Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Red wine, Morgan Davis, what's not to love?

Love the evenings.
Glass of red wine in front of me.
Morgan Davis playing in the living room (thanks, Scott).
Supper in a cast-iron frying pan on the stove; will taste damn good when it's ready.

The snow is going fast. 

And here's Morgan Davis for you.

There's a lineup of half-a-dozen songs here. My favourite is the third, Anticipation.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Mom and Virginia Woolf

It was a March 28 that Virginia Woolf drowned herself.
What a shame. What a shame it was, and what a shame it is, no matter who does it.
Not if they're suffering physically and there's no end in sight; no, when it comes to that, I'm all for suicide, assisted or no.

But when it comes to emotional suffering, mental suffering ... well, I don't know much about those things, I mean when they are severe and long-lasting and leave you unable to cope ... but I do know that emotions are, as my friend Julie pointed out (at a time when I thought powerful emotions meant the thing pondered was of the highest importance), "like the weather; they come and go," and so I believe that emotional experience changes and can improve, so there is always hope.

Mental illness ... another thing I don't know much about. Surely it's closely related to the physical and emotional, but ... the next-to-nothing I've seen of mental illness has only left me well aware it's a condition I can neither influence nor comprehend.

In this fine little suicide-prevention video, the maker imagines what Virginia Woolf might have gone on to do if she hadn't ended her life:

Today is my mom's birthday. She was born the same day, the same year Virginia Woolf died, 1941.

Sometimes I wonder what Mom would have done if she had lived another 10 years, instead of dying at a youthful 64.
Would she have gotten wrinkles?
Would she have begun to forget things?
Would she have developed aches and pains?
Would she have gotten grey hair?
Would she have said to hell with perms?
I wonder what advice and insights she might have offered me these past 10 years and whether I'd have had the sense to see their wisdom and heed it, rather than figuring out much later that I should've and wishing I had.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sharks are Chuck Norris's Bath Toys

Back to work I go for the next three days. Just finishing off my second cup of coffee before getting ready to drive into town. Scott is frying something meat-stinky in the kitchen with eggs. He may cook enough for me, and may not. He didn't offer. I'm not hungry, either way, though must and will eat something before walking out the door. Or not. Sometimes I just make myself some toast when I get to the office, and eat it at my desk.

Alison and her beautiful naturally curly hair hard at work, supervised by Pixie and Viggi.
The days are getting longer, and although we had snow over the weekend and it's cold again, none of that will last. Before long I'll be out in the flower bed in the evenings, or going for walks.

Soon I'll come home Thursday nights rather than staying over at Everett's to visit and watch a TV series with him. I won't want to be stuck indoors, no matter what.

Everett has been introducing me to Torchwood, now. It doesn't have the happily resolved endings that Doctor Who does. And I still am not a fan of science fiction monsters/aliens, danger and adrenalin and killing. But I do like spending time with my boy and afterwards, as I lie on the mattress in the living room, ready to fall asleep, he reads me a long list of Chuck Norris's imaginary, legendary superhuman qualities and we laugh together. My favourite is "Sharks are Chuck Norris's bath toys." I love the silliness, and so does Everett.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Just Sayin'

It's almost 10 years since Mom died and yet late last night when walking past my favourite photo of her I felt sick, remembering what happened, remembering she's gone.

The head shot hangs in the hallway outside my bedroom door. Taken scant weeks after her diagnosis of terminal cancer, it shows her smiling, freshly lipsticked, with her sister's loving hand on her shoulder.

This morning, looking into the bathroom mirror while brushing my teeth, remembering last night, I say to myself, "It's reality, girl; it's not as if every damn one of us doesn't lose our mom sometime. Don't wallow and whine."

So I won't.
Instead I'll winge about the weather.
Last weekend the snow was melting.
This weekend we've had more snow and the wind's biting cold.
It won't last long now, but still . . .  it won't be missed when it finally goes.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Moving Snow

Seemingly overnight, there are crows and Canada geese in the area again. There are numerous bare patches in the fields.

At home, Scott got busy moving snow away from the house in hopes of minimizing/avoiding water in the basement, and pushing snow off the yard so the large parking area will dry up sooner.
He starts under the kitchen window.

A shovelful at a time.
And dumps it southwest of the house.
All the way back to the three oaks. Needing to get the tractor this close to the house is one reason we think we can't have a patio out here. I'm starting to think we can, though; just not a large one. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Raking Snow

One day after work, Scott tackled the weighty snow piled up on our roof.

And today, besides doing my usual Saturday stuff, I am looking forward to reading Alan Bradley's new book, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.
You can listen to the podcast where he is interviewed, HERE.

Flavia de Luce is a child sleuth who lives mostly unsupervised in a rambly country house, gets around on her bike (her best friend), and is the most entertaining amateur detective I've run across in a very long time.

In this, the seventh book in the series The Buckshaw Chronicles, she is sent from her home in England to a boarding school in Canada. If you haven't read any of these stories before, my advice is to start with the first volume, though I'm sure they're just as enjoyable when read without knowledge of Flavia's previous escapades.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


From 30-below to melting, overnight ... wow.
Change. It can happen fast.

It was raining last night as I lay propped up in bed, finishing a biography of author Somerset Maugham. It was written by a University of Saskatchewan professor. I'd like to recommend it, but I can't; the writer didn't make Maugham come alive. Or is that asking too much? I don't think so. Others have managed to do it. Not regarding Maugham, mind you; yet. But I probably won't look for more about the man and I don't remember what it was that prompted me to order the book from the library.

Next: The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King.  Usually anything written about First Nations history with the tidal wave of European greed, arrogance, dishonesty, and inhumanity pisses me off. But I want to know what King has to say.

On my way home after work one evening I stopped to snap a photo of this lovely beast.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday Routine

It's 2:19 p.m.

