Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat 29 April 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

"No one is ever too old to learn, but some people just keep putting it off."  As seen on the Farmer’s Almanac Facebook page, 25 April 2012.

I finished reading Captain Caution by Kenneth Roberts. Not sure what to read next, although since i'm gearing up for getting the boat ready, it might be snippets from different boating books in our home library. We've amassed a small collection.

I haven't watched anything noteworthy this week. I did watch a bit of some stand-up comedy, but i didn't find it funny. Guess i'm a tough crowd.

Listening to
Phoebe racing up and down the stairs playing with a sparkle ball. The heat just kicked on.

I splurged on some hydroponic tomatoes, sliced them, and poured over a simple vinaigrette comprising balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and dijon mustard. Yummy!

Happy you accomplished this week
My neighbour installed the light switch in the wonky light fixture in the dining room. Wonky no more! I mentioned that we'd take him and his wife out to dinner as a thank you. They both agreed that we can go out for dinner, but we can go Dutch. He said we can repay him in sailing time.

I went back to the animal shelter yesterday to see if any dogs needed walkies. All the dogs have been adopted!! There is a new dog coming, but she won't be ready for walkies until later in the week. I did see a wonderful, shy, black cat i'd like to bring home. Phoebe was very needy all day today, her tail got bushy for no reason that i could tell, and even though i washed all the clothes i wore at the shelter, i realised finally, that i was wearing the same shoes today. She must still smell the other cats on them. I did ask for a sign if i could consider bringing this new kitty home. Not the sign i wanted, but the message is clear: for now, the answer is no.

Updated my spending log. Ahem. I totally fell off the waggon for March and April, although i had receipts and made a few half-hearted attempts on the back of a few envelopes. So, i didn't even try to track my no spends or no drive days. Here's hoping i'll be more diligent in May.

Made out the boat list. The weather should be warming up this week, so i might be able to get started.

I got the lawn mower started. It wouldn't start for me on Wednesday, and the back yard is very thick, so i knew the mowing needed to happen soon. I figured i'd try again Thursday to see if i could get it started, before having to ask Himself or another man to start it for me (and yes, i did succumb last year and ask for help. After the initial start-up, it was fine the rest of the mowing season. Just cranky at the very beginning.) It finally turned over, and i got the back yard and side yard where the boat is all mowed before the rain came back. Front and other side yard has sparser grass, so it wasn't as critical to get that done, but i'm thinking some time this week would be fine.

Looking forward to next week
Puttering around in the garden and getting to work on the boat list.

Thankful for today
We have light in the dining room! Woo-hoo!!

Very fun last day of hockey for the season. Last week, one player fell funny into the boards. Turns out, she broke her fibula and has some ligament damage :0( She is on the mend, though and ought to make a complete recovery. :0)

I won an ebay auction for an Origio Heat Pal that i can use on the boat. It's an older model that doubles as a heater and single burner stove. Non-pressurised alcohol sort, so no worries about explosions, and in case of fire, i can use water to put out the flame. So far, we've done sails for just part of the day, but we were thinking about doing an overnight trip, and it would be nice to boil water for tea. Also, should we find it really chilly, having the luxury of warming up the cabin would be wonderful. The boat is a 19' sloop (~5.8 m), so the Heat Pal would work wonderfully well. Compact, low maintenance, and nearly idiot proof.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Working at the car wash....

I ran some errands today, and stopped at a few yard sales. One was extremely overpriced, one was unbeknownst to me beforehand all children's clothing, and one was a restaurant closing its doors and selling off bits and bobs. I got a few things at the children's clothing sale, as a friend is expecting a new addition to her family in August.

Feeling as if the morning had been wasted, i was driving home and saw two pubescent girls holding signs for a free carwash. Donations accepted for their 8th grade class. On a whim i pulled in. I decided to stay in my car whilst a group of youngsters hosed down the car and then appllied soapy scrub brushes. My car isn't a common one, so all the kids were eager to wash it. A nondescript white truck pulled up several minutes later, and the adult supervisor had to encourage a few of the kids to stop working on my car and attend to the white truck.

I got a $5 bill ready for when they were done. The adult supervisor asked if i wanted him to chamois the car. As that would clear up any water spots, i thought why not go for the deluxe treatment? So, i nodded.

The kids forgot i was there, and the two girls trying to attract attention to passing motorists started to get very silly as only young teenaged girls can. One was wearing a cardboard sandwich sign to promote the carwash, and the other held up her homemade sign, large letters on the back side of what must have been a huge box. Her enthusiasm was waning, and she sometimes held the sign wrong side out. Another student came over with a straw sombrero for the girls to wear. The one holding the former box sign shied away, saying she couldn't possibly wear that. The sandwich board sign girl said, "Oh, i'll wear it! It will get more people to notice us!"

She donned the hat and proceeded to do a shimmy shimmy shake while laughing hysterically. My mood lightened considerably, and i found myself smiling broadly at their silliness.

The adult supervisor was done using the chamois on my car.

I thanked him and handed him $10. The shimmy shimmy shake was easily worth it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tom Stephenson, this one's for you

Tom has been mentioning Hitler in nearly every post of his this week on his blog. When i saw this, i immediately thought of Tom. Tom, this one's for you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One of the greatest gifts

Himself ever got me was a Swiss army knife. It was an anniversary gift from him, and he told me that once i had one, i'd find a reason to use it nearly every day. My mother-in-law politely asked what Himself had gotten me for our annivesary, and when i gushed on about the knife, she visibly stiffened and said, "What about jewellery?"

I had plenty of bling to wear, and as i looked directly at her to respond, i saw her face had a horrified look. My father-in-law, standing in the background looked jealous. One year for Christmas, we got the idea of putting everyone's name in a hat and pulling one out, rather than buying everyone gifts. I had been wanting to do this for quite some time and was relieved. Anyhow, that year, my FIL pulled my name. I was trying to refinish an old wooden desk, and wanted a sander. He was thrilled and got me a wonderful sander. He said he never got to shop for a woman in a hardware store before, and he hoped he pulled my name every year.

