Tuesday, March 28, 2023

On the kindness of strangers.......

My name is not Blanche and I am not a character in a Tennessee Williams' play. I'll reserve comment on the author's chosen name later. However, I am a person in need of help from time to time, because I struggle, as many of us do, to:

1. Pay the bills.

2. Do the right "thing" environmentally, ethically and any other .....ally there is out there.

3. Figure out how to navigate the demands of life and still remain sane.

Enter the lists.

This is not a medieval "thing," however, I feel as though, I've been making lists for a millennium.

I'm putting the house in order, so I make lists. My living room list includes a number of items:

1. Repainting the furniture. OK I have 30 year-old Ikea furniture - yes the older ones last this long! However, they need some refreshing. I have actually found someone who will repaint them for a fair price. This is a good start and my first contact with a "stranger" this week. I'll report later on the results. However they did offer to pick up the furniture and produced a quote from a picture. First act of kindness, so far.

2. Installing a chair rail...or something that will stop the chair I use most often from cramming itself against the wall, after an evening of needlework....it's a surprisingly vigorous activity!

There were plexiglass "stoppers" on Amazon for $30 - $50 US. You put them behind the legs of the chair and they stop the chair from pushing against the wall. Well I was tempted, but then I hate paying a billionaire more money. I pressed on. FB groups said to just put some wood behind the chair legs. I though "aha" Home Depot to the rescue. They have a "discard bin" of wood left over from pieces cut for customers. I found a small piece that would work, but I would have to cut it in three places. I asked the "sawer" for help. I said that I would pay for the cuts. He said the wood was free and, since he was free, he cut two perfect 3" x 3" squares that fit the chair legs exactly. I know I have my share of problems with big business, but on a small scale, this amazing stranger was a huge help for me today!!

Not on the living room list, but still on the "this must be done before I die list," is the furnace. I am eternally grateful for two people I contacted today. One is an architect and the other a mechanical engineer. Both said, "Do not remove your rads" and "Heat pump systems break down; their replacement parts are hard to find; you need a back up system."

 So city of Toronto, as much as you want to be carbon neutral by 2035, you have to do better than a $5,000.00 grant against a $15,000.00 outlay for an "iffy" system.

I am very grateful to these strangers who were more than willing to help and didn't charge me a cent.

I'm glad I bought a box of Thank you cards last year. I'll be sending out a few.

Have an amazing day!!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Fields of Snowdrop Joy....

 ....I wrote about Snowdrop Joy a few posts ago. I think it was late February or early Match and it was about one very brave Snowdrop. I now have masses...OK....lots of Snowdrops up in the garden. If tomorrow is a good day, I'll try to rake the leaves around the patches and give them some TLC.

One of my Joys is my garden. I love a quotation, I read years ago, "Life began in a garden." Certainly my outdoor life begins in my garden. I think that the best medication, is the smell of the earth, the warmth of the sun, and the beauty of the green of anything emerging from the frozen wastes!!

Another Joy this week is my finished bedroom, with mended ceiling and freshly painted walls in the palest olive green. I hung up some old pencil sketches and a knitted project I did years ago. As I have said before, Joy is in the details.

And...and....wait for it....I have begun the finishing of The Novel. A good friend, who was kind enough to read the 60,000 plus words of my first draft, said that it needed work. Well, yes, who writes a best seller without a re-write or 10.  :)  I have added an element of unrest to the story. Even I am curious as to how it will turn out!. There is something about the unknown that keeps us guessing.

Well, isn't it just like Spring to have too much happening in too short a time. The snow has melted (almost) and the Snowdrops are fighting their way through the leaves that never left last Fall. The sun's energy is helping me finish up all those items on last year's to-do list and we have longer days and more enthusiasm to do it all with!!

My Joy, this week is having the motivation to get back to "the book." It has a new focus and that's exciting. 

Have a joyous week!!

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Joy of form and order....

After a week of chaos, I now have a new dining room ceiling. It's been painted, as have the walls to the wainscotting. The furniture is back in place and every inch of the room has been scrubbed clean. I also decluttered as I went, so I now have a box of odds and ends for Goodwill. Say not that the struggle naught availeth - I know, I have said this before!!

