Sunday, 28 June 2009

You have got to check this out. I am not going to get in on it, because I am spending the time that they will be in Ottawa at CHEO with a six year old with a broken wing; this is the only follow-up appointment her mother could get. Am I annoyed? Yeah.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Official Notice; Summer is here.

The Boat master showing off his nice new 19 footer.

It's official. Summer has arrived in Eastern Ontario. And here are the reasons I know this.
1.) Today the temperature reached 30ºC.
2.) I got my first basket of real, luscious, red-all-the-way-through local strawberries. Tender enough to clean with a spoon. Sweet, deep red and firm. I have just consumed a soup bowl full of these glowing gems, with yogurt on top. Aaah.
3.) Today I got my first sunburn.

Although covered in SP 30 sunscreen, I neglected the area around my watch and did not spread the goop far enough on my shoulders and so I have a red strip on either side of the white strip covered by my watch and a red crescent on the top of my shoulder. I do this every year, silly person that I am. The most annoying job I ever did on myself by far, however, was the burned on red crescent I ended up with while planting my garden in jeans that pulled down and a shirt that pulled up. It was only a few inches wide but, ow!, did it hurt.

We finally got the boat out for its inaugural spin. We live close enough to the Rideau Canal system to tow our boat to one of the locks and launch it there. This gives us access to Big Rideau, Upper Rideau and the lock and river systems north to Ottawa and south to Kingston. We drive a 19' outboard, big enough to withstand the waves that even a moderate breeze whips up on BigRideau and small enough that I can wind it up onto its trailer myself while The Boat master, aka JG, sits in glorious ease inside -- after having driven it up the launch and onto the trailer, that is. Today he made a perfect landing on the first try. And most of the trip was lovely.

The launch was not without its problems. Specifically, neither of us put the plug into the drain hole before we launched. The Boat master remembered this just as I was pulling the boat up to the dock at the lock and we had to reverse everything, turn the boat around and push it back up the ramp. Then I had to crawl around in two feet of water, insert the plug by feel and screw it in. It is a Good Thing that it was hot; I was completely soaked by the time I got the wretched plug in place. It is much easier to put it in when the boat is still on the trailer. Then we had to pump out the well. Luckily the lock was deserted and no one saw this debacle. We once did this with guests in the boat.

We played up and down Big Rideau for a while and had lunch at Narrows Lock. There always seems to be a breeze there, there's lots of shade and picnic tables and, on a weekday, few people around. It was lovely. Then we crept home around the south shore, looking at the cottages, the loons, and one intrepid water skier. Water's still pretty cold; you would have to be a teenager to enjoy it today. Our motor is almost silent at slow ahead and so we were able to hear the birds on the shore singing away -- there were a lot of them. It was lovely! And the loon babies are out. They are at the stage where they ride on their parents' backs and this makes a pretty strange silhouette seen at a distance.

Then we came home, threw a steak on the BBQ and had steak and salad and the aforementioned piggish bowls of berries. Lovely.

And I am so stunned with wind and sun and water and strawberries that this is the best I can come up with for a post.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Bird Brain Day

The neurons in the brain are only firing intermittently to-day; I am losing things, forgetting things, wearing a sweater and a quilted vest in 70ºF temperatures, staring vaguely into space as I try to figure out what mindless task I can do until my brain wakes up. The computer is only accessible part of the time today; we have wave after wave of small but determined thunderstorms rolling by and as each one approaches, mindful of my poor fried computer last summer in such a storm, I unplug everything and zombie off to do something else. This is going to be, accordingly, one weird post. I guess I am resigned to that and will put up this less than stellar effort after I check the sky and plug the internet back in.

Random things on my mind today include:

  • wondering why a blue jay has taken to pooping all over the deck and front windows, while hanging out in the trees just in front of the deck. I have had robins determined to build a nest on the light outside the bedroom door but I have never had a jay come quite this close for so long. I went to hang the duvet over the deck railing to air and could not find a section of poop-free railing big enough to lay the duvet out. The deck badly needs a coat of stain this summer, as soon as we have three days rain-free, but I am going to have to scrub it clear of jay shit before I can stain it. Not funny, bird;

  • whether or not my newly potted geraniums have had enough water from the rain that comes with the thunderstorms and, concurrently, wondering where the @#$%!! I put the rain gauge when I took it in last fall. Or where JG put it, more to the point;

