Friday, May 30, 2008

'Visions of My Mind'

Some people will find you and inspire you.

Lloyd Bradbury is one of those people.

Lloyd's Art Info: March 2008

peanut butter days

I know what it is I have to do.

The sun is shining, the lake is shimmering, the door is open and the curtain gently blowing in the breeze.

Yet, somehow I cannot make myself do it. I cannot make myself do anything.

For several days (or weeks, actually, if I were to be completely honest) I have been living within myself. Within my pyjamas. They are comfy enough for lounging in so if I absolutely do not have to go anywhere I will not bother getting dressed. If there is still peanut butter in the house and bread to put it on (soft, fresh light rye) I do not need to eat anything else.

It starts with a craving. Then extends to beyond the craving to simple inertia.

A little while ago I was reading another blogger who referred to her "peanut butter days" and I sat up immediately and thought: that is me, that describes my days right now. Her meaning of peanut butter days was different than mine, but I have had those kinds of peanut butter days, too. Oh my, yes. Scary, frustrating, impotent, totally stressful crunchy peanut butter days. But this, this is more like smooth peanut butter days. Pure comfort food.

I know that if I force myself to go for a walk I will feel better. If I phone a friend and meet up for coffee or a stroll through the gardens I may feel refreshed. I sometimes do that. And I do feel better. Alive. But it is a fleeting feeling. It lasts moments, then suddenly I am wearied of it all. I fake the gaiety. The smile becomes forced. I start to become impatient, and slightly ill-tempered. I long to get away. To be home. To be alone. How to explain this? How to deal with the fact that this company, this activity which had been enjoyable moments ago is now, inexplicably, overwhelmingly burdensome.

So, if she will allow me to borrow her phrase... I have read her posts (all of them by now, although I have not commented on any - I will, sometime) and I have read of the horror that she has gone through. The pain that she still endures.

What I am going through is no horror. It is not even really painful. It is ... spiritless.

These are my peanut butter days.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

how I lost my thrift

Way back, in the mists of my financially strapped younger days, I used to keep a budget. It was very detailed. I had a cost breakdown on each bowl of cereal. I paid cash for everything. I thought about and debated almost every purchase two, three times before actually completing the sale. It was considered practically a sin to return an item. I knew to the penny how much was in my bank account on any given day. This was before such amenities as direct deposit, prepaid bills, and ATMs. It was much easier then to budget and be thrifty.

Somehow, I lost my thrift.

I have a credit card. I use my debit card for almost all my purchases that aren't business related. Pretty much every store takes credit or debit. Even Tim Hortons has a card. One could easily get by without ever using cash. It is now easier than ever to spend money without knowing whether you actually have any money.
I have steady employment and money that magically appears in my bank account every two weeks. Just as magically, it goes out of my account at regular intervals to pay all my bills. Anything not covered by the prepaid option can easily be paid on the internet or over the phone. I never have to actually hand over any cash, write a cheque, or fill out a deposit/withdrawal form. Heck, I never even have to deal with a teller. Or a CSR. And, worst yet, my bank doesn't even send out monthly statements anymore. You must access your account on the internet to check your balance or account activites.

That is how I lost my thrift.

I lost touch with cash. Literally and figuratively.

a sunny day on mars

As if The Weather Channel doesn't have enough to cope with, we can now get daily weather reports from Mars courtesy of Mars Phoenix Lander. You can read Bob McDonald's (CBC's Quirks & Quarks) take on this here.

So, today, a travellers forecast for Mars includes a high of -30 with winds light to moderate at 22km/h from the northeast. Not much blowing sand will get in your way, but dress warmly for the evening as temps will dip to -80.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"everyone loves Marineland"

There are many 'signs' of summer that come our way every late spring: certain flowers, greenery, humidity. In these parts the final sign is the re-emergence of the theme song (one of the many versions) from MarineLand in Niagara Falls. A crescendo of enthusiasm on TV and radio playing up to sometimes every seven minutes.

Now, common sense would say that this would be as annoying as all get out (and it likely will be before Labour Day),

yet strangely, it always makes me happy.

Never been there, though. This song is enough for me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

driving merrily along...

I love the sunroof in my new car. It lets in so much light. And air. It's fun to wave to people raising one arm UP out the top window instead of dangerously out the side window towards closely passing objects, like streetcars, or cyclists. It also creates a bit more noise which requires me to crank up the music very loud.

