dreaminghope: (Sunspot)
There was a fatality on Monday in the Canadian Paragliding Nationals in Pemberton, BC. The pilot's body was found yesterday. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I'm sure he loved flying, but I'm sure he didn't intend to give his life for it.

***

Russ and I got a late start - 9 AM - on Saturday, since I nearly gave myself sunstroke cleaning the deck on Friday and Russ was out late, and then we just sort of threw wings and water bottles in the truck and started driving. We were going out to Pemberton to meet up with Dion and some iParaglide students and novice pilots and do a bit of flying before the national competition opened on Sunday. We saw pilots, including some friends, registering for the competition, had some lunch, then headed up for our first flight off Upper Mackenzie launch.

Russ and I had checked out the Lower Mackenzie launch on a previous visit to the area, but this was our first visit to the new, higher launch, and our first time flying the site at all. The new launch is gorgeous. The view is magnificent, of course, and the launch is also a nicely shaped slope with new grass and is very wide, so lots of people can set up and even take off at the same time.

IMG_1680

The competition pilots were flying a practice task, but we launched after most of them because us novices like the mellowest conditions that happen first thing in the morning and in the late afternoon and the evening. There was still some bouncing about as I flew through thermals, but I probably only noticed them as much as I did because the last flying I did was in Nova Scotia, where the air was butter-smooth.

I discovered that I love flying Pemberton. Upper Mackenzie is at least 1000 feet higher than our usual site, Mount Woodside, which makes even a sled run (a flight from launch to landing without any lift) about ten minutes longer. To me, it felt even longer than that, though, because you can't see the landing zone (LZ) from the launch. You launch, then fly all the way around a bump in the mountain to finally see the LZ just on the other side of the river. In my novice-level experience, that feels like an adventure.

Before turning the corner, I was briefly concerned about being able to identify the LZ from the air, as all fields look alike from more than a 1000 feet up, but it turned out to be easy: just land where all the other paragliders are landing and packing up.

Seeing as how we'd just gotten back from Nova Scotia a week before and had scrambled a bit in the morning, we'd only been intending to go up for the day and then maybe go up again on Sunday to watch the start of the competition and maybe get another evening flight in. But the weather was looking good for Sunday morning, so Russ and I made the decision to stay overnight after all. While still on the LZ, Russ used his smart phone to find and book us a cheap hotel*. We rushed to the only grocery store still open to get toothbrushes and deodorant before it closed at 9 PM. Turns out that one of our pilot friends had a package of new underwear in her hotel room, so I bought a pair of panties from her. The next day, we bought some West Coast Soaring Club t-shirts in the LZ parking lot, and we were relatively inoffensive, scent-wise.

That first flight on Sunday was one of my favourites so far. Though it was only a slightly prolonged sled run, it was memorable because Russ and I got to fly together for the first time. Despite the fact that we both paraglide, we've rarely been in the air at the same time due to a variety of reasons. Even in Nova Scotia, where we flew at the same time, we were rarely in proximity to each other; we just always seemed to end up on opposite ends of the ridge.

But the launch is huge, so we could set up side by side. I launched first because Russ' new wing is a faster than mine. Shortly after I was in the air, Russ followed me. We flew the typical route towards the LZ, but were able to see each other and call to each other over the radio or even just through the air. I loved being able to see him flying above me, his shadow passing over me, and seeing the sun filtered through his wing.

We arrive at the LZ at around the same time, as there wasn't any sustained lift out there, and Russ pulled a maneuver called "big ears" to descend faster than me. The only problem was that we were so close together at that point that I was getting bounced around in the wake of his glider. We both landed safely and with big smiles.

We did a quick pack and paid for a ride up with one of the competition retrieve vehicles and managed to get another flight in each before the conditions got too strong. I was very proud of myself on this one: I am typically a bit nervous launching in front of big crowds of strangers, but despite a crowd of competition pilots hanging around, I set up and took off. It was a nice, simple flight with even less lift than on the previous one.

Later in the day, I found a shady spot in town to wait with our wings while Russ got another ride up the mountain to pick up The Beast (our vehicle). While up there, he snapped this picture of just some of the competitive paragliders in the air:

IMG_1691

Then he found out that our vehicle was missing. After scrambling around, talking to various competition organizers, they reached a retrieve driver on the ham radio. The driver was in the process of driving The Beast down the mountain, thinking it belonged to one of the competitors. He was very apologetic, and Russ and The Beast were soon reunited and picked me up only a little later than originally planned. Back to Vancouver, tired, dirty, hot, and very, very happy.

* Some of the furniture was broken, the shower was luke-warm at best, and the room was over a sketchy-looking bar - but the bar had been shut down by the police already that night, so it was quiet... except for the train in the middle of the night. No air conditioning or screens on the windows, but they did provide a stand fan. Still, everything was clean and we got showers and some sleep.
dreaminghope: (Corset)
My partner, Russ, talks to people easily, and people like him. He flirts almost without meaning to in a way that is flattering without being creepy. I've teased my friends that if they are ever worried about their partner's ability to be faithful, they should always send them out with Russ: he has blocked many a single male friend from getting a phone number by accidentally out-charming them.

