Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Grama's Newest Baby

As of tomorrow morning, I am looking after the YD's little darling.  And here she is.

Meet Shamwari, Shammy for short, a golden doodle.  A large furry baby of a dog, with a wistful face and a need to be close to her mistress at all times.  The YD goes to the washroom?  Shammy is trying to peer under the door.  The YD goes off in her car?  Shammy has one eye and one ear out for the car until the YD comes back.
However, in the meantime, if she cannot have her mistress, Grama is next best.  She settles down on her favourite piece of the living room carpet (as shown) and keeps the other eye and ear on me.  If I get up, she watches to see where I go.  The tail is tucked between her legs, the eyes even more wistful than usual.
As soon as she hears the car, up she pops, the tail goes up, and she heads for the door.
Tomorrow the YD has to go into the city and get a lot of paperwork done.  She is going to spend the night at her sister's house.  Shammy is staying here. I hope I can be an adequate substitute for the Beloved for a day and a half.
Wish me luck.

4:30 pm.
There is a new game, chez G.  It seems to be a version of hide and seek.  Mary opens front door and wants Shammy to come in.  Shammy runs around the house and hides.  Mary closes front door.  Shammy comes up onto porch.  Mary opens door.  Shammy runs around house and hides.  Mary opens back door.  Shammy runs around ............ do dogs giggle?  Because if so, this one is giggling.
She is now in the house, courtesy of JG.  Still giggling.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Winter Fun

We have had just a bit of an ice storm here; not like the big one but involving a lot of hoar frost, followed by rain followed by snow followed by ominous cracks as tree branches gave way under the weight.  Today we had a bit of thaw and a lot beautiful.
JG and the YD, accompanied by dog, went out to clear downed trees off the road.

I took photos.

We are now told that the temperature will drop, and more snow is expected.  Ah, life in Eastern Ontario.
But it sure is beautiful.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A Monday Mission Carol

It was the days of Christmas prep when sanity had fled,
The tree still leaned beside the porch, her husband sick in bed,
No icing made, no presents wrapped,
She mumbled on, while JG napped,
I'm not nearly done, Heavens!
Not nearly done!
Mary in extremis est.

A drive of half an hour to town to pick the turkey up,
And gather other foodstuffs in on which we need to sup.
The whipping cream, the aspic red,
The pickles, olives, special bread.
If this stuff isn't here, Chaos!
If stuff isn't here
Mary in canus' domus libet.

She needs to vacuum up the mud that's scattered in the hall,
She needs to wipe the kitchen floor, where many drips do fall.
There's beds to make, laundry to do,
The YD's coming, dog comes too.
Too much to do, Panic!
Too much to do.
Mary in flabellum est.

With apologies to Jean de Brebeuf

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Weather Report

Ahem? Hem, Hem, HEM? Excuse me! Weather gods? Ice Queen? You with the snowmaking machine up there? Would you please stop! STOP, already. We have almost 24" of snow on the ground. White Christmas is assured. It's okay. Enough! Please?

The upside of this sudden change from a grey, wet November to winter wonderland is that I now know that my new Ford has got what it takes. We drove to a Christmas party last night in almost whiteout conditions on the way there and enough snow on the hill through the village that they had barricades out and were directing traffic around the side roads. On the way home the road had only been ploughed half way along the county road and we had only a groove to follow through about 8" of new fall. By the time we got onto our own concession, we were down to one set of tracks and the last few hills were untouched. But the Ford purred right along, didn't slip, slide or refuse, even when we were scraping snow with the undercarriage. I am relieved, because I really trusted the Jeep's ability to let me shift to 4 high or 4 low and was most unsure about this automatic all-wheel drive. It works, though.

We have had two very grumpy wild turkeys sitting out on the feeding station all morning, doing a few desultory kicks through the snow and, it almost seemed, glaring at the house, waiting for us to put the corn out. As of now, the feeding station is recharged and I hope they will cheer up. We also had a most bemused deer wander through late yesterday afternoon and again this morning. I wonder if the local wildlife remembers from year to year that their grazing is all going to get covered by nasty cold white stuff or if it comes as a surprise each time. Once the snow is established and deep, the deer 'yard up', that is, gather in a sheltered location with browse, and wait out the winter as well as they can. This snowfall must be almost chest deep on the small ones, but it is light and fluffy still, so I figure they can push through it. Once there is a crust, that is much more difficult.

It is still snowing, hard. They are not listening to me up there.

There has been snow falling since early Tuesday morning, almost without stopping. I have just come back from helping JG get the snow cab onto the tractor and am expecting any moment to hear the rumbling of the augur as he clears out the laneway. It is quite a sight when the snow is this fluffy to see it pouring out the chute of the snowblower. We have a homemade snow shelter on the tractor that covers three sides and if the wind is wrong, the plume also blows back and covers JG from time to time. Talk about the abominable snowman! Two blue eyes in a walking, steaming pile of snow. I am not allowed to laugh.

We're supposed to be going to a Christmas party again tonight in a town about a 40 minute drive in good weather. If this doesn't stop soon, we may be looking at twice that long and another return requiring punching through unplowed roads.

However, JG is somewhat chuffed because he can now play full out with his new toy. We have a small Kubota two seat utility vehicle that we use to get around in the bush, lug wood, whatever. It has four wheel drive and four fat tires, but it does not do well in snow. So, this fall JG bought it a set of winter tracks. He spent three long cold days taking off the tires and fitting the tracks on, with the result shown in the photo here. This morning he got it out and clomped along on the unploughed trails around the house. And, like the Ford, it chugged right through. Lovely.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Who Let the Dogs Out?

I have an on-line acquaintance whose kindergarten aged daughter has a mordant fear of dogs. As her mother describes it, it is a phobic fear and the poor kidlet panics whenever she is in the presence of a dog. She is too young to have this intensity of fear addressed by a psychologist and therefore her mother cannot take her anywhere that the child might encounter dogs closely. No jaunts in the park, no trips to the market, no place where people might bring their pets. Of course, she will grow up and reach a cognitive level where this fear can be addressed, but in the meantime her mother has a lot of problems. She tried to take Miss M to see the Olympic torch run, but people had their dogs there and she had to leave. When the 'Leave Your Dog at Home' site went up, the mother was afraid that the little girl would not be able to tolerate going to the Santa Claus parade.

In my mind, dogs don't get a lot out of Santa Claus and it would not spoil a treat for them if they were left at home. Miss M, on the other hand, is at a perfect Santa Parade age.

When my husband was a little boy he was horribly afraid of dogs. He remembers walking home from somewhere with his sister and hiding behind her because of a dog. He clearly remembers the terror. When he was old enough, his parents got a puppy and he learned to overcome his fear. But even as an adult he still feels very uncomfortable around strange large dogs.

