Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Hydro Outage with Dogs

Another test. One I came close to failing.

The roads became impassable up here on Saturday night and Mud Mama couldn't get back from her visit with old friends.

The next day it rained in grey sheets that covered the lake. Then the winds rose. blowing the water from the other shore towards me like some enormous flat grey tidal wave. In an instant the wind changed direction and took the greyness swirling away. It was beautiful in its own way.

Trees bent and broke ... across roads ... onto power lines ... scattering every surface with debris ... and causing power outages across the province.

I coped by cooking on the wood stove, gathering water from the brook and melting snow, and setting up my emergency lighting supplies ... candles and flashlights.

Mud Mama and family stayed in the city and I shared my room with Mica, Kenya and Stella.

Things became worse about 6 last night shortly after Maggie arrived. She was not feeling great, possibly would have diarrhea from the long car rides to which she had been subjected plus the excitement of coming into a dark house lit by flickering candles, and populated by three other excited dogs.

I had already dealt with one unplanned evacuation by Mica that afternoon ... a large puddle of pee. I used straight vinegar and "washed" the mop in snow afterwards. I wasn't looking forward to cleaning up diarrhea in the dark without water.

About 6:30 I decided to feed everyone. Have you ever tried to feed four dogs different food in different bowls in the dark with only a small flashlight? Try it when two dogs are identical. It is not easy, and it proved impossible when one of the dogs was Stella the food thief. She operates best in total darkness. First she got Mica's food. I crated her, gave Mica a second bowl, and went to prepare Kenya's and Maggie's bowls. Kenya ate hers but Maggie's tummy was not ready for food so I put it up on the kitchen counter till later and brought the wailing Stella out of the utility room.

Within seconds Stella had Maggie's bowl on the floor and had scarfed down almost the entire ration. Kenya usually deals with Stella's bad behaviour but I guess she couldn't see her any better than I could, and was unaware until the bowl crashed to the floor. I managed to salvage a dozen small kibble pieces and moved the bowl to the back of the stove.

Maggie said she needed to go out so I opened the door for her and Kenya, keeping the earlier wanderers inside (more about that later). She promptly disappeared ... straight up the hill following her nose to where her people must be. I went up after about ten minutes of calling to which Kenya responded ... without Maggie. I could see her eyes shining in the rays of my flashlight and breathed a sigh of relief.

We walked down to the house past Mica's tether. Mica growled and Maggie shot up the hill again. I put Mica inside and brought Stella on lead as she and Maggie know each other. I got them all rounded up and back to within thirty yards of the house when they all took off again.

I got considerable aerobic exercise and balance practice as I went up and down that slippery hill. It took close to two hours all told but finally I had four fed dogs inside a darkened house and we were all worn out and ready for bed.

I made myself a cheese sandwich and poured a glass of wine.

That was when the dogs set up a howl. There were flashlights moving along the road. I kept the dogs inside and went out to ask who these spectres were. Hydro Quebec. They were the line searchers. Two young men slip-sliding on the snow covered sheets of ice. I walked with them, falling only once, to show them Tanya's line that has been in jeopardy for some time and the one from Lise's house that was sprawled across the road in a tangle of broken tree limbs. They asked if I was frightened being the only person on this road. I laughed. Who could be frightened with four large dogs?

They knew about the line I had called about earlier so we didn't have to walk down to Mountain Road.

I made my way gingerly back to the dogs.

I understand that cliche better now. Ginger effervesces in the mouth especially if you add too much to your boiling water. My feet skittered and skated and danced me in pirouettes all the way to the heavily sanded part of the road. Like bubbles of champagne I shot upwards over and over again. Each time I landed clumsily but always on my feet.

One fall is not bad for an old woman traversing over a kilometre of icy hilly roads.

I finished the sandwich, drank the wine and went to bed. Maggie slept near me all night. Kenya slept elsewhere. Mica started out with me and moved to the bathroom later. And Stella spent the night back in her crate (more about her adventures later). About 3 a.m. I awoke to light.

Blessed light.

Now I could see the dogs. I could take the bucket of melted snow for the toilet, the jug of bottled water and the small cooking pot for daily ablutions out of the bathroom. I could stop collecting and rationing water for the dogs. I could stop using antiseptic wash on my hands. I could cook on the kitchen stove. I could eat real meals again. I could wash dishes properly. I would no longer be tethered to the dining table by candles, a journal and a deck of cards. I could read after 4 p.m. I could watch a movie.

But mainly, I could see the dogs.

When there were three dogs all easily identifiable and all used to each other, me, and the house, it was considerably easier than when we added Maggie to the mix. But yesterday the mild weather reminded Mica that she was a husky and that began another set of problems. Another post for that.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

3 Dog Night

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Tamarak's Floating Away with Balloons Painting

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Excerpt from Nature Girls' Gift

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Christmas is Over

... and for the first time I am delighted.

I have been battling the eye infection as long as Christmas was infecting me it seems. It caused pain and anxiety and robbed me of time. Because I thought it might be an allergy to wool, I stopped working with it, so some presents will have to wait till after Christmas. That drama is still not over. They want to do one more CT Scan to reassure themselves that the shadow is no longer there, that it was caused by inflammation.

