Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Learning by Doing

Ever since I started this enterprise with acrylics (and some paint pens) I have been climbing a learning curve. Art is a teacher that uses both positive reinforcement and crushing blows. I am glad that I learned through knitting that you can alway start again.

I finished a section and learned that size does matter ... or at least scale does. My tropical fish are far too big for their background and they look monstrous when small butterflies are in close proximity.

I worked really carefully to produce a cloud of butterflies and on the VERY LAST set of antennae the !@#$% ink pen splurted a great blob of indelible black ink all over the butterfly . I wiped it out and sanded down to the primer and repainted that section in the red background colour. It did not look much better and certainly would not hide the original error. I slept on the problem and decided to make a garden for the butterflies and inserted a bush over the offending black/red blob. It looks better, and my hands have lost most of their indelible ink, but now the fish look ridiculous. I will start fresh on their space ... sand and then paint the whole thing from scratch ... and create some fish that fit. Maybe!

Or maybe I will decide that fish do not belong on a higher plane than butterflies and I will do something completely different.

I have learned to treat paint pens with great respect and caution. I have learned that paint brushes may be less stable than pens but they are infinitely more forgiving.

I am gaining confidence in my ability to draw. We lose that confidence as we age ... or at least some of us do. It never occurred to me when I was a child that I did not have good eye-hand coordination. I suspect we can all sing and draw and write but we all find some things more difficult than others so we give up on the ones that challenge us.

Who knows? Maybe I will start singing next! :-)

Chair in Progress

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Thursday, 23 April 2009

I could become a chair lady!

That is not a charlady or a chairwoman! The more I get involved in paint, the messier my house becomes and the less I feel like cleaning. And I certainly do not feel like going out and becoming involved in worthwhile projects or committees.

I am having too much fun.

I have done all the basic laying on of coats. Now I can start decorating in earnest.


Right now I am knitting socks ... beautiful sky blues ... and watching Evening (one of Natasha Richardson's films) while the paint dries.

Tomorrow I will start joining the colour sections with complementary sections ... and then will meet a daughter and a birthday boy for lunch.

And then ... on Saturday when summer arrives at the lake ... I will start decorating whimsically all the joints and sections.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Let's Play Pretend ...

Yesterday I pretended to be an undercover agent; today I am going to pretend to be an artist. The undercover operation is (of course) a secret, but I can say that it was a success. Thank you, Tamarack!

Today's project is a chair with an odd history. It began life at the Unicentre of Carleton University. One of my daughters brought it home after an evening's revelry and it, like the stash chest, has moved from house to apartment to cottage over the years. It is not terribly comfortable because it doesn't have a proper back, but it is sturdy ... and heavy. Right now it is sitting in the dining room waiting for me to open the white primer and begin to transform it into a funky chair for my sewing desk ... which will be my next big project. Since I never sew for hours on end, this chair with its reed seat for my bum and nothing to support my lower back is just fine.

I have no idea how I will paint either the desk or the chair, but I will not be putting giraffes on them. The African colours, though, will likely prevail.

Then I can turn to the bed I retrieved from a neighbour's garbage many many years ago, and after that to the old chairs that came with the cottage and are stronger than the more expensive ones that match my dining room set, but which are losing supportive structural parts on a regular basis and are ending up stacked in the porch.

Since almost everything I own is old and in need of paint, I will likely have enough projects to take me all the way to the grave. What fun!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

On Fear and Feeling ...

There were several interesting responses to Ann of Annarchy's post on fear. Some people quoted others ("I learn by going where I have to go." Roethke). Others expressed their own thoughts. One of my favourites was this one: "The things that scare me the most often lead the way into a deepening of my heart." Hiro Boga

Fear seems to be a popular topic these days. In her latest blog entry, Marta wrote about fear in quite a different way. She focused on what she realized when she was terrified that she might lose everything; that her life might be over. That was when she understood that there was just one thing that really mattered. For her it was that she must tell the stories of the disappeared.

