Saturday, August 12, 2017

Going on vacation

Halifax Public Gardens (I visited after the hospital which is nearby)
This will be my last post for a while, I am going away and not taking the computer with me so I will probably not be posting anything until some time after I get back. I'd like to say "as soon as I get back" but invariably I have to hit the ground running when I return home with various things left undone while I was away, not to mention putting away travel things and such.

Hapi will stay here, I have a young friend who will house- and dog-sit for the duration. He says he is grateful for a whole house for a whole month all to himself (and Hapi). Not something he is used to.

I've been very busy getting ready to go. One last visit with my friend in the hospital yesterday. She is much better than she was the last time I saw her, not loopy at all but quite lucid and present. Since the last time I saw her she had all of her family visiting which was quite a treat for her. She's in isolation because of the antibiotic-resistant infection, so she can only see her grandchildren via FaceTime on her iPad. Adults can visit provided they gown up and wear gloves.

I called my friend before going into the city to see her. She asked for a sandwich wrap and a pound of butter. I picked up those things before going to the hospital; I also brought a container to store the butter in. She has no appetite for hospital food, the sandwich wrap came in two parts, one she ate while I was there and the other she saved for supper. Not sure what she wanted the butter for, maybe because the hospital gives her margarine with bread.

We yakked about the great visit she had with her family and about grandchildren. Then we FaceTimed her sister in Toronto, who was in the midst of cleaning behind her frigerator on a very hot humid day; she was in her underwear. She said she was doing this because a friend told her that she (the friend) did it every two weeks, and since she (the sister) had never done it she was feeling guilty and thought she ought to be doing this. On a hot humid day. I've never cleaned behind my fridge either and I'm not going to start now, it's probably totally disgusting back there.

So my friend in the hospital may or may not be there when I get back. She may or may not get out of the hospital and into the nursing home bed reserved for her when the infection is deemed cured.

My trip involves five flights, stopping in two places in British Columbia, one in Alberta and one in Ontario. I will be seeing my new grandchild, three sons, multiple old friends and one or two brothers, depending on whether one of the brothers can find the time. I was able to schedule myself for the family and friends out west but closer to me (Ontario) not so much. The theory being that the ones in Ontario could always try to visit me here. The trip is complicated enough, it would be impossible to do it to everyone else's schedule.

Since last I posted I went on a little road trip with a friend to a rock concert and someone's cottage in Pictou County. We camped out the night of the concert. The concert was great, the headliners that night were Matt Andersen and Alan Doyle.

Matt Andersen (there was a screen as well as the stage)

Alan whipped up the audience something fierce. The concert was outdoors and most people were standing (my friend and I had bleacher seats). Most all of them knew all the words from when Alan was with Great Big Sea, so there was a lot of singing along and waving of arms and cell phone flash lights. According to Alan, Great Big Sea got their first exposure to mainland Canada in Pictou County so for him it was like a second home.

Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Gypsies, stirring up the crowd
The friend's cottage was an amazing place, but so infested with (really aggressive vicious) mosquitoes that you could not step outdoors. We could look at the waterfront but not actually go to it. So we sat inside and had a great supper and lots of gin and tonics. Would have been nicer without the mosquitoes.

My friend's dog loves me because he knows I own Hapi, his favourite female dog. He followed me everywhere. When I went outside to back the car closer to the cottage he came too and I had to pick him up and put him in the car so I wouldn't back over him; he's not a bright dog.

Public Gardens commemorative bed

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The dying of the light

I visited a dying friend in the hospital today. I was only there for an hour and a half but now I am totally exhausted, I can hardly think. My mind is not exactly blank but I don't know what to think or what to do with myself.

There were three of us friends and her daughter there. Sounds crowded but it wasn't really. A nurse came in to give her some medication and then a lab tech came in to take blood. She couldn't keep anything down so they didn't bring her any lunch. She's in a geriatric unit. One friend is upset about that, she thinks our very sick friend should be in the main part of the hospital where the doctors will be more concerned about finding what's wrong with her and fixing it. I think she's a bit appalled that the rest of us don't think that too.

Our dying friend seems alert and--I'd like to say happy but that's not quite the right word. She likes the company, she likes the nurses, she feels cared for. But she's kind of loopy, in and out, there and not there. It's not drugs, she was sort of loopy before she went into the hospital, whatever is wrong with her is what is making her loopy. They think it's an antibiotic-resistant infection, but they don't know where the infection is.

The blinds were closed because the light bothered her, but I could see that it was a nice view of a park outside. Someone asked her if she was hungry and she said she couldn't remember, then we asked if she was hot and she said she didn't know. She was picking at the blanket like she wanted to pull it up or take it off, but she didn't know which she wanted. She would start to say something, repeating the first few words several times, then kind of fading out like she had forgotten what she wanted to say or she was falling asleep. Loopy. But then she'd finish the sentence and it wasn't loopy at all. In and out, there and not there.

But what we had heard about her state was far worse than what we saw, we were kind of relieved to see her awake and smiling because we had been told that she might not recognize us or she might be unconscious. She's definitely conscious. It seemed to us afterward when we talked about it that this was what they mean when they say someone died peacefully, she seems at peace with her state of being now. People say how awful it is to die in a hospital, but seeing my friend I think there are far worse ways to die. She is comfortable and she is cared for and she seems at peace.

I've known her for more than forty years, I don't know how much longer she will last. Maybe a few hours, maybe a few weeks, who knows. Her sister is coming from Toronto to see her tomorrow and she adores her sister, so I think she'll stick around for that.

A few days ago I had a new grandchild, today I visited a dying friend. I don't know how to describe what that feels like, a kind of numbness, a hole where there used to be feeling.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My summer thus far

It has been a while and a lot has happened:
  • Went to Newfoundland to visit fellow blogger Wisewebwoman (see this post)
  • Been busy around the homestead with yard work and so forth and so on (more detail here)
  • Trying to plan a trip out west--nerve-wracking! stressful!--also described here 
  • My (probably last) grandson was born yesterday.
Right now the last item is the biggest news for me, I am so excited but am having to contain myself because they (the parents) are out west and I am here and while some of my local friends are almost as excited as I am, many are like: oh how nice for you dear, and let me tell you about the horrible day I just had.

Are you kidding me?!? I'm over the moon and you want me to commiserate with your bad shopping experience?!? Sorry, sarcasm off. The one friend I could count on to be almost as excited as I am was out of town at a lovely family wedding. I left her a phone message, she responded as expected (gratifyingly) today. But yesterday was a little weird, being terribly happy and excited and not being able to talk about it.

My son asked me not to go on Facebook until they had a chance to make the official announcement, which they did a few hours later but I was then busy with my volunteer ushering job. It was for a play that quite frankly was boring as all get out. Two actors who sang and danced very well but the play itself was the problem. Polite clapping but no one gushing about the experience. I think the actors' talents were wasted. I was in the second day of an earache--I suspect brought on by stress--and I had spent the previous night awake with an 85-lb dog lying on top of me panting in my face due to an intense thunderstorm outside, so I was not in a mood for it.

