Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Hurragh for the last day of work.

No blogging for 10 days now, unless santa brings me a compluter.

I wish you all a merry one filled with friends, family and fun - or a day of luxurious self indulgence in your own happy place.

Whatever fits your bag.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

DBO Tune

I have been trying to remember the "other" song on a tape from days gone by.

It came to me whilst I sat on a ski lift on Saturday.

"Your beauty makes me feel all wrong,
I look inside but no-one's home,

Screw that, forget about that,
I don't wanna know about anything like that.

Screw that, forget about that,
I don't wanna know about anything like that."

What comes next?

40 lengths (1km) swim in 30 minutes

Such a waterbaby. So tired.

A Special Big Shout with Cuddles

To Bx. Who managed to flip her fiesta last week.

I have only one thing to say...

Welcome to the flip'n'ditch-club babe. I'm glad you're OK and back on the horse, focus-shaped as it is.

Just because Zo is not in the car, doesn't mean you can go rally driving y'know.

Where was your digital camera when you needed it?

It's an old photo but it never fails to amuse.

Music… Makes the people… come together… yeah.

Emu hangs out with the natives.

Now I’m in Canada I miss people that I could’ve made a better effort for in the past –mostly friends who live in the south who I regularly dragged up to my parties but never actually got around to visiting them. It was the traffic you see, I hate traffic. But one of those friends lived a long way from the grizzly metropolis that is Lond….well, the South East. Emu spent many of her days in Cornwall, eventually moving on to the bright lights of Brighton. Even when I was working on yonder Sout coast, I never made it across to see her. Nor did she come up Nort. So I can’t really say I miss her – so much – but I used to write and frequently make her feel guilty about not writing back. Then, all of a sudden outta the blue I’d get this humongous book of a letter because she’d finally set herself aside half a day. It continues today with e-mail as she is in Australia and email is way more convenient than waiting for two colonial postal services to get-it-together.

Emu sings. She’s got the voice of an angel – one that’s smoked 20-a-day for 15 years, it’s husky gravely voice that she does amazing things with. It has the depths of Alana Miles and the zenith of Bjork. Add to that the fact that she’s a sassy redhead with the temperament of a clawless, toothless kitten on speed. There’s no fiery to her, she’s all cuddles and fluffy love. The only child I’ve ever known who wouldn’t stand on a fly, though she’s probably spitting feathers at me for disclosing her redheadedness since she’s now a simmering blonde.

She is another of my proxy siblings – being my god-sister, I guess. Her mum is my godmother. In 2002 she came and sang at my wedding and crushed the hearts of all my single male friends when she left for Australia to find fun, sun, work and eventually true love in the form of Steve, who she’ll be marrying in 2007 – that’ll be another trip back to the old country then.

Footnote: Not Steve Astley

Prior to that, the last time I actually saw Emu in the flesh was when I was 18. We went to visit her, her mum, Gill, and big Steve, her step-dad who is a lovely man. The Cornish sense of fun and humour is overwhelming chez eux and with countless dogs, cats, ducks and other wildlife from various RSPCA rescue escapades there’s ne’er a dull moment. On one of the last nights of our visit we all traipsed down to a seedy pub / club to watch Emu sing with Ted and Dave (not people from the kids TV show “Rainbow”, I promise).

That night was probably the best night out I’ve ever had with my parents. They got drunk, I got drunk, Emu sang like a diva, we danced, we sneaked smokes into the toilets and hoped our parents wouldn’t come in. IT WASN’T ME MUM, HONEST. I didn’t even pull but we laughed and laughed. At the end of the night, my mum grabbed Emu’s face in her hands and with tear in her eyes cried, “You’re beautiful and you’re wonderful. Do you know that? Fabulous, fabulous.” We all giggled. Sandwiched between my mum and dad on the drive home through country lanes, sit-dancing to “Tiger Feet” on the car stereo, we could’ve crashed had it not been for someone – big-Steve I think – being sober. We went to bed, in Emu’s attic room, our ears pounding and whistling from the volume of the music, brains swimming in Cornish bitter and Guiness, staring at the clear Cornish night sky full of stars through the roof-window.

I seem to remember spending a part of the night sitting on the bathroom floor, which is always a sign of a good night out.

This weekend, two cassettes appeared on the coffee table. Somewhere, Hubby had found a little black cassette with “Emu” written on it and another cassette with pictures of tractors and farmers drawn on the spine of the cover and two words written on the back in neat green and black AGGS handwriting, “The Levellers”.

This has caused me much excitement. I have so far half played Emu through in my car, as Ted screwed up the recording, gave me one song of Emu, 4 from another girl (fast forward), two songs of Emu then on side B, one song of Emu and an annoyingly dull section of fast forwarding through accompaniment tracks that I can’t even recognise so I can’t fill in the words. But how it makes me smile! There’s an archipelago version of “Stand by me”, three of Dave’s songs – which are pretty good – and all sung with no more accompaniment than his acoustic guitar and Emu’s tambourine. Then there’s Black Velvet, exclusively devoted to me and my black corduroy shirt that I was sporting and then, the cream of the crop, Bohemian Rhapsody – yes it was a silly kinda night. Which, thinking back now involved me moshing whilst dancing with my dad! Ahhh the days of VERY long hair.

Once I have got through Emu’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody again tonight I will play the Levellers a few times. That will remind me of Tanya, who kindly organised tickets for me to see them in Leeds and then, also very kindly, posted me a copy of the album when I was working in Paris, having a whale of a time but, again, missing my friends and things familiar to me. It will make me think of the concert and it will make me think about how I laughed when I saw her little doodles of farmers on the tape, when I was stuck in the big city, missing the countryside. The big black Martiniquais, Pierrot, that I was working with, kindly found a cassette player and we all listened to the Levellers for the rest of the working day.

Well, a day on since I started this post and I have been through the whole of the Emu tape including a LOL moment when I discovered it was recorded on new years eve in 1995. I was 22 – not 18! It was 10 years ago! It also had a small snippet of a little girl singing “Happy birthday to me” on it, which I’m not convinced was Emu. She then continued to murmur to herself, which sounded like she was trying to stop the cassette recording, reading the manual. Cute! Some parent would probably love to have this tape back.

The Levellers are now juicing up my drive to work with their own folk rock style, making for much jumping around and bouncing off walls at work. It doesn’t matter how depressing their lyrics are, I can’t help but dance. All together a very happy week.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

In the Style of Silver Lining

It was a training day today. At 11am – lunchtime - I was fired up. I fancied a swim but the pool doesn’t open till 11:30 and it’s only a 5 minute drive so I grabbed my bag, hoping the right stuff was in it for a thrashing run in the gym instead. I didn’t want to risk waiting for the pool then finding I was no longer motivated. When I picked the bag up this morning there were running shoes inside, which is a good start. I could at worst run in my tightfitting lycra-ish black jeans and top I was wearing to work.

