Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Au Secours!

I’m just finishing my second day of minding Little Stuff while her parents attend a conference.  She is being her cheerful and delightful self, but I have one problem.  The temperature is forecast to reach 32°C tomorrow and I can’t remember how to work the climate controls to get air conditioning.  If I were at home, I could move one simple switch but this house has a state-of-the-art multi-program climate control box and I can’t recall what to do to get it to cool.  If I were at home, I probably could cope by opening all of our multitude of windows but this house is an inner city infill and, to have the number of rooms they wanted, daughter and partner had built what is essentially a staircase with rooms off it. It does not ventilate all that well because there are no good openings on the ground floor.  I can see a melt-down coming.  Mine.

In truth, I have a second problem. My darling Little Stuff is a rule abiding, earnest little soul. She attends a French Language school and the rule is that once on the school grounds, only French can be used.  She has to be delivered to her day care and signed in.  And she tells me all sorts of neat stuff, in French, while we go there.  Even worse. Tomorrow she misses day care for gymnastics and I want to spring her at the end of the scholastic day and skip day care.  I will have to tell her carer, she says, or write a note.  Hélas, j’ai oublié toute ma Français.  Starting with where to find the accents on this keyboard which is English querty.  There is a way, using the control key, if I could remember what to hit afterwards.  My own computer has a keypad and I keep the list of accent alternates on my bulletin board.

Tuesday Morning.

Problem #1  I think I have set the air conditioner.  We will see later when the temperature rises.
Problem # 2  Little Stuff dictated the message I had to send.  Several times.  I hand wrote it, disguising (I hope) shaky accents.

Today I have to clean the tortoise's enclosure and the guinea pig's cage.  Tomorrow I have to feed some crickets to the lizard.  Luckily the lung fish can look after itself.  And the cleaning company is due this afternoon to remove the cat hair and other debris.  And put out all of the various refuse containers.  Thunderstorms are forecast.  Ah, the joys of city living.  In the evening, however, I can sit out on the balcony and nothing bites me.  A joy indeed.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Talk about Organized

Well, I'm not.  And lately, even less organized about reading good posts and passing them on. 

Not even lately, though.  To my great shame, I missed this blog post when it went up.  It's more than worth a look.  It's a list of Canadian MommyBloggers, and there are some wonderful blogs on there. 

Don't be left at the post.  Go browse this.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Of Time and Tides of New Baby Leaves

A little while ago I saw a blue jay perched on a branch of a birch tree. There was soft sunlight turning the new leaves to shining green but the jay was, in the shadow of the trunk, soft blue gray. It was a painting in the making. In fact, all around me the last few days have brought incipient paintings, the green gold of the flowers on the sugar maples, small keys forming a halo around each branch, the muted red madder of the red maple flowers, soft cream and pink of the hawthorn bushes, silver gleam of the tiny oak leaves, just barely visible. There is green of every describable colour and some shades so pale, so transient, that they are barely there. A camera would not capture them, but paint might.

Down in my basement drawers is a box of oil paints, an easel, stretched canvas. I haven't touched them for a long time, occupied and preoccupied as I am with my volunteer work, my computer (haven't been posting lately, but I am inspired to do better), my bulbs, the yard and garden, changing the winter clothing for summer weight, spring cleaning urges. ( JG had a spring cleaning urge yesterday and sorted all his clothes, getting rid of a huge number of garments he had not worn for years. A shirt and trousers boasted Eaton’s labels; Canadian readers will know this store has been closed for well over a decade.) But I could paint today. If the tubes of colour were still good. If I weren't writing about it instead of doing it. If the windows were all clean. If there were not raspberry canes laughing at me in the iris bed. No, not today. But sometime soon.

I think, from time to time, how the immediate tasks and preoccupations seem to take over from the long held, the dearly held, things we want to do. The immediate necessity pushes in, shoving other things further back. At one time I thought that when my children were grown, when I stopped working for a salary, I would have so, so much time. Free, unencumbered hours to spend as I wish. And I do have time. I don't manage it well. I do not fill the unrelenting hour with even thirty minutes' worth of distance walked. I read, I watch the birds, I putter at household tasks that could be accomplished in half the time it takes me, stopping to check out a newly arrived grosbeak at the feeder or what Time has to say about the Wedding. It feels luxurious to do things this way. But it's sure not efficient.

Those of us who have raised children and managed a household and worked outside the home at the same time did not have the luxury, while doing so, of being 'in the minute', of pausing to admire a blue jay on a branch, of reading the magazine as soon as it arrived in the mail. Children need, as a matter of immediate necessity, the meal should be somewhere close to being on time, the man is out of clean socks (as are the children, for that matter), there are so many urgent tasks, deadlines, voices calling. Now that there is no stress in my life that I do not create for myself, I treasure the luxury of putting off, I give myself permission to loiter and look and dream.

I might enjoy the birds more, though, if I could see clearly through the kitchen window. 

 One of a host of golden daffodils.

 There is a carpet of dutchman's breeches in the woods

 JG and Shammy investigate windstorm damage

 Shammy investigates the dutchman's breeches

 Crunch.  One of the mature maples the wind pushed over.

Last three photographs courtesy of the YD.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

My Mother in Miniature


The top photo is one of the few I have of my mother as a small girl: the second is of my granddaughter, taken about a year ago.  If you darken Little Stuff's eyebrows and hair in your imagination you should see a resemblance.

It is more than just the facial structure and mouth.  I watched Little Stuff at her gym meet this morning, sober, focused, determined.  And I saw my mother, in miniature, in so many ways.

And Little Stuff did her stuff, too.  She stuck every apparatus, did every move as perfectly as she could, ignoring the crowd and the cameras and the action all over the gym.  She got great scores and was very pleased with herself.  As were we.  I only wish my mother could have seen her.