I'm still in trip-planning mode and I still have a bunch of homework to get done before I can leave. I have lined up a house/dog sitter for the duration but I will worry about Hapi. It will be the longest time I have left her. The dog sitter comes recommended but I will still worry. I won't see the new grandchild for about 6 weeks and I wish I was there right now.

Also, this is kind of silly but what can I say: I just finished (yesterday) a 14-book series that I have been reading for several months now. I have become invested in the story characters and it's over; I feel a sense of loss. I am strongly tempted to start rereading the series but I am resisting. It was quite a time-consumer and I just can't afford that right now. But I miss them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doing and planning

In preparation for leaving sometime soon for a trip out west, I have been very busy trying to get stuff done around here.

Two cord of firewood stacked. That was a big one, a lot of work in the hot sun.

Vegetable garden planted and tended. I tried to limit myself to things that would be ready to harvest by the end of July but couldn't resist adding a few things. Oh well. At least I have been eating well.

Long walks for the dog every day. This has to be done early because by mid-morning it is too hot for her, and it stays that way well into the evening.

I foolishly bought a bunch of day lilies from a neighbour and now have to plant them. There's no empty space available, so I decided to dig up about twelve feet of mini irises and replace them with the day lilies. Easier said than done, let me tell you! Those irises do not want to leave. Then the neighbour said he wanted the pots the day lilies came in back as soon as possible so I had to start the day lily project as soon as the firewood was done.

I originally intended to drive west but various issues came up that I just couldn't resolve, it became such a headache that I seriously considered cancelling the trip altogether. But, I calculated the cost of the road trip and then looked online for how much it would cost to fly instead and it looked doable, financially anyway. However it is a complicated trip requiring multiple flights coordinated with various other people's schedules and I have had a time of it organizing the whole thing. What I like about road tripping is that it gives me the freedom to plan on the fly instead of in advance. With flying I have to do all the planning up front and I really dislike it. I am not good at it, and I get quite stressed trying to do it.

And of course I have to make alternate plans for Hapi, and I am concerned about that. Things are more or less shaping up but I don't think I am going to be completely at ease with leaving her behind.

I have not gone to the beach, gone swimming, or a host of other things that I would love to be doing right now. I am staying home getting stuff done and planning for the future. I quite dislike it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The whales of St. Vincent's

I am back from a whirlwind trip to the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. In 1998 I travelled up the west coast of Newfoundland, visited Gros More, l'Anse aux Meadows, and Red Bay in Labrador. It was a great trip but Newfoundland is a big place and I did not get to St. John's then because that would have doubled the driving time and I was nearing my deadline for returning home. I always intended to go back and I thought that after moving to the east coast of Canada (I was living on the west coast in 1998) that it would just happen. But it didn't, I had to make it happen. Funny about that.

Anyway, a fellow blogger has an Airbnb on the Irish Loop just outside of St John's which she plans to give up this year so it seemed like Now or Never. I would have driven with Hapi, but with another road trip in mind for later in the summer it seemed like all that extra driving (and time!) was not on. So I flew, leaving Hapi behind with a friend.

It was truly a whirlwind visit, I basically skimmed what was on offer and probably wore out my host. The highlights were long chats, whales and an archaeological dig on the Irish Loop. We did a drive-through of St. John's and while I would have liked to have seen more, I realized I didn't have the energy for it and was just going to have to make a mental note of 'what to do and see if I ever have the chance of coming back here'.

On the same day we visited Signal Hill, Cape Spear, and Petty Harbour. I saw a humpback whale doing backflips below the lighthouse at Cape Spear: it leaped into the air and fell backward with flippers spread like wings several times. I have no idea what it was trying to do, it could have been just for the sheer joy of being there. I also saw icebergs at both Signal Hill and Cape Spear.

Signal Hill
Petty Harbour
Every summer humpback whales migrate from the Caribbean north to Newfoundland (they come to Nova Scotia as well). They don't eat at all on their trip so they arrive hungry, when the capelin are spawning off of the Avalon Peninsula coast, in particular at certain beaches. Just down the coast from where I was staying is St. Vincent's beach, a popular spawning site for the capelin and feeding site for the whales. My host took me there twice in hopes of spotting the whales. It was very foggy both days and we saw nothing the first time but the whales arrived the second time. The conditions were very poor for taking photos but I tried.

It was a truly amazing sight. At least half a dozen whales, I couldn't count, leaping about and swimming back and forth not a hundred meters from the shore. They seemed to be working in groups, I saw three whales surfacing simultaneously several times, they were in a formation that looked like a giant three-petalled whale-head flower.

Colony of Avalon archaeological dig at Ferryland
The Colony of Avalon was one of the first permanent settlements in North America, in an area of Newfoundland that was frequently visited by European fishermen even before Christopher Columbus set sail. It is being reconstructed at the town of Ferryland (the name is a transliteration of the old Portuguese name).

I could go on and on, it was a dense and intense visit to an amazing place. I only hope I did not wear out my friend and host who guided the visit.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Road tripping music

(the old truck, 1991 Chevy S10)
I sold my old truck almost two years ago, after buying a new-to-me minivan. I liked that the new-to-me minivan had such luxuries as a CD player and air conditioning, but wasn't sure about the power windows. Then found out that the air conditioning didn't actually work, that would cost an extra $1,000. I bit the bullet and paid for it to be fixed, although the mechanic grumbled, "You know, people don't usually do this." And it turns out I like the power windows. Kind of necessary in a minivan when you have a dog in the back seat.

However I soon realized that all my road trip music was on tape cassettes because that's all the truck had, a tape player. So for the last couple of years those tapes have sat in a drawer unused and every time I go somewhere in the minivan I miss them. About a month ago I wondered if there was a way to transfer the music from the tapes to some digital format and I finally Googled it. It turns out there is a way and the software to do it is free! But I did need to buy a cable to connect my tape deck to my computer, available at The Source for $20. I downloaded the software and bought the cable, and then waited for a rainy day to attempt the deed. Yesterday was it.

It took several hours to finally get the first digital file of a road trip music album (Saguarina, something one of my kids bought on the street from a South American busking band). I had to manoeuvre all of the hardware out where I could get at the back of it all to connect the cable, put it all back in place, figure out why the tape deck wouldn't rewind a cassette (don't know, but it has two cassette slots and the rewind still works in the other slot), mess around with the software to figure out how it worked, test the volume level adjustments, figure out how to save the recording as an MP3 file (needed another plug-in for copyright reasons I guess, but still free), and then finally to make and save the recording. Meanwhile I went through all the cassettes in that drawer to prioritize what I was actually going to digitize, resulting in various stacks of cassettes all over the place. But after that first recording it was a snap, I could digitize a cassette in about the same amount of time it takes to play it, a minute or two more for saving the MP3 file. Have a meal, digitize a tape. Read a magazine, digitize a tape.