My new feet however, were still frozen to the bottoms of my ski boots in Hubby’s car 60kms away so I had to pound through my run without them for the first time since I took possession of them in the summer. The run was a 20 minute one which I told myself I WOULD complete – I usually get bored and move on. I did complete it by shutting off my brain and concentrating on the music on the radio, so no doubt my legs will be very achey tomorrow from doing the run without the new feet. Not sure we all appreciated the christmas tunes since most of us were there to forget christmas.

I also had no sports bra so I had to watch my boobs bob up and down in the mirror – and it was a little nippy in there too! At least I had an M&S Comfortable bra with me so I didn’t loose any body-parts out of the push-up bra I put on for work.

Apart from these two omissions in my wardrobe, the rest of the session went well with clean knickers, bra, top and a towel in tow so I am back at work, clean, energised and further rejuvenated (at this rate I’ll be 2 by the end of the week).

I got back to find everyone in a sulk because I took my contracted 1 hour lunchbreak instead of the measly half hour everyone else gets. They weren’t working in the right places when I returned and wander into my office to complain that after 25 years here they don’t know what they’re doing but once I set them straight I don’t care. This my new start developing nicely – more “me-time” less “crappy-time” and my! It’s working well.

A good biffday

When I think of the biffdays that have been great in my life, my 18th always comes to mind – because that is when I got my first pair of skis and boots from my ma and pa. Only once have I used my skis on dry slope surface – because at the age of 18 you can’t possibly wait for the next ski trip. I took the day off work, I drove to Rossendale, I paid 40 quid for two hours skiing but it was a Wednesday and no-one was checking so I spent the entire day going up and down the same 60 metres of carpet on a small windy hill on the edge of Lancashire. At closing time, I threw my gear in the “little s**t” aka Gustav-Sylvester-the-fiesta and drove back to Manc probably to get drunk with Tanya who had returned from Leeds Uni for the Christmas holidays – though that part of the story is obviously not so memorable because we were really drunk at the time. It was probably 42nd Street or the Roxy... or was that Sheffield? Iiiiii dunno.

The point being I don’t think I’ve had such a good day’s ski birthdaying since. Not until this year. Last year we skied but I think we had to wait until the next day at work to get a shower afterwards. The year before I went car shopping for a new Canadian automobile.

This year my day started with a bar of chocolate (not yet eaten) a gorgeous free-trade jewellery box hand carved to look like a book and a pair of very expensive sheepskin slippers. YES they are old lady slippers but hell, old ladies know their stuff when it comes to slippers and my feet are ALWAYS cold – correction WERE always cold.

After breakfast in my favourite coffee shop (provided free by the wonderful staff – thanks for the birthday treat girls!) hubby and I picked up a friend (K) at the base and drove up in jovial chatty state. K got ticketed-up and we skied and skied and skied from 10 am till 1pm and did a different run each time. The snow was not so great, but that made for exciting skiing, dodging the rocks and following the signs at the top of blind summits – the “mind the dirt” signs.

Slightly tired and getting a little cold, we skied to the lodge where we ate very yummy Chicken Ceasar salad (there’s something about fresh air makes me all healthy and their CCS is SOOOOOooooo good with finely cut, crispy hot bacon and GOOD sauce). Lunch was satisfyingly expensive – the joys of having a proper job.

In the “Hog on the Hill” caf we bumped into S and his family. They’re from North Yorks originally and have the cutest little kiddies. His daughter was embarking on her second ski season – though she only had one lesson last year at the tender age of 3 ¾. So when hubby and K were done skiing and getting cold, I went and got warm by doing what’s best for warming one up – helping little people learn something new. I think I provided a welcome reprieve for mum who was on free-heel skis and struggling with the logistics of juggling those and a 4 ¾ -year old. We touched toes, stretched like a cat and squished cherries in our boots and we managed many a big pizza, played red-light-green-light and did lots of high-fives. These all, of course, are Canadian ski instructor association approved techniques and should not be tried unsupervised at home.

After we returned K to her car, we drove home, drank tea, ate sticky buns, cooked ourselves at 40 degrees C in the tub for 20 minutes then went to the Inn for venison and apple and peach crumble and just the one glass of wine because I drank myself impressively into my birthday and I didn’t want to feel any older coming out the other end of it – though I felt much younger during my birthday than any other time in the last two months.

And that is my kinda birthday – a rejuvenating one.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

So much fun, I did it twice. I thought Grac could do his horoscopes with it... like this.

See, see the busy sky
Marvel at its big turquoise depths.
Tell me, Graculus do you
Wonder why the hairless cat ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel reluctant.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your Spreckles facial growth
That looks like
A goat's cheese.
What's more, it knows
Your ***** potting shed
Smells of pistacchio nut.
Everything under the big busy sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm Macdonalds burgers.

Except the BBC Starred out my pussy.

Vogon Poetry

See, see the Clean freak sky
Marvel at its big Orange depths.
Tell me, Daniel do you
Wonder why the bald dog ignores you?
Why its foobly staremakes you feel Dark.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your sluttony facial growth
That looks like
A mould. What's more, it knows
Your High visibility vest potting shed
Smells of Cacti.
Everything under the big Clean freak sky
Asks why,
why do you even bother?
You only charm The lovely reps.--

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stolen partly from Skier BC magazine.

The best of 100 great things about the ski season (with translations for non-skiers)

The regulars: Beer, Powder snow, Tunes, Big scary naked mountains, the word “Woo!”

The singles lane – where individual skiers make up the gooseberry on a chair lift, making faster progress down the lift line than nimpys who only want to ride the lift with their partner / buddy / foxy instructor.

Free Tissues at the lift line – A toadally Canadian phenomenon

The Under-Rater – The member of any possee who inspires the others to scare the living shit out of themselves. (You know who you are).

Flapping jackets – Forget your fancy heart rate monitor and altimeter, this is the undeniable indicator of how much it’s gonna hurt when you wipe out.

Tree skiing – shelter from the weather and the hoards, a natural line of gates, great crashes, impressive injuries.

#44 is Europe. Leading me to dream of a resort Shangri-La where the mountains are massive and European and the culture is… well, you know… but the lifties are all Canadian and Australian or at least have Canadian and Australian guest-service skills. Of course, all my friends would be able to get there easily too. Heaven. Sigh.

Ski Patrol – Ski, uniform, life-saver. What more can you ask for in a man?

Threadbare piste maps – 6’ Tall boards with trail maps on. They tend to get worn by people pointing with the tip of their ski pole. Who needs a “You are here” sticker?

Spring skiing – Nothing says “party” like it.

Corduroy runs – Where the piste groomer has prepped the snow surface leaving long downhill ridges in the snow about 1” deep. No matter how crap you are at skiing, corduroy runs are like speaking French after half a bottle of wine. Instant expertise.

Racoon tan – The facial version of tan-lines. Incurred by wearing ski goggles on a sunny day. In Europe it’s known as Panda-eyes because you don’t have racoons.


Good goggles – oh the envy of being the only person in a group who can see.

Coffee shop staff who see you’re still in your ski boots and ask how your day was. This only happens in Canada because we generally don’t live in the ski resort and because in Europe they just wouldn’t ask.

