Friday, December 28, 2007

I saw a hippopotamus for Christmas. Redux

I'm a litle preoccupied right now. (See previous post) Christmas this year was quiet and introspective, filled with the love of family and good fiends. While it was just what I need now, it does not make for a very exciting story.

Christmas last year though, that's a story! In three parts! For those who were not hanging around this little corner of blogworld last year, here it is.

Part 1:
Christmas Eve, 2006, Kori Bustard Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania.

“Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, had a very shiny nose...”

We are sleepily singing, sitting around the camp fire. Les has strung some battery-operated Christmas lights around an acacia bush. The stars are out. It has been an exciting day of game viewing (3 cheetahs, 11 lions, countless giraffes, hyenas, rare foxes, and more!) in the Gol Kopjes area of the Serengeti, followed by a long drive to our camp.(above photo courtesy of G. Vandegriend)

We drift off to bed in our tents, looking forward to tomorrow: sunny skies, wildlife, and a special Christmas dinner for our last day of camping.

At 2:30 a.m. I wake up and hear the patter of a few raindrops on our tent. Oh shit. We had to cross three rivers to get to this special campsite. The previous week, one had flooded in a heavy rain, stranding people in the northern Serengeti for days. But the skies were so clear when we went to sleep, it must just be a shower. I cuddle close to my Beloved, or as close as we can get while bundled in mummy bags, and go back to sleep.

BOOOOOM! KERAACK! KERBOOOM!! Sweet Mother of God! Thunder and simultaneous lightening right over my head jolts me from sleep to instant terror. A Niagara of rain is pounding on our tent. CRACK! BOOM! CRACK! again. "Holy Crap" I yell. We are camped on an open plain, with only the occasional waist high acacia bush to draw lightening away from our tall tents with metal poles. "Sweetie", I shout at B, who is awake, "What happens if lightening hits our tent?"

"I suppose we would be toast".

In between thunder blasts,we can hear a lion growl and grunt, warning other lions "this is MY territory". We have heard the roar of lions most every night while camping, but our guides Lyimo and Wellking assured us they would not come into camp. Especially with the campfire and several kerosene lamps which are put around the campsite at night. I open the tent flap and peer out into inky blackness. The wind and rain have doused the campfire and lanterns. I have to pee. It is 3:30 am, and no way can I wait until morning. Throwing a blanket around me, I put on my headlamp and run out in bare feet, hoping no cat's eyes shine back at me. The ground cannot soak up the torrential rain fast enough, so water is swirling over my toes as I scamper behind the tent.

Settled back in the tent, I realize there are rivulets running along the floor, soaking into our foam mattresses, and up into our sleeping bags. Then we both have to shuffle and move our pillows to avoid leaking spots from the roof. The thunderstorm seems to be going around in a circle, coming back overhead every 20 minutes. The downpour never lets up. We are wet, sleepless, and separated from lions and lightening only by a little soaked canvas that could collapse any second in the wind. We could be stranded by floods for days. "Merry Christmas," I mutter wryly to B. He starts to shake, and I wonder if he is shivering or crying. Or both. But no, he is giggling, then laughing out loud. He hugs me tightly, smacks a big kiss on my lips, and says between snorts and chuckles:

"Merry Christmas Darlin'."

And I realize again I found The Right One.

Part 2:
December 25, 2006, Serengeti, Tanzania

Ho! Ho! Ho!

That is not Santa. It is a chorus of evil African Ho gods, laughing at us. Dancing in glee. Our campsite is awash, and we have been awake half the night. As the sky changes from pitch black to dull soggy grey, the rain continues. But this is not just rain. It is an ark-building, life-raft-launching, deluge. That has been pounding us since 2:30 am.

Breakfast is out of the question. We huddle in our tents, hungry and wet, trying to read soggy paperbacks, while one of our over-worked guides goes to check the level of the nearest river.There are three swollen rivers we will have to cross to get out of the northern Serengeti.

"Do you want jujubes or licorice allsorts for breakfast?" asks B, digging through his candy stash.

Suddenly D and A's tent collapses. We don't see them crawl out, so we run over to help. Turns out they were... um, ahem, naked, and are now frantically trying to find clothes. You gotta admire that. In the circumstances.

