Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sisters...

I know I said in my last post that my writing partner and I were putting the word-a-day posts on hold for awhile. Well, we can't stop writing, even though we are writing 3 pages of long hand every morning. The compromise is - a word every other day. Our word for this day is "sisters."

I have three sisters. One biological sister and two adopted. I also have a biological brother and one sister-in-law. It's interesting how relationships change. My biological sister is closest to me in age. She's actually three years younger. We are very different people and for many years, we were never close. In fact, I was closer to my next sister, who is eight years younger than me and adopted.

My brother is next in line and twelve years younger than me. My mother in her late forties was given the opportunity to adopt the child of friend of my eldest sister - families are complicated. My youngest sister is twenty five years younger than me.



Over the years, my biological sister and I have become friends and have distanced the next sister, who has shut us out and manipulated our father into giving her the family home. The only daughter he remembers, besides the one who lives with him, is our youngest sister, because she rode horses, one of his many loves.

Blood may not run thicker than water. My closest sister is the one who is researching the family tree and has found hundreds of cousins. We still have thirteen first cousins we keep in touch with and many second and third cousins, my sister is in touch with. The remaining DNA we had to capture, to extend the cousin count, is from my brother, who had gone missing for years.

Well my sister e-mailed me the other day, to say that she has found our brother and he is well, sober and working part-time. He's quite keen on doing the DNA "stuff." Maybe we'll get to be a little closer, now.

The picture? Our immediate family, minus one son, with my husband's sister, brother and our niece. People talk of "family planning" as though it were something you could organize, like a holiday. They have no idea!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Matins...

Matins are morning prayers. I've written about them before. Whether you are given to prayer or not or even to a belief in God, doing something "up lifting" in the morning is therapeutic. The book I'm working through - it's actually a 12 week course - The Artist's Way - mandates that you write three pages of long hand every morning. It's stream of consciousness writing, so nothing is prescribed or required except that you put pen to paper and make words!!



I've been doing it now for a week and I've seen an amazing boost in energy. Not necessarily creative energy, but often you have to clear the decks, clean out the cobwebs, before you can think creatively. I may actually finish those websites!! Once the mechanicals are done, I can work on the creative, which will still involve a lot of blogging!!



My writing partner and I have put our word a day exercise on hold, while we work through this Artist's course. I'll keep you posted as we go along and share any amazing discoveries with you. I'm a little short and maybe a bit passed it for the Sistine Chapel, but I'll think of something a little closer to home, in the general sense.



My suggestions here would be, that if you don't do yoga, meditate or write, find something that is spiritually uplifting to do in the morning. Something involving some physical activity is particularly good - it helps the mind kick in. Prayer isn't necessarily physical, however, you might try getting down on your knees. We are all looking, or should be looking, for the "force that through the green fuse drives the flower."

The pictures? Peace and creativity in the morning.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Utensil...

Our word for today is "utensil." I've said before that I'm a gadget freak. I have posted about sieves, may even have waxed eloquent about them. I have also written about cherry pitters and melon ballers. Today, I decided I had to write about a runcible spoon, from The Owl and the Pussycat.



When I first read the poem, I thought that a runcible spoon was a spoon with a lovely scalloped edge. My mother used to have one and I decided that a whole service of them would be so elegant. It also reminded me of my mother's grapefruit spoons, which had serrated edges. The idea was you didn't have to go to all the trouble of preparing the grapefruit, you just had to cut out the wedges with the spikey end of the spoon. This wasn't a spoon; this was a weapon!!



Sadly, I found out, recently, that Edward Lear had made up the word runcible. It's a nonsense word. Oh well! It's not exactly like finding out there is no Santa Claus, but to a gadget freak, it lowers the inventory.



I wonder, if you can know a person by the gadgets they keep. A friend of mind told me once that her husband married her, because she had more power tools that he had. I swear my father never owned a screw driver, or if he did, he could never find it. He destroyed every paring knife my mother had. After my mother died, my sister and I found bags of paring knives in her closet.



The fact that my mother could own spoons with both scalloped and serrated edges probably says a lot about her mood swings. My grandfather owned just a small pen knife. He was a simple man. I have always wanted a Swiss Army knife, but could never justify the weight against the number of times, I would use it. I have used a can opener to get into a frozen car, though and repaired a mortise lock - so a skeleton would let me in :)

My love of gadgets probably says that I'm a little mechanical, maybe predictable and I am resourceful - gadgets can be used in so many different ways. I am also a little detached, more cerebral than emotional. I know, I'm better at fixing "things," than relationships and I admire ingenuity.

