Friday, March 30, 2012

bullies

I have never liked bullies. As a child, i was sometimes a target, and the few times i did gang up on someone, i always ended up feeling bad about it.

That doesn't mean i was a shrinking violet, for i'd say my piece and learned that even if my saying something didn't change the situation, it changed the way I felt about the situation. I could say that i had done all i could and move on, perhaps regretting that it hadn't turned out differently, but not living with the regret that i left a stone unturned.

After experiencing several occasions where a group wanted me to say something on its behalf, only to have them abandon me at the critical moment, where i stood to speak and turned around to see no one there, did i learn to say what i did wholeheartedly. If i didn't feel as the group did, i did not volunteer to be spokesman.

I've had a number of occasions since my childhood where i was ostracized for being different, taking the unpopular viewpoint, or for refusing to give in to lunacy. It can seem a rather lonely place, especially right when it's happening, but once things settle a bit, i usually find if not support, then others who have been in that place and give a nod.

I was reminded of that this week when a friend mentioned that he had to unfriend another friend on facebook. Like me, he uses facebook to keep in touch, and as a diversion that adds a light-hearted moment to a work day. One of the people he unfriended earlier was someone i also know; she decided to rant every chance she got when he posted something contrary to her views. Since she is narrow-minded, many things fall into the "right to rant" category. It grew tiresome, and even after he asked her nicely to let it go, she couldn't. So, he did.

From the sidelines, where i was, i could see the pressure building and that neither party looked ready to yield. Neither did, he unfriended her, and she spent quite a bit of cyber ink trying to rally support for her position. Surprisingly, she got it and even now works it into any number of conversations or comments.

I liken it to a bad spill, where there's the initial outpouring of the contents. Once it's spilt, it's spilt. Even then, however, one has a choice about what to do. One can do one's best to clean up the mess, or one can decide to spread the mess around. Even people who get along well will disagree on occasion, and there have been times where i've been on the sidelines and can see validity in both points of view. But when i see someone purposefully spreading the crud around in ever increasingly large circles, i lose respect for that person. They can content themselves to staying in shite all they wish; i have no desire to wallow in such muck.

The internet has given a whole new world for cowardly bullies to have their say, then run away, change their online IDs or ISPs. I can't say how often i've heard others complain about texts their children have received or sent that were bullying in nature. How can they think themselves cloaked when such things can be traced?

When i think back to my younger days with bullies, i find they all seem to be not quite bright and use the bullying to hide an inadequacy. Plus ├ža change, eh?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

RIP, Earl Scruggs

I like bluegrass in small doses. I've played with some old-time music musicians, who are very talented, and we've had a lot of fun. As it is with so many other things, those who are really gifted make it look effortless, although in many cases, it's the 10,000 hours of playing and practice plus the gift that make it seamless. The rest of us play and practice and while we may become proficient, we never rise to that ultimate level.

Mr. Scruggs made it look so easy. As one easily befuddled by strings, i just watch with amazement.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Finds-stranger than fiction

A friend, J, and i went shopping on Saturday. She, like me, knits, and unlike me, spins. We ooh and aah, those of us at the knitting group, when she shows us the latest on the bobbin, and it's heartfelt oohing and aahing, for she does nice work.

She wants to learn how to ply properly, which is Next on the List, and to that end, she's gone and gotten herself some nice batts from a farm not too far away. Whilst there, she saw lovely large wicker baskets for sale. These aren't your run-of-the-mill wicker baskets. No siree, they are huge and were used in the 19th century as containers, much the way we use cardboard boxes today.

She told me about them and how she really, really wanted one. The idea caught my fancy, but i didn't know about bringing one home with me (more than one was for sale). She also mentioned something about buffalo hide carts. um, okay. I'm interested. J had told the husband and wife farmers/owners that she'd come back in a few or several days and most likely would be dragging a friend along, but wasn't sure what day. They assured her that someone would be around no matter what day it was, and they hoped she enjoyed the batts.

After a nice lunch on the way up in a place i've always wanted to stop and hadn't yet, we were ready to take a left to go down the road where the farm was, when our eyes were filled with the spectacle of someone dressed in a gorilla suit, waving to passing motorists. We ended up missing our turn as a result, so yes, we turned around and stopped a bit before the gorilla. He was standing by a large yellow sign with the words, ESTATE SALE written on them. Worth a look, we thought.

Seems an older woman had moved on and many of her household effects were for sale. Some dandy old frames, for which i had no use, bric-a-brac, and records--not just LPs, but a box of 45's AND 78's. I came away with a booklet of Steven Foster songs, replete with all the politically incorrect lyrics, as this was a 1951 reprint of a 1934 edition, and two old postcards that i thought an historian friend of mine might like. All for a single dollar.

The sale had been going on for at least 3 hours by the time we had arrived, so i'm sure we would have found other items of interest had we gotten there earlier. While J really liked two of the gilded frames, she couldn't think of where they'd live in her house, so we moved on.