Friends who scout landings for you – avoids hospital time. Cuzzes take note.

#72 was GIRLS

Roofs – for jumping off.

Hot springs. Hot tubs

Packet food – for when there’s no muscles left to keep you standing in the kitchen.

Vistas – 360 degree views that remind you why you’ve not slit your wrists yet.

Spread eagles – star-jumps on skis. Because nothing says, “I’m here, I’m in the air and I’m invincible!” like a spread-eagle. (you know who you are)

Scratching your head after taking your hat off. mMmmmMMmmmm.

New socks.

Camper trucks and sleeping bags.

Summer – makes it worth the wait. Because nothing makes you appreciate -40 like +40.

#96 was BC. What more can I say?

There was a letter in the magazine from a girlie who last year wrapped herself around a tree. Her friends (who had goaded her into running this particular line) waited patiently by her side, telling her not to move as she waited for the ski patrol to come and peel her off the snow and take her safely to hospital. She drifted in and out of conciousness with concussion. Finally, a smiling ski patroller she’d been talking to in the bar the night before looked into her eyes and said, “Hi sweetie, do you know your name?”.

She smiled back at him and said, “No, but I know yours”.

Respec! Nearly dead, but still flirtin’.

On last night's news.

Sheena Richardson of Arkensaw appeared on TV last night for the first time since her 3000m fall from an aeroplane. Sheena was doing her first solo skydive when both her chutes failed to open properly and she plunged at terminal velocity into an ashphalt parking lot and survived. Not so terminal then. In her words, “I just sat up, spat my teeth out and asked if I was still alive”. Video footage from her instructor was the worst, with him screaming in desperation to her as she spiralled downwards faster and faster on the end of a piece of silk no bigger than a duvet cover. There was nothing he could do to help, his chute was open.

Sheena’s face was eggshelled – her words again – and her pelvis broken. The most remarkable thing? She didn’t know it at the time but she was pregnant – and the baby seems to be fine! Now THERE’S one helluva, “When you were little we dropped you on your head” story.

In related news: The American ambassador to Canada is upset at the Liberals for slating George Bush as a tool in the election campaigns now underway. His words were somewhere along the lines of, “How would you feel if one of your closest friends and allies stood up and slated you on a public front for his own gains”? My response, “How would you feel if your friend taxed you every time you went out for a beer together.” This referring to George’s reluctance to listen to North American Free Trade Associations ruling that the softwood lumber duty imposed on Canadian Lumber entering the US is illegal. Ring any bells rest of the world?

How is this related to Sheena’s story? Well, I think you can figure that out for yourselves.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Got the planks wet at the weekend

I forgot to take my damn camera.

I skied like a demon, including the slalom gates.

I wiped out twice - once doing drills, once attempting to ski paralell backwards. Hubby took air mid-turn and, needless to say, wiped out. I laughed because he thought he was passing me but actually, I slowed up for the jump I saw coming at us.

Today I hurt big time. Tomorrow I will go to the gym. I have something to train for.

The perfect frock

It was 5 quid from the Oxfam on West Street, Sheffield in 1996. I bought it for Lucy's birthday party. It's was originally cheap before I paid 5 quid for it because it's from Topshop. When I put it on it feels all weird, like the seam is different from one side to the other.

When I put it on, it looks FANTASTIC.

It shows off my legs. The hem line flirts when I walk. I don't GIVE a damn if it's 10-below.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Power to the people.

When I started this job and moved into this office, there were a certain number of pin-up ladies on the wall next door. I am not offended by these ladies. They are all very pretty. They are all wearing clothes – not very many – but their dignity is preserved to a certain extent. The fact that they are holding chainsaws between their legs just makes me laugh. Poor ladies must be cold out there in the forest with so little clothing on and need to be careful they don’t nick their nice shiny legs with that big piece of machinery. I’m a little jealous that they look way better in a hard hat than I do, though if I wore make-up to work I might look that nice too.

Yesterday I went to heat up my lunch in the microwave and to my dismay, I found the collection had been added to. Some girls who had no right to be here. For a start they weren’t carrying any forest industry equipment and they definitely weren’t here to work. Nor were they here to encourage my employees to work. Later, there was a crescendo of voracious laughter and what can only be described as leering, though that’s not a strong enough word. I can’t think of one.

I am not a shrinking violet. I am not normally one to be intimidated, no matter how burly a cretin I am squaring off to. Problem is: the man I expected to be responsible for the increased sluttony was off sick. I had no-one left to gripe at and suspect that the men left in my department were probably as embarrassed by the combination of pornography and intelligent stroppy but sensitive female boss as I was, but were succumbing royally to pack-behaviour peer pressure alpha male type under-evolution. I really can’t imagine that the grandad in our midst approved of the pictures being around whilst someone his daughter’s age was in the room.

It took me 24 hours of deliberation to decide what to do. I ran through many scenarios and even ran some of them by the respected company accountant. Should I rant and rave? Should I accuse them of being disrespectful and inconsiderate? “Should I pin pictures of erect penises all over my office walls?” she suggested. No, it would only encourage them. Should I take a black marker pen and draw panties on them? The accountant suggested I black in their teeth and draw glasses on them. “You think they’re smiling?” I ask. “You think I can see their faces?” I ask, thinking of the picture that reminds me of my least favourite view of the cat.

At 4pm last night, I decide that if I am going to have this discussion with any of the men, I’m going to have it once, with the man responsible. So I steal his porn when they’ve all gone home and stick it in a file in my drawer. A woman who looks like she’s fresh from the 80s with afro frizz and golden eyeshaddow and a name that looks like Sharron keeps staring at me with her big brown nipples. I put an upside down file over her head. Poor Sharron, she should’ve finished high-school.

This morning no-one has had the balls to come and ask me for their pornography back. They must know it was me that took it, as we have no cleaning ladies to be offended. Just Stan, and though he has long hair, he’s not a lady. SO why leave something lying around for me to see, that you’re too embarrassed to fight for?

I think he was looking for a reaction, a good fight. There’s little friction down in this department anymore. I believe in quiet oversight, not confrontational management and it’s left them feeling duty-bound to do a good job and get along. In that relationship there’s no space for smoking dope at lunchtime, being late, rebelling and having a good fight. They’re frustrated, bored and getting far too much achieved. They wanted to tip the scales and piss me off. I’m glad I didn’t rise to it.

I am just enjoying my new-found superiority when the phone rings. It’s the BFOB*. He wants me to sell his Rotary club raffle tickets in the plant. He wants me to go around asking men who earn less money than me (and way less money than him) to donate to a society largely consisting of other BFOBs who need to be in a club to find friends to eat lunch with on a Friday afternoon whilst the rest of us work on. A club that makes them feel better about themselves because they otherwise struggle with the concept of compassion and giving, unless it’s organised and handed down to them on a plate and they can bully people with their power into giving money.