Peace and order have been restored to the first floor anyway. This coming week, I will have a bedroom upstairs painted and thoroughly cleaned, as well. I'm waiting for a warm day to take the plants out one by one to wash the dust off their leaves, and to give them a good "grooming." Joy is in having a clean, organized house.

Spring will be here before we know it and I will be in the garden most of the time. As a result, the house will get a once over now and then, so it's good to start with "really clean," - before the downhill slide!

On the flip side, my "un-joy" this week has been researching new heating systems for the house. I have to replace my 30-odd year old furnace - actually I should be calling it a boiler. I have been corrected many times. The question that vascillates constantly in my mind is, "What system should I put in?" Do I put in heat pumps for a $5,000.00 rebate from the government. Doing the math that would be $12,000.00 - $5,000.00 = $7,000.00 and freeze, if I close my bedroom door or do I put in a new gas system that removes most of the cumbersome mechanicals downstairs for $12,000.00 without a rebate, but with the same dependable radiator heating that I have been use to for almost 50 years. Yes, I could just replace the existing boiler for a mere $7,000.00, again no rebate. I'll have to ask a few more people for help on this one.

With the return of form and order to the main floor rooms, I have begun the finishing of my daughter's quilt, splurged on pasta with clams for Friday night's dinner, tested my frozen ice cubes of pesto from the Fall - they worked and had long philosophical discussions with the cat. It turns out he was very upset with the chaos and resolved it by peeing on my daughter's bed. "I pee therefore I am."

My Joy this week has been the return of "ordinary" - nothing special, just same old, same old, but in a cleaner more refreshed way.

The pictures? The Joy of food - real or imagined.

Have a Joyful week!!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Joy of Chaos!!

 I'm in chaos right now - 

1. The dinning room is in the living room.

2. My bedroom is covered in drop sheets.

3. The spare room is full of bedding etc. from the other rooms. OK, I could ask the cat to move over, but his bed is a bit small.

I had not envisioned the disruption a replacement ceiling would be - OK, I did, but I was in denial. I think I'll get the painters in as quickly as possible.

My Joy is in the diversions one has to create, to ease the chaos. Enter Firefox!

I usually use Safari - it's a MAC "thing." However, my computer is old - 10 years or so and the upgrades only go so far. I don't think I can upgrade my MAC's operating system any further. Safari may have become obsolete - at the moment anyway.

As a result, I've switched to Firefox and so far, so good, as I still have my portal to the world of "Make Believe." Because, when chaos calls, I look for an escape. 

Tea at Heathrow - so civilized
My escape, this time, is in planning a holiday for 2024. Here is exhibit A.

1. Fly to London, on my own. Well I did it 50 odd years ago and never regretted it. I would have a main focus - to see at least two productions at the Globe Theatre in London. From there I could take the train to Edinburgh and visit my sister-in-law.

I would then have to decide whether to travel to Cornwall to meet my old flatmate and/or to take the train to Paris. Planning might just be the best part of a holiday!! However, I am also hoping that with the execution (of the holiday, that is) that I will be able to meet some interesting people. (I plan to stay in hostels geared to seniors - or those at least close,) and do some out of the ordinary things ______. I will fill in the blanks later!!. If all else fails, there is always the Victoria and Albert - god bless their respective hearts!!

As an aside, I found several sites on-line of seniors who travel and of people, who travel on their own. They have great tips!!

I am not a group traveller of the organized tour group type. I hitched through Europe in the late '60s. OK, I am not going to hitch this time, but my Joy will be in doing the trip, on the "cheap." I really find no thrill in boutique hotels, fancy meals out, renting cars, pampering spas, etc. You pay for all that "stuff." My Joy will be in the bargains and in meeting the down to earth people whose reality is in pinching pennies, while seeing the world!! Maybe my next site should be called, "Back Street Travel - Seeing the World by the Seat of Your Pants."

Kilts in Malta for Carnival - so crazy
Anyway, on a day to day basis - March lingers on, with its cold and slightly above 0ºC temperatures. We still have snow, wear boots, don heavy coats....will this ever end!!

I struggle to find joy in email inquiries to companies that answer my questions. "Do you paint old Ikea furniture?" Well, lo and behold two companies do!! However, I can't send them pictures because everything is under plastic.