When my daughter was a toddler, she too began to evince fear of dogs. We got a puppy and she bonded with him enough that she now does not remember the fear. I remember the hassle, oh yes, I do. I had a two and a half year old toddler, a year old baby and a puppy and not enough arms to cope with all three of them at once. I clearly recall having the two kids in a pull sleigh that winter and the dog on a leash and hitting a patch of ice as I walked. Sleigh went one way, dog the other and I did a perfect cartoon rendition of feet going faster and faster and going no where. Thud! Not to mention the time the little ones let him escape one spring evening a few years later and he became a father. But all of the trouble and mess was worthwhile to prevent my little girl developing serious dog phobia.

I know that for some people, their dogs are their companions and support. That if you live alone, a pet is a lifeline. I have a daughter who has a dog that she has named 'Friend' in Shona. She takes her dog a lot of places with her and loves her very dearly. It would probably never occur to her that her shy, sweet-faced, mostly well-behaved pet could evoke terror in a child just by running into the same park with her. But I remember her sister's terror and I have seen the evidence of a similar long-ago terror in my husband.

There was a big hassle about dogs running loose in parks reported on the radio not long ago. And a pet owner was interviewed saying that it was inhumane not to allow dogs to run sometimes. That dogs need to run and play. And I think she was right. But there are a fair number of kids out there, like Miss M and my husband, for whom the dog's freedom creates terror. And that's not humane either.

There's no easy answer to this one, for me. Do we have enough parks to split them so that some are for dogs and some for children? Even children who love dogs should not be playing on ground that dogs have shit on, however carefully the owner scooped the poop. In Barcelona, Spain, they have dog runs set aside -- children are not forbidden, but the dogs come first. In all my exploration of the place I did not find one play area for children where dogs were forbidden and as I was minding my three year old granddaughter, I was most persistently looking for children's play areas. I was in a big shopping mall in France some years ago where dogs were allowed and left deposits on the sidewalks, unchallenged. I question the priority setting, I really do.

Both children and dogs can be pestiferous little monsters and people like me, accompanied by neither, can be heartily sick of both. My rule would be to keep a leash on the whole whining, blundering lot of them, frankly. Kids need company manners. And dogs do not belong at a Santa Claus parade.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The blogger Regrets - Monday Mission

Painted Maypole's task for this Monday's Mission is to write a letter of regret.  I was rooting around among my regrets (thankfully few) when the lyric to Miss Otis popped into my head.

The blogger regrets, she's unable to post today, madam,
The blogger regrets, she's unable to post today.
She is sorry to be delayed,
But last evening her family all got the flu, madam,
The blogger regrets, she's unable to post today.

When she woke up and found that her loved ones were puking ill, madam,
She got out the mop and the Motrin and moaned at the loss of the day,
And from then till the sun went down,
She ran in circles so round, madam,
The blogger regrets, she's unable to post today.

When the kids fell asleep at last and the house was quiet, madam,
She was so strung up that she didn't know what to say,
And the moment before she slept,
The dog made an unspeakable mess, madam......
The blogger regrets, she's unable to post today.

The blogger reports, she's unable to post today!

Edited to add: this is not my family, thank goodness.  But if I have read this over and over in other blogs this last month.  The H1N1 perfect storm.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Dressing for Success

This evening I am going to a cocktail party. I have not been to one for, I think, twenty years. So nervous did the invitation make me (it said 'business dress' but who believes that) that I went out last week and bought a dress. And stockings. The last time I wore a dress was to my father's funeral in 1997. I am now the possessor of a little black dress, with a full skirt, 3/4 sleeves and the latest draped triangular neckline. It needs a necklace with a drop ornament in current style, but what it is going to get is a couple of gold chains so that I can wear my very expensive drop-dead smart gold earrings with it. I also had to buy something called a 'body shaper' to wear under it. I have to tell you that I am not going to be able to eat much, provided that food is also a part of this mad celebration.

We are going to the party because it is a fund-raiser for a local charity that does a lot of good in slightly unusual places. But the closer we get to the witching hour, the more I am thinking that I should have donated the price of the dress to the charity and stayed home.

For one thing, I don't drink much -- a glass of white wine is my usual limit -- and I think I was maybe, twenty-one, the last time someone persuaded me to actually drink a cocktail. For another, I hate the kind of inane conversation that people shout at one another at these functions. (I do end up at 'cocktail hours' before formal dinners so I know whereof I speak.) For a third, standing around in dress shoes for several hours is not something I enjoy. ('Like, ouch', as the grandson would say.) I will have to put on make-up and this means I have to make my eyebrows behave. Ouch, again, as I ply my tweezers. It might be nice to be a man; all JG has to do is make sure I have ironed his best white shirt. Oh, and clean his shoes.

We are meeting some friends there, and the woman of the couple hates meeting and mingling even more than I do and doesn't drink alcohol at all. I figure the two of us are going to steal a couple of plates of goodies and go and hide in a corner and scoff the lot. No dinner is offered at this event, which runs from 5:30 pm until 8:00 pm. You may find us all in Timmy's at 8:30 eating a belated supper.

The one bright spot in all of this is that JG does like the dress. I was really spooked when I brought it home because he usually does not like my taste in clothes. Quilted jackets, a stand-by of mine, he refers to as 'bed jackets'. My adored YD has given me several smart jackets and he thinks they are all too short - they expose my considerable rear. 'Your jacket needs to be fingertip length', says the bane of my existence. A few years ago he persuaded me to buy a dinner suit, with the right length jacket. I have worn it to every formal function we've attended for the last few years and I am totally bored with it. At least The Dress will be a change and I can also wear it to the Robbie Burns dinner we attend every year, with a tartan scarf. I am looking forward to that dinner -- it is usually lavish and good food is always fun.

I hope the nibblies will be plentiful and interesting tonight, even if I am confined to the modern equivalent of a corset. I hope I will be able to breathe. I promise you a report on all this, provided I survive, but I now have to go and do something about my hair. He's cleaning his own shoes, I assure you.

Got to tell you I don't look like the photo.

10:30 pm.

There and back again.

I got a lot of compliments on the dress, mostly with a soupcon of surprise mixed in.  So, I guess I clean up okay.  Jeanie and I found a corner by the cheese table that was relatively mellow and traffic free although we did miss most of the young waitpersons with trays of good stuff.  The cheese was amazing, though.  Local, most of it, and really, really good.  Am contemplating a size larger on the corset.

I got to see the new hotel where the party was held and it is truly lovely; a boutique hotel and the Christmas tree, about 15' of silver and red balls and silver ribbon, was spectacular.  Thanks, YD, for the shoes - my feet held up well - but JG says I have to have black ones.  And he is going to buy me a necklace, he says.  A few years from now, I will probably be tired of the dress, but in the meantime, I won one.

And they had mini cheesecakes with berries for dessert.  Life does not get much better than that.