  • mulling over various ways to inveigle JG into going through his closet and getting rid of the pants and shirts that are too stained to wear 'for good' but that have not been downgraded to work clothes or are not suitable. Also wondering what the dickens he got on his good green dress shirt that I cannot get out again. Do you find that some so-called 'perma-press' fabrics soak up grease spots and refuse to release them? I have tried all the usual sprays and bottles of stuff guaranteed to remove grease with no success. It's plain green fabric -- on a patterned cloth it would not show so much. Note to self: do not let JG buy any more dark plain fabrics;

  • wondering where I put the quote sheets for an advertising flyer I said I would format and take in to be printed. I actually cleaned up all my work surfaces in the office this morning and the papers I needed did not appear. What I did find is a request to write a letter of support for a fellow CHC which was needed to-day. Such a letter would have to be passed by the Board and so I am too late. Shame and all too familiar feelings of disgust with myself for forgetting to do it ensue. I am feeling like that far too frequently lately;

  • alternately laughing, feeling proud and wondering where the years have gone as I contemplate a letter I received this morning from newly six year old Little Stuff thanking us for her birthday gifts. Considering that LS goes to school in French and that she did this without any help, I am pretty impressed but, oh, where did my baby go? It can't have been more that a few days ago that she was humping herself along in her rompers smelling the daisies; and

  • wondering what I should cook for supper. I had planned Chicken Cacciatori but can I actually get the vegetables in there without slicing off up my fingers in my present numb brained state? Stay tuned -- if tomorrow I am typimg flike thrjis, you will know that my index fingers did not survive the cut.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Jessica at Daysgoby gave me this award: she's certainly a model recipient for it herself.

"This award is given to the writers of blogs that “are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

I am blushing all over, and am now busy contemplating the eight super people to whom I will pass it on. As to the order, that is how they came up in my Google Reader. And they are in my reader because I love what they write and because they are transparent and funny and kind, dedicated readers as well as writers, just plain good folk. Please go and see for yourself.

First off, to Wherever Ewe Go, There Ewe Are, a transplanted American mom living in Scotland and the best darn blogger at writing dialogue for photos that you could imagine. Right now she and her family are waiting, with bated breath, for the arrival of a daughter.

Tere at A Mom, A Blog and the Life In-between, who has just looked at herself in the mirror and found that she looks good in a bathing suit. Marvellous! Tere can be both self-analytical and funny as hell, sometimes both at the same time. And am I ever jealous of the bathing suit thing.

Mary Murtz at The Eleventh. She is an eleventh child, a wonderful humourous, dedicated writer who is always fun to read. Even when she is having a bad, bad day, she lives it with elan and charity.

Bon at Crib Chronicles. If Bon is upset or frightened or worn out or happy or elated, you know it and what she writes conveys her emotions so, so well. She is also both smart and funny and some of the topics she discusses will really make you think.

Karen at A Day in the Life. How can you not love a person whose header includes 'pull up a chair and stay for a while' and whose descriptions of life with the kids can make you spray wine all over your computer screen.

Anvil Cloud at Raindrops. The most dementedly devoted grandpa still standing, and a wonderfully descriptive sharer of his life and preoccupations. And he calls his wife 'Cuppa'. Got to love that.

Yikes, I've only got two more.

Kaye at The Road Goes Ever, Ever On. She's just a sweetie and is finding her blogging voice beautifully. She's also an artist and a genius with her hands. And she loves LOTR -- as do I. Bonded. Just like that.

Painted Maypole. This hugely generous lady hosts the Monday Missions, scouts for causes that need contributions, runs a home and deals with the May Queen and is an actor on top of all that. Unbelievable. And wonderful. And thoughtful - she can make you think about drama and laugh while you are doing it.

I only have another 48 people that I need to tell you about. I have to obey the rules, you say? Oh, okay. But I would be delighted to share my Reader list -- I love the whole bunch of them a whole lot. And if you want the button, I would be delighted to share.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Penultimate Travel Post

We're home. I have the dust conquered, the laundry mostly done, JG has cut the lawn twice, once in the rain and I'm........... tired. I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. I want to write up a trip diary and the pile of maps and mementoes is more than daunting. I'm right back into the Board schedule (I am off to Toronto for a three day conference on Wednesday) and I feel burned out. Not motivated. All I want to do is sleep in my own bed, where I can get the knee comfortable enough to allow me to snooze for at least four hours at a time, catch up on my reading and stare at the sky. No energy. No concentration. I'm a sad mess. Obviously, holidays are bad for me.

