Oct 23, 2009

The Mystery Of The Disappearing Poo

I would like to dedicate this story to my sister, Melissa. Mel, this poo's for you.

A few evenings ago I decide to take Riley and Zera for a walk. It is pissing down rain and getting dark. I'm wearing my rain jacket partially zipped up, with the hood down. This jacket also has big pockets that sort of gape open (these details are relevant later).

As with most dogs, walks are the BEST. THING. EVER. for Riley and Zera, and they freak out for the first few blocks, pulling me along while I lean back on my heals, water-skiing style. So we leave the house and go lurching forward down the driveway. As soon as we hit the sidewalk Zera squats down and unloads herself. Then both dogs try to take off into the unknown universe of Beach Drive. I'm doing my best to keep them from sweeping me off my feet as I stick my hand in a plastic bag and bend down to pick up the poo.

Just as my hand curls around it (but before I can secure it in the bag), the dogs go nuts at something behind me. They whip me around and not five feet away is a woman with one of those small little yappy dogs that you want to use in football practice. She's just standing there, holding a grocery bag, watching me.

Here I am, one hand trying to reign in two berserker canines that look and sound like they want to eat the little runt, the other holding a steaming mound of dog poop. I think a normal person witnessing this would have removed herself from the equation. Keep walking, cross the street, something. This nut job decides it's a peachy time to strike up a conversation about puppies.

Oh you have a dalmatian I love dalmatians I had one once but he died and do you live down the road because I see one down there all the time but I think it's a different one do you know it my vet says dalmatians are hard to handle but I think they are so cute and I love the movie and did I mention I'm a whack job and you should probably get a restraining order or I'll come over and steal your dog and unravel all your knitting-


All through this ramble my dogs are still trying to introduce peewee to their teeth, I'm desperately trying to not have them take off my arm, and I'm still attempting to balance a mitt full of poo in my hand without squishing it, because that would add my vomit to the equation.

The lady fiiiiiinally moves on and I convince Riley and Zera to stop trying to draw and quarter me. This is when I notice that the poo is no longer in my hand. In all the commotion it must have flown into the air. My first thought is Please, not on me. Not in my hood, not down the front, not in the pocket. I gingerly investigate and am relieved to find no excrement on my person. Nor is it on the ground. My second thought is Please, let it be in her grocery bag. Pretty please?

Does that make me a bad person?

Oct 19, 2009

Puppy Love

 Many people seem to think I'm not a dog person. This will come out at the strangest of times. Like I'll be sitting in a conference room at work waiting for the meeting to begin, and randomly someone would turn to me and say You're not a dog person, are you? Or I'll be out walking with friends, and out of the blue, same thing. You don't really like dogs?

It took me a while to figure out where these statements were coming from. I think it was because in the meeting room a coworker will be talking about a new puppy and I don't immediately start shedding tears of joy and wonder at his little bundle of cuteness and love. Or out on that walk we'll pass a few dogs and I'm not jumping up and down, clapping my hands and scream-whispering DOGS! SO CUTE MY HEART HURTS!

Listen up. Just because I don't go all crazy and  squeal like a pig in a slaughterhouse, doesn't mean I don't like dogs. Or babies or cute guys, for that matter. It just means I'm not insane. Like everyone else on the planet, apparently.

So when my friends Kortni and Chris asked me to dog-sit for them, I was happy to do it. Happy. And it wasn't because they have a big livingroom table that's perfect for setting up a sewing machine. It wasn't because of their movie selection, or their ample liquor supply. It was because, wait for it....I LIKE DOGS (and Kortni and Chris).

And when Kortni was all Are you going to blog about the dogs because that would be really cool if you did but no pressure but my mom will be checking every day to see if you did and you can use pictures and whatever you want, I was all Sure! I would love to have your dogs on my blog. Because I like dogs. So there.

Now I'm going to introduce you to the dogs. And share information about them to prove that I know them.

