Pet Peeves: Chi and Whess

Dear Readers, We are sadly nearing the end of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves and from this point on it’s 100% cat content – feline friends only. We are pleased to introduce to you, Whess and Chi.

You can’t imagine my delight at finding a pet/human relationship that was not formed online.

I don’t know why exactly, but the fact that Whess (grunt gallery’s curatorial intern) and Chi, (handsome cat), met through mutual friends made me happy. It’s so old school and very unusual nowadays.

I met up with Chi at Whess’s downtown apartment, armed with cat treats which turned out to be completely unnecessary. Chi is an extremely friendly being, who is happy to pop up on your lap and purr. Pretty much the polar opposite of the type of thing I experience at my place. Blackberry thinks of that kind of behaviour as “mushy” or “soft” and she wouldn’t do it if her last treat depended on it. But I digress. And I also plan to interview Blackberry soon, so you will hear all of her (numerous) complaints then.

While I found Whess to be lovely, I spent most of my visit curled up on the bed, feeding treats to Chi. That’s how I learned that he and Whess got together about 6 years ago when Chi’s original owners moved to Australia.

Me: Another snack Chi?

Chi: Don’t mind if I do. Anything else you’d like to chit chat about?

Me: Well, I was wondering if you have any complaints at all? Anything about Whess? Living arrangements? Food?

Chi: As you can see, Whess is just fantastic, however, it took me quite a long time to get them buying the proper type of food. I like GRAVY, the pate cat food is too gummy!

Me: Hmmm, I see……doesn’t sound too awful…..anything else on your little cat mind?

Chi: And I do believe that if a person, who lives with a cat, gets a tattoo, it should really be a picture of the cat! IT SHOULD NOT BE A PICTURE OF SOME STUPID FISH!!

Now I had heard that despite all his charming ways, Chi could be a little intense. I hadn’t realized this intensity would take the form of loud yelling.

Me: Yeah, I see your point, but it’s a nice tattoo.

Chi: NONSENSE. It’s a FISH! So annoying. And what’s with all the TRAVELLING anyway?

Whess is always darting off someplace, leaving me with other people!! And travelling in cars makes me INCONTINENT!!!

Suddenly, I was in pet interviewer heaven, because it seemed as though I had actually found a pet with a few complaints! Oh, joy to the world!

Me: So, actually, Whess is sort of a terrible companion for you? Not too good at all?!

Chi: Are you completely INSANE? Whess took me in when my former people moved to AUSTRALIA! Whess is the kindest, best person I know! I LOVE WHESS!! You must be a cuckoo nut head!

Of course, being called a cuckoo nut head is not exactly unfamiliar territory to me. I just let it bounce right off me, I am made of rubber, you are made of glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks right onto you. That’s pretty much my motto.

Chi: I also LOVE Kathleen!! Whess’s friend KATHLEEN! I get so excited when she comes over, I start to hyperventilate!!!

It was around this point in the interview that I noticed a strange habit of Chi’s. You know that sound when you pick up a cat unexpectedly? It’s sort of a squeaky noise similar to accidentally sitting on a bagpipe. Well, Chi is able to make that noise at will, for no apparent reason. He can also make it pretty loud.

Me: Of course …..you do seem to have a lot of love to share…..

Chi: SCREEEEEEEEEECH.

Whess: One time Chi pooped in his cat carrier when we were 20 seconds from our own doorway!

Chi: SCREEEEEECH, DOUBLE SCREEEEEECH! Why tell her that?! It’s MORTIFYING!!

Me: Well now, always best to try to remain calm Chi…..that’s what we cuckoo nutty heads always say…or maybe that’s the British…same thing really…

Whess: Yes, Chi always poops a bit, especially in taxis…..He’s scared of outside, and the sky. And he cannot stand it if I close the bathroom door! Ha!

Now by this point, Chi had climbed into the bag I brought the treats over in, and was continuing to screech. I was yelling at him to “keep his hair on”, and Whess was coming out with even more entertaining incontinence/bathroom stories. Sometimes, you can get the feeling that an interview has gone a bit off track and sort of derailed, really. The only thing a good pet interviewer can do when this happens is make an excuse, and leave the premises ASAP. Always best not to look as though you are actually running, if you can help it.

