Wednesday, March 30, 2022

I have lost count...

 ...which is better than losing face or maybe even Faith. I don't know if there are parameters for things like - too much snow, too much grey, too much idle time, too much dark.... the list goes on. In fact, I have lost count of the number of - 

1. Waves of this pandemic. I hear there is another to come, now would that be 5, 6 or 7?

2. OK, I haven't lost count of the masks, only about 5 or 6 that have been used. Maybe one for each wave. Yes, we are told to "ride them out", but we (I) are (am) not surfers and really no one wants to catch one of these waves.

3. The number of hours that should be daylight, which are not because the clouds are so thick they smother the sun and my soul.

4. The number of snowflakes that have fallen after the start of Spring. Yes, I know it can snow in May. Do I get clear passage to heaven for my penance of enduring more Canadian winters than I care to count - there's that word again.

5. The number of squares of an afghan I am crocheting - yes there are probably about 50 or more, but there is always one or two less than I think there should be. If I were paranoid, I would think that someone was stealing my granny squares. Yes, I have lost count of the number of times I think I have lost my mind.

6. The number of left-over meals you can make from one $12.00 chicken on sale at Metro. Maybe 5 or 6, if you count the lunches. If I did the math, that would be about $2.00 per meal. Then again one ham and cheese sandwich with coffee from Jules is a $12.00 lunch. Time to stop counting the calories and/or the pennies.

7. The number of times I check my e-mail for some enlightenment. I could count the spam, but that would be too depressing.

8. The number of plants in my house. I bought a few to ease the boredom of the lockdowns. However, they grow and breed and now I have so many that I have lost count....

9. The number of snowdrops in the garden that have come up through the leaves that have not been raked, because of the number of days that have been below zero.

10. The number of sighs breathed in an hour to fill the time waiting for something to happen, to count, to be an accomplishment, to be rapture!!

The pictures? Things that count.

Have an awesome day

Friday, February 25, 2022

Oceans of Snow

The Winter of 2022 might just go down as the Winter from Hell. Well maybe I shouldn't say Hell, because it's warm there (or so I am told, I've never actually been) and should, as a result, melt everything. This Winter is definitely right up there with the Winter of 1970-71 where I distinctly remember a country road with snowbanks so high they met at the top and created a tunnel, even for the snow plow - wow!

My mother would say it wasn't anything like the Winter of 1944 (I wouldn't know), when the milkman couldn't get his horse-drawn cart up Gladstone Ave. to deliver milk to my grandmother's house because she fostered babies (5 at a time) from the Infant's Home and they needed that milk!! Hence (love that word) the milkman walked half a fairly long city block, with at least six quarts of milk through knee-high drifts to make sure these babies were fed. They don't make them like this anymore!

So, here we are with white caps on an ocean of snow. Drifts like the breakers of a moody sea swell and swirl, eddy and heave with the wind and the changing light. They are pretty, if you don't have to navigate them. The view from the upper deck is just fine.

The pictures? I know a little repetitious - go figure.

Have a precious day.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Everything NOT in its place.....

 It used to be that you could go into a store and buy what you needed. You could go back to that store and buy the same thing again or its add-ons, as needed. Not anymore! Here's my story.

I'm reorganizing the house. I do it every few years. It clears out the cobwebs and gets rid of the 'junk.' Well, most of it anyway. This time, I am re-doing the basement, as a room for my son, who will then relinquish his room upstairs, which will ultimately become a guest room.

However, in order to do this, I had to first move out all the debris from the basement's previous tenant, my eldest, who's been in Calgary now for 5 years. Fortunately I was able to ship the more memorable of his stuffed animals to him. I threw out the others in my last purge, saying they were too moldy to keep. Did I mention that he'll be 40 this year. There were, though, the other 'keepsakes' - old ninja turtles, scaly rubber dinosaurs, CDs, tapes...TAPES? we don't even own a tape player.

I decided that I could move my yarn, fabric, felting fibre, needlework books, partially finished knitting projects, etc. into the main part of the house, if I could find tasteful storage units. They had to be a certain height - nothing from Ikea worked this time and they had to be a certain length. Well, after several days on Google, I located an organizer with six 12" x 12" cubbies that each held a decorative 11.5" x 11.5" cloth cube for storage at Lowes. I ordered and was shipped the unit with lime green inserts. I built it and loved it. I loved it so much that I wanted another one. Well, Lowes only stocked six sectioned organizers. Unfortunately, another six cubbies would be too long. I needed a unit of four cubbies. In fact two two-unit ones would be even better. They were, however, only available from Amazon. I ordered and was shipped the two pieces. However, Amazon didn't have lime green inserts. I had to go back to Lowes for those. I guess I must have bought the last four in lime green, because when I went back for more  (I added another unit in the dining room) there was only hot pink left. They did, however, still have the six section unit, which I ordered for the dining room. I had to get its dark blue inserts from Rona. Sigh!

