Would You Like Kitty Treats With That?

June 30, 2008

Okay, I confess, it’s late. I’ve just come back from a shift at the petstore, and any moment now will be settling down with Holmes and Watson to help them solve “The Sign of Four.” So most of this entry won’t be my own writing. It’ll be stolen from Do What You Are, 4th Edition (Paule Tieger and Barbara Barron, Little, Brown, & Company: New York, 2007).

The first edition came out in 1992, and I’ve read it several times over the years in one employment counseling office or another. It’s based on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Test. After answering 3.5 zillion preference questions, one ends up with a set of four letters.

You are either:

  • E or I — Extroverted or Introverted;
  • S or N — Sensing or iNtuitive;
  • T or F — Thinking or Feeling; and
  • J or P — Judging or Perceptive.

Well, I’m an INFP — a solitary, indecisive, emotional mess. Oh wait, that’s not a quote from the book. What is a quote is the following list of 10 things that spell career satisfaction for me. I’d like you to think about how true they sound to you. Then I’m going to leave you with the one-sentence conclusion I gave E.g. when I read this list at the bookstore this morning.

As An INFP, career satisfaction means doing work that:

  1. Is in harmony with my own personal values and beliefs and allows me to express my vision through my work;
  2. Gives me time to develop substantial depth to my ideas and maintain control over the process and product;
  3. Is done autonomously; with a private work space and plenty of uninterrupted time, but with periodic opportunities to bounce my ideas off people I feel respect me.
  4. Is done within a flexible structure, with a minimum of rules or regulations, letting me work on projects when I feel inspired.
  5. Is done with other creative and caring individuals in a cooperative environment free from tension and interpersonal strife.
  6. Lets me express my originality and in which personal growth is encouraged and rewarded.
  7. Does not require me to present my work frequently in front of groups of people or be called upon to share before it is completed to my satisfaction.
  8. Allows me to help others grow and develop and realize their full potential.
  9. Involves understanding people and discovering what makes them tick; allows me to develop deep one-to-one relationships with others.
  10. Allows me to work toward fulfilling my ideals and not be limited by political, financial, or other obstacles.
  • (pp 159-60)

I showed the list to E.g. and said, “No wonder I love blogging.”

PS A big thank you to Alyson, of “Laugh in the Sun”, who passed along a Kind Blogger Award to me on Saturday! (See # 3, 5, & 6 above. )

The Virtual World Peace Potluck

June 29, 2008

With special guests.

Welcome everybody, to our potluck party!

‘Way back on June 20, having noticed how many people in my blog klatsch said they like sesame halvah, I suggested a game: post a recipe hailing from one of the countries claimed, by a Wikipedia article, to specialize in halvah.

Noting that many of the halvah-favouring countries have had a lot of wartime strife, I also suggested that the common love of halvah might be a good basis for a peace organization. This morning, I found an unused acronym. Suggestions for alternatives are welcome, but here’s my idea:

CHAPLIN: Creative Halvah Appreciators’ Peace League INternational.

I don’t mind the acronym’s association with Charlie Chaplin (fondly nicknamed “Charlot” in halvah-loving Greece, Romania, and Turkey) either. Chaplin began his life in London, in abject poverty. His childhood experiences include the breakup of his parents, a mentally ill mother, and a stint in a Victorian workhouse. And yet he never lost his own gumption, and went on to conquer the world — through humour. His politics were left-leaning, his film The Great Dictator a brave swipe at fascism, and his refusal to give a hoot when “accused” of being Jewish a breath of fresh air. We could do worse for a muse.

To find the recipes for the foods listed in bold, head over to the comments section (and one recipe in the main blether) in Part II of last Friday’s post.

 But for now, c’mon in, grab a plate and a glass, and help yourself! Charlie and Mohandas are over there in the corner by the sweets table, enjoying some tea.


