullet at the squeeze of a finger. It felt stupid and incredibly dangerous. Who loaded this gun? Who gave it to me? Why would I want it? Don't they know that this gun could kill someone? Seriously, these things are dangerous. Take it away!

Holding a loaded gun went from being super scary to really exciting in about the time it took the first bullet to hit the paper target. I looked through the scope, tried to line it up with the bullseye on the target 25 metres away, held my breath and squeezed the trigger. And presto! A little hole appeared in the paper, up and to the right of the bullseye. I did it again and again, and more holes appeared like magic. The .22 is a semi-automatic, which I learned means you don't have to load the chamber manually between shots. You can just keep pulling the trigger. Fun!

We switched to the .243 rifle. This baby is a bolt action, meaning that after I took a shot I got to pull this lever back that pops the empty cartridge right out of the gun, then push it forward and down to reload the chamber. This gun was much louder and had a nice kickback that would knock me back a bit. It smoked a bit too, little wisps of it curling up out of the chamber. Like in the movies! I felt like a star. The air smelled like gun powder and if a crime lab investigator swabbed my hands I would have tested positive for GSR and been a suspect in their investigation! Like on the TV!

I could have tried a shotgun as well, but after claims that the kickback actually hurts your shoulder I decided against it. It's all fun and games until someone hurts their shoulder, as the old saying goes...

Dad said I'm a crack shot. I don't know what that means, but I think it's a compliment. I got to keep my paper targets and everything. Hello, scrapbook!

Hopefully this manly post will satisfy those claiming I've been too psycho lately with all my cute animal rants. Guns! Testosterone! Grunt!

Bunnies

There is this great SNL skit with Matt Dillon called DeCicco Brothers Unicornery, where he's a cheesy car salesman, but instead of selling cars he's selling unicorns. Brilliant, you must see it. At one point he gestures to a tiny little unicorn and says "look at this bag of doughnuts" and my heart grew three sizes that day. Cute things are 52% cuter if you call them a bag of doughnuts. Pets, babies, small bugs. Try it out, you'll see what I mean.

This week I encountered the cutest thing ever. The baggiest of all doughnuts.

A box of bunnies.

I say it again. A. BOX. OF. BUNNIES.

My dad started raising rabbits not so long ago. His two moms just had their first litters. There are eleven babies between the two of them. One batch is black and the other is white with black markings.
 
These may not sound like much. But I assure you, they are no ordinary bunnies. They are the physical embodiment of Cute. We have all been living in the shadow of Cute, not really grasping the awesome power that Cute possesses. I stand as witness that Cute has finally descended to earth to show us what good can be accomplished in It's name.

To fully understand Cute, to become one with it, you must first cuddle bunnies.
  1. First you feed the mom a piece of swiss chard picked fresh from the garden.
  2. While she's distracted you reach into the big cage she shares with her babies, and carefully pick up the nest box where all the babies hang out. Place this on a secure shelf or counter.
  3. Very carefully, remove the bunnies one by one to make sure they haven't crushed each other and they don't have anything wrong with them. 
  4. Exclaim over how wonderful they are, cuddle them close to your face, stroke their soft baby fur, and take funny pictures while calling them bags of doughnuts ("look at this bag of doughnuts!" CLICK).
  5. Once you have finished with a bunny, place it in a cardboard box.
  6. Repeat step 4 & 5 until all bunnies are removed from the nest box. 
  7. Now reverse the process, returning the little guys back to their nest.
  8. Return nest box back to main cage, feed mom more chard.
  9. Make secret plans to smuggle bunnies out in your backpack when it is time to leave in a few days.

One batch of bunnies is all black, and the other is white with black markings. I have to admit that the spotted ones are particularly awesome. Their faces look like warshacks. Although all I see is soft faces of  delight and happiness when I gaze upon their gentle eyes and twitchy noses.

Dad claims the bunnies are for food. He emphasizes this by calling the girls Barbie (short for Barbecue) and the boys Stew. But I know the truth. I'm going to come up here in a month and they'll all be in the kitchen, wearing collars with their names and dad's phone number on them in case they escape, drinking from personalized water dishes. "Thinking of them as food was supposed to be easier." Dad said. "Stupid spots."

