Fortunate 

Fortunate am I on the nights when circumstances intervene before the little voice in my head that asks, what if, can get an answer.

Fuck x 30

Fuck feeling like I need to give myself permission to write. Just fucking write. 1) it’s not hard and 2) who cares how it looks.

Fuck the time suck that is Facebook, with its endless fear of missing out interspersed with people missing the point.

Fuck only getting a clue now that I’m middle aged.

Fuck being this out of shape. 

Fuck my left knee.

Fuck STILL not being able to afford to do the things that are important to me.

Fuck herbal teas that always smell way better than they taste.

Fuck people who never try.

Fuck people who think I’m an inspiration. Aim higher, for fuck’s sake.

Fuck this squishy lap.

Fuck only figuring shit out now.

Fuck the ridiculously high US/CDN exchange rate.

Fuch autocorrect that keeps wanting to change fuck to duck.

Fuck not being able to put tech down for more than an hour.

Fuck poor self control.

Fuck losing my taste for beer (a temporary situation, I hope).

Fuck expensive wine that tastes like cheap wine.

Fuck acid reflux.

Fuck procrastination.

Fuck this city.

Fuck all my friends living so far away.

Fuck time poorly spent (I refuse to say wasted, but it’s close)

Fuck being introverted.

Fuck people who think I’m too stupid to figure things out for myself.

Fuck sometimes not being able to figure things out for myself.

Fuck being behind.

Fuck being left behind.

Fuck being bored.

Fuck trite sayings that happen to be true.

Fuck not taking photos of things that interest me. Why am I so uninspired? Is it time to pull the plug?

Fuch this burn on my thumb.

In which I attempt to write science fiction…

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is to try my hand at writing fiction, specifically science fiction. The following story came about at my summer writing retreat with some amazing people at Firefly Creative Writing. The writing prompt was to find something in the cottage, and incorporate it into a story; I felt that a fish poacher (not unlike this one) seemed like a good jumping off point.

It was fun. I think I might write some more.


 

It was a dismal and grey day in Alaska the day the aliens landed. The aliens didn’t know it was a grey and dismal day, they were just happy that their long journey was over. They emerged from their craft in the non-corporal form they took for space flight, and looked for a life-form to emulate.

It was too bad that they landed where they did, that they hadn’t at least done a fly-over of this blue-green planet. They might have landed in New York City, London, Tokyo, Beijing. Things might have been so different. But no. Circumstances and coincidences shape the destiny of all things. The Sularg ship had been programmed to alight on the first land encountered before awakening the crew, and land it did, beside a slow moving river in the Chugach National Forest in southern Alaska.

There were five of Sularg on the ship, one complete pod. They floated beside their ship for a moment, taking in the environment, the oxygen-rich air, the breeze that made them bob and swoop to stay together.

This could work, thought-sent Childak, their leader by virtue of being the oldest by one slinoon. The rest of the pod thought-sent agreement and they began to slowly fan out from the ship for the next stage of their programming, to find the first suitable form for them to adopt. Traldak drifted toward the river, senses extended in the search for a suitable form. This planet is so rich she thought-kept, so much life and diversity. She probed each life type she found, trees, plants, insects, searching for one with enough complexity and sentience to hold their sparks. It wasn’t until she sent tendrils into the ribbon of water that she found anything close enough.

Here, she thought-sent, calling the rest back from their own discoveries. They came to her, leaving bears, wolves and ravens undiscovered. They each sent their own thought-tendrils into the water, and thought-sent agreement. A bit rudimentary, Childak thought-sent, but it will have to do. They were the only species on their planet with any sentience to speak of, and so it did not occur to them that might be others to keep look for on this one.

Childak sent the tendril back to the ship, and they drifted over the water waiting for the organic computer to sequence the information. A few moments later, they found themselves with mass again, and fell to the water. Garndak, who hated waiting and had been still sending tendrils out had  seen something moving in the trees and had begun to drift toward it.

Wait please- he had begun to thought-send when the change happened, and he found himself landing on the sandy bank beside the river. The shock of the new body contracted all his tendrils back into himself, and the thought of what he might have seen was pushed from him in the as he gasped on the gritty dry ground.

What- thought-sent Childak.

This isn’t right- Garndak replied.

The pod pushed an interrogative at him.

