"Rockin' around the Christmas tree"

Removing the decorations

Taking the tree out the door


Burn, baby, burn

As it dies down


"Slow like honey"

It's another slow day at work today, so... the specials are named after bars I have been to and am somewhat sentimental about:

--Koerner’s 3 Cheese & Mushroom Omelette (pub at UBC, site of many a good Honours bash)
--Free Pour Joe’s Smoked Farmer’s Sausage Scramble (in Whitehorse; only bar in Canada with a free-pour licence; went with Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes)
--The Orbit Room Chicken Feta Wrap (in Toronto; Colin snuck me in there when I was 17 and visiting him in TO)
--The ‘98 Baked Brie wrapped in Filo with raspberries & a salad (quite possibly the sketchiest bar I have ever been in--with Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes in Whitehorse, of course)
--Open Faced Fulford Turkey Mozza Melt (our local pub on Salt Spring)


"Do not go quietly unto your grave"

The fun never stops around here. Never, I tells ya. (Unless James and I are fighting... which happens less than it used to.) I mean, I just danced the Time Warp at work. I’m having one of those “it doesn’t get much better than this” moments.

I suppose I’m easily pleased.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m well-fucked, came third in poker last night and don’t really feel the effects of the (whole, complete, 100%, full 750 ml) bottle of wine I drank last night.

Things are very slow at work this week--very few people coming through the cafeteria these days. I was scheduled for a coffee shift today, but the cashier called in sick--so I’m working coffee and cash and still have time to dance and chat with people and write a blog post. Busy busy busy! So stressful I could weep.


So... Poker. We’ve been having tournament-style friendly games for the past five weeks or so on Monday nights. They started out at Aussie Friend Greg’s but moved to Poker Friends Barry and Damon’s place, as their set-up is better for a crowd. Plus PF Damon has nice chips--almost like real casino ones and infinitely better than the plastic ones we were using before. Although Damon and Barry don’t make Wollongong Breakfast Stew for us like Aussie Friend Greg did.

Despite having never played poker until we started having these games, I’ve been doing pretty well. With the exception of one week--last week, went I went all in on the first hand and lost and then bought back in (bank rolled by Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes) and didn’t place--I’ve broken even or done better. This doesn’t really make me a good poker player, however--I get by on luck, mostly, which you can do in a house game. Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes lectures me (I call it lecturing--he calls it poker pillow talk) about poker, and from the sounds of it casino poker is quite a different deal. I’ll be finding out in person mid-April, when we go to Vegas.

In honour of last night’s game, I have named the specials after poker stuff: Pocket Aces Capicolli Scramble; Tomato Cilantro Green Pepper “You’re Just Bluffing” Omelette; All In Chicken Ranch Wrap; Straight Draw Beef Dip; and Trip Queens Mozza Burger. This is one of my favourite things about work: getting to name the daily specials. I usually use literary references--Madame Defarge’s French Revolutionary Toast is a favourite, and one day I used The Princess Bride as my theme--or people’s names, so the poker theme’s a bit different. But I like it--as does one of the big-wigs here, Jim. He was amused.

So I mentioned Vegas up above, all casual-like, but really I am mad stoked about it. Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes and Aussie Friend Greg are going to Cuba together in April, and flying out of Las Vegas. So the three of us are going to drive from Salt Spring to Las Vegas together, and then when the boys fly to Cuba, I’ll fly to Seattle, have a night there and then ferry home. I’m hoping that we’ll go to Vegas through San Francisco, Yosemite and Death Valley. In San Francisco, I’d like to visit Art Fibres and go to 3150 Sacramento Street. This is the address that Brautigan gives in The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 for the library, and there is apparently a library at that address. Then Yosemite and Death Valley will be just beautiful--I’ll get to see a real desert with James--and Vegas will be unreal and bizarre and poker-filled. Even just the driving will be great; I may be very often nervous in a car with James but I’ve never been unhappy. It just feels good to drive with him. And I like Aussie Friend Greg quite a bit; we get on well.