Fun fact: spots make bunnies 47% cuter than plain coloured bunnies.Guess who's getting eaten first?

Sep 9, 2009

Still Life on Cortes Island

Hmm, I got a little side tracked yesterday. I meant to talk about Cortes. Who knew I had so much to say about my car?
So, back to island life. A visit to any of the Gulf Islands is a vacation for city dwellers. Cute small townships, farms, markets, over priced artisan jams, excellent hiking and kayaking. They all have the quaint touristy thing going on. But the islands that are only accessible from another island, they are extra special. Harder and more expensive to get to, they don't have too much tourism going for them. They're mostly a blend of self-sustaining farming enthusiasts that do things like create goat co-ops, and the uber rich that live in mansions accessible only by boat or helicopter and hire the out-of-work hippies to dust brick walls and weed the landing pad.

Cortes is like this. To get to it you take a ferry from Campbell River to Quadra Island, then another from Quadra to Cortes. Once on Cortes you drive and drive and drive on windy roads through the forest. Every now and then you see a field or a house or a yurt, or you drive by the one block urban centre of Mansons Landing or the little convenience/hardware store at Squirrel Cove. Everything else is lonely roads that dip and wind forever (actually, just in a circle, but if you don't realize that it can seem like you're driving forever). It's great if you have a destination, but I imagine a random traveler stumbling onto Cortes with no destination in mind would find it rather dark and isolating.

A visit to my dad's is always an exercise in total relaxation. Take, for instance, how long I was in my pajamas in one go. Thirty six hours. I think that's some kind of record for city dwellers. I got in them Sunday evening at 9pm, and didn't get dressed until 9am on Tuesday morning. How awesome is that?

Not to say I didn't do anything on Monday. I was quite busy. I finished reading The 100 Mile Diet, baked some whole wheat bread, picked some strawberries. I even left the house - yes, still in the pjs. We went to the mill to look for scraps of wood to build a fence, and drove around looking for blackberries to pick (sadly they were all withered and moldy). Cortes is the kind of place where you can wear your pajamas around and not look out of place. That is one of the many reasons I love it so.

It's not so remote that influences of modern society don't permeate from time to time. Yesterday I was sitting in the living room, playing Free Cell on my computer and waiting for the bread to rise. As I walked into the kitchen to check it I passed my dad, sitting at his computer playing Euchre.

Hey Dad, wanna play cards?
Cards?
Yeah.
On the computer or with a real deck of cards?
Um, real?
Oh. Okay then.

And then there are the bunnies...

Sep 8, 2009

Drew and Me

I left yesterday morning, just as the rain started. It had been sunny for weeks and I'd done nothing particular with the good weather. The day I decide to do something is the day it rains. Yes, I'm that powerful. The weather is all about me and my bad luck.

It's a three hour drive, ten minute ferry, ten minute drive, fortyfive minute ferry, and fifteen minute drive to get to my dad's. Include ferry lines and coffee breaks and it's a good six hour trip from Victoria to Cortes Island. I did the drive in my little Pontiac Firefly, Drew, named after my cousin Andrew who gave me the wreck, because it seemed to embarrass him to have a car named after him. Family fun. Drew, with a smashed up hood and a tendency to shake violently if pushed up to 100km an hour. He's three-shades-of-red from random body parts being replaced and repainted by various owners. Drew rattles so loud when idling that other drivers will look at me in alarm while stopped at a red light. My sister commented he was only three apples long. This smurf reference almost made me hand paint Drew blue with a white roof. (Warning: this may still happen now that I have much idle time.)

Dirty, banged-up, patchy Drew - who looked out of place in the underground parking lot at my old corporate job, where most people worked their asses off and then spent their hard-earned money on cars that needed more hard work to maintain - fits in pretty well on Cortes. If it can make the trek.