And JG dug out a pair of new shoes, so he didn't even have to do the shoe cleaning bit.  Life is unfair.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Where I Live - Monday Mission

Whumping across the landscape, our
Helicopter circles the house where we live.
Enjoying the ride, I
Rapidly click the camera
Edging forward, pressing against the window

It's a lovely, lovely day -

Limpid sun, windless, a fine haze on the horizon.
I take more photos as we swing around,
Viewfinder almost useless as the sun flashes on the window
Enveloping the scene in golden rays.I live in the green and beige house at the edge of the little clearing.

This has been a Monday Mission in the form of an acrostic. To find other participants in the MM, please go to the site of our moderator, the amazing Painted Maypole. And we'd love it if you would play along.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Monday Mission - Verse or worse.

The sun is shining here today,
It lifts my flagging spirit high.
Without the sun, my day is gray.

But on this fine November day
My words and fingers seem to fly.
The sun is shining here today

And so my today my life is gay.
To write some poetry I'll try.
The sun is shining here today.

The Monday Mission game I'll play
For good rhymes with my friends to vie.
The sun is shining here today

It seems to make things go my way
While smiling down from the blue sky.
Without the sun, the day is gray.

My friends are like a warm sun ray
They daily lift my spirits high.
The sun is shining here today.
Both sun and friends relieve the gray.

This is somewhat of a cheat on the verse form Villanelle.
The first and third line of the opening verse are supposed to be repeated verbatim at set intervals throughout the poem and again as the last two lines. But when did I ever do a Monday Mission without cheating just a bit.

But what it is trying to say is that you lot of Monday Missioners are a great group and make my life better. Earlier this week Kaye gave me an award, and I am really thrilled. Thank you, Kaye, but I think you give me just as much or more as I have ever given you.

You all do. And so I am passing it along to all of you.

The link is now up at Painted Maypole and there are some great and greatly funny poems to be found there. I personally give thanks for Maypole who keeps this thing going.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A Voice from the Back of the Queue

As a healthy person over sixty five, I am at the lowest priority for an H!N1 flu shot in the ranking identified by Canada's Medical Officers of Health. A few days ago I read an op ed piece in our local paper honouring the veterans of WWII and the Korean war, and complaining that these seniors, who have deserved praise and service from their countrymen, are, many of them, also assigned to the end of the line. They deserve better of us and since, as frail seniors, they are more likely to die from flu if they contract it, the writer argued that they should receive the vaccine at the same priority as our serving soldiers. It was a nice thought, but I don't agree with it.

The H1N1 virus is doing some strange things. For most people, it acts like a normal flu but every once and a while it attacks so strongly that it kills adolescents and young people in a very short length of time. My daughter and her partner are mourning the death of a colleague on Wednesday, a fit and healthy man of thirty-eight who will be a great loss to his community and his young family. It is quite clear that no one can really predict whom this flu will hit and how hard.

The dead man's wife is a doctor; I am quite sure that she did all the right things to get him help when he became seriously ill but all of our very competent medical knowledge was not enough to save him. At almost the same time a friend of mine, of about my age, was admitted to hospital with serious heart arrhythmia. She was fitted with a pace -maker and is home again and feeling well. The young (to me, anyway) professor's death hit the front page of the paper; my friend's quick rescue and recovery is not news at all. I think that because we expect so much from our health care providers, and they so often deliver flawlessly, we are seriously frightened when they do not have instant and positive answers to a problem.

And so, we second guess them. Veterans should have the flu shot early and if they don't get it, cries of ageism are heard. People get frightened and are ill informed. They jump the queues and cause serious damage to the plan for vaccine delivery. They get angry. The press has lovely dramatic stories to tell and thus fan the flames. People make money standing in for others in the waiting lines. People behave badly, in short.

I have no problem with the priorities that have been established for delivery of the H1N1 shots. And I am saying that from the very end of the line. If it is a choice between immunizing me or immunizing my children and grandchildren, I am quite content to let them go first whether I have partial immunity from the 1957 version or whether I do not. From my limited perspective I can speculate that it might have been better to give the shot to children and young people in schools and universities, and to their teachers, at a higher priority, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus through these dense populations and then home to their families. The argument has been that it is a hugely complicated and potentially unfair logistical problem to get the clinics to schools; if so, it is a problem that should be explored and a plan developed for future use. Equally, the problem of stopping people from ignoring the priority instructions and arriving at the clinics, thus clogging the system, should be solved.

But in the meantime, you will not find me in a H1N1 shot line-up until I am called and told that my turn has come. And I am perfectly happy to take my chances.

Even though the skin on my hands is all crackly from using hand sanitizer so much.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada - on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month time is supposed to stand still for a minute or two minutes while we remember our soldiers, alive and dead.

There is a lot to remember these days. Both my father and my father in law fought in the second World War; both came home alive and more or less well but many, so many, did not. There were so many servicemen from that conflict that there are still, although most of them are now in their eighties or better, many of them to march slowly past the cenotaph or sit in wheelchairs and watch the youngsters parade. The Korean war vets are somewhat younger and most of those who stayed involved with the military after their term was up will still be marching with tummies sucked in and regimental badges on their tams. Canada has very few Vietnamese veterans - that conflict seems to us to be reserved to the Americans to mourn. But for our size, Canada has a lot of veterans.

As well, for many years Canada has sent young people off on 'peace-keeping missions'. We have been proud as a country to offer highly trained and skilled military people to work for the United Nations or NATO, enforcing cease fires or containing - or trying to contain - disasters. Some of them have been wounded or killed; all of them have been exposed to danger and uncertainty.

For the last few years we have young men and women to honour and commemorate who are fighting an active war; they seem like kids to me, these veterans of Afghanistan. I could have grandchildren among them, although, thankfully, I do not. Canada has sent them off to a foreign land to fight an invisible enemy for a cause not well defined and they have done remarkable things. And died well. I wish I could think that the war against fundamentalist rule was being won but I can see little evidence of that. I was glad when we sent fighting forces because I thought that at least women might be freer under a secular state, but the present government seems bound and bent to uphold some of the worst excesses of the Taliban regime and enjoy continuing graft and corrupt practices. It is not the fault of our soldiers over there but I think they must feel as if they are pushing the proverbial rock up the proverbial slope and too many of them are being wounded and killed.

And so I shall use my time of silence tomorrow to think of these young people living in danger and vulnerable to a hidden enemy. All of them, the living, the wounded and the dead. The lucky ones will be the ones who can come home whole in body and whole in mind. They deserve all that we can give them, of respect, of resources to help them recover, and in sorrow, our profound thanks.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Menu - Monday Mission

Painted Maypole hosts, plans and manages, the Monday Mission challenges. She's a real trooper; in more ways than one. To see who is playing this week, hop over to her blog and follow the links. This week's challenge was to do a menu. I, erm, twisted it a bit.