This body is failing – Garndak thought-sent. He could feel salmon instincts well up in him, and he felt the muscles contract and release rythmically. There was a tinge of panic edging into his movements as he tried to pull something into his body, something he needed for survival.

 Where are you?- thought-sent Childak. We’re fine- he added unhelpfully.

Fortunately for Garndak, his flopping had brought him to the waters edge, and his next movement sent him into the water.

He floated for a moment in the blissful coolness, letting this new environment soothe his skin. He pulled great gulps of the liquid into his mouth and out through openings on his sides, revelling in this new feeling of right-ness. The rest of the pod were near him, nothing moving but mouths and gills, and eyes that rolled to see him.

Are you all right? thought-sent Traldak.

Yes, he sent back, then sent his experiences to Ferndak, the podmate most interested in different life forms.

Interesting, replied Ferndak. -These bodies are meant for only one of this planet’s environments.-

Childak, who took his position and his age in the pod rather too seriously, throught-sent with a touch of irritation, Well now we’re all here, let’s get on with the mission.

How? came Coogdak’s challenge. Have you figured out how to move yet? Coogdak loved nothing more than to take Childak down a peg or two.

Before Childak could reply, Garndak sent, I think I’ve got it. Watch, and demonstrated the muscle spasming that had caused him to move on the riverbank. He used the same power that instinct had caused him to use, resulting in him swimming far beyond them. He experimented with the fin extensions from his body to turn and rejoin his pod.

He thought-sent the procedure to the pod, and soon all were practicing moving the bodies they had chosen.

This is fun, sent Ferndak as she swooped past Garndak. These are the best bodies ever!

Childak, who secretly agreed with Ferndak sent a time-to-go message, and they began to move downstream for no other reason that their bodies were becoming tired and it was easier. Soon they encountered the salmon that Traldak had seen, that they had all based their forms on.

Childak swam over to float in front of  it, so he could look it in the eyes

Take us to your leader, he thought-sent with a formal tone. We have information to share to help your planet.

The salmon merely regarded him, fins gyrating slowly to keep it in place.

Didn’t you hear me? Take us to your leader!

Still no response.

Childak  tried again with the formal opening, the one he had practiced by himself during the voyage. Coogdak thought-sent a smirk and smothered laugh, which irritated Childak as it was meant to do.

Childak ignored Coogdak and tried a third time. We are travellers in space and time. We can teach you better ways to travel, to live, to manage your planet. Don’t you want that? Hello?

Coogdak thought-sent deeper amusement. Exasperated, Childak sent the equivalent of ok smartass, you try.

Coogdak swam forward to the salmon and used simpler language. Where are your leaders?

This the salmon could answer. The Sularg had no way of knowing that salmon had only rudimentary language concepts that consisted of five “words” – food, spawn, where, upstream, downstream. The salmon understood “where” and helpfully replied “downstream” since the strangers were already pointed that way.

Downstream they went, asking each salmon they encountered. Childak shortened his practised speech to two words, where leaders, as it seemed to the only thing that got a response. And the response was always downstream.

The Slurag followed the current, which sped up now and then when the river narrowed. They revelled in this fluid environment and these bodies so very different from their own back home. They flipped and frolicked as they got used to the muscles and fins that propelled them. Once, Coogdak discovered that he could temporarily leave the river by swimming fast then flicking his tail just so, to leap from the water into a different place. The heavier gravity always sent him back into the water before the salmon body he wore became distressed in the air. He showed the rest of his pod, and it became a game to see who could leap the highest and for longest. The five of them were so delighted with this and so taken with the competition, that they sped past a final school of salmon that would have answered “upstream” to Childak’s question, the only way the salmon knew to warn these strangers of the air-breathers and their nets around the next bend in the river.

 **********

“That looks delicious,” said the woman. She and her husband were out for their anniversary dinner at The Kincaid Grill, the best restaurant in Anchorage. They had saved for months so they could splurge.

The waiter lifted a piece of salmon from the large fish poaching salver and placed it on her plate.

How fresh is it, her husband asked as the waiter carefully ladled a dill Bernaise sauce over the salmon he had just plated.

“Very fresh,” he told the man as he repeated the procedure. “Chef likes to go fishing in the morning, and caught five of them this morning. He said it was the damnedest thing, they practically jumped into his boat, like they wanted to be caught and go with him or something.”

With that, he bid them bon appetit and left them to their anniversary dinner.

