Monday, April 26, 2010

Russians Led Me to My PG Wodehouse

The doctor in my mind wrote a prescription for me and the prescription was: Insert More Pelham Grenville into your life, daily, for several weeks.

I've been feeling droopy of late, lacking the ability to laugh at self, or to feel particularly chirpy about anything, let alone make a "Five Year Plan". This, coupled with a decided lack of sleep, and waking in the night a regular occurrence, finds me, these days, with my knuckles dragging on the ground. As it's the season when most things are coming alive, birdies are tweeting and gardens are growing, my state was irksome, to say the least.

The prescription was to re-read the very first P.G. Wodehouse book I ever read, preferably in the same paperback edition, for maximum impact. I knew that this book had made me laugh out loud, and laugh more than I had ever laughed reading any book ever. It was the one that confirmed me as a life long P.G. Wodehouse fan, particularly his Jeeves and Bertie series.

Problem was I had no idea which book it was. I'd borrowed the book from a friend at the time of reading. I knew it had a picture of someone in a boat, and a circular garden pavilion, and there was something about a hostile swan. But couldn't for the life of me remember the name of the collection. And there are quite a few novels and short story collections.

Thank you internet! Yesterday an online search for clues brought me to this wonderful compendium of Wodehouse, from the Russian Wodehouse Society. Yes, from the Russians! The really helpful thing was their inclusion of photos of the actual book covers used over many years of publication. I found my book! It was right there: the boat, the pavilion, the swan. I think the swan, anyway, the book cover is a bit tiny.

It was with me the work of a minute (or several minutes) to locate a used copy of the book online, for practically nothing. And soon my prescription will be winging its way to me. Thank you, oh nameless and meticulous Russians for your love and dedication to one of the wonders of English literature: P.G. Wodehouse, and for leading me back to a delightful pleasure from my past.

It's all the more charming that Russians have put this website together as Wodehouse liked to rib the Russian temperament regularly in his books. For example, this little excerpt from Wodehouse's Monkey Business:

I have a tender heart (said Mr Mulliner), and I dislike to dwell on the spectacle of a human being groaning under the iron heel of Fate. Such morbid gloating, I consider, is better left to the Russians.

I look forward to a lot less morbid gloating in my future.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Not so Still Life With Canine

Dog heaven, aka, Cherry Beach, with ice floes breaking up

One of the best things about my new Life with Dog is the outdoors, the fact that I am outdoors. It's walking and going places, in the fresh air, immersed in the landscape, whether I like it or not. And in the past, my usual inclination on a cold day was to not be outside.

Taylor Creek park, after a snowfall

This winter, however, has passed in parks, forests, fresh snowfalls, along wintry lakes with ice floes on the shore. I've seen beautiful skies, and sunsets. Lots of bad weather too, but the good outweighed the bad.

My dog, Izi, (Isadora) is still a puppy, just turned eight months, and she's now more of a dog, assuming her dog shape: legs are long, and snout is long and pointy. She's lost the cute bluntness of the puppy form, but stayed fairly small, which I'm happy about. I look at her sometimes and think: Don't grow, please stay that size, you're perfect now.

Izi on forest path in Greenwood Conservation Area

Taking the dog out, as much as it sometimes feels like the last thing I want to do, gets me out, and away from the laptop. There's one focus: I'm constantly on the lookout for playmates at various dog parks I haunt. She loves other dogs. A trip to the park with no other dog who's a pup or still has puppy energy is a letdown, as playmates help burn off that crazy puppy energy. As they say, "a tired puppy is a good puppy."

"I am too still cute," says Izi.

She's grown. The difference between walking into a dog park with a puppy on the end of a leash and a dog on the end of a leash is noticeable. Puppies generate instant oohs and ahhs. Izi doesn't inspire that any longer. She's not a fashionably cute dog, like the Goldendoodles or Labradoodles you see everywhere. She's a dog dog: a generic-looking classic dog. She's beautiful in her dog way, but no longer cute.

Where she was once the puppy being overwhelmed by the bigger dogs, she can even intimidate little pups now, with her enthusiastic playing. Sometimes she growls as she play fights. She pulls out all the stops to look fierce, bares her teeth. A couple of small dog owners have looked at her and pulled their dogs away. Where did this scary dog come from? It's over the top play-fighting, something that would have put me off too, in my days pre-dog. I'd think, "Are these dogs ready to kill each other?" Apparently its normal dog playing behaviour--the way a kid in a playground growls like a scary monster, chasing another one in a game. I remember doing it myself as a kid, vocalizing to make the game more authentic. Scary, but it stops in an instant. One second she's growling, the next second, she's looking down at the ground to inspect a stick, an extremely interesting stick.

Izi, being eaten by GoldenDoodle

The two combatants will sit side by side to watch a new dog approaching the park. Yay, here come new friends to play with, to steal balls from.

Oh, the ball stealing. The agony of that. But that's a whole other post.