Sunday, February 26, 2023

The fine edgings of Joy...

....what is there about tragedy, misery and general dismay that makes us start to "sort things out?" I know everyone has their preferred method of dealing with s**t. Please fill me in. I need more "ammo" for the arsenal of handling a**holes. 

Generally, I cope with the nastiness life throws at me, by burying myself in projects. Right now, I have this overwhelming urge to finish up the unfinished, clear out the cobwebs and "put my life in order." It's been a bad week. My previous post outlines the slings and arrows fortune has decided to throw at me. Soooo....

Yesterday, I finally completed a crocheted afghan I have been working on for the last 5 years. All through the week I had the Joy of adding a delicate lace edging to set off the rows of granny squares, I had worked on every February in Spain. I'll pin it out once the the mats are free. Right now they are blocking a sweater I started in March 2020. I had to re-knit a problem sleeve on the garment before I could finish the I-cord trim. But I did push through with the changes and now it's blocking. I do enjoy knitting on I-cord trim.

Lastly, I dug out a cotton vest I started 7 years ago. I have two crocheted medallions left to do, before I can finish the garment with rounds of multi-coloured edging. There is a lot of Joy in the final flourishes.

I've said this before, "Needlework always brings me Joy." Once the older projects are completed, I will get back to finishing my daughter's quilt...and...and...I have new ideas for the book that's been on the back burner for a while.

Maybe it's the lengthening of the days...or the snow that has kept me from walking....or a myriad of "other things" that has brought on this spurt of energy. 

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, drives also the needle and the spirit to produce a finished product!!

Pictures to come.

Have a productive day!!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Thinking Day...

 OK, I will write about Joy next Sunday, because I know it will ultimately be a Joyful week. In the meantime, I have to add to the balance. For every spoonful of Joy there is a tablespoon of misery.


1. My website developed an error - Well, some Malware idiot tampered with the code so that any new person who registered on the site could not place an order because their login was "waiting for approval." I went through hoops. The approval was there; they were "active" on the site. I entered and re-entered their sign-up. There was nothing I could do. I waited my 1/2 hour on GoDaddy and got someone who was nice, but didn't know that much - story of my life. The bottom line is I will have to pay for a coder to adjust the code, that some creeping robot has altered, in order to have customers be able to place orders online....sigh!

2. I went to the bank to do the final arrangements with my husband's estate. It's a joint bank account but there are two sub-accounts that needed transferring. I presented all the necessary papers. However the bank needed the original will - not a copy. More hassles, more paper work. I didn't need the website to go down as well - It never rains, but it pours....and on Friday the bank froze my credit card. It's all part of the probate process. They could have warned me.

3. The February snow dump has arrived!! I knew the good weather couldn't last, but I enjoyed it while it was there. I'm also happy that I don't have to drive anywhere in this maelstrom. I spent years, when I was teaching, commuting to a small town outside of the city. A storm like this could turn an hour's commute into a three hour nightmare. I've earned my stripes.

4. Canada post is holding parcels again. Why can't they just do their job?

5. One shipment came through today from the US. However, my postman has trouble with cheques, so I did a credit card transaction. Well, didn't he debit my card twice. OK it was just 40 - odd dollars, but really twice. I have registered a dispute with Visa and now must monitor that transaction as well.

February 22, 2001 was the day I was diagnosed with a very aggressive Breast Cancer. Today, Feb 22, 2023  certainly isn't as bad, but it seems like February is just one of those months that attracts the worst in the cosmos. That being said, my problems compared to those of so many people in the rest of the world are really quite petty. I need to just "suck it up" and hope for a better day tomorrow - Feb 23, 2023.

So sorry to burden you with all this angst. But I needed an outlet. Tomorrow will be a better day. I know.

The pictures? Angst in images.