I want to think about these ideas. It will be a bit of ramble. Be forewarned.

I know that I too " learn by going where I have to go." One of the benefits of "just saying yes" is that you grow through the experiences by facing your fear of the unknown. Maybe I do have to just jump in instead of assuming I can't do that any more. I used to be that kind of person.

Building this house marked a turning point for me. It has been the experience that made me afraid of being alone because self reliance is sometimes just plain impossible here if you are no longer young or you do not have lots of money or you lack the practical skills necessary. Maybe it was the confluence of growing old at the same time as embarking on a young person's project.

I need to do some more thinking about Boga's comment. It rings true on a gut level but I think I need to get into that quiet place where I face my own worst fear and allow myself to follow the thread to the truth that one's heart deepens; that one doesn't simply grow intellectually or psychologically by experiencing difficulty. I am too accustomed to thinking about things. I need to learn better how to feel.

Maybe the movement from writing to painting will help me get there.

In the past I have taken baby steps toward that place ... often helped by children.

Many of the things I experienced while living in Africa taught me empathy ... that unspoken sense of kinship that transcends intellectual awareness. There were all the children who needed to go to school. There were the people I met who needed medical help to survive. There were all those unnecessary deaths. But perhaps the closest I came to experiencing the pain and poverty of others was when I held an African child in my arms while a nurse used a bent safety pin to dig parasitic worms out of his fingers and toes. The tears that flowed down his cheeks made my throat ache.

Here in Canada holding small grandchildren against my heart has opened my heart in a way that goes beyond intellect. Their hearts beating against my own have dried tears ... theirs and my own. Their heart beats have led me into places where words disappear, become irrelevant.

A few years ago I was very frightened. I was suffering from depression and felt very alone. It didn't matter that I was surrounded by people who cared about me. One of the worst things about depression is that you are absolutely alone in the most crowded and loving places.

During that period I went to a house concert at the home of Mud Mama and Papa Pan. The Wild Thing was an infant at the time. I spent the evening rocking him and drawing strength from his warm little body against my own. We communicated through heartbeats and inarticulate sounds. We didn't need language to love.

Fear, like love, is inarticulate, and I am sure that it too can deepen my heart. I think I just have to open my heart to its teaching.

As for Marta's realization that was a gift of fear ... I need to explore that as well. Most of the time I find myself just thinking that there is nothing I really want to do still; that death would be a relief from the fear. But that may be the result of having stopped exploring. Maybe the writing door has closed and another door has opened. Maybe I need to explore other things like painting. Or maybe the writing door will be re-opened by going to the Great Blue Heron workshop.

Paul McCartney said, "Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young."

Maybe I have to start exercising my imagination again and taking chances by just saying yes. Maybe by exposing myself to new worlds and new fears my heart will deepen and I will learn by going where I have to go. And maybe I have to be near children again in order to experience these things. Maybe I have to re-think my hermit's life and open up to the possibility of living closer to people who love me.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The Fearful Hermit

Ann of Annarchy wrote yesterday about fear. She posted an excerpt (far more polished than this post will be) which inspired me to think about my own anxieties and fears.

I traveled alone from a very early age because my only parent lived 1200 miles from my foster home. When I was 9 I began flying by myself between Halifax and Toronto. In those days the plane landed at every airport between the two cities: Ottawa. Montreal, St. John, and Fredericton, and Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) flew people about in DC3's which had propellers and wings that almost flapped. Any kind of storm activity buffeted them about like lone Canada geese who'd flown off course. I was a child who suffered horribly from motion sickness. The manufacturers of Gravol can thank me for their solvency ... all those landings ... all those air pockets. The first thing I checked out when I sat down and buckled myself in was the pouch containing the air sickness bags.