The road to the farm was at the end of the estate sale's property line, so we turned right and went a short distance to the farm. We were greeted by the husband of the husband and wife owners. They have some llamas and sheep, who were outside enjoying the sunny, beautiful day. The husband remembered my friend and she in turn mentioned that we wanted to look at the baskets as well as the yarn. We were walking in the garage, which was attached to the house on its left, and onto another ell at the right corner, which contained a showroom, workshop, and loads of storage space.

The baskets were amazing. He went on to explain that the Royal Ballet still uses these types to store shoes. That these had been made by the blind in England sometime during the 19th century, and they had picked this stuff up as it had been used at a wool mill. They thought them too nice not to take home, although they didn't need all they picked up, as it turns out. J showed me the one she wanted, and i could see it living in her house. He went on to say there were another two available, a closed one like the one J liked, and a large open one. He showed them to us, just in case she wanted to change which one she wanted. The other closed one called to me. I knew right where it would go in my house, and told him so.

And then, he told us about the carts made of buffalo hide. They were used in the wool mills, although the one they kept for themselves they used by the side door to keep firewood handy. He pointed over to the side door on the far side of the garage, and it was covered in wood dust. He had another one they weren't using, and as soon as i saw it, my heart sang. It's shaped very much like the mining cart one sees in the Indiana Jones movie, in which they take a ride, and the hide is thick and stiff. On each of the longer sides, there's a middle seam stitched with sinew. I told him that was going home with me, too.

He then mentioned that an antiques dealer had been by to look at the baskets a day or two after J had been. How it was funny that the baskets were sitting around for months with no one looking at all, and then in the same week, two different parties expressing interest. She was looking at them on the behalf of someone else who lived in New York.

Now, yes, i thought of stereotypical used car salesmen and how they use that tactic to get you to buy things. But, we had already expressed our desire to buy the items, agreed to the price, and the feel of his words were very different from that slimy-i-think-i'm-being-had feeling. The price he quoted us we both found very reasonable, and my basket was a bit less in price than J's, since it was missing the leather straps, like small belts, that could be adjusted to keep the lid closed. Strings had been tied in their place, and i could find bits of leather on my own for new straps, or consider doing some rope work and perhaps making a monkey's fist and loop to serve as a clasp.

We wanted to look at yarn as well. His wife had joined us by this point, and as we walked into their showroom, which was filled with lovely yarn they had spun, scented homemade soaps that they make, and knitted items, some for sale, and others to provide a sample of how the yarn looks knitted, he pointed to another large basket that held a bunch of yarn. "If you'd prefer that basket," he said pointing to the yarn-filled one, "you're welcome to take it instead of the one you chose. It's in better shape."

It was much cleaner and had the leather straps intact. And i can't say why, but it didn't sing to me the same way. I thanked him for the option and told him i was very happy with the one i had chosen initially. How i thought the baskets and buffalo cart should stay here rather than go off to New York. He smiled and laughed.

He helped us load the items into J's car. We could fit two of the three, but not all three at the once, so we contented ourselves with filling up the back of her car with the two baskets and would come back for the buffalo hide cart.

I ended up getting two skeins of a brown/grey icelandic wool to make a hat for myself. They're hoping to get their own icelandic sheep very soon--the fleeces they used for this yarn came from neighbours' sheep. They demonstrated their sock making machine, which had us transfixed. He showed how he could turn a heel within 10 minutes. The wife showed us the socks she was wearing, which had been the first pair she made on the machine. Took her about an hour and a half. They're going to give a how-to class for anyone who'd like to learn in June. It's free, and J and i can both see wanting to have one of those machines. They don't sell them or get any commission, but shall be happy to give us info if we'd like.

He gifted J with several ounces of roving that he said she'd find fun to spin because of the way it was combed? carded? Not sure what term he used, but he said they were long strands, so would make for fun spinning.

We were in the workroom now as that's where the sock making machine was, and we were coming back through to the showroom, when we saw another customer. J had given her credit card to the wife for processing, and i was producing my checkbook to settle up. She had just come in, and he introduced us to Joan. She had knitted up a cowl with some of their yarn and wanted to show them the finished product. It was lovely and looked like it would keep one's neck very warm. She had also come back to say that her client in NY wanted the baskets. Yes, she was none other than the antique dealer.

She was too late, of course, as we had already bought them, and they were in J's car. And the buffalo hide cart was waiting in the wings for our return trip. She was gracious and said the only reason she hadn't bought them the other day was that they wouldn't fit in her car and that she was waiting to hear back from the client, who had just confirmed. She told us they were worth far more than we paid for them, even though she didn't know what price we had been quoted, and that we got a good deal. Now, i don't know if he would offer her the yarn-filled basket as he had me, or if Joan had planned to get all of them and create some sort of display for the client.

We chattered good-naturedly, bade our good-byes, and told them we'd run home with this load and come back for the cart.

The gorilla was still at roadside, waving to all and sundry to take a gander. We waved as we turned for home. We dropped off the baskets at my house. J wanted to get the spot in her house ready before she moved it in, would that be all right? I assured her it would be, and i thought i might wash my basket and let it dry on the patio. We could do the same with hers, if she'd like.

