Saturday 30 November 2013

Is my life in pieces? Plus the photo that got me in trouble ...

Oh dear — I'm not sure what it means that I first read the "bike" in this sign as "life." Fortunately, neither my bike nor my life is quite in pieces, but I'll make you a deal, DJ Cycles: you fix that obnoxious grating sound my brakes sometimes make, and I'll edit any obnoxious language errors I happen to encounter in your signs.

This one's a freebie. :)

(Can you spot Freddie?)
This photo cracks me up. Freddie, are you trying to sniff that bike's butt? I guess I can't blame you; it's a nice-looking bike.

Endangered Species

This photo could have gotten me into trouble, I guess — but it didn't.

And, in case you were wondering what's actually going on in the photo above, the shot below should give you a hint ...

Who says Romeo has to be Caucasian?
The person whose stuff this is could, with reason, have given me a bit o' shit for snapping this shot without explicit permission ... but he/she didn't.

The feature I was attempting to highlight here was the running rainwater. Not bad, but I'll keep trying.

Crows have chastised me (and Freddie) for encroaching on their territory, but this one seemed unfazed.

This one's my favourite composition of the day.

Before the December 6th Explosion
(Click here for a tense minute of Canadian history.)

And here, at last, we have it: the photo that caused a woman on the third floor of the building in the background to open her window and holler down at me to stop taking pictures. I said that I wasn't photographing anyone's apartment (though, of course, I have done that before), and she said she didn't care; I was violating private property. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe I should have apologized. Instead I waved and carried on.

May your weekend be trouble-free!

Friday 29 November 2013

Living at the speed of (Guiding) Light

I watched a lot of TV in my youth. Most of it was crap, but the one bit of crap I managed never to get into was the soaps (Guiding Light and All My Children were favourites among my peers). I did try to like these shows (as opposed to, say, trying to play the violin or read Proust), but the glacial speed at which stuff happened, or didn't happen, from episode to episode defeated me (I guess I would have given up on Proust, too).

And why am I talking about this, you might ask? My life right now — more specifically, my real estate life — feels like it belongs in the 2 p.m. Monday - Friday slot on CBS. Subtle shifts and nuances, yes. Major plot developments? Nada. Rien de rien. What's worse, I'm starting to let this real estate stalemate affect things that have no good reason to be on hold: novel writing, dog training, course planning, triathlon practice (ok, I haven't seriously considered doing a triathlon, but maybe if I weren't in limbo-land, I would!). 

Now, what does any of this have to do with the photos in this post? Something, I'm sure, but it might take a few dozen episodes for the answer to be revealed. Stay tuned.  

"Try to look grim," I said. So he did.


It's a wonder-ful life.

The "Gelug," or Yellow Hat Sect, is a school of Tibetan Buddhism.
North Pole

Jurassic Park
Garbage Day


Student Riots in Paris, Assassination of Martin Luther King, 

Vietnam, Trudeaumania,

Fletchers Fabricare

I'm dreamin' ...

Art in Heaven

A Few Shades of Grey

I've discovered that my camera has an x-ray function. This could prove useful.

Happy Buy Nothing Day, everyone!!

Thursday 28 November 2013

While Heather chases rainbows, Freddie does his job.

This post is an unplanned but appropriate — ironic? — follow-up to Tuesday's. On our various walks yesterday, I found myself focusing in one way or another on that one feature of the environment that Freddie can't quite appreciate in the same way: colour.

It started with this woman in purple and her matching pink cane.

Before I ditched my insulin pump and went back to old-school shots, that little pager-like device was always decked out in some kind of decorative "skin": paisleys, peacock feathers, roses etc. I figured if I was going to wear the damn thing 24/7, it may as well be an accessory.

So I had no trouble digging the colourful cane.
Ah, yes ... time to start decking the halls (though this shot was taken outside). I'm a scrooge for the most part, except when it comes to lights and music. Real music — not Justin Bieber wailing Ave Maria over the Shoppers Drugmart sound system. Humbug. (Now, where did I put my bifocals?)

This garage door is most uncharacteristic of the neighbourhood.
While Freddie did his thing, I tried to figure out how best to capture the vibrant "House of Brendan."

Here's the main house to which Brendan's is attached. Five bucks says that rainbow flag is his. 

Early this afternoon, Freddie and I went out for fresh flowers — a first attempt (sort of) at one of those real estate showing gimmicks. Paul and I haven't been bothering with such extremes, but the person coming today was the young daughter of potential buyers (who aren't in Vancouver), and I felt inspired to cheer up the room that would theoretically be hers. It felt less like a gimmick than a gesture of goodwill toward this 20-year-old kid who was taking on a task usually handled by an older set. 

Freddie is admiring neither the colour nor the smell of these flowers. He's stuffing his shnoz into the bucket for a drink (which the vendor said he was welcome to take). 

Here's what I got. As we were leaving home for our 30-minute exile, I caught sight of a young woman who might have been our viewer. She was wearing a hat that perfectly matched one of these flowers.

We'll see what transpires on the real estate front ...
Later on, as Paul was preparing dinner, Freddie and I went out for our early evening walk. I thought I might attempt some after-dark shots, maybe some Christmas lights. I wasn't planning to go far or to stay out long, however, so I left everything except camera, poop bags, and sugar at home.