By 10:30 am. the decision is made to evacuate camp. If we can get out. We are 4 or 5 kilometres off the "main" road. Even then, we have nowhere to stay; It is Christmas day, and we were supposed to camp here tonight. Lodges have been booked up for months. But we cannot stay here, in places the water is over our ankles.

Almost three hours later we reach the road, having pushed the vehicles several times out of muck. Our driver/guides Lyimo and Wellking alternately dug us out and made wild dashes through new lakes that have appeared overnight.

Muddy, soaked, and stinky, (except for A, who was always fresh and chic when the rest of us looked and smelled like refugees from Planet Pig Pen) we pull in half an hour later to a very classy, expensive lodge. We can't stay there, it is full. Anyway, it costs almost $400 bucks a night. But they do offer us use of a couple of rooms to shower and change, and we can eat lunch in the fancy dining room. In dry clothes, with hot food and cold beer in front of us, our spirits climb. Quietly, L begins singing:

"Oh, you better watch out, you better not cry,"
and we join in;

"You better not pout, I'm telling you why"...

By the end of the song we are singing with gusto, and earn a round of applause from the well-heeled lodge guests.

But we still have three engorged rivers to cross, nowhere to stay, and the Ho gods are not finished dancing.

Part 3:
December 25, 2006, Serengeti, Tanzania

If you have followed the story of my 2006 Christmas day so far, I congratulate you on your perseverance or excess hours of nothing better to do. Either is to be envied. For those with a normal attention span and a real job, a recap: After a night wondering whether we would wake up (or not wake up, to be accurate) as lion kibble or charred toast, and a morning doing the breast stroke across the Serengeti plain, the story left off with us eating heartily and singing "Santa Clause is Coming" to a bemused audience of starched and pressed expensive safari suits.

Giddy with the roller coaster ride that was our Christmas so far, we headed out on the road again, ready for anything. Our safari outfitter, busy on the phone back in Arusha, had finally found a lodge that could take us in, but it was out of the park, a long drive away on flooded tracks.

We crossed the first two rivers with no problems. Then, at the Seronera River, the evil Ho gods struck again. A line of vehicles snaked up the road on either side of the bridge. Or where a bridge would have been if it was not covered by swirling rapids and a waterfall.

Here is our guide Wellking and our worried camp staff as they seriously studied the flooded bridge situation.

Actually, no-one was very concerned, because the sun was out and the river level was falling. Our guides were confident the wait to cross would be only an hour or so. It turned out to be almost three hours. But G set up the i-pod speakers, and a rousing card tournament was played on the hood of the truck. G & my Beloved opened wine we had planned to save for Christmas dinner. They made wine glasses out of plastic water bottles sliced in half, and we toasted the lowering sun and the hippos wandering around the riverbanks.

Crossing the flooded bridge we held our breath. No problem. But a few kilometres further we came upon another stopped line of vehicles. Road wash out. Our fabulous guides knew another route around using the flooded back roads. There were more wild rides with the wheels spewing huge arcs of spray. A flat tire. Then we picked up a stranded Chilean / Spanish couple whose truck had broken down. The final stretch in the dark along a soaked track was eerie, with wildebeest and zebra scampering in and out of our headlights.

Finally, exhausted, we pulled into the lovely old Ndutu Lodge, where a decadent Christmas buffet was waiting. We pulled the Christmas crackers, put on the goofy paper hats and read the lame jokes. Just like Christmas at home. Well, except for the genets lounging in the rafters.

(Photo # 1 & 4 courtesy of our friend and fellow adventurer G. Vandegriend)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On a serious note

In writing this blog I've hoped to amuse, to entertain, and to provoke some thought. In return I get to bring my creative side out to play in a welcoming arena. And I discovered a benefit I never imagined when I began; connecting and caring about people and their lives in so many places.

But today I have nothing to give you: no amusing story, no travel photos, no dream travel destination. Today I am doing something I've never done here. In fact I find it difficult to do at all, whether here or with the people I connect with in person every day. I'm asking for your help. I need your prayers. In whatever form or to wherever your beliefs direct.

Since I last posted, my Dad fell ill and has been diagnosed with a serious brain tumour. I've written about my Dad and how special he is here and here. A few days after Christmas he will begin a tough daily treatment of radiation and chemotherapy. I wish I could be beside him and my Mom on the other side of the country every day of this.