I always find out something new about Drew whenever I take him on a trip. For instance, two years ago I tried to drive him to Prince Rupert and discovered he needed a new timing belt. I discovered this because the timing belt snapped and killed my engine right outside of Chilliwack. When camping in Oregon I learned that the gas line had been improperly installed. This was revealed by a large puddle of gas that appeared under parked Drew and began slowly seaping towards the tent. Knee-slapping hoots and shenanigans ensued. Question: will a Pontiac Firefly explode into a fireball if one attempts to start it and it's leaking copious amounts of gas? Answer: No. But it's scary to find out!

Yesterday's discovery wasn't exciting in an oh-crap-I'm-stranded-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-my-stupid-car-that-might-implode kind of way, but it was news to me. I gave a woman a ride from ferry to ferry, and we stayed huddled in my car to avoid the torrential downpour that hit as soon as we left port. As we chatted she kept touching her right shoulder. I finally noticed it was because of the water dripping from my door onto her right side. Apparently my passenger door doesn't seal well. Ironic as it's the driver window that has a tendency to fall right into the door. But this time my window was up snug and this poor stranger was getting a tiny, freezing shower.

I am aware how silly it is to have no job and no home but own two vehicles. Besides Drew there is my new acquisition: a 1983 Westphalia camper van. This was an inheritance (Yes, both my vehicles came free. Yes, I'm aware that many find this unfair. No, I don't care.) While I don't have any concrete plans for my immediate or long term future, the vague thoughts I do have all centre around this van. I'm not sure what I'm doing, other than driving a lot and having fun.

It really is fun to drive. In Drew it's easy to speed about, like a mouse darting around the big and awkward cats on the road. But the van is large and heavy and square, with big seats that are right over the wheel well, putting me pretty much flush with the nose of the van. With the massive steering wheel in my lap I can't help but go slow and steady, smiling around at the world like a jackass with a line of twenty cars behind me as I decide to take a leisurely drive during rush hour just because I can.

Yeah, I know I should get rid of one of these vehicles. But there's no way in hell I'm losing the camper. And Drew and I have been through a lot together these past three years. Plus he's just so cute and really great on gas and has Spiderman feet mats. So the camper is billeted out to my grandma's parking lot, and Drew stays with me, and so far it's a good arrangement.

It's not really a big deal to buy insurance on two vehicles when you're not paying, you know, rent, or anything.

Sep 3, 2009

Adventures in House Sitting Part 6: The Saga Ends in Trauma

I'm aware that I'm turning into a crazy cat lady. I've only been around these two darlings for 11 days and already I talk about them all the time. It's bad enough when people talk about their babies non-stop, but at least with that I get why. They created the baby from nothing, from food they digested and cells their body donated. Sure, it was more of a passive creation, but still, it's cool and weird and life altering and what else will a new parent have to talk about?

But cats? That you bought or found or are temporarily caring for? It's just sad to yammer on about them.

Speaking of, Pickle was so funny the other day. My dad came over with Brodie, his ever-so-gentle aged border collie. Pickle was skulking through the front yard, saw Brodie, and immediately went into rigor mortis. I didn't think that was possible for living beings. Arched back, fur straight up, head to the side. mouth frozen in a silent hiss. Brodie was just hanging out, doing his best to ignore this new chew toy because we told him to "stay", so "stay" he must. Pickle really didn't have anything to worry about, and could have safely bolted at any time. But no, she stayed frozen like a fool for a good few minutes while we laughed at her.

"Look," dad said. "We've made a Halloween cat." Pickle sure did look like something you'd cut out of orange construction paper and magnet onto your fridge.

Then we were in the kitchen and Other Cat came in, saw the dog, and torpedoed himself out of the cat door. I had to feed him outside, and he was not happy about it.

"Do not take that picture!" his glare said to me. "Do not take - she took the picture. I can't believe it! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, post it on that stupid blog of yours!"

It's a good thing David and Kate are home now. I'm hopeful that I'll have more diverse selection of topics to write about. For now I need to say a private goodbye. Pickle, Other Cat, I will always cherish the short time we had together. Adieu.