This is Riley. He currently has his chin on my knee, and I can't tell if it's because he loves me, or if he wants my toast. Or both. He likes to gnaw on a rubber bone that makes the most awful sound, like nails on a chalkboard in hell. When I come home he leaps out into the garden and runs around in a figure eight for a few minutes, then won't come inside unless I stand over him with my hands on my hips. Then he runs into the house and chews that damn evil bone. Kortni said that I'd get used to the sound eventually. Day 12 and I'm still waiting.


Meet Zera. She likes to sleep with a green blanket and is allergic to chicken. When I come home she sneezes about twenty times. I think this is just how she expresses joy. She has boundary issues, and is often too close for comfort. She enjoys rubbing her nose against my butt while I'm standing, and nose-bunting me in the boob when I'm sitting. She is currently glaring at me from her bed because I'm patting Riley.

See, I've been caring for two dogs for almost two weeks, and not only are they both still alive, they are healthy and happy, and aren't peeing on my bed or shredding my shoes, which I think means they like me. And other than being perma-covered in dog hair and the constant ear-bleeding from that damn rubber bone, I like them too. I may even write more about them, including little anecdotes how they were particularly cute this one time, and what happened when we encountered that squirrel in the rain.

So there, world.

Oct 11, 2009

Always The Drunken Idiot, Never The Bride

My trip to Vancouver last weekend was pretty much a comedy of errors. Of course, my wonderful van incident got me off on the right foot. So I'm already running a day behind. Instead of getting there on Saturday to attend a party for the out-of-towners, I leave Sunday morning, using public transit and the BC Ferries to get me to a 3pm West Vancouver wedding on time. What could possibly go wrong?

I was planning to stay with a family friend, Lesley, in Point Grey. She had emailed me with instructions on where her key would be if she wasn't there. I arrive at the house, drop off my stuff, put the key in my bag, and go for a walk before it's time to get ready for the wedding. An hour later I return to discover I'd locked poor Lesley out of her own house. I'd assumed this key was meant for me to have. But no. It was her key. She had tried unsuccessfully to break into her own home, then went and borrowed a cellphone from a neighbor and was in the process of tracking down her children to rescue her when I stroll up, all smiles and stolen keys. Her groceries lying out in the sun, wilting. Heehee, oops.

I get all dolled up in my new black dress and lace-up boots, then hit the bus. I had planned this out in advanced. The wedding was near Broadway and Granville St. I'd googled the address several times. I had to do was get on the bus and ride it straight down Broadway. No problem.

I get off the bus and start looking around. But wait! The street addresses here are in the one thousands. My wedding invitation says I need to be in the three thousands.

Balls.

It's 2:45pm. The wedding starts at 3pm. I no longer have any confidence in where I'm supposed to be. I briefly contemplate trying the bus again. Then I think, if I miss this wedding because I'm stuck on the wrong bus (and because I couldn't freaking use google right), I'll never forgive myself. So I hail a taxi, thrust the invitation into the driver's hand and say Take me here!

Here turns out to be back towards Lesley's, within walking distance of her place. I get there at 2:55pm, rush to find a seat, then sit waiting until 3:30 before the ceremony begins. When I questioned the bride about the late start she said that it had been intentional, as they figured people would be late. People like me, who can't use google.


It was a very fun wedding, and while I'd love to wax poetic about it, I didn't ask Andrea and Carlos if they'd mind, and I don't want to bug them on their honeymoon. So I'll leave the personal details out.

I will say that there was a LOT of wine, as you can see in this picture. They even had custom labels with a stick Andrea and Carlos holding a heart. There was so much wine that the bride forgot her bouquet on our table (also featured in this picture) and she had to send someone to find it for some picture taking.

I hooked up with some friend's of Andrea's that I'd met once years ago, and we all proceeded to over-indulge in the wine and alienate everyone else at the reception. We held a lot of things up to our boobs while others took pictures. Glasses, cupcakes, wine bottles. I'm not sure why, but I can assure you it was insanely funny at the time.

There was some white lacy material lying around that we turned into a veil. We took turns wearing it and pretending to cry while clutching the wine to our chests, taking pictures of each other posing as lonely, desperate freaks. A few days earlier my Granny had said Maybe you'll meet someone special at the wedding. Dream on, Granny. Dream on.

