Archive for the ‘Life's NOT a bowl of cherries’ Category

OK. So where do I start?

In the middle of December Gus stopped eating. He simply refused his dinner one day. After giving him a few days to get over it in case it was just stomach upset (Doctor Google informing me that a loss of appetite in a dog isn’t a cause for alarm unless it lasts more than 2 days), I spent pretty much an entire week with him at the vet (first our own, then a specialist) as they ruled out one diagnosis after another and he got sicker and weaker. His gums were practically white, he had no energy, and he moved like he was a hundred years old. As I was getting him down the stairs onto the subway platform to go to the specialist, a guy waiting for the train said to his friend “Wow, look at that old dog! He’s got to be like 15!”

Gus is 5.

Anyway, as I said, the easy and inexpensive conditions got ruled out one by one.

Worms? No.
Had he eaten a foreign object? No.
Had he gotten into some kind of poison? No.

Eventually it got down to ulcers vs cancer. And it didn’t look good. An ultrasound showed a mass on his spleen which we were told was 80% likely to be cancer and even if it wasn’t would eventually burst and kill him anyway. He had a biopsy for the spleen mass and an endoscopy for the gut bleeding and…

…he didn’t have cancer.

The spleen mass wasn’t even a tumour, just a nodule of spleen tissue and not a danger to him, at least right now. What he does have is inflammatory bowel disease, which can be really serious, but not as bad as cancer. “Change his diet to something he’s never had before,” the vet said. “Bring him back next week and we’ll see if he needs medication.”

We changed his diet, and I think Gus must have had this for a couple of years, because he is not only fully recovered, he is back to the energy and activity level he had when he was about 2 1/2. He played with toys the other day. He has not shown interest in toys in YEARS. Yesterday he happily spent about 20 minutes in the back yard sniffing around in the snow. He is scent vocalizing on walks again. He is all sleek and bright-eyed and happy. I mean, he is still Gus, so he’s still an abnormally lazy dog, but he is so much better it is amazing.

So that was my Christmas! For about a week we thought Gus was going to die, then he got miraculously better. It took all the money we had saved and then some, but he is going to be OK.

Because we didn’t want to travel with a very sick dog, we hosted Christmas here instead of visiting our families. My mother insisted on bringing Christmas dinner already cooked, because you will pry cooking for the holidays out of her cold dead hands, and Cecil got so many presents I think we will have to buy another house to put them in. Ben’s parents came a few days later and Cecil got even more presents, including a little hockey jersey with “Lil C” on the back.

Anyway. It was lovely to have Christmas in my own home, though I could have done without having Gus visit death’s door to make it happen.

Merry Gusmas!

Merry Gusmas!

Right after Christmas Ben came down with a terrible cold, which I came down with a few days later (right after visiting Ben’s grandmother, thereby probably taking out half a wing of the the seniors’ home) and Cecil a day or two after that. So this is basically a plague house. I feel a lot better, though fairly zombie-like (zombesque?) after a few nights of terrible baby sleep.

But hey, it’s the new year, when people decide to better themselves in spite of knowing they will fail utterly in two or three months! So what am I going to do to make myself a better excuse for a human being?

I really only have two things:
1. Learn how to be more productive with my time while looking after Cecil
2. Get some kind of non-music part-time job.

The key to 1 is, I think, limiting my time on Twitter, the major time-suck in my life, and the key to 2 is probably divine intervention because I have no non-music resume or skills, but you know, you gotta give it a try. I just want to diversify where my income comes from and make a bit of extra money in a somewhat more low-stress way. I love teaching but I can’t handle more than about 15 hours/week. It is too energy-consuming. So if you are looking to hire someone to work for you for about 12-15 hours a week doing something relatively mindless for a decent cause, I am your lady.

I’m giving myself a lot of time on that one, because as I said I have no resume to speak of and the job market is in the shitter, so I’ll be really impressed with myself if I can make that happen by the summer.

And to round out my “What I did on my blogging vacation” essay, a really simple recipe!

Cinnamon syrup

I made some peppermint syrup for Christmas lattes (just simple syrup + flavour extract) and it was such a hit I made syrups with all the extracts I have, including anise (which turned out awesome, BTW – it tastes exactly like those candies you get after dinner at Italian restaurants). Here is my first attempt without using an extract.

1/3 C sugar and
1/3 C water.

Stir to dissolve. Add:

Around 2 tablespoons cinnamon bark

and bring to a boil on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 2 minutes. Don’t let it really boil or you’ll make some really disgusting candy. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour or, if you’re me, forget about it entirely for an afternoon while you do other stuff. Strain into a glass container – those little baby juice bottles are perfect. Just label it so you don’t accidentally give your baby a whack of cinnamon-flavoured sugar instead of apple juice. About 2 teaspoons sweetens your coffee and gives it a nice cinnamon flavour.
You will notice I didn’t resolve to blog more often or bring back the podcast or anything, though I do want to; I can’t promise that 2013 will see more than a handful of blog posts either. But hey, if you made it all the way through this, at least I gave you a little sweetness for your morning brew.

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Since writing that last gloomy and negative blog post I have been thinking and talking about it a lot. And I’ve come to a not-all-that surprising conclusion:

I have to stop trying to Nice Guy* my way into a career. Because that is what I’ve been doing. I have been hanging around post-rejection saying “No, it’s totally OK! Let’s just be friends!” when I don’t want to be friends at all.