Russ also loves to talk up things he loves, which means that he is often selling his latest hobby or gadget to his friends and family. This and his charm makes him the perfect salesperson for Felix and Kitty, who make and sell corsets.

This weekend, Russ is in Calgary at the Taboo Show, lacing ladies into corsets and fitting gentlemen with tail coats. He packed on Thursday night: knee-high boots, vest, silk shirt, toothbrush, book, etc. As he was getting ready, I caught him trying a couple of his Celtic rings on the ring finger of his left hand. I raised an eyebrow.

"It's just easier..." he mumbled, turning a little pink when I grinned at him.

I hear some people worry that their partner will remove their wedding ring when they're out of town and try to pick someone else up. My partner wears a fake wedding ring in case he accidentally picks someone up.

Damn good thing, as he is really sexy in his black silk shirt and silver tail coat.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
We've got rain, hail, and the occasional tree branch coming down. It's a good day to watch a marathon of "Lost" season three, drink too much coffee, and eat Bridge Mix.

Knowing that I probably wasn't going out much today, I chose comfort clothing: a flannel shirt that was once my Dad's over age-softened jeans. Russ was making us coffees when I entered the kitchen.

"That's the shirt you were wearing when we met," he said.

That was fourteen years ago. I think that says a lot about Russ.

It also says a lot about the state of my wardrobe.
dreaminghope: (Giggle)
My partner, Russ, is one of those people with a natural charm and good humour; people remember him.

We had a meeting at our house back in September for the board of directors I serve on. Russ isn't on the board right now, but he was around the house, so he graciously offered to make espresso-based drinks for all who wanted them. He created some sort of fancy raspberry-mocha creation for our childcare facilitator, Lisa, who made very happy - orgasmic, in fact - noises. Upon hearing these happy noises, her 6-foot-plus husband jokingly stormed into the kitchen: "Russell, I hear you've been orally pleasuring my wife!"

Now, for some reason, the wife had reason to talk of this particular anecdote at her work. Her supervisor embraced the spirit of the story and there's a new office tradition: whenever Lisa is dealing with one of those customers that just makes you want to reach through the phone and beat them with their own phone receiver, her supervisor writes "Russell" on a post-it note and puts it on Lisa's computer screen.

Russ is someone people remember; sometimes they remember him even if they've never met him.

My hero

Dec. 2nd, 2008 03:56 pm
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
We have a house tradition: whenever someone is doing CPR on TV, Russ comments on whether or not they are doing it right. They almost never are, apparently. Not even on Grey's Anatomy.

Yesterday afternoon, Russ was driving back to his office from an errand and he sees a car at the side of road, rolling backwards slowly. It is occupied. He pulls over and finds an unconscious driver - no breath, no pulse. Russ calls 911 and starts CPR. As he is doing CPR, he keeps thinking that whoever designed the dummies for the first aid classes really knew what they were doing.

Paramedics arrive. Police arrive. The man now has a pulse, but he probably had a massive coronary and it doesn't look good. Russ leaves work early; breaks out the video games, beer, and take-out menus. His best friend and I tell him how great he is, how he did everything he could, how he couldn't have done anything else...

The phone rings while we're waiting for the Chinese food to arrive. I guess the cops always call people who were on scene for these kinds of incidents to tell them what happened and to arrange to receive their written statement. The man had suffered a complete arterial blockage. He survived.

Russ saved someone's life yesterday. Now he can really critique those TV doctors.
dreaminghope: (Flying Demon Girl)
Love Stinks

Love smells like kitty litter. It smells like a cat litter box that you always scoop and change even though his cat uses it too because ammonia is the one smell that makes him gag.

Love has the sharp moldy smell of the last satsuma mandarin that both of you left in the fridge for the other one, because it's the other person's favourite fruit too, but because neither of you knew it was being saved for you, it just sat in the produce drawer until it turned bad.

Love is the dusty smell off the electric heater that he installed a fancy thermostat for and programmed it to come on very early on Saturday mornings so the kitchen and bathroom would be warm when you dragged yourself out of bed at 6 AM.

Happy Valentine's Day, darling! Thanks for cleaning out those bad veggies last night; I took out the garbage this morning.
dreaminghope: (Tipsy)
I love food. So does Russ. It's one of the bigger things we have in common, which is good because it means we don't argue about our extravagant food budget. So for Russ' birthday, I got him a nice chef's knife and a culinary event with Edible British Columbia.

They let you in to the Granville Island Market after hours. They have a long open storefront and they set up a lovely table with linens and wine glasses in the cement market hallway in front of it. There are fifteen attendees, and they were all on time, dressed in everything from jeans and t-shirts to a suit with a pink tie.