The very first time I flew was in 1949. It was Christmas and I was seated with Commodore Adams who was returning to Halifax to meet his ship, Canada's only aircraft carrier, the Magnificent. He left us in New Brunswick to take the train the rest of the way because the weather was so bad. He offered to take me with him but the stewardess who was responsible for me on that leg of the flight couldn't allow it. I landed in a terrible storm where my father greeted me on the tarmac holding Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer in his hands.

You might think that that experience would have made me afraid of flying in bad weather. The truth is that it didn't. I have one of those fatalistic attitudes when it comes to flying. Once you are aboard you might as well relax. The odds are good that the pilot wants to get there safely just as much as you do and he is the only one who can possibly make a human difference. You certainly can't.

However, I do become anxious when I am traveling. I drop things. I get flustered and sweaty when I am lining up to check in my luggage. I worry about what will happen when I land in a strange airport. I fret about how I will get a taxi; how the shuttle bus system works; whether people will understand English. I wonder if there will be thieves and cheats hovering about looking for nervous white faces to prey on. This may surprise people who know me well enough to know that I have flown many thousands of miles to countries like Swaziland, Namibia, Mongolia and Jordan ... almost always by myself.

I don't worry about the flight itself, or about my well being as long as I have no responsibilities. Indeed I have flown on small planes whose seat belts were frayed, without working buckles or simply absent, where passenger seats held flimsy cages of raucous chickens and whose engine problems forced us to make unscheduled stops.

Once I was confined for half a day in a small waiting room because of weather. Not a word of English was spoken by anyone in charge. Every few hours someone would bring in a vat of tea that was far too small for the crowd. But I didn't worry. I just went about taking photos of the wall murals featuring herds of wild horses moving across a vast steppe. I was in Inner Mongolia ... on my way to Outer Mongolia. I was not supposed to be in Inner Mongolia at all, so I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the limited access I had to the place. I was more concerned about a man in the wheel chair who was kept separate from the rest of us than I was about myself.

Ann of Annarchy said, " Sometimes, recognition of who you are grows into acceptance. And if you're lucky, you figure out how to leverage that weakness."

I realize as I write about my fear here that I have learned something important about myself; something I have always hidden. I have masked that fear of being responsible for myself behind a facade of fearlessness; of being in control and damned glad of it. I have strutted and pounded my chest and declared myself a fearless hermit.

In reality I am scared silly when I have to face new daunting situations alone. I am frightened when my car breaks down or I can't figure out how to stem the water from a flood. I am immobilized by things like water damaged paint and ceilings because I am unsure of how to proceed or whether I have the skill, knowledge, equipment or strength to cope alone. Sometimes I just need to know that I can talk it over with someone. Other times I need their physical presence and their hands-on help. Sometimes what I need is for someone else to take over; to take responsibility; to keep me safe.

I do not suffer from loneliness out here. I am never afraid of going to bed alone with just Kenya in the house. But I am scared of being alone.

I am afraid of being absolutely alone with only myself to rely on.

That's a very important thing to realize about myself. Thank you, Ann of Annarchy. Now I will have to figure out how to use that knowledge of my weakness to make myself stronger.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Having Fun

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Great Gala!

I can't remember when I have had so much fun! Pat and Julie asked me to be their date, and I had a far more relaxed time than I could possibly have had with a male date my own age. I dropped Kenya off at Tamarack's and drove over to Pat and Julie's where we had wine before leaving for Aylmer.

At the hotel the evening began with intricate (and yummy) appetizers and more wine (I should have taken photos) which we enjoyed while sitting on comfortable couches and listening to a very good solo guitarist. (Much nicer than trying to walk around in a crowd of strangers while balancing a plate and glass and trying to figure how one actually eats or drinks what one is carrying.)

Then we sat down for dinner where we had been seated with other Philemon types ... two teachers and a recent graduate.

Good food, fine company, a chance to talk to Layla and the other members of her family who have also been actively fund raising ... her sister Najwa and their younger brother. We even bid on silent auction items that we didn't win. I wanted the car detailing. Julie wanted the VIA Rail tickets to Halifax.

After dinner we danced until 10:30. Imagine! I stayed up till 10:30. Then Pat and Julie drove me to Tammy's where Kenya and I spent the night.

This morning we were out by 6:30. I was wearing my long dress and winter coat over my rainbow striped rubber boots ... not quite as glamorous as the strappy sandals, but better for walking the few blocks to Pat and Julie's.

It was a beautiful drive home to the country where the temperature was a few degrees cooler than the city and the silent fields were carpeted in frost.

My Big Date

Pat and Julie at the the Sound the Alarm Gala
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Saturday, 18 April 2009

My Stash Chest

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Here it is!

In Africa the colours have special meanings. Blue represents peace, stability and innocence. Gold stands for mineral resources, strength and fortune. Green is for Mother Africa or Mother Earth. Red reminds us of blood and life and is often used to remember the battles of the past. Black is the people and unity.

I wanted something blue to look at because blue is supposed to free the imagination.

This chest makes me think of Africa, of course, but it is also a reminder that survival depends on several things. We must adapt to our surroundings. Also it is best to keep our feet on the ground and our heads in the clouds.

I had a wonderful time doing this, and, of course, like everything I do, it is another Wabi Sabi piece created by a joyful amateur.

The knobs, by the way, are drying but they should just blend into the background.

I had intended to add acacia trees but chickened out at the last moment. I decided to live with the giraffe for a while before attempting to feed her.

Time Just Disappears

Yesterday my morning flew past me in a blur of paint patterns. Still a secret but the chest is now finished and the drawers have been painted with a base coat and two coats of colour.

My afternoon vanished in clay that sucked me in over my boot tops. I thought I might actually lose the boots when I had to crawl out hanging onto each in turn as I pulled it out after me. Lido clay really does make a sucking noise, by the way.

The garbage truck had destroyed the first part of the road and I was trying to fill in the holes. After some time with a shovel and a rake I trudged home and phoned Leonard. He came with his tractor, made a new cavern and then brought five loads from my stash of gravel to fill the great gaping maws. I continued to shovel and rake his gravel and to throw loose rocks into the holes.

By the time we were finished I was $20 poorer and very wet and muddy. I fell into a hot bath and did nothing until bedtime but eat, drink, knit and watch Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Today I will work on the drawer fronts and get ready for tonight's Gala. I am to be Pat and Julie's date! But before I get sucked into the painting I will finish the little editing job I started earlier.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Imagination Corner

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A New Life

I have been away from my blog for a long time. My apologies to those who who drop by regularly. I hate it when I go knocking day after day and discover that the blogger I love to read has not posted in the past week.

Some quick updates on my life:

I had my hair cut and no longer look like a First Nations man with braids.

Easter weekend was a flurry of dinners and lunches with friends. Monday Kenya had her annual check-up and shots. Tuesday my car went in for its check-up expecting to change over to summer tires and get its oil changed ... and ended up having a front brake job as well. The two days cost me over $1000. I decided to go back to my hermitage and just stay put where I couldn't spend any more money. I would work on my three knitting projects (baby blanket, socks and mittens)... and I would continue my foray into painting.

Yesterday Kenya and I went for a walk by the river and found an old bird house for painting and lots of pine cones for next year's fires. Two small Scotties dashed out to attack Kenya. She was somewhat shaken by the experience and the owner of the Scotties was embarrassed, but all in all it was a good (and inexpensive) outing.

My imagination box now sits happily in the sunshine beside a plant whose leaves are red and green. I tried to make it turn red by Christmas ... you know ... shutting the poor thing in a closet for 16 hours a day or some such torture. Finally after weeks of this mistreatment I relented and brought it to the bathroom where it sat with its one red leaf for a couple of months. And then a strange thing happened: under normal care and conditions its leaves began to change colour slowly and naturally.

Yesterday I started painting the bureau which I bought for $25 almost fifty years ago.

It has gone through several lives. At first it was the bureau which contained children's clothing. It matched the maple bunk beds which were set up as twins in the master bedroom of my first apartment as a single mother.

Over the years it moved from one home to another with us ... from the apartment by the railroad tracks in Beaconsfield ... to a small bungalow in Cityview where we were to live with a man to whom I was engaged ... to an apartment at Bayshore when that fell through ...I think that was when it held doll clothes.

In 1969 it moved to a school house in Kinburn ... and in 1975 to a fake Spanish house in Aylmer which I hated so much I never even hung my paintings. Less than a year later my second marriage failed and it moved to an apartment in Centretown. By this time it held my clothes.

It continued to move around ... to two other apartments and finally to a house in which I lived for nearly twenty years. In the late seventies it moved out to the cottage where it lived the on again- off again life of cottagers, holding bathing suits and towels ... and the occasional mouse nest.

When I built this house it climbed the hill with me. Quite literally. I hauled it up myself. First the empty shell and then drawer by drawer. At first I used it to hold kitchen linens and place mats. Today it is upstairs where it has become my stash chest.

Its varnish has been battered by time, and one side is a little damaged by dampness, but it is remarkably sturdy for such a well-traveled and misused piece of furniture. Back in 1961, the workmanship, even on inexpensive furniture, was damned good. Except for the new knobs I got from Yardley's Antiques last year nothing has been done to change it.

Till now.

I am planning very distinctive changes but I will keep them a secret until I have finished and can take a photo. All I will say is that I hope it will end its life as a very cheerful piece which can spend its retirement cuddling wonderful yarns.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Still Alive ... Painting and Knitting ...

I decided to paint some old ugly furniture in cheerful colours ... but am starting small ...

I have applied several base coats in ochre to a box that belonged to my father and has had a colourful history. He used it for stamp collection records and then for jewellery. I used it when I was head of the English department to keep the book room organized and ensure that everyone got the books they had ordered. It is not a pretty box ... but it will be!

I have decided to try zentangling it all over using a pencil and then colour in the spaces I don't want to be ochre. I am thinking the colours of Provence ... ochre, deep red, olive green, bright blue and black.

Zentangles dictate to you. You don't tell them how to behave ... so I will see tomorrow what the box tells me.

If you want to check out Zentangles, you can google the word or check Tamarakstable on my blog roll. She had a post on it a while ago. I tried one just for fun at the time and loved the meditative quality of it ... and the way one thing led to another. All your strokes are deliberate ... and there are no mistakes.

I think Erin did a Zentangle on her mailbox about a year ago. She posted a photo on her site at the time. (Intriguingtimes.blogspot.com) It was Sunday, June 15, 2008 ... the day my father would have been 100 years old.

I am about halfway through the first of the socks I am working on ... beautiful wool ... mohair and wool in hand dyed blues of the sea. The baby blanket is going more slowly but I am happy with it too.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Phone Avoidance

Okay, lesson learned. Do not drive miles and miles in an April snowstorm in order to avoid making a phone call.

I drove to Doozie Candles in Chelsea to ask a question. They were closed on Monday.

I drove over to the Spa Nordique because I had heard they had a hair stylist. They don't.

I turned around and drove way past Wakefield and way past Low before I realized I had passed Eric's road. (All the road signs were covered in clotted snow.) I drove back and slipped and slid along his road braking every few yards for tail bone jarring bumps. (Mud Mama's kids would have loved it.) I delivered the cap to Eric who had just been recalled by the municipality to work on the wintry roads. I came home the short way ... which was also unfortunately the long way because River Road was really slippery. When I had begun to feel really queasy about the road conditions I found myself following the plow which was sanding the road. I trundled along quite happily in his wake at 5 k. per hour until the end of his route. By then it was past noon and I was five minutes from home. Whew!

My own road is really bad right now ... heavy sludge ... large rock outcroppings ... deep ruts ... soft shoulders filled with water ...

I think I will stay home for the rest of the week and knit.

And make a couple of phone calls about getting my hair cut and getting information about selling crafts locally.

Busy Weekend

Well, for a hermit, it was a busy weekend! I spent Saturday knitting and making Greek pasta sauce ... nothing very strenuous ... but I went to the Unitarian Universalist service on Sunday with Tamarak and her Carino. They have a new interim minister who is intelligent and funny. And they have a candidate for a permanent position coming in the next few weeks for final interviews ... so perhaps I will begin attending more regularly. After a long hiatus everything felt alien. The rituals that I liked best have been changed ... friendly little songs that used to usher out the children and conclude the service. They didn't disappear but they'd been replaced by new ones.

After the service we went into the meeting hall where books, beverages and food are available.
It is the place where volunteers serve tea and coffee and kids of all ages gobble free cookies. I noticed that the number of homemade goodies had diminished since I was a regular attendee. Fewer volunteers, I suspect.

The woman serving beverages at the table I chose looked to be quite undone by the demands of her job. Upper middle class, well coiffed ... with pursed lipped ... and obviously harried ... she lost all pretence of good manners when it became too much for her. Just before I arrived she ousted two men and refused to serve them. She had her back to me so I poured a mug of what I thought was tea and then realized it was coffee. I was about to give it to Tammy when the hostess snapped at me, "If you'd just let me pour it ... ". I apologized (don't I always?) and she attempted unsuccessfully to regain her persona of unruffled grace. Carino was behind me and she metaphorically slapped his wrist as well.

We left and wandered around looking for something familiar. Huge pussy willows were available for sale. We admired but didn't buy. Another fund raising project was selling grass seed. The friendly faces we sought were few and far between, but those living in sanctuary (or recently moved into their own housing) were still selling their food. The Mia family have lentil soup, pakoras and other goodies. The new man has sushi plates. We went with the Mia family fare.

We decided to make a detour to the pottery show rather than going directly home. I wanted a plant stick. Tamarack wanted to buy Carino a coffee mug. I ended up with a beautiful mug, a fridge magnet and a small plant stick. I find it very difficult to watch my budget when I lust after pottery or wool,I am finding.

After lunch Kenya and I headed back to the hills, and I continued to knit. I finished the seaman's cap and will deliver it to Eric today.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Week that Was ...

It's been a week, I tell you! First the flood on Sunday night and then the aftermath of cleaning and creaking joints. By Friday I was ready for a TGIF so I went into town at noon and spent the afternoon with Tamarak and the evening with Tamarak and her Carino.

Tam and I hung her paintings for her next show ... at the Unitarian Church's Art Space ... and I decided to try to attend the service on Sunday when her show officially opens. i haven't been there for a very long time. They lost their ministers and I lost interest. Apparently they now have an interim minister who is inspiring. We had just pulled into Tamarak's driveway when I realized I had left my knitting bag sitting on the floor at Art Space! Damn! Back we went.

We ate soup, drank a cup of reviving tea and headed out to the Ottawa Potters' Guild show with Carino. There we saw some wonderful pottery and spent a bit of time talking to Carrie Leavoy who is one of the potters, a neighbour, our teacher, and the woman who is going to transform part of my bathroom into a space ringed by the Gatineau Hills this week. I bought two wine cups ... one of Carrie's with a crackle glaze outside and lined with a deep blue glaze, and a green one with Japanese influence.

Afterward I dropped my buddies off at their place, collected Kenya, and drove home through the teeming rain worrying all the way. When I wasn't worrying about seeing the road, I worried whether the rain was causing another flood. It would have been nice to stay for dinner but I was exhausted and would not have chanced a glass of wine in that weather.

At home all was well. Kenya and I ate and then curled up to watch a movie, drink wine and knit. I have three projects on the go right now: a baby blanket, a pair of socks in hand dyed sky blues, and a toque for Eric who came to help on Sunday night. I am knitting it in a Japanese hand dyed wool that is glorious. Mud Mama brought several from Gaspereau Valley Fibres. This one reminds me of glowering skies lit by lightning ... purples, golds, greens and deep sunset oranges which blend slowly into one another like watercolours. I will post photos later.

This morning I discovered lots of new goodies on the sites I haunt:

... a poem called "Not Here" by Rumi which captures why good enough is not

... an article by Heather Mallick for The Guardian on the seal fishery and our conflicted feelings about it

... and an introduction to a book I must read to Wild Thing called A High Wind in Jamaica. The comment that convinced me I had to read it was this:

"... children have no background for what should scare them, so that, when truly scary things do happen, like being kidnapped by pirates or getting caught in a hurricane, they simply make the best of it. The book is so dead on: I'd forgotten that kids feign ignorance to avoid awkwardness or that an armpit can be a fairy cave."

I am looking forward to a weekend of knitting, stream walking, and visiting another old haunt, the Unitarian church. Maybe I will also get to spend a bit of time with family and friends afterwards.

Tammy's Flow Paintings

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New Wine Cups Front and Centre

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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Do you procrastinate foolishly too?

I finally made the two phone calls that have haunted my to do lists for months ... yes ... months.

One was to cancel a credit card for which I paid fees and never used. The second was to call the Quebec Health Insurance people to get the form I need to get at least part of a $60 physician's fee refunded ... a cost incurred before Christmas. Both were financially beneficial, right? Neither required much more than a five minute phone call. So ... why did I procrastinate for so long rather than making the calls?

I seem to procrastinate a great deal if the phone is involved. I especially don't like dealing with bureaucracies or other behemoths that put you on hold.

I used to procrastinate whenever I had to face my financial realities. It was so bad that I would put off opening a credit card bill for months because I feared a horrible surprise. And of course if you put it off for months, there usually is an unpleasant surprise. But even worse than the interest that has built up is the anxiety that has been mounting ... that fear of the unknown. For several years I have kept track of my spending and so I no longer fear my financial situation. I might not like it much, but it is an enemy I know.

Taxation Canada still manages to surprise me, so each year I am likely to procrastinate rather than facing their confused and confusing forms that could be sold by the pound. This year a friend gave me a wonderful Christmas present. He is going to do my taxes for me. Now if I could only find someone willing to pay them as well :-)

The funny thing I have noticed about procrastination is that when I finally grit my teeth and deal with it, I feel a wonderful sense of relief ... and I am always amazed by how easy it was once I settled down to face it.

What do you hate doing so much that you put it off for months?

Are any of you non-procrastinators? What is your secret?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Running in Circles


I read this on the Alcoholic Poet's blog this morning. I keep thinking I should stop reading her poetry. It is sometimes brilliant, but never uplifting, never hopeful. Then, when I am about to erase her from my blog roll, I find another grain of

truth in the sand box in which she plays.

Here, from her poem about wicked witches ....

The dog chewing its tail. Caught at last. After years of running in circles. It's such a terrible disappointment. To get what you want.

So stop running in circles.

I think that is what despair is ... it is running in circles ... it is chasing problems around in mazes rather than seeking solutions.

Kenya runs in circles sometimes ... and sometimes she too catches her tail ... and cleans it of burrs. But more often she chases her tail when I don't respond quickly enough to her pleas to go outside. The message is very clearly, "I really, really have to go out NOW!"

She has also checked out her hind end when someone has farted. She always assumes it might have been her.

On Sunday might she and Shea lay near us while we ate Tamarak's dinner. We were all ankle deep in water ... and the two dogs foolish enough to stay close were lying in a few inches of water. When Kenya got up the water poured out of her luxuriant bush of a tail and sounded for all the world like someone peeing from a height into a pool. It startled her so much that she immediately turned toward her tail, mortified that she might have lost control of her bladder.

It was one of the lighter moments on Sunday night.

Today before the rains start again, Kenya and will go up and try to clear the stream above the road so that the water stays in the creek bed. If it tries to come straight down my hill it could flow over the retaining wall into the area in front of the front door.