I believe in the power of love, of community, and prayer. Not necessarily prayer to the God of my Dad's Anglican church, that Dad sings in and is a lay preacher for. (But hey, if you share that particular God, great. Dad and He are on a first name basis.) When I pray I can't really say what I pray to, the Universe, Nature, Creation, Love, whatever. But I believe in it. And I ask now for yours. For my Dad. Please.

Monday, November 26, 2007

At midnight she turned into Gene Simmons

I yawned as we pulled out of the rink parking lot Saturday evening. B and I had just played hockey, changed into demure party clothes in the locker rooms, and were on our way to his company Christmas party at a swank golf club.

"Don't worry Sweetie, we don't have to stay long. We'll just make a little small talk to my bosses, compliment their spouses' outfits, eat dinner and get outta there by 9:30."

"I hate it when when I can't remember their names. When I give you that pained look, it's your signal to say, 'So-and-so, have you met my wife?'"

"Sure. Thanks for being a trooper, I realize my company party is an ordeal. You only meet these folks once a year, they'll talk shop, and you have to sit through speeches and the President's report on our yearly corporate profits. I promise we'll leave as soon as we decently can."

Later, at about 12:00:

That's me on the left.

As I sat down, sweating from my Kiss performance, B said: "O.K. Sweetie, it's really time to go home now."

Then the D.J. cued up the song "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." I dragged B to the dance floor as his eyes rolled.

We closed down the party. Yippie Yi Yay.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Airplane crash and gun shots. A perfect hike.

I've been given a dummy award! And I am delighted. Thanks Dumdad. I always enjoy a trip over to Dumdad's posts from Paris.

Dumdad's tribute was a nice surprise upon arrival home from a long weekend away. We took advantage of a brief break in the November rains to head up to the cabin and hike in the mountains. We chose the Mount Slesse area, and gave our city slicker SUV a lesson in real four wheelin' to reach the trail head up a labyrinth of logging roads.

It was lovely. There was a dusting of new snow on the peaks.

The dogs were in heaven, chasing scents and each other down the trail. We hiked in peaceful silence, perhaps feeling a bit eerie knowing that in 1956 a Trans Canada Airline plane crashed into the side of Mount Slesse, killing all on board.

Then: Bang! Bang! Bang! Oh shit. Hunting season. Nothing ruins a good hike like the thought of stray bullets from beer guzzling, animal murdering red necks. "Fucking hunters" I mumbled to B. " Hey!!!" I shouted. "Don't shoot this way!!

Around the next corner ran a young man dressed completely in camouflage, carrying a rifle. "Hi" he said. "Are you guys O.K.? I thought I heard an S.O.S blast on an air horn, so I fired three rounds in the air in answer, and I was heading that way to help." We had heard the air horn too, but knew it was just a choker chain warning from a small logging operation we had seen down the mountain. We explained, and with a cheerful "Have a great hike guys!" helpful hunter dude went on his way. Damn, another cherished stereotype ruined.

It was a great hike.

Today's dream travel destination: One of my favourite hikes, that I did with an old friend about 10 years ago. A warmer one than any trails here right now. The Kalalau trail in Kauai, Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

To you

Angela has given me a "Best Kept Secret" award. (For some reason, I can't download the icon.) Thank you Angela, I appreciate the fact that you think my blog deserves a bigger readership. But the truth is, I am happy to have a handful of readers who keep coming back, and leaving comments. Thank you my cyber friends. I never expected that more people than my Mom and a few old friends would be interested in what I have to say. Best of all, by you stopping by here, I have found my way to your blogs, which make me laugh, and think, and learn. You brighten my day and expand my world.

When I first started this little blog, just over a year ago (a year! wow) I figured it would be a good way to keep my friends and family informed about my travels. I was about to head to Tanzania for an amazing journey. But after the last post about my trip was finished, I just kept on writing. I looked forward to my time with the keyboard. I missed it if I got too busy to write a post. And I love the connections I've made with all of you.

So, I dedicate this post to you, all of you readers who keep coming by. You may not be a huge number, but I treasure each one of your comments. I still get a thrill when someone finds that something I write resonates. And you astound me with the insights, lovely turns of phrase, and honesty that you put in your blogs.