Immediately baskets of different kinds of breads and dishes of balsamic vinegar and lobster oil are laid out on the table. And the BC wine begins to flow soon after. Three people at the table don't drink at all and another is asking for tiny amounts, so I think the rest of us got larger than normal portions through out the evening; no sense wasting the bottle once it has been opened, I suppose.

We all get up from the table, carrying our wine glasses, and gather around a counter where a professional chef – Jeff Van Geest of Aurora Bistro – creates delicious dishes using local ingredients. The theme on this evening is heritage tomatoes.



After the chef demonstrates each dish, we all take our seats again and are served. It's like watching a cooking show on TV, but you can smell and taste everything.

Green zebra tomatoes look under-ripe – bright green. But they are sweet and juicy. They are plated as you would get in a fancy restaurant – the kind Russ and I only eat at when my parents are paying for a special occasion – so the tomato slices are stacked with delicate rings of onions. They are accompanied by a sprinkle of local cheese and another glass of wine. I’m not much for white wines, really, but it is a nice bright Chardonnay.



I've always disliked tomato soup, but I'd only ever had canned before. But this smoked tomato soup is a completely different creature altogether. The mix of heritage tomatoes are smoked in an aluminum lined pot on a stove top with wood chips. Russ and another more experienced cook compared notes on what they thought was missing from the soup (I think they concluded that it need more cream), but I thought it was delightful.

Being a carb addict, it was the croûtons that I really loved: fresh bread cubes deep-fried in clarified butter and tossed with freshly grated parmesan. Pure decadence. Shame that only a couple of croûtons were in each bowl of soup.

Russ and I sat across from each other. On my left was a woman that Russ would later inform me was typical of a new Toronto import to Vancouver: she spoke very fast and very urgently. She's puppy-eager to learn. She asked a lot of detailed questions and took notes of every store, food brand, and restaurant mentioned by the chef or any of the rest of us. She leaned in intently as Russ told her about the best East Van food locations, having him spell the names of Italian bakeries and give her directions to the most authentic Chinese food stores.



I have been vegetarian for more than ten years. I am, admittedly, a bit of a "don't ask, don't tell" vegetarian (don't ask the restaurant whether or not they use veggie broth; don't ask if the ice cream has gelatin in it), but I have not eaten actual meat in a decade.

I won't blame the wine. I do credit the chef's excellent sales pitch: as he prepared the course, he praised the farm where he bought the chickens destined to be our main course: the chicken's living conditions and the quality of their diet, and the resulting quality of the meat. So when the parchment paper packet was set in front of me, I enjoyed the tomatoes and the arugula and then I had the smallest bite of the chicken.

Chicken has a very weird texture. It is sort of stringy. You all probably don't notice it because you eat it all the time, but it is a very bizarre thing to eat. I'm sure it was fantastic chicken, though; Russ certainly enjoyed both his portion and mine.



Sitting at the head of the table, between Russ and I, is a true foodie. He has come alone, but seems very comfortable making conversation with us, though we are half his age. He attends many culinary events and cooking classes. He is fascinating to talk to – to listen to – as he has traveled around the world primarily to have different food experiences. Toronto Puppy keeps interrupting to have him explain dishes and spell things.

As the chef prepares each dish, his assistant helps invisibly. The tools he needs next just appear beside him. Dirty dishes just disappear from around him and reappear clean if needed. In my mind, I call her Radar.



Tomato sorbet sounds strange, but it was very good. The sorbet was cool and refreshing, and the balsamic reduction wasn't vinegary, but rich and sweet. And I love late harvest wines. I have a sweet tooth.

The whole event was magical, including buying ginger jam and bakeable chocolate truffles to go and pouring ourselves into a cab. It was completely worth having my first ever hangover on Wednesday morning at work.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
Shave my legs; I want to wear a skirt tonight, even if it means navigating a razor around the two hives on my right ankle. Damn allergies.

Ten years. More than a third of my life.

Change the kitty litter. Give the cats fresh water. Russ must have fed them before leaving for work, or maybe they just aren't eating as much because of the heat. It is so stuffy in here.

A couple of weeks ago, he brought home Dairy Queen Blizzards. He didn't bring home spoons; he knows that I wash and keep all the plastic spoons that come into our house and that we have several Blizzard spoons in the drawer.

Ten years. Double digits. A milestone.

I forgot to do the dishes last night. This heat is making me lazy and forgetful. No time to do them this morning; luckily, Russ rinsed everything after he served seconds last night, so it won't be too bad later. I'll try to get them done before we go out for our anniversary dinner. I give the counters a quick wipe to clean up crumbs and coffee marks from the morning's preparations.

A decade. That's a daunting thought. One day, one month, one year at a time, and now we've collected a decade. Today isn't actually different from yesterday, but now it's ten instead of just nine and some.