At some point in the evening we end up at a casino downtown. I realize I've had enough, and in typical Sarah style I decide to walk home. This sort of drunken thinking has gotten me into some pretty long midnight walks in my past. But this was a good 8km, started at 2am. I get about a quarter of the way into it and I have to pee so bad my back teeth are swimming. Ahead I see a large condo complex with a big lawn and a nice cluster of trees. The perfect shelter for a midnight pee. I pull down my tights and underwear and squatted near a bush, leaning back on my right hand for support. This is all going great until it's time to get up. I don't know what went wrong, but all of a sudden I'm tumbling down a hill, legs tangled in my tights and ass saying hello to the moon.

No problem. When the spinning stops I get up, re-arrange my tights and dress, smooth down my hair, and decide I should probably take a taxi the rest of the way home. Back at Lesley's I take off my wedding clothes, put on my pjs, and pass out.

In the morning (okay, early afternoon) I go to the bathroom. When I stand up from the toilet the seat is covered with debris. Leaves, twigs, grass, dirt. Little souvenirs from my stellar acrobatics, hitchhiking on my ass across town.

I apologize if this an overshare.

Oh, and I found this picture on my camera. I vaguely remember passing these hydrants and thinking that they were the best thing ever.

One's red! One's blue! Like a smurf! Dude!

Oct 8, 2009

My Gas Problem

I have these lovely friends, Andrea and Carlos, who were getting married last weekend. In Vancouver.

Great, I thought. I can finally get some use out of my camper van. The weather was promising to be not rainy, practically a miracle for October on the mainland. I'll hit the wedding, then drive around for a few days. Maybe hit up the Okanagan for some fruits and veggie cases I can practice my preserving skills on. Sweet.

The plan was to leave Saturday and attend a meet and greet for the out-of-towners, so we would have people to talk to at the actual wedding on Sunday.

I packed like I always do for road trips. Everything goes. Hey, I don't have to carry it around on my back. So extra clothes, more books than I'd be able to read in a year, all my shoes, cooler, tent, portable stove, oversized bag of knitting supplies. It all comes. The van lives at Granny's, so I throw all this junk in my car, drive to her place, and transfer it into the van. Then, I'm on the road!

Psych!

As I pull out of the parking space my mom starts waving her arms frantically, like she's stranded on an island trying to get the attention of a rescue plane. I see you, mom. I'm right here. I roll down the window and she runs up. "You're leaking! Gas!"

Sure enough, when the van is on it's projectile vomiting gas all over the parking lot. Goodbye, party. Hello, tow truck.

I transfer all of my crap back into my car, and manage to find a mechanic that's open on a Saturday (Transmission & Auto Care, a place that rebuilt my transmission a few months back). The guy is nice and comforting, telling me it's likely just a cracked hose or something, and he'll take a look right away and call me.


Mechanics never call. Have you noticed that? We'll call you when it's ready. Yeah, right you will. I'm used to guys not calling. My life is filled with guys who are constantly not calling. But mechanics are worse because they have my car. So I can't just say to myself I never liked that douche anyway, and watch another episode of Buffy. I have to call him. And then give him money. It's a situation that's not great for my ego.

So I wander around downtown for a few hours, don't receive the promised call, then wander back. Yes, he has an update. It was a cracked hose, it's a $5 part, it's on it's way, but they're closing soon. It'll be ready on Monday. I'm going to Vancouver until Tuesday, I say. No problem, pick it up Tuesday. Good.

Fine.

So Sunday morning I bus->ferry->bus to Vancouver, enjoy a lovely wedding (more on that later), then on Tuesday I bus->ferry->bus back downtown. This other mechanic that did my transmission is all Sarah, what are you doing here? And I'm all Picking up my van. And he's all We have your van?

And then I find out that they sort of "forgot" to fix it. They hadn't noticed it parked on their lot. For three days.

Sigh.