Today's dream travel destination: A tropical island, one I could invite you all to for a week, and we would get to meet in person, and talk, and laugh together. It would have wireless Internet connections under the palm trees on the beach, where we could write whenever we want. Wanna come?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Trick or Panang curry

I rushed out of work Wednesday to be home before dusk. I love Halloween. I didn't want to miss a single witch, princess or bumble bee. Walking home from the skytrain, I admired the haunted yards and spooky jack-o-lanterns in my 'hood.

When I got home I kissed B hello, then got ORGANISED for trick or treat night. I lit the candles in the pumpkins and put the treats in a big bowl. There seemed to be a lot less than the number I bought. I made a note to cross examine B and my son on the disappearing chocolate bars. As I hurried to the storage room to grab the laughing skeleton, I vaguely heard B say, "I ordered in Thai food for dinner."

The first adorable little bunnies and lions in their daddies' arms came by. Then a couple of preschooler Ninja Turtles (they're still around?). Every time kids rang the door bell, Henry ran to the door wagging his tail. KIDS ARE HERE!! Then he watched forlornly as they walked down the steps instead of coming in to play.

The door bell rang again. B called out "I'll get it this time". I heard two girls' voices sing out "Trick or Treat". Then, silence. I looked toward B and he was frozen, staring at the trick-or-treaters, not reaching for the candy bowl or asking the kids to shake the hand of the hanging skeleton, our usual schtick. I came up to the door and saw why B was paralysed. On the porch were two pubescent girls dressed as cops. Not real cops, pole dancing cops. Short skirts, red lips, tight barely buttoned shirts, aviator-style sun glasses tucked into high young cleavage, shiny black boots. B was speechless.

The next time the door bell rang I answered it, since the blood was barely returning to B's brain. I opened the door to a lone Asian young man, holding a bag. He was dressed in a white jacket and white pants, but I couldn't figure out what his costume was. "He's a bit old for trick-or-treating" I thought. But, whatever.

(Y'all know where this is going, don't you?)

"What are you dressed up as?" I asked. He looked at me blankly, and just held out the bag. I offered him the bowl of treats.

"I have Thai Palace delivery."

B, who had recovered now, was peeing his pants laughing.

Oh please earth, just open up and swallow me now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Aliens among us

I got home last night from a long work trip to the civil servant mothership. Our nation's capital. Ottawa. Once home, after I had a good whine about the glacial speed of government bureaucracy, the total wrongness of working all week and then through the weekend, and the $6 stale sandwiches on Air Canada, I asked B:

"So Sweetie, what's new at home?"

"Hmmm, well, the dogs are fine. I finished grouting the new tiles in the bathroom. Oh, and the kitchen sink is plugged and backed up. I have to buy a plumber's snake tomorrow." Ah bliss, I'm home again.

B turned on the dishwasher just before we crawled into bed. He fell asleep right away, but I had slept on the flight and was wide awake, so I read in bed with my itty-bitty-book-light. After over an hour of reading, I realized that the dishwasher had been making the same grinding, rhythmic sound of the first wash cycle for far too long. I turned it off, because something was clearly wrong. And I went to sleep.

This morning I said to B:

"I had to stop the dishwasher last night, it seemed to be stuck on the first wash cycle. I think what may be happening is that it likely has a sensor, or valve, that senses the kitchen drain pipe is blocked with water, and it will not switch into the drain cycle until the blocked drain is clear. It's probably a safety mechanism."

B gave me the look and said, "You can't really believe the dishwasher can sense the drain is blocked. No way. Trust me, they don't make them like that."

I just shrugged. Whatever. He's the one with an engineering education.

Tonight we had dinner with B's parents. Over desert, after B's Mom complained that her electric kettle was on the fritz, B said, in what I believe was genuine innocence, "Oh, yah, don't get me started on the topic of appliances breaking down. Yesterday our dishwasher got stuck on the first wash cycle. I think what may be happening is that it likely has a sensor, or valve, that senses that our kitchen drain pipe is blocked with water, and it will not switch into the drain cycle until the blocked drain is clear. It's probably a safety mechanism."

I stared, gobsmacked, at this creature who I love so dearly. I looked out the window to see if the spaceship was coming to pick him up. Cuz men, as much as I love 'em, are truly from another planet.

