Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Joy of Solving Problems....

I have a list...yes, OK, I have dozens of list. They are there to avoid a "listless life" - no pun intended!!

One of the items on my list for the front of the back yard.....(it's a big yard) to stop a basement window sill from rotting. 

"Something there is that doesn't like a wall (or a well)." Years ago, we had timbered in a small space below a basement window. Well, (gotta love that word) over time, the timbers rotted, the soil seeped in and the wood framing around the window decomposed. Why hadn't I noticed this before? Well, (there it is again) I hadn't been in the mood for thirty - odd years to paint the basement windows. However, I am getting new windows for the front of the house and I decided that the basement windows needed to match - almost.

Enter the window-well tradesman (and his wife). I called a few companies that advertise in a small local newspaper. Fortunately, one responded. The quote was OK and he arrived on time. Did a great job and filled a number of holes in and around the foundations with the leftover cement at no extra charge.

I can now make a small tick beside a big problem that has been resolved.

The next problem was to re-do an adjacent flag stone patio.

Enter my son!! He promised to help and I held him to it. What I was surprised to find was a master craftsman. He relaid the flagstone, we had removed to facilitate the work on the window well and went on to repair the entire east side of the patio. I can now tick off two of three items for the back yard list!!

The last item is a small extension to the patio, which my son has offered to do and I think I can find enough good flagstone in the various "areas" of the backyard to accommodate.

Joy this week has not been all "bells, whistles and gongs," nor as it been "sunshine, birdsong and blossom." Rather it has been shovels, pitchforks and brooms. There is a certain Joy in the work ethic. It does elevate the slog and adds a hint of rapture (maybe) to the bricks and mortar.

So, in spite of a cold week, we managed to solve a few problems, move through the chores, save some money by doing things ourselves, cultivate the garden, play the piano, fill orders at work, have a lovely lunch with a friend, and write about the Joy of being able to do it all.

I think that my slip for the Joy Jar this week is the fact that my son did an amazing job on the patio repair. Did I mention that he wanted a canopy with lights for the picnic table? Everything is a trade off!!

The pictures? I added flowers because they are prettier than the well.

Have an awesome week!!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Joy of "Obscure Sorrows"

 Mostly the weather this week has been very "unjoyous." After a week of summer, we are back into the cold and grey of a Winter/Spring. However, coffee this week with a friend was joyous! In fact my friend recommended a book that I might like - "Obscure Sorrows." The author, John Koenig, creates words based on their Latin, Greek, etc, roots to explain, what is often obscure feelings or states of mind. 

For example:
“Sonder - n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

From the German word for special.


“Adronitis - n. the frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone—spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the centre of the house—wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first, before easing into casualness, until you’ve built up enough mystery over the years to ask them where they’re from, and what they do for a living.”  

From the Greek word Andron - the part of the house reserved for men.

For Andronitis, I might use Eonitis, from the English word "eon" - ages and ages. For Sonder, I might use Amassonian from the English - masses.

I have said before that I am a wordsmith. I love using words, finding new words, coining words and arranging words - a.k.a. writing.

I am, however, more fascinated with John Koenig's thoughts behind the words than the actual onomatopoeic value of his words. I am obviously a very superficial person. It has never bothered me that I could spend years getting to know a person and yet never really plumb their core. Nor does it bother me that I don't know much about the lives of passersby. Wait, I am very curious about people who are out and about at 3:00am. Never cease to know for whom the clock ticks in the wee hours of the deepest dark. Serial killers abound.

In this cold but productive week. I bought a grade four Conservatory music book and I am learning a new piece - Allegretto in E Minor, which curiously has an F-sharp. I also joined the University of Edinburgh's Coursera to start to understand music theory. Both small joys in the sense of moving forward. I even thought that I might resume my conservatory studies with lessons.

For the Joy Jar, the highlight of my week has to be coffee with my friend and her recommendation of Obscure Sorrows. I think I have to buy the book.

The picture? Now I am curious about the artistic process. Above is a model of The Globe theatre in London. It's been on my mind lately. I did a tour of the rebuilt Globe a few years ago and promised myself that I would see a play or two there one day - unfulfilleditis - maybe.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

An "Ovenable" Joy

OK, I probably didn't have to put the word, ovenable, in quotation marks. It is a word, as words go, however, I have never heard it before. Yes, I have a Shorter Oxford English Dictionary and it is, sad to say, not in it. Well, it's an old edition. I actually found the word "ovenable" in the instructions for re-heating a BBQ'd chicken from Costco. The instructions for re-heating the chicken in the oven, started by saying, "heat chicken in an ovenable container....," well, yes. I can't imagine the results in a non-ovenable container.

My Joy has to be in encountering a new word, even if it is from Costco. Ovenable is right up there with lovable, doable foreseeable, imaginable, forgivable, _____ (make your own .."able"). For a wordsmith, language is always extendable! Bring on the enrichment.

There was, however, more Joy this week than the emergence of a new word. There was SUMMER!! OMG, I usually add to my March hope list for warmer weather, "There are always a few good days in April." Well we had a week of Summer, temperatures of 27º, gorgeous sun. There are times like this when I think there must be a God; that we have been good and are being rewarded. I will ignore the fact that my phone says  it will "snow" on Tuesday. OK, I have an old phone, maybe it needs updating. Well, it is a Canadian "thing." We often don't have a Spring. We go from Winter to Summer in 24 hours.