But, that Christmas hadn't occurred yet, and i mentioned to my MIL that Himself gave me a pair of earrings on my birthday. She thought the Swiss army knife a horrid idea as an anniversary present and couldn't believe i was so happy about it.

Himself has since lost two Swiss army knives, although i still have the one he gave me, including the little plastic pick and pair of tweezers. As he foretold, i've found i've needed to use it at least a few or several times a week, if not daily, since he gifted me with it.

Today, i found that my spacebar key on my keyboard wouldn't work. I prefer a full keyboard to the laptop keyboards, and as i often input numbers for my job, i'm in love with the number pad. I also like the feel of this particular keyboard. The keys have just the right amount of sponginess.

I had cleaned the keyboard last night when i realised that the spacebar wasn't working properly and i mean gave it a good, proper cleaning, by taking the point of the Swiss army blade amongst the rows. Gadzooks, the crud i found! I also used one of those cans of compressed gas to clean things out a bit more.

Came to the keyboard this morning expecting great things, only it didn't happen. The spacebar would depress, but the line did not advance a space.

A half hour with my Swiss army knife prying off the spacebar, washing it, digging around the keyboard a bit more, a few firm shakes to unloose more detritus, another spritz of the compressed gas, a few attempts at snapping the spacebar back in its place on the keyboard, and voilà! As good as new!

Huzzah for one of the nicest gifts Himself ever gave me. It's something i use often, and i think of him with fondness and gratitude nearly every time i use it.

Friendly neighbourhood stores

I live in a small town, flanked by two larger towns. Technically, one is called a city, but city dwellers i know would consider it a town. At any rate, if i need to purchase something i can't find in my own small burg, i can usually find the object within the two flanking municipalities.

For years, large chain stores were non-existent. There were some local chain stores, yes, but nationwide chains bypassed. Within the last 5 or 7 years, two big chain stores have made their way in, sensing that they could serve the DIY market at a comfortable profit. And so arrived the Big Box hardware stores. These two giants built large, LARGE stores. They are open very early until very late nearly every day of the year. They often include coloured inserts in the local paper advertising their specials.

I frequented both of these stores at my last location, when my favourite hardware store closed because the owners retired. Unlike my favourite hardware store, I felt overwhelmed every time i walked into one of the behemoths. I often couldn't find what i was looking for without help, and even if i did find the right sort of thing, it was not always exactly what i needed. I found the sales people to be largely apathetic, although once in awhile i'd have someone nice help me. I usually had a different experience going by myself than going with Himself. Going with Himself, the sales people figured we knew what we were looking for, or if we had a question, they always answered Himself, even if i asked the question. Several times i wanted to say to them, "You didn't see his mouth move once, did you? Yeah, he's that good, able to throw his voice and make it sound like a woman's. A real talent." But, i didn't, because i knew Himself would roll his eyes, and it would doubtless underline to those sorts of sales people why i couldn't really be trusted to do this myself.

Before moving here full-time, the house sat mostly empty for nearly two years. So, one or the other of us would make a trip up every so often to check on the house, bring a carload more of stuff, and wander around. We did this jointly as well as singly. We learned from friends and acquaintances we had here where to shop for things. One friend used a local chain of hardware stores and another used a standalone hardware store. Between these two stores, we could find pretty much anything we needed for all things hardware.

Occasionally, we need something Right Away, and it's sometimes after these two hardware stores have closed. So, yes, it means a trip to either or both of the Big Box hardware stores. I still feel overwhelmed every time i walk in. Unlike the old location though, the sales people here are quite good. They talk to whoever asked the question, if they don't know, they say they don't know, and more often than not find another associate who might be able to help.

Still, i find myself going to the smaller stores because they're local businesses. No, they can't always price match. No, they're not open every single day of the year early and late. But they remember us when we walk in the door, and that is priceless.

Of the two local stores, my favourite is the standalone place. One of the employees must have been working there since the day they laid the cornerstone. He's quite elderly, totters more than walks, and is a bit hard of hearing even with his hearing aid. Yet, he's always wearing a smile when he talks to you, and insists on showing you where the whosit or whatsit is that you need.

There are two women who work there on the register, and they have helped me any number of times i've gone in looking for things. If i don't know how to use something, they take the time to explain it to me, and i've learned a lot from listening to them.

Once we realised we needed a new switch for the dining room chandelier, i wanted to go to either of the two local hardware stores to see if they'd have the switch. The smaller chain place was closed, and the standalone store was open.

I held out the old switch to the man at the cash register. I asked where i could find a replacement, as it wasn't that far from closing time. He said he'd find one in a jiffy for me, quickly returned with one that looked similar and tore open the packaging to see if it was an identical match. Nope, not quite, it was a bit smaller. Did i want to try it? If it didn't work, i could just bring it back for a refund.

I thanked him, paid my three dollars and change, and left.

Nope, it was a tad too small. The threaded part wasn't long enough coming out the hole of the cover, so the nut couldn't fasten on. Next day being Sunday, i knew both smaller stores were closed. They're open Sundays in the summer, but not always the rest of the year. So, i went to the Big Box stores. Neither had something that would work.

On Monday, needing to return my library book, i decided to stop in at the standalone hardware store to return the switch, as it was just a spit away from the library. I figured after that, i'd go to the lighting place and see if they had a switch, and if not, then narrow down which one from among the hundred light fixtures they had to be the replacement.

I had my receipt at the ready and explained why i was returning the part. The woman at the register nodded and asked if i had the original switch. I had, and showed it to her. "Hang on," she said, "I'm going to ask Nancy if we have something else."