Working coffee and cash today means no skiing. I’d hoped to get a few runs in after my coffee shift, but instead I work a full eight hours (and maybe a little more). Which on the money side is good--I was supposed to be laid off for the last two weeks of the season, but then they fired a perpetually late and very slack coworker and I got her shifts. This is where the money for Vegas is coming from: since I’m not getting my two-week ski vacation I’m getting driving and gambling. I’ve been doing more cross country than downhill, since I tend to ski in to work most days, but I am really enjoying the downhill when I do go out. I’m not sure if I’m a better skier, but I’m certainly a more daring one. One day on my own, I skied my first-ever black diamond run (by the name of Ruby Tuesday) and then about a week later, James and I went downhill skiing together for the first time ever. This also proved to be the first time I skiied through trees, off of jumps and out of bounds. It was very nervous-making at times--I’m just gald I made it through without crying or taking my skis off and walking down--but I think with James at my side I can get down anything.

My best run of the season was actually at Whitewater, near Nelson. James, Greg and I went up there for a day of skiing, and for the last run of the day, we hiked a ridge and skied down to the road. The snow was just amazing--so much light untracked powder (the true, great advantage to back country and trees). It felt so good... I was whoohooing in the trees, and as Housemate Blaine said later that night, once you start whoohooing in the trees, there’s no going back. James and Greg were skiing off of cliffs and crazy things like that, which was just incredible to watch. It was doubly nice to finish the day with such a good run, as earlier in the day I had one of the worst. I skied a few runs with the boys before they took off to do some back country (Whitewater has very little in-bounds terrain, but great access to back country) and on the second run, they took me into some steep trees. It was just over my head, and rather awful at times. At more than one point I was sliding head-first downhill towards trees and it was just so freaky. I felt quite shaken after, and was on top of that a bit sick of James’ lecturing me about poker on the chair lift (I’d won the night before [a decent amount of cash, too, as we’d had eleven people playing] and he had to set me straight about my abilities [or lack thereof]) and I was PMSing (I’m so hormonal off the Pill--so, so hormonal), so the first part of the day actually kind of sucked but was totally turned around by this one fabulous run. And it was a long one, too--it must have been well over an hour of skiing. And hitching home was fun, too.

Things are busy social-life-wise around here. Parties, dinners, poker... We had a Christmas revival dinner on Sunday night, which culminated in burning the Christmas tree in the snowbank outside the house. It flared up and burned out quickly, so fortunately the neighbours didn’t get wise to what was happening and call the cops on us. The burnt-out tree is still stuck in the snowbank outside; I put a single ornament on it and it looks simply charming. I loved our dinner party, simply because I had no idea entertaining for 22 people could be so easy and stress-free. We didn’t fuss about a thing and everything went off without a hitch. Special brownies for dessert surely helped with that.

We’ve had lots of visitors, too. Housemate Jon’s girlfriend from England visited for almost two weeks, and James’ sister Jill was here for a few days. This was the first time I’d met anyone in James’ family, and I think it went well. She’s very different from him--much more easily worked up (James is so mellow about most things). This means that James’ parents now certainly know for sure just what kind of relationship it is that James and I have. He was rather vague with his mother when he first told her I was moving in--left it unclear whether I was just another housemate or actually the live-in girlfriend--but I’m sure she knows now. James received an email from his parents the other day suggesting that they fly out and visit him before he goes to Australia and I half wonder if they’re hoping for a chance to meet me.