We took the ride back up for the cart. The Sunday drivers appeared to be out a day early. We could see the gorilla and someone else dressed in a canvas tunic and troll face was walking past the gorilla. The gorilla seemed indefatigueable in his efforts to encourage motorists to stop and see what bargains could be purchased at the sale.

I saw a Prius with NY tags turn from the farm road onto onto the main road. "That's Joan," i said.

J looked briefly, then turned onto the farm road. The gorilla waved at us once again, and i waved back. We got to the farm, and the husband helped us load up the buffalo cart. He said that Joan had just left. I nodded and said we saw her as we were pulling off the main road and onto this smaller road. I didn't say it, but noticed her car looked empty. The buffalo cart is now in our barn, and shall be very handy when we've got to move boat stuff that's now stored in the barn over to the boat as she's outfitted.

This seems the sort of thing that one tends to label under fiction, only most English teachers i know would think it preposterous and too staged. Gorillas waving, buffalo hide carts, and someone else wanting the same huge baskets to arrive minutes too late for purchasing. It wasn't even a full moon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday night Chit-Chat 25 March 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.






A friend of mine took a snap of this bumper sticker while travelling.


Reading
I finally finished a Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts. A friend lent me a book, Treasure Chests The Legacy of Extraordinary Boxes by Lon Schleining. The book contains photos of some wonderfully made chests. I admire woodworkers and indeed all artisans and craftsfolk who can produce beautiful things with their hands.

Watching
Rented the movie My Best Friend's Wedding, because it was one of those i had never seen and thought it might be enjoyable. The cell phones and computer scenes look so dated now. I remember not wanting to see the movie when it came out because i thought it's be too predictable and in part because i thought it might hit too close to home. One of my dearest friends who was like a second brother to me really wanted me at this wedding. And, i really wanted to be there and did attend. His wife, having been brought up with only sisters and having all female cousins, really couldn't understand how a boy and a girl could simply be good friends and nothing else. I do think that woman was the happiest person at my wedding that took place a few years after theirs. The movie had as its premise, that this man and woman did date for a bit first, but remained friends afterwards. I'm glad i didn't see it when it first was released, as that's exactly what so many thought about my friend and me, only we never dated. I had dated his best friend off and on for three years. That relationship never worked, but the friendship i developed with the on-again/off-again boyfriend's best friend remained.

Listening to
The heat kick on. Our week of unbelievably warm weather has left, and we've had grey skies all day with spits of rain.

Cooking/Baking
Emboldened by the success of the scones i recently made, i want to try some bacon, cheese, and chive or onion ones. A friend of mine found a recipe and showed it to me, independently of my trying to figure out how much bacon i'd need. So, it seems like a sure sign that i must make these.




Happy you accomplished this week
Made through a slog sort of workweek!



The oil fired boiler isn't working right, and of course, these things always seem to occur on the weekend. Grrr. I only found out when i realised we had no hot water, as the hot water heater is heated by the boiler. I called the oil company to let them know and asked the after hours person to have someone come round Monday morning. Thankfully, the weather has been warm enough, but i do love taking a hot, long shower. Making do with the camping solar shower is okay, but i'll be glad when we're back to having a seemingly endless supply of hot water. I know, i've gone soft in my old age!




Looking forward to next week
Attending a hockey game with friends midweek.




Thankful for today
Got a chance to rest, finish my book before the due date of tomorrow, and just putter about. My leg is still a bit twingy, so i decided not to play hockey today. It's still a bit stiff and hurts when i bend and put most or all of my weight on the right knee. I overheard two women talking about someone they knew experiencing a soft tissue injury and the one said to the other with a knowing tone, "You know, those soft tissue injuries take six weeks to heal." I hope they're wrong in my case, as my hockey season will be over by then!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Temptation

At a friend's urging i joined Facebook and have found it a nice way to stay in touch with some people. It can also be a big time waster. I ended up liking a few of the local businesses that have fb pages, and one has Free Friday giveaways. They announce in a status what the free item is, and which comment number will be the winner.

Well, i logged onto fb, saw the FREE ITEM status, and could scarcely believe it, as comment #1 would be the winner, and it turned out to be yours truly!

It was only afterward when i let them know i'd go to pick it up straightaway that i discovered my prize is a package of apricots dipped in dark chocolate! Here i had to laugh, because there are three weeks left of Lent, and i have given up sugar and sweeteners. So, of course i'd win a chocolate prize! LOL

I have put the package in the refrigerator, where it shall stay until Easter morning at least.

One woman on my hockey team and one colleague decided to give up swearing for Lent this year. Both said they've not been successful. My colleague decided to switch to foregoing coffee creamer, which was hard at first, "but not as hard as not swearing apparently, since I still haven't had any creamer."

I had told her on an earlier occasion what i told my hockey teammate: a few years back, i tried giving up swearing, too, and was a total failure. I decided to try again for 40 days after Easter and was a tad more successful. I have found giving up sugar much easier but am looking forward to the choccies.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

old fart

I had planned on attending a concert this evening, but i left it go too late. When i stopped to get tickets earlier in the week, the show was sold out. The woman at the box office told me that i could show up the night of the show and see if anyone were willing to sell a ticket or two, as they don't offer refunds.