Disgusting

“Cats are disgusting,” said the young woman at the outdoor festival.

Five minutes later, this same woman gets “kisses” on the mouth from her dog, a dog that was licking its ass not 2 minutes before.

Yeah sure, it's cats that are disgusting.

Because it’s been a while, aka Fuck x 19

Fuck people who use feminine qualities as a negative.

Fuck nostalgia.

Fuck sore knees.

Fuck being away from my husband so much.

Fuck having to explain myself.

Fuck people who think that I am obligated to listen to their negative comments on my hair colour, clothing, language or career path with good grace.

Fuck people who use a public group for private griping.

Fuck people who think that being offensive, sexist or generally an asshole is a positive character trait.

Fuck poorly planned assignments.

Fuck bad soft serve ice cream. I'm looking at you, Dairy Queen.

Fuck mosquitos.

Fuck appliances that stop working after a month.

Fuck what-ifs.

Fuck cheap pens.

Fuck not being home.

Fuck not getting along.

Fuck people who call me a liar when I say some of the things I've done in the past.

Fuck feelings of regret and loss that never really go away.

Fuck screen addiction.

 

Day 19,226

Well. So much for those good intentions.

It’s not that I couldn’t carve out time to write here, about this and that, about how odd it is to be back around my high school haunts after thirty-odd years, about school and commuting and how I barely have time to connect with Keith much less with friends, or read for fun or knit.

I’m just still trying to find a flow to my days that isn’t going to leave me hating this. No, hating is the wrong word. Resenting might be closer. I’ll get there. Just been a bit of an adjustment to go from being a lady of leisure for a year (a role I was quite good at) to having to organize and budget and schedule more than I have ever had to. I’m not even going to show you my calendar; the last person I showed it to just said, oh dear, and patted my shoulder sympathetically.

One thing I’m glad I’ve scheduled in the half-hour every morning to drink my coffee and do morning pages. Am quite pleased and amazed with how just this little ritual has helped organize my thoughts. I feel less scattered, less anxious when things are piling up. And it’s only been three weeks.

Now that I have procrastinated a bit, I’m going to turn my attention back to my malt assignment and then drink some Chocolate Manifesto and watch it snow.

School, Day 0, in which I thank a lot of people

How to explain how I felt yesterday as I sat in a classroom for orientation, listening to people talk about the program I spent so much time and effort getting into. I think giddy covers it best.

(We’re going to gloss right over the nerves, anxiety, self-doubt and near-crippling panic that I experienced in the preceding 48 hours. The less said about that the better.)

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Yes. We drank beer during the orientation info session. I can safely say we were the only program that did. They had 5 styles, but I felt that trying all five with no breakfast might be a mistake so I settled for samples of the NC Teaching Brewery saison and Septemberfest. Both made me wish I’d had breakfast.

I met most of my classmates. It appears that I am the only estrogen-based life form, which should make the next 16 months interesting. As well as from Ontario, there are two guys from the US, one from Calgary and another from Fredericton. I was as chatty as a nervous former teacher could be, so I’m pretty sure they know more about me at this point than I know about them. Note to self: sshhhhh.

Today is the first day of classes, and a fairly light one at that; an hour of Math of Finance at 11:30 followed by two hours of Computer Applications, which seems to be basically a self-learning software to guide one through the basics of MS Office. As someone who has taught it for the last 12 years, I am really hoping I can fast track through it.

I should go and have breakfast then shower and get dressed. But I can’t help but linger here over my coffee and think about how fortunate I am.

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First and foremost, I have to hand it to my beloved. He was the one that planted this little seed in my mind by replying “Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it” when asked what I should be when I grow up. He has been nothing but supportive and wonderful throughout the last year while I was recovering from having the rugged pulled out from under me and then planning and working toward this next stage. He is quietly sacrificing much. He is shouldering a larger financial burden while I’m a student, has seen his vacation cut short from 2 weeks as planned to 5 days to accommodate some work that came up for me, and is keeping the home fires burning solo while I’m at my mid-week home across the lake. He is, in a word, wonderful, and I am quite lucky to have him in my life.

While Keith keeps telling me I made it this far due to hard work, I could not have done it without a lot of help in one form or another from just about everyone I know.