I managed to extricate Chi from the bag. He calmed down significantly once Whess stopped telling the poop anecdotes, and he could see that I was leaving. Now, some people might say that my nonchalance was slightly exaggerated but professionalism is everything to me. I certainly did not want Whess to think that all pet interviews ended so chaotically. Or that all the cats I talked to ate quite so many treats. No, I was sure things would go much more smoothly over at my next cat rendezvous. Nellie had mentioned that her cat is 15, too old probably to get very excitable…..and me, of course, I’m always calm, and sort of the strong silent type really.

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Pet Peeves: Toby and Mary Ann

The July installment of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves is here and brimming with positivity! 

Everybody seems to meet online nowadays. It’s just not like it used to be when a simple handwritten note and a trip to the nearest haystack resulted in a new pet… or partner…

No, no, these days a lot of relationships begin with a bit of online dating…. That’s how Toby (distinguished Fox Terrier) and Mary Ann (grunt gallery’s consultant and grant writer since 2006) began. And honestly, I do a bit of online cat dating myself sometimes, when my own cat, Blackberry, is getting on my nerves. I will go and look at adorable kittens and wonder if I would end up bloody and maimed after trying to trim THEIR toenails… I wonder if THEY would give me any respect… if THEY would not simply regard me as some kind of food dispensing, litter box cleaning, slightly slow-witted, slave kind of person…

Mary Ann and Toby do not appear to have any of these issues. They seem to be living it up in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect!! Of course, this is just the kind of relationship that gets me feeling curious. Undaunted by my utter failure to find any malevolence whatsoever in any other grunt/pet households, I sat down with Toby for a little chat.

Me: So Toby, how long have you and Mary Ann been together now?

Toby: About a year, and they just recently got me this new house! Don’t you love it? It’s right across from the park!

Me; Well, actually, I think that’s a cemetery…

Toby: And I’ve got a bed in almost every room!

At this point, Toby caught sight of himself in the glass front of the gas fireplace and began to dance, round and round in figure eights.

Me: What are you doing there Toby?

Toby: Oh sorry, sorry, I get distracted by reflective surfaces, and I have to dance. It’s something I’m practising for my podcast.

Now, I had noticed a complete absence of mirrors at doggy eye level in Mary Ann’s place, even the mirrored bedside tables had been covered up with pillows. Apparently, Toby cannot resist the urge to dance in front of them.

Me: Podcast?

Toby: Yes, I’ve decided to expand my online presence with a little something extra, Tobytv. It’s an inspirational dog channel, for fox terriers who have fallen on hard times. There will be dancing, motivational speeches, and I will be posing for some pictures in my beautiful new home. But I think the dancing may be the most popular part.

Me: Hmmm, that all sounds good, but maybe that’s enough dancing for now. I feel a bit dizzy watching you. And what do you mean expand your online presence?

Toby: Well, of course you’ve heard of Fox Terrier News? And Fox Terrier Nation?

Me: Oh, of course, yes. Always looking at those things… constantly… can’t get enough of them…

Toby: Well, I have a lot of followers on there, not to brag or anything. And I want them to know that no matter how dark things might look, it can all work out in the best possible way!!

Me: Well, I can see how that’s true. Actually, my life would probably be pretty much improved if I could only talk Mary Ann into adopting me… nothing like a bed in every room to make a person feel comfortable.

Toby: I KNOW! So relaxing. And you know that I have epilepsy, so I really do need a lot of soft surfaces around the home.

I think it was right around then that I realized what a lovely and sympathetic dog Toby is. It seemed like the perfect time to share a few of my own health problems. I only stopped talking when Toby appeared to be drifting off to sleep. His gentle snoring rose and fell around the story of my last visit to the rheumatologist…

Toby: Oh dear, so sorry, I drifted off for a moment, probably because of my medication, of course, and you have such a relaxing voice. You could be an influencer like I am, I think. But you really need to keep on top of your posts. Once Mary Ann didn’t post anything about me for 2 weeks! Well, all my American friends were very worried. They like to know that I’m alive and well and chucking my treats around the room… and dancing…

Me: Well, Toby, we all like to see that. It’s always good to see a dog like yourself enjoying such a perfect life. Yep, always good… but I probably have to head out now. Blackberry gets quite hungry at this time of day, and she does not like to be kept waiting. It makes her irritable, and scratchy….

Toby: Come back any time! And look me up online. There’s a very good video of Mary Ann cleaning my ear with a Q-tip which I enjoy more than I can even tell you!

Me: Yes, don’t want to miss that one. Goody.

