Thursday, March 30, 2006

What kind of weather are you?

Well, Dephal and Peg have turned me onto BlogThings, like I need another time waster! And apparently, I am snow:

You Are Snow

Magical yet potentially destructive
You are well known as fun to play with
People anticipate your arrival but then are quickly sick of you

You are best known for: your serenity

Your dominant state: reflecting
What Type of Weather Are You?

Your Monster Profile

Lethal Nightmare

You Feast On: Pie

You Lurk Around In: Flocks of Freshmen

You Especially Like to Torment: Lawyers

Are ya sick of me yet?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blonde and boobiful

This evening, I got bored and wondered what I'd look like with blonde hair and implants. Now I know. Eeyuw!

PS: Excuse the skin tone on my face. I, er, protected it too well while in the tanning booth. Yeah. That's it!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Our stripey cat Zoe was deathly ill last week. She was vomiting several times a day, had stopped eating and drinking, and was lethargic. She spent two nights in the vet hospital on an IV, and had numerous tests and a belly x-ray. The vet could not find the source of her illness, and she was fighting him so much on everything that he decided to send her home and have ME nurse her. She was much more compliant with me, and I was able to pill her and syringe-feed her without bloodshed. For two days she showed little improvement, and my vet, my hubby and I were all worried sick. The next step would have been a specialist and another barrage of tests! $$$$$

But then one day Zoe woke up and was fine. Just fine! Completely back to normal, scratching at her post, eating food on her own, purring, running around. Quite the recovery! She is once again spending her days on my desk, under my lamp. We're all very happy, including my vet, who sent me this very nice email:

"So happy to hear about Zoe, good stuff, makes my day and I thank God she is better ... literally.
Thanks, Dennis "

He's such a cool guy.


My friend Crowzma had a tragic mug incident lately, wherein she misplaced her cup of coffee. This led to her posting a pic of her favourite mug on her blog. I figured I should do that as well. But this isn't my favourite mug. It is VERY high on the list, but my favourite is a 21-year-old Sadler English bone china mug with a pink rose on it. The theme is way too girly, but it's the perfect tea mug. I don't know what it is, but my tea mugs have to have the right feel, and I can't even describe what that feel is! I used to have four of the Sadler mugs but three of them have broken in the past 21 years! A certain husband of mine was responsible for breaking my Sadler teapot back when we lived in Montreal. It was sitting on the stove, and he turned on the burner underneath it. CRACK!

Anyway, this mug is great too. Completely different from the Sadler, but far cuter, and bigger so you get more tea. My friend Moggy gave it to me a couple of Christmases back. She's a fellow dog lover. If you look carefully, you can even see the tea stains on the lip of the mug in the top photo.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Twenty years ago, ten years ago...

Mum and me, Trafalgar Square, London 1976
Mum in her raccoon coat, me in my fake leather and fur ensemble and (God help me) blue suede shoes.

I've been feeling a little bit old lately. Time is flying by, and giving away my Mum's old Electrolux vacuum got me thinking about her again. On September 8, 1997, after a long, dark night, my mother died with just me and a kind nurse to ease her passage. I held my mother's hand as the nurse massaged her legs, and I told Mum I loved her, I would always love her, and that it was okay for her to go, that she didn't have to hang on for me. The breath left her one last time, and it was all far more beautiful than I expected death to be.

Next month marks ten years since Mum was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It seems like such a long time, a whole decade, yet it also seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. Life can be so fleeting. I don't want to waste a moment of it.

Mum, May 1996. Twenty years later, and no pigeon on her head, but she's still laughing!

It was a bad week, that one in April 1996. During a wild thunderstorm, a huge Manitoba maple fell over in the yard of the house we were renting in downtown Toronto. Somehow we slept through the noise. Fortunately, the tree fell away from our house instead of onto it, but it took out a couple of garages, a couple of cars, and a telephone and hydro pole. Luckily, it was our landlady's insurance problem, not ours, but we were without phone service for a few days. I was at a phone booth when my mother, in tears, told me that recent x-rays showed shadows on her lungs. I think she knew then and there that there would be no happy ending to the story, as did I.

