Thursday, July 30, 2015

Prime Deprivatioin

Oh, woe is me!

This sad tale begins…  Well, it begins sometime earlier in this century when I was introduced by my beloved husband to what is, and always will be, the best TV show ever produced (in my humble opinion).  After 22 series on the BBC, it came to a crashing end when the allegedly inebriated star punched out one of the producers over sandwiches and was, subsequently, fired on the spot.

If you haven’t already figured it out, the show is Top Gear.  And the star is Jeremy Clarkson.

Jeremy Clarkson, not to put too fine a point on it, is an ass.  But he’s a loveable ass and, while the somewhat less than dignified end of an era brought on by his somewhat less than good judgment was somewhat less than a surprise to me, I was saddened by the seeming finality of it all.

Top Gear is a show about cars.  Or, more accurately, about vehicles.  It is British in all aspects:  content, humour and make and model.  It’s also brilliantly inspirational.  Sometimes, when I’m driving, I pretend that I am a Top Gear host and I deliver witty monologues in my head about the imaginary super car I’m test driving and reviewing for my segment on the show.  Alternately, I imagine the Stig sitting next to me in the passenger seat, coaching me around Hammerhead and through Gambon across the finish in a reasonably priced car.  Of course, my final lap scores me the fastest time.  Eat your heart out, Angelina Jolie! 

Now for those who know me and know also that I hate driving as a general rule, but acknowledge that it is a very handy skill, may be a bit puzzled as to why I have dubbed Top Gear as the best TV show ever.  It’s true that I possess only a rudimentary understanding of how cars work.  Horse power, though having been explained to me several times, remains a mystery to me beyond the bigger the number, the more powerful the engine.  I have a vague inkling about what torque means and does.  I know that the V in V8, for example, refers to the cylinders in an engine being configured in a V-shape.  I know that distributor caps make great pencil holders!  In the simplest terms, I appreciate the art of design and designing cars is as much art as it is science.  There is beauty in the sculptural result of a process that holds my very life in its hands.  I am in awe of the knowledge, the skill and the talent that provides me with the transportation that I rely on.  And to have it so expertly, humorously and thrillingly explained to me by the Top Gear hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, through the magic of television makes me feel good. 

L to R:  Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, James May.
My vehicular heroes!

So, why the woe is me stuff? 

Not, as you may have thought, because Top Gear is over and done. 

Recently it was announced that the Clarkson, May and Hammond trio are reuniting to do a new car show. 

That’s not it, either.

But this is…  The deal for the new show is with Amazon Prime. 

Amazon Prime is a Netflix-like service provided, obviously, by Amazon to its US and (I might be wrong about this and I am investigating) UK customers.  A vastly different service, also called Amazon Prime, is available in Canada, but it’s, at best, a parody of the US/UK version and, I suspect, because I’m highly suspicious that way, is called Amazon Prime to sucker unsuspecting and trusting Canadians to part with $79/year thinking, erroneously as it turns out, that Amazon Prime is Amazon Prime no matter where you live.  The stinkers!  Amazon, I mean.  (I concede that Amazon may not be entirely responsible for this sad oversight and that the CRTC's influence may be a factor.) 

Would I part with $79/year just to watch Clarkson’s, May’s and Hammond’s future antics behind the wheel?  You bet your sweet bippy I would!

But, alas, Amazon seems to think Canada doesn’t need the real Amazon Prime; that we, in our inherent and typically complacent ways, are happy to pay them for free shipping.  (Yep!  That’s one of the featured features of the program!  You pay for free shipping even though you can get it for really free anyway.) 

I am cautiously optimistic that the new show will show up on the Internet somewhere and that I will be able to watch it.  And I hope that it will be as entertaining and informative as Top Gear was (is).  In the meantime, I will re-watch my favourite episodes and continue to expand my limited knowledge about cars and vast appreciation for the incredible and artful technology that moves our world. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I am sitting in my office at work, but my heart and mind are nowhere near here.  They are off on yet another tangent, wondering if X will ever happen and if it does will it be as fantastic in real life as it is in my imagination?  They are mucking about in an emotional swamp, doubt and fear swirling around them like sharks ready to bite.   They are in reach of a lifeline, just a little to the Right, but they rale against going Right, because the colours are so much brighter on the Left.  The Left is so full of untapped potential, so brilliant, so sparkly.  So vastly thrilling and dangerous and bursting with treasure waiting to be discovered.