Now I was thinking of adding another two 2-unit sets to the one in the dining room. I'm still thinking about it.

There is something amazing about being organized.

Have an orderly day

Friday, February 04, 2022

On a Dark Art....

My apologies to anyone who has had a family member, close friend, anyone, die by suicide. I have had two encounters, so I have experienced, though never understood, the reality.

Anyway, I am one of those people who survive through dark humour. It may be my Irish legacy; it may be just an aberrant characteristic.  In any event, this post was born out of a lunch with a writing friend of mine, bear with me.

We often exchange books, ideas, small gifts, lots of creative exercises, what can I say - a kindred spirit. Well, my friend arrived with a gift of a book about the creative inspiration and how artists manage to achieve their prodigious volume of work through their particular source of inspiration. Believe me, this was a research project of massive proportions. Anyway, one of the artist's listed on the cover was Sylvia Plath. I mentioned that she died by turning on the gas in her small flat in London. It was at a time when the gas that was used in Britain was particularly lethal.  At one point Britain changed to a non-lethal gas and the suicides in Britain were halved.

It begs the question, if you were really serious, couldn't you find another way to end it all? This was the gist of our discussion. Could we position a character in a book contemplating suicide and go through the scenarios?

Anyway, I need to get through this winter. I emailed another friend in my dark humour circle and she responded with this Dorothy Parker poem.

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

That's it. I am pressing on. I have finished my book and have begun my weeks, maybe months of editing. Be prepared for other posts of dark humour. It has been known to snow in May. I'm pretty suicidal in a cold April. If I don't answer the phone in May call the authorities.

The picture? Death by snow.

Have an interesting day!

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Praise the chord.......

 If anything is going to save us from destruction, from total annihilation, or maybe just from ourselves, it won't be religion, it won't, for heavens sakes, be war. No, it will be neither of these. It will be music. "Praise the chord and hold the ammunition."

There have been innumerable studies done lately on the curative power of music. The one I particularly love is a study of the effect of dancing on people suffering from Parkinson's disease. In fact, one neurologist decided to break down the components of dancing to try and isolate which element might be the most effective. Was it the movement, the social interaction or the music? I'll vote for all three, with an emphasis on music.

Another study has shown that those suffering from dementia can bring back blocks of memory simply by listening to music.

Singing is a joyous activity. I have to believe that's why it's so much a part of religious services - "Nearer My God To Thee," comes to mind. A waltz always makes me want to dance. Even the saddest of songs has the power to connect us to the human experience.

I play a little piano, OK, it's a regular piano all 88 keys, but I don't play it as often, as I would like. I'm planning to take this to the next level soon.

I look for music wherever I can find it. I especially look for it in non-musical venues. I signed out a book from the library on Saturday. I would like to point out that it was -15C and I walked about a km to renew my library card. It begs the question, How can people transfer millions in funds through a network of banks and never have to leave home? However, I have to trudge through the ice and snow on a bitterly cold January day to have my library card renewed in person. It took the librarian a second to zap his trusty scanner and voila I was again a member of the faithful. There is no justice in this world - just ice!

The book I signed out was "That Old Country Music" by Kevin Barry. The reviews said that his writing was very lyrical. I wanted to hear the music in his prose.

I listen to a lot of old folk songs. There is a certain genuineness in the music and the lyrics. Sadly, so much of today's music is manufactured. As an aside, I remember telling a young woman, I had met, whose name was Mavis that there was a beautiful folk song that begins with the line, "I heard the Mavis singing his love song to the morn." She said that she didn't know it, but her parents who were old "folkies" not old "fogies" might know it. Here it is, whether your name is Mavis or not - Mary of Argyle.

Our writing word for our writing exchange is "music." This is my contribution.

I really must take more pictures that are musical.

Have a tuneful day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Easy does it....

 Our writing word for today is "ease." I am fixated with people who can do "things" with incredible ease. You know the casually dressed person who manages to have every item in their wardrobe matching. They wear a scarf with, what can I say, ease. It drapes perfectly, slants to a jaunty angle and moves gracefully with the body.

Cut to my scratchy scarf with an unbecoming knot that usually ends up looking more like a noose than a fashion statement.

Then there is the hostess who entertains with ease. Her table is elegantly set, the meal is ready, dirty dishes are done and she is dressed to the nines. I gave up on this paradigm years ago. I opted for dinner as theatre. In fact a particular type of theatre called "Kitchen Sink Drama." My costume is an apron over jeans. Guests have to watch me cook their meal, while I pour wine and talk too much. I have been known to make "poulet a la bonne femme" - chicken with mushrooms, forgetting the mushrooms.