Have a better day!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Snowdrop Joy

My Joy this week has to be in finding this tiny Snowdrop, at the edge of the driveway, in bloom. OK, I have lots of Snowdrops scattered throughout the garden. Not one of them is even close to emerging. However, this one Snowdrop, precariously placed just inches from the cars that park in the driveway, has decided it is time to face the world. Well, "face" might not be the operative word, but you get the idea.

Always nature is there to remind us that, against all odds, we will survive!! 

There have been other moments of Joy this week, too. Most days have been above zero. Some were even warm by February standards. In fact, one afternoon crept up as high as 13ºC. The snow has melted. The birds are flitting through the garden and we are closer to Spring!

Even the rain was kind. It froze on the trees and sparkled when the sun came out. I took too many pictures. None of which captured the moment. Nature keeps her magic to herself dazzling us every once in a while, when we've been good!

Have a joyous week!

Sunday, February 12, 2023


 Our writing word for our writing challenge this time is "thinking." Well, I have just spent several hours online trying to find a collection of books by Edward de Bono. He is the authority on thinking, especially creative thinking. I once had a good selection of his 70 odd books, but only two have survived - "Opportunities" and "Practical Thinking." I particularly wanted "Lateral Thinking."

I went to Abebooks and found a book store in Victoria BC that had a copy for $5.00US and an estimated shipping cost to the US of $3.00. I sent them a message about the cost for shipping within Canada. In fact, I went on their website and placed an order. Well, the shipping was an extra $13.00. How did that happened?

Thrift books was OK and I may have to order several from there to make the shipping worthwhile. I'll think about that.

Years ago, I went to a day-long talk presented by Edward de Bono. It was in one of the smaller theatres at the University of Toronto. He is really a fascinating person who could talk for five hours or more on the fine Art of Thinking. He obviously possessed a gene for the fine Art of Talking, as well.

I often quote one of his examples of problem solving. It involves a change in the way one looks at a problem. Mohammed, for example tried to move mountains. He commanded the mountains to come to him. Nothing happened. After several attempts, he said, "Well, if the mountains won't come to Mohammed; Mohammed will go to the mountains." - Eureka, problem solved.

Another ploy to change a mindset, that is suggested in Lateral Thinking, is to use a dictionary and some random numbers. The first set of numbers gives you the dictionary page and the second set the count down of the words on that page. The purpose being to find a random word and use that word in your problem solving.

Let's try it. My problem could be, how to beat the Winter blahs. Here goes....

First, I took some random numbers from the front page of the Sunday Star. The date added together was 227 and a reference to an article in the paper was 17. So page 227 in my dictionary was in the C's and counting down 17 words, fortunately there were two columns on the page, gave me the word "caruncle." A caruncle is "a fleshy excrescence e.g. a turkeycock's wattles or the red prominence at the inner angle of the eye." I could also cheat and separate the word out to "car" and "uncle." Let's try the original word.

Wattles are unusual and distinctive. The inner angle of the eye is insightful. The eyes are windows of the mind. To look deeply into someone's eyes is possibly to enter their mind and maybe even their soul. If I were to take this as a jumping off point to eleviate boredom I could:

1. Make a list of a good number of excrescences found in nature and find out more about them. I could photograph them and/or write about them. I could look into people's eyes more and write about the experience.

2. I could draw eyes. I could think about tear ducts, behind the excrescences and the reasons why we cry. I could endeavour to be more empathetic towards people.

3. I could look for the unusual around me. Not everything has a wattle, but a lot of things have seemingly extraneous aspects. However, these aspects might not be useless. I could find out their use.

My list is limited, I know.

This exercise is often done as a group brainstorming technique. More minds - more ideas.

Here is what I found on line:

Warts and pimples are common excrescences that can usually be wiped out with medication; other excrescences such as cysts and tumors need to be removed surgically. Mushrooms are the excrescences of underground fungus networks. Some people consider slang words to be vulgar excrescences of the English language, but others consider slang the most colourful vocabulary of all.