Table 1: Beverages


– a selection of red and white Israeli wines

– Skopsko lager from Macedonia

arak, a Lebanese anise liquor. Be sure to thin it, 1/3 arak to 2/3 water, and add some crushed ice.


– lemonade scented with orange-blossom water and mint

ayran/tahn/doogh, many names for one beverage of yogurt thinned with water, seasoned with a little salt, and jazzed up with some minced cucumber and a few mint leaves

– Parsi Cola from Iran

– check out the sweets table for hot beverages


Table 2: Savouries


– garlicky green olives from Albania

– pickled turnip

– lavash from Armenia

– pita bread wedges from Syria

– hummus from Iraq

kiopolu, an eggplant-based “poor man’s caviar” from Bulgaria

koupepia, stuffed vine leaves from Cyprus

Mediterranean potato salad (see comments below), with olive oil and sundried tomatoes


village eggs, an eyepleasing Greek hot dish of herbed eggs on toast

– a mound of rice with nuts, almonds, and raisins

– hot potato pancakes with sour cream from Ukraine


Table 3: Sweets

lokshen kugel, a sweet noodle pudding from Romania

baklava, a Greek phyllo-pastry goodie

– pomegranite wedges from Palestine

– melon slices

– spicy fruit compote from Serbia

– halvah

– sweet mint-infused tea

– Turkish coffee; and if you like, Madam Irem will tell your future from the residue in your cup!

The Good Kitty Award

June 28, 2008

With all the awards flying over the blogosphere waves lately, I think Cuca deserves an award of his own. So today, I’d like to say a few words in praise of Cuca, our Curious Cat.

First, Cuca was born on the streets of Toronto, and left his mama at a tender age when Jack found him and we brought him home to stay.

When Cuca grew up, we spent a few months with a woman who doesn’t particularly like cats, and never let Cuca into her room.

Before Cai the puppy came home, Cuca suffered a bad scare from the unsecured exercise pen crashing to the floor beside him.

Subsequently, a strange beast came to live in the cage, eliciting first fear, then curiosity, and verry grradually a purring affection from our street kitty. I think it was the first time puppy Cai washed Cuca’s ears that Cuca’s heart finally melted.

Then we moved.

We have more friends now, including Julie the cat-chasing foxhound, who stays with us Monday evenings while her daddies go out to supper.

Lately, we’ve gotten another little monster. Cuca was just getting used to Fergus when we took away Fergus, Cai, and ourselves for ten days.

Shortly after the family reassembled, workers came to wreak havoc on our eardrums by sawing, drilling, and hammering replacement railings onto our building.

And just to put its two cents’ worth in, when the construction noise finished for the night the sky would rip open and pound us with thunderclaps.

And through it all, Cuca has stayed cool. Incredibly cool. He has nibbled his kibble, shown delight in his morning half-tin wet food, hopped on the table for his treats. When the noise has escalated to racket, he has crouched beside my computer for my companionship. He has accepted Fergus with little fuss, knowing already what a friend the puppy will grow up to be. Cuca has never once thrown up or missed his litter box. I AM SO PROUD OF CUCA!

Here, then, is his “Good Kitty Reward Award”. For all of you who think your cat might deserve one too, feel free to steal my picture and tell the world about your wondercat!

Mums, and the Women Who Love Them

June 27, 2008

Ontario cottage, Ontario Street

Toronto house: Cute. Little. Price: Not cute. Not little.


So I was looking at real estate offerings this morning. Just for fun. Something outside Toronto. Something with maybe an acre or two. Something where the neighbours couldn’t hear my dogs barking and complain, where I wouldn’t risk a $260 fine just to play ball with my boy, where I could open a door early in the morning or at bedtime to let them pee without meeting a drug dealer or a bicycle thief. I’ll show them. I’ll show them all!

So, the listings.

For $35K, we could move into a trailer park.

