Monday, 25 January 2010

Twenty-five Steps to Better Procrastination.

1.) Allow yourself plenty of time. Procrastinating works best if you are not, quite, on deadline.
2.) Surround yourself with lots of other small jobs that look easy or fast.
3.) Play Scrabble, check out Facebook, check all email accounts.
4.) Get coffee.
5.) Re pile small, easy jobs. Consider which you will tackle.
6.) Drink coffee.
7.) Check Google Reader. Go and read someone whose posts are always interesting. Comment at length.
8.) Excrete coffee.
9.) Pull up Headings list to start Main Job.
10.) Go and get a sandwich and a drink.
11.) Start small job. Re pile others.
12.) Eat half of sandwich, drink drink, check email that just pinged in G Mail.
13.) Send several emails.
14.) Take plate and glass to kitchen. Get more coffee.
15.) Consider next step in main task.
16.) Check Scrabble game. Check Scrabble statistics and become frightened by the number of games won by your present opponent.
17.) Eat other half of sandwich. Wipe katsup off keyboard. Enter several headings in your topic list. Check time. Realize that it is one hour later than you thought it was. Lick fingers.
18.) Think about Cadbury chocolate fingers. Try not to think about Cadbury chocolate fingers.
19.) Return dishes to kitchen. Get chocolate fingers.
20.) Work on one heading on main task list. Find this is heavier than you want it to be. Rework heading list.
21.) Excrete drink and coffee. While you are up, change washer and dryer loads.
22.) Reheat coffee.
23.) Realize that you can't figure out what you have done to your heading list. Retrieve original heading list. Eat several chocolate fingers.
24.) Calculate how much time you have left to accomplish main task. Lick fingers.
25.) Panic.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Headlines. And a Mission

The Painted Maypole hosts a writing group at her site called Monday Missions. Yesterday's mission was to write a post in the form of headlines. The assignments are a lot of fun and I learn a lot from the writers that take on a mission. We all learn from one another. To see the latest MM, go here.

As often happens, I am getting to the mission on Tuesday and twisting its tail. A lot. Because after I slithered down the lane to the mailbox and picked up our papers this morning, all I could see were the headlines.


Disaster in Haiti.

To the horror of the earthquake and the heart tearing frustration of the slowness of arriving help has now been added the violence and fury of looting. It is hard to watch; it must be maddening to try to manage and terrifying to endure. I do not find it hard to understand. When I was taught to be a lifeguard, we were warned and taught how to deal with drowning victims who might be so frantic, so panicked, that they would grab their rescuer and prevent the rescue. We were taught how to approach from behind, how to break a stranglehold under water, how to choke a victim enough to stop the flailing that would prevent us towing him to safety. Tough love, in fact, in the extreme. And I think the people of Haiti are like those drowning victims. So without hope that they see no help, no rescue and flail out at all around them.

I am afraid that the tough love solutions are what is needed now. The rescuers are going to have to defend themselves, to ensure their own safety, before they can rescue. The American group running the airport is going to have to prefer landing for munitions and soldiers over medical aid and supplies. Canada may send peace keepers; as a Canadian I would demand that such young men and women be armed and allowed to defend themselves and the aid workers they support. Of course this slows the aid and limits its delivery and so more people are going to die or go so long without treatment that they will end up with amputated limbs or chronic debility.

The root of it, as I see it, is the poverty in Haiti, a poverty that leads to hopelessness and a hopelessness that leads to rage and amorality. We don't experience that kind of poverty in North America; not even the worst of our slums, the most lost of our homeless, have no one, ever, to reach out a hand to them, have no expectation of ever being helped. Our government works, even when Mr Proroguey is running it, our safety nets are there, stretched thin in places, but there. But in Haiti the government and its programs are sometimes so corrupt that they are part of the problem and not of the solution. So it is a country of grinding poverty in which a disaster brings a situation where it is every man for himself, where morality is a luxury and the ability to fight for it ruthlessly is what gets you food and water.

I am sure that the majority of people in Haiti are, like all of us, a mixture of good and bad, noble and venal. They deserve peace, order and good government, as all of us do. So, I am happy to give money to emergency relief. But I would throw my heart behind anyone who knows how to make that relief effective and who has the skill, the knowledge and the power to clean up some of the basic problems that have made a natural disaster into something so much worse

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Ta Da! Indeed

Hauling the machine out of her hole at last!
The cripple is tied to the big machine!

An old 'Magic Carpet' has been tied under the frozen track.

Underway! The YD and Shammy follow behind to make sure the tow doesn't come apart.

On land at last!  JG hitches the cripple to the Kubota.

Ta Da!
She's home at last.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Progress - Day 4

This is what the situation was before JG started work with a chisel and maul.