OK, a whole new area of exploration - mushrooms and slang!! One site also mentioned hair as an excrescence.

I may not follow up on any of these, but I have just spent the morning writing about a word that's new to me and found some interesting areas to explore - inner sunshine! It's another grey day outside.

The pictures? #1 I have seen the light. It's one of my favourites. It was taken in Paris about ten years ago. I love how it crystallizes a moment in time!! and #2 is some graffiti on a rock in Algonquin Park, perhaps some unnatural excrescences in nature or the equivalent of graphic slang!!

Have thoughtful day!!

Uncomplicated Joy....

 ...This was a week of complications. I had to find Joy in the uncomplicated or in the unravelling of the complicated. Here's how it went....

1. I tried to set up an account with a money transferring service only to find that I couldn't connect my phone to my wifi at work - lost password. The service had asked me to take pictures of documents through their devices with my phone. However they would only send verification codes to my land line at work, (so I couldn't take pictures at home, where I had a connection.) I couldn't be in two places at once - complicated. Fortunately my son was able to restore my password at the office and I was able to complete the login and account set-up. Actually transferring money will be another learning curve. I'll keep you posted.

My Joy in all of this was to have my phone finally able to access my wifi at work. There will be more Joy when I actually send money via the service - banked Joy.

2. I made roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli with gravy on Sunday. Roasts are one of the few Joys of Winter.

3. I met a friend for coffee on Wednesday. Two and a half hours of elder - Joy!!

4. Wednesday was also gloriously warm for February.... 7ºC. Sunshine always makes me Joyful.

5. Got Wordle on the second try. Bought a lottery ticket, but didn't win. Still, there were those few hours of hope and I did win $2.00 from my last lottery buy, again prompted by a 2/6 wordle win!! Moments of fleeting Joy.

6. I wrote a post on "Slang." As I have said before, writing always brings me Joy. I also got to use the word "idiosyncratic." Random Joy.

7. I went to the bank to physically transfer money - well, in a manner of speaking. I was transferring about $1,000.00 CDN to Holland. The country, a.k.a., The Netherlands, was written all over the invoice I gave the teller. She a) wasn't sure whether Amsterdam was a street name or a city name and b) placed the city of Amsterdam in Germany. I did catch her before she transferred the money out of my personal account, when it was to be transferred from my business account even after I had logged in with my business account card. The Joy was that the errors - and there were many - were caught before the money was actually sent.

8. I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon going through garden catalogues and listing all the tomato cages, plant supports and pop-up tents that I plan to buy in March or April. Gardening always brings me Joy.

9. Mayor John Tory resigned!!! Hurray! After he voted to rebuild the Gardiner out to the beaches, I decided I really didn't like him anymore. This added to the fact that both he and Doug Ford are part of an organized crime group of developers that plan to destroy our city, our province and our good health with poisoned water, makes me very happy, even joyous to know that he is gone!!

10. Lots of orders came in at work this week. I also have a lead on some new products and I have negotiated better prices for some of the products I already have. Joy is in still having a job, a business and moving forward. The sky's the limit!!

11. Connections always bring me Joy. There was another interesting connection that was posted to my FB feed yesterday. This time it was about a clipper ship - The Cutty Sark. The post was a wonderful description of an old sailing vessel that brought tea from China to England in the late 1800s. The connection was not with the whiskey, but with a poem by Robert Burns, "Tam O'Shanter," which is the amusing story of a person, who comes upon a haunted house and sees the ghosts there having a lively party. The viewer, Tam, particularly enjoys watching an attractive wraith in a short skirt - a "cutty sark." The eponymous ship had a myriad of short sails - cutty sarks - to help it make its memorable voyages. Joy is in the connection of poetry, history and metaphors with a twist of wry (rye) humour.

Till first ae caper, syne anither, 
Tam tint his reason a' thegither, 
And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!" 
And in an instant all was dark: 
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, 
When out the hellish legion sallied. 