The pictures? Gadgets and gizmos galore!!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Stain...

Our word for today is "stain." I am reminded immediately of Lady Macbeth trying to rid her house of the stain of blood. "Out, out damned spot," she raved. I'm also reminded of the last chapter of Tess of the d'Ubervilles. After Tess kills the man she is forced to live with, she looks up from the floor below to see the stain of his blood forming a heart on the ceiling.



My strong Catholic upbringing also reminds me of the stain of sin. Somehow, we come into this world, stained, imperfect. Black marks are everywhere. There are stains on our reputation, if we, or someone close to us, does something wrong. In the girl's school I went to, you got a black mark for chewing gum and if you got too many black marks, you were expelled. I never chew gum. I don't think it's a "sin", but it's not pretty.



Professionals try to explain your personality by how you interpret black marks, ink blots, stains. I've seen the work of some very clever artists that turn stained concrete into amazing street Art. I don't think I have a T-shirt in my closet that isn't stained. I have often thought of bringing out a line of adult bibs. However, you'd have to be able to wash and bleach them to remove the stains.



The word stain isn't all negative, though. You can add some really lovely stains to wood to bring out their colour. Dyeing cloth and fibre is a little like staining. Red wine stains teeth and lips and tablecloths, when spilled. It isn't a pretty stain.

The pictures? Not really stains, but not pretty.

Have an awesome day!!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Gracious...

Our word for today is "gracious." I have to say it is the perfect word for today, because the cosmos, in her graciousness, gave me a perfectly gracious day!! It started out with a large order for TrueFelt sheets. Not only did it sort out my overstock, it restored my faith that something I really like is enjoyed by others too.



The weather today was also perfect - sun, blue sky, a slight breeze, no humidity, warm but not too warm. I walked to work, so my ailing car wouldn't decide to die somewhere inconvenient and put a damper on the day!! I did my three pages of hand written stream of consciousness, which freed up my mind, so that I could work on much needed clerical "stuff."



I walked home for lunch, again, to enjoy more of this perfect day. I did need to get back to the office, though, after lunch, because I had two boxes to be labelled for Canada Post before my hair appt. at 2:00pm. My husband gave me a lift. I completed the tasks in record time. Ta-da!



My hairdresser, who is a very interesting person, filled me in on all the news on the street. We had a long chat about L'Arche, as her son works with disabled adults and she had never heard of the Vanier Institute. It was a wonderful exchange. Finally I walked home. As the breeze whipped my hair in circles, I was transported back to a time of long hair, long skirts, Sunday afternoon parties in London, where we sang folk songs, well into the evening.

I may have to say "grace" for today!

The pictures? For everything we are given, may we be truly thankful.

Have a amazing day!!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Together...

Our word for today is "together." It's a lovely word and a lovely concept. I love "get-to-gethers." In fact I'm going to one in September. I get together with friends I went to elementary school with. There are ten of us. It's quite the gathering. We used to celebrate all the significant birthdays of that year, but now we just celebrate each other.

I always like to do a tally from a statistical point of view. I don't know why. I guess it's just me looking for patterns. In the group of ten there are two women, who never married, two who are widows and never re-married. One who was a widow and re-married. There are two women who had two daughters, two women who had two sons and two women with adopted children. It's an interesting mix.



My writing partner and I are part of a knitting group - YarnoverSleepover.com. Yoso, as it is affectionately known, is a group of eight teachers. Each of us has a combination of jobs to do in preparation for our yearly "get-together" in April at the Fern resort in Orillia. Our job in the group of eight was to work on the website. It was the perfect combination of talents! I think that's why we have gone on to do more things together, which I love.


I'm not really part of any other group that meets regularly. Maybe two is enough. It is fun to see how people change over the years. In my group of school friends, we talk "old times." Most of us lead quite different lives, so there really isn't a common ground. I connect with one friend on FB and we can talk business, because she still runs her travel business. I talk Art with another friend, whom I'm closest to in that group. I'm hoping another friend there has taken up biking, so there would be another point of interest. Yes, I could try to be interested in some of their activities. I'll ask more about them :)

Now, our Yoso group talks about the future and I love that. We have plans. How can we make our April event better? How can we improve our fibre artistry? How can we improve our businesses? All of us have several common interests. It makes for very easy conversation and a lot of fun!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Natural...