Today's dream travel destination: Mars.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trouser torture

I detest clothes shopping. I would rather enter a grizzly den than the mall. I consider root canals and cleaning toilets more fun than trying on clothes. But my old black dress pants are literally falling apart at the seams. Wearing them to work puts me in imminent danger of exposing my nickers to the office.

So, at lunch time today I entered the HOUSE OF HORRORS. Also known as Sears. First I went to the petites department, because I am only 5'2". On a good day. I tried on 12, yes TWELVE! pairs of pants. They were all wrong, wrong, wrong. If they fit at the waist, the bum and hips ballooned loosely. If the butt and hips fit properly, the waist would not do up without divine intervention.

O.K., forget the petites section. I went to the regular section. Nothing fit. So I branched out into the rest of the mall. I tried on pants made by Tommy Hilfiger, Mexx, Jones of New York, Louben, Aritsia, and in one desperate, mad moment; Prada. Thank god those last ones didn't fit.

I left the mall in shame. A failure at shopping. And then I got mad! Hey you clothes makers: Not all women are built like Betty Boop. Or Barbie. What about those of us shaped more like, well, tree stumps with jiggly bits? Especially those of us who are looking at age 50 from the wrong side. It's bad enough we get hot flashes akin to nuclear fission. (I swear I am personally responsible for significant global warming.) Our waists will never again be 15 inches smaller than our hips. Many of us have carried babies to term in these bodies, and it shows. We like good food. And what if we don't want, or need, to lose 25 pounds? WHY CAN'T YOU MAKE US PANTS THAT FIT?

Today's dream travel destination: Tahiti. Where I could just wear a sarong every day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Everything I need to know I learned from Grandpa

"Remember, Janie, slow, smooth paddle strokes. No splashing." (Whispering now) "If we're really quiet going around the next bend, maybe we'll see them."

"See what Grampa?"

"Shhhhhh, just watch."

As they rounded the bend in the river, he reached forward to the little girl in the bow of the canoe, tapped her shoulder and pointed at the far bank. A flash of movement caught her eye. Then another. She grinned in delight. Four young river otters were cavorting and belly sliding down the muddy riverbank. Mama otter was watching carefully. When mama decided the strange creatures in the canoe were too close she gave a chirp and they all dove under water.

That was me with my Grandpa 42 years ago. He died 16 years ago this month, and October winds always bring him into my thoughts. He only had a grade six education, but my Grandpa Gordon taught me some of the most important lessons of my life. Like:

I learned how to bait a fish hook. Where the biggest trout hid in the Old Mill Rapids on Priest Creek. And how to clean them for the breakfast pan.

I learned the surefire way to make a camp fire with only one match.

I learned to know the sound of wolves calling in the distance at the family cottage in Quebec. And how to yip and howl through the birch bark bull horn until they would answer back.

I learned there really was magic in this world. Grandpa and I would spread special magic seeds on the lawn at bedtime, and when I woke up, lollipops (Laura Secord suckers for you Canadians) were growing everywhere.

He taught me how to drive with a standard transmission, first on my great uncle's haying tractor, then using my grandparents' Volkswagen Westfalia. I was a slow learner, but Grandpa never gave up on me, even when I almost rolled the van taking a corner too fast. He just calmly nodded and said "Now you know to take those curves a little slower Janie. Remember to gear down when you head into the curve." Every car I have owned has had a standard transmission. Thanks to my Grandpa, I love to drive feeling the road through the stick shift.

Every time I watched him run down the road to the fire hall to take up his post on the volunteer fire department, I learned the importance of giving back to one's community.

I learned that an honest day's work is something to be proud of. Grandpa swelled with pride the day he took me through the paper mill he toiled in all his working years. The paper rolls were huge, and loud as the newsprint roared around them. I was so thrilled that my Grandpa, MY OWN GRANDPA! knew how to work them. And how to fix them if they broke.

I learned never to trump my partner's ace in a game of Euchre. Or life.

As well as being a teacher of IMPORTANT LESSONS, Grandpa was my biggest fan. He believed, and never let me forget, I could do anything.

One day, not long before he died, my Mom picked him up from his nursing home and drove him to a medical appointment in Ottawa. He had been suffering with increasing dementia for several years, probably Alzheimer's, and mostly did not understand what was going on around him any more. By then, I was a new lawyer and new mother, living on the other side of the country, wrapped up in my own life. The last time I had talked to him he seemed to think I was a child again, and had no apparent understanding of my adult life.