She returned triumphantly. It looks almost exactly like the original switch. I'm hoping it will do the trick, and that it's not a 3-speed type that may not work with the fixture we have. "Not only does it look like the right size, it even costs a dollar thirty less," she said as she handed me money from the register. As i was putting the money in my wallet, she held out the receipt. "Here—just in case you need to return it."

One thing's for sure: i'm going to return there as a happy customer.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday night chit chat 22 April 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

"Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him." –as seen on a bumper sticker

I finished reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Not sure what to read next.

I watched the movie, Baby Mama, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I liked it better than i thought i would.

Listening to
JoJo purring and the rain.

Nothing special this week.

Happy you accomplished this week
Got a neighbour to take a look at the wonky light fixture in the dining room. He's a marine electrician, and i asked if he'd take a look to see if the wiring was all right to the fixture, and if the fixture was all right except for the switch. I mean, we can look at this stuff, but we're not experienced enough to know what exactly we're looking at. Turns out it is a wonky switch. The trick now is to find an switch with a long enough thread. It seems the current style is 1/4 inch, and i need 3/8 inch. We're not in love with the light fixture, so we can replace it, although a switch is less expensive than a brand new fixture.

Looking forward to next week
Puttering around in the garden and getting to work on the boat list.

Thankful for today
Although it wrecked my garden and outside chores plans, i was glad to see the rain.

Great fun playing hockey. We had two good, very fast games.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's the little things that make a delightful day

The cats let me sleep in.

I went to the animal shelter to see about walking a dog. They said i could stop by any time, and they had one who could use a walk right then. She was 4-month old Tiger Lily, and although the tiger part doesn't get her attention, the Lily part does. She's a black lab and shepherd mix. Nearly all black with a little patch of white on her chest and two little bits on her front paws, as if daubed with white paint. She tried biting the leash (lead) a few times, and if i stopped, she often sat beside me. She pulled a bit, and i let her sniff to her heart's content.

Two corgis at a house we passed took great interest only after we were all the way past their house and had turned around to come back on the other side of the road when first one barked, then the other. Lily sat down and stared at them. She seemed loathe to continue, but after a few minutes of their barking, i told her we needed to be on our way.

She's a happy little thing, and i felt i could have walked her for another hour at least. But, i'm new to the shelter and didn't want them thinking i took off with her.

It's been nearly 10 years since i walked a dog. I forgot how many people smile at you when walk with one.

They told me to come back any time i need a dog fix, and they'll be glad to let me walk whatever dogs need it. I'm thinking that going over my lunch hour would be just the thing.

Friday, April 20, 2012


With Cro's and Tom Stephenson's blog posts from today both mentioning the King of Spain's big game hunting tour, I got to thinking about hunters i've known.

I am an omnivore, but i'd have a very hard time shooting or killing a living thing. This started early with me, as i remember being three years old and helping my brother catch worms. He was five and once he explained to me that he needed the worms because he was going to go fishing, i kissed every worm i found and tried to hide them from him. I was not entirely successful on this score, and Bill complained to our mother that i wasn't helping. From my perspective, i was. I was helping the worms.

Once i understood that he did indeed need some sort of bait to catch fish, and showed me how to bait my own hook, i didn't kiss and hide the worms from him, but i still felt bad. We used bits of bacon, too, on occasion, but the worms were the favoured bait.

My brother had the patience of Job, and felt a bad day of fishing was better than a good day of most anything else. I grew bored with it rather quickly, and saw little rewards for my pains at being patient, e.g., the same blue gill who was too small took my bait at least six times on one fishing trip, pulling up two blue crabs on my fishing line and finding a fish in the crab trap on another. The most ignominious occurred when my brother nonchalantly reeled in at least a half dozen fish to my none. Our lines were cast alongside one another, and even when he agreed to switch rods and places, he caught six more fish to my, say it with me, none.

My father liked hunting, owned several guns, and showed my brother and me how to use them. One winter's day, Dad and i tracked for deer. We found tracks, urine, and scat, but no deer. I never went again and don't know why. Maybe Dad thought my fishless day had some bearing. Or, maybe he caved to pressure that girls didn't belong hunting. I don't know how i would have reacted had we seen a deer and Dad shot at it. I do know if he wounded the animal, we would have tracked it down and finished it off. He would have shown me how to gut the animal, and i would have been called upon to carry the gun at least, if not help with lugging the animal back to the car. On that tracking day, though, i remember the respect my father had for the animals.

My brother went to college and majored in forestry. One of the classes he took his first year was how to butcher animals. It put him in good stead with hunting friends and acquaintances who shot game and needed a butcher. Bill was very good at it, and word spread. Most of the hunters were poor, and rather than pay him money, they paid him in meat. His freezer was full of venison, and he was invited to go hunting with any number of people. One was a young man named Dean.

Dean was highly skilled with rifles but felt at some point that it was a bit too easy and not quite fair on the animal. He thought the playing field should be a bit more level and went bow and arrow hunting for bear and wild boar. Bill told me this, and i got the distinct feeling this was one of those conversations we'd never tell Mom, as she'd worry too much. I was never a worrier, but even i felt deep concern as Bill got excited talking about accompanying Dean on these sorts of hunting trips. I know i would have felt a bit more comfortable if Bill mentioned that they had a rifle as back-up. But, there was no Plan B.

Dean turned out to be one of the champion bow and arrow hunters for boar in the state. Someone wanted to make a documentary, and Bill laughed as he told me the story. Dean had tracked a boar, told the cameraman where to set up and explained that he was going to attract the boar. The boar would come rushing out, and Dean would fell him with two arrows--maybe three at most. Dean assured the cameraman that all he had to do was to keep the film rolling. Ready?