I headed out after a few more moments of ear scratching and chest rubbing with Toby. Please do not listen to any little stories Mary Ann might tell you about me trying to sneak out of the house with him! These are complete fabrications on her part! What kind of person would try to stuff a Fox Terrier into her purse and take him home?! Ludicrous, and he didn’t actually FIT into my purse anyway… not that I tried…

As I was heading home, (without Toby) I realized two things. The number 8 bus goes REALLY fast, like, much faster than most buses in this city, AND, if I wanted to truly find some juicy pet complaints, I would have to speak to Blackberry. After our 8 years together, I’m pretty sure she’s got a lot to say… most of it probably fairly complain-y…

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Pet Peeves: Alfie and Linda

Salut! Pet Peeves continues with Alfie, a Burnese French Poodle cross with a taste for an unusual delicacy…

I had heard through the grunt grapevine that Linda’s Alfie was a bit of a bad boy, and what woman doesn’t enjoy that? I was looking forward to some of that bad boy charm when Linda Gorrie, (grunt’s business manager of 14 years) and Alfie, (Burnese poodle cross) dropped by the gallery for a visit one Saturday. Now, if any dog wants to tell me that he is European, even though I know darn good and well that he actually hails from Surrey, B.C., in Canada, and has no relationship whatsoever to a lecherous, mid-century cartoon skunk, who am I to argue? I just would not argue. I’m not that kind of person. No no no noooo, if Alfie wants to have a fake-y, Pepe le Pew accent, and swear that it is because he is a Burnese, French Poodle cross, well, so be it… I just like to roll with these things, it’s my way.

Now, I did not notice any spectacularly bad boy-ish behaviour during the visit, apart from a bit of basically uncalled for barking. But, I was determined as always to dig up some kind of dirt. As you might know, I had pretty much given up ages ago on finding out anything troubling about the grunt staff. They are all just so consistently nice, it’s sickening really. But surely Alfie was harbouring some dark secrets. He originated in Surrey after all. If I was lucky, maybe there’d be gang involvement!

Me: So, Alfie, how long have you and Linda been together?

Alfie: I do not care for zees details! I bark at your silly, silly questions!! Bark Bark!

Me: Alfie, have you got a little bit of an accent?

Alfie: But of course, mon Cherie! I am European by breed! Zoot Alors! Do you know nothing at all? I must bark!! Oh, sorry, I did not mean to frighten that poor visitor to the gallery… I feel so bad that she is running out ze door! Zese humans, they are more like big chickens? Non?

Me: Well, Alfie that was actually fairly LOUD barking…..but tell me, how do you enjoy life with Linda and her daughter? Anything about them really getting on your nerves? Just any little thing at all…

Alfie: I adore Linda and her daughter!! Zey are the most beautiful women in ze world!!! Every night I creep from one bed to the other, I love them so much, I cannot decide!! Zey like, a bit too much, ze HUGGING! I I must BARK every time! Too much with ze hugging!! BARK!

Me: Right. Hmmmm, so, Linda is giving you the right kinds of toys and food and everything? Lots of walks and things?

Alfie: Yes, of course! My favourite toy is ze hamburger, made of rubber. And Linda has taught me fifty of your English words for food! Although some things Linda does not understand too well. I zink she does not know the European ways…like ze poo bags for example…

My ears perked up at the mention of poo bags. I was pretty certain this could be that bad behaviour I’d been looking for!

Me: Ummm, what exactly is it about the poo bags Alfie?

Alfie: In Europe, dogs like to eat ze poop. We take ze leetle bags full of ze poop, and we TOSS them up into the air!! We eat ze poop! I do not understand why all of ze humans at the dog park hide ze poop when I come over. Zey run, but they cannot hide! I will always find ze poop!

Me: Well, that is kind of gross.

Alfie: Pah! What do you know of ze poop?! You are like Linda, you have probably never even tried la poop! So, how do you know? It is more delightful than anything you could imagine! Viva la poop!!!

Now anyone who has ever lived with a dog knows that they do enjoy smelly things. They like to rub themselves on smelly things, and sit in your car, happily stinking up the place. And I can honestly say that my old dog, Rhonda, had a habit of snacking on the kitty litter. So, I guess this is a doggy thing, I’d never met one who deliberately went after poo bags in the park… and I did not entirely believe that this was a European dog trait, but I thought it showed a lot of focus from Alfie. Dedication really.

Seemed like it might be time for a bit of a change of subject.

Me: So, Alfie, you are a Burnese, poodle cross? A Burna-doodle? Is that right?