Until the x-rays we had all, including the GP, thought Mum just had some flu she couldn't shake. Sure, she had smoked for some 30-odd years, but it had been something like 15 years since she quit, and I figured the danger of lung cancer was past. How wrong I was.

This one is framed and sits on the shelf over my desk. Mum sewed those beads on her dress herself, and in fact I still have it.

When all was said and done and the diagnosis was made, my Mum's oncologist told me that he didn't like making guesses, but if he had to, he thought she might have six months left to live. As it turned out, she had seventeen months left. I was determined not to waste any time. One of the first things I did was sit Mum down and get her to make a wish list. During the next year and a half, we fulfilled as many of her wishes as possible. We never did get to the Oregon coast, but we had a blast in Grenada and Boston!

The other thing I did right away was book a professional photographer to shoot photos of us. In May 1996, we went out to picturesque site near Rockwood, Ontario, where we had our pictures done and laughed ourselves silly. I still treasure those photos. Soon my mother would lose her hair to chemo, but we always found something to giggle at. The photographer was so touched by my mother's situation that after I ordered my prints, she gave me all the proofs, something she never normally did for a customer. It meant a lot to me.

At least ONE of us was able to be serious for the photographer! My Mum always was an absolute English lady, unlike me, the eternal smartass. Hey, if you look carefully, we both have the same wave in our hair, to the right of our parts. How the hell do you inherit a hair wave?

I'm an only child, and my father died on September 8, 1992, five years to the day before my mother passed. Frankly, it completely freaked me out that my mother died on the same day as my Dad; what the hell was it about September 8? Exactly how sad did that day have to be for me? But I'm convinced she chose it on purpose, consciously or not.

Although my parents split up in 1972, my mother was never really able to let my father go, and until the day she died he remained the love of her life. I truly believe he was her first and only real love; they married in 1953 when my Mum was 20 and my Dad almost 23. In my eyes, she died on September 8th so that she could forever link herself in death to her beloved Jim, and ensure that I would have to remember them both together each year, which of course I do.

Sometimes I wanted to kill her, but I always loved her intensely. She had a great sense of humour and she was an incredibly talented dressmaker, as well as being artistic in many other ways.

I still miss my Mum and Dad, and I have never liked being an adult orphan. There's nothing quite like parental love, even with its occasional flaws. My parents both loved me no matter what I did, and I knew they would always be there for me, come hell or high water. Even now, when I'm sick or having troubles, I yearn for my parents. You'd think you'd get over that sort of thing by the time you're 42, but I haven't.

Sharing something that made us both smile. Probably she was amazed that I'd managed to slap on some lipstick for the photo shoot!

Nowadays I get a little jolt when I look in the mirror sometimes and see a bit of my Mum looking back. Or I'll find myself saying something only she would say, which makes me either smile or smack myself on the head: "Oh my God, I've turned into my mother!"

I'm not at all religious, but I do believe that life here on earth isn't the end of the line. (For starters, I happen to think it impossible that human beings are the smartest life form in the universe! Puh-lease, don't get me started on THAT.) I do hold onto the hope that one day I'll get to see my parents again, and we'll have a few more laughs together over a big pot of tea.

Until then, I shall continue my regularly-scheduled diatribes about doughnuts and vacuums and trampolines, all of which remind me of something my mother often said to me when I was a kid: “Sarcasm doesn't become you!” Sorry, Mum, I'm afraid I find sarcasm indispensable. But I know you love me anyway.

Jim and Phyllis Rowe, self-portrait, June 1961... I was still a twinkle in their eye, three years away! I do wish I had my mother's eyebrows. Instead I got my Dad's chin!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A brand new Suckinator

Last month, we realized it was finally time to bury the vacuum. Or more accurately, I gave it to Maxine, the wonderful woman who cleans our house, so she can use it until they can fork out for a new cannister vacuum of their own.