My brother-in-law, who came out to Canada occasionally for work - he worked for a Canadian company with offices in the UK - once said, "I can't believe the temperature went from 0º to 24ºC in 24 hours." For a country of extreme weather, I am glad that we have the moderate "to & fro" of a democratic government. Yes. "governable" is a word.

My other Joy word this week has to be "gardenable." I have raked another 40 or more leaf bags from the garden, repositioned perennials, eradicated Ivy, moved 14 bags of manure from the trunk of my car to the garden shed and dug out a basement window. Never say "cannot-able." Push past the parameters of old-age-able!! 

My Joy this week for the Joy Jar has to be the "unseasonable" warm weather. Thank you for those "respons(a)ble."

Have a joyable week!!

Sunday, April 09, 2023

The Joy of not committing filicide......

I am always amazed at the energy generated by warmer weather and longer days. When it's cold and dark, I have very little desire to get things done.

However, as soon as the snow melts and the days lengthen I have the enthusiasm to "do a million things at once." As I have said before, I am putting my affairs in order. I have decided that the house has to be perfect! All the clutter has to be cleared and what remains has to be presented in an organized and artistic fashion.

I also intend to complete the projects and journeys I have started and/or have planned over the years, before I can't realize them anymore. Hence, this was a productive week!

1. I found a keyboard stand in white - there was only one in the entire province, however, I had to drive to Brantford to pick it up. I did, though, have the Joy of listening to music for three hours on my CD player. There was also the added Joy of actually finding the music store! Brantford has two main streets both called Colbourne St. The first Colbourne St. goes West only and the second Colbourne St. goes East only. I actually found the music store on the second street going East - who would have thought! 

The keyboard stand completes a corner of the living room and gives me the incentive to practise the piano - a journey I started years ago!

2. I spent seven hours working on one round of trim for my daughter's quilt. I know there was raking to do in the garden, but I was driven to finish this next step. Joy was in using up left over fabric, spending the day stitching and knowing that my daughter will have a keepsake - whether she likes it or not :)

3. We celebrated "Lucky Friday" - it's a family "thing" - with a good friend on Good Friday. We finally switched from turkey to ham - my daughter decided that she would try something other than turkey - a monumental turning point and it was delicious. However, next time I will get a ham that has just been cured and let my son do the glazing. He was a little disappointed, that the ham had already been glazed, because he loves cooking and wanted to try something new. His time will come!

4. I "Gerry-rigged" an asparagus cooking arrangement. I don't have an asparagus pot - my sister does. I wanted to emulate that pot. I wanted to cook the sturdy stems of the asparagus and steam the flowers. I had a "sort of" cooking rack, which let me stand the spears up in a larger pot. I heated the element; boiled the water; added it to the prepared pot; put a glass bowl over the racked asparagus and waited. It worked. The only problem was we spent too much time talking about the origin of the term "gerry-rig" that the asparagus over cooked - so much for trying to get a lightly steamed vegetable for dinner. The operation was a success, but the patient died. Better luck next time!!

5. I raked 35 bags of leaves and general debris from the front half of the back garden - 60% of the back garden has been raked - only 40% to go and yes, we have a front garden.

6. After, I showed the kids my work, My son said, "Is this all you're doing? I refrained from committing filicide.

It's difficult to decide which of these I would pick for my Joy Jar. However, it might be the trip to Brantford. I so rarely travel out of Toronto and passing through Hamilton reminded me of the many times we drove there to visit my grandmother and various aunts, uncles and cousins. Beyond Hamilton was farmland - a.k.a. Greenbelt. We have to keep this serenity intact.

The picture? I need to have music in my life. Put into your life the Joy that needs to be there!!

Have a Joyous week!!

Sunday, April 02, 2023

A Joyous Week...

..... OK every once in a while the cosmos delivers a week of pure Joy! Maybe it's a dividend for months of Winter's hardship or maybe it's just a random numbers "thing" - you know the more you hang in there the more you get. I'm not sure what the rationale is or if there even is any reason or logic to this happenstance. However, I managed to find Joy this week in the fact that:

1. The Forsythia I brought in for forcing is in bloom. These are free flowers from the garden to add a touch of Spring to the end of March's gloom.

2. I raked 10 bags of leaves on one of the better days this week - 20% of the garden has been cleared - only 80% to go.

3. I talked to both an architect and a mechanical engineer about the installation of a new heating system. I am eternally grateful to people willing to help others people for nothing but a thank you.

4. I finished the last larger square of my daughter's quilt. It's starting to take shape. Just 40 smaller squares to go and miles of trim. This is her fellowship badge. However, I didn't like to leave the four crossed arms just drifting in space, so I added cuffs. OK I had to decorate the cuffs and since I can never leave well enough alone, I added bracelets and rings - fellowship with a flair.

5. I had lunch with a friend and had the privilege of listening to her husband play their new Grand Piano. Few Joys can match the thrill of listening to a Bach composition played exquisitely by a contemporary in a gorgeous home overlooking Lake Ontario. This was special.

6. I dropped off an armchair to be refurbished. The re-do of the living room has begun.

7. I talked to my friend in England who was heading out for a river cruise in Europe with her friend from Australia. I had promised to accompany her to Australia should she ever want to go. We go back many years to the time I lived in London and shared a flat with Tinks and three other women. It was a magical two years. Going to Australia would be amazing, as well!!

Now picking just one for the Joy jar is a challenge. I think it has to be listening to Brian play Bach's (the) Chaconne. I have ordered a new keyboard stand and will begin to practise!

Have an awesome week!