Things between James and I are, I think, quite good. Not perfect--we have one problem that we haven’t quite figured out yet. I suppose it’s only recently that we really came out and said “The problem is x” and I think with a bit more time it will get sorted out. We don’t really have more time, though--at least not now. I’m leaving Rossland on the 4th (the hill closes on the 2nd, then there’s a staff party on the 3rd), and James will join me on Salt Spring for a few days. Then we head down to Vegas, following which he will be in Cuba for about two weeks, then Coachella and then back up to Salt Spring for another visit. Mid-May he’ll be heading back to Vegas for a friend’s bachelor party and from there he’s going to Australia. I’ll spend the summer working on Salt Spring, and hopefully in the fall we’ll meet up again. For a while we thought that I’d get a working holiday visa and that we’d live together in Australia, but I’ve backed off from that. Things are better between us when I respect his need for freedom--I’m an awful lot of relationship for a guy who hasn’t had a girlfriend in three years. So we’ll travel together in the fall--maybe in Australia, maybe in South East Asia--and then I’ll probably end up back in Rossland for another ski season at Red. I can get my job here back, and already have all the necessary ski equipment. I guess I do hope that in the summer when we’re thinking about the fall that James will want us to live together again. It seems quite far in the future, though, and I know just how often plans and hopes can change, so I’m okay with leaving it up in the air.

Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes actually just passed through here a little while ago. He and our coworker Art left Art's cell phone number with me so that if they're not back from ski touring by 6pm, I can telephone. What a nice way to be made vaguely nervous for the rest of the day. Art is teaching James about avalanche safety...


"Waitin' for the day your ship'll come in/ And the tide's gonna turn/ And it's all gonna roll your way"


"Come away with me"

So, Housemate Blaine screwed up somehow regarding the gas bill--I say somehow because I'm not sure of the details and I don't want to know because I'm trying really really really hard not to be a bitch about this--and so there hasn't been any heat in our house for well over twenty-four hours. I'm in bed right now, still wearing the coat that I wore to walk home from work (chickened out of skiing to work this morning because it was just too cold to get out of bed that early, and Kate was coming to pick James up anyway), under my down duvet and my down sleeping bag. It's sooooooo cold.

Fortunately this doesn't matter so much for James and I. Our co-worker, Non-Aussie Rob, is away tonight and so he offered that we stay at his place overnight. He was thinking of it in terms of a night away from the household being nice for James and I, and todya co-worker Kate called it romantic, but really James isn't romantic at all. In any way. Never ever ever. Honestly I didn't even think he'd want to take Rob up on his offer, but he actually said he'd like it. How nice! So tonight we can warm ourselves by a wood stove--which at this stage is all I'm thinking about. I'm tempted to take off now and tell James to meet me there...


"If there was a better way to go then it would find me/ I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me ...

... Be kind to me or treat me mean/ I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine"

Rather unsurprisingly, my parents refused to loan me several thousand dollars so that I can go to Australia with Fascinating James of the Blue Eyes. So after some crying and some talking, James and I have settled on plan B. At the end of the ski season, we're going to go to Salt Spring together. James will visit for as long as he likes/ can, and I'll start working. I'll save up, and then join him in Australia in a few months.

I think James is actually happy that I won't be going to Australia at the same time as him. He wants some time alone, or at least time away from his girlfriend who cries all the time--and he wonders why I cry so much when he goes around saying stupid things like that! He doesn't seem to notice my emotional state until I am crying, so he doesn't realize just how happy I actually am most of the time. And of course adjusting to a relationship after three years of being single is best accomplished by leaving the country (and the relationship). I don't mind that I'm not going to Australia right now--but I do mind that the fact that it doesn't affect James' plans at all that I can't go now. With this plan, I'm the one making all the commitment--giving up a fun summer in Rossland to move back in with my parents and work all the time, while he just galavants off. I'll probably merit no more than an email a week for months on end.

There's a big part of me that doesn't think this is going to work. If he's not interested in being with me now--if he's so keen to be on his own again (and to be with Aussie Friend Greg)--he isn't going to be any more interested four months from now. He says he wants me to join him in Australia, but I just don't feel it and I'm not sure he does either. How much of this is just lip service?