For $60K, we could have a house, 35 acres, and a home business! That’s ’cause most of the acreage is a gravel pit. I can see myself now in a Muskoka (=Adirondack) chair at the end of the driveway with my buckets of gravel, waiting for passing tourists to be lured in. “Gravel! Why, I haven’t had any country-picked gravel in years! C’mon, dear, let’s buy two gallons!”

For about $100K, I can get absolute privacy on a small lot in the middle of nowhere. The ad chirps, “And if you like 4-wheeling, there are trails right outside your door!” And if I wanted that kind of noise, I chirp back, I would live beside the train tracks. Not to mention all those good neighbours, the ones with the Harleys and — they must be deer hunters, is that what those rifles are for?

For more still, I can get 370 feet of frontage. It doesn’t mention how often the basement floods.

Some of the ads show five pictures of the outside, and none of the inside.

This place is offering their pool table and built-in huge TV and sound-surround unit. Oh goody, someone’s second-hand electronics! I’m starting to whimper…

This place has an area of 350 square feet. That one’s is 2,000. How much does that mean? How much do we need?

Four bedrooms and one bathroom. One bedroom and 2 1/2 baths. Eh?

Ah, finally, the perfect place! Finished; less than 20 years old; mature trees on a 3-acre lot. Only $280,000. Perfectly reasonable if I can pull off a decent full-time job, and keep it for twenty years; then we’ll have a lovely home for the dogs, who will live crated in the living room for twenty hours each day. Not quite the plan…

I leave the computer and take the dogs out. They bark. A lot. For no apparent reason. I yell at them and bring them back in. WhaaaaaaaHHHHHHHHhhhhhh! Sniff.

I call my mum. She’s home. We discuss real estate. A few years after Dad died, Mum bought a little  house with a little backyard in a little village. She can walk to everything, she can play in the yard with her dog and let him out to pee in safety, she has lots of friends, and a nice strollable country road is less than half a mile away. The area of the house was originally 600 square feet, and the addition she ordered has expanded it to 800. The property is about 1/4 of an acre, and holds a fruit tree, flower beds, and little-dog running room. She told me how much it cost to buy, and how much to renovate. And I started to breathe again.

Mum warned me about all the hidden costs — surveyor’s fees, lawyers, appliance hookups, new appliances themselves, former owners’ reno goofs. She explained various factors that raise the tax: frontage, square footage, number of bathrooms. And she gave me a piece of motherly advice.

“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, honey.” Meaning, don’t isolate myself in the middle of nowhere because of a few grumps who didn’t realize, when they moved into our building, that dogs are allowed and that dogs will bark.

One day soon, I’ll probably be seen at the local bookstore, trolling the shelves for a Canadian version of “house ownership for dummies.” Just for fun.


And I was There when it Happened

June 26, 2008

you have to be this high
Cai at 8 months, Spring 2007

Hi, everybody!

I wanted to take a photo of the scene where Something Nifty happened this morning, but E.g. has the camera, so I’ve chosen an older photo for its illustration of Cai leaping for a ball (in the case of the photo, one that hasn’t even left the chuckit stick yet! 🙂 )

This morning I took the doggies to the front yard, tethered Fergus to the big Silver Maple there, and played ball with Cai. He’s very good at, and enjoys muchly, catching pop flies, and it makes me feel good to throw them. I extend my arm fully and use my whole upper body in lobbing it in a high arc, and Cai gets under it. The throw and catch aren’t difficult for (or hard on) either of us, but passing strangers are often impressed. Neighbours have seen it again, and again, and again…

Anyway, whether on purpose or by accident, Cai often bounces the ball off the end of his nose, and continues on after it. Occasionally he’ll nose it two, maybe even three times before chomping down on it.

This morning, getting under one of the lobs, Cai nosed the ball over the wrought iron fence that surrounds the front yard. on the other side is a pedestrian walkway and then several front doors with teeny gardens and two-foot-high garden walls. Well! The ball got nosed over the fence, hit the top edge of one of those teeny walls, arced straight back up and over, and Cai caught it! I was thrilled at that slim probability. Forget agility classes — Cai should learn to play snooker!