How amazing it took this long to get around to doing it!

In case you're wondering, the software is called Audacity and the cable is a Y-Adapter. The plug-in is called Lame (!).

Next step is to put the MP3s on something I can play in the new-to-me minivan. I was going to put it on my phone but a neighbour suggested a memory stick. So far I have recordings of Dvorak, Fleetwood Mac, The Outlaws, Genesis and that South American street band. Eclectic, but it's the stuff that works for road tripping. Think I'll do my bagpipe tape next, I've really missed that one.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Old photos on a rainy day

(Storm over Balsam Lake, Ontario, late 1980s)
Today is Canada Day and it is pouring rain out. The summer season is always a very busy time for me and every day that it does not rain I have outdoor chores to take care of: yard work, gardening, firewood, dog walking, painting and repairs... So when a spate of rain happens I am grateful for the chance to cease all of that busyness. Why I'm here now.

(Leaving Yellowknife, 1973)
One of my sons recently started a new job flying medevac out of Yellowknife, specifically the Stanton Territorial Hospital, which is where he was born. My husband and I lived in YK for two summers and a winter; I got pregnant almost as soon as we arrived and we left a year and a bit later with a toddler and an infant (toddler came with us to YK as a soon-to-be-walking baby). Anyway, the grown son with the flying job works two weeks on and two weeks off, returning to his family in Alberta between shifts. When he's not actually in the air he spends a lot of time hanging out in YK, so he asked me for photos of what YK was like when I lived there. He wanted to revisit some of the locations and photograph what it looked like now. I have watched 'Arctic Air' on TV, an adventure show set in YK, so I know that there has been a lot of change. I recognize a few places and the general landscape but the town has grown and changed a lot.

A couple of days ago I posted all the photos I had online to Facebook, then yesterday, also a rainy day, I went through my old print photo albums looking for more. Those albums are all higgledy piggledy because over time I have raided them for photos to scan to digital format and then neglected to return to their proper albums. I pulled out all the Yellowknife photos to scan, then posted some them on Facebook so my son could retrieve them. One of the photos was actually a postcard showing an aerial view of the town. I don't remember when I acquired that postcard, it may or may not have been when we actually lived there. But it's a pretty close approximation of what the town was like then. Unfortunately it does not show the part of YK we lived in over the winter and second summer.

(aerial view of Yellowknife, date unknown)
I'm looking forward to seeing his versions of those old photos. I know that our winter home was torn down to be replaced by a much fancier home by the new owner of the property. It was really a prime location, being one of the few residential places in the town with its own waterfront (we had a small dock and I did go for a brief swim there before the lake froze up, nearly drowning my son in the process).

(Pirelli the family dog, 1960s)
Since the YK photos were scattered through several albums I also got to sift through a lot of old photos which of course stirred many diverse memories. I posted a few of them just for fun. My oldest son with a junior high school 'girlfriend' who he is still in touch with. The now-dead parents of a Facebook friend from over thirty years ago. My youngest son as a toddler. A cat I used to have when I was pregnant with my oldest son. I've got a few more which I may or may not post.

(Mum and I a few months before she died, 2001)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Getting stuff done and moving on

I completed one rug on the loom, two more to go. Towards the end it was quite frustrating because one of the warp threads kept breaking.

I spent the day weeding and pruning. It was the same temperature as the day before but far less humid; it felt cooler. Nevertheless all that weeding and pruning was sweaty work and I had a bath afterward. Some annoying stuff that I won't describe here and now was on my mind so I fumed and fussed in the bath. Often I cry in the bath but this time I was more angry than sad. The good thing is that when I get out of the tub whatever was bothering me washes away with the dirt. The feelings that is, not necessarily whatever spurred those feelings.

Good news from my youngest son. As I mentioned earlier he had a rather devastating time of it this past month and I had promised to help him out financially if he needed it. So when I got his text to set up a Skype call I expected that was what it was about. Instead it was the opposite, his situation almost completely reversed itself and he didn't need help at all. He was just calling to let me know his good news. I am happy for him.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekend of theatre, film and music

I'm doing very little today, in compensation for an overly busy weekend. It was a good busy, but perhaps too much of a good thing.

I won a pair of tickets to see the National Theatre Live performance of Peter Pan, so a friend and I went to the pub for supper and a beer and on to the cinema to see it. Absolutely wonderful. The production was wonderfully done, it was totally enthralling in spite of the fact that they played games with the characterizations. Captain Hook is a woman, Nana the dog is a big black person (I think it was a man but it might have been a very big woman), Tinkerbell is a man, and all of the children are played by adults. The flying scenes were quite ingenious.

It poured rain all day Saturday. Sunday was going to be a nice day but I was going to be away all day so I spent most of Saturday running errands. One of my errands was to the garden centre at Kent Building Supplies, I took Hapi along in the car but had no intention of walking her in the downpour. However when the employee came to load my purchases into the car Hapi jumped out. I joked that this was going to be the extent of her walk today, the little bit of parking lot around my car. The fellow told me that actually, Kent is pet-friendly and I could have taken her indoors. It's a huge big box store and I think it would take me almost half an hour to walk all of the aisles, so next time I might just do that!

Saturday night I went back to the same cinema which also is used as a theatre and a music venue, to hear the band Hillsburn. They were very loud and energetic, I stuffed bits of tissue in my ears to dull the sound a bit. But they were fun to watch.

On Facebook a few days before I learned that a significant member of our community had died almost two weeks ago. She was 79 years old, she died of cancer I think. That I heard about it after her celebration of life was a little disappointing, that she died at all was even more disappointing. She was politically active, an artist, and just an all round good person. At a certain point in her life she worked as a counsellor at the local university student counselling centre. I was a single parent working on a degree there and having a tough time of it; I saw her at the counselling centre and she told me to come see her once a week and explain to her why I wanted to quit. If I gave her a good enough reason she would give me permission to do so. Apparently none of my reasons were good enough, I kept seeing her until I graduated. So she was personally important to me, she got me through that.

Anyway, I've had a hard time not thinking about that loss and I think I would have enjoyed Hillsburn a bit more if it wasn't occupying my mind.

Sunday was the busy busy day. Up early to walk Hapi then breakfast and a shower before driving to the neighbouring town to catch a ride with friends down to the other end of the valley to see the King's Shorts. The King's Theatre is in Annapolis Royal, a very picturesque little town near the mouth of the Annapolis River. Also the oldest permanent settlement in Canada (a bit of controversy there but I'm going with that position). Every year they hold a competition for 10-minute plays; writers from all over the world submit their scripts in the winter and a local committee selects eight to  show. Directors and actors are chosen and the eight plays are put on over the Father's Day weekend in June. Every year two or three of my writing group submit plays and every year at least one of them makes the short list of eight (this year there were 93 submissions altogether). So we all go down for lunch and the final performance before the winners are announced. There are a first and second prize with a little bit of money attached and a People's Choice selection as well (no money, just fame). So this year two of our members and the spouse of one of them were selected for the final show, and amazingly, they all won! We walked away with First, Second and People's Choice!