Our word for today is natural.... It's overused to be sure, but it is still one of those words that creates so many positive feelings, when I hear it. I have to work at being cynical when I read a label that says "natural flavourings," which probably means chemical additives, that taste like the real thing. But that word natural softens the truth, the reality, that we are actually living in an artificial world.



This is why it is so important to get back to nature, to things that are really natural, to delay, as much as possible, our evolution to a man-made, space-age, planet? We now, for example, eat foods that contain some genetically modified ingredients. Even if we're cooking from scratch, it's difficult to avoid GM ingredients. In fact, if "we are what we eat" and we eat mainly man-made, chemically altered food, what does that make us?



I applaud the Gates foundation for collecting and storing our "natural" plants before they are wiped out or modified beyond recognition. When we suddenly realize what is happening, we will need them. However, it's not just our food that's contaminated, most of the world's fresh water is unfit to drink. We have to add chemicals to make it potable. I'm wondering if I can dig a well in my garden to bring up fresh water and I wonder how fresh it would be.



Even our minds are being "treated." Artificial Intelligence can alter our view of reality. Fake news from our electronic devices can turn truth and fact into fiction. If enough people begin to believe these falsehoods, what will we be in ten, twenty, fifty years?



Ask questions, read labels, resist "group think," support facts, support reputable reporting, read, meditate to get back in touch with the real you. Create "natural" whenever and wherever you can.

The pictures? Remember when everything at the market was grown by a local farmer.

Have a naturally perfect day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Synchronicity...

Our word for today is synchronicity - meaningful coincidences. We've all had them. It's that time when you said, "I was thinking of calling, so and so, when all of a sudden the phone rings and it's so snd so." There is a theory that there is a time in the universe, when concepts were meant to be. Several people working on the invention of television, for example. They are in different parts of the world, do not know each other, but they all are working towards the same end, TV - another meaningful coincidence.

Perhaps there is a time when things just need to happen, in the world or in your world. That's when the energy in the cosmos bubbles up through a few individuals, including you. You happen to be directed to a certain place or to a certain person and voila, you both get an idea, or put two and two together. This would be synchronicity.


I have had a few meaningful coincidences in business. Once I was looking for other products to distribute, to replace my pattern sales, which were moving to online pdf downloads. Out of the blue, a Clover rep. called and asked, if I would be interested in distributing for Clover. These coincidences have happened again and again. I think that the cosmos wants people to keep knitting in a meaningful way :)

Another chance call from a store in BC, asking me to carry Bhedawool and TrueFelt sheets has turned me into a needle felter. I just happened to be looking for something other than knitting needles and knitting gadgets to do some creative work, when the call came in. Right now, I am looking around for a very simple yarn line. I thought I'd just send this message out over waves out there and see what happens.

The picture? All eight of us have met coincidently over the years through knitting. We now all teach at the same retreat each year in April. Coincidently, my writing partner is sitting beside me - meaningful synchronicity.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Curiouser and curiouser......

Our word for today is curious. What could be more curious than the works of Lewis Carroll - Alice in Wonderland is probably the most recognizable and perhaps the most creative of his works. He is, to me, one of the most curious and creative of artists.



Creativity, I think, is born of curiosity. People, who wonder or wander off the grid - the ones that stray from the straight and narrow or who ask questions, that may not always have answers, are working with creative minds, curious minds. They ask, Why, Where, Who, How, and When?



I have been curious about creativity most of my life. I came from a background where indulging in your creative whims was a luxury. Work came first. Study to rise above this working caste came next and maybe, if there was a little "free" time, you were permitted a daydream or two. Those who dreamed too much were given a task, lest the devil find work for idle hands to do.



There was also a stigma in being too different, too creative. What would the neighbours say? Who does she thinks she is, trying to be different than us, does she mean to rise above us. In order to survive, in difficult times, one had to be part of a supportive community and that community could be restrictive. People, who were free to create either didn't have to worry about "money" or were so poor that they might as well use what talent they had, because what else was there to do?