Why did I just say yes? Because I felt bullied into it. I go to get my coffee. I slam down my cup onto the table. It isn’t in my upbringing to go around begging from people (especially those less fortunate). I’ve done, like, one sponsored run, ever. I go to the washroom and throw my radio and coat on to the countertop. I don’t even believe in the rotary club. I slam my hard hat down on the toilet roll box and sit down. “Fuck” I shout, fast, deep, vicious, so no-one will know it was me. I am not a tin-rattler. Did I mention I am having anger management issues right now?

I go to see little boss who I like. Wassup? BFOB wants me to sell his Rotary raffle tickets and I don’t want to, I don’t believe in it. I am ranting.

I don’t blame you.

He stops me. OK. It’s not just me being unsociable. I don’t want to come over all un-Canadian at Christmas time. All I have to do now is figure out how to tell BFOB.

I ask my friend Duanne. How do you tell BFOB No?

Duanne draws himself up and says, “Like this”… he gets uncomfortably close, puts the lip of his hard hat to mine and shouts, “NO!”. He suggests I go tell him to tread sand. I tell my office-mate I might be back in a while, to pack up my things at my desk.

I go into BFOB’s office, a thing I try to avoid doing more than once a week. “I’m afraid it’s not in my nature to solicit money from people,” I say, “I’m going to have to say No”. He’s shocked, I’ve sent him sideways, he’s talking in a high pitch but he can’t argue the case because I’ve stated my point. He’s part way through telling me to take them to little boss when little boss appears and says, “No way, it’s not in my job description”.

Er Errrrr. XXX. Pass me the red rag, the bull is in the room.

BFOB starts to reach for the Job descriptions file where the last line of every page basically says, “Do anything you’re goddamn asked to do”.

I’m going out the door, I’m saying “I’m hanging up now…” It’s his favourite line at the end of an uncomfortable phone conversation, the type where you’re trying to make the point you’ve done everything you were goddamn asked to do.

I walk down the road laughing. I can say no to the fat man but I feel bad that little boss has a handful of raffle tickets. He obviously doesn’t feel quite so strongly as I do.

The prize was crap. I didn’t buy one.

*Big, fat, obnoxious boss.

Having read everyone's Miss World blogs for today, I'd just like to point out I'm not a party pooper, I like looking at beautiful women as much as the next person, there's just parts of them they should keep to themselves when I'm around. What I'm trying to say is, "my asshole's probably just as pretty as yours dear, put it away".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Here: Wind. Southerly. 9km. Cloudy, but clearing

Today we saw the sky. Yessssss.

There was a gushing pink hue to the thin clouds this morning as the sun blossomed over the hilltop like nature's orgasm.

(Like that?)

I thought it was the reflection of the wooden wall on the window in my office but it was real pink clouds. In the morning, shepherds warning but there was nothing to be scared of. Daytime temps soared to -2 and it's only going to be -11 overnight. I tell myself it's preferable to -4 in Manchester where it's oh so damp and gets into your bones. I have no ice to scrape off my windscreen here, just the occasional snowfall to brush away but don't breathe on the windscreen - oh no - because your breath goes hard then it starts to grow!.

After the sun came up, the skies cleared even more. I hadn't realised just how bad the valley claustrophobia is. We complain and complain when we can't see the sky here. Because there's no moisture there's no funky frost or fog creeping across the fields. It just gets grey. The Cheshire Plain could be quite awe inspiring on a grey day but here you feel like you're stuck in a cupboard with the mountains folding in on you from all directions.

I don't know how Rob survived in Winterpeg. The dark nights, huddling up indoors. Oh yeah, Interweb, that's how. Alas, all motherboards in our house are dead so my computer-build has come to an end. I'm hoping Santa will bring me a sexy Mac for christmas... and that has nothing to do with flashers. Instead I revert to writing christmas cards and letters.

I should get back to excercising and I think I will. I'll go home tonight and pack my gym kit for tomorrow. The only problem with that is the terrible pain in my shoulder. I have no idea what I did but my guess is, I hawked the kitten over my shoulder in the middle of the night when she was purring at my water glass. Either that or I hurt it hulking around all santa's presents for him because he couldn't make it to Canada Post at lunchtime.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lucky Dawn

Dawn came in to work on Friday to wish everyone Merry Christmas. She left in the summer and the place has been in pandemonium ever since. I saw her as I was walking along the road eating my breakfast with one hand and carrying paperwork with the other.

I waved my muffin at her.

With windchill

Minus effing fff.fff...ffff...fifteen.

Needless to say, I didn't bike to work today.

I didn't have my camera ready when four deer walked across the crosswalk like the Beatles Abbey Road cover (except the deer had no flares and four legs / no arms that kind of thing). I need a dash-mounted digital camera for christmas.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

New habits die easy

I forgot that when it snows really hard, I have to wipe the snow out of my bug's eyes before I set off for work in the morning, otherwise the headlights don't penetrate.

Then I forgot to brush the snow off both sides of the back window. Just did one side. I felt all unballanced all the way to work.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A great memory jogger

I was riding home last night past the cemetary and I noticed a candle burning. One candle glowing in the darkness that's silenced even deeper than usual by snowfall.

It's a candle sitting on a gravestone. I remembered reading a story about the family who lights the candle. The boy died suddenly at age 18 from a hole in the heart and every night his father goes to the cemetary and places a candle on his grave, covers it with a glass shield and leaves it to burn out. It's his way of remembering his son and greiving.

Then he was told by the city to stop, because the rules say that you're only allowed to leave organic matter - flowers etc. that will rot away and not be a nuisance to the grounds keepers. The poor man was told not to continue his ritual that had kept him close to his son for two years since he died.

Obviously the council backed down eventually and as I passed the candle, flickering in the snowfall it made me feel a little warmer and I thought of the handsome boy and his loving dad and I thought, what a great memorial.

Going home now because I just looked out of the window and there's been a secret snow storm going on.

Too much working

Too much watching TV and vegging out to recover. Not enough energy. No gossip, no news, no spectacular photographs.

Life's dull. If it weren't for cats I don't know what I'd do.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cocky cow

Some people buckle under pressure.

Me, I walk around with a big phat smile on my face. I give everyone the time of day as much as possible and I bustle. I especially like it when I make a call and it turns out to be the right call. The plant manager is not here today. Our big machine went down. For the first two hours of the day the “supervisor” walked past the little machine and watched the guys cleaning-up. No-one said anything. Nothing got made.

After my morning chores in my department I went out to find out what was going on. I got the little machine going, set them about making all of the product we need for Alpha customer, even though we weren’t sure if their truck would be here or not.

I went down there to check it was getting done and when they stopped, I put them back on track. When they miraculously changed their minds about what to make, I put them back on track. Then a truck arrived.

The driver says, “I’m here for Kevil customer”.

We say, “You have a big truck for two loads”.

“Is that it?” he says, giving me a piece of paper with two numbers on it.

“No”, I says, “you’re here for Alpha customer too.”

My boys are still making my stuff and they called me Darlin’ because I laminated a sign for them and I say, “I know I am” and I walk away smiling because I made them laugh.

Then I shout to the maintenance supervisor to see if he needs help. My voice is so big and confident that he can’t see me because he doesn’t know where I would’ve come from.

