Saturday, August 30, 2008

and then it is all over

Am home again.

Had a shortish sleep before heading back to work, but now, with another holiday weekend upon us, can rest up until Tuesday.

The malevolent gods tried one last time, sending enough thunder and lightning and rain on Kennedy to cause a 5 hour - yes, FIVE HOURS - delay on my 7 1/2 hour flight. Three and a half of which was spent on the plane. The crew knew we must be starving, so eventually brought out the meals, but with a plea from the pilot (as it was against all regulations) that if we got the call to move forward we had to put our tables in the upright position in the seatback ahead and hold our trays in our laps!! (Un)fortunately, we were done eating (we were that hungry!) before we finally took off. But really, it only gave me one more good story to dine on for the entire two weeks. Every time I was entreated upon to tell it again for the next visitor, I got a lot of "oh dear, how awful" followed closely by a desire to give me a drink "after such an ordeal", even if it was days after the fact and I had totally gotten over the tiredness of the long wait. With each retelling, I was richly rewarded.

Last night, I opened up the computer to masses of emails. 199 to be exact. Deleted about 170 of them but of the rest which were not spam, I read all the lovely messages from you all.

I know, you just want the pictures now, don't you?

More will follow, but for now I need more sleep. And to vacuum the cat hair off of everywhere - I missed the darling, but oh how nice it was to be free of the hair!

Wedding the first


Wedding the second

and here we have the view of the reception hotel at Tylney Hall where the family (20 of us) stayed overnight with great pleasure!

the next morning, my cousin R and I.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday AMuse

yep, still on holiday
hope you're all enjoying the last bit of summer

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday AMuse

predicting a wild time,
still on hols,
courtesy of blogger pre-posting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

have faith, all ye who panic

A 32 minute drive to passport office.
A 1 minute wait for elevator.
A 45 second transaction of retrieving passport, and I'm off flying!

And because a tradition of several decades cannot be broken at this stage, I still have 43 things left on my to-do list from washing the kitchen floor and cleaning the aquarium, to laundry, tidying up, buying shoes ... packing.

Have a great 2 weeks everyone.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The laundry room in our building has become quite the depository for unwanted items. A very large bin for used clothes appeared about a year ago with all donations benefiting Breast Cancer research. Very handy it has become. It is almost always full. A bookshelf appeared to hold all the books and bits of china that were being left on the floor. Of course things are still left on the floor because people are such lazy slobs. Once you've schlepped your stuff all the way down to the basement and along the hall, well, is it really too much that you lift the flap of the clothing donation bin? Or take your books out of the box and line them up on the shelf? Apparently it is.

It is even worse at the donation boxes in the parking lots of shopping malls. Even though they clearly state it is for 'CLOTHING ONLY' and may even list all the items that must not be left there, you will see piles of garage sale rejects left on the ground. Common sense would tell you that a bin for a clothing drop off would not be able to use your children's toys, kitchen chairs, old computer parts, or fake flower arrangements. And you, who left that lazy boy rocker, or the old TV still in its original 1960's console, did you really expect it to survive the rain we have seen daily?? Could you not have just gone to a Goodwill, or Sally Ann or Value Village??

Our garage also gets its fair share of castoffs. And you will often see people wandering around the recycling bins to see if anything useful has been left. I have gotten quite a few things - and have left behind quite a few things. Anything in good condition will be gone almost immediately. Sometimes you will see a chair, or table, or plant stand reappear months or years later, soon to be claimed by another tenant. It is like a long term lending library of furniture.

The other day I took a box of books down to the shelves and by the time I came back to pick up my laundry 45 minutes later most of them had disappeared. The pickings of reading material is often interesting. Our building used to be adult only and there are still a fair number of 'older persons' who will move on to a smaller 'home' or whose belongings will be cleared out by their family. You can tell when such a collection has been cleared out. Suddenly dozens of old cookbooks will appear. Novels written of a certain era. Some people are seemingly still into collecting Silhouette or Harlequin Romance. Literally dozens of them will appear at a time. Someone had a real dieting issue with the collection of South Beach, Atkins, Fit4Life, WeightWatchers, No Carbs, Low Fat, Protein books that were dropped off. A half dozen books on horse training and dressage were once seen. Travelling Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail had three versions all from the 1970's. Some of these will languish for weeks before being trucked off to ... a charity shop somewhere.

But today, I scored these:

The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble
Flying Finish by Dick Francis
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by MG Vassanji
Whiteshorn Woods by Maeve Binchey
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begum

Except for the last one, I believe I have my reading material for the airport and plane.

The train will provide its own entertainment that I won't want to miss.

Anyone read any of these?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday AMuse

getting ready to leave it all behind

Saturday, August 9, 2008

flirt not that ye shall be seen as ...

