Monday, December 31, 2012


It's been a good year for me personally, overall. Himself is watching a movie whilst i type this blog post. The kitties are happy. Jim has discovered that 20 inches (50cm) of snow with shovelled paths makes for marvellous oustide bird watching. Jo is glad that he allows her a bit of alone time. Phoebe is glad to be getting lots of pats on the heads and rubs.

We have looked at what we hope to accomplish in 2013 and are discussing the steps to undertake those things.

FIL has left the planet, although i'm not sad for him, and while his kids miss him, i don't think they're sad for him, either. He was ready to go. He didn't leave much of an estate so there wasn't tons of paperwork required. It has spurred Himself and me to look at our paperwork quagmire and see how we can simplify things a bit.

I started blogging and have read some wonderful blogs this year. I have enjoyed it very much and look forward to my nearly daily blog reading. Since i spend so much time on a computer for work, when i have some time off, as i've had this week, i do try to go for computer-free days. It's a welcome break.

I live in a place that feels like home and feeds my soul. Right now it's very cold (10°F/-12°C), but today was wonderfully sunny, and before it clouds too much tonight, the moon's light makes the nighttime's snowy landscape come alive.

I got Himself a pair of snowshoes for Christmas, and we tried them out yesterday (i'd bought myself a pair a few years back) walking the back part of the yard. We also wore them whilst clearing the snow off the boat cover.

We also went to a local place where they make their own sauerkraut and import some European foods. Himself got some Stilton, which made him very happy. My tastebuds have never grown up in the stinky cheese department, so he can munch on that whilst i eat a few cornichons. We also got some lovely smoked pork chops and sauerkraut for New Year's Day. In his family as well as mine, it was customary to have pork and sauerkraut on the first day of the new year; it was supposed to bring health and prosperity. My mother, who never really made me eat anything i didn't like always turned a deaf ear to my dislike of sauerkraut. I'd dutifully eat one forkful on New Year's Day. I like it now and don't quite know when it happened. I think it was when i made some for Himself and decided i'd have just the pork and the dutiful forkful of kraut, when my tastebuds decided it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was Quite All Right. Funny how that happens.

We had talked of going out to a nearby First Night Celebration, but frankly, i'm waning. Staying inside a warm cozy house, toasting the New Year with a glass of bubbly we have on hand sounds infinitely more appealing that standing around outside, even though the bonfire on the beach sounds appealing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boxing Day explained. And Hull Cheese

I have a word-a-day calendar for 2012, where each day it presents a forgotten English word and either a story about the word or about the day in the year. This was the one for Boxing day, aka St Stephen's Day, aka the day after Christmas, aka the start of Kwanzaa.


Hull cheese
A strong ale for which the town of Hull was at one time famous. To "eat Hull cheese" was to get incontinently drunk. —Trench Johnson's Phrases and Names: Their Origins and Meanings, 1906

London Boxing Day

William Tayler wrote in his Diary of William Tayler, Footman (1837):  "This [date] is what is called here Boxing Day. It's the day people go from house to house gathering their Christmas boxes. We had numbers here today—sweeps, beadles, lamplighters, waterman, dustmen, scavengers, postmen, and waits—these are a set of men that go about the streets playing musick in the night after people are in bed and asleep. Some people are very fond of hearing them, but for my part I don't admire being roused from a sound sleep by a whole band of musick. All these people expect to have a shilling or half a crown each. Miss P gave me half a sovereign for a Chirstmas box and Mr. S gave me half a crown. I might get fuddled [drunk] two or three times a day as all the trades people that serve this house are pressing with their glass of something to drink their health this Christmas time."

This British custom of presenting Christmas boxes, still practiced today, came from a time when alms boxes were placed in churches on Christmas and distributed the next day.

I've heard many explanations as to why it's called Boxing Day, but i'd never heard the explanation of the alms boxes. And, having lived in a place which for my lifetime thus far has decimalized currency, i had to refresh myself on what a shilling, half a crown, and half a sovereign were.

For those who forgot or for those who never learned, before decimalization in 1971, Britain had pounds (£), shillings (s), and pence (d).

12 pennies made 1 shilling
20 shillings made 1 pound
21 shillings made 1 guinea

So a half sovereign was a half a pound or 10 shillings.
Half a crown was 2s 6d; therefore a crown was worth 5 shillings (remember 6d is half a shilling--good old base 12).

It doesn't sound like much in today's money, half a pound or a quarter pound (we'd think of that as 50p or 25p); yet, in watching A Christmas Carol the other day (the Alistair Sim version), the charwoman is shocked when Scrooge wants to raise her wages to 10s a week (up from the 2s she had been receiving).

I don't know how much money footmen made, but to think that i'd get a raise from my employer equal to 5 times what i'm currently making, or a present equal to
5 times what i'd been making as most generous indeed!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blessed is the season...

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."
-author unknown

Many celebrations this time of year speak of light in the dark.