I had to opt out of Christmas because of it.

I didn't realize (should have, of course) that they were injecting me with a poison that would put heavy stress on my liver and I should not drink until my body had eliminated it all. It was Christmas Eve and I didn't drink as much water that afternoon as I should have and I had wine with a high fat dinner of snacks while we opened presents. By the middle of the night I was ill with stomach pain and nausea.

On Christmas morning we opened our stockings and then I prepared the turkey and stuffing between waves of nausea and naps. When the family came home from their Christmas visiting, I went to bed and left the vegetables and gravy for them to prepare, and I slept till Boxing Day.

Last night and this morning Stella was up vomiting up segments of the toy she brought with her. She eats everything. I don't mean she chews everything. She eats everything. Her feeding instructions suggested she had been starved all her life. I began feeding her more but I suspect the chewing/eating habit is ingrained by now.

Everything that has been happening has made it difficult to enjoy the good things. Mud Mama , Papa Pan and the children brought lovely presents to soothe me in my bath and to delight my taste buds .... teas and applesauce and pickled pumpkin ...

And Nature Girl, their only daughter, gave me my very best present ... a book about her family. It was a true labour of love because she is both dyslexic and a wonderful artist.

And Tamarak also gave me a piece of her art ... it is wonderful and my playroom-den needed it.

I will post photos today.

I wish everyone a wonderful 2009 ... may we all have good health and enough prosperity to be happy in the coming year.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Update on the Evil Eye

Two ophthamologists examined it for a very long time and came away scratching their heads. It is not acting like a classic infection or a classic allergy. They have ordered a CTscan to rule out the unlikely possibility of a tumour (shades of Fozzie Bear!) and I am on Cipro, a strong antibiotic, for 5 days and have an appointment again at 9 a.m. on Boxing Day.

Maurice's van is in the ditch on Rutledge Road and the CAA should be here by 3 to pull him out. Then we will have to park at a neighbour's till the road is plowed.

Merry just before Christmas!

Ugly again ...

I spent most of yesterday waiting to see and then seeing an Ontario clinic doctor who said 'beats me, but it's sure impressive' and then hooking me up with an off ... thamologist.

More when I can see better ... or at least enough to check the spelling of ophthamologist.

Friday, 19 December 2008

The First Kite Cozy

It hardly seems fair. I was almost finished this second cozy when my eye swelled up again. Maybe I am allergic to wool! Now that would be really unfair ... I have just started having fun with wool and want to continue to knit and felt and construct things with felted wool.

White Envelopes and Fatigue

I just read a story about a Christmas tradition that involved placing a white envelope on the Christmas tree. In it was a note telling the husband that his wife had bought helmets for all the members of a poverty stricken church's young wrestling team in his name, and that was her Christmas present to him that year. She did it because her husband had been upset by the plight of these young wrestlers and because he hated the empty commercialism that Christmas had become. His wife continued to make a donation in his name to an organization or people they knew were in need every Christmas. When he died the family continued the tradition.

Every day I read the blog of a friend who is completely immersed in the injustice that has put a young Australian woman in an Indonesian prison for twenty years or so. She wants her readers to help.

Today I received a forwarded letter from a friend of a friend who is living through the injustices in Zimbabwe. He asks that people get the story out so that help can be found before this becomes a genocide that is a fait accompli instead of one in the making.

Every so often I receive word from friends in Kenya about children who need help ... they are often orphaned ... all are poor ... and education is seen as the key to their lives becoming something more than battles to survive. They need monetary help.

Another blogger whose posts I read every day is telling the story of police wrong doing directed against a poor young woman on the streets of downtown Ottawa. This blogger with the support of her readers is trying to do something about the problem by making it public.

The family who have established the white envelope tradition, the bloggers whose hearts and minds have been touched by the plight of young women hurt by institutionalized injustice, and the people who are trying to help people they don't know halfway around the world are all trying to do the right thing in a world that too often allows the wrong things to happen.

Right now I am feeling worn out and worn down by so many just causes. This fatigue has happened to me before and it will happen again, but even if right now I can't stand up and fight the injustices myself, and even if I can't find the financial resources to help people, I am glad that others are fighting on behalf of my belief in equality and justice.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Today I will be doing last minute things to get ready for Mud Mama's arrival ...moving dog pillows out and cribs in to my den ... setting up everything so that I can use the laptop instead of the desktop ... buying groceries ... making sure the sleds are up by the car for them to use if they arrive at 3 a.m. as expected ...

I will deliver the cards and tiny gifts to my neighbours ... Christmas tree ornaments I made of pottery ...

But I also want to make the next tea cozy ... the second in the poetry series ... it will be a colourful kite on a pale mauve background ... I will post a photo when it is ready ... it will be a Christmas gift for a tea drinking friend.

This is the Leonard Cohen poem that will be included:

A Kite is a Victim

A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.

A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won't give up,
or the wind die down.

A kite is the last poem you've written,
so you give it to the wind,
but you don't let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.

A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so you make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.

I also like these two:

March by May Richstone
A boy with a kite
In windy weather
Tying the earth
And sky together.

... and this one by Emily, a grade one pupil working with the word "kite" ...

Kites fly high in the beautiful sky.
Ice cold kites freeze in the wind.
Twinkling kites swerve in the wind.
Ends of kites are pointy.
Swiveling kites surfing in the sky.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tea Cozies and Poetry

Not sure where this idea sprang from ... or why ... but I decided a way to create a series of tea cozies that were related but all different would be to seek out simple images like the balloons from Tamarak's painting (ones that can be cut from felt) and include with each tea cozy some lines of poetry about balloons or kites or butterfies or whatever.

Some interesting snippets I gathered as I researched balloons:

"Even lead balloons float if the magic is strong enough."

"I hate letting my mind wander.
I'm afraid it won't come back."

The balloon seller is seen metaphorically as a "dispenser of joy; a harbinger of spring."

"Our papas have formed a poetry club ... poems have balloons and sex and giraffes in them."

I began with a memory of a poem about an old woman selling balloons but I couldn't find it on- line. I did find 99 Luft ballons, and I discovered several other poems about balloons, one by Sylvia Plath and one by Carl Sandburg.

Then I went looking for poetry about kites. I was able to find Leonard Cohen's "A Kite is a Victim You are Sure of", and discovered some new ones as well.

Another series I would like to do is based on Tamarak's Arctic paintings. The colours are strong, the shapes simple, and the lines bold.

And then there could be a very open-ended series based on nature which would go well with these lines by William Blake. ("Auguries of Innocence")

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand
And Eternity in an Hour

Of course, how many people actually use tea cozies? I keep running into people, even tea afficionados, who dip their tea bags into mugs instead of making tea properly with fresh boiling water in preheated pots left to steep the requisite period of time. Coffee, which I can no longer tolerate much of, is given far more respect these days.

I guess maybe the idea of tea cozies married with poetry comes from my own practice of bringing a tray with tea pot, cup and milk jug up to my den where I reflect on things first thing in the morning.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Bread and Water

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ready for crewel work embroidery

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ready for hanging

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Weathering Life

Weather ...

Yesterday was glorious ... fluffy snow and mild temperatures ...

Kenya and I met Stella, the 7 month old Bernese Mountain Dog. She is so very puppyish ... hair sort of unkempt and lots of barking excitement. She still chews EVERYTHING, but Kenya wasted no time telling her to get the hell down off the kitchen counter where she was checking out the fruit bowl, and when she attempted to eat a leaf from a plant she was all over her with bitchy scolding. Stella's owner went home with new hope that her puppy might come home after her holiday here with good manners. I will make sure that all the decks are as clear as possible by the time she arrives ... not just for her, but also for the Sprout who is 15 months old and a human mass of fast moving mayhem.

Rain today ...

Maybe I can finish clearing the 39 steps ... I hope I will be able to get out and back up my hill with antihistamines ...

Maybe I should call Wabi Sabi again ... yes I am definitely allergic to the wool for Mud Mama's slippers ...

Maybe I will make shortbread, dog biscuits and bread (in my just finished bread baker).

Maybe I will finish the tea cozy I knit last night ... a prototype.

Maybe I should plan meals for when everyone is here and make grocery lists.

Maybe I should see about some almost free long distance plans to replace the Bell one.

Maybe I will pay my bills.

Or maybe I will just go back to bed with my sore eyes and head ache that kept me awake most of the night.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Some that are ready for mounting

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Ready to Paint

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This is a day to burrow in and play with my toys. No snow shoveling for me today. My home is toasty warm and filled with partly finished projects that tempt me.

... four new books.

... a half finished pair of felted slippers for Mud Mama (I tore out the first one and started over)

... a raft of Christmas ornaments I made in pottery class ready to paint

... a couple of other pottery projects to do something with.

... and three more pairs of slippers to design and make before Mud Mama's gang arrives. I may not get them done but the floor is now really warm underfoot so I don't feel as if I have to do it right away.

I am well equipped to stay home and play.

And my larder is stocked after yesterday's shopping excursion so we will eat well this weekend.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Doggone it!

A Hermit's Day

One of my faithful blog readers wrote to tell me that the unknown bird might be an Eastern Kingbird. I will watch carefully to see if these birds look like the photo in my bird book. I have only seen the chickadees and the black squirrels feeding this morning.

She also said that hermits cannot get sick. She is right. This eye and the meds I am taking for it have made me less able to handle the rigours of living here at the lake in winter. I knew before, but I REALLY know now, that I need to be strong and healthy to live here. It is not that I couldn't burrow in and hibernate for the duration; it is that my spirits cannot remain buoyant without the knowledge that I enjoy doing what must be done. As long as a storm is simply an obstacle that requires a fair amount of physical work to dig myself out, winter storms are okay. When I am unable to gather the energy to do that physical work, I lose my optimism, and once that happens everything begins to feel impossible.

But I am not there yet!

Today's Plans (with the realities):

I will take some sand up by sled to the car and try again to free it from the ice and will take it to Wakefield to buy yogurt, milk and eggs. I will also try again to use the winter treads. I wish I were a better foul weather driver than I am.

Nothing I did worked and one of the treads is now stuck under the front wheel. I managed to flood my engine and called my mechanic to find out what to do, did it, got the engine going and still nothing moved. I called Leonard and we arranged that he would pull me out of the icy rut tomorrow.He, by the way, had tried to get the car moving last night and couldn't either.

If Leonard has cleared the parking lot at the top of the stairs I will do some more shoveling of steps.

He hadn't so I didn't.

I will use Mud Mama's sole outlines and finish the slippers I have made for Arrow and Max.

Done and very cute and useful. You can wear these slippers with no inner soles or with a doubled one that comes apart readily so a child's slipper can grow with him or her.

I will also finish knitting Arrow's Christmas sweater this evening while I watch a movie.

That's for tonight.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Finally, a car becomes visible

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Busy Bird Feeder

The bird feeder is a busy place this morning. The chickadees have been joined by another species I can't locate in my bird book. It is larger than a chickadee with a slate grey/black back and a white breast. I think we called them snow birds when I lived in Cumberland.

A lone woodpecker has also come to feed today. I don't see him as often as the others. I guess he can still find insects in the trees most of the time, but the 35 centimetres of snow we received overnight may have covered his regular eating places.

Several jays are being almost polite but not quite as patient as they were yesterday when they whiled away their time waiting for the chckadees to finish feeding by flirting with one another.

Three black squirrels are eyeing things and one zipped along the line upside down to get to the feeder, but scampered back to a tree when I knocked on the window. Kenya, bossy as always, barked furiously at the interloper who had to be scolded by me. I've just let her out to maintain some semblance of order at the feeder. She lets the birds come without any concern although she sometimes seems to think the jays are big enough to be something other than birds.

I have been up since 6 getting garbage up the hill, checking the road, going for a toboggan ride, shoveling and doing laundry.

I suspect I will be shoveling at intervals for a few days. We have received one big dump of snow and I had to hunt for the steps to clear them. I hope I can find my car after being snowed one and then likely closed in by Leonard's plow.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


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Is this a case of it gets worse before it gets better?

I sure hope so because my poor bulbous eye is worse today than it was yesterday before I started the antibiotics. I would hate to think I sat in an emergency room for 6 hours for nothing! And of course I wasn't sitting alone. Tanya lost a day at work because of this ... but I think she was not quite as dismayed by that as she might have been.

They are predicting all kinds of dire weather over the next few days so even if I wanted to get out I couldn't. That takes care of displaying my ugliness to the world, but I am a little concerned in case I need to return to the doctor. Oh well, no point in worrying about it. Worrying won't change the outcome.

Today I am going to unravel the first enormous sock I made so that I can re-knit it properly. It took me three tries on the second sock to get it right. I had never knit socks before and the pattern directions were confusing. When they are finished I will felt them down into slippers for Mud Mama. They are knit in a beautiful hand dyed variegated pink and violet wool. I love knitting with wool that is sensuously beautiful and feels good in my hands.

Mud Mama is bringing with her a bunch of wool from the Valley Fibres store near her home. I have placed a limit on the dollar amount but am leaving the choices up to Mud Mama who has a wonderful sense of colour and to the store owner who understands wool. It will be a wonderful Christmas present to myself that will keep me happily occupied after everyone leaves and I am once again a hermit with dog.

Monday, 8 December 2008

A Series of Delays and Abortive Missions

I have had a very long day. So has my nearest neighbour who drove us everywhere since I couldn't see properly to drive.

We set out at 9:30 a.m. and got back here at 4:15 p.m.

First we drove to the Wakefield ER.

At 2:30 I was seen by a physician from Cameroun and told I had an infection in the eye for which he prescribed an antibiotic.

By 3:30 I had filled the prescription and we went and had lunch at Chez Eric.

Then we headed off to vote.

Neither of us was permitted to vote ... and we had plenty of company. Our road was not on their maps. Another woman was not on their list. I didn't hear the other complaints, but the second in command who spoke to us said that they had discovered 70,000 names had simply disappeared from this region's electoral lists last summer and had to be reinstated, Despite Tanya's valiant efforts we were not allowed to vote. I say valiant because she dealt with all this during the last provincial election and so prior to this election she spent at least 5 hours on the phone with petty bureaucrats who all give her a different story. And today she stood her ground without screeching about the amount of taxes she poured into the Quebec coffers ... as one woman who completely lost it did.

This sort of thing could certainly be construed as political finagling of the English vote, but honestly, I think it was simply incompetence, laziness, carelessness and a refusal to think beyond the rules. Everyone there agreed that there was screw up, and we had the right to vote, but no one would break the rules to allow us to exercise that right.

We headed home with one quick stop at the Wakefield General Store so I could pick up a copy of the Low Down to Hull. I paid my 75 cents and Linda, the clerk, said, "Your letter's in it."

You have to love living in these hills.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Tree Trimming Party

Lots of wine flowed and there was plenty of laughter, good food and one sulk.

I will deal with the sulk first. Carlos wanted to attach the tree in the den to every possible piece of wood in the room so that it would stay upright. (The tree weighed about 8 ounces, you understand.) Oma insisted that two guy wires made of fishing line would do and that any more would interfere with normal traffic in the room. Carlos said little but went into terrorist mode, and with scissors, fishing line, and pins hidden carefully under his clothing, managed to attach three more guy wires which of course had to be clipped by the ever-vigilant Oma. Carlos retreated to the dining room to sulk and make lovely little bell ornaments.

You can see more photos on Tamarak's site http://tamarakstable.blogspot.com

We began our afternoon by choosing and cutting our Charlie Brown trees. We had two saws and hedge clippers ... and likely could have managed with just the clippers. These were tiny trees.

We planted them in pots with stones from Nova Scotia which will be reclaimed after Christmas to become part of the non-holiday decor.

Then came the decision regarding placement of each tree.

We decided that the biggest and prettiest tree should be in the bathroom where there was more room to display it and where it would be seen most frequently. It had blue and white lights and angels and other delicate decorations plus lots of pink and silver tinsel.

The second nicest sits at the top of the stairs and is decorated with teddy bears and multi-coloured lights.

In my bedroom where Arrow and I will be sleeping with all the dogs is the Northern tree. It is decorated with red lights and ornaments from Norway and Mongolia plus one white maple leaf.

The den tree where four members of Mud Mama's family will sleep this Christmas was the most obstreperous tree of the lot. Its branches tend to be all higgledy piggledy. We used green and white lights on it and it too has teddy bears on and under it. And that is where Carlos' bells are hung.

Our potluck dinner was ham dressed with fruit, a rice dish, a garlicky green bean creation, and a spaghetti squash casserole with lots of other good veggies in it. For dessert we ate stollen and drank more wine.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and many thanks to my decorators. I couldn't have done it without you.

The Den Tree

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The Fozzie Bear Eye

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Tinsel Queen with Dog

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The Tinsel Queens

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Friday, 5 December 2008

The Moments in Which We Live

Well, yesterday I lived in the moment. I started making the Christmas stollen before I turned on the radio. From then on I was caught up in Canada's unpropitious moment. Unfortunately Michaelle Jean's decision will have effects that will last well into the New Year. It may have been a momentary lapse, but it is not something that can be forgotten in a moment.

Last night when I went to bed I noticed a slight swelling of my right eye. When I awoke this morning I had the ugliest mug in the universe. The eye bulged grotesquely. It reminded me of my cat Fozzie Bear just before we had to have her put down when the brain tumour grew too large and painful. I have to keep bathing it with very hot water on a face cloth in order to open the eye at all, so today I will live in the moment again ... my own unpropitious one.

Just before I sign off to bathe it again:

1. The stollen was wonderful ... and easy ... done to the dough stage in the bread maker.

2. To drown my sorrow about the GG's decision I watched (wallowed in) Must Love Dogs (again) and cried tears of joy (again) when Mother Theresa swam to the canoe and the lovers ended up where they belonged ... in each other's arms.

3. Today will be a day when I cannot use my eyes for more than 15 minutes at a time ... what the hell kind of day is that??? Does it mean I have to drink wine all day???

4. And here is a photo of the lake yesterday morning.

It means that it is a skating rink today provided it stays cold this time.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Political Disappointment

I can remember only one other time that I have been so profoundly disappointed by a political decision. In both cases the decisions seemed to me to be, not only unjust, but also unsound.

A quarter of a century ago, the Quebec government agreed to contract conditions, including salary raises that would have brought Quebec teachers into line with the Canadian average. Then they simply revoked the agreement by changing the law. We had fought for what was right. We won partly because we had gone on strike and lost salary and partly because our cause was just. The government did not like losing so it simply pulled the rug out from under us. Almost as soon as we were back in our classrooms, they passed a bill that rolled back our salaries and revoked the contract conditions we had agreed to. They behaved like little despots, and I couldn't believe this was happening in my country, my democratic, fair minded country.

Today we saw another petty tyrant, a bully, get his way. Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose to run the country using a partisan hard line and refusing to cooperate despite the fact that he had, once again, a minority government that demanded cooperation if it were to successfully govern. Finally the opposition rallied and formed a coalition that could govern. Steven Harper's response was to ask that the GG prorogue Parliament so that he would not face a vote of confidence he knew he could not win. Before he did that, he presented a vicious dishonest case to the Canadian people that could well tear this country apart.

In the meantime, between now and the end of January, nothing will be done about the economic crisis. All of our government members have been given a holiday. At the end of their holiday it is fairly certain that the government will fall and another election will be called. It will be very expensive and will mean that another 8 weeks will pass before any kind of governance will resume. At the height of a serious world crisis we are going to be floundering about in the storm in a rudderless boat.

And once again I can hardly believe that this happening in my country.

Living for Today

Yesterday, after Kenya's 1 hour morning walk, I made one of my rare excursions to Ottawa. It began with Loblaws, then wool and needle pick-up, a gas fill-up, and wine making at DeFalco's. It was noon so I went to the best little restaurant in Ottawa, Wellington Sandwiches, where I ordered homemade carrot soup and a Wellington burger. Then I headed back via Hull where I went to the SAQ for cheap wine while I am waiting for my own (even cheaper) wine, and I visited Tamarak's Table. I stopped in Chelsea where I spoke to the man who oils my car every year, and finally arrived in Wakefield where I picked up Giant Tiger food specials (chocolate milk for 99 cents), the post office where I chose not to send a parcel overseas for double its value, and the hardware store where I couldn't buy sand but did buy a snow shovel.

I carted everything along the road and down the hill in two trips with the $5 sled I bought at the Recycle Box and threw a few sticks for Kenya, put away everything ... and then collapsed.

The only time I stopped moving was when I had lunch. I read a good magazine article on universities. That is one of the reasons the sandwich shop is such a good little restaurant. They keep excellent reading material on hand while you wait for the tiny one woman show to get your food ready. She makes soap and good healthy food, all from clean natural ingredients ... and she has the good sense to choose Walrus rather than Chatelaine. All right ... so the Wellington burger is not the healthiest choice on her menu ... but I can guarantee it is the best burger in town, bar none.

That and my stop at Tamarak's were my only breaks.

But that was yesterday, and I don't have to make the trek into Ottawa again soon.

Christmas is coming and Zoom has reminded me that I need to do some thinking about that. After thinking scattered thoughts, I finally came to a conclusion. I would stop thinking about it and go back to what seems to be making me happy these days ... living in the now.

Today I will play with my new wool and needles and my felted tea cozy. I will brush my dog. I will use my new shovel to scrape off the steps as soon as things melt enough, and I will break up that activity by throwing sticks for Kenya. I will make a Christmas stollen which we will likely eat on Saturday when I have my tree trimming contest and potluck party.

Today is shaping up to be a good day, and if we get fresh snow tomorrow I may get my skiis out and play on the hill before Leonard sands again.

But that is tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Depression Aside

Two of my friends have been suffering from depression recently. Grey November probably has exacerbated their condition. I know from experience that no amount of bucking up can cure depression, so this is not for them.

For them I would probably suggest something that is almost as impossible: You are what you practise, so practise being optimistic; practise having fun even if it doesn't feel like much fun. Laugh even if it makes a hollow sound. And remember that your friends do care about you even when that awful little voice in your head says you are unloved and unlovable.

For the rest of you who are just living life and are not really depressed ... just a little down, here is another one of those cheery quotes that are infuriating when you are depressed but actually true when it is possible to follow the trite advice contained in them:

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

Art Linkletter

The problem with cliches is that they are cliches precisely because they are so true. That's why they have been repeated so often.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Not a Real Post

I just read these two lovely thoughts ... lovely of course because they are being borne out in real time for me just now ...


"Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."
Marianne Williamson Author of A Return To Love

... see your art in a state of adjustment and creative development, rather than trying to fulfill some preconceived vision. I call it "dynamic painting" and it's quite magic. It could be called "dynamic writing" or even "dynamic living."

The dynamic artist improvises as she goes along. She thinks on her feet. Her eyes and her mind are constantly weighing opportunities and making judgments and adjustments. Somewhat dependent on intuition, she also has knowledge of the variety of ways each passage might be handled. Perhaps the most valuable dynamic ploy is to constantly ask the question, "What could be?" With this question, the work of art evolves and comes out of itself.

Robert Genn

Not really going to drink tea cozies ...

The problem with writing and editing as soon as you open your eyes is that you sometimes completely change the meaning of the sentences you try to correct for style. Yesterday I drank tea and worked on the first felted tea cozy. I did not drink a felt cozy. I also made banana bread and sorted out tree lights and began putting away sculptures that will be replaced by Christmasy stuff. And I shoveled heavy sludgy snow.

That didn't leave me a lot of time to do more than marvel at the political situation ... but imagine ... we are going to have proportional representation ... real democracy at last. I rather wish we had chosen it in a referendum rather than having it come in by the back door ... but under a Conservative government led by Stephen Harper, that wouldn't have happened.

But back to the mundane ... I am discovering that planning a cozy, like planning a slipper, is a major problem solving exercise for someone who is spatially challenged. I have to think, cut, try on, then think and think and think some more. I spent much of yesterday looking at the deep turquoise cozy and trying to figure out how to fit it on the tea pot. Then I tried to cut out a felt gold fish for it. It looked like a spiky blob. I tried on a felt heart. Then I decided the cozy needed a felted liner. If I used the heart instead of the gold fish, the liner and stitching could be a dark red. Once I had made that decision I discovered that I had lovely felted pompoms from the same felted sweater source. And the cozy which I had been trying unsuccessfully to put on a round fat pot actually fit properly on my tin tea pot which originated in India. It is the one I use every morning and it has to have a cozy of some kind because the tin conducts the heat to my hand so that it is impossible to pour without burning myself. It has been wearing an old hat for the last year.

So ... today my plans are to bake bread, wrap gifts, work on that cozy, finish shoveling, and check to make sure I can get the car out tomorrow. Leonard was here with his plow last night after I had gone to bed. Because of the hour I couldn't move the car for him to clear that area. Every time that happens I have to dig myself out. It is bad enough to have to walk over 1/4 kilometre to get to the car but when you have to carry a shovel with you to dig out as well, the idea of a trip loses its appeal.

By the end of the winter I will have perfected all systems and will have appropriate shovels and sand at all stations and will keep an extra sled up where I park.