Here, then, is what I dream of finding among my texting software's drop down menus. The Ultimate Edit Menu.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cliffs of Fall

I am feeling trapped in, this last few days. The return to standard time brings the dank November dark an hour earlier, pushing me into the warmth of the house with its foggy fingers. The air is cold with the damp and, as I write, the first snow is falling in wet fat flakes and clinging to everything. It will melt, but it is a harbinger of things to come, nasty things like icy slippery roads and icy slippery steps that challenge my driving skills and my arthritic joints. As well, it is hunting season and the woods and fields are dotted with figures in 'hunter's red' ( a nasty shade of glowing orange) shooting at and spooking the deer. We all have to drive with extreme caution because you never know when one of the wretched beasts will materialize on the road in front of you. It makes me think twice about leaping into the car and zooming off in any direction, especially after (the very early) dark.

I am also feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of meetings I have scheduled this month. Meetings I cannot miss, having taken on the job of chair of the board. Meetings that I have to drive on the dangerous roads in the dark to attend. I can do it. I do do it. But more and more as I grow older, the effort is greater. I can see the time coming when my own fears may become disabling, a prison that I will build myself.

Confined in the Tower of London, Richard Lovelace wrote the famous lines:

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
A fine philosophy, that. But recite those lines to a young mother, tending toddlers in a home far from any public transport, short of money, and you will provoke her, at best, to derisive laughter. The expectations of our community can confine us in the adamant constraints of others' ideas of how we should live and what we should be. Poverty builds walls of cold iron around us, walls with very few, very narrow exits. However, for many of us it is more our minds than our circumstances that trap us into prisons more grim than a stone walled cell. Our expectations of ourselves can become the most stringent prison of all. Depression, illness, fear and grief are the cold, weeping stones that form these prisons and sometimes there is no door, no window, not even an oubliette, to bring us hope and news of the world.
There's a debate going on in Canada just now, in the intervals of the latest chatter about H1N1 anyway, about euthanasia. A bill allowing some types of assisted suicide is being debated in the House of Commons. It's not a simple question. The medical association in Quebec wants some guidelines to help them deal with uncontrollable pain in terminal patients. The various associations of disabled people want the value of their lives acknowledged and protected. The non-religious majority (52% of Canadians, the last poll I saw) want freedom to choose a dignified end. Courageous souls with debilitating diseases are requesting legal suicide options. I am certainly not alone in worrying about the effect an open-ended legalizing of suicide would have on the many people whose minds, not innocent or quiet, cause them constant pain.
It's not a simple question. The young man, paralysed from an accident, can fight his way through the pain and become a contributing member of society. The depressed new mother who throws herself in front of a train could have been helped, cured perhaps. Even Tracy Latimer might have been helped although I understand, I think, why her father killed her. There are no lines to divide physical and emotional pain and not all pain can be 'managed'.
Here's my personal dilemma. I smoke. I do so knowing that, although I have not so far cost the state any money from smoking-related illness, sooner or later I may develop lung cancer or have a debilitating stroke that will reduce me to a vegetable to be a burden on my family and a huge cost to the taxpayer in medical care. Would it not be both fair and simple to issue me a lethal dose of something when the disease in my lungs is drowning me or to use on my mindless, stubbornly breathing hulk? Would not that be more dignified, less costly in both emotional and monetary terms? A release from the prison my stubbornness has built for me?
Or, I could just go and drive down the county road too fast, hoping that the deer I hit would be big enough to kill both of us.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Another Book Meme

This one is all over the place - and I love it.

1) You are facing an epic journey. You may choose one companion, one tool and one vehicle from any book or film to accompany you. Or just one of the three. It's up to you. What do you choose?

As companion I'd take Paksanarrion from Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksanarrion. As tool, Bilbo's sword, Sting. The vehicle, Ozma's magic carpet. And I'm off to fairy lands forlorn.

2) You can escape to the insides of any book. Where do you go, and why?
I go to the Lord of the Rings. It is beautifully written, its detail and scope for the imagination is immense and it pulls you into yourself, away from your troubles or boring tasks.

3) You can bring one literary character into your current life. Whom do you choose, and why?
Nicholas vander Poele from Dorothy Dunnett's series about thirteenth century Europe. No matter what viccisitudes he undergoes Niccolò is always tremendous fun and a good companion.

4) Jane Austen's Persuasion is my go-to book. It's like a snow globe, a tiny world in which everything glows.

5) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most enviable?
Nancy, in Arthur Ransome's series about the Swallows and the Amazons. Your own sailing dinghy? A beautiful lake? Nirvana.

6) Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most frightening?
I don't remember ever being frightened by a book or film character. But I was made into a puddle of terror by a radio program called 'The Creaking Door', a program that featured half hour horror stories. I still recall one in which the protagonist was turned into a madman by a diet of fish; I faintly dislike eating fish to this day.

7) Every time I re-read L. M. Montogomery's edited Diaries I see something in them that I haven’t seen before. These books are a record of a transition period in the position of women in the first half of the twentieth century and are, in addition, a riveting story.

8) It is imperative that Diana Gabaldon's the Outlander be made into a movie. Sex! Sword Fights! Scotland!

9)is a book that should never be made (or should have never been made) into a film.
Can't do this one. Too many choices!

10) After all these years, Nevil Shute's On The Beach still manages to give me the queebs.

11) After all these years, Bronte's Jane Eyre still manages to give me a thrill. 'Reader, I married him.' Priceless.

12) If I could corner the author Rosemary Kierstein, here’s what I’d say to her in one minute or less about her books:
Finish the series before I explode!

13) The coolest non-fiction book I’ve ever read is Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Every time I flip through it, it makes me want to go and retrace his journey.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

It's a JOAT's Life After All

I spend far more of my time than I would wish trying to flesh out acronyms and so I am sitting here laughing at myself as I title a post with one. I first ran across 'joat' in Heinlein's stories, I think, and loved the word. It means 'jack-of-all trades' and he used it to describe someone who could turn his hand to anything as needed. But I have always thought of it as the perfect description of a housewife and mother (or, to be politically correct, a house-husband and SAH father too.) Chief cook and bottle washer, laundress, chauffeur, chief procurement officer ( of food, silly), safety inspector, chambermaid, librarian, early childhood educator, gardener, handyman, dog walker, book-keeper, gate-keeper, practical nurse and practically everything else. With a lot of us working outside the home as well. Not to overlook the amount of energy it takes to make the personal part of marriage work. It doesn't surprise me at all that vitamins sell so well.

There are a lot of joatish aspects to running a home even after the kids have left it for good -- and even after they have, you're still a mother, there at need, and eventually a grandma.

