Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My cat, Rusty (Epilogue)

Rusty's recent ailing health convinced me and the family that it was time to let him go. We contacted Millwood Mobile Veterinary Services, for a home euthanasia, and Dr. Behzad Farokhzad was dependable and courteous.

We spent the early afternoon outside in the backyard with Rusty, allowing him the luxury of enjoying the outdoors and the sun. Even then, Rusty was obviously in a lot of discomfort and pain. The outdoors was ultimately where we chose to have the procedure done.

I wrote a premature obituary for Rusty late last year, so I won't repeat myself here. He was not a nice cat, but he was very easy to love.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

To basket or not to basket

I recently acquired the Trek Soho S (seen above) in spite of the fact that I already own a Trek hybrid. My nine year old Trek 7200's 15" frame and seat post shocks allow me to sit ramrod straight and float over most pot holes, thus creating an experience comparable to riding an easy chair. With the addition of a pannier and bottle basket, the easy chair has become a minivan.

In spite of its comfortable and practical ride, I was frequently frustrated by my 7200's unreliable gears and groaned under its weight when I had to lift it. Last month, my wandering eye caught sight of the Soho S - a single gear, aluminum frame little temptress. When the Soho S went on sale at Sweet Pete's, I bought the cheapened little vixen.

Since purchasing the Soho S, I have been riding it almost exclusively. I enjoy how sleek and responsive it is. If the 7200 rides like an easy chair then riding the Trek Soho S is like being carried by a ninja.

Unfortunately, ninjas have no use for a heavy bike lock nor ladies purses. When the purse is too small to accommodate the massive bike lock, the lock ends up rattling on the handlebars. And if a pleasant surprise pops up in the form of a gift or a retail purchase, the Trek Soho S carries it awkwardly, much like a ninja would.

So, now, I look longingly at baskets, specifically, a woven rattan one. I picture putting my bike lock in it or my purse or even a new retail purchase, and my mind is put at ease.

But wait! What of aesthetics? Will such a sleek bike suffer a basket modeled after ones used in the 1800s? I am torn.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

My grandmother

I got the news while checking my voice mail in one of those lifestyle stores. The message from my mother left no room for misinterpretation: "Your grandmother has died." My grandmother popped up in my mind then disappeared. My consciousness expanded to the clothing racks around me, the warehouse conversion, the neighbourhood then rewrote my entire world, a new world without my grandmother's presence.

I am embarrassed to admit that the tears I cry are for myself and not for my grandmother. In the last few years, she has suffered the loss of her once robust health. Hooked up to a dialysis machine twice a day, depending on a cane or walker, experiencing pain in her hands and feet, and repeat emergency visits to the hospital had robbed her of the independence that she valued.

Yet, she was a credit to her generation, the one that survived bombings from the Japanese with young children in tow. She never complained when her world became confined to the four walls of her apartment, the fourth wall made up of boxes of dialysis supplies. Her mind remained curious and her tongue sharp. She laughed at her troubles with exasperation.

So, you see, I cry because I will miss her. The woman who used to ram me into the wall in order to win a foot race to her apartment is long gone, but other losses are more keenly felt. The sight of her curly white head in the back passenger seat of my parents' car, which preceded the playfully sarcastic greeting, "How kind of you to have lunch with me!" to which I would always respond, "That's the kind of person I am." Our shared fascination with how fat my cousin, her granddaughter, had become. "Your cousin, she doesn't like to move but she likes to eat," was her blunt assessment. Her ability to speak to anyone in the limited English that she had learned in her 60s, though she chose to mock my husband in her fluent Cantonese, "You have no idea what I'm saying, do you? I could insult you and you wouldn't even know" to which my husband would nod agreeably. She gave the impression that old age was something to look forward to because you could get away with so much.

I will cry a bit more, especially during the funeral, then I will carry on because it will honour my grandmother's lifelong resilience. My grandmother was rather unsentimental about death, announcing the passing of a friend or relative with her singular use of the English word 'ended'. In that vein, I end my public display of grief here.

Yeuk Lan Chiang