Alfie: Gah! Stupid, silly, silly name! Are you a human doodle? What is zis DOODLE!? It is so silly, I must CHEW on zis rubber doorstopper, until it is RUBBLE!!! DOODLE!! PAH!!!

At about this point in our interview, It occurred to me that Alfie might be getting a little over-excited. He began to talk about ART, and how much he loved it, and how delicious it is, while wandering into the gallery…I’m happy to say that no art was actually harmed during the making of this interview, but I was a bit worried that the show might meet the same fate as a tasty little bag of poo.

Me: Well, you are probably getting ready for your walk now? And maybe a bit of a snack? I’m sure Linda is planning to take you somewhere really nice today. Thanks for coming in to meet with me, Alfie, and if anything at all comes to mind, just anything you might have a complaint about, you have my number. Don’t hesitate to call….

Alfie: Yes! I must go out for ze refreshing walk!! I seem to have a little bit of rubber doorstopper temporarily stuck in my throat… gack, cough, petoooey!

Me: It was lovely to meet you, and always great to see you Linda.

Alfie: Gurk, silly door stopper! I must go!!! Immediatement! Where is my hamburger?!!

And with that, my brief time with Alfie and Linda was over. I did hear that he recovered completely from nibbling on the doorstopper, and that he and Linda went on to have a lovely outing… I did not hear if any poop bags were consumed during that walk, so I can only imagine…

Despite his bad boy ways, Alfie charmed me completely, and Linda? Well, what’s not to like?

No, my only hope was to talk to Mary Ann, and her dog, but really, I should probably rename this whole project, from Pet Peeves, to Perfect Pets and Pukingly Perfect Owners. Really, that’s how it actually IS! As Alfie would say, PAH! Silly!

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Spark Talks: Episode IV

Written by Whess Harman, Spark Talks curator 2018/2019

There’s a slight anomaly (not mistake) on our Spark Talk page that says our first talk was held on January 21, 2106. There are two ideas around this and whichever one is true we will know when we reach that aforementioned date.

Theory one: we are retroactively at the start of the 87th iteration of the series; if time is to be understood as linear points, but each point is an event that happens in a forward track, then once completed the next point is to hop back and not forwards (backstitched), the series is nearing the end of its existence, and the first talk we experienced was actually Mark Igloliorte’s on February 18, 2016 but was the last one of the 90th iteration of the series. Why our experience of time is layering over that track of time is not yet known to us but we assume there have been technological advancements or certain previously paranormal phenomena have been explained and harnessed.

The date of Castillo’s talk is the only one known to us from that time period and was placed at the end of the page so that it wouldn’t appear that we were only ever perpetually waiting for his talk on January 21, 2106, because we’re not waiting, it’s already happened and we’d prefer not to receive phone calls about it.

The second theory: Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo did, in fact, give his talk on January 21, 2106 and it was the first one and the second one followed February 18, 2016 with Mark Igloliorte, meaning that Castillo has (thus far) been the only participant who’s been displaced along this particular stream of time and we are at the end of the third series of Spark Talks, not at the start of the 87th.

Neither theory can be rejected because if Castillo’s roiling liminal narratives are to project possibility, it’s to project the possibility that time collapses, folds, layers, tears, melts, etc.

The third theory of errantly keyed keyboards and fingers possibly tripping over top themselves is not to be considered and no adjustments will be made to the page. We know what we mean when we say the talk happened on January 21, 2106; we just don’t know how we mean it.

What we also know regardless of this time-spatial distortion or cracked vortex in the event horizon or whichever techno-babble jargon applies, is that the Spark Talks, whether they are igniting backwards or forwards or in and out of time are existing in a state of curated chaos and hopeful galactic tidings. Each talk is a point in a constellation and in each iteration is an unpredictable mass of potentiality in ingenious expressions of Indigeneities that can flare, catch fire and sustain new life through and in spite of the vacuous vacuums and voids of academic drudgery and artscaped diasporas; we’ve seen Star Wars and we know you can have explosions in space and we know that an explosion need not herald the encroachment of inter-galactic despots but can be radiant expressions of our pluralities as resistant beings pulled together from the dreams of stars.

We Indigenous folk are habitually and persistently resistant to silence and the silence of spaces we are forcibly vacated from is no exception, be that the literal terrestrial spaces on which we reside or the erasures of space in the slipstreams of archival time. Reason being: we know that communities don’t evolve or adapt to each other through silence. So, bring on the cosmic light show.