We were too big a group to descend on one small restaurant so we split up into smaller groups to eat at three different establishments. I went to the local pub which was very 'pubby' and had scallops and chips. I'd have had a beer but lack of sleep the night before made drinking alcohol in the afternoon seem risky. At the theatre each person is issued a poker chip for voting. At the end of the show there are eight large cans for dropping your poker chip into, then they count them up and announce the People's Choice. It is all done quite quickly, I think it was less than fifteen minutes from the end of the last play to the announcement of the winners. It was all great fun and even greater because we took all the prizes back to our end of the valley with us. Anyone can enter, there are a few restrictions on format, length and newness, but no restrictions on who can play. Maybe one day I'll try my hand but at the moment I feel like playwriting is a bit beyond me.

So after all that we drove back up the valley and I returned home briefly to feed Hapi and eat some cold leftover pizza before dashing out the door again to go to Sunday night movie, "Burn Your Maps". While waiting for the movie to start they announced on screen that another significant member of our community had just died, also 79 years old. He was a neighbour of mine, someone I've known a long time and who was instrumental in bringing movies to our town. I knew he wasn't in good health and also that he was just barely making ends meet. I was sad to hear he was gone.

In "Burn Your Maps" there's a scene where an elder wise person is talking to a young couple who are struggling with the death of an infant child. They say to him that they lost their child when it was only a few months old. He tells them that the child is not lost, it came and stayed briefly with them and then went away. He said it was not the child that was lost it was the grieving parents who were lost. I think that is a good way to look at it. The sadness I feel is about my loss, not the loss of the people who have gone away. I still feel it. My friend at the cinema stage-whispered to me, "Get used to it! We're at that age!"

Good bye Macha, good bye Bob.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dancing and Hiking

We had several days of hot weather and then a couple of cool days. On the cool days I did work around the place: painting, lawn mowing, weeding, that sort of thing. An old friend from out west came to visit for three days; she spent one day at each of three friends' places and I was her first stop. Unfortunately it was a day of solid rain, over 40 mm which was a record apparently. No matter, we ate and drank and yakked and laughed.

In the evening we went to a dance in a small community hall outside of town and we decided to taxi so we wouldn't have to worry about how much we had to drink. The cabby didn't know the way, he was going to take us in the opposite direction. He didn't know how much to charge us either so his dispatcher told him what to charge. On our trip home the cabby (a different one) asked us how much the other guy charged us so he would know what he was supposed to charge.

The band was great and I danced the whole time we were there. Very few men danced, mostly women; I think the men were waiting to be asked.

One of my neighbours built a small shelter for my heat pump a few weeks ago so now I am painting it. I think I have one more coat to go. My garden is at that stage where the weeds are coming on fast and furious so I have to work hard to keep up with them. I have so much salad greens I am almost (but not quite!) sick of salad. Can't wait for the peas and beans and beet greens. I didn't plant tomatoes this year, I had a bumper crop last year and still have lots of frozen and canned tomatoes left. Many of my weeds are actually little tiny tomato plants from my compost. I thought I'd let them go for a bit and then pick three or four of the best looking to transplant to one empty bed and pull the rest out.

I hiked on Monday out Cape Split. It's a 15 km round trip through the forest until you come out at the tip of the cape. It points into the Bay of Fundy, splitting the flow in two. They say it is Glooscap's stone canoe, beached on Blomidon. So at the tip you are looking down the Bay from a high narrow cliff with a bit of grass on it. Cape Split used to belong to the Jodrey family who made their money logging all over the province. But they never logged Cape Split, they let it be. Recently it was turned over to the province for a park and now it has a parking lot and outhouses and little signs telling you how far you are walking and please mind your step on the edge of the cliff. I made the mistake of taking Hapi out there five years ago and discovered there was no water available for her to drink. I just assumed there would be brooks but no such luck. So I didn't bring her with me this time because I didn't want to lug in any more water than I had to. Anyway, she's older now and it was a hot day so I don't know if she would have been up for a 15 km walk. I was exhausted at the end.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Bees and Blooms

This is my vegetable garden. To the left of it is a lilac in full bloom that wafts a wonderful perfume toward my house in the evening. Behind it is a horse chestnut tree in full bloom also, very pretty.

But it is full of bumblebees. I mean full. As I leave my back porch to go to the garden to pick greens for supper, the buzz of the bees becomes louder and louder. By the time I am in my garden I feel like I have walked into a huge bumblebee nest.

Lately the bees have been exploring the yard. They've found my porch. So far no stings but I am wary around them. Everybody says how bumblebees are not vicious, they only sting in defence, but I have been chased out of my garden by a very determined bumblebee who stung me as I was running away from it. Got me on the face near my right eye. So I'm wary.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Last tulips

These are the last tulips from my garden. This photo is a few days old and the tulips are still in the bottle on the wood stove, but they are a little the worse for wear now. I took this photo because I like the way they look there.

It's been a stressful week. My youngest son had an unfortunate mix of bad choices and bad luck leaving him in rather a depressing and depressed state. We communicated via Facebook and I guess you never stop being concerned about your child's welfare. If I could have fixed things for him I surely would have. The situation is still unfolding and I still want to know what is happening now and that is the stressful part. As a result I have not paid attention to much else. I went to play bridge in Windsor on Thursday afternoon and had an awful time of it: lousy hands and complete inability to remember what cards had already been played, distracted. Somebody brought rhubarb coffee cake and I ate too many pieces. I blame it all on "the family situation".

The lilacs are in full tilt. I take Hapi for an evening stroll around the block just to breathe in the perfume, it seems strongest in the evening. This is surely my favourite time of year, I love lilacs.

However this seems to be a bad year for ticks. I have removed three from myself and two from Hapi. Hapi's ticks were fully engorged, otherwise I never would have seen them in her thick fur. I took one of them to a local vet who identified it as a deer tick, the kind that carry Lyme disease. They won't test or treat a dog for Lyme for a minimum of 60 days, they say it takes that long for the antibodies to show up in their blood. Unless of course the dog comes down with Lyme disease symptoms, in which case they will test and treat. Those symptoms are lameness, lethargy and lack of appetite, kind of like an old dog with arthritis. Which Hapi is.