I've got my purse and my travel mug. Russ left me the last of this week's cherries. I don't think I've forgotten anything. 7:30 already; I've got to get going. The garbage truck is rumbling in the alley, but I remembered to put the garbage can and blue box out last night.

Yesterday evening was a warm-up to tonight's anticipated sappiness:
"I'll be in the living room."
"I'll bring you dinner when it's ready."
"I love that! I love that you bring me dinner every night."
"And I love that you bring me clean underwear every week."

I kissed him for the first time ten years ago today, after we saw Men in Black in the theaters for the second time together. How many kisses is that now? And how many movies seen, meals eaten, tears shed, laughter shared, and orgasms reached?

I'm still new to this MP3 player thing. I fumble with it - drop it when I tangle the cord with my house keys - and when the music finally comes on, it's like an omen, playing song 14: Give Me a Kiss You Dirty Old Bugger*:

most married couples seem to get kind of sick of each other
after too much time together
but once in a while you see an old pair with a sparkle in their eyes
that's strong and weathered

Ten years is nothing really. My parents have together for more than thirty. My grandparents were together for about 60 years before my Grandpa passed away. My great-grandparents were married from young adulthood until Grams passed away at 90 years old. Ten years is just a blink of an eye. It feels that way, anyway.

At work already. The walk does seem to go faster with music. I'll have to remember to thank Russ again for giving me his old MP3 player when he upgraded to a better one. Get the computers up and running and start the emails downloading. During university, when Russ had an office job, I used to go to the computer lab in the main library during my breaks to email back and forth with him. I bet I still have those old emails printed and stored in a binder somewhere. I have mementos from every year, but I don't need to look at them to remember. Only ten years, after all; after another fifty, I may need touchstones to bring back even important individual moments from these early days.

The tenth time we've celebrated an anniversary. Well, not really, since some years we've both forgotten our anniversary; we aren't really romantic like that. Last year we noticed a week late that the date had passed. There's just sometimes too much day-to-day life going on: vacuuming and weeding and answering emails and paying bills and grocery shopping. The things that fill days and years; the things a decade are built on.

It's not even noon yet. I'm feeling a little giddy, and I'm not sure if it's the first coffee I've had this week or the excitement of going out to dinner tonight. Russ has a surprise for me that he is being very mysterious about.

Ten years: A university degree and a college diploma; Mom's cancer, Grandpa's Alzheimer's, best friend's cancer, and Grandma's cancer; six moves and five homes and one house; two cats and one iguana; three beds; two trips to Mexico; Grandpa's death; nine jobs; two months of unemployment; numerous trips to the ER; three vacuum cleaners; four minor car accidents; countless family gatherings; three coffee makers, two French presses, and one espresso machine. And two less Blizzard spoons.

*Kim Barlow, Gingerbread.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
White appliances are horrible because they show all the splatters. Black appliances are almost as bad because every water mark looks like grease, and all grease splatters show. Stainless steel... I am not a competent enough cleaner to even think about stainless steel. I wish they still made avocado green appliances. They seem to look pretty much the same whether they are clean or not.

When I was a little girl, my parents had these Lazy-Boy chairs and a matching couch with arm covers and head rest covers. The covers were always getting crooked, and I was always straightening them out. It was an afternoon routine when I got home from school: go around the family room and fix all the covers. I would do it again before going to bed. Sometimes I would do it in the morning before school too. They drove me crazy; always crooked and hanging off at weird angles. I was eight when I vowed to never have the dreadful things on my own furniture, and I don't. I do have an area rug that never stays lined up with the wall and the furniture, even with a rubber mat under it. I don't fix it every day, though, because it's under the futon and Russ' desk chair. I fix it every time I vacuum, and I try not to look at it the rest of the time.

When I do laundry, I hang my underwear in a line so the greens are all together, followed by the blues, then the purples, pinks, and the red pairs at the far end. Just because it's just laundry doesn't mean it can't look nice.

I have developed an obsession with paisley. It looks like a really beautiful comma, or maybe an apostrophe. Russ isn't fond of paisley. He doesn't share my deep love of punctuation either. But he lets me babble to him about both, and he pretends to appreciate my newest paisley acquisitions. He even goes out in public with me when I'm wearing my tacky orange paisley shirt.

I have one set of matching bath towels and two sets of matching bed sheets. One of the sheet sets was from a remainder sale, and the top sheet is completely crooked; when it's at my chin, it only reaches Russ' nipples. Some part of me likes when things match – when they are right and straight and tidy and perfect – but I'm cheap. Instead, I adapt my aesthetic sense to appreciate the less appreciated beauty of non-matching towels and crooked sheets. But I still want my rug to be straight.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
As I'm walking down the sidewalk, two kids are running towards me. Their father, or maybe grandfather, is half a block behind them, ambling, smiling at the kids and at the world.