At the Christmas reunion last week, a man I didn't really know while we worked together said his wife would never consent to live anywhere that didn't have a basement, a garage, and no work connected with it. He couldn't even imagine her living as I do. He had tried to introduce her to the idea of living in one of the condos on the river at the edge of the village and she was horrified by the primitiveness.

Tomorrow I want to go to town to make sure I have enough lights and food for the weekend's fun. If Pat and that gang come as well, we will have a contest. Everyone will go out to find the four trees and bring them back. Then people will be put in three teams and will either pick rooms out of a hat or choose rooms. Their challenge will be to create a Christmas tree that fits thematically into the the setting. Then we will all tackle the bathroom tree. I have found all kinds of lovely beads and possible ornamentation as well as things to set under their trees ... all from my usual Christmas tree ... moose ... mice ... a Mongolian ger and boots ... rocking horses ... even a teddy riding a tricycle.

Well, now, on with my day!

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Day After the Night Before

Aren't I cute? You do still love me, don't you?
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What a weekend ...

It is a good thing that the roads up here are probably impassable today. I will catch up on my sleep, drink tea and felted tea cozies.

On Sunday morning I finished (finally) sewing in the loose ends of Max's striped sweater.

I also went to a pottery class where I glazed the bread baker and designed and almost finished making the breakfast tray insert. It will be a mountain scene with a border of tiles stamped with fish, leaves and other natural things.

I organized all my patterns for the crafts I am playing with and put them into a big binder. Then I designed a cover using Tamarak's Zentangle idea. It is called "Neither Fish Nor Fowl".

This is fun ... a form of meditation that I used to play with fifty years ago ... and one I have seen my 26 year old grandson play with when he was a kid.

It is based on the idea that by placing each line consciously, you center yourself, and on the proviso that erasers are not allowed, so, as in life, you build on your mistakes.

It seems a good way to capture the essence of my craft making these days ... full of mistakes but the joy comes from the making not the finished product. That is the complete antithesis of what my craft making was when I was younger.

In the afternoon we met Maggie, the Bernese Mountain Dog. She is so lovely I lusted after her. I like dogs or I wouldn't do what I do, but this dog was MARVELOUS. Kenya thought so too. They played full out and then Maggie came in the house with us and Kenya stayed outside to play with Maggie's three kids. Maggie explored the house and then came and put her lovely great head in my lap for the rest of the interview. I could have eaten her up.

In the evening Tamarak and her family (including the two dogs) came for a down home kind of dinner ... chicken breasts cooked in the slow cooker with black beans, corn kernels, salsa and cream cheese. I should have served a salad with it; it would have been a fresher tasting choice. Instead we had carrot and mushroom casserole and different kinds of breads. And wine of course.

When Jesse got bored she went up and took a bubble bath in the tub with the air jets.

By the time 10 p.m. arrived, they all headed home and I was ready for bed.

Normally I would have awakened at 6 a.m. ready for a new day. Not today. Today I was awake at 6:30 and groggy from a sleepless night. Kenya was up from 1 - 3:30 ... frantically pacing and crying. I went through all the likely things ... took her out to pee ... gave her a cookie ... encouraged her to sleep with me ... took her out and walked her thinking she needed to go. She simply led me from the front door, around the side of the house to the ledge overlooking the lake and back in the back door. That was not the problem.

I got up and looked up anxiety in dogs and she curled up at my feet in the corner half under the computer desk and went to sleep.

My den is on the west side of the house; my bedroom on the east where the storm was attacking.

That is when I finally realized that it was the ice melting and crashing off the tin roof and the sound of freezing rain being blown against the windows that were causing such anxiety. She must have felt as if her home was under attack.

Funny ... she doesn't spook easily ... not enamored by gunshots but little else causes much dismay. And I don't remember last year being a problem ... but maybe that is because the ice only came off the roof on sunny days.

I became firm, she finally fell asleep and we slept till morning. Today she has no interest in going outside ... still spooked I guess.

I have started my day by having tea in my Christmas bear mug. It is, after all, December 1.

I will do the indoor decorating this week, and next weekend Tammy and Carlos will come and help do the upstairs trees with me.

I have some tiny decorations but need more, so maybe I will try needle felting some balls and snow people.

I hope you have a peaceful, productive, creative week. That's what I intend to have.

Friday, 28 November 2008

My road has become a snow alley

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

It is a lovely snowy day with the temperature hovering around the freezing mark, and I am taking my time waking up. I should be dressed and getting ready for pottery, but it feels too good right here, and I know I will have to shovel out and brush the car and then deal with bad road conditions all the way from here to Mud Pies ... so I am being lazy.

Kenya is lying in her favourite spot hanging over the edge of the hill down to the lake. She is nudging a large stick and when it rolls down the hill she chases it and starts her game over again. She had a wonderful play day with Remi yesterday. Both dogs needed to get rid of pent-up energy and they were like healthy little kids going out for an hour rough housing and then coming in for cookies and heading back out to play as soon as they were warm and dry.

I have decided not to have a tree downstairs this year. I will decorate down there, but everything will be up high. This Christmas holiday Mud Mama and her whole brood will be here for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then for the rest of the holiday it will just be me, the two adults, their husky, and the baby who is into everything and apparently delights in being naughty just now. And the dogs I will be boarding ... probably one more large dog in the house from the 23rd till mid-January.