There’s days when I like being big and I like being me.

The Christmas Dilema

There's plenty of snow so do I decorate now or wait at least until December starts?

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Monday, November 28, 2005

I call it, "Teenager in saggy pants".

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Pedal Pains

There’s a problem with riding to work. I always seem to manage it for a while then something happens and “Green” gets put away. Then months later, I dig her out again, rub her down, tart her up, give her new brakes and repair her inner tubes, charge the batteries and off we go again. So what’s happening is I run trouble-free for some time, then the glitches start to happen and then combine until something so catastrophic goes wrong, it takes me all my energy to get around to fixing the problems and all the associated swearing, breaking nails, scraped knuckles and split fingers that go with it.

Yesterday was one of those days. I did my Christmas shopping, I went to the ski hill to get my pass (and wished I’d taken my skis) and I came home and fitted my new bell… ding ding… repaired a puncture, oiled the chain, strapped the battery on and I was ready to go this morning.

Wo is me, the stream of disasters is not over because truly, so far, there has been nothing to really disable me and piss me off riding completely.

This morning it came.

I set out with a bit of a bump in my tyre. A bulge which, standing in my driveway, I put down to a kink in the inner tube and figured it would be OK until I got to work. I have learned now not to make assumptions in one’s driveway and to seek the warmth of the basement to confirm – or otherwise – the accuracy of my foolish assumptions.

As I set off up the hill, I noticed my lights were unusually bright but confirmed to myself – somehow - that I did indeed have my low beam on.

The ride was not so hard going. It was -4 degrees C but it only took me the first hill to get warm as I have a good warm-up hill. The blimp in my tire was a bit annoying but I tugged the brakes to one side to stop them catching and I could cope with the wobble.

However, precisely half way through my journey (too far to go home / potentially too far to keep going) the bump got more annoying, the tire started to rub again and it was more visible than ever. I had to stop to make sure I wasn’t tearing the tyre wall to shreds with the friction. And LO the innertube was oozing through an inch long gap. Not a hole – no – but where the tyre could no longer hang on to the rim. This could not be ignored. I got out my tyre levers but found no twist in the inner tube. All I could do was force it all back together again, pump it up to a low pressure and hope for the best – for half an hour!

I turned my lights back on only to discover that the main beam had indeed been on all this way and the battery was dead.

Pissy pissy ca ca. This was turning into a shitty ride to work. Even the snow underneath my shoes wasn’t helping as I jumped back on and gingerly tried to climb a hill without putting too much side pressure on the tyre. I was thinking of reactivating my cell phone for emergencies like this.

After a quick moment of take-the-trail / take-the-road contemplation, I rolled onto the trail and it was white over with snow. Only 1cm deep, two day old stuff with tracks in it already and a little layer of ice underneath which crustled as I rode over it. Suddenly I had to concentrate. FUN! I rode over the wooden trestle bridge very carefully and listened to the ripping sound of the ice breaking away on the wooden beams as they flexed under our weight. This is FUN.

It was OK riding in the snow without lights as the snow was bright enough to illuminate the way and I arrived at the city in the beginnings of dawn.

If I were really keen I’d go to the bikeshop at lunch and buy a new front tyre and a dynamo set, fit them, then ride home. But that’s what email and husbands are for right? For days when on n’a plus de courage.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Remember the TV programme "That's life" with Ester Ranstson (?)

Remember they used to have a bit where people send in photos of vegetables that look "human"?

Want to see what I have?

Great Canadian Adventures #6 - Coming Soon

By special request from my Uncle Tom and in honour of the fact that it is now precisely 2 years since our epic journey across this great country - Coast to Coast - I will be publishing another Great Canadian Adventure soon. When I find my diary and look up what happened next because after two years it is all such a blurr.

But for now... have you SEEN the time? I am still at work because our biggest customer has come up with a not-so-smart new idea for wrapping our loads and the incredibly expensive machine that was bought to do the job is even slower than three slow workers so I have two lines of incredibly slow workers sticking labels and wrapping plastic and I am still here making sure they put the right stickers in the right places and answer any dumb-ass questions anyone may have.

Roll on the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I went to the bike shop last week and outside were these Retro bikes. When I rode home the next night a cute student-type chick joined the trail some distance ahead of me with a retro bike. It was the size of an adult bike but it had these huge antler handlebars like an overgrown "chopper" (no puns). She looked very retro in her cord jacket and beanie hat and I was going to pass her then take her picture, but I couldn't catch her up...

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Christmas jokes

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.

"In honor of this holy season," Saint Peter said, "you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven."

The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out alighter. He flicked it on.

"It represents a candle," he said.

"You may pass through the pearly gates," Saint Peter said.

The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys.

He shook them and said, "They're bells."

Saint Peter said, "You may pass through the pearly gates."

The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.

St. Peter looked at theman with a raised eyebrow and asked,

"And just what do those symbolize?"

The man, with furrowed brow, in desperation replied, "These are Carol's?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In almost-related biker news

A man got knocked off his bike outside my folk's place in England last week. No drivers stopped to help him until a neighbour driving by noticed a red back-light glowing in the grass. Bill stopped in the road (no pavements near the old house) and subsequently got beeped at for stopping in the road. The ambulance then took 20 minutes to make the 2 minute drive to their house and it took 20 minutes to get the guy into an ambulance he was in such a bad way.

I am not too worried about riding my bike in Canada.

It's not good but it's OK.

Warning: This post contains graphic details some readers may find upsetting.

I had a horrible dream a few weeks ago. I was hanging out at acting school with Emu (who was at the school, not me) – Emu is a person, by the way, a very very good friend. Her brother was there too, except it wasn’t her brother, Marcus, it was another boy I didn’t know. They were quite young and so was I. I was probably 15, Emu younger and the brother about 8.

The acting school was telling Emu she’d have to leave her cat (which was actually my cat) with them whilst she went off to do some work somewhere. She was refusing saying that she was taking her cat with her. The acting school took revenge by tying her brother’s dog (a big, brown pointer that I have never seen, met or known) in a string bag dangling from a helicopter then flying it through the trees until the bag broke and the poor dog fell, impaling itself on a tree and the little boy watched it all happen then knelt by the body of his dying dog howling and in tears.

I awoke, brow furrowed, nearly in tears, over-warm and alone – not wanting to wake Hubby from his sleep for a stupid dream. It made me wonder why our minds do these things to us. Why it put me through such pain over a person and an animal I never knew and never will know for something that's never really likely to happen.

Last night on my way home I was approaching the Hillside Estate Winery and a van parked by the side of the road with its hazard flashers on. Conscious that this might be an accident and someone might need my help, I slowed to take a look and check that no-one was hurt / lying under the wheels of the van / trying to change a tyre without the proper equipment or knowledge or strength. I promise I wasn't rubber necking, I mean this is a part of the world where you could be stranded in the dark without most half-wits noticing you as they pass. Part of me wished I hadn’t looked. There was a large brown dog with smooth fur lying on the ground and the person standing by the van had covered its head with a towel or blanket.