The pictures? Some of my creativity so far - needle felting, gardening, photography and designing lace knitting.  I'm going to work my way through the book/course The Artist's Way. I'm hoping to move on.

Have a creative day!!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Biscuit....

Our word for today is biscuit. I love this word because it has a cluster of meanings. First it's a food. A biscuit is a British cookie. Here's a site that rates 21 of them, with phrases such as,

"As British as Michael Caine, roundabouts and glaring at but not saying anything to people who jump the queue, these are little pieces of perfection...

My husband's aunt, always served her shortbread biscuits with Sherry - a nice touch! I only make cookies (biscuits) at Christmas, when I make so many we're still eating them on Valentines Day.



In North America, a biscuit is a slightly leavened savoury scone. It's a staple in dishes, such as, chicken and biscuits. My local Second Cup, before it closed, often sold cheese scones (biscuits), I prefer cranberry, but I would buy cheese, over Blueberry with white chocolate - too sweet.

However, for a biscuit that's really savoury, it should be a "bisque," which is a soup of French origin.
Wikipedia says,



"It is thought the name is derived from Biscay, as in Bay of Biscay,[2] but the crustaceans are certainly bis cuites "twice cooked" (by analogy to a biscuit) for they are first sautéed lightly in their shells, then simmered in wine and aromatic ingredients, before being strained, followed by the addition of cream."

I have had the traditional lobster bisque only once. However, I do make pureed soups often. I always make a tomato "bisque" from the fresh tomatoes in the garden. Yesterday, I even made a cooked cucumber and avocado soup, from two runaway cucumbers I found in the weeds. It was delicious! I think, I have to do some shrimp or even smoked salmon bisques, when I need a little Paris in my life!



Finally, biscuit is also another name for porcelain, particularly, unglazed porcelain, biscuit ware, used for various types of pottery, figurines, and the delicate faces of antique dolls.

I am fascinated with dolls. I was given a doll every year I can remember, until the age of 12. I still have my mother's doll. I have books on dolls - how to dress them, how to make their fine porcelain heads and how to assemble their articulated bodies. I also have books on cloth dolls, again how to sew them, stuff them and embroider their whimsical faces. I have knit period costumes for barbie dolls and I may just have to buy this book of paper dolls from the Yves St. Laurent collection - not bisque, but I can dream.

The pictures? Bits of biscuits and bisque.

Have a charming day!



Saturday, August 18, 2018

Volatile

Our word for today is volatile – extremely changeable. I realized the last few words that I have given for our writing exercise were turbulent, circuitous and now volatile. Is someone trying to tell me something? Is there mischief afoot?

I work at staying calm. Yes, there are times when I erupt! I have to be provoked, though or see an injustice, before I go “nuts.” So let’s take a look at what has changed lately or might change to cause these potential mood swings.


-      My husband has retired. However, he is doing contract work, so there is still a cash flow, albeit reduced. I’m usually not too stressed about money. I have been poor and I know that people survive, even thrive, by being frugal.

     -     My daughter and I argue constantly about her room, but this has been going     
            on for years, coming to a head every once in a while.

-      Sales have been slow, but this is not new. Who knits from April to August?

-      My labour of love, in the summer, is my garden, which is now being slowly eroded by a pesky groundhog. I’m irritated but not explosive.



-      My labour of love in the winter is needle-felting and I should be working on projects, but this summer’s heat has affected me and I’ve managed to do very little hand work. 
  
-      I haven’t been on FaceBook that much lately. I follow the Trump resistance and every post that shows the huge numbers of his supporters makes me so depressed that I could cry. I almost never cry – partly my personality and partly early training. In households trying to keep body and soul together, everyone had to keep their troubles to themselves, so as not to make life even more difficult for others.


   
-      I get huge negative feelings every time I see Doug Ford’s face in the paper, or read a piece about how the PCs are destroying everything environmentally positive, everything intelligent, everything considerate that the Liberals have put in place.
  
-      I worry constantly about the state of the world. There are too many people, and not enough resources. Climates are less predictable, more destructive. There are fewer democratic countries, and more selfish tyrants. There are fewer freedom fighters and more people willing to follow their own stupidity.

-  The economy is skewed. There are few jobs to be had. The pay is low, with fewer benefits or none at all. Owning a home is out of the question and renting is barely possible. What is there to inspire people?