I love Christmas ... everything about it ...the tree and its decorations ...the twinkling lights ... the snow ... the turkey feast ...the bustling of family ... the sharing of food, drink and gifts. But this year I am going to keep things simple so that the kids and dogs will not get themselves into trouble.

So ... Instead I am going to have three Christmas trees upstairs ... one in each of the windows facing the lake. They will be tiny tabletop trees from the woods and will be wonderful night lights for children heading to bed and lovely surprises for us whenever we go upstairs. I may even put one in the bathroom.

My father was the world's best tree decorator and I don't remember a single shoddy tree from my childhood, but his best tree was a tiny Charlie Brown specimen that he cut on his farm and decorated with miniature lights and tiny wooden decorations. It had about ten branches and each one had been lovingly festooned with carefully placed foil that reflected the lights. I loved that Christmas when the goose was larger than the tree.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Palestinian Dress

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Bringing Home Your Travels

What do you bring home from your travels?

I bring home recipes, hobbies, kitchen utensils, household goods, and clothing.

Every time I use a Kenyan wooden rolling pin I am taken back to the market.

Whenever I pass the wall hangings from Mongolia I return to the steppes, to Ulaan Baatar and to friends I made there, especially Seema who gave me the second of these.

Each time I make something felted I am back in a dining room in Wolfville where Mud Mama taught Arrow, Max and me how to felt.

Most of the clothing I bring back I wear, and when I do, I remember its origins, but there are several pieces of clothing that I almost never wear. These hang on closet doors and are simply reminders of wonderful trips and experiences.

One is a Palestinian hand embroidered black dress that I bought in a store in Amman. The mother of one of my students gave me a richly coloured silk sash and creamy lace hejab to go with it and showed me where she kept the key to her house. She was a wonderful feisty woman who refused to be a hidden woman when her husband died and was by tradition, to move into her son's home to be under his care. She insisted on a key of her own, and she created a secret pocket in the embroidered bodice of her dress to hold it.

I have three African dresses and as many Mongolian traditional dresses or dels, and each has its own story to tell, but I will save those stories for other posts.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Kisses on the Lake

This morning the lake looks as if it has been kissed randomly all over its surface.

And those heated kisses (like some I have known) have been explosive, creating spider webs all over the smooth surface.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Blob

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Happiness is Unbloggable

November 25, 2008
Some things are just not bloggable ...

I am pretty open about what I consider bloggable ... perhaps too open for some tastes. Menopausal symptoms and other details about aging, minutiae about felting projects and doggy clients, and my weather updates, for instance, may be too unpleasant or too boring to warrant posts. I do, however, lead a pretty tame life, and if I am to blog, it will be about what is in my own restricted world, a world that shrinks each year.

It occurred to me yesterday that my interests have changed considerably since I moved to the lake ... blogging ... dogs ... cooking and baking ... felting and knitting ... and raising healthy house plants. I have never raised healthy house plants before and this is my first blogging experience, but animals have always made me happy, and the other housewifely pursuits are all reminiscent of the things that gave me pleasure during the most contented time in my life ... when I was living in an old school house in the country and raising children. But I am discovering that happiness is not very bloggable.

I won't be blogging about my new love interest because I have no idea where that is going, and that is about the only interesting thing happening in my life. I feel a bit like the woman in "You've Got Mail" every time I turn on the computer, and it is fun to feel as if my sap has begun to flow again. But I won't blog about that ... at least not until he becomes a fixture in my life ... and then he will probably be one of the boring things I blog about.

Old Tango went home yesterday and I feel as I always do when a dog I like leaves ... partly relieved of the extra work ... partly sad because he became part of the family for a short time. I have received a few inquiries about sitting during December and January, and my pocketbook will certainly be happy about that. Kenya will be too. They are all young dogs who will play with her: a 7 month old Bernese, another 3 year old Bernese, and Remi, the Golden Doodle pup and her best buddy. We get to meet Maggie the three year old Bernese on Sunday afternoon.

I have finished four pairs of felted slippers: two for adults and two for children. I like three of the prototypes and have learned quite a bit as I have progressed. One thing I have learned is not to use the bootie pattern again. It makes a wearable slipper but is knit on too small needles and I don't like the way it felted up. Sort of bloblike in appearance. I will post a photo as soon as my dial-up connection allows me to. I think the dog geegaw saves it from being tossed aside as just too ugly. I am going to cut inner soles for it so that it has more body, but I will wait till I have Max's feet here to do that.

Today I will shovel the new snow, go for a real walk with Kenya and finish up the leg warmers. And maybe I will discipline myself sufficiently to finish Max's striped sweater. I should because tomorrow I am going to buy more wool and then it will be even harder to finish up the tedious work of sewing in threads. It is always much more exciting to start a new project. I can't make any more slippers till people send me their footprints ... but I do want to get started on tea cozies.

Monday, 24 November 2008

I love living on a lake ...

It snowed last night and the black, just frozen surface of the lake turned white. I really do love living in a land of seasonal changes and on a lake where those changes are so immediately apparent.
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