The older of the two kids is a girl, maybe seven years old. She runs facing forward. She's focused, but not in the way that adult runners are focused. Adult runners are concentrating and pushing themselves; they are working. The little girl is flying. Any destination is arbitrary; the goal is only to feel the wind and to run because she can run and she wants to run.

The little boy who runs beside her is about five years old. He runs fast enough to keep up with his sister's longer stride, and he watches her as often as he looks ahead. He runs to be beside his sister; he runs to not be left behind.

I'm on my way to the Chinatown post office, some Swap-Bot postcards in hand needing US stamps. I'm forcing myself to walk at an unnaturally slow pace; it's my day off, and I'm trying to at least imitate relaxation. I've promised myself some ice cream on the walk home from the post office.

When I was little, we used to camp at Esker Lakes Provincial Park almost all summer, every summer. We'd set up our motor home once at the beginning of the summer, then Dad would drive up to camp with us on the weekend and then back home to work during the week. Mom, my sister, and I would stay at the camp ground, and walk to the beach, or the picnic site, or the hiking trails, or the cabin where they show movies at night. And once in a while, we'd walk to the park store.

The park store was magical. There was ice cream and candy, used books (mostly romances that park patrons would trade in when they were done with them), bug spray and necessities, and, one year, the owner made big stuffed animals that all the regular summer kids ended up buying at $10 each. My sister got a pig wearing a vest and I got a seal that I named Suzi. Suzi the seal lives in my craft room now, with Ogie the bear and Fred the dog.

The park store was a long walk from our regular campsites. Well, it seemed like a long walk to our little legs, anyway. And there was a long winding hill leading up to the store, getting you all hot and ready for your ice cream treat when you arrived. Sometimes I would get bubblegum ice cream. I liked that it was bright blue. Sometimes I would get an individual pack of Twizzlers, because I liked to bite a little off each end, then suck Twizzler-flavoured air through my Twizzler straw. Also, a package of Twizzlers lasted a lot longer than a chocolate bar or even a box of Smarties (the chocolate Canadian Smarties, not the American candy). I don't remember when I last had Twizzlers.

After Mom would do whatever errand she needed to accomplish at the park store and my sister and I would get our treats, we would head back to our camp site. If we'd finished our ice cream, or if we'd chosen something that would last, my sister and I would run down the long winding hill while Mom followed. I ran facing forward; running for the bottom of the hill, and running because I could and because I wanted to.

I haven't been looking ahead this weekend. I’ve been watching Russ instead. Friday night, we went to see The Average White Band - my anniversary present to him. I've never heard them before, except for the covers Russ plays with Leisure Lab. It was an excellent show; I loved watching Russ get so entranced by the music and so inspired by the sax player's solos.

Today, it was Russ' godfather's memorial. His great-uncle Geoff was 91 years old when he passed away suddenly a couple of weeks ago, and today was the service. I had the honour of meeting Geoff several times, and he was a warm and happy man. Still, I was there for Russ, and I watched him just as much as I watched the pastor.

I walk back from the post office. I stop at the corner store and look at the ice cream freezer. There's no bubblegum ice cream, but there's some higher quality ice cream bars. I choose one of those, and walk slowly – as slowly as I can bear – homeward, thinking of the memorial service, of the band, and of kids running. Even though I walk alone, I don't look straight ahead.
dreaminghope: (Bee Faerie)
I do laundry once a week: three or four large loads one after the other, in cold water with biodegradable, allergen-free detergent. In the spring and summer, the t-shirts and towels flap in the breeze over our deck. In the winter or the rain, everything is hung in the basement. Our house's electrical system won't support a dryer.

Today, I stood on my deck in the warm morning sun. I hung a sheet; the wind swept it out like a tent. Then I pinned up socks in neat matched pairs – little knit couples to flutter around the sheet home.

Though I'm not married, at some point I became a wife. I thought that it snuck up on me; that it happened in little steps over the five years that Russ and I have been living together. I started becoming a wife when I picked up his dirty socks, when I took charge of the bills, when I referred to his mother as "mother-in-law", when he started having to ask me where things were around the house... but there was still a defining moment that solidified those other moments and transformed my role.

I don't actually remember the exact moment when I crossed the line between when I was not-a-wife and when I was a wife. It is only important in retrospect. But it comes down to laundry.

For our first four years together, Russ and I took our dirty clothes to someone else to wash. About every two weeks, we'd hand over big heavy of bags of clothing and a credit card, and the next day they would come back: the bag full of neatly, but unfamiliarly, folded items and the credit card bill a little bit heavier.

With our own house came our own washing machine. I like doing laundry, and my writing keeps me at home evenings while Russ' activities frequently take him out, so it seems natural for me to take over the task of keeping clean clothes in our closets.

I balance a basket of wet t-shirts on one hip, get the door with the other while gently pushing one of the cats out of my way with one foot. Russ' t-shirts are mostly black and jewel toned. I turn them inside out and try to hang them out of direct sunlight, to prevent fading.