Thirsty for X, I can only sip tiny drops of its nectar when they happen to fall on my lips.  I am teased and taunted by it, over there, on the edge of this swamp that feels more like an ocean.  One step and I’d be on dry land.  And yet it seems I’ve been swimming for ages while the shore just keeps getting farther away. 

I am distracted, briefly, by a phone call.  A decision has to be made, so I make it.  It’s easy – a no-brainer.  Oddly enough, most decisions I am called upon to make are like that.   I navigate the thing that puts food on my table and a roof over my head with relative ease.  It’s like a child; it needs to be nurtured, pampered, praised, disciplined, all in turn.  On the rare occasions that it vexes me, I have learned how to rock it to sleep, or bandage its wounds or pacify its tantrums.  Mostly, though, it makes me proud.  I wake up every day looking forward to its challenges and go to sleep every night content in knowing that we serve each other so well.  And I try not to think about the day when I will have to let it go.

I do think that if X would only reach out a hand to me I could get through anything.  But X remains elusive, pensive and vaguely aloof as if something I have done, or, alternatively, not done, continues to be an affront to its sensibilities.  I just don’t know.  And that makes me a little nuts! 

Then I wonder if having X will prove to be as amazing as it sounds.  I wonder if the fantasy is better than the reality ever could be.  I second guess.  I mentally sabotage the dream.  I invent every worst-case scenario I can think of, just to test if I would be able to survive it.  (And I can!  ‘Cause I’m Super Woman and I’m cool like that!  At least in my head.)   Envisioning the best-case scenarios, though, is something that I’m not nearly as adept at.    Those, I think, are assumed.  Or, possibly, believed. 

Belief is such a misunderstood and abused concept!  Intellectually, I know that beliefs are not real, but it acts real and that is where the danger lies!  I don’t think I really do believe in the best-case scenarios, though.  They are far too peaceful and comfortable for my adventure-starved psyche to latch onto with any kind of firm grip.  Where’s the fun and excitement in that? 

And yet… And yet, that is what I also long for.  Peace and contentment.  To be satisfied and relaxed and unencumbered by crisis - real or imagined! -  would be so… Well, boring, really!

Incoming “Aha moment”! 

So maybe I just need to learn to discern between good drama and bad drama.  Yes!  I think that might be it.  I’ll have to ponder that some more.  I can already see it’s fraught with traps.  But it has some definite potential.  Hmmm….

X has been lurking in the shadows of my imagination for… For as long as I can remember.  In my mind I can see it and feel it quite clearly.  It’s easy to conjure the formula for X, that velvety elixir, that divine potion.  It’s the mixing, the extracting, the condensing that is necessary for the creation of the perfect existential experience that is so troublesome.  X may be demanding compromise.  Or, perhaps, an ingredient that I am not privileged to is missing.  Or both.  Or I’m overthinking it, which is far more probable. 

And the pressure I’m feeling.  The X clock is ticking, damn it!  I do worry a bit that time is running out.  X has a use-by date congruent with my last breath. 

Not that I’m expecting to expire any time really soon, mind you.  I’m not finished yet.  There’s more to do.

Like achieving X!


I deserve X.  I am worthy of X.  I would be as great for X as X would be for me.  X and I could do marvelous things together. 

X isn’t a need.  It’s a want.  I know this because I have survived for 53 years without X and I’m still here.  X is a dream.  X is a goal.  X is that thing that, unlike becoming a ballerina, is actually achievable.  (I’m almost positive of that. [Only fools are positive, right?])  X courses through my veins.  X plagues my dreams and haunts my waking hours.  X is a bit of a nag that keeps calling to me, only to dodge my grasp just when I think it is within my reach. 

I honestly don’t know if I’m a pessimist or an optimist when it comes to X.  It’s a mystery.  X is, I mean.

And while I do love a good mystery, I sure wish that X would step out of the shadows and, for the love of Pete, either stand still long enough for me to make it mine (figuratively speaking), or bugger off all together.