Yes, the cameraman nodded, he was. Dean got the boar's attention, the boar came out from the brush and charged towards Dean. He shot the first arrow, and the boar kept coming. He shot the second arrow, and the boar went down, about six feet (two metres) from Dean. He turned to the cameraman to find him and the camera not there. After developing the film, one saw the boar charging and the first arrow. One saw the boar continuing to charge, and then heard the cameraman's saying, "Oh, shit," and the view was blurry as the cameraman ran for his life and scaled a tree, with no regard for where the camera was aimed or how focused it was. After some minutes of seeing blurred bark and leaves, ground, back to bark and leaves, and hearing human grunting and laboured breathing, the film zeroes in on the boar with two arrows in it, and Dean looking around to see where the cameraman went. Next, you see Dean looking at the camera and saying he's not going to do a second take, then proceeds to gut the boar. As he gets started, the film fades to black.

Dean told my brother he'd never agree to another documentary again. Those stupid cowards had a wonderful view of a magnificient beast, a clean kill just as Dean had described it would be, THEY were the ones who thought it a great idea to film the entire sequence, and THIS was the thanks and end result. Some scairdy-ass climbing a tree and blubbering, clutching the camera, and missing the whole thing.

I told Bill i'd probably act the same way the camaraman did. Bill assured me i wouldn't have. He said i would've told Dean that i was too chicken and that i would set up the camera and let it roll while i climbed up a tree, or that he'd have to find somebody else if he wanted the person to stay there all the while. He also told me that he thought i would have stayed. That i would have trusted Dean.

I know when i was tracking with my dad that winter's day, i trusted him. I trusted my brother whenever we tramped around looking for things, or when we went fishing. There was that same feeling of respect for wildlife, of taking what we needed or using all we took. The hunters i've met since my brother died share that same respect for wildlife and honouring their kills by using them as wisely as possible.

The King of Spain's hunting trip smacks of cowardice to me, or of sadism or supreme arrogance. What acumen is there in shooting fish in a barrel?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'm reminded once again how things roll on, time and tides wait for no man, and all of that. Everything is greening up, the days grow longer, and there's a sense of promise present in the morning.

This week, i've been reflecting on those i've loved and lost in April. Not in a maudlin way, just sad that this will be my first spring of the 21st century without Grace, how the air was this soft when we laid my maternal grandmother to rest, and when my next door neighbours broke the news that Sparky, the barn cat who followed us home, had been hit by a car. I pondered this as i refilled the suet feeder this morning, and noticed a few down feathers by the feeder. No body, so either the bird got away or became a meal for somebody.

In our new location, changes are afoot. Nearly every morning this week, the sound of sawing and hammering has greeted me from next door. At the end of one day, old kitchen cupboards were out at the kerb, and i wondered how
Mr P, the elderly man who used to live there, was doing. I had thought of him last week as well, when i heard a rooster crow. Mr P kept some ducks, a few hens, and a rooster, who crowed most of the day. If i walked out in the side yard, the ducks would quack to one another and move en masse away from the creek/shallow pond that runs between our properties when there's been enough rainfall. The rooster would eye me warily and walk towards me, letting me know he would stand up for any of his feathered charges.

I knew something happened when one day, the birds were no more, and in the weeks that followed, i found out that Mr P had a stroke and went to live with one of his children.

He kept to himself and seemed to prefer it that way, although in the few conversations we had, he told me that his house had been his mother's house. How she'd look out any time she heard a carriage, and later, a car approach. How a wolf most likely had come along earlier and taken all of his hens, but he hoped to get a few more to keep the rooster company (which he did). How his black and white cat was named Tuxedo; when i mentioned seeing Tux in my yard, he hoped i wasn't bothered by it. Not at all. I understand very well how a cat's territory can have different demarcations from what humans understand their boundaries to be. I had some extra catnip plants and gave Mr P one as Tux seemed to like the ones at my house.

After a short sailing season last year, i put the boat in the side yard, and i saw a number of middle aged people walking his property, glancing over at the boat. I realised with a start they must be his children and their respective spouses, and they were most likely looking at the property in terms of selling. One of them stayed on for a few days, and took down all the fencing he had up for the ducks, hens, and rooster.

I thought on this as i saw the cupboards at the kerb. I wondered the stories they could tell. They were nondescript white cupboards; rather unremarkable, and yet i couldn't help thinking that a sense of history was being cleaned away. I've never been inside the house, so perhaps that adds to my curiosity.

I had to run an errand today, and on my way to the store, a pair of mallard ducks were in the roadway in the other lane. I slowed down, in case they wanted to cross, even though i wasn't up close to them. There were two cars in the other lane rather close to one another, and the first one didn't slow down at all as it approached the pair. The drake flew up and out of harm's way, but the female was a second slower, and i watched with horror as the car's grille pushed her down and towards the right tyre, which rolled over part of her. The second car straddled her. I blinked in disbelief, and as i drove past, it looked like a magazine flopping open pages in the wind, only it was the duck, still writhing, body quivering, and flapping her one good wing trying to escape. My eyes filled with tears, my stomach lurched, and i prayed that she could die instantly, that the next car that was just now coming along, would run right over her, to take away her anguish. I looked in my rearview mirror to see the driver do what i would have done. Drove around. He was just enough later that he may not have realised she had just been struck, and that it wasn't just the wind moving her feathers. The pair were very near a small lake and had doubtless been looking for nesting spots. I thought of how their lives were forever changed, and yet the sun shone just as brillantly, the wind was as full as spring as it had been a moment before. I wondered why the first driver didn't slow down. Maybe she thought the car behind her was too close. Maybe she thought the ducks would fly away in time. Maybe she wasn't paying attention. Maybe her eyes were filled with tears immediately afterwards and her stomach was lurching, just like mine. I'm sure the second driver thought the first driver had killed the duck and that he didn't need to finish the job.