On the deck of our first house, sometime during the hanging of the first load of laundry out of our first washing machine – it was probably work clothes from the renovations – I became a wife. Now I need to figure out how I feel about that.
dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
About two or three times a year, usually on anniversaries and romantic nights out, Russ and I tell each other our creation story. We know it pretty well by now.

Russ starts: "I remember the first time I saw you. Derrick and I came to visit Cindy..."
"When she was living with me and my parents," I add.
"Yup. You answered the door wearing jeans and an old flannel shirt."
"My Dad's old shirt."
"And I think you had paint on your hands," he says thoughtfully.
"I always have something on my hands," as I rub at the white-out and pen marks, "and I was doing a craft project. I was so embarrassed to be caught looking all scruffy and grubby when two cute guys showed up at my door."
"I thought you were the cutest thing," Russ continues, "I told Derrick so as soon as we left the house. You had the most beautiful eyes, and your ass looked so good in those jeans."
"You couldn't see my ass; my shirt would have covered it."
"Then I just knew, like an instinct. Your ass looks great in jeans."

I've been involved in the telling of that part of the story so many times that I think I remember the actual occurrence now, though I swear there was a time that I didn't remember this first meeting. I had a different memory of our first meeting:

"I remember seeing you in the school hallway," I say, "when you were on crutches."
"From when I tore that ligament," he adds.
"You had the most gorgeous broad shoulders, and that fabulous long hair. That's what I noticed first."

I remember how cute he looked in that hallway. I was glad to have Cindy at my side: an excuse to talk to her friend, the boy I liked, and a way to avoid awkward silences with a guy I had just met.

"And then you started dating Alex*!" Russ exclaims, "He came up to me outside the coffee shop, all proud, and told me that he'd asked you out. I was crushed; absolutely heart-broken!"
"It was a stage I had to go through," I sigh.
"I'm sure Alex would be thrilled to know that he was a stage," Russ cackles.
"I dated him just long enough to be embarrassed at grad when he showed up in his father's suit, which was too big for him. You were so handsome at grad, in your sexy kilt. You know, I have a bunch pictures from grad of us together, but none of me with Alex."

Two first encounters and an obstacle later, the next part of the story is how we started dating. I tell the part of the story where he walked me home really late one night, after going to a movie with a bunch of friends, then didn't kiss me on the doorstep, though the opportunity was obvious. We take turns telling the story of how Cindy helped get us together despite our mutual shyness**. He tells the part where I kissed him in the park, then made him ask me out.

"You owe me," he says, "You made me ask you out, so you have to do the proposing if we are ever going to get married."

We aren't really a romantic couple; not in any conventional sense anyway. We don't do flowers and candle-lit dinners, or anniversary gifts and special Valentine's things. One day last summer, while grocery shopping, I dropped the bag of pasta in the shopping basket and suddenly asked: "Was our anniversary last week?" We had missed it entirely.

We aren't romantics, but we still tell our origin story, reciting our parts in turn and remembering the silly kids we were.

*Name changed to protect the innocent... or whatever he was.
**Thank you Cindy!
dreaminghope: (Talking to Me?)
Russ and I went out to celebrate his new job tonight. We went to one of our favourite Drive restaurants, Tio Pepe's. As always, the food was rich and cheesy and delicious, and we both ate too much.

It is a small restaurant, so the tables are very close together. Our table is divided from the neighbouring one by a small screen. I can't see the people on the other side of the screen, and I don't even know if the second person at the table is a male or female, because only one of the two of them spoke.

"So I got home, and the maid had taken the surface right off the table!" she tsks to her companion, "I’m going to have to get it refinished! I don't believe she didn't know that she shouldn't use that cleaner on my table..."

Russ and I get comfortable at our table and begin looking at the menu. I have all the vegetarian choices memorized from past visits and takeout orders, but I still read them over and over, trying to make the right choice for this meal.

"This music is terrible!" the woman whines.

Russ snickers behind his menu. The song ends. Another innocuous pop song comes on. It isn't particularly loud.

"I can't stand it!" the woman slams her fork to the table, shoves her chair back into the aisle and marches haughtily to the back of the restaurant where the few Wednesday night staff members are working. The pop music shuts off abruptly, to be replaced with music featuring accordion and bouncy 3/4 time.

Russ and I talk about our food and drink options while simultaneously carrying on the kind of silent conversation long-time couples get good at.

Russ' eyebrows ask me: "Can you believe this woman?"

My eye roll responds: "What a pain in the ass!"

The one waitress working tonight, a shy woman who has served us many time before, comes by with warm tortilla chips and homemade salsa for us, then asks our invisible neighbours how everything is.

"Fine," the woman grumbles in a way that means "not fine, but go away".

The waitress politely takes her at her word, and heads back to the kitchen.