The night shots need work. I knew that as I was taking them, but I was having fun.

Up and down the avenues of our neighbourhood Freddie and I strolled.

At first I thought this ultra-blue doorway was kind of weird, and then I remembered: WDD blue for November. Yep — I bet there's a kid with the 'betes living in this house. :-(
There wasn't much Christmas-light action going on, but this chandelier caught my attention ...
... as did the clouds over this house.

I'd just taken this shot below and was thinking we should head home when Freddie launched up at me with both front paws. I thought he was having a bout of crazies, but it didn't last as long as crazies should (1-2 minutes), and as we carried on he was glued to my side, eyes and nose fixed on my treat pocket. 

Then some symptoms hit: mainly that weird sort of lightness, as if (to steal my friend CĂ©line's wording) gravity had been turned down a notch ... a bit of panic ... a cranking up of my internal thermostat and a shorting out of my brain. Well, I guess my brain had already started shorting out earlier, when it decided that leaving my glucometer at home was a good idea.

Fortunately, we were most of the way back home. I did have sugar with me, but I decided — stupidly or not — to hold off until we got back, so that I could take Freddie through the prescribed order of operations: proper alert (sit + paw), Heather tests, Freddie and Heather get treats.

I gave him a few place-holder treats as we walked/staggered, and as soon as we were back on familiar turf, Freddie was a flurry of proper alerts, projectile launches, and head butts. I tested — 2.6, ugh — then plundered Paul's roast chicken for Freddie's treat party.

Here I am, sucking on a chicken piece (to give it that extra blast of "low scent"), while Freddie tries to snuffle it out of my mouth. Yeah, I get my daily dose of dog germs.

My own "treat" was seed crackers with honey and a couple of Dex 4s — the perfect amuse-bouche before a chicken dinner. Not.

Hey, do I have any American readers out there? If so, Happy Thanksgiving! (But I really do think the date of the Canadian one makes more sense. ;-))

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Yeah, man, I smell what you mean.

Dogs and humans — Freddie and I — connect in a multitude of extraordinary ways. Sometimes he seems to know exactly what I'm thinking; other times, our "communication" is full of Pinteresque non sequiturs and various WTF moments. 

One thing that Freddie's medical alert gig has helped me to understand better is the unimaginable (for me) extent to which his world is all about SMELL. If Freddie's olfaction is on par with Mozart's musicality, then my ability to notice when the garbage needs taking out is the equivalent of bashing a Fisher Price xylophone with a spoon. For him, everything has a smell — not just one smell but a veritable symphony of distinct odours. And it's not just the things that are physically present in the moment. In the photo below, I'd bet big money he's still smelling, among other things, the KFC drumstick he dug up several days ago (and was cruelly forced to part with).

There are no bad smells in Freddie's estimation — at least nothing from which he actively recoils.

Dumpsters ...
Dunnies ....
Sushi-smeared polypropylene food containers that shouldn't be placed in curbside recycling bins ...

It seems they're all just smells to him. Though Freddie wouldn't say "just smells," I'm sure. They're SMELLS ... his primary way of navigating, recognizing, and appreciating the features of his world.

I did a little experiment. Freddie was extremely interested in the smell of this patch of dead leaves by the dog park:

I decided to let him snuffle and sniff and roll around for as long as he wanted. I looked at my watch and noted the time. I got bored. Fortunately there was this little gnome's house of a tree for me to photograph while I waited .... and waited .... and waited ...

Four and a half minutes! That might not sound like much, but scroll back up and see if you can contemplate that patch of dead leaves for four and a half minutes. Granted you can't smell it or touch it, but trust me (I tried): if you're not a botanist, you'd need to go into some kind of meditative state, a hyper-heightened awareness of every vein in every leaf. Freddie, on the other hand, could have been watching Hamlet at the Globe. He was completely rapt! 

And all I could detect was a pile of brown leaves.

My olfactory retardation explains my resistance to a common (and admittedly practical) bit of dog training advice: when out for a walk with your dog, you decide when and where the sniff breaks happen. Fine from the human perspective, but if you're the dog, and your sniffing is being managed by a boss whose nose is almost entirely decorative ... well, that just seems unfair. 

A case in point: how could I know the dirt would be better than the flowers?

Of course Freddie's nose is also the source of one of our most powerful connections. He may not understand the full implications, and he's still figuring out how I want him to communicate what he knows, BUT he knows what my blood sugar is doing all the time. He knows I have a peculiar spectrum of sugar-related smells that's far more interesting than Paul's, or most other people's. He knows that when the sugar-smell drops to a certain intensity, we both get to have treats. As we did this morning: I had a mandarin orange (ah, the smell!), and Freddie had liver. 

Hey, whaddaya know? Three half-decent readings in a row ...

Freddie's hearing is also much better than mine. He hears/smells Roscoe down the street coming out to say hi long before I do.

And his motion detection is something to behold. That Tim Hortons cup skimming across the tennis court in a swift breeze didn't stand a chance. (Too bad I wasn't coordinated enough to catch the pounce. I did, however, throw the cup in the trash when Freddie was done playing.)

Dogs don't have the kind of colour vision we humans enjoy, but nor do they see in black and white. Something sort of like this, from what I've learned ...

However, if smells were colours, this is what Freddie would see ...

Have a smellourful day!