I realised there was nothing I could do and continued on my way. I hate to see dead or lost pets. It breaks my heart for the person, the family and the animal – though I didn’t think this dog would’ve known any pain. My thoughts got worse. I banged my head against the head rest, trying to knock the negative thoughts from my head. I turned up a dance tune on the radio to full volume, trying to drown the noise of the pain of the people and the man standing by the limp body out of my ears. He must feel so guilty, so bad for the owners. I wonder if he is waiting for them or the cops to come and take the body away. I wonder if he will get in trouble. Was he speeding? Is he angry at someone for letting their dog run loose? How would I react? I’d be torn apart. I tried to tell myself it’d be alright soon. I’ll forget this. Hubby will make me feel better when I get home.

I got home and the house was still and dark. No Landy in the car port.. For a while I forgot the dog, thinking Hubby was lying in a ditch somewhere in the Landy. I wondered if it was icy on the road to his work tonight. Then it occurred to me that he might be the dog-man. I couldn’t be angry at him but I hoped he wouldn’t be angry for someone letting their dog run loose and blaming the owners because he's a cat-person. I would just feel bad for him. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. I put the kettle on. I let the cats run free. I cuddled Slaughterpuss and tickled Andrew. I would just feel bad for him.

I phoned his office but there was no answer. It was safe to put the dinner on, he’d be home soon. I turned the oven on and went into the basement to the freezer. The Landy arrived.

“Wow, you’re late”, I said.

First, he got stuck in a meeting (which doesn’t happen very often). Then he was on the way home and cars were swerving all over to miss this deer that was thrashing around in the road. Someone had hit it and driven off. It was struggling in pain to get up so they stopped and pulled it to the side of the road and laid it down and covered it and it calmed and they called the cops and waited and the cops came and made the pain go away and though it was sad, I was glad that someone didn’t lose their dog. That some kiddy wasn’t going to come home from playgroup to find its puppy was no more.

See. I knew he’d make me feel better.
Winter... she is here.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Even those pretty red leaves have turned yellow, then brown, then dropped off.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Now they've all been squooshed and are hapily fermenting so I can drink them

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Such a lot can happen in one month

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
October 20th

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
It wasn't so long ago

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I am liking the look of the ski hill already

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Perfect Pants

I watch Malcolm in the middle. It’s funny. Some days its funnier than others. If you don’t know the show, it’s about a family with 5 boys – the oldest has left home, the youngest is a baby, then there’s Dewey who’s still a little boy, Malcolm (in the middle) who’s in his early teens and his older brother who all live at home.

One particular episode made me laugh back in September. Whilst all the amusing and hectic things in the show were happening to the other members of the family, Dewey was looking after the baby. He was telling a story about how their parents led a secret life of luxury behind a locked door in the house. When they finally broke through the locked door they found their dad dressed in a ship's captains outfit, smoking a cigar and their mum dressed in a silk gown, draped with pearls, talking to the butler who was their oldest son saying in a zombie-voice, “you are the best parents in the world, I love you so much.”

They sneaked around the back of the over-stuffed furniture without being seen and disappeared into a second room. This room was completely dark except for a single spot-light illuminating a coat-hangar, invisibly suspended. From the coat-hangar dangled….

“the perfect pants”

“The perfect pants” were white jeans. Completely unstained and un-torn by any other member of the family. They were NEW. When the baby reached out and touched “the perfect pants” an alarm went off and the luxury parents rushed into the room. Dewey, being the smart brother of the family, left the baby in the centre of the room to take all the flack and survived the onslaught by hiding in the dark corners of the room.

I was reminded of this episode by a slanging match entered into by my cousins about who used to submerge the Star Wars toys in the paddling pool when they were kids and who else consequently got in trouble for it.

Since then the phrase “the perfect pants” has been constantly at the forefront of my memory. For riding my bike in the winter has given me my own pair of perfect pants.

They’re not perfect for the same reason that I described in the programme but they fit into a whole philosophy that has been bugging me for quite some time.

I’m not very good at keeping things nice. Put me in a dress, I’ll have mud or food on it in no time. Buy me something fragile and I’ll break it. Give me something precious and I’ll lose it. I have a ton of outdoor and biking gear in the basement that I don’t honestly use anymore and a ton of outdoor clothing I never wear anymore because really, we’ve been so damn house-focused for so long. Now that we have our house we are enjoying the novelty of being in it and sleeping in our own bed. Nothing compares any more. The snug feeling of sleeping bag is not calling to me these days.

But, I realise now that rather than big organised trips away, I live the outdoor life virtually every day here in BC. Right now I manage to cycle three days per week and even when I bring the bug to work, I walk around the mill a lot outside.

So, I have decided to throw caution to the wind, dust off my carefully preserved gear that has been neatly tidied away waiting for a “real adventure” and use it for the every day adventures of commuting, working and living a life.

So thanks to this new philosophy, I have my Karrimor pannier bags strapped permanently to “Green” bike and my windproof thin-pile-lined Buffalo trousers to wear to work and my thermal balaclava to wear under my cycle helmet, two pairs of racing gloves to keep my hands warm and my Specialised fleece-lined, ancle-to-shoulder-braces, chammy-seated, reflective leggings (aka. “The perfect pants”) to ride to work in.

I AM almost completely kitted-out except for the bell… and I really need a decent pair of overshoes now to keep my toes warm. Since my bottle cage / rechargeable battery carrier finally gave-in to a stress fracture this morning (after a crash 5 years ago) I now have a legitimate excuse to go to the bike shop and splurge. He hee!

Aside from that, I can’t resist Blogging DBO’s joke which has made me snigger for over a day:

A man goes to the zoo. There’s only one animal at the zoo – a dog.

It’s a shitzu.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

hahahahahah ha ha ha ha ha haaaa

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Then I realised there was a whole watchin' me watchin' you thing going on.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
The battery fell out of my camera so I had to drop Green and go back to find it. I photoed the deer anyway

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Meanwhile, The Fog was swallowing the mountain

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Ghostly Ghouls in the village, by the light of my bike and the breath from my lungs, I'll scare your house down.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

I have a confession to make...

I ride on crosswalks (zebra crossings). I am absolutely totally in Crazy Biker Chick’s pond when it comes to riding style. Everything she says makes perfect sense to me and I know what her gripes are all about.

I don’t know if she’s with me or not on this one but generally I am anti-biking-on-crosswalks. Especially those cyclists who appear from nowhere – generally kids on bikes – and fly across the crosswalk with no regard to oncoming drivers or pedestrians or anyone else riding on the sidewalk (pavement). And you darkly suspect that if they get hit, it will go down in court as the driver’s fault and cyclists will be tarred with more dirt forever.