But as they drove past the Supreme Court of Canada on Ottawa's Wellington Street my usually silent Grandpa looked towards it and announced, "Someday Janie will be there."

I'll probably never be a Supreme Court Judge. But I still turn corners quietly in a canoe, kayak or on a hike. I think Grandpa would be proud of that

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Life gets in the way

Miss y'all.

Yes I'm still here. No, my muse has not gone AWOL. In fact she is sitting on my shoulder hissing and spitting because I have no time to write. And, I. Need. To. Write. I love to write. Give me just a pencil and paper, and I can have a rip roaring party.

But life has taken my pencil away temporarily.

A family member has had cancer surgery this week. My sister and her husband are visiting from overseas, and I want to spend every minute I can with them (and my first niece or nephew, due in March!) I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner (Canadian)this weekend, and I haven't picked up our Thanksgiving sockeye salmon yet. And work has been crazy. I have neglected you.

I'll be back soon. In my absence, I leave you with this for your amusement. Unlike the last funny foto I left you with, I have not actually seen this place. I've gotta add it to my dream travel destination list.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You drive me crazy

The scene: B and I are on vacation in Nova Scotia, on the last and longest day of a road trip around the Cabot Trail and then off of Cape Breton Island. I am behind the wheel of our rental car we have nicknamed the Gangsta-car. (For the record, we ordered a compact, this is what they gave us.)

B: "There's an on-ramp ahead, better move over to the left."

Me: "Yah, O.K."

B: "It's clear on the left, you can switch lanes now."

Me: "I can see that, thank you."

B: "Are we going to get off at the next exit for gas?"

Me: "Yes, that's what I said I was going to do two minutes ago."

[A few kilometres later:]

B: "There's a gas station, on the left. You can go in there."

Me: "I see it."

B: " There's no left turn lane, you'll have to wait at the light now."

Me: "I'm aware of that."

B: "Wait, wait, not yet... O.K., all clear, you can turn in now. Bay two is empty, pull in there."

Me: "SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!!! Please stop the CONSTANT FREAKIN' NARRATIVE about my driving. I've been driving for 34 years without a single accident. When I got my licence you were still getting dinky toys for Christmas. Relax, enjoy the scenery."

B: "Sorry, I was trying to be helpful."

Me: "Well you're helping me go insane."

For the next 50 kilometres or so B silently studies the map and the road signs.

Me: "I'm getting tired, do you want to drive for a while?"

We pull over and change places. A few minutes later:

Me: "You're going too fast for this curvy road. And we are too close to that truck ahead."

B gives me a quick icy stare.

Me: "Sorry, I'll keep quiet."

B and I are incredibly compatible. Soulmates. But, Oh. My. God. we do not drive together well. We both know we drive better than the other. In fact, better than most anybody else on the road.

In between nattering at each other, we did catch glimpses of the scenery. Which ranged from the sublime:

To the ridiculous:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Which fork now?

Now I am over the shock of shit...fifty. Oh yes, sooo over it.

So, let's get back to where we left off just before that

On vacation in Nova Scotia in early September. We headed up to Cape Breton Island. It is spectacular and rugged, much of it national park. We hiked in the brilliant, fall-kissed sunshine. Our first morning we hiked to Ingonish beach and around the lake behind it. I have never seen such a beach: Salt water on one side, and a freshwater beach behind the long spit. Except for a few terns and gulls, we had it to ourselves.

Then we took Middle Head trail out to the end of a peninsula for a picnic lunch high on the headland.

Late in the afternoon, with pleasantly achy leg muscles, we got back to our:
Tent? no.....
Backpacker's hostel? no...
Inexpensive cabin?

Because we were staying at the luxurious, decadent, way out-of-our-budget Keltic Lodge. This was a birthday gift from my generous parents. If you ever want to treat yourself, oh man, this is the place to do it. Look:

When the third course of our four course dinner was served B whispered: "Which fork do we use this time?"

I shrugged. Even If I knew, I could not have answered. My mouth was full of lobster. Succulent, pink and white, tender lobster, drenched in fresh squeezed lemon. This was worth turning fifty for! Thanks Mom and Dad.