As for me, I am a quintessential joat and have been all my life. I'm the kind of person who can turn my hand to a lot of things, from being the body on the other end of the cross-cut saw as an eight year old to the person who could think up skits and draw or make decorations for school dances, chair an obstreperous meeting, make costumes for the gymnastics team, run a parents' lobby group, read and correct a PhD thesis, work puppets (and make them), design posters or look after an evaporator. As I write this list, I realize that I could make it longer: good for a person's ego to look back and think about things that have been accomplished.

There's an underside to this rock, however. Or there is for me. In the course of doing a bit of everything, I have never spent the time and energy to do one thing well. I've been reading The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is an analysis of why some people do amazingly well at what they do - Bill Gates is one of his examples as are star hockey players - and he postulates that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to learn to do something exceptionally well. Putting in that amount of time is not something that a joat will do, being too busy doing an adequate job for ten hours at a thousand things. After I put the book down, with a sigh, I thought a bit about that ten thousand hours. And I realized that I have, indeed, put that amount of time in at something. Reading. I have known how to read for 62 years. That's 22,630 days. And I have probably read something for at least an hour on more than half of those days. I'm eligible to be an elite reader. Woot.

Somehow, this thought is not as comforting as all that. It would be nice, she whispered, to be really, really good at something that other people recognise as amazing. Even nicer if that thing generated income, but, for me, the important thing would be to have some confidence that the thing I did (whatever that would be) would turn out superlatively well. I wonder, though, if the kings (and queens) of their kind really feel the kind of confidence that I long to possess. Did Gretzky take the ice knowing he could and would score or did he start every shift in terror that this time it wouldn't happen? Or the Beatles wake up in fear that they wouldn't come up with anything new that day? Strangely enough, I can launch into an activity that I am 'good enough' at with some confidence and make adjustments on the fly to make it work.

But when it comes to something that I would really like to be an ace at, like writing in this blog, there are a lot of false starts, erasures and angst. (Wait, should angst be a plural noun to keep the cadence? Is there a plural of it? If so, what is it? Mmm. Better pick another word.) But when it comes to something I really want to do well, such as writing this post, I make a lot of false starts and erasures and suffer a lot of anxiety.

Every once and a while, though, the words will fly and I will fly with them, higher, faster, stronger, and what ends up on the page is all I wanted it to be. And some day, maybe, I will have written my ten thousandth post and it will all come together. Until that day I jog along, a happy-enough joat, using my highly honed reading skills to admire the work of my friends. And life is good.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

A Monday Mission Voicemail.

I've been slacking off on the Monday Missions; brilliantly hosted by Painted Maypole. I missed the poetry last week but am determined to do that challenge one day. The gang who did them had some real winners; follow this link to find them.

This week's mission is equally fun: we are to craft an outgoing voice mail message. Although no one is going to reach the level of the school in the Antipodes (providing that one was real), here is a try at it. If I were more tech savvy, I would try to do this with a real voice, but, alas, I have no clue how. So... an explanation. Our phone number is a repeating one, the local three digit code repeated once in whole and once in part, like this; 123-1231. We get a lot of wrong numbers.


You have reached 613 123-1231. No one is able to take your call at present. Here are your options.

If you have mis-dialed, we do not want to know about it. Try again, and concentrate, please.

If you are calling to tell us we won a large prize, we don't believe you. Go on to the next sucker.

If you are calling from the bank or telephone company to tell us about your great new plans and services, give up. We don't want them.

If you are calling to find out why Mary isn't at the meeting, hang up and wait a bit. She is late, as usual.

If you are calling to tell Mary about a meeting date, get in line or use email.

If you are calling to remind Mary about something she forgot to do, she knows, already.

If you are calling JG, he'll be astonished.

If you are the YD, we're probably busy eating.

If you are one of our vanishingly small number of friends, please leave a message at the beep. Oops, I guess this message is too long - the beep went a while ago. Sorry!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Dancing in my Pants

Alejna at Collecting Tokens has tagged me for the Music in my Pants meme. Gulp. Here is how you play:

If you want to join in, the game is played thusly: set your iPod to shuffle, and make a note of the songs that come up. Append the phrase “in my pants.” As many songs as you choose.

The meme is causing me difficulties because, while I do have an IPod (and me a senior citizen, too) what I use it for is to practice line dancing. Accordingly, the play list is somewhat specialized, although I do have some other music on there with which to warm up and cool down. When I started sorting out the titles I wanted to use, I realized that this could be rather misunderstood. However, here they are.

Tonight I'll be lonely too, in my pants.

Take me home country roads, in my pants.

Ho Ro Mo Nighean Down Bhóidheach, in my pants.

Rant and Roar, in my pants.

This is it, in my pants.

Better than knowing where you are, in my pants.

Rise Again, in my pants.

Um, I think I had better leave it like that.

On the other hand, we do dance to a song called 'Make love to me'. Without the pants, please.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Friday, 16 October 2009


Photo Credit: The Younger Daughter

It's almost noon here and patches of frost are still lingering on the shady side of the lawn; the leaves are raining down whenever the wind blows, broken free by the frost from their hold on the trees. The red maple that I have in the header picture is now bare of its gold and scarlet as are the birches of their paler yellow. Only the sugar maples and oaks are still holding a brave show of red and bronze. And what am I doing in the midst of all this splendour? Not posting, that's for sure. It's been more than two weeks since I have had a free hour to play.

The things that I have been doing? Well, raking leaves for one thing. JG is not happy if his lawn is covered with leaves. And when the lawn is surrounded by and dotted with trees, each day brings a new covering to be removed. I have also been: dealing with Thanksgiving; visiting my mother-in-law; making posters and drafting a display ad; running to meetings; running to physio; doing the exercises (not often enough!) that the therapist is giving me; trying to get the winter clothes out, pressed and ready to use; making stacks of the papers in the office that need to be sorted and dealt with; and doing a little retail therapy. In fact, we bought a new vehicle.

I have been driving a Jeep Liberty and I adored the thing. It had four wheel high and low drive and could pull out of the nastiest snowy ditch. It took diesel fuel and got great mileage. What it could not do is miss a deer. Last winter I moaned a lot on this blog about the deer that crunched in the front end and about the subsequent tribulations of getting the damage all fixed. Since it was repaired, the Jeep has never been the same and has become prone to quitting dead just after being started and refusing to restart. It also sometimes refuses to shift. This is not good, not at all good, if a lot of the driving you do is through the back country where there are no people and no cell phone coverage. It stopped last week eight feet out of the garage and we decided that this was the last straw.

I now have a nice Ford Escape, all wheel drive and lots of bells and whistles, including Sirius Satellite Radio. I had no idea there were so many kinds of country music, not to mention sports broadcasts. I have a sneaking suspicion that Sirius is just as much of a distraction while driving as cell phones. The Ford is also equipped with a hands free connection for the cell phone, if I could make it work. The dashboard is more than a little daunting, let me tell you. My darling Jeep is in the hands of my brother-in-law, a Class A mechanic among his other accomplishments, who lives where he can phone for help. I am sure he can keep it running, if anyone can. And I have some confidence I can get where I need to go without hassles.