Top all this worry off with a heavy dose of aging and you have the makings of a volatile situation. There are days, when I think, "Where can I go?" "What can I do to make this better?" "How is it all going to end?"

Writing is therapy. I do feel a sense of purpose, when I write. I know these daily positives will spill over to the other areas of my life. I'm already working on Remembrance Day kits. Now if I could only get to that book!!

Have a thoughtful day!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cigarette...

Our word for today is cigarette... I want to say it's an old word. Not many people, I know smoke and the ones that did are dead. But there was a time, in film particularly, when smoking added to the allure of life. Most movie stars smoked and the famous ones are remembered for their cigarette roles or maybe that should be rolls.

I think of Humphrey Bogart. He may have had a cigarette in his mouth in Casablanca, because that was what made you cool. Your props were a martini and a cigarette (were they funded by the tobacco companies?). I think of Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, or every cowboy you can name. What made you was a fag hanging out of your mouth or held between fingers - first and second or first and thumb. The positioning said so much.

We have, now, had to invent new ways of being cool. I don't watch a lot of movies, so I'm not sure, what those ways are.  I look at handhelds. Certainly the phone has become a focus, as have sunglasses. Are there some classic photos with twirling sunglasses, or the ear on shoulder sandwich with phone as filling? Not sure. I choke at the thought of tattoos. Do you think that our status is, now measured, not by the number of cigarettes we smoke, but by the number of tattoos we sport? Have we just traded one organ for another - lung for skin or something like that?



My mother never smoked. She said her father put her off it, by having her take a deep drag of a cigarette, when she was quite young. She threw up and never tried it again. My father smoked until he was thirty. He gave it up one day, giving all his cigarettes to the first guy he saw on the street that smoked. That was 73 years ago. He's now 103. My grandfather, a heavy smoker, who rolled his own, died of lung Cancer at 63. It's a numbers game.

I smoked when I was at university and quit in my first year of teaching. I had a bout of Bronchitis, which was aggravated by cigarettes. It cured me. My husband has never smoked. My sister-in-law smoked cigarillos, again as a affectation. She quit when she became a vegetarian.  My kids, if they do smoke, do it sporadically. I don't smell tobacco on clothing in the house. I have to believe that the advertising campaigns against smoking are working, at least in Canada.

The picture? The question still remains, though. Did Jesus smoke?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Secrets...

Our word for today is secrets.....So I guess I have to be "out" about this. I have been secretly writing a book. It's not really one of those straightforward books, it's being written in chapters here and there. Every once in a while I post a paragraph or two to see how it looks in public. Here is a short passage.

It was a grey day in November when Tessa called to say she had given birth to a boy, whom she would name, Liam. Would I come to see him? I didn’t hesitate. I threw on some clothes and caught the central line at Ealing Broadway. My two hour ride to Epping Forest gave me time to think about Tessa and her situation. Tessa was 28, unmarried and Catholic. The first time she had ever had sexual intercourse was with the father of her child. He was a friend of a friend, in from out of town and asked, if he could stay at the flat. This was not an unusual request. We often put people up in the living room. What was unusual was that Tessa fell in love with him, almost immediately.

Patrick knew he had charm and used this charm on women. Tessa was just one more notch in his belt. On the other hand, Tessa's life was Patrick. When she realized she was pregnant, she wrote to him. He did have the decency to come to London and talk. 

Tessa was thrilled to see him. She wanted to fall into his arms and be told everything would be all right.

He began by saying, "Well, this is unfortunate, isn't it. Have you considered and abortion?"

Tessa was stunned, she couldn't speak. 

He droned on, "I believe, they're in the neighbourhood of £100.00" I could offer you the money".

When she finally found her voice, Tessa, stood her ground, "You said you were in love with me. I think we should be married."

It was Patrick's turn to be dumbfounded. He cleared his throat and with a slight rasp said,"I, I don't think that's possible. You see, I'm already engaged."

Tessa didn't see. In a blind rage, she screamed, "liar, cheat, coward. You told me you had no one and you needed me. I believed you. You weren't interested in me, just yourself. Abortion is out of the question. Take your filthy money, and your filthy body out of here. Just remember that a child of yours will, one day, wander the earth looking for you."

He left. A month later, we heard through a friend, that Patrick had married and moved to Tanzania.