I went home a different way as i normally do when running this errand, and thought of the times i had a few cardinals fly into my car's closed windows only to crash to the roadway, or the rabbit that ran immediately before my car very early on Easter morning, leaving me no time to stop. I came back to my house with JoJo to greet me by the gate as she had been lounging in the sun, and saw that the truck next door looked ready for a dump run, as it was piled high with the old fencing.

Daily dramas playing out, giving no regard if the audience likes the performance or indeed cares if there be any spectators, and more bits being cleared away, making way for the next scene.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


My father loved dogs and hated cats. I loved dogs and especially love cats. I decided when i was older, i'd have cats. And maybe dogs.

Growing up, we had dogs, and i loved them. Then after i graduated college and was living in an apartment, i wanted to have a furfriend but thought it unfair given my long work hours and no yard, as my living space was not on the ground floor. I had contented myself with petting other people's dogs and cats but knew there'd come a time in my life where i'd have one. I would take my aunt's dog, Woofer, for a walk or let him run in the park. He hated the car, but quickly learned that when he went with me, we didn't go to the vet's, but to a wonderful, green, large space where he could run at will. Woofer ended up with cancer, poor thing, and when we knew the end was near, i took him in the car to the park. He wasn't able to run boundlessly, but we enjoyed a saunter and rested a bit at the top of the hill. We both seemed to know it was the last time we'd be there together and wanted to savour every minute.

Then, i met Himself, and it wasn't too long afterwards that we knew we'd be staying together for the long term. Then i found out he was allergic to both dogs and cats. People who've never had pets or known their love will not understand just how much i loved this man when i told him that i was willing to sacrifice all opportunities to have a dog or cat since he had allergies.

Since he never had a pet, other than a rabbit and that was his sister's, he didn't understand the largesse. He nodded, said okay, and we got married. Shortly after we moved into our house, the one we helped build, our next door neighbours' black and white cat, Zerbe, decided we had the perfect place for her retirement home. Our neighbours had a yellow lab named Katy, who adored me, and after Katy died, they got Kay, a Siberian husky who was dumped on the road in front of their house. Zerbe had been flung out a car window when a kitten and landed on their driveway, so there seemed to be a pattern...

Kay was a lovely dog. She was afraid of most men, so we figured she had been beaten by a man, and she was really terrified of any man sporting a beard, which led us to surmise the idiot was a bearded one. Like other huskies and malmutes, she loved to run, and would sometimes take off for a run around the neighbourhood. I was home alone one night, watching tv, when i felt eyes staring at me. I looked out one of the large windows in the living room to see a pair of eyes staring at me unblinkingly. I shouted in surprise, and Kay barked gleefully. She didn't seem to understand that i nearly had a coronary, and wagged her tail.

Zerbe came by to see us nearly every day, and one cold February day, Himself let her in our house. He tried explaining to me that he thought she was cold, and she was after all, old. He didn't understand that by doing this, she now expected to live with us full time. Which, as it turned out, she did.

She was patient with us, seeing that we had possibilities. As Himself noted, she was old when she came to us, and i learnt to make the most of every day we had with her. He pet her, sneezed, and took allergy meds by the truckload. He also fell hopelessly in love with her, and though she came to us old, she lived to be ancient. I was home when she had the seizure that threw her down on the ground. I equated it with suffering a stroke and wanted to put her down right then. He wanted to wait just in case... in case of what? i asked. He talked to the vet who said that we'd know in 24 hours what to do. I knew right then what needed doing. Within 24 hours, Himself did, too, and my vet later said that if ever you wanted to get her to come over right away, have a man call her and break down and sob trying to tell her that the time had come for his pet to be euthanised.

Zerbe was 19 when Himself made that phone call. The vet paid us a house call and refused any money saying that's not what she wanted to be paid for. I baked a loaf of bread for the staff and attached a thank you card.

Himself and i were both very sad afterwards, the way one is whenever a loved one leaves the planet. It was during this season of grief, when for the first time in 7 years he could breathe more easily since there was no animal dander, that he said he could finally understand just how big a sacrifice it was when i said i'd forego living with dogs and cats for him. He didn't appreciate it at the time i said it, and how, after having had a four-footed creature choose us, he doesn't know how i found the strength to be able to say it. I smiled and said that breathing is fundamental, and he was breathing very much more easily now that we were once again pet-less. He looked at me earnestly and said that he'd rather have to take allergy meds the rest of his life than to spend it without a dog or cat in the house, as it was just so damn lonesome without them.

In time, he found Grace, the feral cat whom we rescued, and then Sparky, the barn cat, followed us home on a walk.

His breathing is a bit laboured with cats, but it's really terrible with dogs. So, we content ourselves with felines and pet other people's dogs. Lately, i've been really looking at dogs and thinking how nice it would be to have one live in our home. I don't know how Phoebe and JoJo would like it. I know Himself would love the dog, but given his breathing trouble, i don't think we can risk it. So, to date, we haven't.

Meantime, the next door neighbours have a dog named Kramer, who's happy to receive meat bones from us. I received a free goodies bag at a nearby store, and one of the items is a small bag of dog treats. Those will go to him or a hockey teammate's dog, Izze.

I get wistful when i see neighbours walking their dogs. An acquaintance suggested that i go to the animal shelter and volunteer to walk the dogs. They always seem to need someone to help out, and i'm toying with the idea. I just don't know that i have the fortitude to walk the dogs and love them and leave them at the shelter as they wait for their forever homes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Carla's Mother's Day Tote Bag and Wallet Giveaway

Carla, yes she of the Sunday night chit chat fame, has made a lovely bag and matching wallet, which she is going to raffle. Everyone can have a chance for $5 (Canadian) between now and 30 April, when she shall draw the lucky winner's name. Each $5 buys another chance.

