(The following post is quite long, probably not very well-written, and almost certainly of very little interest to most of you. But I for some reason had to get it out of my system; previous attempts have been a good deal more ambitious, but that very ambition seemed to lead to pretentiousness and prose of the purplest hue. And so, you’ve been warned – mind you, I think some of the pictures are pretty nice.)
It may seem kind of insensitive to make my first post in weeks an item that has almost nothing to do with the latest "natural disaster" to entertain those of us enslaved to the silicon teat.
But what the hell. I don't know anyone in New Orleans, I've never visited the city, and like most of you, my interest is the morbid abstraction of a westerner who - on a gut level - still does not believe that IT CAN HAPPEN HERE.
Welcome to the 21st century, people. Whether or not the recent increase in number and severity of hurricanes has much or anything to do with "global warming", this is just a taste of things to come. While icecaps melt and the Dutch are getting nervous, and those of us with brains and means are moving to higher ground, we can at the same time enjoy the smaller, human, pleasures that life sometimes provides.
First of all, for those who are wondering, New York didn't happen (for which my anxieties are mostly thankful). Between Laura's lack of photo-idea, the very short time-line, and the fact the producers offered a contract that wanted exclusive control of all of Laura's images in perpetuity (an unenforceable clause, I suspect, but still ...), we decided this was an opportunity whose knock she could afford to ignore.
Her other new career is moving, though neither as quickly nor quite as lucratively as we had hoped. Our financial situation, in the short run, well, sucks. We're living on my credit cards for the next couple of weeks. The longer-term is looking better, though. I'm looking at a 15% raise on the first of October, retroactive to May 24, which chunk of money will go a good way to keeping the wolves from the door.
And despite the financial stressors, the weeks since my last past have been good ones. If you're interested, below the cut you'll find a travel report, a lot of photos and some soppy appreciation of some of my family.
My subconcious is one weird mother-fucker, no doubt about it. How else to account for the weirdness to which I awoke while in the arms of my darling this morning?
Last night was my second attendance at 5ive's fetish night in as many months. I, of course, was in the company of Laura, who - if I may say so - was dressed to kill.
And yes, we danced up a dirty storm. I had never expected - certainly not at my advanced age - to be told I and my partner looked "really hot" on the dance-floor, but apparently we did. I credit Laura, but am quite happy to ride her coattails.
We rolled home (Laura, incidentally, caving in before the old man, which pleased me so much I thought I'd mention it here) around 3:00, both so tired that we decided to forgo consumating the foreplay until this "morning".
Which is wear the aforementioned erotic dream came in.
As is perhaps explained by my night in the midst of many overtly sexual deviants, my dream had a cast of dozens, if not thousands. I don't remember the details, but it ended with a kind of group-cuddle and I found myself spooning with none other than ...
Like I said, I don't understand my sub-conscious and it, clearly, does not understand me; before cuddling, George and I had a long, involved discussion about our feelings and our mutual discomfort with such public displays of affection.
But there you are. My real life is vastly superior (and a whole lot less weird) than my fantasy life.
When I flew out to Victoria last September to celebrate my cousin's wedding, I was struck by the energy and creativity shown by a lot of my relatively elderly relatives. At 74, my father is pounding out novels. Nearly that age, my uncle Walt is brewing beer and making wine and using Linux like a 19-year-old nerd with so much acne he never steps outside.
And then there are my aunt L and uncle M ...
(Er, that's me on the left; thanks to Laura for the picture.)
We actually started our road-trip with a visit to the nation's capitol, to which Laura had never been. My father lives there, renting a small old semi-detached house in the Glebe. Somehow, in the 18 or so months Laura and I have been involved, he had yet to meet her. Though we are close, we live in different cities and don't often see each other.
Meet the (Other) Parent
As it turned out, we didn't spend that much time with my father. Dinner at a friend of his the first night, then Laura and I wandered the city on Wednesday, spending a couple of hours with my dad that night.
We took a lot of pictures, though, and I feel like sharing some of them.
... and we visited Parliament Hill ...
... but I digress, photographically.
We left Ottawa on Thursday, following brunch with my Dad, and arrived at my aunt and uncle's place around 4:00.
My family is descended from mostly peasant stock and sense of hospitality typical of such people remains strong; "What's mine is yours," is the unspoken motto, and Laura and I were welcomed with opened arms (and fridge, and wine bottles).
One of my dad's younger sisters (well, all his sisters are younger than he is), Lillian is using her retirement to learn Russian in order to translate the poetry one of her father's nephews, a man who was apparently an important Soviet poet.