But this nice mechanic gives me a ride home, and he calls twice early the next morning to tell me it's fixed and I can pick it up any time. So I do just that, and I stupidly don't really pay attention to the fact that they're charging me $94. For a $5 part and minimal labour? Back home I look at the bill, which says nothing about the part and labour, but does list a BCAA inspection I never asked for.

So now I need to call them. And be all Hey, what's up with this stupid bill? And be assertive and possibly have a confrontation, which are two things that make me feel woozy in my tummy. This may explain why I've been biting my nails for the last 12 hours.

Oct 3, 2009

Life Goals and Pulled Pork

My loyal readers may remember a post from a while ago, where I explored my innermost feelings on being asked what my "plan" for the "future" was. It was a heartfelt personal examination with a complicated conclusion (to summarize: shut up and leave me alone).

In this post I did mention three short term goals I was working on. To recap:

Currently, my plan looks something like this:

  1. Find key to my bike lock, or possibly purchase a new one
  2. Find someone to help fix car window (it keeps falling into the door)
  3. Find annatto seeds and attempt Robert Rodriguez's puerco pibil recipe
Future updates as events warrant.

46 days later, I feel it prudent to provide an update on my life's ambitions.


1. Find key to my bike lock, or possibly purchase a new one

Task: When I left my previous apartment I put my bike in my mom's shed, my saddle bag and my bike lock in storage, and the key to said lock...well, that was the question. It wasn't with my car keys, it wasn't with my spare keys, it wasn't with my bike or my bike lock.

What happened: I was about to give up and buy a new lock when some vague thought floated into my head. Some feeling like maybe I'd given some keys to my sister? Why, I didn't know. But sure enough, upon inquiry I discovered she had my spare storage key AND my bike key.

Project Status: Complete.

2. Find someone to help fix car window (it keeps falling into the door)

Task: This window has been busted since car ownership commenced three years ago. Normally it means that if I roll up the window the top left corner misses the window frame and keeps going, reaching for the stars. I've never tried, but I'm pretty sure when my window is in this crooked state I could grab it and pull it right out of the door. Usually this can be fixed by manhandling the window while rolling it up. But eventually some important piece of the window mechanics slips out and the window falls into the door and won't roll up no matter how rough I am with it. When this happens I need to take the door apart, find the important piece rolling around in the bottom of the door, stick it back where it belongs, and I'm good to go for another six months or so.

Getting the door off involves tools I don't own.

What happened: Before I got around to bribing someone with tools to help, my window broke further. By the sound it made I'm guessing that more parts fell off and landed in the bottom of the door. The extra breaking of my door somehow fixed the immediate problem of the window not rolling up. It will now fit into it's frame with 57% less manhandling then before. So, no need to take the door apart.

Project Status: Complete.

3. Find annatto seeds and attempt Robert Rodriguez's puerco pibil recipe

Task: I recently watched Once Upon A Time In Mexico. It features a pulled pork dish that Agent Sands feels can be too tasty for the universe's good, causing him to execute the chef. On the DVD, director Robert Rodriguez gives a demonstration on how to prepare this deadly dish.



What happened: Here is my experience attempting to make Robert Rodriguez's Puerco Pibil.

Ingredients:

5 tbsp. Annatto seeds
2 tsp. Cumin seeds
8 Whole Allspice
1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves
1 tbsp Black Peppercorns
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup White Vinegar
2 Habanero Peppers
2 tbsp. Salt
8 cloves Garlic
Juice of 5 Lemons
Splash of the finest tequila you can find
5 lbs. Pork Shoulder Roast
Banana leaves

Preparation:

1. Gather ingredients.
This proved to be problematic. My first issue was finding annatto seeds. I started my search at the main grocery stores, then the health stores, then the small speciality shops, then, in desperation, any convenience store that sold more than gum. No luck. Stalled before I got started, I was whining to my sister one day. She said that there's this little Mexican restaurant downtown called Orale that may sell some groceries as well. I went in search of this place, and low and behold, they sold packages of annatto seeds for $1.99. I praised them to the moon while I made my purchase, then stuck the seeds in my bag and promptly forgot all about them and this recipe.