The monies she receives will go to two charities in honour of her mother and late mother-in-law: The Canadian Cancer Society and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

I know UK readers already celebrated Mothering Sunday, but we celebrate it a bit later on this side of the Pond.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday night chit-chat 15 April 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

Phoebe hard at work as a paperweight.

I am reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I'm still drooling over Treasure Chests The Legacy of Extraordinary Boxes by Lon Schleining.

I watched some episodes from the tv show "Frasier," and this was from the first season. Well-written show and great cast.

Listening to
JoJo crunching some kibble. We're all getting ready to turn in for the night.

Made a lovely baked beets and onion dish following a recipe in the "Moosewood Low Fat Cookbook." It's been a long time since i made that recipe, and i can't think as to why, as it's tasty.

Happy you accomplished this week
I was hoping to say, "I got all the tax forms filled out." Not quite; i have two left, but all i have to do is transfer the values and i'm done.

Made a good dent on spring cleaning the kitchen. I've been giving it a lick and a promise for awhile and decided a good scrubbing was in order. I'm about two-thirds of the way there.

Looking forward to next week
Puttering around in the garden a bit. I've got some weeding to do and i'm going to start a few tomato plants.

Thankful for today
Gorgeous weekend! The weather was sunny and warm.

My leg feels nearly 100% so i played hockey this afternoon. There weren't many of us on the ice as kids have off school this week, and many families are away. We started with six-on-six and ended up with three-on-three. Phew! One of my teammates needed to move her boat, and i offered to help if i could. We drove over to the shipyard after hockey. Hauled on the bow spring and stern spring, realising as i did so that my hands have become very soft over the winter. I also didn't have a lot of oomph, though i was glad to be of at least some help. So many neighbours and friends have been so kind and helpful, that it's nice when we can lend a hand.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Theatrical hamper?

Cro was wishing i had a picture of the large baskets i described that J and i had bought a few weeks back. He thought they sounded like theatrical hampers. I had said i did have pictures but couldn't upload them. Now, i can, so here they are:

This is the one I chose.

And this is the one J chose.

This is JoJo, taking her quality control job very seriously.

I washed mine first, and Jo thought it offered just the right amount of camouflage and shade as it was drying.

A few days later, when the weather was once again nice, J washed hers. Here, you can see that hers still has the leather straps.

We had removed the top to allow for easier washing and faster drying.

On the day we bought these, i also bought a cart made out of buffalo hide.

This is a better view of inside.

I haz cable!

I wanted to send a friend, J1, some photos, and the woman who took them with her digital camera said she'd email them to me. I've been waiting and waiting. I talked to another friend, J2, lamenting that i don't have a USB cable for my camera, and it took me an inordinately long time to realize that's what it was i needed to be able to move photos from the camera to the computer. She said she has a camera like mine, maybe the USB cable she has would fit?

And, behold, it did. So, i was able to upload my photos into my computer. I didn't bother tagging because i wanted to get at the latest ones of course, to share with J1 who has been waiting along with me for pictures from the other camera.

J2 said i could keep the cable for awhile, but i'd rather give it back to her as soon as possible lest i lose it.

You've been warned. I'll try not to be annoying with gobs of pictures every post, but i shall share some from here on out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Peepers! I hear peepers!

A sure sign of spring when I hear the peepers.

I wanted to find a sound file so others who don't have these small frogs in their neck of the woods know what it is we're hearing in the back yard just now. So far, i've been unable to add a sound file. I'm sure it's a user fault.

I wanted to do a careful search, as i don't want the porn peepers.

Anyhow, on the wikipedia page where i found the sound file i can't seem to load here, they also mention in the article that on Martha's Vinyard, peepers are called "pinkletinks." Made me laugh as i read it, and i also thought of John Gray's post of funny names.

Spring has sprung! The peepers are here!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Night Chit-Chat 8 April 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

Today I finished the third book of the Arundle Chronicles, The Lively Lady, by Kenneth Roberts. A good read, and the last book in this series. I preferred the first two books to this one, although they are all excellent. This one is very heavy on the nautical things, which would make it hard going for some readers, and a few of the characters in this story speak with such an accent that i sometimes had to read what they said a few times to get the meaning. I'm still drooling over Treasure Chests The Legacy of Extraordinary Boxes by Lon Schleining.

Rented the movie The Ten Commandments. I marvelled once again at the costumes and pagentry of this Cecil B. DeMille film. Even though i know what's going to happen, i still get caught up in this movie. Every. single. time. The DVD had some bonus features, including a six-part documentary on various aspects of the film, the original "making of" trailer as well as the 1966 and 1989 trailers advertising re-releases of the movie to the big screen, and a newsreel showing the streets of New York on opening night, and zeroing in on the stars in the movie as they attended the premiere as well as other notables like John Wayne with his wife, and William Holden with his wife. There was a sense of glamour that i find decidedly lacking today.

Listening to
Nothing noteworthy this week.

It was hard to top last week's roasted chicken, so i didn't try. LOL I've had a hankering for grilled cheese sandwiches, and made some with harvarti dill cheese and rye bread.

Happy you accomplished this week
I got the taxes done! I spent part of this afternoon and evening doing the last two forms. They aren't due until the 17th this year, but i always like to get them done in time to review for accuracy before sending along.

I got The Lively Lady read before its due date of tomorrow. I have the option of renewing the book and did that for the earlier two books but they were rather long (600-700 pages) so i didn't feel quite so bad needing an extra few days. This one was 274 pages, so i paced myself. When i get a book i really enjoy reading, i want to savour reading it and not feel that i must rush through.

A friend and i had dinner at a lovely Thai restaurant this week after she washed her theatrical hamper chez moi. It was a nice midweek treat, and we both admired our clean hampers. She came by today to pick it up; she had wanted to get a few things sorted at her house and make room for it before she took it home.