I am keeping the two ticks in separate pill bottles: Tiki and Tiki Too. I think Tiki has laid eggs. If the eggs hatch I am probably going to have to get rid of them, don't think I want a pill bottle full of hungry ticks. Tiki is the one identified as a deer tick, but my guess is that Tiki Too is a dog tick. The vet technician said they live forever so I don't even need to feed them. Of course they are full of dog blood anyway. I was joking around with a friend about my pet ticks, she suggested we go shopping together next week and I can bring my pet ticks along for the ride. Easy to do, they live in pill bottles that fit in my pocket.

Friday, May 26, 2017

On not going to the art gallery

I went to the city yesterday to visit a friend who just got out of hospital and to go to the art gallery. My friend--I'll call her Jane--had said she wanted to go to the art gallery too, so I was expecting to pick her up and go for lunch and then the gallery. I brought along another mutual friend (let's call her Beth). Well, when Beth and I got to Jane's place it turned out that Jane didn't feel like going to the art gallery but did want to go for lunch. I was disappointed but went along with the change of plan. Jane is blind and in a wheel chair. Beth is also blind, but not in a wheel chair. Both women can sort of see, but they are both legally blind. Beth told me later that she couldn't look at me, she just knew how I was feeling about giving up the art gallery visit.

Anyway, we went for lunch. The restaurant we went to had excellent food but it was crowded and extremely noisy. It was hard to hear each other talking, so I kind of spaced out. Plus, Jane is not well at all and is on medical marijuana for pain and she was kind of stoned, so conversation with her was limited. People talk about medical marijuana as if it was so superior to synthetic drugs, but from what I can see it has its problems just like any drug. Jane said it dulled the pain but the price for it was being stoned all the time.

After lunch Jane wanted to visit a nearby shop so we did that. It turned out the shop was selling off all its stock in preparation for a move to an area too far away for Jane to visit, so I guess going there when we did was a good thing; Jane got one last kick at that can. But I'm not an enthusiastic shopper and felt like I was basically there as a guide to read labels and identify various objects for sale. No art gallery, just shopping instead.

After a while we walked Jane home and dropped her off. On the drive back to the Valley I commented to Beth that Jane did not look good. I hadn't seen her since before she went into the hospital and she clearly was much worse than she had been then. Beth said, "Somebody had to mention the elephant in the room!" It is not pleasant watching an old friend slide away.

Being the only sighted person with two blind people is a little stressful. I never used to pay attention to the obstacles for a wheel chair but now I do. It is shocking how little thought goes into all the little ramps that are supposed to make it easier for wheel chairs to navigate sidewalks. I have to keep an eye out for everything, give verbal warnings of red lights, rough terrain, when to turn, when to avoid other pedestrians and so forth. Not to mention reading menus out loud and identifying objects in shops and reading their price tags.

I have such mixed feelings about that trip! I really wanted to go to the art gallery and was seeing that as the main point of the whole trip. It was hard to let go of that. Jane had said she wanted to go too, but I guess she was a little naive about her energy level. She was still in the hospital when we planned the trip, she probably had no idea how hard it was going to be living outside the hospital.

Much as I want to participate in get togethers with Jane and Beth, it is really draining for me; I come home exhausted and irritable. I would do better if it was just one or the other, but Beth can't go into the city to see Jane on her own, she needs a chauffeur. So all in all it was not a fun trip for me. But I can't not do it. Jane will never get better. There is a time limit and then the relationship will be gone for good and I don't know when that time limit is.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bread and Musicals

I volunteer as an usher at the Festival Theatre and occasionally at Acadia Convocation Hall. I mostly volunteer for theatre and musical events, in particular the Acadia Performing Arts Series. This past weekend I ushered for the Stage Prophets performance of the musical "Anne and Gilbert", a kind of sequel to the "Anne of Green Gables" musical (which they performed a few years ago). I especially appreciated the two solos performed by a friend of mine as Mirella. It was both comedic and serious, as much of the Stage Prophets' material is. Great show, and some fabulous musical and dance talent.

In other news I baked my last loaf of bread for the season. I've run out of both freezer space and large freezer bags; I take that as a sign that I have done enough. No bread baking over the hot summer months! The sourdough starter is resting in the freezer now, atop all the loaves it produced this year. Good work, starter!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Own the Media

Photo above from website

The last few years I have been subscribing to magazines. It started with The Economist and The Walrus. I found a great deal on a 2-year subscription to The Economist and I wanted to try The Walrus, a Canadian magazine that seems to be trying emulate The New Yorker.

I thought I had subscribed to The Walrus for only one year and at the end of that year I had seen enough to know I didn't want to renew. But it turns out I subscribed for two years and when the subscription finally expired they apparently hoped to lure me into re-upping by continuing to send me issues for several months after. The Economist on the other hand I found quite interesting and I did renew the subscription for another year.

Then I thought I would try another magazine to replace the expired (I believed) Walrus, and so I got a subscription to The New Internationalist. My idea was that since The Economist is a 'right-of-centre' news magazine, subscribing to a 'left-of-centre' news magazine would be kind of balancing. So far I like it and will probably renew.

As noted earlier this year my son gave me a subscription to The New Yorker for Christmas. And I forgot to mention my free magazine, Aramco World, which I have been subscribing to for several years. It is a stunningly illustrated oil company magazine about Moslem and Arab culture, very broadly defined. So in the early months of this year I was getting five magazines on a regular basis. Extremely hard to keep up with especially since two of them are weekly magazines.

The Walrus finally gave up on me and I have to say it is a bit of a relief. Aramco World only comes out six times a year and is mostly pictures so it is not a taxing read. But I can no longer read The Economist all the way through (I used to!), nor can I read The New Yorker in its entirety. I would have to be full-time professional magazine reader to keep up.

A couple of months ago The New Internationalist decided to do a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for themselves. As they often tell us, print media are having some difficulty staying afloat financially, and niche magazines such as this one have an even more difficult time. So they decided to raise money to keep themselves afloat by selling shares in the magazine. Their crowdfunding campaign goal was £500,000 and they were wildly successful, raising over £700,000.

I am now a co-owner (there are 3400 of us) of a successful left-of-centre independent news magazine and if you would like to read my magazine you can go here: The New Internationalist. I'm quite proud of it, I've never owned a magazine before.

Monday, May 8, 2017


It seems to me the only person you can forgive is yourself.
"Why does forgiveness irritate me so much?" I ask Chuck.
"Because it's the ultimate act of passive aggression," he says.
"Because it keeps sin alive," my sister says.

       ~Abigail Thomas,  What Comes Next and How to Like It
Reading this makes me feel vindicated.
There is nothing quite so rankling as unsolicited forgiveness.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Black Swan week

It is early morning as I write. I couldn't stay in bed any longer, my brain was whirring restlessly. Some folks can quiet that monkey mind at 5am, I cannot. Coffee and homemade sourdough toast and quince jam were calling.

Now that the coffee is drunk and the toast and jam eaten, I can open the laptop without fear of dumping coffee and crumbs into the keyboard. I have two readings on the go, an umpteen-volume fantasy story and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan".