Above, I have listed mere inconveniences. The real "Un - joy" this week was the fact that the furnace quit and we froze for 36 hours. Joy was in the resolution of the crisis and in the 20ºC returning to the home.

I'm not sure whom I should thank for this. I've worn out my welcome with St Jude, the patron saint of lost causes and the only biblical character in charge of heat is - you know who. So suck it up Beelzebub, we don't need your help. Canadian Tire has some amazing space heaters. We will survive!!

My Joy this week for the Joy Jar has to be that I discovered The Globe is staging a candle-light production of Macbeth in October. Maybe I should go in the Fall.

The pictures - the randomness of travel.

Have a joyous week!!

Sunday, March 05, 2023

The Joy of Everything!!

Some weeks there is nothing, as far as Joy is concerned - well almost nothing. I still have to get used to the idea that waking up in the morning should be an act of pure Joy.

The last week of February, for example, was the week from Hell. However, I must have found some Joy, because I created a post. - shards of Joy from a shattered week.

This week - Feb 26-28 + March 1- 4 has been much better, as far as Joy is concerned - maybe not everything, but a lot!

There was, for example,

1. The poetry - While I was looking for a phrase from a play, I ended up going down a rabbit hole of poetry online. I do love reading poetry.

What I was looking for were a few lines from the Porter's speech in an early scene from Macbeth. My daughter had asked how the cat had been throughout the day and I responded with, 

"If I were the porter of Hell's gate, I should have old turning the key." 

It's a fancy way of saying that I let the cat in and out of the house so many times that I think I aged significantly, simply by opening and closing the door!!

Yes, we can elevate the mundane to the sublime, even where cats are concerned; it just takes a bit of imagination. The actual phrase is

"Here's a knocking indeed. If a man were porter of 

Hell gate, he should have old turning the key."

2. Next there was the marvellous lunch on Wednesday with a friend where we discussed many things including the fact that the film nominated for best foreign film in the upcoming academy awards is a film in Irish. I was thrilled to read that many people are not only speaking Irish, they are also writing books in Irish and making films in Irish. "Say not the struggle naught availeth."

3. Then there were the orders at work for a new product - Stellina. I distribute Stellina fibre for needle felting and spinning. It's merino wool laced with threads of silver or gold. The joy for myself and many others is the sparkle. How often have we enriched our lives with the Joy of gold and silver!!!

4. Saturday was an example of the Joy only March (or April) can bring. Friday evening there was thunder, lightning and SNOW!! The blizzard howled through the night lashing us with its wrath. Snow blinded the cars, iced the roads, and threatened the walker. We were, however, rewarded for our suffering. Saturday morning was a fairyland of white chiffon. Snow bowed the trees, billowed from heaving drifts and blew in soft swirls though the sparkling air. We were given a few hours of magic before the epic shovelling began. I love to be reminded of the chores that have been with us for generations. OK, a few had snow blowers - but only a few. There is something about the rhythm - scrape, pause, shush, on a quiet morning that reminds us that there is a commonality among those who find Joy in the North. I know we will have more snow, but this was an end of Winter blast, so I have my fingers crossed!! Sunday it will be 5ºC

5. I have finished two needlework projects that I needed to finish before I move on to the next set of unfinished projects......the Joy is in sorting out the clutter!!

6. Saturday, in addition to dealing with the snow, we also had to get a new microwave oven. I don't find Joy in having to replace "things." I would keep something that worked, forever. However, I did find Joy in the fact that my son attempted to repair the appliance. The turntable wasn't turning. He went online and watched videos on how to fix a non-turning turntable - I was impressed. He took the microwave apart. The trick was putting it back together again. OK, my Dad could put anything back together again, except a relationship. My son tried. He's better at relationships than my Dad - hence the new microwave!!

7. Saturday night was a family dinner. I made Penne A La Vodka with Caesar salad and we discussed "the cat." As I so often eat alone, company is pure Joy! Tomorrow, I'll bake ribs in the oven. Soon, we will be able to BBQ them outside. Spring whispers in the mists of the melting snow.

Now, picking just one of these for the Joy Jar is a challenge. However, I think it has to be "The porter of Hell's gate." The phrase is a connection with the past and a link to the present. I'll worry about its portends for the future later.

Have a "Joyous" day