You should however, be very careful about what you store in the back seat when you are driving with the sunroof open. Mostly, it should be okay. But if the stop and go traffic suddenly goes, and you proceed without much thought, well, cyclonic action can happen.

To the people driving behind me on the highway earlier, I apologize for the fireworks of brightly coloured tissue paper.

Monday AMuse


Saturday, May 24, 2008

A HIGH Shout Out to Andrew Brash

Congratulations to Andrew Brash of Calgary on his successful climb to the summit of Mt Everest.
You may remember him as the climber who aborted his previous attempt in 2006 only 200 metres from the summit when he encountered fellow climber Lincoln Hall who had reached the summit but on his descent had succumbed to cerebral edema and was left for dead by the rest of his party. Andrew was hailed a hero for helping get Lincoln Hall off the mountain alive.

This time, his climb was almost aborted due to restrictions on climbers by Nepal surrounding the Olympic Torch Summit.

On his blog he announced on Friday, 23 May, "the summit was cold and windy, as was most of the climb".

Thursday, May 22, 2008

tips for the unwashed

For your reading pleasure I present the following Allure article.

Read the comments, too, to realize how many of us have been doing this oh so wrong.

Now, if you'll excuse me........

Beatrice is attacked by butterflies

Did Beatrice dress herself for Cousin Peter Phillips and Autumn's wedding?
Is there a prize for guessing how many butterflies landed on her head?
What kind of shampoo did she use that morning anyway?

Chelsea Flower Show

While checking out the Grand Dame of Flower Shows which opened on 20 May, I discovered there is live coverage.

Unfortunately, I've never managed to be anywhere near this, but it is definitely on my wish list.

Not as rivetting as the baby falcons at feeding time, but more colourful and inspirational.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Till past one, Lord’s day, in the morning writing letters to the fleete and elsewhere, and my mind eased of much business, home to bed and slept till 8. So up, and this day is brought home one of my new silk suits, the plain one, but very rich camelott and noble. I tried it and it pleases me, but did not wear it, being I would not go out today to church. So laid it by, and my mind changed, thinking to go see my Lady Sandwich, and I did go a little way, but stopped and returned home to dinner, after dinner up to my chamber to settle my Tangier accounts, and then to my office, there to do the like with other papers. In the evening home to supper and to bed.
Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)
was the naval administrator and first secretary of the British Admiralty under King James II who is most famous for his diary which he kept from 1660-1669

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Holiday Insanity

It was a holiday weekend in these parts. And every holiday weekend there is always a well publicized increased police presence everywhere, but especially on the highways leading to 'cottage country'. Late last year a new speed racing law came into effect. Very simple: if you insist on driving more than 50 kilometres over the speed limit you will face a fine of $2,000 to $10,000, have your licence suspended, lose points, and have your car impounded for a week. Immediately. And you have to pay the towing and storage charges for that week. And find your own way home from the side of the highway. Now, why would anyone ever need to speed that much? The highway limit is 100km/h. You can easily pass at 120km/h. Usually, there is too much traffic to even make it to 100km/h. Yet, somehow, by Monday morning 140 people had been charged. One 17 year old boy (with four friends!) in a Lincoln sped past a cruiser doing 239km!

Now, if he'd wanted to show off, I would have been impressed at having access to a Lincoln.

Sadly, his friends probably think this is one hell of a story to pass on. And they don't have to pay the consequences. Lucky for them to be still alive.


Stelco and her five unhatched chicks in Lansing Michigan
Madame X and her four hatched chicks in Hamilton Ontario
Three years ago, when I found myself with plenty of free time during the day, I became obsessed with watching the FalconCam and the daily progression of the falcons. Hey, it was better than watching soap operas. The computer was on all day and I just kept hitting refresh. It got exciting whenever any of them were moving about, eating, jumping on the ledge, flapping their wings, playing. I worried about this obsession until one fine day, I wandered down to the hotel to get a look for real and met several people who also kept track of their every move throughout the day. At least one person had a very understanding boss as she kept switching her computer screen back and forth so as not to miss the first flight. She found out later that he also hit refresh to bring up the site on her computer if she wasn't at her desk!

So, the excitement begins again.

Does it mean my own life is that boring?

Monday, May 19, 2008

a collective sigh of disappointment

If you live in these parts, it is drilled into you that you should never plant your garden before the 24th of May, Victoria Day Weekend, or more accurately, before the full moon in May - which is now. On this Victoria Day. But usually, long before then, you get those days that are warm teasers and you immediately want to be outside. You want to see those flowers out your very own windows. So you head out and wonder why those garden centres at the grocery store aren't open yet. Or why the greenhouses are almost empty. Why? when it is almost summer, you cry.