I wish I didn't need to go so many places so often, but the load is going to lighten after November when I am handing over the Chair position at the LHCS Board. Between then and now, unfortunately, we have to go through an accreditation process and preparing for this has been a lot of work, meetings and studying. The accreditation team interviews board members as well as staff and we have to be able to discuss such fascinating topics as how a governance board works and how we establish, follow and review our aims and objectives. I would go to sleep working on this stuff if I weren't so terrified that I won't have an answer that will satisfy the examiners. It's like a final exam but with a team that I really, really don't want to let down.

At least I am not frantically sewing a Halloween costume. Little Stuff decided that she wanted to be a witch, with a slinky dress and a crow on her shoulder. Her mother was able to find a dress that suited her at a costume store, along with a witch hat with streamers, a black wig and a lot of black, purple and sparkly green make-up. I found a paper maché bird that is properly black and boding and she is all set. She did want black shoes with buckles and high heels but I think her mother talked her out of that notion. I do not recall her mother and aunt being quite so exigent about the detail of their costumes, but maybe time has softened the memories. She has already informed me that next year she wants to be a rock star. I guess if the black wig hangs together she could be Cher, maybe.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go and get our regular flu shots; the H1N1 is supposed to be along in early November. Although I am concerned about the grand kids and their parents, who are all in schools where the virus is said to thrive, I am not worried about JG and myself as we are old enough to have been through both the 1950's wave and the 1960's wave and probably have a pretty good immunity. I am told that the line-up for flu shots has been huge so far, most unusually for our area where people are normally pretty blasé. It never ceases to amaze me how little attention people actually pay to the facts during these health scares; the ordinary flu shot has nothing to do with H1N1. Nor is it necessary to stop eating pork. It's frustrating when you are trying to get basic information out; I get the impression that people will do anything rather than wash their hands and stay calm.

I just saw a young doe stroll across our lawn, kicking through the leaves and paying me no attention at all. She's a pretty little thing, just old enough to have lost her dappled coat. The leaves are still pattering down. I need to quit writing, get some lunch and get out there, rake in hand.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

A Recommendation

One of my favourite blogs is 'Nuts In May', a truly authentic and interesting voice. And a contemporary of mine, grandkids, bad back and all. Maggie put this post up about 'The Sunday Roast', and I thought some of you might be interested. Maggie herself was roasted here.

The rest of this post is a quote from Maggie's blog, explaining what the 'roast' is and asking for support for the new cook.

Some of you might well be thinking, "Whatever is this Sunday Roast?"
So for those who have never heard of it, I will explain quickly that David invited people to be interviewed via email, to use on his post every Sunday together with their picture.
Some of his questions were Why Do You Blog? What Is The Reason Behind The Blog Name? What Advice Would You Give To A New Blogger? He also asked what they thought was their most significant post on their own blog and why. Also what other blog had influenced or made the most impact on them and why.
These posts have always been really interesting to read and I have made some good blogging friends this way.
I was Roasted Last December just after Christmas. It was good fun, if not a little hot!
Eddie also wants these back numbers linked to his blog for others to see but if this is not possible, then you can always check them out at David's place.

Well Eddie hasn't as many followers as David has (getting on for 1000). Who could compete with that? Therefore, it has been decided that some of his followers would spread the word around so that readers will know that the Sunday Roast is still in operation. That is why I am writing this post that I will leave on my blog for a week or so, before I post anything else.

So my dear readers, if you enjoyed David's Sunday Roast, please would you post a similar notice on your blog to help promote the fact that it is still in operation and point them to Eddie Bluelights?
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if David didn't come over and have a peek from time to time.
Let's give him something to be really proud of....... a tradition that was started by him and that lives on.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Monday Mission - Resumé

The Monday Missions are facilitated by Painted Maypole and links to other bloggers crazy enough to be doing this can be found at her blog.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Monday Mission; no, of course we aren't lost.

Oh joy, a buoy!

The Tay River and Canal goes from Perth, Ontario to Lower Rideau Lake on the Rideau Canal system. In the mooring basin in downtown Perth, a triple fountain plays to delight the tourists (and annoy closeby residents). You can put a boat into the river at Perth and follow the river and canal down to the lake as it is marked with navigation buoys. In places.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Would you like to live in a world where you turned over every penny you made to a husband who had been chosen for you, where your main duty was to 'live in harmony' with him and with your sister wives, where you had no access to birth control, you were forbidden television and newspapers and your children could be beaten? That is the life that women live in a sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). This sect is a 'radical offshoot' of the Mormon Church; you may have seen pictures of the women of the sect in, I think, 2008 when a compound belonging to the sect was raided after a complaint of sexual abuse was made by one of the young girls there. The women all wore their hair in a complicated braided style, wore long sleeved and skirted dresses, and were accompanied by lots and lots of small children.

I have just finished a book written by Carolyn Jessop, a woman who managed to leave the strict control of her husband and community. The book is called "Escape" and describes how she grew up in the FLDS, how she became gradually disillusioned with it and how she managed to get out, taking her children with her, and build a new life. The book is riveting, sometimes horrible, sometimes amazing. One of the most saddening parts is the description of her eldest daughter, a young teen when the family left, who went back as soon as she was eighteen and has now become a spokesperson for the sect and is, I gather, quite critical of her mother's decision and book. The book is not objective, how could it be, but I think there is enough in it to make it very believable.

I don't have any problem with plural marriage in the abstract if it were to be as advertised; sister wives helping one another and supported by a man who was even-handed and just to the whole family. In fact, when my children were babies and I had to work at least part time to put food on the table, I often wished there were two of me, or even three. One to satisfy the husband, one to care for the babies, and one to work and look after herself. The situation Carolyn Jessup describes was not like that at all. The family was at war with itself, the husband did things that were lazy and uncaring and the family and community were toxic with fear.

I do have trouble with religions that rely on a 'prophet' (or bishop or imam) to direct the whole community. I have trouble with religions that restrict what their adherents can read or listen to or learn, and that limit their children's schooling. The argument that the children must be kept 'pure' is, for me, a specious one. Children are not 'pure'. They are innately curious; they need to have their world explained to them, using language and examples appropriate to their age level of course, but never talked down to or ignored. And they should never, never be beaten into silence and 'good behaviour'. They should never be persuaded to be afraid.

Carolyn's description of her childhood is full of examples of how the whole community was taught to believe that the rest of the world was malevolent and threatening to them. The children were routinely slapped and spanked to improve their behaviour. Nonconforming wives could also be beaten. Even worse, for me, was the doctrine that to be admitted into Heaven, the children had to please the adults and the women their husbands, to conform to a very stultifying norm, to be unquestioningly obedient. It's a long way from the doctrine of free will.

