Saturday, November 28, 2009

Habits of a Solitary Person, and Gong Show Memories

I laugh sometimes at how quickly I revert to single person habits when Bryan is gone up north. Take the kitchen table, for instance. It's become more of a desk than a place where meals are shared with friends and family, a work place rather than a social arena.

A short pile of bills and business is set to one side, items to be sorted and dealt with on the other. A current read under a cup of coffee on my left, the address book and as-yet-unfinished Christmas cards to the right. The closest I come to socializing at the kitchen table these days is writing letters and blog entries.

I do have a social life, sorta. I spend eight hours a day surrounded by people at work. I curl once a week with fun, friendly people. I see the immediate neighbours and share a cup of coffee or wine if they aren't occupied with company or chores.

Val and I had plans to get together today and work on a book layout for one of her smaller projects, a combined social and business date. I was tossed over, however, for her impending visit by an old friend out from Vancouver, so I'm hunkered down at home today.

I do need to find a Grey Cup party tomorrow, though, to cheer on the Roughies. There's no contest when it comes to choosing between Montreal and Saskatchewan - everyone who isn't a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan secretly wishes they were. They have more fun than people! I mean, really. When there's a run on watermelons in Calgary, when Safeway diverts their entire watermelon inventory to Cowtown just to slake the demand of the melonheads, you know you wanna be one.


CBC photo

Have no fear Melonheads -- Canada Safeway is rushing hundreds of watermelons to Calgary from California for Saskatchewan Roughriders fans to carve and wear to this weekend's Grey Cup.

And Winnipeggers have little to fear either if they want to make a Roughrider fashion statement or just eat a watermelon. Safeway has no plans to yank the fruit from their Winnipeg store displays to send them west.

"Everything in our warehouse system is being shipped out to Safeway stores in Calgary," Safeway spokesman John Graham said Thursday.

- Winnipeg Free Press


I was reading some of the print coverage this morning. One headline from Calgary used the term 'gong show' and I had a flashback to an interesting conversation a few years ago in New Zealand. I was with some friends at St. Andrew's and can't remember the topic of the conversation other than to remark that the thing had been a gong show.

"What's that?" was the reply.

That stopped me. I didn't realize that The Gong Show was a North American phenomenon in the 1970s. So I had to explain the show's concept. And that how the name is now used to describe an event when something goes haywire or is all over the map: "That meeting was a total gong show."

There was a long, silent pause.

"Oh."

But remember the Unknown Comic?!

And it spurred some fabulous local talent spin-offs in small towns. We had a Gong Show on day at our high school when I was in grade 12, brother Scott in grade 10, some sort of school spirit event. Scott did his rendition of "Little Rabbit in the Woods", wearing a fuzzy Elmer Fudd cap (remember when they were real headgear?!) and I think he had a cap gun as well. He wasn't 'gonged', he was 'encored.' I think it was the appealing way he flung up his hands at the 'Help me, help me, sir he said' part. Whatever, it still makes me laugh recalling it.

And Scotty's either gonna laugh his head off or put out a bounty on my head when he reads that bit. I'm hoping 30-some years has put the event into perspective.

Maybe he'll do another encore.

It's a white and grey world out there this early Saturday morning. Last evening's gentle moisture turned to sticky snow overnight. It was dead calm at 7am but I've noticed the wind picking up; the temperature is hovering around 0 so the white stuff won't last long. Snow on the ground, be it ever so thin, keeps me from longing for gardening season.

A new coffee is brewing on the stove. A small Italian grocery down the street from where I work has closed its door this week. The owner, a wholesaler turned seasonal retailer, decided to retire, and as the storefront part of his operation is in his yard along Okanagan Landing Road, he wasn't inclined to sell. I took advantage of his closing specials and bought some high quality olive oil, stocked up on less common types of pasta, some jars of sundried tomatoes and a large sack of coffee beans.

This is my first pot from those beans. It's Cafe Mauro 'Concerto', quite a different aroma but not unpleasantly so.



I had trouble getting to sleep last night - not actually getting to sleep, but getting to bed. Another solitary person pitfall. Generally I love sleeping and look forward to crawling into bed.

Friday morning I awoke to a very odd dream. Like most dreams aren't odd. Anyway. I was horseback with a group of people, pushing cattle, about to embark on a long drive. The group included both my mom and dad, my brother Scott but not brother Todd, friend Alvin Kumlin but not his wife, friend JoAnne Gardner but not her husband Rick, and a vaguely familiar looking Chinese couple who were riding horses but somehow organizing something.

We were working a large herd of what looked like yearling steers, with a significant percentage of longhorns. That's one of the odd things (like the Chinese couple isn't odd enough) because among the people gathered, not one would come within shouting distance of a longhorn steer for love or money - especially money considering they're useless for beef and missing several cogs in their bovine brains.

It's been over 25 years since I last sat in a working saddle, five since I pushed cattle in any venue. Where do these things come from, and why? Dreams have always fascinated and frustrated me. Maybe there is no hidden messages in them but I still want to know what depths the various components are dredged from and what crazy cooking process throws them together.

Speaking of crazy processes, my next self-appointed task today is to clean out and sort out the pantry. Bryan may not have been home much lately but it's long enough to throw my cupboards into disarray. He has a shopping and cooking habit that is both delightful and deplorable. There are ingredients and hither-to-unknown purchases lurking in corners and on high shelves. Watching him in a grocery store is akin to watching a whiskey-jack: something 'shiny' catches his eye and into the cart it goes. "Oh, look at this!" is a statement that gives me pause. What, I wonder, will I have to deal with a few weeks from now?

I guess the frustration comes because he doesn't rotate his stock. New purchases go to the front of the shelves, old stuff gets lost behind and then forgotten. We're overstocked on some things that he thinks we're out of and buys more simply because he doesn't keep the shelves clear and organized, and that makes me wild. It was worse when we had a large deep-freezer.

I used to chastise him about that, but it hurts his feelings. Now I just pick my opportunities and just deal with the chaos.

Must now gird my mental loins and march forth.

The Italian coffee is delightful, by the way. I'm a fan.

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