It doesn't help that once you point my husband's face in the direction of home, he just wants to get there. We drove from Colorado Springs to Fort Erie in two and a half days, trading the actual driving every few hours. We stopped at Fort Erie to visit my MIL, who is just adjusting to her new nursing home, and then we put the foot on the pedal and came the rest of the way. Long days and lots and lots of trucks on the interstates. More than I ever remember seeing in past trips. What recession? Commerce is alive and well in the US of A. But trucks make the driving tougher, for me, especially when they pay no attention at all to the speed limits and play leap frog with one another. Uphill. Lovely.

The holiday was made easier in one way by our time staying at the YD's condo. Normally JG wants to be on the move every day when we take one of these marathon trips and so it was nice to have a few days at a time where we did not have to pack and load every morning, unload and unpack every evening, after trolling for a suitable motel. And we had Effie, who is a great help with finding accommodation. Effie is what we named JG's nice new GPS (a Garmin, for those of you interested in these machines), for her efficiency (my father once had a marvellous executive secretary of that name) and so that we could tell her to Effie Off when she tried to make us drive through city cores instead of taking bypasses. When you tell Effie to look for hotels, she comes up with a list by location; I would find a location where there were three or four places listed and we would go there and look for a good spot. Worked beautifully.

Even so, Effie is not an unmixed blessing. I would not rely on her totally as she has some quirks, the most annoying being this desire to have us drive down town. She has some choices you can pre program, fastest route vs most Interstate being one, but she has a low opinion of bypass routes and babbles on trying to persuade the driver to turn off the bypass until you shut her off. Her screen is not really big enough to show the detail we wanted on secondary roads and scenic drives, either. But she is a wonderful help with a lot of stuff. In the USA she shows speed limits for almost all roads (her Canada info is not as detailed, alas) and gives you a countdown to turns with warnings that correlate with the speed you are driving. I also use state maps, an interstate map of all of the USA and touring books (the National Geographic Scenic By Ways book is excellent) and find that this combination gives me everything I need.

More than I want, sometimes. Unfortunately I married a man who thinks it is lots of fun to drive a road that crosses the continental divide three times in two hours. He combed the maps in search of places we could see snow and did we ever find a lot. He's picky about his snow, too. The snowbanks in the Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado was dirty, he thought, and he was all for driving Independence Pass between Aspen and Colorado Springs to get clean stuff for a photo op. Luckily it was still closed. I am not a happy passenger when I am ascending to 11,000+ feet on a road with no shoulder or guardrail. And I could not drive such a road if my life depended on it. I get dizzy, short breathed with sheer terror and tense to the point of pain from holding on to the car so it will not fall over the edge.

And no, logic has nothing to do with it.

All worth it, for the sheer glory of the scenery in the mountains and on the plains. We drove along with John Denver's Colorado Rocky Mountain High ringing in our ears, stopping at every view point and pull off we could find, taking huge numbers of photographs or just looking and listening. There were some joys that were entirely unexpected. One, for me, was finding tiny villages in New Mexico lush with cottonwood and lilac all in flower, ringing with bird song, tucked into the crevices of the dry and harsh plateaus in places where the rivers ran. Another was a high mesa just east of Raton where there are constant small ponds again alive with birds, dotted through the sere land.

I think it is contrasts that will stay with me the longest. The huge rock formations in their many coloured striations. The equally huge sky. The creeks, swollen with snow melt, rushing down their stony beds. Driving from summer to late spring to early spring as we climbed a pass and dropping down and down to summer once again. The roar of the wind at the top of a pass and the eerie quiet of the inland plateau below it. Black cattle against a green, green hill. The sight of the huge dome of the state capital at Jefferson City seen across the flats as we drove toward it. So much land and so few people.

And, a silly thing, many many squashed raccoons on the highways in the Midwest. Until, as we reached western Kansas and the high plains, there were no more and the roads were clean. It's strange, the things you notice and will remember, sometimes.

At some point I am going to sort and cull my photographs and probably do one more trip post about them. And then I'll be done. Sometime after I have a few more naps.