RIP, dear Electrolux! Or maybe RIPWM... (rest in peace with Maxine!)

This Beast was my mother's Electrolux, and it is almost 40 years old. Mum went through many bargain upright vacuums in her lifetime, but her Electrolux soldiered on, with new hoses and attachments and cords along the way. Those crappy department-store uprights Mum collected just fell by the wayside, their cheap components mortally wounded by the copious amounts of dog and cat fur that choked their feeble sucking systems.

I inherited the Electrolux when Mum (this is her in 1957 at age 24, with my Aunt Sylvia on the right) died back in 1997, and while we often thought of getting a new vacuum, well, the Beast just had such SUCTION! And she was solid metal, not plastic. Who makes anything out of metal these days?

But then last year, the Beast suffered a near-fatal fracture of the rigid plastic tubing. We thought she was a goner for sure, until I rigged up a wonderful duct-tape-and-dowel splint for her:

(That floor attachment at the bottom was duct-taped on years ago, because it kept falling off! It predated the replacement hose.)

Things went along swimmingly for several months, and dear Maxine never complained about having to use the world's heaviest, ugliest vacuum.

But then in January, a little plastic thingy fell out of the nozzle, and the Beast's suction was doomed. I covered the resulting hole with duct tape, but we were finally at the turning point. We'd either have to get a whole new hose assembly for the Suckinator, or throw in the towel and fork over for a new vacuum. We finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to join the 21st century.

And so... welcome to our new baby, the Bosch Formula:

This cherry-red morsel cost as much as a plane ticket to Hawaii, but man oh man, she's a thing of beauty. She even has a light that goes on to let us know her bag is full. And with three cats, one English setter and one hairy husband to deal with, she's got a lot of bags to fill. She's quiet, she's strong, and she's beautiful... hey, just like my Mum!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Cat sandwich

Today I decided to wash the duvet cover and sheets. I folded up the duvet, and put the cat blankie on top, hoping to keep the cats off our coverless duvet. It worked for one cat!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jayantha, Yala and Bundala Guide Extraordinaire

I know I yammer on about Jayantha on my Sri Lanka trip site but there's more to write. He is a good man and an excellent wildlife guide, and he needs more business because the tsunami has hit the Sri Lankan tourist industry hard. This is a guy who is recommended in The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka, and who has over 22 years of experience, yet the tsunami has made it hard for him (and many other Sri Lankans in the tourist industry) to find clients. We found out about him because Gordon's co-worker had used his services on a recent trip and was very pleased.

We initially hired Jayantha to take us to Bundala and Yala National parks, but we ended up spending three straight days with him. We met his wife and two sons, and his wife cooked us a beautiful Sri Lanka meal, which was an unexpectd bonus having nothing to do with Jayantha's guiding services! I think he just took a liking to us. After we left Tissamaharama, where Jayantha and his family live, we met up again in Ella, where J took us to a wedding reception (or "homecoming", as it was called.) The groom's father, a dear friend of Jayantha, had recently passed away. Jayantha also lost several friends to the tsunami, as did so many other Sri Lankans. The death toll in that country was huge, and they are still rebuilding.

We were appallingly badly dressed for the wedding, as all our clothes were filthy from our safaris and we hadn't had a chance to launder them before the reception. Oops! I had to wear jeans (at least I had a nice shirt on) and Gordon had to wear long shorts (at least he had a shirt with a collar), but no one complained, and Jayantha kept assuring us we looked fine, which we most certainly did not. But he wanted us to be comfortable and enjoy ourselves. I stuck out like a sore thumb, a foreigner in jeans amongst all the beautiful Sri Lanka women in saris. We did at least contribute a gift of money to the bride and groom. The buffet lunch was delectable, and Gordon and Jayantha toasted the couple with glasses of arrack, the palm-syrup liquor of Sri Lanka.