But here’s the thing. I ride through the city on my bike on the disused railway line – a permitted bike path. The trail crosses several roads and there are crosswalks at each crossing. The instructions to cyclists are carefully posted – “Dismount and proceed with caution”.
1. Being selfish, if I walked across all the crosswalks on my way to work it would take 10 minutes longer. If you’re good enough to give me a cycle path, at least let it be an efficient one.
2. Less selfishly and more importantly. There are two types of drivers. Those that will stop at the crosswalk and those that will not. I do not mind if drivers don’t stop and don’t expect them to stop for me on my bike. I am happy enough to wait for a gap. Those who do stop (even if I try to hold back from the curb and be inconspicuous in waiting for a gap), I expect are happier if I ride across the road quickly, rather than dismounting and plodding across before them on foot.

In all my time here I have never had anyone complain or shout at me for being on the crosswalk on my bike which makes me feel happy but also insanely guilty every time a driver stops (hence the attempts to be inconspicuous).

I only use one pedestrian crossing light (pelican crossing) on my ride. I will wait for a while at the junction which is one of those on a 4 lane highway where the traffic comes in each direction in waves, never leaving a gap. I doubt many drivers make a left at this spot. If I wait too long, I will dismount (because I’m now entering the pedestrian zone and I really don’t want to get in anyones’ way) and go press the button.

Last night though, I was waiting, just coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to get out of the road when I made eye contact with a pretty young lady walking along wearing sweats. She looked like she was on her way home (walking) from the gym. We mentally acknowledge eachother for what we are – insane – and nod respectfully to oneanother. I decide to try my luck.

“You wouldn’t mind hitting the button on the crosswalk for me would you?”

She smiles

“Sure” she says.

The lights change, I make my turn, on my bike. I wave to the nice lady in sweat-pants and continue on my merry way.

Five minutes later I come across a dog walker on the trail. The wind is blowing towards us so she doesn’t hear me coming. I have no bell so I call, “Excuse me, Coming thru, if I can”.

“oh sorry oh sorry oh sorry”, she says, hauling her dog out of the path.

“It’s OK, don’t worry, have a good evening” I say. I feel awful. Some people get startled. I feel awful. Then there’s times like this morning when you have one of those, “this way that way”, moments, passing an oncoming runner (made worse by the fact I still feel more comfortable on the left side of the track and will happily get out of anyone’s way who’s also travelling on the left).

So, after all these years, I’m finally thinking of getting a bell for my bike. Not any old bell. It will have to be one that doesn’t ding incessantly at the slightest bump because I ride to work off road but a nice, shiny black one that’s silent till rung and I will stick stickers on it and love it for the freedom it gives me to politely say what I want to without the risk of any offence or threatening intonation. For the sound of Ding Ding is a universal language of etiquette on bike paths and I think I want to learn to speak it.

Oh yeah, then there was this other time at school when I was helping make baked potatoes for charity and I grated some fingernail into the cheese and I never took it out. SORRY!
Squeal... "SNOW"

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Sharp intake of breath.. gasp.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Video blogger

I took some extremely shakey yet poor quality vid on my way home last nite on my bike and figure I'd share it with the world to make them feel ill... I mean... give them a feeling for what it's like here.

Especially since I came out of my office last night and squealed... "SNOW!"

How does I videoblog? ANyone?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Being a Girl in Business

ISO Auditor - So how do you monitor your rejects and downtime? What happens when big boss finds out downtime is up and rejects are up?

Me - His face goes all red and he shouts a lot.

No, really, I actually said that.

The auditor has been coming here for some time. He knows the face and he knows the shouting.

Halloween bike ride in Toronto

Halloween bike from Crazy Biker Chick.

The village people

We're all in our new hi-vis vests at the moment. We all look very gay. Wearing two fleeces as my feet adjust to the cold shoes in my office after another chilly ride to work, during which I saw a bat.

Enjoying my job for once!

Normal service will be resumed soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bike enjoys the ride home after a difficult day of Audits including three rides across to the main office (to save time and reduce stress). She's leaning on a cow catcher from a wrecked 1930's steam train.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Anyone got a glass?

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

This from Wednesday...

When I got home my bum hurt SO badly. Not just bruised cheeks but a feeling that I’d been riding with the bones in my ass being forced outwards by the saddle and my tendons (being weakly out of practise) couldn’t hold my hip bones in my pelvis any more. I couldn’t get out of the saddle and rode in a tiddly gear. When I did have to force myself out of the saddle, it was excruciating to sit back down again. The pain ran all down my legs, made every muscle cramp and caused the backs of my legs to ache for two days – which has never happened. I decided that something had to be done so I went to the bike shop after work yesterday.

The nice man asked if I needed help and duly pointed me towards the saddles. I began to explain my discomfort of separated bum-bones. He waved a piece of neoprene stuck to cardboard at me and asked with a twinkle in his eyes, “Have you ever had your sit bones measured?”

“Sounds like fun,” I said, always up for a neat way to find the right solution to a painful problem.

It wasn’t really any fun at all. I sat on the neoprene pad with my feet on a step for a few secs then he measured the dents my bum bones made in the neoprene with the graduated scale on the piece of card. I was disappointed that my bum dents were a little squidgey. Not enough riding. But my bum bones are 14 cms apart which apparently is “quite normal” but then he added I was like him and would need to find a wider saddle, which tells me that the average saddle is not made for the average rider. So we set-to with the tape measure, measuring saddles and I also decided I wanted a longer one with long rails on it to make it adjustable in the fore-and-aft direction. After all the effort I bought one the same as my MTB saddle because it’s always been comfy and it was.

At midnight last night there was a downpour. The kind of downpour that woke me up like a shot because it sounded like some horrendous natural disaster was occurring, or it could’ve been really cold outside because it sounded like the furnace starting. Eventually after shaking my head and putting my brain in first (if I were a cat I would’ve swivelled my ears a few times), I realised it was raining – really hard. I could feel the prospect of my ride to work thinning, but when I got up at 5:30 all was well and the sky was crystal clear. Good morning Orion, is your belt particularly long this morning or are you just pleased to see me? And… my leg bones were no longer disconnected from my pelvis bone by my old, hard, racing saddle.

Sorry “Terry Liberator,” this day you lose. I positively enjoyed the feeling of the old aches and pains being soothed by the new, softer support network of the “Specialised BodyGel”. Maybe I will manage to ride home too, so long as the sky is not falling again by then.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005



This just in... BC drivers have eyes in their head and know how to use them.

(From Tuesday on what happened Monday)

I got inspired by Crazy Biker Chick and yesterday I rode my bike to work. It being my ISO Audit this week, I realised it was important for me to have something to look forwards to on Monday morning. When the alarm went off I knew I had to get up or lose the stress-busting experience so I did manage to pull myself out of bed to some semblance of organisation, having spent half of Saturday laying out clothes and working on Green, resetting the brakes after the bike shop interfered and left the adjustment screw thread close to shearing off the one and a half threads at its tip. Of course I should change the pads eventually, but playing with cable was more immediate putting me on the road on Monday morning and anyway, I found out someone (no me, no, I never service anything) had put the assembly together backwards. You can tell Lynton that dad. I also went in search of the slow puncture but to no avail.

So yesterday morning I got dressed in a blurr, pausing only to choose my warmer clothing on the basis I’d rather de-layer than shiver for the first 20 minutes. At 6:55, my non-existent slow-puncture was back but by then, of course, the panniers were in the way so re-inflating was tricky. Particularly when I forgot to unfasten the valve.