I had every intention of doing just that, but to be truthful, i'm tired, i've got loads of work to do tomorrow, and i'm thinking turning in early is far more preferable.

When did i turn into such an old fart?

Yes, young readers may be rolling their eyes just now and saying, "Oh, puleeze" or worse, but you wait, she warns, shaking her finger vigorously. One day, you too, will suddenly find yourself losing steam at an unbelievably early hour and wonder how the hell it happened.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Manners

This morning, John's blog post about the Jehovah Witnesses visiting him popped into my head. I mused about those who think themselves religious and recalled when Himself was elected to vestry and made Junior Warden. Our church had term limits when serving on vestry. One could serve two consecutive terms, then had to take a term off. A number of usual vestry candidates figured that our rector would retire in about 5 years, so those who didn't want to have to sit out the odd term during Father's retirement decided to sit out just prior. They also thought that Himself would be a good vestryman and encouraged him to run.

He did run, was handily elected, and to the surprise of both of us, was chosen to be Junior Warden. The Senior Warden had been a vestryman for years and was a wonderful administrator. Himself has wonderful diplomatic skills, which served him well, although we were both shocked that other long-term vestry members would openly embrace him to be Junior Warden rather than put themselves out there for the position.

Having this new position meant that we were suddenly invited to a lot more
get-togethers than heretofore, and moreover, given that Himself was Junior Warden, we were expected to go. And go we did.

Most of the people attending these functions were at least 20 years older, much better versed in the ways and means of how these things run, and much more affluent, as we were only starting out then. Some gave condescending nods of approval, the way a parent encourages a child when he embarks on a new task. Himself is the type that is eager to please, so it went well for the most part.

I tend to feel somewhat shy at large gatherings, which often surprises people. I don't feel adept at small talk, and while i can and do, it takes an awful lot out of me. I've gotten better with practice, but then it took a lot more effort, and i think i made more blunders or was much harder on myself. I tried to please as well, knowing, however unfair it may be, that Himself would be judged not only on his behaviour, but on his wife's. I wanted him to succeed and wished to do what i could not to encumber that in any way.

So, there we were, at a Big Do, with all the money players, held at the spacious house of one of the Biggest Parishionners. I always got the feeling that the wife went to church because she wanted to worship God; the husband went to church because he felt it was expected of him to attend; but he always gave me the impression that he wanted to be anywhere else on a Sunday morning besides the sanctuary. They were very nice to us, extremely welcoming as we walked into their manse, and i took care not to have my jaw drop.

Their house was beautifully and tastefully decorated with that air of affluence. Not flashy or nouveau riche, and not quite old money either, but with that quiet confidence that comes from having had a most comfortable income for years. The husband offered us drinks right away, and i realised i was surrounded by the three martini lunch crowd. My father's generation. While i'm not a teetotaler, i don't drink very often or very much when i do drink. I did accept the drink to give my hands something to do, and Himself after securing his drink, worked the room like a politician. I was left to my own devices, tried making small talk with some of the other women present, and felt a dismal failure.

I prayed a silent prayer for help, acknowledging that i was out of my league. Well out of my league. Just then i espied a cat, and was immediately drawn to it. I stooped down to pet the kitty, who purred and welcomed my attentions. After a few minutes, i thought i should break away from kitty and find a place to sit. All of the chairs were taken, and no one seemed ready to give them up, least of all for the youngest person there, so i threw manners out the window, and sat down on the floor to pet the cat. After years of being youngest at any number of events where chairs were at a premium, i had always sat on the floor, and to this day, i'm still a floor sitter.

One of the older women gasped at this. I could hear her tsk-tsking me in her mind. She always had the look of eating too many green persimmons, and when she did try to smile, it looked completely unnatural, as if the concept itself were distasteful and foreign.

The cat, meanwhile, thought my idea a capital one, and immediately got up in my lap and made itself at home.

The hostess came into the room, took one look at me and the cat, and said, "You'll have a friend for life now, although he's not usually so friendly with strangers. He'll want you to stay like that for the rest of the evening, but you don't have to do that. When you've had enough, just stand up, and he'll move."

I smiled back, and as we were catless at the time, i told her it was all right with me, as i dearly loved cats and didn't have many opportunities like this. It was true, and the most heartfelt thing i said at the gathering up till then.

The Green Persimmon woman also loved cats, and came over to pet the kitty. He allowed her to pet him, although stopped purring as soon as she patted his head. Her whole face changed as she looked at the cat, and her involuntary smile was genuine. I looked away before she caught me staring at her and thinking me rude.

The food was ready, so i got up from my comfortable floor seat. I was hungry, but reluctant to make the cat move. He also seemed reluctant to allow me to rise. The spacious dining room table couldn't quite fit all of us, and several card tables had been set up to allow seats for everyone. Himself and i sat at one of the card tables. The Green Persimmon woman and another woman, who turned out to be a delight, sat with us.