We were genuinely sad to say good-bye to Jayantha after the reception. I hope we can go back to Sri Lanka one day, but who knows? I do so hope our paths cross again. There was just something special about J and his family.

Jayantha's eldest son is a safari guide like his father. He drives a Jeep that his uncle owns, while Jayantha has paid off two-thirds of the cost of his 30-year-old Jeep, formerly a police vehicle. In Sri Lanka, vehicles are valuable and are kept running for a very long time. Sri Lankans just don't have our western "throw it away" culture. We could learn some lessons from their lack of waste! I think Canada produces more garbage than any other country in the world.

Jayantha did not want his eldest son to follow in his career footsteps. (Jayantha's own father was a demon dancer, driving evil spirits from people who were sick.) He would have preferred him to get a good job in the garment industry. And he had no idea how his son learned to drive, as he repeatedly refused to teach him. He was truly befuddled by his son's driving abilities!

We solved the mystery one night when Jayantha's son drove us home from an evening of socializing at a campsite with J and his Italian clients. His son told us that would wait until his Dad was asleep, then get in the Jeep and start driving, stick-shift no less. He learned well.

Jayantha is a quiet and thoughtful man, with a ready smile. You wouldn't guess that his world fell apart when he was a young married man, after his firstborn son drowned in the river behind his house. His in-laws were supposed to be watching the toddler, but something went awry, and when the unsupervised boy slipped into deeper waters, the children he was playing with grew frightened and ran away without telling any adults what was happening. Jayantha was so gutted after his son's death that he left his family and lived alone for two years (God only knows what his wife was suffering through!) But eventually he came home, and he and his wife had two more sons, of whom they are very proud. The younger son is 15 and still in school.

Jayantha showed us a faded picture of himself with his lost son, who would be about 21 now had he survived. In the photo, his brilliant smile showed his pride in his adorable toddler boy, now gone for so long. I am glad he and his wife were able to rebuild their lives.

When we were in Yala, Gordon and Jayantha soon spied a leopard, but for the life of me, I could not see it as it prowled the undergrowth Jayantha then became bound and determined that I should see a leopard that day. His professional pride was at stake! And sure enough, at the end of our safari, he spotted a leopard far off in a tree. He practically dragged me out of the Jeep and onto the hood for a better look, pointing at the leopard until at last I saw it: a beautiful spotted cat, sprawled across a thick tree branch! Thank God we brought binoculars. And then Gordon spied another leopard in the tree. This was extraordinarily lucky, and Jayantha was genuinely happy to have found me a leopard. He did not want me to go home without that sighting.

Gordon asked Jayantha if he had ever travelled outside Sri Lanka, and he said no. G then asked him where he would like to travel if he could. Jayantha replied, "Anywhere!" He spends his days guiding people from countries around the world, and would love to the other side of the coin for a change. For westerners like us, travel is not an impossible dream, but for man still paying off his loan for a 30-year-old Jeep, well, it's not so easy. I left wishing I could fly Jayantha and his family to Canada for a holiday. Wouldn't that be nice? We are so lucky in Canada, yet so many Canadians do not appreciate all that they have.

When we got to Colombo at the end of our trip, we Fedexed our small pair of binoculars to Jayantha in Tissa, as he did not own a pair, and we knew they would be invaluable to him. I hope Fedex did their job! We also bought him a field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Sri Lanka, to go along with his dog-eared field guide to birds. I want to do more for him, and I will. He helped make our holiday wonderful.

If you want to book him as a guide, his mobile phone # is 0777-073813, and you can also call his mother's house at 0472-237603. We hope to be calling him again ourselves sometime.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Things have been quiet at Knatolee's World because first we went to Sri Lanka for 3-1/2 weeks. Now I am spending my spare time trying to finish my damn Sri Lanka trip website. When that's done, my blogging life should be back to normal for the five of you that regularly read this!

In the meantime, I give you yet another elephant picture. And you can check out the travel blog at: