Monday, 30 June 2008

Nomadic Travels #1

June 30, 2008
Ready! Steady! Go!

Kenya knows something is different ... but she goes into her usual "go to sleep till it's over" mode, so she is not a problem.

I am testing the laptop on this piece to decide whether I need to take a keyboard with me. If I find I am spending more time correcting mistakes than writing, I will, because that interferes with my thinking process. This is a brag piece about Kenya.

Kenya has her faults (don't we all?) But she is generally an easy companion and she works well with the dogs I board. She establishes herself as the pack leader and then she enforces my rules ... and dogs generally respond better to admonitions from other dogs than they do from new people, so she is a real partner in my dog sitting enterprise.

There are two dogs which she takes a back seat to: Shea and Nina. She met both when she was a puppy and they established their dominance then.

I have three stories about Kenya's recent behaviour that show just how wonderful this dog is ... well maybe they don't all prove that, but they do show why I find her interesting and lovable, and all are about pack behaviour in well socialized dogs.

1. There was the story of her telling us that Remi needed help. I posted about this the other day. She behaved very strangely and was deliberately disobedient and badly behaved, and wouldn't quit until we began to look after Remi. Remi is "her" puppy and a member of her pack. She had a responsibility to look after his welfare. I learned from this experience to pay attention when she acts out of character because it probably means she is trying to tell me something important.

2. The second story is about an error in judgment she made when Shea was here. Kenya firmly believes that all sticks belong to her. One of the dogs had placed a pile of three sticks on the ground. Shea went to get them. Kenya defended "her" property with a snarl. Shea growled back. Then both dogs stood stock still for four minutes, their bodies turned away from one another, their heads averted, and only their eyes revealed that they were not sure what to do now. Kenya had done something no pack leader could accept and both of them knew the rules, but neither wanted to act on them. Finally Shea picked up the sticks and Kenya acted as if it were his right.

3. The third story occurred a few days ago. Kenya had been out playing in the light cast by the solar lights till quite late one evening. I let her stay outside because she was having such a good time chasing toads and fireflies and took the dried liver cookie upstairs with me. I read for a while., the cookie sitting on my dream journal. Later I went down and brought Kenya in, gave her a new cookie, and we went to bed. The next morning I was at the computer in another room and I heard an anguished wail. I went to see what the problem was. She was sitting with her nose on the dream journal which was somewhat damp from her drool. But the cookie had not been touched. I don't know many dogs who could have resisted that temptation.

So three stories about Kenya's awareness of pack order. In the hierarchy I stand above her. Shea stands above her. Remi stands below her. But when Remi is hurt, he comes first. I have noticed that she backs off and lets me handle things if there is a dispute between dogs she knows well ... between Shea and Remi for example. She acts as if she is upset and confused ... because she doesn't know where her loyalties lie.

Try applying all of this to human behaviour ... it is an interesting exercise.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Hermit Leaves the Lake ... Test Run ...

Such excitement! We delivered the laptop to Tammy and then I dropped Kenya at Marta's and went to the Amakhozi show.

I was expecting more African faces ... but then the tickets were very expensive. (Thank goodness mine came as a gift!) The price didn't stop rather large families from buying tickets, and a large contingent of mentally and physically handicapped people were there. One of the charities had likely donated the tickets ... and a good thing, too, because they were a wonderfully enthusiastic audience. Only the middle section was filled. Perhaps a dozen or so of the the other 2/3 of the seats were taken. Despite all that, the enthusiasm of the players was contagious.

It was a story, but the sound system or the acoustics in the tent distorted the storytelling voice, so I would be hard pressed to give you the plot line. It didn't really matter though. The strength of the production was the performance itself. In many ways it reminded me of Cirque du Soleil productions. Not quite as slick, but also filled with trapeze performances, jugglers, acrobats, singing, dancing, and infused with colour, beauty, and energy.

The costumes were usually brightly coloured and often wonderful. Monkeys with round pink and blue bums cavorted on a trampoline. There were grasshoppers whose wings were made of fragments of thin fabric held together with ropes so that they flowed realistically. The bigger- than-life zebra puppets carried by dancing players were my favourites. Their heads were realistic, but the bodies were made of thin filmy fabric with the stripes merely suggested. There were many elaborately sculpted head dresses. Lots of bright reds and yellows, the colours I associate with Africa.

Other things of note: the ten foot tall stilted men; the cheerful black dancer in an massive beehive head piece who was able to portray great indignation; and everyone's ability to get the whole audience rhythmically clapping with the djembe drums.

I think the thing that impressed me most, possibly because I am a sucker for metaphor, was the subtle way they created effects and made you suspend disbelief. In particular was a night scene in which only the fluorescence was visible; and a stormy night at sea in which a juggler almost made me see the wind-tossed waves. A juggling pair were able to create an aura of silence amidst choral music, and had slowed everything onstage down to slow motion, creating the illusion that the storm had passed.

It was a good show. If I were to judge it against Cirque du Soleil, I would put it halfway between the first and last shows I saw them perform. What this one sometimes lacked in polish it more than made up for it in personality and humanity.

After the show I drove to Marta's to spend the night. We ate and took the dogs for a walk, and then went to bed. On my pillow was the short story she had written for me for my birthday: "Vancouver Can Wait". I love it.

Saturday morning was fun. A good breakfast and then a trip to Bruce Pit. I imagined Bruce Pit to be a barren hole in the ground, but it is beautiful. Woods and paths. And the dogs had a ball playing with other dogs and racing around. Kenya met a dachshund who reminded her of the nasty one that bit her nose, but this little guy had no fear of big dogs and they got along fine.

Back at Marta's I discovered the flat tire.

I spent three hours at Canadian Tire. At first we just stayed in the car. I read and Kenya snoozed. Then, after the car went into the shop, I took Kenya for a walk in the rain, and then decided to sit quietly in the waiting room. An old lady objected so we left and sat on the cement floor in a corner of the parking area where we could see my car when it was driven out. As soon as it appeared, Kenya went back in the car and I paid the bill. The old lady's friend apologized, and I was gracious. She had more of a problem than I did. Imagine being afraid of nice dogs, especially nice, quiet, exhausted dogs who just want to collapse like rugs on the floor.

By the time I got home I was ready to collapse on the floor beside her. Just too much excitement for a hermit and her dog.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Maxine retires ...

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Feeling Scattered

I will be glad to get on the road. I am feeling totally scattered just now, a bit like a horse pawing the earth as he waits for the starter's gun. I have things to do but many of them cannot be done till I am almost walking out the door. As a result I flit from one thing to another and don't do the things that keep me sane and fully human. I am always living in tomorrow, and today is like an angry bluebottle buzzing round, annoying me.

Yesterday I went to the June luncheon at my old school. It was an odd affair. The retired teachers outnumbered the active ones, and there were no Board personnel present. The school principal was forced to work at the Board all day , but he provided the wine and dropped in between interviews for a new VP and a reception for the retiring Personnel Director.

The teacher responsible for setting everything up forgot to do it. (No she wasn't one of the old ones who had lost her marbles; she was a young teacher.) As a result some older staff members, some retired people and a couple of members of the support staff hustled and got things together at the last minute. They felt it was important to honour the teacher who was retiring after spending most of her career at Philemon. I was glad I went, because it is important to show people that what they did for all those years matters to their colleagues. She was a teacher who gave more than she needed to give to earn her pay cheques. Most teachers I know do.

In the photo, Maxine, has a corsage stuffed into her cleavage, a bottle of white wine and a box of tissues beside her. She gave a good thank you speech ... some laughs ... some tears ... but also some strong words about what is happening to the education system. Apparently teachers are no longer permitted to evaluate students honestly. If a student hands in no work at all he get 35%. If his work is late it is no longer possible to penalize him. Her words were for those teachers still active, the ones who will need to stand up for their right to teach; the ones who will be responsible for teaching students not only the things they need to pass exams but also what they need to know about life. Nobody gets a free ride in life. When you do nothing, you get a zero for your efforts. If you are late it may well be too late ... and you will have to pay penalties or interest.

When teachers are forced to be dishonest with students they cheat them of an education.

I was reminded of what Mud Mama told me about the Waldorf conference she attended this week. The main presenter spoke about cheating our children of their childhood if we don't teach them to become loving responsible people. Being spineless and always giving or giving in creates self centred people who expect something for nothing.

Afterwards I came home, threw sticks for Kenya, picked up broken glass, watched French Kiss, and tried to calm the thoughts buzzing my brain before I went to bed. By four this morning I was at the computer doing some editing for a friend. I will need to get some sleep before I head out for a busy afternoon and evening or I will fall asleep at the African Kings show at Lansdowne Park!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


I finally decide to get a move on ... and every attempt to get myself ready for this trip ends up in frustration.

I received my new cell phone a few days ago. It has taken me all this time to figure out how to do the preliminary things necessary to actually use it. Two days to learn how to open the back so that I could put the battery in and charge it. Another day to deal with the instruction book which asked me for numbers that were invisible to the naked eye ... and when I finally discovered their location, could not be read without using a magnifying glass.

Each stage has required me to get past my anger that it is so small and my body parts are so inept.

Today I spent all morning trying to activate the damned thing. First the dial-up connection kept hanging up. Then I ran into a blank wall while on the activation site ... over and over again. I tried calling the phone activation number. They couldn't do it right now because they were house cleaning their system or some such thing. They told me to call back or re-try on-line in two hours. I went through all the same frustrations two hours later, and finally got hold of a person who was willing and able to activate the phone ... and then we discovered that I couldn't use the phone in my house because the signal was not strong enough.

When I calm down I will take the phone and his instructions with me to Wakefield, pick up Kenya's food for the trip and the rest of my prescriptions ... and try to finish activating this phone.

I have never liked cell phones and now I know why! If I were not going on this trip I would not have bothered getting it because I can't use it unless I leave the house ... and where am I most likely to need it in an emergency? Here on my property.

So ... one thing this nomadic summer is doing for me is dragging me kicking and screaming into the 21st century where the ubiquitous cell phone is king ... so much so that its use is being outlawed while driving.

To help me on my journey ...

"A verse from the Veda says, 'What you see, you become.' In other words, just the experience of perceiving the world makes you what you are. This is a quite literal statement."
- Deepak Chopra

I must not race through the experience; I must remind myself that the journey is more important than the destination. I must take the time to breathe, reflect, and enjoy this trip I am about to embark upon.

Every other experience has helped to make me the woman I am today ... working in the developing world ... teaching ... traveling ... being a parent ... a friend ... a lover ... and living here in my hermitage. Each experience has allowed me to see something important. I need not fear leaving this place. Of course it is home, a place I love, and the place I feel most secure, but I can welcome the new insights I will have as a result of embarking on new experiences, too.

On Trusting Instinct

Yesterday I was reminded, once again, to trust my instincts, to listen to the little voice that tries so hard to tell me something is not right, to really listen to my sixth sense.

My relationship with my dog operates best when we both listen to our instincts. Kenya knows if I am serious or just playing, relaxed or upset, and I generally recognize her moods and health by her behaviour. We communicate easily. As a result, most of the time we get along without friction.

It always takes a day or so for me to reach a comfortable level of understanding with someone else's dog, but that is usually all it takes. It takes longer to reach the level of intuitive empathy I have with Kenya, so I rely on her to help me with the dogs I board.

Dogs don't like humans who are cruel ... and they seem to know pretty quickly which humans to trust. They recognize danger very quickly. Their noses tell them. I am not sure what tells me these things ... my sixth sense, I think ... and I have to learn to listen to the signals that sense is sending me. I too often ignore those niggling doubts.

Yesterday Kenya suddenly behaved very strangely. She began pawing at the window and screeching. She refused to stop when I told her to. She wouldn't play with Remi. Everything she did constituted aberrant behaviour for her.

Instead of asking myself why she was behaving so strangely, I got really ticked off and yelled insults at her. She bounced out of my way but didn't stop.

Then Remi appeared, blood on his leg. It was his paw. He had cut it badly on glass or something. As soon as Sarah and I began to tend to Remi's wound, Kenya returned to her normal calm state.

Why did I assume that her behaviour meant she had suddenly gone crazy and become disobedient?

Why didn't I realize immediately that she was trying to tell me something important?

I have to learn to trust the two most instinctual things in my life: my dog and my own sixth sense. Maybe Kenya will help me learn to do that.

It seems to me that I have entered a phase of my life in which I am discovering a great many things I need to know in order to be happy. I wonder if everyone is bombarded in the last decade or two of her life with these new insights. Or is only those of us who led terribly busy lives when we were younger, never taking the time to stop and breathe in our environment and really experience life?

Is it because age has finally slowed me down enough to pause and reflect that I am discovering how much I still need to learn? Or is it because I have found the place in which I can be at peace in order to think? Or is it because my closest companion is now Kenya, who naturally lives instinctively?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Contemplation of a Nomadic Summer

Two little tidbits for my traveling summer arrived in my mailbox today.

"Today I drifted [in the floating studio] with Camille on the Seine at Argenteuil. The views materialized and dissolved and I was as contented as a cow in her stall." (Claude Monet, 1874)

"Don't be afraid if things seem difficult in the beginning. That's only the initial impression. The important thing is not to retreat; you have to master yourself." Olga Korbut Gymnast - Four Time Olympic Gold Medalist

I have been dragging my feet about getting things done here. I am not sure if it is my body which is not up to snuff or if it is my mind creating a spider's web of ennuie that traps my body and sucks out my energy.

It is almost as if I am refusing to face the fact that I will be away from my hermitage all summer.

I plant herbs and tomatoes I will not be here to enjoy. I tend flowers I won't see blossom. But I don't pack up my life here and clean away my presence so that the place will be ready for other tenants.

Well ... I will just have to get a new take on things, won't I?

I will have to remind myself that this is an adventure. It is a chance to see the world with new eyes.

It won't be quite as peaceful a way to travel as Monet's. My car won't simply float along so that I can enjoy new views. But I can stop along the way and picnic with Kenya ... and Wild Thing if he travels with us. I can stop when we need a break from the TransCanada, and we can follow our senses to something more interesting ... take a road less traveled ... meander a bit ...

And once I get to a destination, a whole world will open for me. I really am looking forward to a month in Wolfville and to visiting friends and family I don't see often enough.

So ... I just have to get past this initial feeling that things are just too hard ... and focus on what I am looking forward to.

Monday, 23 June 2008

This ‘n that on another rainy day ...

This has got to be the rainiest June I can remember. It comes after a winter with near record snowfall, and the gardens are thriving. I have planted one hill with mint and it loves the rain, and the ferns and other forest growth are beginning to remind me of the lushness of a rain forest.

I have a fire going downstairs and have spent my morning making phone calls, responding to email, combing Kenya's tangled undercoat over her tail bone ... the part she can't reach, and reading The Book of Negroes by Laurence Hill.

I received a note from "The Perfect Man" ... the one who was just TOOO perfect. He said he really liked me but got the impression last year that I was not interested. But then he decided to try again. Oh dear.

Someone emailed me to tell me that one of the victims in the tragic fire in Labrador was the twenty year old niece of a former colleague. Suddenly the news reports became more meaningful. That shouldn't happen, but it does all the time, to most of us. We feel sorry when we hear bad news but we keep our hearts at a distance.

Only the massive destruction of lives in a 9-11, a tsunami in Thailand or an earthquake in China ... natural or manmade disasters that attract the attention of the whole world seem to make us empathise.

We feel the pain of the victims because the media inundates us with their images and tells us their stories. We cannot ignore the fact that we are all human and that the tragedy belongs to all of us. Paul Coelho would say that we are suffering with them because we are all part of the Soul of the World.

Stephen Lewis reminded us during the tsunami that there are people whose suffering is hidden away, people whose suffering is no longer news, and we must not forget them either.

Our humanity is what connects us to all human beings ... our souls to the Soul of the World.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Yikes! Yahoos!

My blissful peace was shattered yesterday. The next door cottager had a weekend party. By noon everyone on the lake could judge the amount of alcohol that had been consumed by the level of noise. Even Kenya was offended, and found an alternate route back to shore with the sticks she was retrieving in order to avoid all contact. Kenya is a remarkably communicative dog, but this was the first time I had seen this particular body language.

Especially hard to take was a middle-aged woman with brassy bleached hair and a laugh like a hyena with lung cancer. Vulgarities streamed from her mouth all afternoon. I kept wishing she'd go under, but her pool noodle kept her afloat until she switched to a rowboat and went to visit the cottagers on the other side of me.

They were pleasant to her and her companion, saying that the noise was not bothering them, but I noticed that Carol Anne and her daughter headed out on an inflatable raft and an inner tube to leisurely navigate the lake until she went back home.

The drinking really stepped up once night fell and all the voices became somewhat intrusive, but hers still managed to stand out from all the others.

I closed the windows and tried to sleep, but at 12 and 1 and 2 they partied on. At 2:30 the crass woman was down to tears and recriminations. I heard some man's soothing voice ... then silence.

I am discovering that I have very little tolerance for that kind of intrusion on my privacy. I was angry that they seemed to be so inconsiderate of anyone else on the lake. This is a lake which does not allow motors because we value our peace. We chose this lake because it is such a peaceful retreat from life. Surely anyone who owns property here would be aware of that. Mind you I am not sure how she is related to the cottager who owns the place. I suspect she is his sister. I hope she lives in Calgary and won't visit often.

My spam filter spat out these headers today:

*Impress all in the locker room
*Replica Handbags
*Last Longer in Bed
*You look really stupid bjscott
*You look really stupid bjscott
*Naked true. Best proposal of medicines

I understood the first six, but years of reading often illiterate or second language offerings has not been of much help in deciphering the seventh.

Who sends out these things? And who reads them? People like the blonde next door might be interested in the replica bags, I suppose. I overheard her conversation with the woman rowing the boat yesterday ... and it contained tidbits about how many purses and bags women need ... apparently in defence of her disputed clothing allowance. But nasty comments on your appearance? Or all the sexual aid ones?

I've figured it out ... the seventh! The unvarnished truth! The best possible deal on prescription drugs!

Maybe I could get a job editing for the people who send these out.

Today is a grey rainy day ... good thing I rescued the laundry yesterday. Today I will finish the cleaning and light a fire in the wood stove. Or maybe I will catch up on the sleep I didn't get last night. Yahoos till 2:30 and then the birds at 4 ... I may not last the whole day.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Lazy Saturday

Another beautiful day ... I considered doing a bunch of stuff but discovered when I began to sweep and mop up mounds of dog hair that I was not operating competently at all, so I left the broom and anti-static mop leaning on walls, and wrote something for my blog. Then I ate breakfast. Both Kenya and I had tenderly poached eggs for breakfast. Hers accompanied kibble. I had homemade multigrain toast smeared with dandelion honey on the side.

That made me remember that I wanted to buy local honey as house guest gifts for the trip so I went to the Saturday morning market in the village. While I was there I picked up a couple of bags of soil and some chives and sage for planting. Then Kenya and took the long way home along River Road.

We parked on Maxwell and got out to walk for a while. Kenya smelled wonderful things ... I recognized horse manure and cows and we followed the sound of rushing water to a patch of woods where a piddling cow and several calves hid among the trees. And then there were the wonderful flowery scents. Kenya kept dragging me away from these to clamber about in the long grass on the verges of the road. She emerged covered in the frothy spittle that is left on leaves every night.

When we got home I made Coconut Milk Bean Soup. It is an east African recipe and is chockful of veggies and very good. I was still not operating competently and there is a huge mess for me to clean up when I return to the scene.

But first I want to play some more. And finish this. And post photos. And plant the herbs. And re-pot the plants that needs a trough to contain them now.

Then maybe I will vaccuum up the dog hair and sand, dust, and clean the kitchen ...

But perhaps before I do any of that ... I will bring the laundry in off the line. It has been getting re- rinsed and re-dried for almost two days now. It will smell glorious, and when I wear the cotton nightgown tonight I will be reminded of this lovely lazy day.

The Alchemist

I am reading a book that for me could become my bible ... you know ... the only book you need if you are shipwrecked ... the one book to take on a cruise or to a long prison term.

It is called The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and is a fable, the story of an Andalusian shepherd who goes on a quest. A simple tale. A simple man. But filled with profound thoughts. It is a kind of distillation of the things one needs to discover in order to live one's life meaningfully. Paulo Coehlo has been quoted so widely that most of the things his young shepherd discovers are now homilies mouthed by many. Ubiquitous. No longer profound. But still true. Things like living in the moment. Or realizing that your soul is part of the soul of the universe. Understanding that the universe delights when we follow our dreams.

It has been compared to The Little Prince. I have never read The Little Prince, but I will now. Perhaps one will rest in one pocket as I journey, the second in the other ... to balance me.

My friend, Paul, who died in France a year and a half ago told me about The Little Prince. We were in an outdoor cafe in Corsica drinking wine and sharing a light meal. Pizza, I think. Paul loved pizza. I know it wasn't the day I ate the perfect pasta carbonara with the rosy egg yolk bursting forth like a rising sun from its centre. That too was in Corsica, and with Paul, but at a country inn. No ... we were in the city, Ajaccio, when he told me about The Little Prince.

I cannot remember the details but I remember thinking that if I just followed the truths of that simple story I would live a happy life.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Fields of Diamonds

"You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own 'acres of diamonds.'"
Earl Nightingale 1921-1989, Syndicated Radio Announcer and Author

I think we are, all of us, standing in our acres of diamonds. I know I am.

My acreage is certainly a treasure, and I write often about the joy of being a hermit here, but Lois told me the first time she met me after reading Gone to the Dogs for a few months that I wasn't a true hermit because I liked people too much. She is right. I have family, friends and neighbours on the lake without whom life would be lonely and sterile. A lake, a mountain and a dog are wonderful, but I also need human companionship.

My blog has brought other people into my circle of friends, and they are some of the diamonds. I am thinking of Barbara who now reads every day to see how I am, offers advice on dealing with a bruised buttock, and sends me a piece of her newest art. I am thinking of Eveline who is reconnecting after 30 years and from half a world away. I am thinking of Erin whom I hardly knew till we began reading one another's blogs.

This week has brought me incredible generosity from family and friends. I don't want to embarrasss anyone, but four people have done things for me this week that leave me without words to thank them properly. On each occasion, tears came before words.

Thank you all for being diamonds in my fields.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Rabid Bunnies Should Not Be Saved!

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Zoom's Musical Meme

Zoom has asked me to be a part of her attempt to save the lives of baby bunnies. It involves listing songs I love right now. It is difficult for me to think of any because I am in a very silent place right now and haven't been listening to music much at all for at least a year or so.

However; I am going to be driving thousands of miles this summer so I will list the CDs I will be taking on my road trip.

I am hoping that I will discover some songs that I like by reading your lists, so please join the game.

If you have a blog, please follow the instructions exactly. If you don't, please list your songs in the comment section (even if I don't tag you).

Here are the instructions: List seven songs you are into right now. It doesn’t matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring/summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

Here is my list of more than 7 road trip CDs:

Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen ... Closing Time
Judy Collins ... The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Bob Dylan ... Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands
Eric Clapton ... My Father's Eyes
Bruce Cockburn ... Burn
Sarah Brightman ... Time to Say Good Bye
Roy Bonneville ... Gust of Wind
Amanda Marshall
Susan Aglukark
Ella and Louis
Kate and Anna McGarrigle ... Dancer with Bruised Knees
Tanika Tikaran ... Ancient Heart
a Mozart double CD
Flash Dance
Women and Songs
Beautiful World
Blue Sky (traditional Mongolian singer)
Cheza (African)
Joe Sealey's Africville Suite

And here are my tag names:

Mud Mama
Pat and Julie

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


I have ONE SORE BUTT ... I just fell on the wet wooden stairs outside (I was going to plant a couple of herbs I had left at the top of the 39 steps yesterday) .

The muscle has swelled up like a rock that my hand cannot close around. It feels like a ledge.

You know how we work out to get rock hard butts? Well I have now have one and would trade it for the familiar squishy one any day.

Debbie just called and said the same thing happened to her on the steps at the farm and it lasted for months! When it happened, Rob said, "Oh, I think you just hurt your feelings," and she whipped down her pants saying, "Does that look like my feelings?"

Anyway I didn't want to hear that it took weeks to stop hurting or months to go back to normal ... I leave in a week and a bit, and I can' t sit down.

Halfway Through 2008

Rob Brezsny's horoscope this morning made me think. He wrote about what I should be learning in the second half of this year.

He hoped that by the end of 2008, I would be able to look back and make the following declaration: "This year I've learned more about togetherness and collaboration than I'd picked up in the previous five years combined. I've finally registered the fact that a successful alliance of any kind requires as much hard work as any job. Most of my important relationships are better and more interesting, and the rest have faded away. I've surprised myself with how creative I've been in finding interesting ways to handle commitment."

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

This year so far (and the learning , of course, began long before that), I have discovered how to live alone and be happy. Imagine if I figured out the other half of the equation in the second part of the year.

It is a good year for that to happen.

I will be unable to rely on what I have learned about contentment once the summer begins. I will no longer be settled in my hermitage. I will be staying with people for short and long periods of time ... and will have to learn how to adjust over and over again. I will certainly have to learn about togetherness and collaboration, won't I? I cannot simply retreat to the lake when it isn't easy.

Most of the places I will be staying are adult homes where it won't be difficult, but Kerry's is a vibrant buzzing (and sometimes shrieking) hive of activity.

I imagine the first part of my stay will be simple ... Kerry, Maurice and Sam ... a new place and the freedom to discover it. Once all the kids come home it will be hectic. That is the nature of a household full of children, and that is true whether you love the kids or not ... and I do love these kids ... but their natural energy can overwhelm an older hermit used to silence. I can still head off on my own or with one or the other of the family of course, but I also have to figure out how to make the whole experience a good one; I can't simply always escape to a quiet place.

I will have to find creative ways of managing my love for the family and my need for tranquil solitude, and, if I am lucky, that knowledge will be transferable to other situations I encounter.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Dragons and Other Beasts Remind Us to Play

A rocking horse hangs on the door to my den.

As soon as you enter the room, if you are over 5 feet tall, you will bump into a flying gemini dragon.

In the corner under the window, three rainbow bears cuddle together on the floor.

Above them hang masks I made to remind me of what the seasons teach us.

If you delve a little deeper you will see some forest women who helped me make an important decision and a talking stick which got me started on a journey of self discovery.

I keep them here to remind me that creativity is really all about play. I need reminders of that simple truth.

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Good News Bears

My heart test results just came in ... and they are fine!!! It was worth taking most of Friday to find that out.

The Riverside called today and I have an appointment with the other specialist September 5.

I feel like a new woman, but it is a little strange that I feel relief because I wasn't really worried. You know how sometimes you just have a feeling that everything is either okay or it's not?

I was pretty sure that the chest pains were directly related to the stresses in my life at the time rather than to something physical.

And I have the same feeling about the other odd things that were happening at that time so I imagine that my visit to the Riverside will net similar results.

I am a pretty healthy old dame, you know.

The bears and the dragon in my den are to remind me that I need to play more and worry less.

An Utterly Peaceful Day

Yesterday was one of those perfect days, a day when the air feels invisibly light against your skin; a day in which things are in balance and there is no pressure. I had fun with Kenya and spoke briefly to two neighbours, but it was a day when everything I needed was all within me and my place.

It helped that the weather was perfect and the bugs unobtrusive. One storm rumbled about behind dark clouds but moved out without dropping any of its precipitation.

Any attempt to list the highlights will make us all (myself included) wonder how that could constitute a perfect day. After all not much happened between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

I used to be a Type A person who had to accomplish three days' work every single day. I almost never took holidays, even when I thought I was doing so. A day without work, without accomplishing something, was a day wasted. One of the blessings bestowed upon me by ageing has been the ability to enjoy leisure time.

What I did on my perfect day:

1. ... walked around the lake with Kenya to try to take more photos of nesting turtles. I didn't see any adult turtle mommies, but saw three nests of shell fragments and hope that means the turtles hatched. I also spoke to Rosemary who was gardening and we walked over to see the hydro pole that had burst into flames when the tree fell on the wires on Friday.

2. ... wrote a Father's Day piece for my blog and answered emails.

3. ... hung the hanging basket of petunias Erin brought for me yesterday.

4. ... moved all the pieces of the raised garden down to the spot I wanted to use for a garden this year, put them together in a half-assed fashion and poured in the soil I had brought down from the car. I started with the wheelbarrow and then hefted each one onto my shoulders and moved them singly down the last flight of steps.

5. ... exhausted and sweating, I took a break and went swimming with Kenya. We swam to a neighbour's cottage and I spoke briefly to them from the water.

6. ... still not ready to go back up to do the planting, I went out for a kayak ride with Kenya alternately swimming alongside and scrambling along the shore.

7. ... planted tomatoes.

8. ... re-potted the peace lily and took it inside. (It was getting sunburned outside)

9. ... had a sandwich and apple juice lunch down on the deck, read my book and threw sticks for Kenya.

10. ... had an afternoon nap.

11. ... brushed Kenya and bagged her undercoat hair for Rosemary's garden (it discourages groundhogs and raccoons)

12. ... made a pasta salad and barbecued ham slice dinner for myself, listened to Sara McLaughlan, and ate dinner with a very nice Italian wine.

13. ... curled up on the couch with Kenya and watched The Painted Veil.

14. ... took a lovely leisurely bath scented with some kind of evergreen, maybe balsam.

15. ... and went to bed where I slept soundly the entire night.

It was a wonderful day.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Dad.
And Happy Birthday.

Click on Zoom's website ( on my side bar. She wrote about the same topic today. Being way more computer literate than I am she was able to display this photo taken at her christening nearly fifty years ago when Dad was about her age. I grabbed hers.

My father would have been 100 years old today.

If he were still alive we'd have had a big party, grand enough to celebrate his passing the century mark. And big enough to wish him a Happy Father's Day. His 85th birthday was impressive, but this one would have merited fireworks.

The 85th was the false moustache and horn rimmed glasses birthday.

We lured him to the Knowlton Pub by asking him to do a favour for Orley. He was to meet a stamp dealer at 1 p.m., and would recognize the man by his appearance. The dealer would be wearing black horn rims and a moustache.

When Dad arrived at the pub, we (Deb, Zoom, Bob, Orley and I) were sitting at the bar facing the mirror, all of us wearing false moustaches, and horn rims. He sat down. We turned around in unison.

Dad didn't laugh. He looked confused. He gave a small smile, but it wasn't one of recognition.

Finally one of us (I think it was Zoom) went up to him, and the rest of us followed. One by one he realized who we were. But he turned to Debbie and said, "I know everyone else, but not you, dear. Who are you?" I can still hear the gentleness of his voice.

And then he relaxed and joined us at the bar. We had one extra set of glasses and facial hair and he donned his. That evening we went to his favourite place on the American side ... a gourmet restaurant called Hermann Schmidt's. The restaurant and B&B were situated in the original frame farmhouse on a strawberry farm. Dad hardly ever got to go there any more because his pension had dwindled in value. It was the treat we always managed when we visited him.

I think that was the last time we were all together until we gathered in Hollywood Beach, Florida when he was dying. Then he was too sick to party with us, but we remembered all the other family parties, and he was there in spirit the whole time.

Last night I watched Rosenstrasse and was taken back to my teen years when Oma came to Canada. It was the language that did it for me. The German voices ... just beyond my personal recall for using the language, but hovering closer to the edges of auditory recognition.

I think before I die I would like to go to Germany to see where my father was a child and a very young man. I would like to see rural Saxony. I have often wished I hadn't been as busy with my own life and career while he was alive. If only he had lived to see me retire ... perhaps there would have been more opportunities to talk. Maybe he'd have shared those earliest memories ... and the ones of his first years in Canada ... of struggling during the Depression ... of his short-lived marriage ... perhaps he'd have told me why he put me into a foster home. But maybe he wouldn't have been able to explain.

Seeing Saxony is unlikely to help me understand either. I am sure that Germany has changed radically in the past century, and will not give up my father's secrets easily.

But I would like to walk in fields where he had played as a boy. I would like to follow forest paths where he flirted with young girls. I would like to sit and watch for a train on a railroad line and, after it passed, remember my grandmother's stories of gathering coal to survive the winter.

I guess I'd just like to breathe in the air they breathed once long ago ... and imagine them when they were young.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Apology

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly. -Buckminster Fuller

And there is even less in a nest of snapping turtle eggs. I saw several nests on my way home from Sarah's yesterday. The one closest to the smallish turtle resting on the dirt road was full of scattered shards of white shell. The others were covered in loose dirt. The turtle waggled her head and I continued on my way, thinking about the enormous turtle we had seen years ago at our shore. Out of fear our next door neighbour shot that venerable creature. It was over two feet in diameter. This descendant of hers was only the size of a man's palm. Thank heavens these turtles live in a lake whose environment is healthy and nurturing, and that most of their human neighbours value and protect them. Thank heavens that only one nest had been ravaged by a predator, likely a natural one.

Yesterday I watched Canada's apology to the first Nations, Inuit and Metis people. Thank heavens the Conservatives finally agreed to allow responses. It became what it should have been ... an historic beginning to a new era in the relations between the people wronged so long ago and the rest of Canada.

Sarah had asked me over. She wanted to judge the sincerity for herself. I am not sure anyone can judge sincerity based on prepared speeches, and my own feeling was that this was a political necessity and an opportunity for Harper and his party to look good. But I am glad he did it properly, because he was apologizing on behalf of all of us.

I was gladdened, impressed, surprised, interested, disappointed, and touched.

* glad to see Stephane Dion take responsibility on behalf of his party.

* impressed that Harper thanked Jack Layton for not giving up on him and pleasantly surprised when he admitted that Layton had pressed the matter every week for a year and a half.

* interested in the intelligence of the Bloc's apology but disappointed that it deteriorated into a political speech against the Conservatives.

* glad that Layton spoke specifically about the harm done to these survivors and to the generations that followed them, and about what must be done to remedy their situation. He was also the one who asked us to imagine a village in which there were no children between the ages of 6 and 16.

But it was the responses of the leaders of the peoples who suffered in those residential schools which touched my heart. Some spoke with humour. Many spoke extemporaneously. They all spoke from the heart. I guess for me it was the final speaker, the woman who represented the association of women, who spoke most directly to me.

She was a warm woman, and a wise one. She didn't harangue, but she made it very clear that seven generations of her people have been badly damaged by laws that tore apart the very fabric of her culture by destroying the traditional matriarchal system.

She spoke about how ripping children away from their mothers and their influence in those very important years and keeping them away from the women who carried within themselves the bond with the earth, had created young people who were lost.

And there were seven generations of these lost children, children who could not parent, children who could not know how to protect their own children from the same kinds of harm they had suffered.

And she didn't let our political leaders relax complacently now that the apologies had been given. She reminded them with a smile that this was only the beginning.

We never had a legitimate right to force assimilation on these people. We took advantage of our superior strength to commit that crime against them, and then we turned a blind eye to the other abuses that occurred within those residential school walls far from the protection of families.

Yesterday our political leaders said what needed to be said, and we Canadians were reminded that we have an obligation to protect and nurture children ... all children. Parenting and political stewardship are similar. Both are about nurturing, not about wielding power over other beings. They are about allowing caterpillars to become butterflies and leathery eggs to become turtles. They are about keeping the places in which they live healthy so that they can grow strong and beautiful.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The Poet and the Prosaic Writer

On cowardice and courage ...

"The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more that you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt."
Thomas Merton, 1915-1968, Trappist monk and writer

"A coward dies a thousand deaths; the brave die but once."
William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, poet and playwrite

One forces the reader to think; to construct meaning.

The other makes the assumption that his readers are not smart enough to do so.

Update on the Raccoon Corpse

The vile smelling raccoon I moved up the 61 steps from the lake to the road is gone.

I realized that the garbage men would be offended by the pail containing the body. I needed to find someone with an open truck to move the can and bury the body as far as possible from my dogs, so I called Leonard (the neighbour who plows my road) and asked for help. He came right away and said he didn't need to be paid. Now that is neighbourly!

I delivered a chocolate cake and a serving of rhubarb crisp to him at suppertime. Small recompense for solving a big stinker of a problem.

Sunrise at Pike Lake

My day began early ... before 4 a.m. ...

when the birds began their day.

Just before 5, I took these shots, and forgave the birds.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Mailbox Mania

Rude Spam

Is anyone else receiving huge amounts of spam with messages similar to "What a stupid face you have here bjscott"??? I keep wanting to open one to see how they all knew that, but then I resist the temptation because "What if they are not only rude but virus-infected?"

Today's mail contained the following piece of information:

Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark, disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly, and of changing these decisions slowly, if, and when they were changed. People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions quickly and often.

I don't know about money ... I have none ... but I do know about love and adventure ... and so I applied the precept to what I know.

I have made decisions quickly in both areas, and as a result I have had a few adventures, love affairs and marriages throughout my life. I took a very long time to make the decision to leave the adventurous life I was leading (about 14 years) and to stay home and settle down with my dog. I have stored up a memory bank rich in adventures. So the theory works there.

With love, I have made both decisions quickly ... to jump into and to abandon the relationships. I have not created a lasting love with any man.

Lately I have not made any decisions about men quickly and as a result there is no man in my life.

I had sort of wanted a dog for a long time but the actual decision to get my puppy was made within a week. Despite a rough beginning, and some major obstacles, I stayed with that decision until she became truly mine. Now I know I will love her as long as she lives.

So it seems to work with love too.

What do you think? Does it work in your life too?

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Look at those eyelashes!

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Remi's Answer to Dog Days

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She left her world a better place.

Veronica Guerin is a really tough film based on the life of a very courageous Irish woman who fought to the death for her beliefs. She was a journalist who saw the damage done to children by drugs in Dublin, and went after the drug dealers. They eventually killed her, but they couldn't stop what she had begun, and Irish laws were changed because of her courage. The new laws made it possible to seize the assets of the drug dealers and actually made the dealers subject to law.

I was saddened by her death and by the fact that she left a husband, a mother, a brother and a young son to grieve, but it was her courage that made the tears flow.

She was born the same year as my second daughter, and she was murdered in 1998 ... ten years ago.

She left Dublin a better place.

A Scorcher

I like bitter cold better than intense heat. When I am cold I can dress more warmly, put another log on the fire, and eat hearty soul and body warming food. And I can stay indoors. When it is hot I can almost not drag my weary bones around to do what must be done. Decency dictates a limit to the number of clothes I can remove, and I don't want to use the oven even to bake bread.

Also once the weather gets hot, my hermitage is no longer as secluded. I have to share my private road. And the dogs do not understand. All winter they have been letting me know if anything untoward has been happening. They don't go off the property unless I am with them but they are aware of any movement in the empty houses.

Because I have Remi this very hot weekend, and because my cottage neighbours are on the lake, I can't even take Kenya and just swim my troubles away. Remi is a sociable dog and he will visit the neighbours, and then I will have to worry about whether he is bothering them.

Kenya gets upset if she thinks their house might be being burgled, but she goes right home if they tell her to, and her visits are more in the nature of duty calls than social visits, so she would rather play with me and a stick than visit anyone else.

And, since they still need exercise, it means I must take more frequent walks ... and endure the heat, humidity and bugs.

I will be glad when the neighbours leave and/or Remi goes home. Then Kenya and I can return to our normal patterns of going out when we want to, swimming when it is hot, and generally doing as we please.

So far today I have taken the dogs for a long walk, made bread, helped Rowboat Flo move some things up the hill for a garage sale, and followed a fail proof recipe for mayonnaise which refused to emulsify, and I am worn out. And I still have to cut up and cook the batch of rhubarb Flo gave me yesterday, and walk the dogs at least once more.

But I may just go for a swim alone and take a nap first. It's that kind of day.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

First Swim of the Season

Tammy, Carlos and Little Tammy came out with Teddy and Shea ... and brought dinner.

We couldn't convince Carlos to join us in the water. (We were moving the pump away from the muck.) He had "forgotten" his bathing suit. He was too shy to go in without it. He had to get ready for an exam. The excuses ran on, but of course we all knew that he was a hot blooded Latino who prefers bath tubs to lakes. It ended up that he worked harder than any of us running up and down the hill to run our errands for us. And of course he made the dinner ... chicken cacciatore ... yummy.

So there we were ... three women, a wharf spider that sent Tammy into paroxysms of terror, a leech that made Little Tammy nervous, Shea who wanted to play rescue dog, the pump, the electrical cord and the heat line ... and, of course, the cement blocks.

Little Tammy and I kept floating away for some reason, and neither of us was good at diving and doing stuff underwater, so Tammy ended up doing the lion's share of the work.

We struggled to attach the cement blocks to the heat line, and managed. Then we attached the pump to the last block, and placed it in one of the holes. The plan was to work together to get it out to the correct spot. Tammy was carrying the cinder block and we were to transport the rest of the paraphanalia attached to it.

That was when Little Tammy and I suddenly felt our feet go out from under us (it gets deep quickly and we are both short) and we floated away dropping our bits. Tammy discovered suddenly that she was the only person holding the cinder block plus its accoutrements and the weight took her straight to the bottom. After a bit more juggling, things seemed to be in place.

We also put the ladder I rescued in the spring in place.
Sarah arrived with Remi in the middle of all this.

Carlos took the Cinderblock Ballet photos.
He was errand boy, cook and photographer.

The water was great, by the way.

Friday, 6 June 2008

The Dirty Deed is Almost Done

I am sweating profusely, my hair is drenched and I feel almost as bad as I did the first night I had the flu, but the corpse is up at the top of the hill wrapped in four garbage bags in a metal garbage container. He stinks despite being enclosed in all that plastic, so I will have to move him by car to a place far removed from my dogs.

I have been working up the energy and courage to attack this problem for days, and planning my strategy.

When I finally began the actual removal, I discovered that he was not simply lying on the hard packed earth; he was entrenched in clay and held down by rocks as well as wedged against a pillar of cement blocks cemented together. Impossible to move or even tilt the tower, so I had to pry him out with the shovel.

... First a paw ... raccoons have the most beautiful paws.

I thought of Rocky, the raccoon who used to come when called; the one who took my steak-perfumed hand in his and bit down thinking it was a second piece of steak. I had to have the series of rabies shots.

I thought of the very large raccoon who stole a huge bag of doughnuts that belonged to Gus, and faced him down when Gus tried to retrieve his property.

I also thought of the days when there was a bounty on raccoons and my oldest daughter would go out with my scissors and remove the paws from roadkill in order to get $5. I'd have paid her a good deal more than $5 to get rid of this one.

The main body came loose next. Did you know that raccoon arms and legs look like hardened leather when they are dead?

I placed it on the plastic sheeting in the box and tied it into a bundle. I put the bundle into an old pail and placed a green garbage double bag over the pail and tilted the bundle into the bags and secured them.

Then I returned to the bits and pieces ... tail and hair ... and put them into another garbage bag.

Then came the task of getting it up the 22 steps to the house and the 39 steps to the parking lot where the garbage tins are. He weighed as much as a bag of sand and salt. Heavy. It took me a long time to make the whole two-trip journey with the two bags and the old pail.

By the time I got all of him into the garbage pail, I was exhausted. Being weak from the flu didn't help but neither did exerting myself while attempting not to breathe. That hill from the lake is an aerobic exercise without carrying a forty pound dead weight. And aerobic exercise is based on the concept of breathing while exerting yourself.

I am now going down to pour javex on the spot and on my shovel. I hope it kills the remaining germs and smell down there.

The condition of the shovel reminded me of one of the lines from a childhood ditty.

Does anyone else know the song we used to sing when there was a funeral party passing, or is only me because I lived for a couple of years next door to a funeral home. It went like this:

Did you ever think when the hearse went by
That you might be the next to die?

They lower you down about fifty feet
And all goes well for about a week,

And then your coffin begins to leak.

The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out.
The worms play peek-a-boo on your snout.

Your stomach turns a slimy green
And your pus pours out like whipping cream.

Did you ever think when the hearse goes by
That you might be the next to die?

This whole exercise made me think of this, but I am also stalling. I would just as soon not return to the scene where I performed the dirty deed.

After the Party

It is a misty morning here at the lake, and I am recovering from a stomach flu that attacked me the night of my birthday. My birthday itself was wonderful, but the next few days have been fraught with less pleasant things.

My pump is in a mucky part of the lake and needs to be moved because it is constantly bringing sediment into the system. My water pressure becomes a dribble and I have to clean the filter to get it back. This interrupts washing cycles and makes filling kettles and water bowls or cans take longer, but is most annoying when it happens in the middle of a shower. Some days I was cleaning the filter half a dozen times in a day. Moving the pump is a chore I cannot manage without help because there are cinder blocks attached to the hose and the heat line. Once again I will ask friends.

There is a raccoon carcass rotting in the basement area of the old cottage which has to be buried or moved far enough away that dogs will not be tempted to roll in its execrescence. But first I have to calm my rather nervous stomach. I have prepared a waterproof box to shovel it into. This wouldn't be as urgent a matter except that Remi, the puppy, is arriving this evening, and he has already shown considerable interest in the corpse. Not only that, he is suffering from diarrhea, and I am sure that a raccoon snack would not help his medical condition. I will have Remi for the weekend.