"This salad dressing is so salty. This food is so greasy. The salsa is too spicy..." the woman's list of complaints goes on and on. Russ and I discuss current events.

Russ, with a hand gesture: "What a drama queen!"

A responding movement from me: "I can't believe she's making such a fuss. We should be extra nice to the waitress who has had to put up with her."

Russ nods agreement, and dons his considerable charm. When she comes by with our drinks, he tells the waitress how wonderful the food is and how much we enjoy every meal we have here. I suspect his exuberance is partially to rub the lesson in to the whining woman: people like this restaurant. Just because it isn't to your taste is no reason to be rude.

Russ adopts people as "his", and if anyone gives his people trouble, they will have Russ to contend with too. It seems that Tio Pepe's and its staff are now Russ' too.

The whiner and her silent companion leave about halfway through our meal, allowing us to finally laugh at them freely. And then our dinners arrive (shrimp enchiladas for Russ and cactus pads for me), and all talk ceases while we gorge ourselves. There's no need for even a conversation of facial gestures; the rate at which the vast quantity of food disappears speaks for itself.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
My mother is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at the age of 49, had surgery, then had both chemo and radiation, plus Tamoxifen after. She has been in remission for years now. I have also had one great-aunt on each side of the family get diagnosed with breast cancer. My sister and I, however, have an only slightly elevated risk for breast cancer. It is unlikely to be genetic, though my doctor always reminds me to do my self-exams and tells me that I should start having mammograms at the age of 40, which is earlier then usually recommended, just as a precaution. My mother has not bothered with genetic testing*, and I don't want her to.

I remember the day of my mother's surgery more clearly then anything else about the early days of her diagnosis. My dad was out of town on business; my mother insisted that he go, that he not miss work for this. My sister and I stayed at home; my mother wouldn't let us take her to the hospital. She went in only knowing that the biopsy came back "cancer". The doctor didn't know whether it had spread or whether they would be doing a lumpectomy or something more.

My sister and I didn't talk much that day. We pretty much sat and watched TV all morning, waiting for the phone call about the results. I answered the phone when the doctor called. My mother's breast had been removed. Some of the lymph nodes had been taken too; they thought they'd gotten it all now, but there would be some further treatments, just in case. We could visit that evening. We did; I don't remember what we talked about, only that it looked like Mom had been crying.

Russ stayed over that night; the first time his parents gave him permission to sleep over that wasn't crashing after a party. I don't remember if we talked at all. I remember that he held me for a long time. When we cuddle, we always end up in the same position: on our sides, Russ behind me with his top arm snuggled across my body, cupping my breast in his hand. That night, I lay in his arms, taking comfort in his presence, and wondered what it would be like to not have that breast anymore.

This has all come up for me again because of some recent developments in Russ' family. This past summer, Russ' grandmother on his mother's side was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was caught early. There was surgery and she is going to have radiation treatments. This month, Russ' aunt, his mother's sister, was diagnosed. Her cancer was moving fast, and she had surgery immediately. There will probably be chemo and radiation. This is in addition to a great-aunt with breast cancer in their family's history as well.

That's a lot of women with the same kind of cancer in two generations. There just aren't that many women in that family. Russ' mother only has the one sister, and then there's the two "kids": Russ' sister and their female cousin. Everyone is scared for their grandmother, for their aunt, for themselves. Russ' sister is convinced that she's going to get breast cancer.

They are probably good candidates for the genetic testing, but would knowing be better then wondering? The testing isn't good enough to tell the women that they are going to get cancer, only whether or not they have a genetic risk. But if the results say that they are genetically predisposed to breast cancer, then what choices do those women face? They can get tested more frequently, change their lifestyles, and consider prophylactic surgery. None of these things are guaranteed to prevent breast cancer. But testing positive for altered genes does not predict cancer with 100% accuracy either, so extreme measures (removing breasts as a preventative measure seems pretty extreme, but may be necessary in some cases) may be taken for no reason or benefit.

How do you decide whether or not you get the genetic testing? The results don't just impact you, but also impact your family members, who may not have consented to the test. How much would you want to know about the future? Would you want to know what, barring accident or violence, was most likely to try to kill you one day?

*If you want more information about the genetic testing for breast cancer, including what it can and cannot actually tell someone, the National Cancer Institute's article seems like a good basic resource.
dreaminghope: (Faerie Wings)
On Friday night, Russ was so sweet to take me to a folk showcase, even though he doesn't really like folk music. I wanted to go because Kim Barlow was playing. Hers was one of 5 performances, with only 1/2 hour sets each, and she had her set right in the middle.

The first performer (John Dobb, I think) was good, but very country, so not really my style.

The second performance was a French-Canadian group of 5. All their songs were in very rapid French, and I have no idea what they were saying. But they were energetic and enthusiastic and were obviously having a fabulous time; it made them a lot of fun to watch. They had an accordian and a soprano sax, which was neat. I've never seen anyone rock out on an accordian before.