I envy skiers who gracefully parallel down slopes like poetry in motion and skaters who effortlessly glide over ice in semi flight. Even those who shovel walks can make the chore seem like a winter outing. I'm lucky, if I can prevent myself from falling over, as I navigate ruts of frozen slush on the sidewalk.

No, ease in costume, entertaining, athletics has never been a strong point. What I feel I can do with ease, though, is write. I write letters to the powers that be, especially when I'm angry. I write this on-line diary to remind myself of the ironies of life and how easily I coped with them, or not, as the case may be. I have been known to write a love letter or two and I am now writing a novel, sometimes with ease and sometimes with a lot of re-writing, until the language flows with ease.

Here's a small extract on the rare Irish beauty. I'm not sure it's there yet, but it may be close.

“I am told they are a legacy from a time when the Irish were ravaged by invaders. The Saxons with their pale, blue eyes attacked Eire from the north, while the dark, haired Spaniards infiltrated from the south. The progeny bred during these wild and wicked invasions were often born with lustrous black hair and seductive blue eyes,”  Fiona said in her best English.

The pictures? I also take pictures, garden and knit with ease.

Have an easy day!

Saturday, January 01, 2022

What doesn't kill us....makes us go mad....

I can't believe I haven't written since late September. Well, on the other hand, maybe I can. I have had to face certain significant challenges between late September and late December. I will start at the end and work backwards - always the cart before the horse - I need to rein things in.  :)

1. Christmas turkey. I always buy a frozen turkey and let it thaw in the fridge for a few days before it needs to be cooked for the three days of the year we eat turkey - Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seemed easier in the past. There was always a frozen turkey somewhere between nine and fourteen pounds that was, just that, a turkey, though ironically the brand was somehow called Flamingo. I could quite easily bypass turkeys that were: a) butter enhanced (read, shot through with chemicals), b) pre-seasoned (read again, shot through with chemicals, c) pre-stuffed (read, packed with chemicals), d) cook from frozen - for those who never plan ahead I guess. Now, I did pause at the ones that had missing parts. I felt a little sorry for them. Finally, three stores later I did find some perfectly unadulterated turkeys that would have been fine had they not been thawing for a day or two already. I would have to come back and buy whatever was left a little closer to the time. Yes, I could have bought a frozen organic turkey for $89.00 hmmmm - not today.

2. Before turkey buying, we have tree trimming. We actually buy our Christmas tree at the beginning of December and keep it outside until a week or so before Christmas. The tree isn't any fresher or better shaped - who could tell anyway, they are always wrapped in netting, but it is one less pressure to have with all the other pressures around the holiday season. I always envision trimming the tree, as a quiet party with family, after dinner - add some Carols, a little wine, some cookies....the list goes on. In reality it is usually me on a nondescript afternoon rushing to get it done before dinner. Well, this year the tree was quite "fluffy." It took all the coloured lights we had and then some. What should have been completed in an afternoon was now into its second day. Twenty-four hours later, I went to Home Depot for more lights - SOLD OUT. I panicked. Next stop Canadian Tire - they need to hire the buyer from Home Depot - these guys will be selling lights into July. I was overwhelmed! I could buy strings of lights by the number - 50 lights, 100, 150, 200, 250. I could buy indoor lights, outdoor lights, indoor-outdoor lights, big lights, small lights, teeny tiny miniature lights. Really how many multipurpose, multi-sized lights did I need? I followed a customer, who had snagged a salesperson and bought what she bought or at least close to it. Since she had bought the last box of 100 lights, I had to buy 150.

3. It's one thing to buy an extra set of lights, it's another thing to have them "match" your other strings of lights that you have had for the last 10 or 20 years. Clearly someone had missed the boat on the built in obsolescence of Christmas lights. 

Snide remarks aside, this is how it went:

    a) Plugged in new lights and added them to the bottom of the tree - too long
    b) Realized that all the lights had to be taken off the tree and the new set had to go on first.
    c) Added new set only to realize that it just had a "male" end to it - go figure.
    d) Had to remove and restring the remaining lights on the tree to get the correct "sex" connections.
          Porn is everywhere.
    e) Finally plugged in the lights only to find that the middle strand had three small lights on a row that
          were out.
    f) Pulled out the middle bulb of three. The entire string died, sigh. Found a new bulb. It didn't fit.
          Tried to replace 
the old bulb only to lose it somewhere in the tree.
    g) Disconnected the middle strand and rearranged the strings of lights once again.
    h) Forgot to mention that the new set of lights on the top half of the tree twinkle, the rest don't.

Next post - the furnace, which apparently does have built in obsolescence.

Have a happy New Year.