Sunday, January 14, 2007

Out WithThe Old, In With The New

Mayne Island, or thereabouts, 30 Dec 2006

It's a bit odd, really. I've been finding it rather difficult to get this year going. No particular reason springs to mind, but it does seem to be taking several attempts to get it's motor started. Of late it's rather like the Squealing Pigmobile, which has been requiring several turns of the ignition to wake up on our sub-zero mornings. Well, we'll keep at it and hope to find our stride soon.

I hope you all had the holiday season you wished for. Ours was like the proverbial curate's egg: good in parts (Note to all philologists: yes, yes, I know the original joke was meant to satirize brown-nosing, but I'm using the phrase in the vulgate). Mother joined us for a week around Christmas, and was even more baggage-laden than the last time she came. Sigh. I was pleased, however, that she chose not to spend her first Yuletide of widowhood on her own. And everyone --especially me-- appreciated the delicious Christmas Eve, or Wigilia, meal she prepared consisting of traditional Polish fayre of the season: barszsz with mushroom dumplings, herring in oil, and pierogi, all washed down with a couple of shots of viscous, ice-cold vodka. Most impressively, she put the meal together while our kitchen sink was being unblocked a spotty, young plumber who was obviously as displeased at having been called out to spend two hours scrabbling in our crawlspace on the night before Christmas as we were at having to call him out and pay his fee. But that baggage of hers, sheesh. I have no idea how to begin helping her to unpack it. Unfortunately she developed a cold that turned into a minor chest infection upon her return home to New York, and which she stridently blamed on me for keeping the house too cold. Boo, hiss, bad son...

Christmas morn was a blast and a hoot. Everyone was thrilled to see that Father Christmas had indeed stopped by and had enjoyed the homemade gingerbread cookies left out for him. Darling Daughter was vindicated in her decision to set out a glass of milk rather than the shot of whisky that I had suggested, as the cup had been drunk dry. The crumbs of carrot scattered on the plate testified that the reindeer had appreciated their snack as well. The children were thrilled with their swag, and FiL was pleasantly surprised to receive an unsolicited Decemberists CD under the tree. But the gift that tickled me the most was the fully-functional toy chainsaw that Little Man received (see right). I had much fun wielding it myself.

Christmas over and Mother back in NYC, it was off to see out 2006 on Mayne Island with Dearest T, who survived the best (and very successful) efforts of British Airways to lose his bags. T is one of our closest friends, and it was wonderful to see him for the first time since we left England some eighteen months ago. Though going to the island is always a joy for me, for some reason the children were not on finest form, and they spent much of their time squabbling and being ornery. What was that about never working with kids or animals? Double sigh. Still, we had a couple of magical walks along the surreally eroded shores of the island, and during one such amble we were accompanied by a couple of sea lions out for a leisurely swim of their own. Dearest T and I also bumped into more pinnipeds during one invigorating morning spent kayaking on the steely blue winter waters around Mayne. We were shadowed by snorting harbour seals, who were either impressed by our intrepidness or amused by our relative human clumsiness. Unfortunately I don't speak seal well enough to tell which it was.

Oh and as for New Year's Eve? Well, it was less than raucous. Suffice it to say that around 10:30 PM I put down my newspaper and looked around from my comfy chair. Dearest T was sitting to my left playing solitaire (with real cards!!), Dearest Wife was to my right on the sofa reading a National Geographic, and the dog was curled up near the wood stove, snoring gently. I think we all retired shortly thereafter.

One of the key attractions of Vancouver is the relative ease of access to skiing, so after returning to Vancouver, T and I nipped up last Saturday to Cypress Mountain for a spot of skiing. Actually, we went to Grouse Mountain first, but redeployed because the previous night's windstorm had knocked out power to the facilities. Cypress was most enjoyable, though it was rather surreal to be whizzing down the slopes while looking out over the water towards Vancouver Island. During our time in the car that day, two CDs that found themselves on repeated spin were Auld Mr Smith's 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me' and the faaabulous 'I, Lucifer' by The Real Tuesday Weld (accept no impostors).