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Pet Peeves: James and Hillary

Welcome to the May edition of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves! Read on as Hedy chats with grunt founder and current editor, Hillary Wood (no relation), and the investigation takes a turn toward the possibly paranormal…

Of course I believe that Hillary has a part-time cat named James. I also believe that James comes to visit by walking across two balconies, and that he stays for a couple of hours and naps on the bed and all the rest of it. Hillary Wood is a founding member of grunt gallery and is currently the editor there. She is definitely not some crazy person making up things in order to get me to write about her and some imaginary pet. And, I would like to add, you don’t see me standing around with my index finger pointed at my temple making that little twirly motion. You just don’t! I believe in James completely!

I believe in the existence of James, the part-time cat, so thoroughly that I went over to interview him and see what he had to say about Hillary.

Food bowls left out for the elusive cat-like creature, James.

After standing around on Hillary’s balcony for about half an hour, yelling for James and jiggling my bag of cat treats, I felt like it might be time for a drink……there was no sign of what I was beginning to think was a mere fig newton of Hillary’s imagination and I had a powerful thirst building. Also my yelling JAMES, JAMES!!! was starting to annoy the neighbors.

The interview went something like this:

Me: So, how about we crack open some of this pickle juice, and you tell me all about James who I believe in and know exists?

Hillary: You’re starting to make him sound like God or something! He does exist, and he comes over here every single day! I think all of your yelling has put him off, that’s all.

Me: Ha ha! Where are the glasses? Oh JAMES, you can come over any time now!!! Because I know you’re real!!!

James:

 

Me: Come on James!!! Sit on the bed, eat some stuff, come and visit. Oh JAAAAAAMES!!

James:

 

Definitely, it was time to crack open a bottle of wine. If nothing else, I could ask Hillary about James, and how he has come to be her part-time cat. Apparently, James is actually owned by a neighbor two balconies over, but he prefers to spend a lot of his time at Hillary’s. He’s sort of a cat-share cat, like a timeshare condo I guess….

So Hillary and I settled in and had a glass or two. Occasionally I would get up and go and yell for James out on the balcony. I only actually stopped doing this when I could see that it seemed to be causing Hillary psychic pain.

Hillary Wood and James the cat? Photo by Merle Addison.

I also began to make little jokes and then laugh at them really loudly, then explain the jokes and laugh some more. You know, as you do. When I reflect on it, Hillary really must have the patience of a saint.

The afternoon wore on, and there was still no sign of the alleged James. He was beginning to seem like Bigfoot or Ogo Pogo, I mean, maybe there’d be a sighting or maybe not…..but I do tend to believe in them, so what could possibly be the harm in hanging about for a bit longer? Also, around this time, another bottle of wine kind of fell out of my purse. Maybe it would be smarter to take a different approach to this particular pet interview. I decided to direct my questions to Hillary and stop yelling and treat rattling for James.

Me: So, what would James likely have to say about you? You know, if he actually existed? Oh sorry, I mean, really, what would his complaints be do you think?

Hillary: Well, he doesn’t like it when I move my feet when he’s sleeping on the bed. It makes him attack my feet.

Me: More wine?

Hillary: And he’s very protective about the balcony. He doesn’t even like it when I go out there!

Now this was beginning to seem like a pretty detailed description of imaginary cat behaviour. It was like if someone was saying, But no! The unicorn’s horn is actually sort of a pearly colour!! And the hooves have rainbows!!! Sooner or later, you have to suspend your disbelief.

Me: So how did you and James first meet then?

Hillary: James started coming over for visits when he was a tiny, shy kitten. He would creep around the corners of my place, but now, he feels very at home here. He’s here every day, usually. Probably he is scared of you being here…..and all the yelling…..

Me: Well, I never! Yelling indeed! I’ll show you YELLING little missy. JAAAAAAMMMMEEEESSSSS! JAAAAAMMMMEESSSSS!

Hillary: Would you please shut up?

It must have been around this time that I realized I had better go home. I still had no evidence that James actually existed anywhere on planet earth, and Hillary and I were on the verge of our first fight. Plus, I had the hiccups.

As I was collecting myself and preparing to leave, did I see a flash of white fur whisking by out on the balcony? Did I hear a faint and slightly ghostly meow? I can’t say for certain, but when I got home and the drinker’s remorse began to set in, I found I had a different feeling about James. I believed in him truly and I knew he really did visit every single day and all the rest of it. Honestly, I don’t know why I ever doubted him……now the only thing was to check in again with Hillary and see if she was also suffering from a kind of big headache….

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