So, hands up all of you who have already started your container gardens? Your bedding plants?

Right. Put your hands back down and get those plants back inside where it is safe and warm. We are back to single digits. Snow just north of here.

This is cruel. So very cruel.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lilac Festival

If anything can elicit an immediate feeling of nostalgia and happiness it is the scent of a lilac.
This weekend was the Lilac Festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens.

where I live

Ah yes, construction. 7 out of 10 years. You are mad, I hear you thinking. And I am not a raving lunatic from it all. No, I am a calm, gentle person. With a massive headache. And no sleep. A bit irrational.

I live in a suburban city, in a desirable area known as 'The Core', meaning it is close to the lake and downtown. I moved here before rent controls were lifted, so I got a good deal. People from these parts, of a certain era, will proudly point out when I tell them where I live that this was the first highrise building in this town, built around 1962. It was a big deal back then. And a prestigious address. There was a concierge (which explains the strange configuration of the cavernous lobby) and if you look closely and know that it was there, you can see the outline of where the fountain used to be in the front. That was then. Things had gone downhill over the years as neglect from various owners caused a bit of ... decay. There had been a variety of new property management teams doing cosmetic work after I moved in. Finally, someone with the sense to actually work on the structural stuff took over. Really, wouldn't you feel safer with the parking garage not leeching salt? Or the roof caving in from the weight of all those SUVs. Or the tree roots snaking in through the pipes? Or the bricks getting repointed? Or the new windows that fit properly and do not rattle every time a wind blows off the lake, or lets the snow in between the screen and storm window? YES, you would say. Well, all this requires construction.

It should not have required that the parking garage be done three times due to shoddy work being done the first time. That took 1 1/2 years. My answering machine outgoing message said: Please leave a message as I cannot hear the phone ringing, and cannot be bothered with the yelling necessary to be understood. I'll return your call after 5pm. Or on the weekend. Or not. In which case try again. We had a shuttle bus to take us to a parking lot three blocks away where the old grocery store used to be. Actually, that wasn't so bad in the hot, hot summer as it was air conditioned. Then in the winter, the warmth made it worthwhile not walking. And it was one way to meet your neighbours. And everyone was affected. Great bonding.

But, it wasn't done properly, yet. Nooo. So now it was being redone again. Except, someone forgot to put in the drainage. We've had alot of flooding then frozen deep puddles. Just like how if you could join your freckles together you'd have a great tan, well if these puddles were attached we could have had a skating rink, which might have been fun. Gauging the depth of each puddle and dodging the icy patches was only fun if you were watching from up above, safe in your living room.

This time, this second redo, (or is it now the third?) not everyone is affected and there is much grumbling. The off site parking lot is farther away. And the town's traffic has grown substantially. That old parking lot where the grocery store used to be? It's now a condo. There are several more condos being built in the area. Tiny units that I could not afford. Units that I could not possibly fit everything I own into.

Strangely, perversely, the more other people complain, the more I sink into calmness and serenity.

It helps that I park on the lower level and do not have to keep moving my car. Or wait for the shuttle. And I now have an air conditioner. And a notice came around yesterday that all should be completed next weekend. Weather permitting. It is supposed to rain all weekend. Sigh.

Friday, May 16, 2008

get thee to a nursery

Last weekend the travel section of the newspaper had its annual cover story on The Keukenhof in Holland.

This weekend, finally, in Southern Ontario it will be safe to plant our flowers!

Victoria Day Weekend!

Celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

I wish I'd taken these photos, but mine are all 29 years old and in an album, in a box, in a closet.

So watch this slideshow and enjoy.

Picasa Web Albums - Ruud - Keukenhof

home is where your heart is, and the coffee mugs

I cannot move very freely in my apartment. It was already a bit overstuffed and now is beyond capacity. It is times like this that I would dearly love a little house with a basement. Somewhere with a lot of storage that is not the corner of my living room that should be a dining room. Those room divider screens have been a lifesaver. Two years ago, I moved my mother out of their house into a seniors apartment building. She wanted to take everything with her, which was a bit sentimental, but there were not enough boxes available to put it all in. Not to mention that the five room plus sunroom house with full basement and big yard was a lot larger than her one bedroom with tiny balcony apartment. I had a friend who told me her mother ended up taking a two bedroom apartment in her seniors building that became available two weeks before she was to move because she could not let go of her furniture or china collection. She was thrilled. My friend, not so much.