2. Find ingredients.
Last week I was rooting through my underwear drawer looking for, well, underwear. And I came across the packet of annatto seeds and some allspice. Oh, right, I thought. I was supposed to make that. So I set a date for last Tuesday and invited over a select list of very important people (Granny, my sisters, and Andrea, my long lost twin that my mom keeps lying about. But that's another story).

3. Buy the meat.
In the instructional video provided above, Mr. Rodriguez calls for 5 pounds of pork butt. I kept going to the grocery store, kept cruising the meat section for some pork product that referenced a bottom (pork butt, rump roast, anything), but nothing, absolutely nothing remotely relevant appeared. Finally I broke down and asked one of the fine butchers.

If you had a recipe that called for Pork Butt, I asked, what would you think it meant? 
Pork shoulder, the butcher replied.

Ah, yes. Of course. Silly me.

With my pork butt shoulder in hand, I was able to start on this recipe.

4. Take the annatto seeds, cumin, allspice, cloves, and pepper, and roast gently in a frying pan until they start to smell toasty and delicious. Grind in a coffee grinder. (Note: roasting is not in Mr. Rodriguez's instructions, but is a must for any use of whole spices. Trust me.) (Other note: don't use a grinder that you also use for coffee. Get one just for spices.)

5. Put spice mixture in a blender with the juice, vinegar, chopped habanero peppers, garlic and salt, and blend. Add lemon juice and tequila and blend again.

At this point I had a frothy concoction that looked like blood and grey matter and smelled sort of like the old red liquid pin worm medication me and my sisters had to take as children. Basically it did not look or smell like anything I wanted to put near my mouth.

6. Take the pork butt shoulder and cut it into 2 inch cubes. Note the amount of fat on the meat, but ignore it.

7. Add the butt shoulder and disgusting marinade in a ziplock bag and chuck it in the fridge.

8. Go to bed worrying that you are in the process of wasting $30 on meat for a meal that will make your family vomit on you.

9. Wake up during the night with face pain.
I get this every time I cook with hot peppers. If I was smart (and I'm not) I'd buy some latex gloves to wear while seeding and chopping these potent little guys. But no, I do it naked-handed every time. And their hot little juices seep into my skin and no matter how long and vigorously I wash my hands later, I still end up with minor burns around my lips and nose and eyes from rubbing and scratching. I never realized how often I touch my face during the day (and apparently as I sleep) until each touch ate away part of my skin.

10. About 4 hours before you want to eat this mess, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

11. Line a pan with banana leaves.
Unless, of course, you can't find banana leaves in town. Even if you go to a million shops, and of the million find four that all say they are out, but will have some next week. And next week you go to all four shops and they all still don't have any. Then, and only then, can you line the pan with tinfoil.

12. Add the butt shoulder glop into the pan, and cover tightly with more tin foil.

13. Stick it in the oven and leave it alone for 4 hours.


14. Take it out, peel back the tinfoil.
What I found was a tasty looking meat, all tender and falling apart, just like a good pulled pork is supposed to be. This treasure was hiding underneath a swimming pool of red fat. It looked like strawberry jello before it's set. Who put jello on my pibil?!?!

Oh, right. Remember all that fat we ignored in step six? Maybe we should have trimmed that away.

15. Drain off spoon after tedious spoon of jello fat. Be sure to store this in an open container on the counter and forget all about it, forcing another member of your family to deal with it days later. They won't really be able to get mad at you because the effort you put into this meal will still be fresh in their mind, making them feel guilty for pointing out one tiny, gross thing you overlooked.

16. Serve with rice and a side dish of black beans that you decided to try in a crockpot with no recipe, even though you've never cooked black beans before and only used a crockpot once maybe a year ago.

17. Enjoy compliments from delighted guests while quietly trying to figure out at what point this raw and chunky mess of blended yuck transformed into a delicious meal. Although, hopefully not good enough to be shot in the chest!

18. Chuckle over sexual innuendo such as "How did you like your two-day pork?" and "Can you save some for Nathan? He always enjoys a good pulled pork.". Etc. Etc.

Project Status: Complete



Okay, temporary life list complete. Now what?