Marcel is a former dancer with the National Ballet, as well as a retired school teacher. A Holocaust survivor, he came to Canada after the war and made a very good life for himself. In his retirement, he teaches dance, plays violin with a local orchestra (he took up the instrument only a decade or so ago) and continues to study it, he dances with a Flamenco troupe and is learning Spanish in order to understand the songs. He also does his own household repairs, makes his own bread and wine and has plans for the next 30.
"I'm going to live to 125," he told us confidently.
In any event, we were welcomed - as I said - with open arms and Laura felt as at home as I did (I, in fact, lived above them when I was 5).
We spent Thursday night, just hanging out and talking. Laura, being the unusual young woman she is (and, truth be told, my relatives being the interesting people they are), was not bored, but rather enjoyed getting to know these people who have been part of my life since birth.
Nevertheless, Friday we intended to spend in Montreal itself, and so we did, spending money we didn't have on a hotel-room near the bus station.
The day started well, as we took in Montreal's Botanical Gardens. I never thought I would be interested in such a thing, but it turned out that I could have spent quite a bit more time there than we did. Er, flowers and plants really can be pretty, folks!
Following that, we headed downtown, and I found myself going in circles while we tried to find a parking spot. After 20 or so minutes of getting nowhere at a snail's pace, Laura - for perhaps the first time since I've known her - finally proved her humanity.
Yes, Gentle Readers, she snapped at me. "Just find a fucking space!" I was genuinely pleased, since - god knows - little things can get to me, and she has put up with more than her share of bitchiness from my end.
But things worked out. We got a hotel room, one that even came with a parking spot. We went out into the city and wondered until my patience for shopping evaporated. We split up for a while, and when Laura returned, she sported a brand-new piercing:
Having been in possession of a pierced nose, I was in no position to complain about it - nor, really, did I want to. I think it looks fine on her.
We drank vodka and teased one another in the hotel room for a while before heading out into the drizzly Montreal night, where we saw a drunken kid fall right on his head and lie there, blood oozing from his skull; Laura got carded, which pissed her off to no end - of drinking age in Quebec and she's refused service - but the place across the street had no problem with her.
We didn't, as we had intended, go dancing, but we did hit a strip-club. I hasten to add, at Laura's insistence. Peeler bars have never been my cup of tea. It's strange to me how much more common such places are in Montreal than in Toronto - and more, there were lineups at all of them. Perhaps it's the fact the "dancers" seem to all have had breast "enhancements", so that every single tit looks like every other one, that makes it so. Or maybe it's that the drinking age is 18. Whatever, I found the club no more interesting than I do at home and we left after one drink.
Saturday, we checked out of the hotel and made our way - with a surprise stop at a Value Village - to the West Island and my cousin Lisa, along with her husband Daya and their two kids.
Lisa and Dayo were married close to 20 years ago, in what I consider the quintissential Canadian wedding, held in Lillian and Marcel's back yard.
Lisa is about 4'10", Dayo is about 6'2" and built like a linebacker. He is also originally from Nigeria and about as black as they come, so they make quite a striking couple.
The wedding itself was marvellous, a mix of Jewish, Catholic, animist and atheist traditions, held outdoors and with a guest-list numbering maybe 100, with an open bar at the reception. Dayo's contingent included 15 or so relatives who flew in from Africa, decked out in the traditional and very colourful robes. Lisa and Dayo themselves, began the ceremony in western dress but ended it with the robes and turbans.
They've got two beautiful daughters and, following a couple of hours at their place, we all headed back to my aunt and uncle's for dinner. (I managed to lose them at the first light and made 6 wrong turns, causing Laura and I to arrive about 20 minutes later; happily, Laura laughed at me instead of barking, this time.)
Sunday found Laura and I following my aunt and uncle to their cottage, about halfway between Laval and Ottawa, right in the Laurentian Mountains, part of the Canadian shield. I think I amazed Laura by absolutely blasting one of her mixed CDs during most of the drive; I know I amazed myself by enjoying it (though it's not something I want to do every time I get in a car).
We swam, we ate, we breathed the clean air. We talked and laughed and I insisted on doing the dishes, a small token of appreciation for the incredible hospitality we enjoyed.
And so we left, a few bagels and this ...
But that story - hazy as the photo itself - is one for another time.
All right folks, that's it for now. I realize this hasn't been a particular inciteful - or even well-written post - but my previous attempts have been so pretentious I couldn't stomach them, so you're stuck with this - if, indeed, you've read this far and not just skimmed the pictures.
Whatever. Tomorrow I intend to work on some fiction, and start updating here with more regular bits and pieces of my life.