The move in '06 was an ordeal. After three weeks, only five boxes were packed. I had to get her in this apartment before the World Cup started and my time became very limited. Didn't happen. The TV was on the whole time, a match being watched out of the corner of my eye and cheering or groaning done while every item had to be scrutinized and exclaimed over and decided: keep, donate, give to someone in the family, toss out, think about some more, pack immediately, put back in the drawers to be rediscovered anew days later. She hated to throw anything out. ANYTHING. No matter how useless, broken or insignificant, or duplicated. Don't get me started on the aluminum pie plates. The extra sets of linen, the dishes and cutlery bought for when we had the trailer in the 70's, and again when the dishwasher came into the kitchen in the 80's. Every piece of Tupperware bought in the 50's and 60's. And everything she ever bought, but had not yet used, was still in it's original bag. Many of these bags showing an evolution of design and some were from department stores that no longer existed: Eaton's, Simpsons, KMart, Kresge's, Woolworth's... Many presents were discovered, unused. Many souvenirs bought and never looked at again. It was a veritable Tickle Trunk (Mr Dressup reference) in that linen closet of hers. Actually, sometimes that was the fun part: the trip down through the memories. And, because I was the only one helping, I scored the best of the 60's and 70's gadgets and accessories.

This time, the clearout is less time consuming. Not as much has to be scrutinized. We decide who gets to keep something for ourselves or it gets donated. But, after so many years, some things just cannot be blithely tossed. It gets brought home, either mine or my brother's, just because, and we'll keep it, unused, for a certain amount of time then likely wonder why it was ever so important.

Tupperware circa 1954, anyone? Collectors?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

morning has broken

Today it is a spraying, hissing sound. And the generator noise. Yesterday there was drilling. And hissing. And generator. The day before it was drilling and generator and the screeching thwack of metal being dropped. And the day before that, still drilling and generator and the beep, beep of a truck moving up and down the ramp carrying stuff. After everyone leaves, it is the snapping of the yellow caution tape looped loosely through the chain link fence and the flapping of the plastic wrapping that is half on/half off the piles of lumber.

This is outside my bedroom window in the parking lot below. Seven of the ten summers I have lived in this (otherwise quiet) building have been engulfed in construction noise. The crew starts at around 7am. I get home from work around 6:00am.

This makes me a wee bit grumpy around this time of day. (8:30am)

And downright snarly around noon.

Need coffee.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Yes, I've been playing around with the templates and colours again. I didn't realize I had so many options; I thought you had to take what was offered, but no, I can mess around with as many colour combinations as I want. What fun!

This may happen a few times. Get used to it.

If you think this is annoying, try living with me. I used to rearrange the furniture and kitchen cupboards at least every three months. I still change the shower curtain to a completely different pattern and colour at least four times a year. And it is now time to change into my summer colour scheme (turquoise & green).

I'm not sure I like this one, but let me know if you really hate it.

Mother's Day

In Memory

M. M.

Jan 1917 - Apr 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Birds

Lambs, calves, and sheep, if you live in Scotland or Wales beware of the Ravens attacking you.
Ravens were almost extinct in Britain in the 19th century. Now they are back and retaliating by making sheep extinct. The attacks are apparently so horrific, they are "causing mental suffering to the people who find the animals".

Japanese crows are bigger, more agressive and downright scarier than American crows. They are entertaining themselves by causing blackouts by nesting on hydro poles and decorating said nests with fibre optic wire. They have also been known to occasionally take candy from little children.

And at home.....

There are now three chicks at the Sheraton Hotel Peregrine Falcon scrape!

Clive the pigeon has disappeared, and haven't seen or heard Jack and Vera in a few days.

So, have scraped and brushed and vacuumed the carpet. Am now, finally, having my coffee on my empty balcony.

Needs flowers.

my brain says:

The cat had been sleeping on my chest again. So I woke up, moved and choked on a cloud of cat hair. My brain said something unpleasant followed by something that sounded an awful lot like "coffee". I could be wrong about that, but that's what I chose to hear.

I didn't want to get out of bed, but since I was awake, and since I had nothing pressing to do today (hooray!) and since it looked to be a lovely day out, I did the usual things to make myself less depraved looking and headed out on the bike path towards the local coffee house (LCH). The 'bike path route' is a bit of a misnomer as only about 100 yards is actually a path before heading through parking lots and sidestreets. Still. The other option is the 'Lakeshore Route', which really is just the name of the street as the actual bit that goes directly along the lake shore is beyond the LCH.