Chez nous, that would mean lighting bayberry candles on this evening and letting them burn all the way down.

Merry Christmas!

From all of us, including the more photogenic in our group



 and Jim

Friday, December 21, 2012

This is the way the world ends

I'm glad i got the chance to see this fine group, Artisan, perform in a house concert in 2003. Lovely people and so very talented.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I just need to rant a little bit. In my job, we work with many different clients. Some of them want us to use their templates, style guides, and procedures. Okay. Others are okay if we use our own. Also okay.

What drives me mad is when the client wants us to use their template, and it's shite. Well, in some cases it's not shite, it's just not well designed. And then the client rants if we try to improve it. And then rants if we don't. And people on my internal team rant if i mention that the template lacks, but the same ones who say how much time i have to work on the project with the template don't allow for the actual time it takes me to fix the bloody thing so it doesn't get corrupted or look like someone who didn't give a rat's ass was doing the work.

Now, if this particular client template, which has been the impetus for the current rant, were from a client that was a small start-up or an 8-year-old just learning how to use the software, i wouldn't say too much. In fact, in the former case, i've been known to have a chat with the client directly and offer to use our template which is similar but a bit more user friendly. Most are relieved and some have openly said they knew their template was crap. Could i tweak things a bit so it looks more like what they want, but not so they have to pay more money? Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes no because it really does depend on the amount of work involved. I don't work with children, so have not yet had to contend with the 8-year-old, although the way some folks whinge, you wouldn't know they weren't kids, except their voices have changed.

No, this particular client is a huge company, one that probably spends more in paper clips than i get paid in a year. Don't you think that such a large place would have a better than crappy template?


I have decided i'm going to conclude my work day, shut down the computer, and commence to decorating the Christmas tree. All the cats have sniffed at it, JoJo was happy to sit under it today but gave me a look as if to say, "Where's the tree skirt?"

Phoebe right now is happy cleaning herself before the wood stove, and Jim is outside. So far he hasn't tried climbing the tree. Once it's adorned with the lights and shiny, hanging objects, though, we'll see what happens. I think this year i shall use all nonbreakable ornaments. Just in case.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat, 09 December 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

‎"The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.” —Corrie Ten Boom

Mostly work stuff and finishing up the Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr Natasha Campbell–McBride. At some point i need to return to reading for fun.

I watched "La tête en fraiche" or the English title, "My Afternoons with Margueritte." Excellent film. I'd like to read the book on which it's based.

Listening to
The heater kick on.

I made some pumpkin squares for my knitting group. They were yummy. My neighbours up the street gave an invite for supper. Yummy beef roast, latkes, and green salad. Mmmmmm.

Happy you accomplished this week
Cleared out the second bay in the garage so i can make room for the new-to-me truck. Thankfully it was really sunny and warmer than usual today, so i was able to move stuff without too much trouble. Going to have a friend help me with adjusting the open switch on the garage door, though, so i know the opening will be high enough for the truck. I don't have the confidence to take it on myself. It needs but a small tweak, lesss than an inch for the truck to clear.

I also had a great idea about storing the mast where it's out of the way but still inside the barn. Just have to figure out how to make the idea become real.
Got through most of my to do list today. I listed everything i thought needed doing and figured i'd be good if i got halfway through.

Looking forward to next week
Picking up the wreaths tomorrow and the Christmas tree. It'll be fun to watch Jim with the tree.

*Bonus Question*
What type of cell phone do you have? Do you have all the bells & whistles or just basics?
I have the basic phone. I can make and receive phone calls and texts. The end. it's a pay as you go plan, and i can roll over minutes i don't use. I have lots of minutes. There are a number of places around me that are dead zones, and really, the easiest way to call me is on my landline, since i work from home. I don't like texting, but there are times where friends are sailing and they can text me more easily than can call. I guess the texts take less whatever it is, because the calls will get dropped, but the texts go through.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


I was working aboard a schooner in 2000 when i met Joe. I had sailed on the schooner several times as a passenger, and when a chance came to fill in as messmate the latter part of the 2000 sailing season, i took it.

I have often wondered if Joe were related to Rodney Dangerfield because they share that same self-deprecating Eeyore sort of outlook. He enjoys a good joke, even if it occursat his expense, and is happiest at the helm on the schooner, on SFB's ketch, on another sailing friend's boat, or on mine. He can look at a boat on the water and tell you what kind it is, a history about the designer, and will give his assessment of whether it's one he'd like or not. Most of our sailing together has been on the schooner, and she is dearly loved. Fits like an old shoe, yet he's been captivated for awhile by trimarans. When we were anchored at a schooner gathering, a tri anchored nearby, its captain eager to gawk at so many windjammers in one spot. Joe and the mate took the yawl over to the tri so he could see it at very close range, and was thrilled to pieces when the tri's captain invited him aboard. The owner was looking to sell the tri after this world voyage, and yes for $8 million, Joe could live his dream. Not having that sort of money in his back pocket, he reluctantly said no, but was beaming when he returned, positively gushing about all the amenities she had on board.