This is what he had accomplished by dark.  Look!  A snowmobile!  And he neither dropped any tools into the hole or fell in himself.  Tomorrow he figures we will get two old 'Magic Carpets' under it and try to tow it out with the big two man machine with two people on board.  If that won't work, we'll try the winch on the tractor from shore, but that will mean a lot of brush cutting to make a path.  Luckily, the YD and her dog are arriving tomorrow morning to help.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The Great Snowmobile Rescue....Day 3

It's finally out of the ice.  As you may note, the framework is sinking ever deeper into the muck underneath the ice.  And, for non snowmobilers, all the white stuff under the black part is ice.  Tomorrow's task is to chip some or all of that away so that the glob will be light enough to turn around (you can't haul a snowmobile backwards.)

Here's another shot, showing more of the muck from the bottom that splashed up when JG made the chainsaw cuts.  If you think the poor old machine looks bad, you should have seen JG.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Continuing Saga of the Sunk Snowmobile.

After I took this photo, JG cut all around the machine with a chainsaw.  We levered the back end up, but the ice on the front end is stuck to weeds and only half of it would come up.  JG is thinking some more.
Fun and games.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Embracing the Cold

We just got home from a delayed Christmas party and I couldn't help standing on the lane way and staring up at a sky full of icy pinpoint stars. The snow crunched most satisfyingly under my snowbooted feet and the wind sighed in the bare trees, stopped, sighed again. It was beautiful.., until my nice new rimless glasses fogged over.

Winter in eastern Ontario is a big presence. We had an ice storm on Boxing Day and day after day of snowfall to follow it. Although some of the ice came off the deciduous trees one sunny morning, the evergreens are still loaded, the piles of snow on each branch held in place by the ice base. Even fairly high wind has not shifted it. This means that travel along the trails through the bush involves snow down the neck, whippy branches in the face and a lot of dodging. But it is worth all the nuisance to see the woods draped in their winter décor, puffed with snow, looped over by ice, each small tree and bush a serrated pile of glistening snow. It is cold, sometimes windy, but wonderful.

This afternoon we drove the Kabota snow tracked vehicle through the bush roads to the marsh that runs along the back of our property. We did this because JG and the YD went snowmobiling the day before Christmas and broke through the ice on the marsh. Although her dad was leading and made it out okay, the YD hit the open patch he had made and sunk the back end of my (MY) snowmobile into about a foot of slush and open water. And there it froze hard. JG and I are now building a scaffold to hold the machine up while he cuts around it and frees it from the ice. We are taking discretion as the better part of valour and walking from the edge of the bush out to where the machine is stuck, on snowshoes and pulling our equipment on Little Stuff's toboggan, about half a kilometre. We got the scaffold up this afternoon, with a lot of pulling, tugging and chipping of ice, and attached the front and back of the snowmobile to it. Progress.

To work outside in this weather, you need to be dressed for it. I wear three layers, from long underwear up to a fine pair of snowboarding pants (loose and comfortable) that I bought many years ago. Wool socks and mukluks, a quilted vest under the coat, a coat with a funnel neck that you can zip up to your nose, quilted gloves, these are a few of the favourite clothes that make winter walking fun. I can do anything but bend over. I also have a fine pair of high tech snowshoes that weigh almost nothing. Walking makes the walker very warm, while standing around on the icy snow in the middle of an open marsh holding boards makes the worker very cold. Good boots are very necessary and they need to be kept waterproofed. Not that anything helps when you have to wade out of the marsh, breaking through in several places, and go home to tell your mother you sunk her snowmobile.

I have to confess, I love winter. Not the dirty, slushy city winter with arctic blasts funnelling between badly designed office towers, but the clean and lovely winter of the Canadian bush. I love the way the shadows fall blue and long through the trees and the way the eastern sky flushes lavender at sunset. I love seeing the tracks that the tiny mice and voles make skittering from safety to safety across a trail we have made. I love the gnome-like baby evergreens, piled with snow and the pattern iced birch branches make against a sullen sky. I love the clear, uncompromising light, the sparkle of ice crystals, the geometric designs of wind-whipped snowbanks. I even love a snowstorm, a time to shut down and curl up inside with a book while great dollops of the white stuff cut you off from the world.

I like it to be really cold most of the time, with the occasional warmer day to pack the snow down so that it will freeze into a walkable crust. Once that has come to pass, you can go anywhere with snowshoes, into the marshes and down the stream beds that would be a humming hell of mosquitoes in summer, following the track of a deer or beaver, camera thumping on your chest, warm and happy.

At least until my glasses fog up.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Winter Weekend, Chez G

This was going to be a thoughtful New Year's post, but then the ED sent me some photos and I can't let this one go by without sharing.

Little Stuff got skis for Christmas.  She and her parents came out from the city for New Year's Day (lamb and Crême Brûlé prepared by YD and yes it was amazing) and she tried out her skis on the laneway.  Which curves.  Daddy and Grama stationed themselves on the edge to take photos; Mummy was acting as a ski lift.  On one pass, Little Stuff hurtled by, missing Grama by milimetres. 

Grama was, understandably, a bit shook up. Because while Grama would recover from impact, she is not sure her Nikon would. (In fact, I am signalling a near miss to Daddy, but it surely is as funny a photo of me as I have ever seen.)

The YD's furry baby has discovered a world of little animals living under the snow.  She has not caught one yet, but not for lack of trying.