The Cure - Catch (buy here)
The Real Tuesday Weld - Terminally Ambivalent Over You (buy here)

Speaking of CDs, I have been meaning to tell you for some time that I've been thoroughly enjoying the sophomore album by Memphis, 'A Little Place In he Wilderness.' And guess what? On the day that I finaly decide to pull my finger out, I find that Dearest Marcy has also chosen to sing ther praises. Marvellous synchronicity, eh? Anyway, it is a lovely piece of work, and a fine example of how delicious the fruit of Canadian-American collaboration can be. By turns lush, bucolic, melancholic, haunting, and reflective, the album does not have a dud track. Definitely not a curate's egg, but rather a golden one. And it doesn't matter that the singer Torquil Campbell sounds like Paddy "Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque" McAloon from Prefab Sprout. Honestly, trust me. Head on over to Lost In Your Inbox to get Marcy's take, but before you do have a listen to this:

Memphis - In The Cinema Alone (buy here)

And so that is how 2006 ended and how 2007 has started, Dear Friends.

9 comments:

mjrc said...

you describe the memphis sound/album so much better than i do! funny that we both thought of it at the same time. i've been sitting on it for awhile, too, and it seemed like every time i wanted to post about it, someone else just had.

so is that a derogatory assessment of torq's vocals? i'm not familiar enough with prefab sprout to know. : )

ah, mothers. hard to live with them, hard to live without them.

Mentok the Mind-taker said...

I'm always bemused when you talk about your mother, in a misery loves company kind of way.

Last year was my mom's first Xmas as a widow. She spent the build-up to Xmas putting us all on guilt trips because we weren't doing enough to honour our father's memory. Then, days before Xmas, she announced that she wasn't going to be around for Christmas dinner because she had to catch a 3pm flight Christmas day in order to spend supper with a man in BC she'd met on a Christian seniors' dating website.

So, you see, it could be worse ;-)

mjrc said...

it just hit me that if both your mothers are new widows, that means you both lost your fathers recently. i'm sorry about that. first holidays are always rough.

Anonymous said...

What a great pair of songs! I remember me own mum listening to 'Kiss Me X 3' when I was very small, around seven or eight years old.

"Mummy, why does he wake up sore?"

etc.

Anonymous said...

FiL, I can make some mean pierogi's, my fav are potato and cheese (made with farmer's cheese of course) but the meat pierogi's are yum yum as well. And I can totally sympathize as the women in my family are a ball of sunshine as well sometimes...Cat hiss

Darling Daughter was vindicated in her decision to set out a glass of milk rather than the shot of whisky that I had suggested, as the cup had been drunk dry.
hehe you crack me up!

What a great post and The Cure is always a grand choice, I have such a soft spot for the lads. Cheers to great taste to you and the lovely Marcy. :)

Anonymous said...

What a genuine pleasure it was to read this posting Le Fil - like finally getting that special letter from The Love Of Your Life (who you thought had totally forgotten you to go and smoke cigarettes and play rude games with the cool boys down the road...)

(Oh, I've said too much again here haven't I?)

Anyway - the songs just made it that bit more special as well. Excellent choices.

I do hope 2007 feels started, proper, now, likesay.

T.

PS, umbrella on the way back to you - the sun is out in my fair town! A miracle!

T&F@tlh said...

What about the breakfast song??

xxx

FiL said...

Dearest Marcy: Hmm, we're venturing dangerously into realms of individual taste here. I personally have always found Paddy's voice to have a schmaltzy edge, which bothers me. Torq's voice reminded me strongly of something when I first heard it, and then the Prefab Sprout connection clicked. But the implied schmaltziness doesn't bother me here. Perverse, eh?

And thank you for your wishes. Indeed, my father passed away at the end of April.

Dearest Mentok: Thanks for the commiseration, which I reciprocate. Your tale sounds awfully familiar. Mindfulness & compassion, that's the ticket, methinks...

Dearest Elizabeth: Ah, further proof that you have the coolest mum. And kids do ask the most awkward questions....

Dearest Rachel: Many thanks! Now you got me all a-drool for those pierogies. Potato & cheese are delish, though I'm most partial to thecabbage & mushroom ones.

Dearest Tristesse: You should know that kool kidz & ciggies can't hold a candle to you. Yes, I think the year is starting to slip into place, though bits are still awkward...

Dearest Dearest T: Sigh, you are SO demanding. But we will see what we can do. P.S. We all miss you. Come back. Now. We'll provide earplugs.

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