Friday, 30 April 2010

There's More Bugging Me Than Blackflies

 A Red Maple in Flower

The sky is a bowl of Delft blue, a mad young spring wind is whipping through the trees and making our wind chime dance with joy, the daffodils are dancing too and everywhere, in every shade of green, spring is here.  And where am I?  Not out enjoying the wonderful day, that's for sure.  I am sitting at my computer alternately looking wistfully through the window, writing this post and trying to fill in and make persuasive a 38 page grant application. 

The application form is a provincial government creation and, besides being in two different fonts and a rainbow array of colours, covers every possible question any size or type of applying organization could possibly be asked.  In excruciating detail.  Since our organization is small, runs on fumes and has very little administrative structure, it falls to me as one of the volunteer board members to try to get what we want and why we want it into the shape they require.  And it is making me furious.

I could write a one page submission that would include the financial stuff in one small graph and tell them all they require.  But failure to fill in their impossible form correctly causes them to throw out the application.  He who holds the money calls the tune, for sure.  I expect the department dispensing the cash hired an expert to design this form - it has all sorts of bells and whistles and came to me 'locked', for goodness sake.  Cute little boxes to check.  Five column work plans to fill out.  I need some headache medication and probably a blood pressure check.  And more coffee.

That was written on Wednesday and it is now Friday.  I spent yesterday on a mad treasure hunt from place to place gathering all the documents that the Gov't demanded accompany the grant application, with a final careen into our local town where I navigated through the road reconstruction from hell to get to the courier and get the wad of paper sent off in time to be in under deadline, at astronomical cost.  Enough!  The next time someone mentions a grant application I am going to do the 'duck and cover' I learned in grade school.  You know about that?  The one where you curled up under your desk with your elbows up over your ears as protection if someone dropped an atom bomb?  More than many things I was taught, this is useful in the right circumstances, as in board meetings where someone is needed to do something time consuming and trivial.

Ah well.  We might, long chance, even get some money.


And we need it.  The grant was applied for by the ASK steering committee that I think I have written about previously (only I can't find it!)  ASK is a group of seniors that co-ordinates and runs various beneficial activities, things like line dancing, bocce parties, Wii bowling, in the various halls in our sparsely populated and spread out township.  (AS stands for Active Seniors and the K is for koalition, to make a good acronym, sigh)  We got money from our local Ministry of Health body called a (LHIN) under a funding structure called 'Aging at Home'.  The theory is that if you keep seniors active and connected to the community, they will be healthier and cost the health system less. 

Originally we got three years' worth of funding for a .25 co-coordinator's position and money for equipment.  One year into the project, when we are experiencing a 35% increase in attendance, the LHIN pulled the funding.  Seems they needed the money more for 'home care' for fragile seniors.  In fact, the organization that supplies 'home care' went into the red and had to pull the case workers.  And the LHIN had to bale them out and grabbed back our money to do so.  Or that's what we figure.  Talk about short term thinking!

At the moment, our co-coordinator is continuing unpaid and the rest of us who volunteer are trying to lighten up her load.  Thus Mary G inside on one of the nicest days this spring.  And now, having vented all this steam and had fun calling the provincial government a bunch of anally retentive stupes, I am going outside to pull raspberry canes out of my iris bed.  In my bug shirt.

Friday, 23 April 2010

I'm daffy too - at last

The whole blogosphere has been posting raptures to spring this last while, with gorgeous photos of spring flowers and flowering trees, lyrics to the sun and warmth, panegyrics to the spring.  Some of these posts have been up for over a month (you know who you are, down there in New Orleans!).  All of them have showed spring signs much more advanced than mine, even Anvilcloud, who lives north of me, for goodness sake.

Ten days ago, my bulb garden looked like this.  You can see its present glory up in the header.

The red maples have flowered and the tips of the leaves are now showing.  Even the buds on the oak, which is always late, are bulging.  The birds are singing their hearts out, all except the woodpecker who is doing his spring drumming on the metal chimney of a close neighbour.  Loud does not cover it.  In between the bouts of pounding I can sometimes hear a northern mockingbird, I think.  I haven't seen it but the string of borrowed song phrases is pretty certain.  I can see flower buds on the lilacs and when I look out across the woods,  I can see a haze of green everywhere.  Lovely!

And, of course, the blackflies are here. While the rest of you are celebrating the sunshine with sandals and shorts, think of me with heavy socks pulled over my gardening trousers and sweltering in my bug shirt.  Thank goodness we have a screened porch where I can enjoy the bird song without being attacked.

I will have to get the hummingbird feeders up - the little guys will be here very soon now. And plant the gladiolas. 

It's not just the birds that are delirious with spring business.  But I have no intention of banging on the chimney.

PS There is now something more in my garden.  My most creative neighbours have decided to celebrate my birthday by hiding garden gnomes around the place.  I found one in the daffodil bed to-night, and I have  notice that two others are around somewhere.  Hilarious!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Valley of the Shadow

She slipped away from us so quietly - she had been in a coma-like state for several days, breathing more slowly, pausing between breaths. Finally she did not take another one and it was over.

I find myself wondering where she has gone.

Is there a heaven and is she there? Somehow I cannot quite picture it. The choir part is reasonable - she used to run one and I can picture her doing that, straightening the halos on the cherubim, getting them in line and on key. But I am afraid I can also see her arguing with the archangels, sliding down golden bannisters, colour co-ordinating rainbows, dying her wings bright turquoise. No, not quite right. She's certainly not in the other place; she's had the lake of fire and demons prodding her with sharp things already. No, definitely not down there.

I don't have any idea what really happens to a person when they die. It could be endless sleep with no awakening to pain. It could be a real heaven, not my leftover-from-irreverent-childhood imaginings. There are several religions that believe in rebirth and that's rather a nice idea - I rather fancy her as an especially mischievous marmalade cat, expiating her misdeeds in her past life by making some child or children laugh. She would make an excellent dryad. Well, it doesn't matter, really. She is out of pain and beyond fear and suffering.

When I look out a window, I hear her voice saying how she thinks of us as living in a park - 'a view out of every window'. I look at the paint swatches sitting on my bathroom counter and wish so much I could talk the colour choices through with her. I sit down with a coffee on the screened porch and remember the last time we sat there together. I hear a red tailed hawk cry and think about how much we enjoyed spotting birds together. I try not to cry.

At least I was able to say good-bye. 'I love you,' I said, bending close to her ear. 'Love you too,' came back in her husky whisper. And I do. I always will. If no where else, she will live on in my heart.