There is a night concierge at one of the condos I deliver to. He sees my car coming up to the front of the building on his monitor, and he rushes up from his desk to open the door for me. He is always friendly, smiling, joking, flirting. He pays me little empty compliments, commenting on my t-shirt with the deer on it, how I always have a smile, how my eyes sparkle in the moonlight, how lovely my hair looks, how he likes it long. But, when my mother died, he made a point of expressing his condolences (I gather my co-worker told him why he had to deal with her instead of me, the smiling one, for a few nights).
I look forward to this bright spot in a dark night of working alone. His routine is what makes me smile when I get to that part of my route.

On Friday, I had my hair done. It is much shorter, a little different shade.

He didn't notice!

A flirt should pay attention to their flirting comments, don't you think?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

car, meet pepe le pew

Last night it rained.

Last night I met a skunk.

Excuse me while I go shower.

And get my car detailed.

Pepe Le Pew

oops, you might want to turn down volume a bit!

a little perspective, please

I had a couple days of self indulgence in agonizing over what, for many, might seem a luxury. A trip overseas for a wedding. Then I read the most recent posting of an Iraqi girl who is desperate to simply go to school and live a normal life without the stresses and horrors of the life that is in her homeland.

Have a wander over and read Sunshine's blog called Days of My Life. I have been reading her posts for several months, sometimes with awe, sometimes anguish. While simply telling it like it is, as seen through the eyes of a teenager, she puts shame to some of our worries, our complacencies. This isn't her intent at all, but you cannot read of her experiences without feeling some of that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

spiralling into a calm

So, I have this friend....

With a heart of gold. Who would offer to do anything for you. Expect nothing in return, except your happiness. Who is always blindsided when his generosity is not appreciated because sometimes what he wants you to have is not always what you want.

I fly out on Thursday with a 75 minute layover at JFK and arrive for my cousin to pick me up at 6:55 am. She will be so excited to see me she won't mind getting up at dawn...

I have no idea what this has cost my friend. He refuses to say. He is just happy that he thinks I am now happy. And that he was able to make it all better.

It's a complicated relationship.
I am biting my tongue. I am too exhausted to do anything else.
Thanks for putting up with my venting.


So, I have this friend.....

The short version is that this friend made my travel arrangements. He belongs to some barter thingy that gets deals and while searching on my own, he says, I'll see what I can find. This was when I realized that airfares had truly skyrocketed. So fine, go ahead. He finds something, but it takes a week to get it arranged and in the mean time fares go up, considerably. He didn't think they would change. Huh?

Then, Air Canada looked like there might be a flight attendants strike which rather worried me and I asked what the possibilities and options were...

Next thing I know he tells me I've been switched to Continental for the same since the Air Canada thing was "volatile" according to travel agent. It would involve going to New York and two planes, but would still be under my definitely nothing over 8 hours limit. I don't believe him. But I offer to pay the change fee. He refuses it. (and in the end no strike last weekend)

I find out on Monday night, as an aside, that he has also changed the travel date to Friday the 15th. This totally screws up my plans at the other end. He hangs up in anger at my ingratitude and turns off his cell.

Confusion reigns as I see on the website that Continental flies out of Newark and is actually a 16 hour travel time. I wait, extremely impatiently, for him to phone me back. Turns out, he got it wrong, it is American. And has a 40 minute changeover. I am still freaking out, now with this added. All I need is a slight delay ... and I must wait until the following morning for the next flight. After having worked all night already. And I see that the airfare is considerably more expensive with American on the Friday. Very considerably. $688 to $1588. plus taxes.

This morning I find out, when he finally phones again, is that all he wanted was for me to "be happy and have no worries about the trip". So he paid all the charges and the fees etc. Now to put it back to Thursday will cost a further $450.

I have until 4pm to decide.

It is far more convenient for me to arrive on Friday, get settled overnight then head off to Bath than to arrive on Saturday and continue travelling. The day off work has already been arranged for my cousin.
But I really hate that he will be paying more in change fees than the original fare (excluding taxes).
Even if it is all his fault.
And even if he has said he will pay it all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

this day was all about I

I do not particularly like having people do things for me that I am quite capable of doing for myself. I don't mean the opening of doors, or fixing you a meal, or helping you with getting something done. It is the taking over, the "you could never do this unless I come with you" kind of attitude that really gets up my nose.

I've never understood the women - and it is usually women - who voluntarily give up all control of the day-to-day running of their lives. The ones who need to ask for assistance with everything. I feel for the older women who are left widowed and knowing nothing of their financial situation. I don't understand how they could live that way, but I do feel for them.