I spent days consoling Tessa, commiserating with her, willing the pregnancy to end. She spent those days in and out of tears, both loving and hating Patrick, wondering about the child she was carrying, and worrying about herself. It was one of the saddest times in my life.

I arrived at Epping Forest and took a taxi to the convent. It was a quiet home both for the Sisters of Charity and for unwed mothers. It was not the Magdelene Laundries. Tessa took me into the nursery. She had been crying. 

"I know I have to do this for him," Tessa said. "I've signed the adoption papers. I love him too much to have him grow up without a proper home. He needs a father." She sobbed again.

When I saw this newborn in his crib, I could have cried too. I have never forgotten the moment. He was a beautiful child and she was going to have to leave him there. I hated Patrick for creating all this grief.

I often wonder, if the child had been a girl, would Tessa have kept her. 

Years later, I was at a rugby match. We were playing a visting team from Britain. Suddenly, I realized that one of their coaches was Patrick's father. Rugby, even international Rugby, is a small world. People know each other. I stood across the room, while he give a short  speech and thought, you probably don’t know that you have a grandchild, who was adopted at birth. I wonder if Patrick has had children and if our speaker has grandchildren. The irony, of course, would be, no. 

How many people know things about you or you know things about other people that can never be told. Perhaps it's the secrets we carry through life, that bind us to one another.

The pictures? This is not a picture book :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Circuitous II

I wrote about circuitous the other day and didn't really have a great example of how I complicate my life in wild circuitous loops. Well, one of those loops happened yesterday.

I have decided that I want to do some interesting walking tours, abroad. Most of these adventures require you to walk 15 to 20kms a day. In fact the Camino has a quota of 25 or 26kms per day. Clearly, I have to practise. Yesterday, we did our usual 5km walk. At least I'm guessing it was 5kms. Maybe it was more. I now need an odometer to measure my walking distance. I have an odometer for biking, could I use that?



Well, yes I could. First I googled for information. I was directed to several YouTube videos explaining how I could affix my Garmin bike meter to my wrist. However, I needed some equipment. More googling directed me to M.E.C. who was supposed to have what I wanted. Not so. The parts had to be specially order and the reviews weren't great.



I pressed on. If I didn't use the wrist strap from the Garmin kit and bought my own, I could orient the odometer more like a watch than the kit could. Back to google. This time I went to Gears, where we bought our bikes. They had the parts. However, online, they were $13.50. When I called the store for availability, I was told that the parts were were $22.50. Sigh!

Finally, I decided to buy what I needed online and have them shipped to the store. I know there was a time when life was not as circuitous.

Room....

Our word for today is room. It's an amazing word, because it's not only your environment, it's also your well being. I often say, "you wouldn't go for a swim in dirty water, so why would you spend time in an messy room. "But, water just touches my skin," you say. Yes, but a room touches your soul.

I know, some people don't really care about their surroundings. I've been in their rooms, the atmosphere is troubled. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the perfect housekeeper, by any means. I don't need spotless, but I do need a sense of harmony - soft colours, balanced settings, good light and space.



I remember staying in a Bed and Breakfast once and found it quite claustrophobic. I don't mind small rooms, nicely arranged. However, this room, although fairly large, was full of clutter. It had three side tables, six lamps, two beds, three large chairs and various knick knacks on all the walls and surfaces. I would have taken half the "stuff" out and re-arranged everything.



The B&B's or Air B&Bs we re-book are places where someone has taken care to select and arrange the furnishings. The space is relaxing, nurturing. I have trouble understanding hoarders. I have to believe, there is a mental imbalance that makes people treat their rooms like dumpsters. Your room should be your refuge, your oasis. You should be surrounded by peace and harmony to keep a balance in your life.



There is, now, a whole industry to help people de-clutter, get organized and free their minds. I remember once reading a list of quick pick-me-ups. One was to clean out your handbag, pockets, or briefcase. Think of what an amazing pick-me-up it would be to clean your room (s). My mother was a hoarder, my husband has trouble parting with things and my daughter lives in chaos. I work at keeping a balance!