Then Kim! I was a little disappointed that she didn't play her cello, and she had a cold and kept cracking on the high notes, but she played the banjo as well as the guitar, and she played my favourite two songs from her newest album, "Slim Pickins" and "Get in the Car", so I was happy.

"Slim Pickins" always makes me laugh a little. It is told from a miner's perspective, talking about trying to find love in a small, Northern mining town.

My parents don't talk much about how they met, but the one time Mom talked about it, I found out that she and her sister had gone up North (the Yukon, I think, but it might have been the Northwest Territories) to work in the secretarial pool at a mine. My Dad was working up there. He used to find excuses to stop by my Mom's desk to chat and stuff. Now, my Mom was a beautiful young woman, so she wasn't a case of "slim pickings". I imagine that as one of the few women in an isolated area full of men, she could have had her pick of men there anyway.

I think my aunt also met her husband up there at the same camp.

After Kim was a local woman that we've seen before. I'm not really a fan (in fact, I've forgotten her name again), but she was fun, especially her "Ramones-inspired children's song". And the last performance was a father (on guitar), a son (probably only about 15, on fiddle) and a guy on stand-up bass. The son was technically perfect, but he didn't really seem to be passionate about playing. It seemed pretty mechanical, especially given that he was playing gypsy swing. Russ and I started drawing geeky comparisons to Data in Star Trek: TNG.

Anyway, we had so much fun!
dreaminghope: (Working Zoey)
Russ and I went to a community garage sale in our neighbourhood-to-be on Saturday and got:

- A black dress trench coat for Russ ($5).

- An electric steamer, new ($10).

- A brand new (still in all its original packaging), horizontal-style breadmaker ($40).

Also, I sold off some of my fluffy Pagan books to Banyen for $66.00 in credit. I'll go back and spend it later.

I was a successful hunter and gatherer!

And Russ and I got to spend the whole weekend together, just running errands, sorting and packing, watching movies, etc. It was a very nice time.
dreaminghope: (Firelight - Cinnamonsqueak)
I have identified two groups of sleepers: hotdogs and sausage rolls.

Hot dogs turn over in their sleep without disturbing the covers, like a hotdog spinning in a bun.

Sausage rolls turn over and roll the covers around themselves, like a sausage getting wrapped in puff pastry.

Russ is a sausage roll. Last night he almost strangled himself with the blankets, because as I felt him begin to roll up for at least the third time that night, I grabbed my side of the blankets and held on. He kept rolling and wrapping, so they got tight enough to wake him up.

I should have felt bad, but I am bitter when I am cold and awake at two in the morning.

I always forgive him in the morning, though.
dreaminghope: (Zoey)
- Yeah and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] misselaineeous for new underwear!

- Dinner out and a chance to see my Oma. She looks better then the last time I saw her, so that was really nice.

- Russ and I found another neighbourhood we'd be willing to live in (part of Strathcona). We wandered around, and there's some really nice houses and lots of work being done. And the streets just had a nice vibe, especially along the 600 and 700 blocks of Union and of Pacific.

- It was nice to spend time alone with Russ in the car to and from Beltane and while walking around Strathcona. We laughed a lot.

- Lots of creative stuff going on in my house, though it has resulted in a bit of a mess. I sure am glad that nothing's happening at my house this week!

- The ants have retreated!

- My part of the Gathering confirmation package is done and has been sent to the Board for final checks and comments. I should be able to mail/email them starting the first Tuesday in May!

- Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] tareija, could I get Eats, Shoots and Leaves back from you tommorow at drumming? My dad is really eager to read it.

- The weather this weekend was simply gorgeous! I got to pull out my sun hat and I didn't wear a jacket today.

On those happy notes, I'm off to bed now!

*Sigh*

Jan. 24th, 2005 09:06 pm
dreaminghope: (Firelight)
Russ has the flu. He is a wreck.

I'm glad I made the call on canceling drumming here tonight, as he was not in any position to have company in the house. I've called his boss to inform him that Russ won't be in to work tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll cancel our Wednesday bank appointment, as that might be a bit much, even if he is feeling better by then.

And I've got to talk to my boss. If I was to come down with this, there's no back-up plan as to who will do my job in my absence. We need a plan!

Jamey was fabulous. Since I don't drive, she came over with Tylenol, Gaterade and Neocitron for him.

Hopefully he'll sleep through the night. I'm going to crash on the couch in the hopes that I'll sleep better away from the feverish, thrashing guy, despite the less-comfortable bed. I'm going to crash really soon, actually, since I haven't been sleeping well and I want to give myself the best chance possible to fend off the virus.
dreaminghope: (Sexy)
Since the credit card charging website is down, I can't work, so I'll finally record my wonderful weekend notes.

All about my weekend... very detailed account... )

The summary: It was a perfect weekend.

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