We all had just sat down. I had unfolded my napkin and placed it in my lap, and Father gave the blessing, to which we had all bowed our heads and said amen, when the kitty, who was patiently sitting beside me, stared hard enough at me, that i happened to notice him. I made eye contact, and in a flash, he jumped up into my lap, and settled himself quite nicely on my napkin. I couldn't help thinking he thought it a hammock for his especial enjoyment.

I smiled at him, patted his head, and commenced to eating.

Himself was talking about some pleasant topic, when the Green Persimmon woman interrupted. "Sorry to interrupt, this just won't do. YOU"--and here she pointed at me, yes POINTED--"CANNOT allow this cat to remain on your lap while we're eating!"

The tone was that of the sternest schoolmistress, which indeed she had been for many, many years. The cat, who had commenced to cleaning himself, stopped in mid-lick to look at her. My face was aflame, everyone in the room stopped all talk and movement, and watched.

The cat slowly drew his outstretched leg in, leaned against me for just a moment, jumped down, and walked out of the room. I fervently wanted to follow and watched him go.

I returned my focus back to the humans at the table. The Green Persimmon woman was in midstream, stating once again that she couldn't quite believe i would tolerate that for an instant. I found my voice and said quietly that i was surprised the cat had done that, but once he settled in my lap, i knew he wasn't going to walk on the table, and i didn't think he was bothering anyone. He had even left me a goodly amount of the napkin to use, which i thought most polite.

Here, the other lady laughed out loud and deftly changed the subject, asking Himself about a church matter that was coming up and dear to her heart, would he mind if she explained a bit of the background?

Reprieved.

As it turned out, the rector decided to announce his retirement soon after Himself was elected. As Junior Warden, he was automatically on the Search Committee for the new rector and also had to interview the Interim priest. That meant more get-togethers, including a Big Do at the Bishop's. There were no cats or dogs there for the St. Stephen's party, but i had learned a lot more about what was expected, and felt much more at ease. Those who had sat out the odd term were more than a bit put out that Father chose to retire a bit early, and their envy was plain when the Bishop's wife approached me at our church's coffee hour and said how much she enjoyed Himself and i attending their St. Stephen's bash. We chatted easily, and i thanked her once again for such a lovely time. Best laid plans, eh?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday night Chit-Chat 18 March 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

"The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground."


Reading
Besides the boat books, i'm reading Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts. Also, found out that a local business paper will revive our local regular paper :0)

Watching
Rented the movie Bridesmaids, because i wanted something mindless and fun. It fit the bill, and i can see why Melissa McCarthy was nominated for an Oscar. Parts of the movie dragged and were predictable, but i was in the mood to be entertained, and i was.

Listening to
Chad Mitchell Trio, Singing Our Minds. Still a great album, and of course i'm singing along.

Cooking/Baking
I made these scones, and took them to my knitting group. Everyone enjoyed them, and i made a second batch on Wednesday. The second batch was tastier than the first in part because i took care to grate the cheese, really chop the onions, and break up the walnuts into small pieces, so i think everything blended together better. Yummy!

Happy you accomplished this week
First runthrough of most of the taxes. I have a few questions that need answers, but by and large, we're getting a refund from one and either shall break even or owe a little bit with the other.

I washed the kitchen windows and screens today. Wow, what a difference! Beautiful day today, so i did do some weeding in the flower bed by the house. I also washed most of the winter crud off my car. I was fearful if i washed it completely away, snow may return. In another month, i think i can remove all the last vestiges without tempting Old Man Winter too much.

I repotted the horseradish so the roots have room to grow. The compost bin is full of partially decomposed stuff more so than finished compost, so i'll need to get some more potting soil.

The rest, ice, elevation, anti-inflammatory meds, and gentle moving is just what my leg needed. It's feeling very much better--not 100% yet, but i'm hopeful i'll be able to play hockey this time next week.

Looking forward to next week
Leo Kottke will be in holding a concert next town over! Buying tickets before the show are a little cheaper than at the door, so my plan is to buy tix tomorrow before heading out for knitting.

Thankful for today
Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and a delightful day! I sat outside whilst working on the taxes, and it was nice to walk around the yard and see what was pushing up through the soil. I was pleased to see the smallest tips of the rhubarb crown poking through. Given the slugs last year, i wondered if the rhubarb would come back.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Bees Knees

We were treated to beautiful, warm, sunny skies today. Wonderful day to be outside. I filled the bird and suet feeders in the morning, and a few hours later went out to hang a load of wash. I expected the chickadees to fly close by as they usually do. Not only did they not fly near me, i heard no bird chirping at all.

I looked at the bird feeder and saw it teeming with honey bees. They were picking out the bits of cracked corn, and i wondered at first if they thought it was pollen. There were also a number of them on the ground buzzing around the seed i throw on the ground for the ground feeders.

The feeder is nothing special, it looks like a little wooden rectangular house with clear plastic on the larger sides. I then wondered if these bees were looking for somewhere to make a nest and thought this a great location once they got the seed cleared out.

The only bee keeper listed in the phone book has a disconnected phone number. I talked to a local merchant to see if she sold local honey. She didn't, and i checked at another shop and found two local bee keepers; one had his phone number on the jar, the other only an address.

I came home, called the first and got no answer, so looked up the other's number and called. Success! He patiently explained that they were looking for pollen. Once they went through the seed and realised there wasn't any to be had, they'd move on.

I thanked him for answering my question, because i wanted to do the right thing, only i didn't know what that was.

Sure enough, once the seed was emptied from the feeder, most of the bees flew away. It wasn't a huge swarm, but there were 35 or so.

The raccoons have been eating the seeds on the ground at night, so they'll be glad to see the extra that are there that the bees scattered for them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

calling Dr. Kitty

In the vein of sounding like a crazy cat lady, i can say that my cats are amazing when it comes to nursing and knowing when healing takes place.

I had more experience with this than i wished when i fell and broke my leg in 2005. Very bad break, both tibia and fibula. The tibia was smashed at the bottom looking "like cornflakes" as the physiotherapist said upon looking at the X-ray, and the top part had a spiral fracture. The fibula was broken in four places. Never let it be said that i do anything halfway.

Injuries like this are where allopathic medicine shines best and brightest, and i was profoundly grateful to have a wonderful orthopaedic surgeon on call, his highly skilled surgical team, the kind ER doc who had the awful duty of untwisting my leg, the ambulance crew who came out to me in a blizzard to take me to the hospital. Many others played a part in this healing, too: the physiotherapists, the visiting nurse who worked with me to show me how to enter my house safely, friends and loved ones who sent well wishes, cards, and prayers.

Himself was absolutely brilliant caring for me, and both of us came to realise just how much of a team effort we do have. Yes, there are times where one of us may have felt put upon and as if one of us was busily pulling more of the load than the other, but all that pettiness melted away when it was clearly a situation where i could do nothing really to help myself, and Himself shouldered it all.

I wanted to try and help, but those first few weeks, i couldn't do much. And given that Himself is a worrier, i didn't want to add to his burden by being stupid and try to push beyond what i could do. He cooked, he cleaned, he banked the coal stove before going to bed at night, and brought it up just a tad so i'd be cosy warm whilst he was at work.

I couldn't drive with my cast, since i have a manual transmission, and for the first week, i had enough pain meds in me that i wouldn't trust myself. Trying to navigate those motorised carts with baskets for "shoppers who need a lift" proved troublesome enough. Each store had similar but not identical models. And, there are no brakes. You have to stop pushing the button that makes it go, and that makes it stop. Simple enough, yes. But, when you're wifty with pain meds, the reaction time slows, and i nearly ran over two kids who ran immediately in front of me. Their mother glared at me, and i wanted to throttle her. There was also no place to carry my crutches on those things, and one of the store employees tried being helpful in suggesting that i could leave my crutches at the service desk and pick them up on the way out. Um, no, i don't think so.

I didn't venture out often in those early weeks of recovery, which was best for all concerned, and that nearly-running-down kids experience was only because i had to get a pair of trousers i could wear over my cast.

But, i digress.

Himself was worried about leaving me alone all day at home. What if i needed something? I told him i'd be all right, i could crutch into the bathroom and stay on the ground floor because thankfully, we had one bedroom on the ground floor along with a full bath. Besides, i told him, i wouldn't be completely alone. The cats were with me.

We had three then: Grace, black and white, feral who chose to be domesticated and picked me as her human, was the eldest. I've already talked a bit about our calico, Phoebe, and even have a post about her. And then we had JoJo, the grey tabby, who was about 7 months old when all this happened.

They were accustomed to two healthy, able-bodied adults to care for them. Feed them. Let them in and out on command. They didn't like that i was gone for three days, when i was in hospital, and when i came home, they realised that something Very Wrong had happened. We never saw them hold meetings or anything, but within a day of my coming home and Himself having to get back to work, the cats had developed their own routine.

Grace was Head Nurse, Jo was the candy striper. Phoebe wasn't big on nursing, so was the visitor spending time with the patient. They worked it out amongst themselves that rule #1 was that one of them had to be with me at all times. It was clear i wasn't able to do much of anything, so they wouldn't ask me to do anything for them. Himself could see to them well enough when he got home.

I spent a lot of time sleeping or trying to, as i had to lie on my back, and i'm a side or stomach sleeper. Grace, who was never a lap cat except for the last six months of her life, stretched her thin body across the cast and purred. She'd stay like that for a half hour or more. Only profound love for me would override her absolute fear of having her feet not all firmly on the ground.

When she needed a break, Jo would bounce in, pirruping her cheery hello, and jump up on the bed beside me. She'd snuggle against me and purr.

If Grace and Jo both needed a break, Phoebe would drop by to meow, and sit by the bed for several minutes.

After the first week, i started to do a little bit more, but not much. The cats decided i could let them outside, but not in, out, in, out, in, out as they were wont to do. No, they had to decide when they most wanted to go out, and they doubled up. Two went out at the first opening of the door, and the third stayed behind with the invalid. I'd crutch over to a nearby dining room chair and wait for them to come back in. They'd both come back in, and at that same door opening, the third would go out. There was no hissing. No demand that each got her own personal door opening. And for the next week or so, that was how things went. They didn't ask me to get them food or to clean and refill the water bowl. They made do until Himself got home.