Looking forward to next week
I don't have anything special planned. Besides the small piece of fig cake i mentioned in my earlier post today, i had a small glass of Diet Pepsi. I haven't had any of the chocolate covered apricots yet. Not sure when i'm going to cross the sugar threshold. Now that i can, i find myself really wanting to think about it before i do so. I'm glad i have the option and neither the restriction nor the compulsion.

My paycheck on Friday the 13th should show a bit more than previous ones for this year, since i got a small raise. I also got a small bonus, and am unsure whether that check will arrive midmonth or at month's end.

Thankful for today
The cats let me sleep in this morning :-)

The taxes are done!!!!!!!!!!

Although we had snow flurries for a bit today, nothing stuck and did indeed switch over to rain showers. April showers mean rain to me rather than snow.

My leg continues to heal. Only occasional twinges now. We had no hockey today as the rink was closed for Easter, so i ought to be ready to go this coming Sunday for both games.

It's Easter. I gave thanks and have a happy heart.


Even as a child, i couldn't understand the disconnect between Christ's rising from the dead and chocolate bunny rabbits. Oh, yes, there was the whole death and rebirth angle and how spring has sprung and all that. But it didn't seem to make sense to me that we were talking about faith in the resurrection on one hand and celebrating it with eggs and chocolates and personifying the Easter Bunny on the other.

Christmas with Santa Claus or Father Christmas seemed to make more sense. We were celebrating Jesus's birthday, only everyone got presents. And feasts to celebrate.

When i finally heard that someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to take Pagan festivals and add some Christianity so that non-Christians might be more interested, then the light went on for me. I look forward to spring, after a long winter, and rejoice when i see the grass greening up and crocus and daffodills bursting forth. I can see the reason to celebrate that. As a Christian believer, i can see the reason for celebrating at some point each year not only when Jesus was born but when he rose from the dead.

But i don't think they have to be celebrated on the same day, the arrival of spring or the day of resurrection. The weather for the equinox this year was most pleasant; today on Easter, we had some snow showers earlier in the day and now rain showers.

And i celebrated both without fanfare, chocolate bunnies, or dyed eggs. The cats are happy that i celebrated with cooking up a rasher of bacon and giving them a taste.

I must now spend some more time rendering unto Caesar the things that Caesar's, as i came online to download a tax form i didn't realize we needed. And while online, i had to take a look around Blogland, just to see what's what.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday

wasn't good for me. I felt very unsettled and crabby when everything i had planned for the day went wrong. It was very much a poor me sort of day, and i couldn't snap out of my funk.

Today went much better; a one-line note from a friend who was thinking of me and another who called out of the blue just to say hi really perked me up today.

Funny how a kind small gesture can have such a large effect. I'm glad of it and am thankful for my friends and loved ones.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

paying it forward

Over the weekend at the place where i got the free dark chocolate dipped apricots, they were hosting a "Meet Your Local Beekeepers," and i went and met a very nice couple from the next town over who are professional beekeepers.

They had three offerings: regular raw honey, raw honey with a bit of the comb, and stuff they call the "Bees Knees," which is a combination of raw honey and cinnamon. The wife explained that there was a clinical study in Copenhagen where elderly patients were given a therapeutic dose of honey mixed with cinnamon (1 tbsp or 15 mL a day), and 70% reported an efficacious effect regarding arthritis pain: some had 100% reduction in pain, others varying decreases. I said i was sure that it would take several weeks or a few months to notice any effect; she said some patients noticed a change in a week. I was fascinated by that, and when i said i don't have arthritis, she said she thought it was also good for those stresses and strains of when we work too long or hard in the garden. Good for the muscles.

I like to support local businesses as much as possible. This couple's operation is not large by any stretch; they don't migrate their bees, as they think it's too stressful for the bees, and i'm inclined to agree. They collect enough honey to supply the local store, but that's it.

I thought of my recovering MCL and bought a jar. Then i had to argue with myself. To take now or wait until Easter? Honey is, after all, a sweetener. The wife had cautioned this wasn't struedel topping, that the cinnamon was the real thing, and i'd feel the heat. I had purchased it Sunday afternoon, and the instructions were to take a tablespoonful first thing in the morning before eating. I figured i'd pray about it, sleep on it, and i'd have my answer in the morning.

I have often said i'm not a morning person, and i'm not. I'm much better now than i've ever been, but i don't do a lot of thinking in the morning. I just perform on autopilot, and around ten o'clock or so, my brain becomes fully engaged. So, early Monday morning, i opened the honey-cinnamon jar, stirred it up to mix well, and took a scant tablespoonful. I noticed the sweetness of the honey much more than the heat of the cinnamon. I really enjoyed it. And, as i was licking the spoon to make sure i'd gotten the full, therapeutic dose, i recalled a colleague of mine who has arthritis. She mentioned giving up red meat recently to see if that will help. I hadn't asked if the arthritis in the study was rheumatoid arthritis only or all different kinds.

I called my colleague today, and she was very interested. She had heard of cinnamon's anti-inflammatory properties and wondered herself about it. I offered to send her a jar, and she was thrilled. I popped round to the store to pick up a jar for her, and it's now in the post on its way to her house. She's a doctor, so it'll be interesting to get the medical viewpoint. We're hoping she's in the 70% that get at least some if not total relief; if she's not, then it's a tasty way to find out. She thinks that my taking the honey is a therapeutic thing, and doesn't think it voids any Lenten agreement i had about the no sugar/sweetener rule. In study terms, i'd be in the control group, since i don't have arthritis. LOL