When I went to my confirmation, as a child of twelve, I was convinced that the Holy Ghost would descend to me and that I would become a good person, inspired by the love of Christ. It did not happen that way and I was horribly disappointed. I remained within my church for many years thereafter but gradually drifted away from all organized religion, finding it patriarchal and top heavy and increasingly irrelevant to the life I wanted to live, a life in which service to my family and community was balanced by self growth. It did not help that as we moved from place to place each new church I joined asked me for money pretty well as the first thing they did to welcome me.

Over the course of many years I have come to understand that no one can be the keeper of my conscience for me. Rules that make little or no sense, tenets of belief that are not clear or helpful, dictates from on high, are all distasteful to me. And it seems to me that a lot of organized religion, of whatever form, thrives on these things. The FLDS is an extreme example; while I read her book my heart ached for Carolyn Jessop and her long journey into a life she could shape for herself.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

One of those Mornings

This morning my brain feels as if someone has stuffed it with cotton wool, put a plastic seal over the top and proclaimed it 'tamper-proof'. There are lots of Good Ideas rattling around in there, because the cotton wool never does a perfect job, but I can't get to them. Can't pry off the seal, can't get the wool to pull out of the cavity, not sure the ideas will prove useful if I do get to them.

If I can't think, then I should be working at mindless tasks. There are lots of those. I should be stuffing the underwear into the washer, since the pile in the dresser drawer is almost non-existant. The bed linen needs changing and washing too. No enthusiasm. My desk and bookshelves are more than usually chaotic. I could at least file stuff. Yawn. I should certainly be making a list of the jobs I have acquired at the meetings I was at yesterday. I am pretty sure there are five or more. I should be working on one of them this morning, in between laundry loads. Maybe later.

I am on my third cup of coffee, too.

Instead of doing any of these good things, I am alternately reading brilliant posts from the talented (and, I am sure, organized) folk on my Reader, throwing in the occasional very dull comment, and playing Spider solitaire. And losing.

Enough, already. My talented and organized mother, when she found me in this kind of funk, always urged me to pick up one corner of one task and worry away at it. Get just a bit done. The momentum, she would tell me patiently, would then carry me forward and I would amaze myself at how much I could accomplish. And of course she was right. As soon as I finish the coffee, the post and have a wee nap, I will find a corner of something and start in on it. Honest.

If I could only pull the cotton stuffing out of the small hole in the top of my head, that is.

And my coffee got cold while I was doing the drawing. Now I have to go and warm it up.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Come and Visit

I'm over at Canada Moms Blog to-day. You can find it here. And be sure to check out some other Canada Moms posts while you are there. It's a great site (and I'm not saying so just because I'm on it, honest!)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I am about to rant. I know that this is an uncool and totally useless thing to to, but I just (gasp) can't (struggle) help myself. I am going to complain about bad grammar. You can leave now. No? Okay, imagine me writing this between thumps as my head hits my desk.
This afternoon I read an article in one of our local papers in which a woman who describes herself as a graduate in journalism wrote ' [A daughter] has kept my husband, Joe, and I running.' I have just finished sending her as polite an email as I could contrive, pointing out her blooper and explaining how to correct it. I did not explain it by parsing the sentence, for two reasons. One is that I have no idea how grammar is being taught in this century but am pretty sure it is not taught the way I learned (and taught, in my turn). The other is that, shaming though it is, I have to admit that I was not sure how to explain why what she had written was wrong in a clear and concise way.
The Board that I chair had a horrible task at its last meeting; we had to review and approve a huge list of updated and revised policies. Several of us went through the text ahead of time and made corrections to the grammar and punctuation. At the meeting, when we reached this stage of the agenda, I started the item by pointing out that this had been done and urging anyone who had found further errors of this type to mark it on printed copy of the policy in question and hand it to the recording secretary after the meeting. I then went on to explain that I was asking the board members to ignore one recurring error, that of subject and possessive pronoun/adjective agreement. In other words, when they got to something that said "An employee is requested to keep their valuables in a locked drawer during working hours", they were to approve it without whinging about the agreement. This misalignment is done in the name of political correctness; that is, the easiest way to use a possessive without getting into the whole male/female thing is to use the plural. At this, the recording secretary looked at me and said 'I have no clue what you are talking about!'
The case agreement is one of those grammar points that is slipping out of at least American English (and I class Canadian English as American English - we all live in North America after all.) I have heard a Master's student say 'Me and my dad went canoeing.' I have read, in a letter from a PhD, 'Thanks for the help you gave David and I'. It makes my teeth grind. There are other - I guess I have to call them niceties - that are being swept away on the tide. The distinction between 'lie' and 'lay', the difference between 'less' and 'fewer'. The subjunctive. As well, I think the use of tired metaphors is increasing. By leaps and bounds.
You can easily understand what someone is trying to convey in a sentence that contains those errors. But speaking this way, in my opinion, is like going out in public in old, ripped jeans, uncombed hair, uncleaned teeth and food spots on the tee shirt It's sloppy. We all make errors and have bad hair days, but most of us, I think, try to present ourselves to others positively. We proofread and change our tee shirts and check our teeth in the bathroom mirror.
The poor young woman who received my grammatical correction earlier has emailed me back a very nice and polite email, thanking me for the information and saying that if anyone ever pointed this out to her before, she does not remember it.
I used to teach the difference between 'lie' and 'lay' by saying that since 'lay' takes an object, you have to 'lay' something or some one. Usually there was a moment of fraught silence as the adolescents in front of me tried to believe that they had really heard what they thought they had heard. And they remembered it.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Monday Mission - Dear Sir,

Dear Sir,

The regrettable early prorogation of Parliament was so disappointing to us that we are sending this letter to all of the political parties involved in it, in the hope that if you hear enough complaint you will see the necessity of amending your party's behaviour. Our organization, Lanark Health and Community Services, works in a rural community where, at the best of times, poverty and the illnesses caused by poverty are prevalent. In a time of economic downturn, when the most urgent business of the government should be protecting its citizens, you failed to do so.

We are a community governance board of an organization whose purpose is to provide health care and support to people at risk. Some years ago we decided to manage ourselves not by Robert's Rules, a method that sometimes encourages an adversarial approach, but by consensus. This method requires that we work together, that we hear each other out and that we strive to reach an agreement that is at least acceptable to all of us. It works best when we trust one another to be honest, straightforward and flexible. We make it work because to do so serves the interests of the people to whom we are responsible.

While we do not believe that you will abandon hundreds of years of Parliamentary tradition, we do believe that you should adopt some, at least, of the attitude that we find serves us best. The people of Canada need representatives who care more about the welfare of the country than they do about their own status and personal agendas. Representatives who will set aside an adversarial approach and work together.

We earnestly hope that when Parliament reconvenes all members can decide to do the work for which they were elected and cooperate in the interests of the people of Canada.