The fantasy story is slow-moving and I have read it before so sometimes I get bored with it, I wish it were faster-paced. But that makes it excellent middle-of-the-night reading, at a certain point sleeplessness looks less boring than the book. It's also good first thing in the morning when I'm not up to more mentally challenging entertainment.

Can't say the same of The Black Swan, this book is a bit of a feast. Taleb is a philosopher expounding on a novel idea, every other sentence is a zinger. Sometimes I have to put it down just to appreciate the last sentence I read. I have just read the Prologue and Chapter One and already he has changed my thinking about nationalism, the (so-called) Middle East and the financial world. And those aren't even his main topics, just prefatory remarks about his own background. I just read something he said about personal libraries. I have always felt a little guilty about how many books I have around that I have never read, as if I shouldn't have those books if I am not going to read them. Taleb says that the more unread books in one's personal library the better; they remind us of how much we don't know and the more we know about how much we don't know the better. I guess I'm doing pretty good on that score.

My writing group meets in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon I was working on having something to read at the meeting, so I feel like my homework is done and I can write whatever now. I have badly organized my week thus far, what started out looking like a busy week became less and less so as various events got sidelined. I was going to work in the garden but decided to postpone until after the expected deluge this weekend as there is no point planting stuff that is just going to drown. I had two events scheduled yesterday and decided to cancel one; the other cancelled itself and I regretted cancelling the first. I had a doctor's appointment that the doctor's office postponed. Went shopping for an item that was supposed to be on sale, the store had not received the item in the latest shipment so I went home empty-handed feeling like it was a waste of gas (the store is in the next town over). It went on like that.

I walked Hapi to her friend Eva's place yesterday morning and had coffee with Eva's owners. Friendship among dogs is a funny thing, Hapi is always eager to see Eva but after a few minutes of greeting Eva and checking out her yard for hidden food Hapi is ready to move on. If we happen to meet on a walk then the two will greet each other and then seem not to be interested anymore. They are both old ladies who have known each other for half their lives, I guess they've said all there is to be said to each other. Eva's owners are old friends of mine as well (40 years and counting), we nevertheless seem to find endless topics of conversation. Hapi just stares at me like: are you done yet? Can we go home now?

Tonight I am ushering, my one and only volunteer job. I have gotten fed up with volunteering, too often I end up frustrated and pissy; I say something I shouldn't and that bridge is burnt. But ushering is basically getting to listen to a concert or watch a theatrical production for free. I don't even have to speak to anyone, although I usually do. One chats with other ushers and exchanges a few words with the folks being ushered. Tonight I am ushering at a concert of a musician I have never heard of. He apparently has a string of sold-out concerts behind him on his current national tour, but there has been no local advertising. I did check him out on Youtube but I fail to understand the phenomenon. I'll find out tonight I guess. Unless it gets cancelled.

And tomorrow the deluge.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Maudie and the Very Good Day

Last night I went to see the movie Maudie, a wonderful gem of a film. Went on the internet afterward to look up stuff about Maud and Everett Lewis; the film stayed pretty true to what is known about them. At least one person in my writing group is from that part of this province (Digby area) and he knew folks who knew the Lewises. He said Everett had a pretty bad reputation, the movie cleaned him up a bit. Not surprising really, they wanted a love story. He probably loved her as best he could but his own background was not particularly loving. Poor old Everett hoarded the money Maud earned, had it stuffed away in jars and cans all over the place. In the end he was murdered by burglars looking for that money (I'm not giving anything away, that is not in the movie).

The actors did an amazing job of it, and lots of tears were shed during the showing. A man in the audience said he bawled all the way through. We humans are wired funny, the story of a woman who felt and expressed joy through most of her life and we cry. I thought the scene of her catching the chicken to slaughter for Everett's supper was priceless, summed up so much of her and left us wondering what was in that damn big cauldron every time she dished out Everett's supper through the rest of the movie.

Yesterday was a good day for a couple of reasons, the movie being one of them. The other was a text message from my youngest son saying he'd been accepted into the University of Victoria Masters program in Philosophy. He posted it on Facebook later, I saw that after the movie. He was over the moon.

He applied around Christmas and has been waiting to hear since then. One of his best school buddies had already been accepted into the same program and was even awarded fellowship money to do it, but Sam had not heard a word. He was barely keeping his head above water, prone to depression at the best of times. He only applied to the one program because that was all he wanted to do, anything else would have been second best and he wasn't prepared to go there unless first best was out of the question. Besides, each application costs money that he doesn't have. Anyway, not only was he accepted but they are offering him money to do it, even more than they offered his friend.

Why they took so long to tell him is a mystery, when I asked him that question he provided several possibilities, or "...the universe is just chaotic and uncaring of my desire for things to make sense."

He graduated from the BA program just before Christmas, fulfilling his goal of getting his degree before he turned 40 by just a hair. He got a job delivering newspapers in the middle of the night, the guy that drives around dropping off bundles for "newspaper boys" (these days they are adults with cars) to deliver door to door. Since he's on the west coast, that's morning time for me so we occasionally exchange text messages then. He takes Hapi's brother Hiro with him, we once exchanged photos of each other driving around with our respective malamutes in the back seat.

I'm not posting those pics here because while the dogs are very photogenic the people are not.

Anyway he was happy with the job as an interim thing, it is part-time and enough money to live on and pay the bills. But the growing fear that this might be all he was ever going to get with a BA in Philosophy was gnawing on him. Not that an MA in Philosophy will get him much more, but it really is the only thing he wants to do, he loves philosophy.

He started out in a 2-year Social Work Technician program because he had this idea for helping other young men find their way in life. At the end of the two years he could apply to go on for a BSW, but he had to write an essay on why he wanted to be a social worker to get into that program and it really pissed him off. I remember being a bit puzzled by that but he really really did not want to write that essay. So he switched to Psychology instead. He told me that friends had said that there were more jobs in Psych than Social Work and that was why he was switching. Really?!?

Then I heard he was doing a minor in Philosophy. A few months before graduating he admitted that actually he was doing Philosophy as his major. That he took one course in Philosophy and it changed his life, he couldn't do anything else. He said the Social Work program pissed him off, he just couldn't continue with it so he switched to Psychology hoping that would be better, but the course in Philosophy hit the sweet spot.

So I tell this story to friends (especially the bit about his philosophy degree landing him a job as a newspaper boy) and they laugh and shake their heads. It is funny and what good is a degree in philosophy anyway, who hires philosophers? But I am proud of him, not only for accomplishing this educational landmark but also for the choices he has made.