I didn't piece all of this together until later, when i realised that over time, they asked me to do more for them bit by bit. To let them in and out a little more often, or to get them some wet food for lunch. The entire seven weeks i was off work completely, though, there was always a cat nearby. I knew i had reached some magical level of healing when they all decided they could be outside at the once and leave me alone in the house. Not for long, maybe 15 minutes, but gradually for longer and longer periods.

One day, Jo sat by the wooden stepstool we had in the kitchen and looked expectantly. This was several months on, and i realised that she wanted me to sit on the stool so she could jump in my lap, a routine we had established before i broke my leg. I was in a walking cast by this point, and knew that i could lower myself to sit on the stepstool, but wasn't so sure i could get back up again.

I put the kettle on, and whilst waiting for the water to boil, i sat on the stepstool. Jo jumped up in my lap, purred, and headbutted me to pet her. Just as if the last several months had never happened. I pet her and cried. She waited for me to be ready to re-establish this habit once again. The kettle whistled, she jumped down, and i was able to stand back up. How did she know? How did they all know when i was okay to be on my own and when i wasn't? Or that i had it in me to crutch over to the door and let them in and out a few times, when i didn't know myself if i could do it?

I found myself trusting them implicitly. They did not ask me to do that which i was beyond doing. I may not have wanted to do what they asked of me, but it wasn't beyond my physical capability. I was gobsmacked by that. Humans seem far more clueless about limits.

In time, i recovered. I could take on some of the household chores that i chiefly did before the broken leg, and ease a little of Himself's burden. When he had a chance to leave for a weekend to go with a friend, i urged him to go. It would give him some much needed R&R, i was at that point, able to shower all by myself and get in and out of the tub (oh, the things we take for granted), and besides, the cats were with me.

He did go and enjoy his time away. He did call every day to make sure i was all right (which i was). I was taking back more of the things i used to do, and we were back to establishing more of our usual routine.

I thought of all of that these past few days, after hockey on Sunday afternoon, when i fell the wrong way on my knee. I turned my right leg pigeon-toed to avoid crashing my head into the boards, and when i fell, the inside part of my right knee took nearly all my weight. I next fell backwards, landing on my bum, and my legs splayed out in front of me. After skating back to the other end of the ice, which was where my bench was, and after my team won the faceoff and a teammate skated with the puck, i realised i needed to sit out a shift at the least, and skated over to my bench for a replacement. My leg felt leaden, and sitting there for 20 seconds made it plain that i had wrenched something enough that i needed to go home.

Himself was out of town so i was alone with the cats. We're down to two now, Phoebe and Jo. I could walk all right on my leg, no instability, but if i tried turning it inward, i met with very sharp pain. I phoned Himself to let him know, whilst i sat with an ice pack, elevated my leg, and after ingesting ibuprofen, 400 mg.

He wasn't keen on the idea of my waiting until morning before ringing a doctor. I told him i thought it best to do the rest, ice, elevation exercise, as Sunday night was no time to be in an ER. This was NOT an emergency. Not pleasant, but not life-threatening. Besides, i told him, the cats aren't too bothered by it.

And, they weren't. They noticed that i was walking a bit slower. Phoebe sat with me as i sat on the couch and had my leg resting on the ottoman. She looked like a sphinx sentry. After the phone call, i got up slowly to put the ice bag back in the freezer, and she thought she'd go to the kitchen with me, in case there was food brought out. Unlike her usual habit of darting immediately before my legs, she allowed me to go first, and only appeared after i was putting the icebag back in the freezer. I had something else to eat and washed my few dishes. She wanted to go down cellar, so i obliged and opened the cellar door. I went for the ice bag again and wanted to get my laptop so i could get a bit of work done. Jo wanted to sit with me, and seeing my laptop taking up my lap, she sat next to my hurt leg on the ottoman. Even without Grace there to be mediator or Head Nurse, they seemed to know that i was Not Quite Right. Not entirely incapable, but a bit hobbled.

Next morning, when Phoebe watched me go down the stairs very slowly and gingerly, she watched with attentiveness. She did not race past me, as she does many mornings. Jo greeted me with her cheery pirrup as usual, and waited expectantly whilst i washed and refilled their wet food bowls.

Phoebe's new winter habit is to have her breakfast on the landing upstairs. On occasion, she'll come down, but most mornings, she waits for me. After i get their food, i go back upstairs to clean my teeth and get dressed, so i guess she saw no point in being fed in the kitchen if i'd serve her. Yes, i am well trained apparently.

I wondered if she'd come down, given my gimpy state. When i got to the base of the steps, a bit slower than usual but cat bowl in hand, she looked at me expectantly. I prepared myself for the mewing that would let me know i was too slow about it, but she remained quiet and just watched me carefully climb each step. As i put down her bowl beside her, she gave me a satisfied look as if to say, "I knew you could do it," and purred while she ate her breakfast.

They've cut me slack all this week thus far, but not too much. My leg is very much better and nearly back to normal. So are their demands.

I'm still dumbfounded how they know.