(Dear Universe; Please don’t let X bugger off altogether.  Please show me how to incorporate X into my life and collaborate with it and have fun with it and be supported by it and be challenged by it and create with it and spend the rest of my life with it.  Let X know that I will always do my best and that it has nothing to fear from me and that I will never, ever do anything (on purpose) to hurt it.  So mote it be.) 

Well, that’s it.  X is still sitting just over there on the Left amid the sparkly, brilliant thrill and danger, sometimes smiling at me with encouragement and sometimes looking mystified and perplexed at my clumsy attempts at making my way toward it.   It’s almost as if it wants me as much as I want it.  But it’s unwilling to surrender, as if in doing so it will become lost, or destroyed or otherwise changed somehow.  Oh, how I would love to be lost in X.  Destroyed by it.  Changed by it.  To become found again, re-created and better than I am now.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bond. James Bond

I love James Bond.  I am currently engaged in a Bond-a-thon, of sorts; I’m watching all 24 Bond movies this summer in preparation for the 25th Bond movie to be released… Well, sometime soon, I hope.
It is the absurdity of the spy trade that makes these movies so entertaining.  That men feel the need to create such useless drama is proof positive that we need saber-tooth tigers and mastodons to keep them occupied against real threats and stop them from thinking up stupid reasons to kill each other.  Thus, leaving women to do what needs to be done to govern a productive and peaceful world.  A matriarchal society where men are men and women are women and there is no us against them crap to contend with is my idea of utopia.    

Don’t get me wrong.  I love and admire men.  I am in constant awe at the useful skills they contribute to life, their physical strength and their ingenuity.  There is nothing sexier than a strong, creative man who knows how to solve problems and can adroitly employ discernment between defense and aggression; and who doesn’t just try to “fix” things all the time.  Why do men always try to fix things? 

As a feminist, I try to advocate for equality not sameness (there is a huge difference!).  And, while, yes, I do think a matriarchal society would be grand, I posit that in it, men would not be deemed beneath women, but revered and celebrated in far more healthy ways than the patriarchal model has so far demonstrated in its view upon women. But that is a different blog and I apologize for the minor digression.

Back to Bond.  James Bond.

Bond has been portrayed by six different actors:  Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig; the debonair Sir Roger being my all-time favourite of the group, with Daniel Craig being a  very – very, very, very! – close second.  Each of these accomplished actors brought his own qualities to the role and assisted in elevating the legendary spy to epic heights as an iconic hero of the people.   Sexy, smart, resourceful and, of course, licensed to kill, Bond engages men and women alike for his abilities, though, perhaps, for different reasons.  With just a touch – for really, that’s all a man needs – of vulnerability, Bond represents the epitome of manhood. 

Except that he is a spy.  But he has the coolest gadgets.  Like his wet suit with the rubber duck on the top piece used in Goldfinger.  Who says spy gadget makers don’t have a sense of humour? 

Still, he’s a spy.  The modern saber-tooth tiger hunter.  With gadgets! 
And I love him.  Almost as much as I love Batman.  Batman is everything that Bond is, with more money.  (I think.)  And he’s not a spy.   Just a guy with strong principles who doesn’t go looking for trouble necessarily, but doesn’t back down from it either.  And he has a cape.  And a mask.  And a utility belt.  And an awesome butler. 

Oops!  Another digression. 

I love Bond because he is a hero – even if he is a spy – and I need a hero.  Heroes are harbingers of hope and there are times when hope is all I have.  If I can’t have a real hero in my life, at least I can have literary ones.  Like Bond.  (And Batman.)  May he (they) always be there to lift my spirits, so often both shaken and stirred!

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Majestic - a restaurant review

Houston.  Population:  3200(ish).  Not enough for a Tim Horton’s, but more than enough apparently for three Chinese food restaurants.  There is not a lot of option when it comes to dining out in Houston.  Lunch venues like Brewstir’s, Tea Gallery and the Food Market are adequate – even quite good.  But dining out… I mean really dining out… leaves a lot to be desired.