I have had a day of trying to deal with a friend who likes to do things for you. He isn't looking for thanks, he just likes being helpful. So, ever polite, I allow this every now and then and hold my tongue. He likes to be in charge when he helps. So much so that he doesn't bother with niggly details to "worry your little head about". (not a direct quote, but it could be) And as a result you are left hanging when something goes wrong. He says, "don't worry". Is there a worse phrase when you feel an anxiety attack looming? "I'll take care of everything." Then you don't hear anything for hours. He wants to be a rescuer, yet had it been done together, or at least as you wanted, there'd be nothing to rescue. Had I just done it all myself, I could have spent the day irritated but in control, with all the details, as the problem was fixed.

Postscript: This has now spiralled out of control.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday AMuse

First Monday In August Holiday

Last night, a bonus. Fireworks at 9:30 pm. What the celebration is for is unclear.

Today is another holiday in these here parts. Not a Stat Holiday. A Civic Holiday.

It is Natal Day in some parts of the Maritimes. Heritage Day in Alberta. It is known simply as Civic Holiday in NWT, Nunavut and Ontario. Except where it is known as something else. Like Simcoe Day in Toronto. Or if you live in Ottawa, where it is Colonel By Day. Or in Burlington where it is Joseph Brant Day. In Brantford it is Founders Day. This comes as a surprise to most people, who really only care that it is a day of no work.

Except it isn't really a day of no work for everyone. It may not even be a paid holiday, if you don't have to work.

This is all very confusing. And even a little banal.

Besides, doesn't everyone just call it the August Long Weekend?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

baskets of flowers and laundry

As the warm days continue, July into August, it happens every year. At least every year that I decide to have a balcony garden. There were a couple of bare summers during the construction phases, but usually, by June I can't resist the temptation and spend many happy visits to the garden centres to choose whatever beauty I can find. It matters not whether it is a perennial or annual, as by August it will be exhausted from the effort of living. The wind and the hot direct sunshine take its toll.

My first years here, I had very little money, but I saved all my tips and once I had enough to buy a plant, off I went again to the garden centre. As a result it was a bit of a hodgepodge garden. I planted herbs in old tin cans decorated with labels of fruit, tomato and beans. Some architectural details and whimsy were added. A couple of old sash windows found on garbage day lay against the common divider behind the 'tinned herbs'. Several milk crates were covered with an old sheet and a colourful floral vinyl table cloth from the dollar store creating a terrace. I put out some lanterns and even a fish bowl filled with glass fish. Side tables had pitchers and some sturdy glasses as a permanent accent piece. Empty, colourful terracotta pots were artfully placed in a corner. My balcony is huge, 19' long but only 4' and bit deep. Many days, the laundry adds a bit of colour.

The fish bowl needed fresh, clear water every day unless I wanted to be scrubbing slimy algae off the glass fishes. The little plants needed several waterings a day. The cat ate anything that was spiky leafed. And drank from the fish bowl. Sometimes she lay in comfort between the sheets on the clothes horse, so I would leave them out days longer than necessary to provide shade.

I have learned not to use the small pots that fit so nicely into my plant stand with nine 4" rings. Even the larger planters need watering at least two, maybe three, times a day. As cruelly enjoyable as it may be to watch the withering leaves come to life again, to stand erect, eventually it all becomes too much and the limp plants succumb to the elements. You can almost see the exhaustion in their leaves, their ever decreasing petals.

In the morning it is nice and cool, and I have my breakfast outside before slipping back into bed for sleep. By the afternoon the heat is far too intense for me, even the blinds are drawn against the sun and the view. By evening, it is perfect. Warm, with the sun moving far to the NW over the escarpment. Sometimes, I can see sailboats or even a barge on the lake between the trees (which will, in a couple of years, block my entire view of the lake). I water my baskets one more time and sit out with a glass of ... something fruity ... For some reason it is very quiet here on the weekends. And if I don't look down I can forget that I am high up overlooking a concrete parking lot.

They have 10 days, this garden of mine. I'll enjoy every moment with what's still living as I can.

How are the rest of you enjoying your gardens?

Friday, August 1, 2008

(Bloody) Caesar New Variation

Rim a highball glass with lime and sea salt and fill halfway with ice

Into a cocktail shaker with ice add
1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin,
5 oz Clamato juice, (best with regular Motts to get the full flavour of the Bombay Sapphire)
pinch of cayenne pepper and a pinch of Worcestershire
and ROLL gently to blend.

Strain into a highball glass

Adorn with celery stick, carrot stick, pickled onion, or lime






Enjoy the Weekend.

never pass up a chance

My horoscope for today reads:

Since today's New Moon is your best chance all year to make improvements to your job or how you do your work, think about what you can do. This doesn't mean you have to make these improvements today. It means that today is the time to resolve how to improve your work.

I don't always read the horoscopes, so I'm glad not to have missed the best time all year to think about resolving how to improve my work.

Will keep you informed of what comes of my New Moon thinking.