And then there was the birthday card from Revenue Canada telling me I owe more money than I have already paid. RRSPs are hazardous to one's financial health. So is house building, especially when you hire the wrong people. The repairs to the roof which was done so badly will cost almost $9,000. It is the surprises that attack from behind when you least expect to be hit that are the killers, I am finding. Had I known how RRSPs work I would have bought bonds. Had I known how Mike worked I'd have hired a Quebec licensed contractor and paid up front.

The days since my birthday have not been all bad. I received a lovely birthday card from one of my oldest friends, and my plumber (a former student) told me how to fix my problem without incurring more costs. When I didn't appear on the road with Kenya, Rowboat Flo phoned or came over every day to ensure that I was alive, and yesterday Sarah ran an errand for me and walked Kenya.

Life may have its setbacks, but I still look out at this lake which is now an oasis of green after last night's rain, and I realize I am glad to be alive and here.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Tammy's photos

Sarah, Marta, the cake, and me on June 3

Carlos (under the mask) barbecuing with onlookers
(Marta on the right, me on the left, Teddy behind)

That's Why

"Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time."
Thomas J. Watson 1874-1956, Founder of IBM

I agree with this statement completely. But I think it goes further. You cannot simply treat people as equals. It is important to believe they really are just as fully human as you yourself are.

That's why I became so angry with a former partner when he inexplicably discarded his veneer of civility and treated a waitress with horrid disdain. When I complained he said, "She's just a servant. What does it matter?" Who convinced him to believe that money and status made you better than anyone else? Was it his uneducated mother, married to the rich man in town who provided her with servants and allowed or encouraged her to go to the butcher shop and demand special treatment? Usually he managed some degree of courtesy, but the real person was the man who appeared to have the brain fart in that restaurant. Its force simply blew away a very thin veneer of good manners.

I also think that by practising being considerate all the time, we become considerate people; by being generous and courteous regularly, the habit becomes so ingrained that we become the people we have been trying to emulate.

That's why I think I didn't do a completely bad job of raising my kids. All my kids are accepting of people. They believe in our Charter of Rights and practise that belief in their daily lives. As youngsters, they joined me on marches to defend the rights of workers and women, and no Newfie jokes were allowed around our dinner table. It was only much later that I realized the substitution of "Stupid Person" for Newfie or Frenchman or woman, revealed a different kind of intolerance.

I really like my friends, at least partly because they are all open hearted and courteous to everyone. And it is never an act, and that's why I was so angry with the most recent man briefly in my life, and ended it before it really began. He looked down on my friends ... and wanted to be treated as someone special because he had published two very mediocre mystery novels. He believed he was better than most people.

That's why I don't get really close to snobs. Oh, some of them are perfectly polite to everyone, but they put up an invisible barrier against those they consider beneath them, a barrier that keeps out the riffraff. I feel uncomfortable around some rich people but not others.

And that's why I like living in the country and in the developing world. There is greater acceptance of people, and a realization that money is not the determining factor in deciding a man's worth. It is also harder to tell from outward appearances just who is a have, who a have not.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sarah, Marta and the cake

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Marta and Tammy June 3

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The Pizza Party

We had fun ... I will post the photos separately.

Shrimp appetizers.

Too much pizza.

Enough wine.

A strawberry fountain of a cake.

Just three dogs this time: Kenya, Henry and Remi.

Fetching Sticks in a Stream

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

A Rainy Rainy Day ... Again

Kenya and I are toasting ourselves by the fire, and I am taking another day's reprieve from dealing with the problem that kept me awake a good bit of the night. I have a somewhat smelly dead raccoon lying in the old basement of the original cottage. He is between a big rock and a some cemented cinder blocks. I have been advised to bury him, but am trying to figure out the logistics of getting him from his almost final resting place to his final one. The dogs surprisingly have left him alone which makes me wonder what killed him. It also makes me a little nervous about dealing with his remains. The dogs have all been vaccinated against rabies but it has been years since I had the series of shots, and the last titre I had done was in 2002, just before I moved to Kenya for six months, when it was determined that I was still protected.

My birthday will go on all week. Marta, Tammy and Sarah are all coming to my pizza party this afternoon/evening. I am having lunch with Christina, a former student, at Chez Eric tomorrow, and on Thursday I am having dinner at my friend Roger's place. Then on the weekend, Remi is coming for a couple of days.

Dad's 100th birthday (and 68th Father's Day) on the 15th has unfortunately fizzled out.

I will go out for the mail and deliver some blackstrap molasses to Rowboat Flo around noon, and will read (an Anne Tyler novel called Morgan is Passing). I like her strange characters and the situations in which she places them.

I may also watch a movie.

The last one I watched was You've Got Mail which I watch a couple of times a year. I really am a romantic at heart I think, and I like that movie because they are humanly flawed people who really like one another. I like that they can open up to one another and discuss their deepest thoughts even before they meet in person. It is what internet dating should be but generally isn't.

So ... a book ... a movie ... a pizza party ... and a postponed burial. Not such a bad way to spend one's birthday!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Random Thoughts

Arrow and I talked yesterday on her 8th birthday ... she was quite definite ... she was still 7 till the magic hour of her escape from the womb. As we talked, she was surrounded by helium filled balloons and had a blue one attached to her toe.

Gabriel picked up Zeke who didn't bother to leave Kenya's food dish to greet him. I think he realized that his fears had been for nought as he stroked Kenya's head while we talked. Zeke was out in the porch rummaging about, quite unconcerned about going home with his person. The dogs were calm.

Both Gabriel and Debra were enthusiastic about Stephen Lewis' speech at the Bishop's convocation on Saturday. Gabriel was one of the graduates, and Debra had gone to be with her daughter. Debra was the guest minister at the UUC yesterday. I hadn't been to a service there for a very long time. I am glad I went. She spoke about unexpected pilgrimages when we travel, literally into the world and figuratively into ourselves, keeping ourselves open to experiences that can open our hearts and encourage us to live our lives more purposely. It made me think about my own "pilgrimage" this summer.

Not sure what today will bring. The lake is very misty this morning, and the sun has not started to burn it away. I'd like to plant the beef steak tomatoes, lavender, mint, thyme, and rosemary ... but likely won't get everything done as planting here requires dog proofing every site. But I can start.

That is one of the changes that has taken place in me. I used to feel the need to get things done RIGHT NOW. Lately I am comfortable with the idea that I can do a little today and a little more tomorrow. It likely has something to do with the enormity of the tasks surrounding me and the realization that I am just one small almost 68 year old woman. It is not patience so much as an understanding of what is possible.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Last Night ...

Last night I shared my bed with Zeke, and Kenya curled up nearby on the floor or her cushion.

He doesn't look as crazed this morning. Now he looks up at me worshipfully.

Too bad men don't grow on me the way dogs do!

And too bad they don't become more adoring with time.