His wife, like SFB's has had her fill of sailing, but we have always felt we knew their wives from what each has said about them. I got the sense the feeling is mutual because when i met both their wives, we fell to talking to one another right away, and i was sorry neither wants to come along for our sailing adventures.

I've sailed with Joe numerous times since that week-long trip in 2000, and nearly each time we play a little cribbage or backgammon, where i'm either terribly lucky or unlucky. SFB will pull out his guitar, and a group of us warble a lot of old songs. SFB has a notebook with the chords and words for the songs. I often sit next to him so i can read the words and sing along. Joe refuses to look at the words but will hum if he can't quite remember what they are and sing loud and strong for the parts he does.

He and Joe took quite a few sailing trips on SFB's boat, and a few times, they helped others sail their boats, and in some of those latter situations, had stories to tell. The one that always brings a smile to my face is the one where Joe mentions being so happy to get off the boat they had agreed to help sail that he kissed the dock as soon as he alit from the gunwhale.

After SFB sold his boat, he and Joe have sailed on the schooner mostly, and quite a few times, we were together for downrigging, the last day of the sailing season when everything comes off the boat and gets put away for the winter or gets worked on between downrigging and outrigging the following spring.

Once i moved to my current location, i could see both Joe and SFB more often as neither live that far away. Geographically speaking, i'm between the two, and the first few times we met on land, it felt funny. When Cappy got married, we all gawked as we looked at each other and our other shipmates all dressed up.

I didn't go on the last long trip in September this year, so didn't take part in all the zaniness, but saw them off at the beginning of their trip and was at the dock to welcome them back ashore. Joe and i discussed my boat a bit, and he and SFB helped me with my inflatable dinghy that decided to spring another leak. Or maybe it was a leak i hadn't mended properly. Yes, well, that would be something to consider over winter. Try mending it again or suck it up and buy a fibreglass one?

With the advent of social media, we could be friends on facebook and trade photos or statuses. Joe's wife, SFB's wife, and i play word games, and i have encouraged them to come sailing with us, but each holds fast to her "I've had enough sailing" rule. After each trip, before facebook but after the Internet became the norm, we'd email photos or links to photos of our trips, send along funny jokes, or newsy emails.

About three months ago, Joe emailed a bunch of us because he was planning a surprise party for his wife, who was turning 65 this year, and the party was going to be in mid-November. They were going to have it at a favourite Chinese restaurant of theirs. Their wedding anniversary fell about a week before--42 years. And so, most of us were able to attend the party, and even though i followed the google map directions precisely, we did have to ask another human how to get where we wanted to go. We got there with just enough time to slip into the room with the others, slip out of our coats and say hello to a few people before Joe and his wife arrived. She was simply stunned, and both wore huge smiles all evening.

It was great to see them. Himself had found a few things that he thought she'd like, even though Joe had said no gifts, just please come and celebrate with us. I had found a funny card i thought she'd like, and Himself found an Andy Warhol card he knew she'd love, since she's an artist. Which she did.

Lots of laughter and hugs all around.

Joe let us know via facebook that he needed to go into the hospital. Platelet count was low, needed a tranfusion. Doctors determined they needed to remove his spleen. So, he'd be talking to us in a few days. We all wished him well. His wife mentioned that they had to move him to critical care after the surgery. Um, okay, well he did just have surgery, better safe than sorry, and all that.

Last night i thought of Joe as i was dozing off to sleep, and said a prayer. It's just something i do when someone floats into my mind like that.

This morning, i found out that Joe died last night. Heart attack, apparently. All day, i've been trying to process this, and between crying jags, i go about my work day and can't quite believe it. The sun shone brilliantly during its short nine-hour stint as we barrel towards the Solstice, but there was a big gaping hole in my heart surrounded by a dark space, as there was in the hearts of my friends who have sailed with this man, listened to his corny jokes, weren't fooled for a moment when he tried to be curmudgeonly, and somehow think as i do, that he's going to pop in at any moment and say he was back.

I called SFB as soon as i heard. He thanked me for calling and we were on the phone less than five minutes. I cried after that, and i'm sure he did, too. Cappy posted a status, so many people could find out who had sailed with Joe and who perhaps hadn't met his wife or son. At lunchtime, i called another sailing friend to let her know, because although i knew she had a facebook account, i wasn't sure that she checked it all that often. I just thought of someone else who needs to know any may not have been told, so i'll make another of those sad calls.

Godspeed and fair winds, Joe. I hope to see you on Fiddler's Green.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RIP, Dave Brubeck

I must say, i always felt cool when i listened to Dave Brubeck. I'm glad so much of his music was recorded, so we can listen again and again.

Take five, Dave. And thanks.