This made me hot and thirsty. I already needed a drink but I had none as my nice chunky battery for my rechargeable lights was occupying the bottle cage. I decided (without digging my watch out from layers of clothing) that I had no time to go to the kitchen so bright lighties and reflective jacket on I set off.

I struggled up the stairwell with the fully laden Bike and blanched at the concept of wheeling it through the new 5 inch deep gravel drive. I opted for the firmer flowerbed – no flowers yet though.

“Dimp dimp dimp” said the bike as my straining spokes bowed, tapping the computer magnet against the detector on my forks. I can’t stop yet on this hill so I cope with the “dimp dimp dimp” as long as possible, not stopping at road junctions because this is my village and no-one else goes this way at 6am. Eventually I’m warm and have to stop to undo arm zips and adjust my magnet. Someone’s dog knows I have stopped and starts to bark. I move on before I find he’s loose.

3 cars pass me on the road from the village. My hi-vis gear and lights do their job as they all give me lots of room. Then a car approaches. He’s a good ¼ mile away on a straight hilly section of the road and he dims his headlights. I start to wonder what my main-beam light is for – the one I’d flash at approaching UK drivers who had their main beam on me. Failing that I used to wave my hand in front of the beam to make it flicker and failing that, I’d just ride at the drivers hoping that they would see me before I was completely blinded and hit them.

I had the opportunity to test my new-found luminescence a few times and even a car behind me gave way to an oncoming vehicle before he passed me. Top marks village drivers for a job well done.

Joining the KVR I remembered what this high-beam setting is for. The last time I went off-roading in the dark was in Sheffield with the MTB baby when we rode to the peak, got drunk then off road downhilled all the way back into the city. That time was without lights and infinitely less scary due to the alcohol consumed. I turn my hi beam on for this day I am without backup.

In place of the drunken giggling, this day, the only noises are my jiggling panniers and the crunch of my wheels on the compacted sand surface. My eyes focused on the circle of light in front and the shadows of my cables on the trail, like antenna on a bug, my senses turned instead to the smell of cider from the fallen apples rotting on the orchard grounds to either side.

Another dog barked some distance away and a farmer was starting his day, charging the battery on his tractor. Then I was back at the road, riding past the (thankfully) peaceful cemetery and looking across the lake to the steady stream of headlights on the highway. I scoff at the poor rich people in their big SUVs who will never know the peace I feel now. And just at that moment an adolescent moon-deer strides across the road, its stumpy downy not-yet antlers so tempting to reach out and stroke. Then his sister crosses the other way and prances into the cemetery in elegant bounds that make me think of Pepe le Peu. Then I turn off my main beam since I’m now in “the city”… though I’m not sure what part of “city” applies to the Agricultural Land Reserve that I am riding through, but the border is crossed so the street lights exist.

After 1 mile of road I’m back on the KVR, flitting silently past the windows at the back of 5th storey apartments as cats yeowl at each other in the car park. Then the 3% grade finally pours me out somewhere the school where a sleepy-eyed caretaker is turning on lights and cranking up the heating for the children to come back to school.

I affect the rest of my journey without signalling, never mind dabbing (my foot) because on these roads, no-one’s ever coming at the intersections. I consider cutting off the last corner through safeways staff carpark and a lane but allowing for potholes the main road is safer. Just as I think I might have to put a foot down, a car pulls past me and turns the light before I get there.

I race through the last green light at work and have to negotiate our first trucker of the day who overshot the driveway. Only the start of the day’s chaos but I feel fine.


Death by ISO audit

But I'm riding to work again.

Back soon....

Friday, October 21, 2005

I was Sunset Boulvevard which I haven't seen so I preferred to be Einstein instead.

I know the ski season is coming because...

1. There is the occasional cloud in the sky
2. I get bills for professional institution membership fees that I don’t mind paying.
3. A gear guide suddenly appears in my mail box
4. People with big rucsacs start lingering near the gate of my workplace
5. and I consider picking them up and blowing out work for the day.
6. I can manage to spend 1hr in the gym without getting bored.
7. I see lifties and other instructors at the gym and in the pool.
8. I think of buying another iron so I can use my old one for waxing skis.
9. I’m wondering if there’s space in the basement for a conditioning bench.
10. Winter tyre ads on the radio when I’m driving to work.
11. When I find my goggles in the basement, I’ll put them somewhere I can find them instead of pushing them to the back of a drawer.
12. I’m thinking of putting my new ski coat through the wash for the first time since last (warm) season.
13. The words “pineapple express” have been hissed through gritted teeth and curled lips at least once on the TV this week.
14. I have something to actively avoid watching on TV – Hockey Night.
15. I’m browsing the professional institution’s website for deals and new tric clothing. They’ve invented yet another new fibre.
16. For the next 6 months, I wouldn’t mind if they fired me (be careful what you wish for).
17. My boss is suffering from S.A.D. (Seasonally Affected Depression) whilst I am experiencing I.S.S.E. (Impending Ski Season Euphoria)
18. I am checking the webcam almost daily and getting unnecessarily excited to see a) snow, b) excavators building big jumps.
19. I know what day the resort is scheduled to open
20. I have last year’s rock toons going through my head.
21. The community theatre makes me think of Warren Miller.
22. Studs are cool again.
23. I feel the need to colour my hair an even-more drastic shade.
24. I wonder if an avalanche transceiver would make a fun toy or if I’d get more out of playing with the box.
25. A craving for Gluhwein and decent chocolat chaud.

Life, the ******** and everything.

I've gone off kittens. He climbs my trousers when I'm least expecting it. Which is funny when I'm wearing my old work jeans (you know, from before they started adding lycra and jeans were jeans and lasted forever and were thicker than the canvas of your average squadie's kit-bag)... but not so funny when I'm wearing my nylon hiking pants and it's 6am.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

And the winner is....

I heard from the Bride and Groom yesterday.

They have named their lifesize (3ft long) Canadian Beaver....

Hudson Halman
So, JaG you get 50,000 virtual points to spend as you choose.
And for anyone who didn't play - can you IMAGINE the hits I got when I did a websearch for lifesize stuffed beaver???

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Go figure

Golden Delicious Apples off the tree taste way-better than outta the supermarket
Yesterday morning there was very freaky low, thick cloud over the valley but blue sky beyond, then the sun came up from behind the mountain and made the most wicked sunbeams in the gloom and darkness and lit the tops of all the trees.
Just for half an hour. Then it was gone.

We decorated the car. Well, the paint-job was already done but we added a few touches.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Threashold? CAR.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Hang on, hun. It started yesterday.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It all started out a bit Welsh-like

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Adam tries his luck

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Then the rowdy crowd showed up

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Then it really started to get silly.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
Oh, go on then. Swing yer pants with me... Hang on. I'm in a skirt.. Ok that works.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
No shit! There's no lectures tomorrow. Pardy-on Ad.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image
You... yes you there.

(c) Andy Click on photo for a larger image