Yours truly,

Chair, LHCS

Note: this is the first draft of a letter that we actually sent to all of the Party Leaders after the mess last fall. We got one answer, from the Liberal leader, saying he was pleased to hear our views, obviously a form letter. But it made us feel better to send it.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Several days ago I read a post about the vulnerability of children and the terror a parent can feel about the dangers a child can face. She was talking about a seven year old. My daughters are now in their forties, well integrated adults with good careers, nice homes and money in the bank. So I should pat myself on the back and settle back in my rocking chair, content that they are safe? Sigh. Today I took a look at the photos taken on a canoe trip the YD took on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

One of the first photos I saw was this.
A little later, I came upon this one.

The YD is home quite intact, cleaning her equipment after a successful trip, sorting her photographs and, she tells me, writing up the experience. I may fall asleep tonight with images of red canoe bottoms floating through my mind.

I am not and never was a risk taker. I have gone on long distance swims, but never without a boat as escort. I stay away from the edges of even small drops. I drive 115 km per hour on the 401. (Getting caught at 120 km per hour nets you a big fine.) I do not eat wild mushrooms. I am, in fact, quite a cautious person. How, then, did it come about that I have an adrenaline junkie, a happy gambler, a chronic risk taker (you can imagine my voice rising shrilly as the list goes on) for a younger daughter. It must come from her father's side of the family.

I have photographs of my precious child rappelling down a rope from a helicopter, floating down out of the sky under a parachute, balancing on a ridiculously narrow piece of rock on the side of a cliff many hundreds of feet above solid ground, kayaking down a waterfall in Mexico. There is a video of her bungee jumping off a bridge over the gorge at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. She went, hiking, solo, in the Namibian dessert. She has tales of driving in land mine infested territory in Kosovo and Mozambique. When she was robbed on a beach in South Africa, she chased the thief. And that's just what I know about.

Strangely enough, I don't worry about her a lot when she is off on one of her mad adventures. The YD is a supremely competent and skilled adventurer. I feel confident that she knows what she is doing and won't do it unless she believes her skill level is up to it. (Although she has said that once through the Grand Canyon is enough.) Her father worries - enough for both of us.

But I do wonder what she will decide to try next.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Back from the Wedding

I guess we had summer last week; to-day I am wearing a sweater and a fuzzy and am contemplating putting the winter duvet back on the bed. Do you think if I do that the weather gods will send us a heat wave? I am half afraid they will. It does not do to annoy the weather gods.

However, it is so cold the bugs have pretty well vanished and I was therefore able to paint the garage door without slapping myself with the paintbrush. After almost three years of bare untreated woodiness, the door is now a fine shade of dark green, to match the trim. Also we have a new roof on the house, also a fine shade of dark, dark green. The roofers arrived at 7:45 last Friday and seven of them climbed up onto the roof and started scraping and shovelling. And banging. And running back and forth. JG could not stand the noise and spent most of the morning wandering around outside watching them work. By noon they had the field half of the new roof done and about a third of the front. At this point the sky darkened and the rain came down by the bucketful, causing seven men to scramble off the roof, pick up their tools and depart. They left us in good shape, with a small strip of plastic protecting the seam between the old shingles and the new ones. Not a drop leaked anywhere. They returned on Monday and finished the job.

We were not here on Monday enjoying the fairy footfalls on the roof, as we had travelled to a wedding in Toronto on Saturday and then gone on to Fort Erie to visit with my mother-in-law. It was some wedding! JG's great niece, whose father is part of a big Canadian/Italian family married a young man from an even bigger Canadian/Greek connection. There were about three hundred guests. There were five bridesmaids. The groomsman danced around the reception with a loaf of bread on his head and the rest of the guests (mostly from the groom's side) prancing after him. The bridesmaids had not practised this traditional dance; the results were rather chaotic. The bride's family had arranged for a six course dinner, this after a serving of antipasto which would have made a fine meal all on its own. And when we left, the groom's family were laying out a dessert table that it broke my heart to miss. It was an amazing event, all in all. Both the bride and the groom's families pitched in to put it on; I have a sneaking suspicion that there might have been a bit of Italian/Greek competition somewhere in the mix.

The whole question of what kind of wedding to have is, in my view, a fraught one. Big versus small. White versus colour. Time of day. What to eat and when. Photo ops. Dresses and what are the men going to wear. It amuses me to check in our local weekly paper for the 25th and 50th (and other marker years) anniversary announcements. It is easy to spot which anniversary it is by looking at what the bride and groom are wearing in the (obligatory) wedding photo. Glasses with pointy frames? Fiftieth. Long hair and a pale coloured coat on the groom? twenty-fifth. Strapless dress? First through tenth. Some of the announcements put in a 'before and now' pair of photos and it is huge fun to look at how the married pair have changed over the time span.

The great niece went the whole nine yards with her dress. (Literally!) She had a tulle veil that trailed behind her and on which the junior bridesmaid stepped as the happy couple was leaving the church, bringing the triumphal walk down the aisle to a fast stop. She had a bolero jacket with train over a strapless dress, the latter fitted with tiny buttons in back and, let me tell you, fitted pretty dern tight, also with train. Under all of this I am sure she was wearing one tough set of underpinnings. She looked spectacular. So did the bridesmaids who were in a uniform colour but each with her own choice of design for the dress. A smart move, in my opinion. My best friend once put me into a floor length turquoise tube, with overskirt, and I still shudder when I think about it. In August. In an un-air-conditioned church and hall. There is something to be said for strapless after all.

Wedding traditions. Ah, sigh. The same best friend also had a trousseau tea at which, as the matron of honour, I had to 'pour'. Even in 1966 this particular torture was going out of style. A lot later, my now ex son-in-law was determined that all of the Scottish traditions to which he was accustomed would be carried out in the ex colony where he was being married. He wanted a Real Fruit Cake for the wedding cake; none of this Canadian angel food stuff. He wanted a glorious outdoor background for the wedding photos. (This was Ottawa in early April. He got the inside wall of the church.) And I got to run the whole thing. It turned out fine, but I sure sweated the preparations, especially when my father got involved in what we should eat at the reception. Smoked salmon, he wanted. For one hundred people. He paid.

I hope that Saturday's bride will have wonderful memories of her great day, just as I have of mine. She is now, I believe, sorting through several thousand photographs of the event. Two photographers caught every glorious moment. And, poor thing, writing hundreds of 'Thank-you's'. Fifty years from now, I hope the wedding picture looks timeless.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

True Days

Chani has a very moving post up - about saying the truth and being the 'real you'. Also links to another blog that inspired her. She is suggesting that people who want to do some soul searching with support might wish to put 'True Day' in the title of a post about their authentic feelings about something.
I have a neat little sketch that might make a 'button'. It is this. It is by William Thakeray, called 'Vanity' and I believe it is public domaine.