This is how my mind has been working lately. A bit scattered, a bit semantic.

About two and a half blocks before getting to the LCH, I pass by the local public house (LPH). Now pubs are not known for good coffee, but it did have a patio with all the necessary accoutrements: namely tables, chairs and unfurled umbrellas. And a server. I hesitated. Offered up a Good Afternoon to the server.

The blue sky, the white clouds, the pink cherry blossoms, the yellow forsythia, the red and purple tulips, the lime green of the new leaves against the gold of the church dome. And the amber glow of the lager. Altogether a colourful afternoon. Perfect.

Came home to find the cat sleeping on the pillow. Not quite so perfect.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Big Shout Out to Madame X and her Chicks!

Had a glance over at the Hamilton Peregrine Falconcam just now and saw a perfect view of Madame X (pictured) and the first two newborns (one hatched on May 6, the other this morning! Well before Mother's Day). Two tiny bits of fluffy white, two brown eggs.

Madame X (originally from PA) has made Hamilton ON her home since 2001. Her history and that of the other falcons who have wandered this way is on the site. (see side bar for link, the other link from Lansing MI is there because Stelco, who has taken up residence at a power station, was born at the Sheraton Hotel in 1997 and we like to keep track of her, too) The webcam is refreshed frequently enough to make it a captivating movie. Though, admittedly, sometimes it is very much like a still movie. If you really get into it, you can join the Falcon Watchers who are prepared to keep track of the baby falcons as they grow from fluff balls to having true flying feathers. There is something enthralling about watching the flapping about, the flying lessons and the aerial acrobatics.

At the moment they have taken up residence at their usual hotel ledge (I do feel for the paying guests as they can get quite vocal in their demands for food!)

I'll write more about Madame X and Surge and her family later. Right now I'm heading back to the webcam to ooh, and ahh, and how cute, are they!

Everybody together: ahh, aren't they just so adorable now!

Monday, May 5, 2008


When I was younger, my father used to subscribe to Reader's Digest. I think I eagerly awaited its arrival more than he did. I would pore over its contents in a very methodical manner, starting with Laughter is the Best Medicine, then page by page for the cartoons and jokes then maybe the True Story (such drama!) but not before settling into the real business: Increase Your Word Power. I don't know where my love of words came from, but I believe my appreciation for words and lexicology started there. As a teenager, it was not altogether uncommon for me to curl up in the swivel rocker with a dictionary. It was not something I admitted freely to just anyone.

Since October 2007, a site called uses the same vocabulary game but with a twist: for every word you get right 20 grains of rice is donated to the UN World Food Programme. The first day, 830 grains of rice were donated. As of this past weekend, 30,944,161,000 more grains have been donated.

Check out the site. It's not a registered charity, but the UN WFP has acclaimed its phenomenal success. In light of the current global rice crisis, this may be your easiest feelgood act of the day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

is it just me?

Sometimes, I feel so stupid. You would not believe how long I have been trying to get a "blogroll" started. I have tried many different options and got so thoroughly lost on ALL of them, that I fear I have now registered for umpteen different sites all begining with blog___. I'm now going to spend hours trying to deactivate my accounts with all of them. No, not really. I'll just pretend they never existed, and delete them from my memory. Tonight, I just sort of crashed into exactly what I needed, and it all fell into place. Within minutes I had it rolling. Then I spent another happy hour trying out new templates, and colours, only to return to the original (except I couldn't remember what colours I had.....)

Friday, May 2, 2008

waiting by the garden gate

An update is in order. I have received supporting words from a couple of people who have looked in on my newly established writings, so I feel someone is out there, still reading, starting to care....
After a couple of weeks of watching my mother shrink to a seemingly impossible size, her heart gave out and she is at rest at 91 years of age. I treasure the two weeks she was in hospital, for the safety of care, but mostly for witnessing her sense of humour and feistiness. Much of her humour was not present with her family over the last many years, and my brother and I were amazed at her jokes and stream of instant one liners. In spite of what seemed obvious to us, she never gave up hope of getting heart surgery and going back to her little apartment. And in spite of being scared she was happier than I'd seen her in a long time. Of course, having someone with her almost constantly and being waited on hand and foot by so many caring nurses must have helped. We all need to be taken care of. And hopefully, there will be people waiting by the garden gate for our eventual return to the loving fold of old friends and family.