Nevertheless, it's the plan. I'm thinking--trying to console myself in advance--that it won't hurt to save up a bit for myself in general. If I don't go to Australia, I can just as easily throw a dart at a map of the world and take off. I wouldn't mind another ski season in Rossland; I'd like to ceilidh dance in Scotland and hike in the Andes and all sorts of stuff. With a bit of money I could go anywhere and do anything--it just sucks that I'm so much in love that all I want to do is be pathetic and trail around after some stupid jerk who doesn't love me like some kind of puppy dog.

Despite knowing all this, and thinking it rather often, I'd still say I'm happy. I like working at the ski hill--especially my coffee shifts--and I'm going downhill skiing tomorrow (maybe a few runs with James, even [and definitely more black diamond runs!]). I'm getting lots of knitting done--I've figured out my rectangular version of Ella--and may even be able to sell or trade some of my work (I think while I'm on Salt Spring I'll do some knitting-for-profit in a semi-serious way). I am sufficiently happy that I know I can do this lifestyle--this service industry job, roommates, always-almost-broke, hitch-hiking, idle and the-point-is-to-be-pointless lifestyle. And James and I are close and happy alongside the shit. It's better than not being with him at all--just not entirely easy. The soundtrack is good, at any rate.


"Hey good lookin'/Whatcha got cookin'?"

Booking Through Thursday

This week's question, suggested by Jeanne, is here by popular demand. Thank you, ladies!

  1. What is the most beautiful book you own?

  2. In what way is it beautiful? Is it the illustrations, the binding, a combination of these, or something else?

  3. How often do you look at it, browse through it, read it?

Two books come to mind instantly in response to this week's questions.

The first is the catalogue from the "Modernism in the Making" show of Gustav Klimt's paintings at the National Gallery of Canada. The show was on the summer after I graduated from high school--we actually drove from Sudbury to Ottawa immediately after my last exam that June just to see the show--a total of fourteen hours of driving, just for an art show. At the time, Klimt had been a favourite for a few years, but I'd never seen any of his works 'in real life.' This show was a big deal because it was the first and last time that many of the works would be leaving Europe, owing to the fragility of the paintings (specifically, the gold flake he used). We were in Ottawa for the weekend, and I went to see the show three times. Once on my own Saturday afternoon, once on Sunday with my parents, aunt, uncle and Grandma (I don't think she liked the "reclining nudes" very much), and then again Monday morning with Chris, my "husband." My parents bought me the catalogue from the show as a birthday present. It needed to be ordered, so it didn't arrive into my greedy little hands until the fall. Seeing the catalogue just brought it all back, of course. Everything that was in the show is in the catalogue, as well as prints of other Klimt works. It's a large book, only a paper back, but gorgeous in every respect. I used to have it sitting out as an ornament (to go along with the Klimt prints on the walls). I haven't looked at the catalogue in ages, though. It's in a box on Salt Spring and who knows when it will see the light of day again (I just emailed my parents asking for a loan so I can go to Australia with James, which means I may be getting further and further away from all my things as time goes on [I told them I want to follow my heart--think that'll convince them?]).

The second book is a recently acquired cookbook, the Moosewood Restaurant's Simple Suppers. This was a total impulse buy at the kitchen shop here in town a little while ago. It's actually a vegetarian cookbook, but it's not too vegetarian, as it contains egg and fish recipes. I've made a few things out of it and have been impressed, both with the end result of the recipes and with the ease and short time it takes to make them. It's a lovely book, too. The thing that caught my eye in the shop was the striking use of purple and orange on the cover; it's such a perfect combination. The photographs are gorgeous, too--everything really does look good enough to eat. Good cookbooks are so often a pleasure in themselves--the thick, glossy paper; the photographs; the descriptions accompanying the recipes--it's fun to browse through them, even if you're not looking for a recipe.

I'm sure I have other beautiful books, but they're all packed away--hopefully for a long, long time.