By the time Himself comes back, this shall be but a memory, and for that i'm glad. If one asks, i suppose it's safest to say i wrenched my knee. If i hazard a more medical sounding guess, i'd say i strained (or would that be sprained) my MCL (medial collateral ligament). I'm not a doctor and don't play one on tv. And my cats aren't, either. But they seem to know how to be excellent caregivers, nurses, and physiotherapists all the same.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Night Chit-Chat, 11 March 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying. Himself and some of our friends had a rough week of other people flinging poo at them. Several years back, one of our friends, who herself had been in a situation where lorryloads of poo were dumped on her, gifted us with lovely guest towels. One especially made me smile, as it did Himself, and i hope it did for our friends who found themselves targets this week:

"Support bacteria. It's the only culture some people have."


Reading
Besides the boat books, i'm reading Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts. Also, on a sad note, our local paper will publish no longer :-( Found this out on Friday, and i enjoyed reading about the goings-on in my small corner of the world very much.

Watching
A friend stopped by for a midweek visit, which was completely unexpected and a delightful surprise. We watched the movie Bigger than the Sky, as Himself and i had the DVD, and she hadn't seen it before.


Listening to
I forgot to say last week that i listened to some Monkees tunes, when I heard the news about Davy Jones. This week, in the grocery store, i was singing along to the tunes they were playing in the store--late 50's to mid 60's hits. I remember when quite a few were new. In another store, i'll admit, i stayed a bit longer to hear all of (Hold on, Just a Little Bit) Tighter. I hadn't heard that song in decades.

Cooking/Baking
I made some beef curry with rice in the crockpot, which made a nice supper after hockey this evening. I also want to make these scones, but i had forgotten to take butter out of the freezer. I hope to make them tomorrow and take some to my knitting group. The beef curry hit the spot, and there are leftovers! Yummy.

Happy you accomplished this week
Very nice midweek visit with a dear friend. Just what the doctor ordered for both of us.

Found a very nice place to consider for vacation thanks to Cro Magnon's blog entry. I want to do the entire trail. Himself isn't so sure that we can do all of it. I think if we train long enough, we can, so this might be on the holiday schedule for next year.

Looking forward to next week
I fell funny on my knee at hockey, during the second game this evening. It feels akin to what happened several years ago when a large player landed on me, trying to break her fall, and all her weight went on my left knee, shifting everything to the left. That turned out to be an ITB/LCL strain (ilea tibial band/lateral collateral ligament). Nothing was torn, i took a few weeks off from hockey, and was right as rain. Tonight's little spill about 12 minutes into the second game, occurred when a player and i collided. I fell forward, and my right knee took the brunt of the fall. I twisted it to the inside just before impact and somehow my legs ended up in front after i fell back on my bum. I got up rather quickly, although my right leg felt leaden, and within 45 seconds, i decided i need to come to the bench. It just wasn't feeling right. After about
20 seconds on the bench, i realised it was best for me to head on home. I've been icing it, keeping it elevated, and took ibuprofen, 400 mg. Now we wait and see. I'm hoping that it's just a strained something that will right itself in a few days. All that to say i'm looking forward to next week, when this shall be but a memory and 100% behind me. Fingers crossed.

Thankful for today
Sunny skies, nurse friends who seconded my idea of ice and elevation, and suggested Vitamin I for my knee, and that the cats are currently demanding that i let them in/out/down cellar even though i'm walking a bit slowly. If i were really injured, they'd be fussing over me a lot more. Himself is a bit worried, but he's the worrying type; the cats are a better gauge. That said, Phoebe did sit with me for the intial icing and didn't complain once. After i got up to put the bag of ice back in the freezer to keep cool for the next ice round, she decided i could also let her down cellar and top off the kibble bowl.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday night chit-chat 4 March 2012







This is a photo of the Town Beach in my hometown. The photo was taken by someone who used to live there as well, and she was back for a visit.



Reading
Besides the boat books, i'm reading Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts.

Watching
I found a place online to watch Downton Abbey. The PBS web site had
season 2, and i had to hunt for season 1. The online viewing on the PBS site expires 5 March, so i had a marathon view session this weekend to get caught up.

Listening to
Right now, not very much.

Cooking/Baking
Sauteed some scallops in oil, lemon, and a bit of garlic, and served it over a bed of steamed kale. Yummy.

Happy you accomplished this week
Updated my spending log. I've had 26 no-spend days since New Year's Day. :0)


Able to catch up with a dear friend via a long telephone conversation.

Shovelled the paths and walk on Friday, and took the time on Saturday to clear off the rain/slush accumulation on the driveway.


Looking forward to next week
Nothing jumps out from the calendar for next week. Might be a good week to get a lot of little things caught up.

Thankful for today
Second pot of horseradish root is sprouting! I'll have to move them soon to deeper pots, so the roots can really grow. Saw a tom turkey at my bird feeder! He was pecking at the seeds on the ground. All other birds gave him wide berth, and one squirrel, who was using the fence top as a thoroughfare sat and waited, not wanting to get too close. He finally jumped more than the lengths of two fence posts so he didn't have to get too close to the turkey. Both of the cats were mightily interested in the big bird.