  • my brothers Brian and Doug, and my sister-in-law Linda. They have been my cheerleaders in unexpected ways and have offered much needed moral support and offers of financial assistance (which I hope I don’t need). I am grateful for how they have my back.
  • The Moose, our friend who is graciously renting me a room in his house in Winona. I hope he still wants to be my pal after being my mid-week landlord for the next while!
  • The “beer girls” - Erica at Black Oak, Jen Murphy at Beerlicious and Jen Shute. I met them at the Prud’homme beer course and they have been invaluable sources of information and assistance whether it be a letter for my Second Career application or connecting me to beer folks so I can make some extra money doing LCBO tastings. You guys rock!
  • Bella Dodswell of The Career Foundation, who helped me navigate the paperwork minefield that is a Second Career application. My application would not have been successful without her cheerful advice.
  • Juliette, who is still willing and able to pick up the phone and talk me off a ledge, even though we live on opposite sides of the world from each other and are separated by a half a day’s worth of time zones. The woman has mad skills and I am proud to call her friend.
  • Lori is another friend from far away who is kind and generous with her time and herself. I appreciate her more than I can ever say.
  • Caroline, aka the Hoppy Beer Witch, who is funny and interesting, and who has been instrumental in whetting my interest in the BJCP.
  • Robin Le Blanc, the Thirsty Wench. I have only spoken with her a few times, but we have many common thoughts on social justice and equality. She has given me much to think on in terms of working to expand the diversity of brewing, while introducing me to people in the industry.
  • Toronto brewers, who helped my application by taking time to complete my survey: Steve at Liberty Village, Tomas from Spearhead, Jeff from Indie Alehouse, Mary Beth at Granite, Mandie at Left Field, Dave at Kensington and Doug at Junction Craft. Shout outs to Tina from Junction Craft and Paul from Flying Monkeys in Barrie who has allowed me to ask incessant questions about the business on several occasions.
  • Nate Ferguson and Alan Brown of Niagara College, for giving me a tour of the college and patiently and promptly answering all of my email questions, no matter how big or small.
  • The women at the Admissions department of Niagara College. They gave me invaluable advice during the application process and their emails were always fun and friendly.
  • my derby pals, my former colleagues, former students, friends and friends-of-friends, and perfect strangers, all of whom said “wow cool” when I told them of my plan to become a brewmaster. No one said I was too old, too female, too unexperienced or too anything; everyone has been amazingly supportive and interested.

And for this, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I quite honestly could not have done this without you and I am grateful.

Let me buy you a beer next time I see you.

 

Day 19,108

I just can’t help but feel that my day would go so much better if I could just get out of my bathrobe, shower and get things done. Here’s hoping I manage it in the next hour or so, since I have to be at work 4.

Somehow, I don’t think fuzzy red bathrobe is part of Bulk Barn’s dress code.

*******************

I watched a trailer for 20,000 Days on Earth, a documentary with Nick Cave, and it got me thinking, how old am I days? Hence the title.

And FYI, I’ll be 20,000 days old on January 1, 2017. I think that might be a good day for a big party.

*******************

I know, I know. I haven’t posted the fitness things for a while. I went great guns for a month, lost 10 lbs, then the enthusiasm waned. I have to rekindle it, as I would really like to be below 190 by the time I go to school in just over 5 weeks.

5 weeks. Fuck.

Long day

july 9

 

My feet are tired and my face hurts.

The feet are sore from all the mileage that Keith and I put in around downtown today as we walked between venues at the Toronto Fringe Festival. See those six gaps in the FitBit activity log? Those represent the six shows we saw in one day. All but one was very funny, and even the one that wasn’t very funny was still pretty funny. Which is why my face hurts.

We laughed. A lot.

More tomorrow, as right now all I want to do is drink the beer that is included in the above MFP log before I fall asleep.

yeah, whatever day

july 8

 

Today was not good from a physical fitness perspective, but pretty damn fine in terms of self care. I call it a yeah, whatever day. I know I should be doing something else, but yeah whatever. My dad would call it being logey.

My GI tract’s reaction to the grocery store sushi kept me up most of the night, and I spent most of the day on the couch alternating between watching Penny Dreadful and napping. I felt better by dinnertime, so we went and joined BrainMc and his wife Stacie for poutine as a last visit before they moved on in their travels. There were a few more steps than 28; I decided to leave the FitBit at home because, yeah, whatever.

And after the poutine, a stop for an ice cream at Ed’s Real Scoop seemed like a brilliant idea. A much better one than grocery store sushi, that’s for damn sure!