One of the women in my knitting group is slated for knee surgery. She's known she's needed it for awhile. She lives alone, and is calling in favours for when she's recovering. One of her grown sons lives nearby, so shall help Mum as he can. We were discussing things she needs to do now to get ready, and i asked if she had a pair of crutches. She does, from when she had another knee surgery, and i suggested she crutch around the house to see where she can navigate easily, and where she can't. The places she can't, we can help her move the furniture or set something up now as a workaround. She thought that a fabulous idea. And i found myself offering many things i discovered with my time on crutches, and one of the most wonderful things i saw only after i was in my walking boot. At the physiotherapist's, a man on crutches had duct taped a large plastic glass below the handle of one crutch, and used that as a carry all. It was so handy for keys, a small flashlight (torch for UK readers), a small bottle of hand sanitizer. I had used my fanny pack (bum bag) exclusively, which made it handy, but not as handy as his duct-taped plastic glass. I complimented him on his ingenuity and said i was remembering that if ever i had to crutch around again. Thankfully, i've not had to do that to date, but i could pass along his fabulous idea to my knitting friend. She said she has just the glass in mind for that, and all of us have duct tape. Himself has a backpack that he used for the boat last summer that is sitting empty at the moment, so that can be loaned for her to use. Well i remember making my tea in the morning or Himself making it for me in the evening and filling a thermos full, so it was easier for me to help myself to a cuppa. I could put it in my backpack and crutch over to the couch, topping off my cup at will.

My mind's been busily thinking up a hundred little things that she can do to make things easier for herself after surgery. Take up all scatter rugs now. Make sure the toilet paper rolls are full ones. Bring up anything you might need over the next three weeks from down cellar now. Other knitters in our group want to help with visits, taking food, and other things.

I find myself being glad to help as i can. Buying a local product keeps a couple employed in their livelihood, and their product may in turn help a dear colleague. Lending an unused backpack before boating season to a friend to make recovery a bit easier. Being a conduit can be fun.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday night chit-chat 01 April 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love
~John O'Donohue

I'm sure others have already seen this, as it makes its way around Cyberia, but i'd like to give a shout out to Charlotte and Jonathon. WOW! It's not often that someone's singing makes me cry because it's so beautiful.

I am on the third book of the Arundle chronicles, The Lively Lady by Kenneth Roberts. I'm still drooling over Treasure Chests The Legacy of Extraordinary Boxes by Lon Schleining.

Rented the movie Dancing at Lughnasa. I thought the ending was too abrupt, as if the director realised the film was approaching the one hour, thirty minute mark, so just summed up in a voiceover what happened to the characters to keep within the ninety-minute timeframe. Then again, perhaps it was done to show just how quickly things change. I can be a very dense moviegoer.

Listening to
Besides Charlotte and Jonathon, I listened to a bit of Earl Scruggs this week, in homage to him and to mark his passing. I take bluegrass in small doses, and am not fond of that sort of singing, although i found my toe tapping along, and i sang bits and pieces.

Emboldened by the success of the scones i recently made, i did make some this week with bacon, cheese, and onions. They were the best ones yet. The friend who showed me the recipe she had found didn't want some just now, as she's trying to eat fewer carbohydrates. I volunteered to freeze a few, if she wanted some for later. She nodded, so she'll be my guinea pig to see how well they freeze.

In honour of Phoebe's 12th birthday yesterday, i roasted a chicken. Everyone in the household loves roasted chicken. :)

Happy you accomplished this week
The oil company sent a repairman bright and early Monday morning to fix the water heater. Actually, the water heater was fine, but the oil-fired boiler was the problem. There are four main components to the boiler, the whoseit, the whatsit, that other gizmo, and the thingamjig. On a holiday, gizmo stopped working so was replaced. And, on two weekends several months apart, the thingamajig an whatsit stopped, and needed to be replaced. Last weekend, it was the whoseit's turn. sigh. At least it got fixed very quickly and we didn't have freezing temperatures, so no worries about frozen pipes.

The hockey game with friends was quite fun. One had never been to a hockey game, and i waved for one of the throwers to throw a tee-shirt to us. She did, and it landed between me and the newbie. I gave it to the newbie, in honour of her first game. Our other two friends have attended games, and one of them plays hockey with me on Sunday afternoons. Their adopted son turned 1 in the beginning of March, and was a wonderfully behaved baby. We ate at a restaurant before the game. K was sitting on his mother's lap eating bits of food from both her plate and his dad's plate. He placidly munched on a bit of pita bread and we all watched with anticipation as he munched on a bit of dill pickle. His expression never changed, which surprised all of us. Mother had falafel, and K picked up a piece of the falafel and popped it in his mouth. Within a second, he screwed his face up as tightly as possible and cried. He next tried jamming his whole hand in his mouth and scratched at his tongue to try and remove the offending bits. We all laughed, and even though his mother tried to get him to drink from his sippy cup to remove the taste, he gave her a look that plainly said, "Betrayal!" He took nothing else from Mother's plate and also looked circumspect at the bit of pasta Father gave him from his.

Looking forward to next week
I don't have anything special planned. I'd like to get the taxes all done so that by this time next week, i can saw Phew! That's behind me for another year.

Thankful for today
Cleaned one of the theatrical hampers to see how it would go. I'm sure the Antiques Roadshow folks would get all "stabby" as a friend says, knowing that i washed off grime from perhaps the 19th and 20th as well as the 21st centuries. Yes, the "patina" went down the drain, but the hamper is more useable now for me, and that's why i got it. I had it drying outside, although the clouds blocked the sun in the late afternoon, so i brought it back inside before leaving for my hockey game. I'll set it out tomorrow if the weather co-operates.

My leg feels nearly 100% so i played hockey this afternoon. Only one game rather than the usual two. I didn't have a lot of jump, and i couldn't pivot as normal, but otherwise, all was fine. Even towards the end of the game when i fell. It was one of those moments of truth; i paused a minute, breathed in, and everything was okay. :) It's still amazing to me how our bodies can heal, especially if we try to encourage it or create a situation where healing is unimpeded.