Gotta go now — it’s time to brush my teeth before work, and since I had garlic bread for lunch, I really should. Have a great day!

(Wordless Wednesday) Rubber Rocker Puppy Bumpers

June 25, 2008

Six Degrees of Integration

June 24, 2008

Clothes Tree. Red-wash variety.


Look at that: it’s Laundry Day!

Things aren’t quite back to normal yet after our trip to Paris. A Welsh neighbour comforted me by saying that it takes her a month to recover from a trip home, so I’ll try to go easy on my expectations for another week. Anyway, it’s Laundry Day, so it’s List Day; and I have a very nice list to ponder today.

And just in time, too. I have a relative who cut me off twenty years ago. Unfortunately, being family, I occasionally hear about him, and just yesterday heard that he’s still being actively uncharitable towards me. Beats me why he’d bother; but it still does hurt. So there, that’s off my chest, a type of conflict at least as old as the First Children and as widespread as dandelions. Now on to happy things!

 James Viscosi’s Vizsla Dennis, over at Dennis’s Diary of Destruction , has presented me with my first blog award, the Tree of Happiness. First, I want to thank my parents, Gautama Buddha, and the state of California… oh, it’s not that kind of award?

The proper acceptance speech for a Tree of Happiness award is apparently to, first, list six things that make me happy; second, to name six blogrollers as recipients of this award; and third, link to the giver and the givees. All right! It’s a double-list day! I’m feeling better already.

I. Six Things That Make Me Happy

  1. Digging into a pile of refried-bean-and-cheese-smothered corn chips, a favourite TV supper, while watching a movie or Time Team with E.g. and Jack, while all the animals snooze around us.
  2. Walking in the woods. And camping. And maybe taking a dip in the lake. And birdwatching. And roasting marshmallows. And possibly a bit of canoeing. And looking forward to another vacation at Bon Echo this July!
  3. Taking daytrips, or sometimes overnighters, into small-town Ontario with E.g. Watching out the windows while she drives. Remarking on what we see. Singing harmony with her to the radio or CD. Inventing silly road-kill songs. Having a chance to talk without interruptions.
  4. Having gotten the dishes done or the apartment swept. (Note the perfect tense here. ) Having gotten any other annoying necessity out of the way. Ever notice how much lighter your arms feel after you’ve carried out the garbage?
  5. Blogging. I’m so grateful for this new medium of an online writing venue that attracts strangers who become anonymous friends. I’m so happy to be writing. I’m so amazed that I haven’t missed a day yet since I started on February 29th.
  6. Supper at our favourite local. A hefty pint glass of Wellington Dark. Shepherd’s pie or steak-and-mushroom pie or something else hearty and nostalgic. Recognizing the waiters, being recognized by them, and often seeing neighbours we know. Watching E.g. relax as she sips her Bass ale and chews her sweet-potato fries, and we review the work week and dream about the future.

I’m an ordinary kinda guy, really.

 Now, for the new recipients. This is tough, because I have so few names on my blogroll (I’m a slow reader), and I hate to leave anybody out. But since I’m new to the awards game, I’ll keep it within the WordPress community, and stick with blogfellows who have posted within the past month. The rest of you (including my partner! ), know that you are loved.

II. Six Trees for Six Blogfriends

  1. Checkers’ World  ’cause Cardis and trees together just make sense.
  2. Cody Bear’s Friends  for Goodbear who, if she were a tree, would like to be a boojum.
  3. Laugh in the Sun  because reading Alyson’s humour is always a tree-t.
  4. One Little Detail for Livingisdetail who, if she were a tree, would like to be a red gum.
  5. The Marvelous in Nature, who knows how trees live and what things live in trees.
  6. Yasashiikuma, for the Cardi-tree thing, and Shelley’s love of the Bruce Trail.

I hope that’s okay with everybody. And don’t forget to come to the virtual potluck!