There was a time when a university education really was a higher education, but now it is mostly vocational. People go to university because these days you can hardly find a job without a degree. Why the H-E-double-hockey-stick kids (or their parents) are expected to pay for something that only accomplishes what a high school education used to accomplish is the cynical question I ask. But Sam I think did the right thing. He started out picking a program that might get him a job because that is how you are supposed to think about a university education, but somewhere along the line he realized what university should be for. He financed it through a combination of extreme frugality, part-time work and a small inheritance from his father.

My other sons have also accomplished things in life that I am very proud of too.

The oldest boy has been married for almost 20 years now, a strong relationship and two fine sons. He went through a kind of midlife crisis recently, wondering what he was doing and what he had accomplished, if anything. But just before Christmas he had an experience that really changed his thinking and made him realize that he was on track to really make a contribution in life that he could be proud of. I am proud of him for having that insight and for all the hard work he put in to get where he is today.

The middle son had a realization quite a while ago that dreams aren't accomplished unless you make the first difficult steps to put yourself on that particular road. He did that, and now in his middle age he is pretty much right where he wants to be. For him it meant realistically assessing what stood in his way and researching how to get around it. He came up with a plan and he followed it truly, making adjustments as necessary when new facts entered the equation. He was very fortunate in meeting the right person to accompany him on that journey and he too has a successful loving marriage with a wonderful daughter and another child on the way.

But today is Sam's day to shine.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The raven and the eagle

I was walking this afternoon by the Gaspereau canal with Hapi. An eagle flew by with a raven fluttering around it. Often the crows and ravens harass the eagles and I thought that was what was happening. I could hear the eagle whistling and the raven cawing, even when they had flown out of sight behind the trees. I began to wonder if this was really harassment or something else. Somehow their whistles and caws sounded friendly, as if they were having a conversation back and forth. I imagine an unusual friendship between a raven and an eagle as they fly together down the valley.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Moving right along

Spring proceeds apace. Today it is snowing but it is just little flakes that melt when they hit the ground, no accumulation. Supposed to stop soon, then I will take Hapi for her walk and go for lunch with a neighbour. I think we are going to a Korean place, which he says his daughter turns up her nose at because where she lives there are lots of Korean places and many are way better than our one Korean place, but it's good enough for us country bumpkins.

I've got crocuses and hyacinth in bloom, tulips up but not blooming. All the bulbs got moved twice in the last couple of years, the first time so one wall of my basement could be dug up and waterproofed, and the second time to move them back after the work was done. They seem to have survived nicely. I had transplanted them into my vegetable garden and some got left behind in the second move, so there are now flowers in amongst the garlic which is also emerging. I'll try to get the flower bulbs moved after they finish blooming.

Most of the male goldfinches that come to my bird feeder are now in their summer colours and swarming the feeder. Lots of activity. I have to double the amount of seed I put in the feeder at this time of year, and then as soon as the maple that it hangs from leafs out they stop coming. All the birds stop coming then and I take the feeder down until the fall. One squirrel tried to take advantage of the feeder but I tapped him on the back with a broom stick and he was so shocked he leaped ten feet down and six feet away from the tree. I haven't seen him since.

Hapi is no longer limping. I think when she realized that she wasn't going to get a walk until she stopped limping she decided to fake it. There was one day for sure that I saw her limp when she thought I wasn't looking, but as soon as I appeared with leash in hand she was jumping around like a puppy. Managed not to limp for the entire walk. Well, if she wants to fake it then I suppose she deserves it.

The dog that I have been dog sitting for (Hapi's admirer) on the other hand is not doing well. He now has two legs not working properly and both on the same side. I think this might not bode well for him. Fingers crossed though, he's a sweet dog. His owner has an appointment for him to get X-rayed next week if things do not improve.

I have been reading a book called Becoming a Writer, written by Dorothea Brande in 1934. She was ahead of her time I think, I've seen bestsellers published more recently that give the same advice as she did then. But she has one piece of advice I've never seen anywhere else. In her chapter on Writing on Schedule she gives two exercises. The first is to set a time of day and write for 15 minutes at that time every day. Doesn't matter what you write, the point is to create a habit not produce a handwritten gem. The second exercise is to get up early and write for 15 minutes then, also every day and in addition to scheduled writing time. OK, that sounds like common enough advice. But what makes it different is that she then says:

"If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write, and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy early as late."

Way to up the ante!

In other news, the American couple made an offer on a house not far from where I live and it was accepted, they take possession at the end of July. They are back in the USA now scurrying around I presume to get themselves moved.

Ah spring, things are stirring!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Limping along and happy returns

Twice this past week the hottest place in Canada has been right here. We're basking in it. It is definitely spring, we've had sun and warm weather for a week, flowers are up and grass is starting to turn green again. I wanted to do some planting today but a young woman digging in her garden down the street advised me not to, there's at least one more night of frost in the forecast.

Hapi has injured herself and is now confined to barracks. This has never happened to her before. On Tuesday I noticed she was limping slightly on our way home from the Reservoir Park (the picture above), I could only see it when she walked fast and I couldn't tell which leg she was favouring. The next day she seemed fine and we went to the ravine with a friend and her dog, there was still ice and snow in the woods there. Hapi ran around as if there was nothing wrong (perhaps showing off for the older male dog), but had a bit of difficulty jumping into the van for the trip home afterward. When we got home she was obviously in trouble, hesitating to jump down from the van and then obviously limping into the back yard. When I put her dinner out for her she was trying to figure out how to stand on three legs and eat at the same time. I thought she would have trouble getting down the basement steps that evening and might sleep on the main level instead, but she carefully manoeuvred down the steep steps to her basement bedroom. She hates sleeping upstairs!

So on Thursday as she hobbled back upstairs in the morning I decided she couldn't go walking again until the limp was gone. I massaged the leg she was favouring but could not see anything obvious and she didn't have any tender spots. She enjoyed the massage though. I found out in the process that her toes are webbed, I never knew that before! I guess it helps for walking on snow. So I don't know what the problem is or where, and I am reluctant to give her anything for pain because I don't want her running around making it worse. Just keep an eye on it I guess.

Two years ago an American couple who had moved here and gotten permanent resident status decided to move back to the USA. They had been here for a few years and had a lot of friends here, they are very nice people who make friends easily. But for a bunch of reasons they thought it made sense to go back. They still owned a house in the US and all their family was there. They sold their house here and moved back, but kept in touch and visited several times after they left the country. They're visiting now. House hunting. After two years they admit their mistake and are putting the US house up for sale. Going back "home" (well, at the time they thought it was) turned out as the old saying goes: you can't go back home again. They were used to the great social life and numerous friends they had here and going back just wasn't the same. No friends, no social life. Their family is scattered so it didn't really help that they were in the same country. Everyone who knows them here is delighted that they are coming back. They thought we would laugh at them. Well we are, but we are happy they are back too.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Refuge vows

It was my birthday a few days ago. I was not looking forward to it, if anything I was quite depressed about it. Funny how some birthdays mean nothing, some are happy events and some are dreadful. This was in the last category. My parents died in their 70s, neither saw their 79th birthday. I am now 10 years from that date with posterity, feeling my mortality in a big way. I know it's not rational, but it takes little excuse to get depressed. And it's not something one wants to talk about because everybody piles on with how silly you're being. Doesn't help, only makes it worse: not only am I depressed but I am also silly for being depressed.