I'll leave you to read the rest of the poem. It's a wonderful preservation of the Scottish dialect. I am ever grateful to Robert Burns for his decision to write in the vernacular.

Now to pick just one of the above to write on a slip of paper for my Joy Jar. I think that all the resolutions at work with the electronic, financial and commercial conundra is the ultimate fuel for the spirit lamp of Joy this week.

The pictures? The random and the idiosyncratic. 

Have a Joyous week

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Slang Part 1

In one of my posts, I did an exercise from a book, Lateral Thinking, by Edward de Bono. It's a process by which you pick a random word and use it to solve a problem. My problem was the Winter "blahs" and my word was caruncle - an extraneous growth.

The exercise is usually done as a group activity, so I decided to look up caruncle online. In addition to the listing of cysts, tumours and wattles, I found a reference to "slang." Someone had suggested that slang was the Cancer (tumour) of the English language. A counter reference suggested that slang was the more colourful of the two.

It's hard to say which idea I prefer. It's true I don't like needless (read extraneous) pedantic language, however I do like a well placed "bon mot," which often isn't slang, but a proper, perhaps even elevated, word used occasionally in everyday (vernacular) speech - "Idiosyncratic" comes to mind.

I certainly fall into the Canadian category of using the word "sorry" too often. I'll use "gonna" - "going to" and "whatcha"- "what are you.." a lot. However, I will go to great lengths to use the proper extended tense of a verb. "If it were to be done, it would be well to have had it done quickly." - just sayin'  :)

I think this insistence on verb tense accuracy comes from my 5 years of high school Latin. Some languages have no tenses except the present tense. The ancient Romans, however, had a tense structure to rival the most complicated. I guess they occupied England long enough to impart their love of convoluted tense order to the subjugated Anglos, because the imperfect, past perfect and pluperfect tenses are their legacy. It's an understanding of life that is not necessarily on-going, as in the eternal present, but one that could be seen as having been completed to some degree of perfection or not, as the case maybe, in the past.

But I digress. I was actually talking about slang as a more colourful outgrowth of the English language. So words, such as, "blurb" for a written explanation and "burbs" for planned communities outside of the evolved city centre are indeed colourful short forms for what they describe - uninteresting uniformity. They are the onomatopoeic equivalent of a "burp" - rude, bland, but necessary. (Hmmm, thinking aloud, "Did I just give you an example of colourful language that is anything but colourful. The examples are almost a contradiction in terms. It must be the Winter blahs!!)

Moving on...I also love the incorporation of words from other languages to add to our vernacular. Yiddish comes to mind, as having very colourful slang words, when used in English sentences. "Schlep," for example is the perfect connotation of dragging oneself and one's paraphernalia to and from a situation. "Kvetch" again is a great description of "bitching" without the rude overtones.

I probably use so much slang now that it has become commonplace and I have trouble separating it from the proper words that ought to be used. (This is one of the reasons I write. I need to remind myself of the correct form and usage of the words I use.)

I sense that this concept of colourful slang will be an on-going blog topic. I have written so little about what is really exciting in our everyday speech. Perhaps in Britain there are more interesting slang words - bloke, knackered, grub, come to mind. I also find myself interjecting a few words from French or German and, of course there is always Shakespeare's English.

I will close by posting two memorable, colloquial, expressions: 

First from the British, a slang interpretation of Grace, a prayer before meals:

"Thanks Gov. for the very fine grub." 

Secondly from a poem I taught in Grade 10 English:

"Methinks that the language has gone straight to pot."

The pictures? Street slang, maybe - colourful, unconventional and cryptic - the story of my life

Have an awesome day!

Sunday, February 05, 2023

February Joy!!

I've made it through January. This in itself is a distillation of pure Joy! Someone posted a poem on FB about the days of the month. It was a parody on the old "Thirty days hath September." They managed to incorporate all the months and their respective days except for January, which the poet noted had 3,648 days. - Yes, I endured everyone of them!! 