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home that had a full-time “happy homemaker,” and so I grew up in a house where there were regular meals, home baking, clean sheets, vacuumed carpets, washed floors and walls, sparkling windows, folded laundry, a fridge and cupboards bulging with groceries that someone else did the weekly shopping for, and so on. I lived a life of luxury, though didn’t realize it. It was just the way things were in the home my parents provided, and I took these things for granted. I wanted for nothing.

Now I live in a house where there is no happy homemaker. There is just me, who likes a neat and tidy place because that’s the environment she grew up in, but doesn’t want to put in all the time necessary, herself, to make and keep it so.  I do the bare minimum required in order to meet my own relatively low standards, which would probably embarrass my mother.

Today, my first day off after three days at work, I have just spent an hour (the first of the weekend) doing the housework required for me to spend the next few days in an environment that is pleasant and comfortable. I have no choice; it’s that or live in a sty. Someone has to change the sheets and throw my clothes and towels into the washer. Someone has to wash, dry and put away the dishes. Someone has to pick things up and set the roomba going and clean its brushes afterward. Someone has to. My domestic servant is me.

So, one hour down and I’m taking a wee breather before tackling the next sinkful of dirty dishes. It’s not terrible drudgery when I’m not rushing through it. When I listen to favourite music or turn on CBC Radio and don’t hurry, hurry, hurry to get the chores over with, it’s actually not too terrible. If I don’t think about things I’d rather be doing, I can cope without impatience. If I try, I can take a lame, relieved pride in a job well done. Okay: done. Okay: half done. Whatever.

Might as well get back at it. Once the kitchen is clean, I can mess it up again. 

From the back step. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cat on a Cold Shake Roof

Over the weekend it warmed up from 30-below to 25-below. Even if I don't go out, myself, I can always tell, because I see the cats start running around on the roof of the tractor shed.

This guy, Bob (due to his stumpy tail; he survived a wrestling match with a motor fan one winter), is our resident tom. He catches birds and delivers them to his kittens. He looks after his family. No murderous marauding tomcatting for Bob!

He was busy chasing the "new" momcat around the yard on the weekend; she was dropped off at a farm five miles from here. She is a lovely, friendly calico, but somebody didn't want her. Perhaps she had begun to claw their fine furniture or pee on their bed. So her owners did what any irresponsible asshole would — dumped her in the country, in the freezing cold.

Fortunately for her she was dumped at the yard of someone who, although they didn't want her at their place, cared enough to keep her in their garage, warm and fed, till they could find her a home.

It took her and Bob quite a long time to warm up to each other, but now they are courting and perhaps we will have a litter of kittens in the barn in a month or two.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Between Gods

Alison Pick's memoir Between Gods is about her study of Judaism.

Pick's father's family lost many members during the Holocaust and, in his life in Canada, he didn't practise his parents' religion. Pick herself, though, as an adult, is drawn to it. She signs up for classes given by a Jewish rabbi, begins (with her willing and supportive spouse) to practise Jewish rituals, and looks for a Jewish friend. She tells her readers a bit of the history of her murdered grandparents and cousins, and struggles to acknowledge the effect of these horrors on her own life. She feels it is somehow part of her — or she must make it so. She must honour it and mourn it and try to understand it. She also sees a therapist, Charlotte, to help her cope with a longstanding depression.

An excerpt:

"I ask Charlotte my questions about change. Her answer is a resounding no. People can't change their essential selves. But what they can change is how they relate to themselves. And that makes all the difference.

It's early on a weekday morning, mothers walking their kids to school along the leafy residential street outside Charlotte's office. She looks fresh, her hair still damp from the shower. 'I can't stop thinking about evil,' I say.

I tell her about little Eva on that cold morning in Auschwitz. Five years old. Pulling up her sleeve, clenching her milk teeth against the pain of the tattoo. Trying not to cry. This is the detail that has locked itself in my mind, the detail I cannot forget. 'Is evil archetypal?' I ask Charlotte. 'That kind of evil?'

I expect she will say yes — Jung's framework is her framework —but instead she is silent. 'It's not useful to try and understand it,' she says.

'So what can I do?'

It is perhaps the most honest question I have ever asked of anyone. I am entirely childlike in my desire to know. How can I make sense of a world where this could happen?

'You could try to imagine what they would want,' Charlotte says.

'What who would want?'

'Your dead relatives. The people who were killed.' She coughs. 'Your great-grandmother Marianne.'

I look at her blankly. 'But what is evil? Is it an impulse in all of us?'

I think of my university courses in social psychology, the famous studies where subjects, many subjects, could be goaded into delivering larger and larger shocks to a victim until the shocks were purportedly big enough to kill.

'The Holocaust must have been imagined by sociopaths and then executed by unthinking followers,' I say. 'And the depressed economy, people hungry and willing ...'

Charlotte is silent.

'It makes my own suffering seem ridiculous,' I say. 'Like, like ...  I am searching for an apt comparison, for something without the cliché of "a grain of sand" or "a speck of dust."

'Your suffering is also valid,' Charlotte says. 'Talking yourself out of it only gives it more power.'

I think that my suffering is a shard of their suffering. Again the clichés.

'There's one thing I know,' Charlotte says. 'They would not want you to suffer.'

'Who?' I ask.

"Well, Marianne, for example. Little Eva.'

But I resist. If I don't suffer, Eva will be forgotten. The small girl with her stuffed mouse in the freezing cold barracks in Auschwitz. My suffering is, I realize, a perverse kind of tribute.

'Think of it in reverse,' Charlotte says. 'Would you want her to suffer for you?'

'Of course not!'


It occurs to me then — comes over me in a wave of feeling — that there is a light that shines on all things. That shines and can never be extinguished."