And while this analogy is not perfect, as opera does not have feelings to be hurt or boundaries to be respected, I do; so I am going to follow the advice given to Nice Guys. Which is: respect the “No” and go find someone else. Or in my case, an art form that I can actually participate in.

So hey! Welcome me back, Indie Opera! I am working on more Fallen Voices – working on them slowly because my time is pretty limited, but I am giving myself lots of time and will get there!

And just like that Nice Guy, I won’t say no if the Canadian Opera Company offers me a role, but I’m not going to audition and network and follow opera around with sheep’s eyes. Because as crazy-making as producing can be, at least you’re getting something done.

Anyway. TL/DR, I am back to doing what I was theoretically doing before, only without also doing a zillion auditions and hoping against hope for Someone Important to take an interest in me and give me a career. And I feel much, much better about it, to the point that I actually want to go out and see stuff and am not consumed with jealousy at the thought of someone else doing cool stuff I wish I could do.

*A Nice Guy: a man who befriends women he wants to sleep with because for whatever reason he lacks the confidence to ask them out. When the women hook up with someone else they feel betrayed and incensed, because he’s a Nice Guy! Why do girls only want to date assholes?

NB: Thanks to Marc G for the encouragement 🙂

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My website. Is gone.  Literally gone.

Well, not exactly literally. The URL still exists and I still own it.  But all of its content? Gone.  All of my fantastic…scratch that, marginally acceptable web design? Gone.

Every “Complaining with Kay” podcast? GONE.

I have offline archives of Complaining with Kay from about Episode 40 on, but not much before that, mostly due to storage concerns.  GAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

So to recap, it’s miserable and rainy outside, I had three fillings and multiple other bits of dental work done this afternoon, and now my website has poofed out of existence.  This is officially the most frustrating day ever.

AND YES I KNOW I should have backed it up, but I didn’t and unless this is some weird server error that can be fixed I have to rebuild the whole thing.  But thank you, Imaginary Internet Know-It-All.  I think it can be said to have been established that I don’t always act in the most foresight-y manner.

Well, at least my email is still there.  Though I think I’ll export all of that just to be sure.  I’ve put up a temp “UNDER CONSTRUCTION!” page with my email and other links on it, so at least people looking for lessons won’t be like “Ok then,” and go somewhere else.

Anyway.  I need a drink.

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So yesterday I went back to the dentist to finish my cleaning and get the estimate for all the work I’m going to have done. It’s kind of a lot – though fortunately the tooth-parging can be avoided – not so much that I won’t do it, of course. But enough that, as I sat there in the dentist’s chair having the accumulated grime of 6-7 years between dental cleanings being scraped away, I started thinking “What extra work can I pick up to pay for all of this?”

And then it hit me: I’ll have a telethon.

A virtual, online telethon.

Just me and my friends and my flower-shaped webcam.

Everything over and above the cost of the dental work would be donated to a charity that pays for dental care for poor people. I’m sure there is one.

Anyway, is this a stupid idea? Do you think I can get, say, 50 random people on the internet to donate $10 to my toothathon?

(BTW the show in Montreal was great.)

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While I’m in Montreal singing with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, I’ll be reposting some classic Scintillations for your amusement. Enjoy!

Yes, I had a highly disgusting experience today. DO NOT CLICK on the “Read more” link if you don’t want to throw up in your mouth.


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A while back I posted about the awful, awful things that happen to your body when you turn thirty.  Mostly that you stop sleeping properly, your hair and skin dry out, and you grow sparse but noticeable hairs where you don’t expect them.

Something new to add…

…apparently YOUR TEETH THIN OUT.

I knew that your hair can get thinner, but your teeth?

I went to the dentist today for a long-overdue cleaning, and yet another of my teeth has chipped.  The hygenist explained that, if you grind your teeth, they start to thin out and chip more easily.

“Does this happen to everyone?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “but it’s not uncommon.”

So not only could they not finish my cleaning today because it’s been about 6 years since I last had one and apparently there’s a lot to do, but I have to have the backs of my teeth shored up with filling material so they don’t thin out more and chip more.

That’s right.  I have to have my goddamn teeth parged.

And of course, I don’t have dental insurance (which is why I haven’t been in about six years, apart from the emergency chipped-tooth-repair from last spring), so it’s going to cost a couple hundred dollars that I’d rather spend on luxuries like, you know, the mortgage or food or not going a couple hundred dollars more into debt.  But what can you do?  They’re teeth.  They don’t grow back.  And it’s not like the parging we have to do in the basement – I can’t buy tooth cement and fill it in myself.

So I’ll pay up and I won’t complain (anymore).  But if you’d like to help, this would be an excellent time to buy a T-shirt, a CD, or a digital download.

Alright, time for more movies and ice cream.  The Sore Throat of Death is much better today, but I’ll still take the day off and rest it some more.

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So I’m sure you all remember how, last November, I attempted to go to an event without actually knowing where it was or having any way of find out? And, not surprisingly, I got caught in a massive rainstorm and failed spectacularly to get there?

Well, you would have thought I’d have learned my lesson from that experience, but you’d be wrong. Because this is what happened tonight:


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