The pictures? Harmony in space, light, and flowers.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Spirits

Our word for today is spirits. I'm not the one in our family who believes in spirits. My sister does, though and maybe I should start, because the other day she won $5,000.00 in a lottery. Here is how the spirits intervened. After my sister had bought the ticket, she put it on her night table and asked both my mother's spirit and the spirit of our paternal grandfather, whom we have never met, to make this a lucky ticket, because she needed a car. Bingo! She ended up splitting a million dollar pot with 167 other people, which netted her around $5,000.00. She bought a car!



No my spiritualism comes mainly from nature. I could be a Pantheist, one who believes that God is in everything, especially everything in nature. I need to have trees, flowers, foliage around me to find peace. Now these would be the good spirits, the Dryads, that lift the soul.



I know there are poltergeists, meddlesome spirits that inhabit houses or buildings or places where they can interact with people in disturbing ways. I have read articles about houses, said to haunted. Old houses always have a past. Some have had their share of tragedy, I'm sure. Maybe, there are souls there, who have not been laid to rest. They remain, then, in an agitated state, taking out their wrath on anyone who tries to inhabit their space.



I think there are also capricious spirits living in auto correct. What I read, in my writing, is never what I have written. Do you think some spirit is trying to tell me something? I sometimes believe that the cosmos is trying to tell me something. You know, that spiritual energy that's out there. I think, if you meditate, you can be more in tune, with that energy and hear it's message. I have made a mental note to be quiet and listen more often.

The pictures? Photos to me are a little like reading between the lines. I wonder what these are saying.

Have an informative day.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Chicken Chicken...

Our word for today is "chicken." It always reminds me of the classic fight between Pizza Pizza and Chicken Chicken, a business a former employee of the pizza chain tried to start, using the same business model. The case went to court and Chicken Chicken lost. St Hubert has gone back to Quebec and Swiss Chalet is downsizing, here anyway. Chicken, as fast food, maybe an endangered species!


What else is there? I do get a little frustrated with our biodiversity, as far as meat is concerned.  Our choice of fruits and vegetables is massive. Whereas, our choice of meat is really just four - pork, beef, lamb and chicken, OK, there are a few other varieties of fowl and I decided not to add rabbit and goat, because they aren't as popular. Now, for someone who wanted to be a little different, I'm wondering, if a fast food chain based on rabbit would work? There are now restaurants, Le Lapin in Quebec City, for example, that offer rabbit only, on their menus. You could call it "Bunny Bunny." Somehow I don't think so. And I'm not even going to think about "Nanny Nanny" for goat.



All joking aside, I was fascinated with the idea of having chickens in my backyard, until I started reading a column about a woman, who is keeping chickens, in the city. You actually buy the coop and all the essentials, then rent the chickens. In theory the eggs are free, but you pay for everything else. I think she nets out at $1.00 an egg. Tsk, tsk or maybe cluck, cluck, this is expensive. Renting chickens, probably has some drawbacks, as well. These, then, would be used chickens. Is there a way to look at their egg laying stats. - like mileage on a car? Presumably, you don't kick the tires or the chicken equivalent there of.



As you can see, I have given up on the idea of chickens in my backyard. In fact, I'm re-thinking doing even a vegetable garden next year. It seems we've acquired a resident groundhog, who likes tomatoes. Although, we live in the heart of the city, we have a number of wild animals, who visit, regularly. Raccoons are the given. They live in our maple tree and have for thirty years. There's also a skunk that pops in every now and again, probably as often as, the rabbit, and both are more often than the opossum, which we've seen just once. We see the groundhog daily.



I'm wondering, if we could add these critters to our biodiversity for meat? Somehow,  I can't see Hog Hog or Coon Coon working either. Sigh!

The pictures? Variations on a theme!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Circuitous...

Our word for today is "circuitous" - in a round about way. Some of its synonyms are - meandering, serpentine, tortuous. I love meandering and serpentine. These are leisurely words - garden paths serpentine and rivers, especially old rivers, meander.

Tortuous is something else entirely. People often take circuitous routes to get to where they are today. In some cases these routes might be very tortuous. I think of people having to leave their own country to come to Canada. Not only do they have to retrain themselves, they have to learn a new language, a new culture, and a whole new set of rules. On the other hand, some people don't have to leave the country to take on a new life. I think of people who come "out" as gay. Surely there is a whole new life style to be learned. I know of a family with a transgendered child. They had to grieve the loss of a daughter and accept a new son. This was very difficult, especially for the extended family.