Just so you know I am not depressed now, so I am not looking for advice.

A couple of days before my birthday I had a really bad dream. Trapped in a small fenced yard with someone shooting a gun at me. The bullets were really spots of grey-coloured liquid but I knew they were poison and the deadly effect would kick in very soon. Needless to say, I woke up breathless and stressed out. Went to the bathroom, got something to eat, had a drink of water and went back to bed trying not to think about it. Instead, I thought about all the things I'd ever failed at in life, all the things I had abandoned--you know--all the negative thoughts that come to you in the middle of the night when you're a little stressed out.

So one of those abandoned things was having taken buddhist refuge vows years ago and then promptly abandoned them. Supposedly lifelong vows, abandoned for something more interesting I guess. I tried to remember what they were. I spent a few minutes on that distraction and did manage to remember them. Thought about what they meant. It occurred to me that they weren't gone for good, I could always go back to them, if I so desired. That thought was actually comforting and shortly I was back to sleep again.

Next day I was supposed to go up the mountain to dogsit overnight. I thought I would just spend the time hanging out with the dogs and reading, so I looked through my books for something I haven't read in a while and might like to read again. In honour of the abandoned vows I chose a book about Buddhism that I remembered having enjoyed the first time but couldn't for the life of me remember the content. It was Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist, by Stephen Batchelor. Turned out to be a very good choice. So good in fact that it snapped me right out of the depression within the first couple of chapters.

In the evening the dogs and I sat out on the deck in the dark. One of them had a bone, the other just watched and listened. I tried to listen too, I don't know what she was listening to because I couldn't hear it, just silence. I felt alive.

The next day was my birthday and I went to an art show with a couple of friends and then to a local restaurant for a burger; April is Burger Wars month so a lot of restaurants are featuring hamburgers in a competition and a portion of the cost is donated to a children's charity. I think. Then we went to a pub for chocolate cake and wine.

I've been avoiding my writing group because the depression has stopped me cold. But the morning after my birthday one of the writing group members texted me to say she'd be walking by my house to go to the meeting and she'd knock on my door. I texted I hadn't written anything and she replied she'd knock anyways, I could come and critique. So I scrambled out of my PJs and brushed my teeth and was ready at the door with my jacket when she knocked. The sun came out and it was the warmest day we've had since last fall, and Environment Canada says we were the warmest place in the whole country that day!

Finally, winter is over. Even if it snows again, it's over.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Party on

Went to a surprise birthday party for a neighbour. Classic kitchen party, nobody in the living room, everyone jammed into a tiny kitchen. The obligatory guitar. Young Justin used to play with his family, they got a great compliment from Stomping' Tom Connors at a music festival. Justin has been playing with the family since he was just small, he plays mostly Country and Gospel, lots of stuff you can sing along to.

The birthday girl is camera shy and it shows, she never smiles and so photos of her rarely look as good as she is. Here's her birthday cake:

It's a diabetic cake, made with artificial sweetener. Half the people at the party are diabetic, the scourge of Nova Scotia. Tina, the host of the party, went all out to put it on. She adores our birthday girl.

There was a funny boundary between the kitchen and living room, a floor colour change. Hapi was scared of it. So we leashed her up and led her back and forth across the boundary until she wasn't scared of it anymore. She didn't like the crowdedness of the kitchen but she knew that was where the food was and the best chances of begging for sandwiches. I had to be strict with the partiers, no sweets, and only half an egg sandwich. She does her best imitation of a starved and abused dog to hook her victims.

And in other news, it continues to snow. At one point there was melting and I saw tulips trying to come up in my garden, but then it snowed again and they disappeared from view. I think they are still there though.

I am learning to play bridge in a neighbouring town where they have a friendly bridge club that welcomes total novices. A four hour session once a week that leaves me mentally drained, but it's interesting and fun. There are two people there who are the resident experts, so when I have a problem I can ask one of them what I should do. This past week myself and another newbie played against one of those experts and another longtime player. We of course lost big time, but I have yet to learn bridge scoring (it looks complicated) so half the time I have no idea how I'm doing. My partner though kept asking what the score was so that's how I know we were losing majorly. At one point she apologized to me for how badly we were doing but honestly I wasn't concerned, I am more interested in learning the game than winning it. I like that it is a partnership game, that it is a kind of secret language for communication; not only do you want to communicate with your partner but you also want to decipher your opponents' communication with each other. And I am learning that there are dialects; depending on which dialect a pair is using they might be saying quite different things. It's interesting and a good distraction from the general depression I am otherwise struggling with. And the endless snow.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


It is still snowing, I am so tired of it.

Saps the energy right out of me, no motivation to do anything.

Hapi likes it though.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Things I don't know

Don't know why but am feeling paralyzed. I have lots I could be doing but I'm not. Don't feel like going out or socializing, don't feel like doing anything. Except sit in front of the fire and read or scroll through Facebook, looking for interesting links. Feels like an addiction I can't break.

Saw "Paterson" yesterday, a film about a bus driver who writes poetry. His name is Paterson and he lives in Paterson, NJ. Strange movie. Kept waiting for something to happen, and the background music was kind of ominous so I kept expecting something bad to happen. All the way through the bus driver writes poetry in a little notebook he carries around with him. His poetry seemed so ordinary that after the film was over I was thinking, Damn, I could write that stuff! I'm not a poet, I've never thought I could write poetry, ever. Until last night. That's more about how ordinary his poems were than my ability to write poetry, which as far as I know is just as nonexistent as it ever was.

Saturday night I volunteer ushered at a performance of the Vienna Boys Choir. They break the choir up into small touring groups, so we only saw twenty-four (or five, not sure) boys. Their voices are like female soprano voices, but different. Can't say what was different, just was. I'm not musically literate. Mostly Austrian boys but also some from other countries around the world: Japan, Mexico, Germany, USA, and so forth. It was very enjoyable and the house was packed. We ushers were very busy.

After the performance three of us went out for drinks at a local pub (Joe's). One of the women is someone I don't really know that well but at one point I asked her a question, I think I asked her something about her childhood, or where she grew up or something like that, and she began to tell us about her life. She is francophone and has a lovely musical voice, but very quiet and we were in a noisy pub (full of students) so it was hard to hear. Anyway it was an interesting story and it made us all think about Life.

She told me that she was glad I had asked her out for a drink after the show because she liked me and wanted to know me better. I was enthralled with her story. It made me think about my own life in a different way. I think I am still digesting it. There's an art show going on in a nearby town and she has some paintings in it, I would like to go see them.