You can imagine my thrill then, when earlier this year, The Majestic opened its doors at the Houston Motor Inn.  The Majestic offers East Indian and Western cuisine and, all spices aside, has been a breath of fresh air for me as far as going out for dinner is concerned. The butter chicken is delectable.  The curried lamb is exquisite.  The coconut chicken is nothing short of amazing. 

While I’ve had the pleasure of eating at The Majestic several times, I have not yet managed to get through the whole menu.  What I have experienced so far, though, is delicious!

People who know me well enough are a bit taken aback by my enthusiasm for this new restaurant.  I do not possess a very adventurous palate; Kraft Dinner and wieners is food of the gods in my opinion.  But I love a good curry and being able to customize the “hot level” of the spices (1 to 5) means I can eat to fit my mood.  And all for very reasonable prices!

My only trepidation is that restaurants tend not to last very long in this venue.  For much of the 36 years that I have lived in Houston, the Houston Motor Inn (formerly Midway) restaurant space has sat empty, the freezer warm and the friers cold.  There have been several attempts by various people to provide both good and mediocre dining experiences there.  None have lasted more than two years.  So I think I will be looking for excuses – lots of excuses – to eat there for the next 18 months or so.  

And if anyone would like to join me, don’t hesitate to give me a call!  

Thursday, July 9, 2015


This blogging thing is proving to be difficult to keep up with.  I have started at least a dozen posts and have been interrupted or otherwise distracted since my last post in March.  None of them have made it past draft and sit spectacularly unfinished in various folders on my computer and the Cloud.  It's really quite disheartening.

But I cannot overlook Felix.  He must be immortalized at Yemalla's Moon!

I am just starting my 54th trip around the sun.  I mention this only because it in relation to my years - even if you take away the first 16 that I was not allowed to drive - my car ownership stats are comparatively low with other people of a similar age.  I have averaged a new car every 12 years four months since reaching legal driving age or every seven years since buying my first vehicle. I bought my first car - an unimpressive 1993 Mercury Topaz (The Old Gray Mare) when I was 34.  TOGM was what one might refer to as a lemon, presenting with no end of problems over the seven or eight years that I owned her.  

After TOGM was retired from my life, my primary mode of transportation became my feet.  I didn't mind.  In fact if I ever win the lottery, the first thing I intend to do is to hire a chauffeur.  I could happily cut up my license and never drive again (although I do grudgingly admit that it is a handy skill to have).  

I bought my second vehicle in 2010 after an horrific incident where the 1988 Toyota Corolla (Isabelle) that I had the use of was unceremoniously backed into by a pickup truck that left her passenger side doors severely dented.  The vehicle that I bought was a 2000 Pontiac Montana named Gracie (after Gracie Allen because she was so quirky right from the start).  Gracie liked to play tricks like having her gas gauge start filling up again when it reached the half-tank mark.  Her electrical systems were glitchy and she sometimes pretended that her ignition wasn't working.  But she ran great and had a fair bit of jam for an old mini-van.

The real problem with Gracie is that she wasn't very good at hauling stuff.  When I needed lumber for a project around Alegria, she wasn't suited for the task of carrying it home.  Forget about taking stuff to the dump!  And her front-wheel drive system was useless in the winter if I wanted to go snowshoeing.  The final straw was her failing AC.  I'm sorry but five weeks of sustained 25-30+ degree heat requires AC!  

So I decided that I would look for a pickup.  I certainly do not need a seven-passenger vehicle, but I do need to be able to haul garbage, pick up lumber and go snowshoeing!  

Enter my third vehicle:  Felix.  Felix means lucky and successful.  He's a 2010 Ford Ranger with 74,000 clicks on the odometer, a custom rack, a Tonnaeu cover and studded winter tires on separate rims.  His four-wheel drive capacity will come in handing in the coming winter months (yes, people, Winter Is Coming!) and with a bit of ingenuity his rack will nicely support a custom tent for camping.  Whoot!  This morning, he happily and easily took a load of old, rotten wood that had been languishing in my back yard for a very long time to the dump.  It was awesome!  

So far, Felix has been wonderful.  I am quickly growing attached to the little pickup.  I know it's only been a couple of days, but I've been known to fall hard for handsome and handy guys before; Felix is both!