I can often construct huge circuitous routes to avoid doing something. I remember having to do some fund raising once. My idea was to send out letters of request, do a telephone follow up and finally go in to collect a donation. Clearly, I hated asking for money. The person working with me said, "Forget it. Let's just go into the stores and ask for money or merchandise." It worked, whereas, my idea was so convoluted, that it probably wouldn't have worked.




I was talking to a friend the other day and invariably we were talking about how some people complicate their lives. She had a friend, who sold up in Toronto and moved to Stratford, because she needed the money. She is now moving back to Toronto, because she has met someone, online, who lives here and they are buying a house together - more of a shuttle that a labyrinth - but still circuitous. We were also talking about another friend, who was about to lose her job as a doctor, because she couldn't get to work on time. Finally she got a friend in BC to call her in Toronto at 7:00 AM to get her up. I'm not sure I would get up daily at 4:00AM to call a friend half way across the country. It's one thing to complicate your own life, it's quite another to complicate the lives of others.

The pictures? Things a little circuitous, maybe.

Have an uncomplicated day.




Saturday, August 11, 2018

Flattery...

Our word for today is Flattery - "undue praise" or "showing something to advantage." I rarely flatter. I may compliment someone and definitely thank anyone for help, freely given or not. But I can truly say that I would not praise someone, unless they genuinely deserved it.

In fact, for years, I tended to point out the not so flattering aspects of people. This habit probably came from my mother, who often commented negatively on people and places. I can hear myself saying, on more than one occasion, "You've put on weight," or "You should never wear orange." In fact, someone once said to me - If your best friend won't tell you, Carol will."



Somehow, I changed. Maybe once I was out of the negative environment of my home and spending more time with positive people, I began to think more positively. I didn't always compliment, but, at least, I didn't say, "Too bad about your fat ankles."



The more I saw the good things in people, the more I realized that mentioning these assets was uplifting. I didn't seek to flatter. I sought to "make some one's day" or at least an hour or two of it. I know, I always felt much better, when someone said, for example, "I really like your hair like that" or "you have such great kids." I know it's not flattery. No one has anything to gain, by complimenting me, unduly. I think that they have just made a habit of saying something positive, often.



This positivity, can I say that, might be a little like "showing something to advantage." I know this is one of the meanings of flattery. However, I can't see anything wrong or insincere with wearing black, for example, if you are overweight, because it is a slimming colour. Self help books, often say, show off your good points - put on make-up, stand tall, smile. I think flattering yourself, is a way of improving yourself and in my books, that's just fine.

The pictures? Fishing for compliments - sorry I couldn't resist!!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Persistent...

Our word for today is stubborn. I like to think of it as persistent. The refusal to give up. I am mentally working on an idea. This may sound redundant. Having ideas is already a mental activity. But I am churning them over in my mind or, at least, one of them.



I want to find a way of achieving home ownership for each of my three children. In another time, another economy, they might have been able to purchase a modest home on their own. But today's economy is out of whack. Most people are paid too little to afford the astronomical cost of a private home today.

Here is what I'm thinking -

1. Suggesting to the kids that they have a sideline. My son, who is a full time photographer, might be encouraged to take wedding pictures on the weekend. I would offer to build his website.
2. My daughter works two jobs already. One, however, is part time. Can this become full time or can it be structured so that she can work mornings, lets say, and take on a third job in the afternoon?
3. I am looking around at available space. Can I get a permit to build a small house in my back yard?My friend in England severed off the bottom of her garden and built a bungalow there. It worked.
4. Can I find some unconventional property, a store front or a small building and convert it to a home?
5. Can a larger building be converted to the equivalent of co-operative housing?
6. How much would it cost to convert our current home to a triplex?



I like the idea of converting laneway garages to homes. In fact, I like the idea of looking at buildings and space in unconventional ways. I'm not a big fan of condominiums. I think that the maintenance fees involved in owning a condominium may be the biggest government sanctioned swindle around. Who puts away $1000.00 a month for home repairs?



Finally, I'm voting for Jennifer Keesmaat for mayor in our next election. She's made affordable housing one of her platforms. Having been our Chief City Planner from 2012 to 2017, Keesmaat knows Toronto. She's honest, intelligent and doesn't seem to be in the pockets of the wealthy developers, yet.

The pictures? Some inventive housing :)