So my Joy for the last half week of January and the first half week of February was:

1. My daughter went with a friend to watch one of the games in the 6 Nations Rugby final at a local pub. This was England vs Scotland. When she came home, I asked a few questions over dinner, you know, just making polite conversation - such as, "What was the score?"..."Did they play at Twickenham?" 

She said, "How did you know that?" Well, I lived in England for two years in a flat full of Rugby enthusiasts. I have watched, in person, finals (The old Triple Crown) at Twickenham and at Cardiff Arms Park. Sadly I have never been to Murrayfield, in Scotland or Landsdowne Road in Ireland. Over here we collect Baseball parks. Over there I collected Rugby stadiums. I always like it when they say, "How did you know that?" It's happened a few times, even with American Football - we share an Eli Manning joke. It was another, "How did you know that?" Well, ... I'm not just a pretty face :)... I'm also an amazing font of useless knowledge.

2. My purple orchid is in bloom again. This would be the third time since I was given it a few years ago as a Mother's Day present. It always brings me Joy. I have four other orchids. Only one of them has re-bloomed. So, more Joy is just waiting to happen!! In fact I have a total of 55 plants, not counting the ones in my daughter's room (8) which she has the duty to care for, that brings me Joy!

3. That being said there is an Anthurium Lily in her room, which is back in bloom - Hidden Joy!

4. A friend finally posted that she was settled, having bought a house in Northern Ontario and will have her yarn business back up and running again soon. Friends and their successes always bring me Joy.

5. My son has had a few photography gigs and is working on his own headshots. Pending Joy......I know he will eventually find a full time job!!

6. The snow that fell last Sunday has stayed, especially on the trees, which makes the city look very pretty. As I have said before, I am not a fan of Winter, but I look for its positives where I can. It's like shaking Joy from an almost empty jar. Still, if there is enough in there, it will work!

7. I had a long trek to the burbs to pick up product for a store in NS. I used to hate the drive. Now, I just put in a CD and listen to music and the drive has become a tiny sliver of Joy.

8. I found chicken legs on special - 12 for $6.00. Now that's 6 servings of Balsamic Chicken at $2.00 a plate. Saving money always brings me Joy.

9. I had lunch with a good friend on Wednesday. We share an interest in so many things. Common Joy!!

10. I cooked a number of interesting meals this week. Cooking is an inherent Joy. Remember the book, "The Joy of Cooking." I have my mother's copy.

11. I couldn't find a particular pair of scissors the other day. You know the ones you use to cut cat ears out of felt with. Yes, I have more scissors than I need, however, I needed that pair, that day. Soooo, I had to sort through all my craft supplies - destashing as I went and finally found them!! I also have a very organized craft space, as a result. Decluttering always brings me Joy!

12. I hadn't actually planned on going to Ikea, however, I gave my daughter a lift to work, as she had file boxes to carry and it had snowed and I knew her work was on the way to Ikea and you know, you just go with the flow...or Joy. I went for a picture frame and came home with bowls, containers, cutting boards and yes, 3 picture frames. The Joy of spending an hour and a half at Ikea for about $50.00.

13. OK "Baker's Dozen's" worth of Joy. Friday was a day filled with orders at work. It was a surprisingly eventful day. I love the busy-ness of my business and though there are times when I'm not that motivated, I would still miss days like this and talking "yarn" with people I have known for over 25 years, if I were to ever close it. Joy in the long term.

It's hard to pick just one to write on a slip of paper and add to my phantom Joy jar, however, I think that I will pick the flowers - the orchid and the Anthurium Lily in bloom - OK that's two. They remind me that the days are getting longer. It's light now until 5:30pm. Orion will soon be in the South sky and Spring will come again, as it has for millions of millennia. Joy has its own calendar. I just steal a day or two here and there.

Have a Joyous Imolc, Candlemas, Ground Hog, and Billy Murray month!!