Sunday, 31 January 2010

Is it just me?

Has anyone else seen Mrs. Doubtfire recently?  If so, what were your thoughts as you watched Robin Williams get in and out of his 60 year old body suit with its sagging breasts and rolls of belly fat? 

I gasped aloud and thought, "Oh my god, someone snuck into my house, drugged me, and used my body to make a silicone suit for this movie!"

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Ongoing Viking Saga

Last night UPS called to tell me that they were unable to deliver the kicksled because my road was icy.  I told the woman that the road was sanded and plowed and that my old Toyota front wheel drive managed it fine ... and so did the municipal garbage and recycling trucks.  What vehicle were they using?

She told me they would try again.

"Tomorrow?" I asked hopefully.

"Oh no, not till Monday."

"I thought your had 24/7 service," I replied.

I was wrong.  But why would that surprise me?  The first delivery service (Dicom) took five days and then delivered a broken sled. By the time I got the phone call I had been waiting five days for the UPS shipment.  And it was now two weeks since I bought the spark.

Of course, I suppose it was silly of me to expect that any delivery service would have drivers and vehicles that could handle snow in the Gatineau Hills AND know enough to load their truck so that light things were on top of heavy ones.

The two sections of this road are 10 and 12 feet wide (I know because I measured them for another trucking service).  They are scraped right down to the gravel bed and the icy spots have been spread with sand and salt.  I know all this because I hire and supervise the man who keeps the road clear, and I just provided $350 worth of sand for him to use.  I walk or drive that road every day at least once.  This is the third year I have lived here full time and it is the first year that everything has gone perfectly ... partly because Leonard and I are more experienced but largely because this has been a very easy winter.

You have to understand, I am probably the worst winter driver up here in these hills.  I hate winter driving and the best vehicles to use up here are ones with 4WD.  I can't afford to trade in my trusty little 1998 Corolla for a Honda CRV,   I would like to, but the old Toyota manages just fine.  This suggests to me that UPS is not using snow tires or hiring competent drivers.

There!  Rant over.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Happy Birthday!

January 25, 2010
Birthdays Galore

Today marks the birthday of several people ... well of course, many more ... but today I celebrate the birthdays of Robbie Burns, Virginia Wolfe, Marta,  and my third child and youngest daughter.

Happy Birthday, Everyone!  A couple of you at least can enjoy your day.  I wish you both many more happy celebrations.

This One is for Irish Girl

Hi Irish Girl,

A kicksled or spark as they are called in Norway is a set of skiis to which are attached the following:
foot pads to stand on
a wooden seat with a handle at chair height
a foot rest for a passenger to which can be attached a dog harness

It is propelled by pushing it while holding the handle (walking between the skiis), or by pushing with one foot as you would propel a scooter, by being pulled by a large dog, or on its own power descending a hill while you ride on the footpads.

Its braking system is equally simple.  You plant your feet between the skiis and hope that you stop.

It can be used as a walker on ice, as a toy for sliding, as a wheelchair, as a cart for groceries, or as a place to sit while ice fishing or eating lunch.

It is a remarkable and versatile pleasure used by everyone from tiny children to old lame grandmothers in Norway where they do not sand or salt the roads.

I will post a photo when I get my new one.



Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rivers, Streams, and Tiny Brooks

"I do love the sound of your life, rippling, murmuring, giggling, humming along as you live your days,"  wrote a dear old friend the other day.  I smiled at her description of my life and thought of myself as a little brook splashing its way from one tiny lake to another.  The occasional bit of treacherous rock outcropping to manoeuvre around.  The odd waterfall to navigate.  The occasional portage necessary. But mainly a pretty serene life.

Margaret Laurence wrote of life as a river in The Diviners.  Moving water is not an uncommon metaphor for life, but we usually think of much larger rivers, ones with depth, and speed, and great breadth and length.  Important rivers. But perhaps that is because the metaphor is used most often in the middle of a life.  When it describes old age, it is the end of the river,  the estuary where the water spreads out over mud flats to meet the sea gently, sluggishly.

I think I much prefer the idea of my life coming to its end in a little tributary, in a happy little stream.  I've lived through the tumultuous years, the years of being a part of the world, the years of building  career and family, the years when what I did made a difference. Now I am quite content to live my life simply ... rippling, murmuring, giggling and humming my way along.

I am lucky.  The friend who wrote those words is back in hospital for the second time since November when I visited her.  She is still hopeful and positive, but living is hard work these days.  I wish she could join me in my little tributary and have some respite from the waves that threaten to engulf her.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Nose to Nose

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Oberon, King of the Fairies

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The Bathtub Mirror

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I am back ...

Thanks for waiting for me ...   Just jump in and join me mid-stream ...

Snowshoeing yesterday was not wonderful ... too many clothes ... too long a trek ... and boring ... mainly across frozen lakes ... and sometimes not so frozen which produced heavy balls of ice attached to the picks ... Sharon's old wood and deer hide snowshoes were the lightest ones there ...

It was a little like driving around Lake Superior's north shore to get to Thunder Bay ... miles and miles of boredom punctuated by jolts of spectacular.  The sky which has been grey for months was suddenly, startlingly, a brilliant blue.  The air was fresh and a perfect temperature once I removed clothing.  We saw coyote tracks ... and a dear little sleeping cabin on a tiny lake.

I preferred the bog area that Sarah and I hiked into a couple of years ago ... more to see ... wonderful shadows on snow.  I don't really like trekking across frozen wastes that go on and on.  I think I like little and pretty better than big and bold.  For Sharon and the men, this was a great opportunity to work muscles.  I like a combination of exertion and sensual stimulation.  Lise thought we should have brought a lunch.  Me too.  

But I want to get in better shape physically so the weekly snowshoe excursions and the kick-sledding will continue.

After wine and snacks at Lise's place, I headed home on foot carrying the snowshoes and found my kick sled had been delivered ... broken ... one runner bent out of shape.  Swedish steel is tough.  What in hell did the shippers do to bow it out like that? A huge amount of pressure must have been applied.  So now I start the work of dealing with the problem.

It seems to me that I experience more problems with goods bought recently than ever before ... washers, dryers ... Good god, even the poster I ordered seems to have slipped into the ether and now I have to track it down.

I have started painting again ... and every so often I experience a little success.  The owl on the chair and the dress on the mirror both work ... I think because I allowed my brush strokes to create the flow I knew was there or to create the curves and featheriness.  I used my brush like an extension of my eyes and mind somehow ... instead of like a foreign tool held in fingers.  I doubt if that makes any sense logically, but I know that the breasts, the fabric's movement and the owl's feathers resulted from something different than what was happening with the cat, the turtles, and the bathtub.  (When I have finished the mirror, I will post a photo.)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Ben's Chair

Ben likes owls dinosaurs, blocks, balls, turtles, and cats ... and the colours red and orange ...
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Thursday, 7 January 2010

End of the Old, Beginning of the New ...

January 7, 2010

If March comes in like a lamb it is supposed to go out like a lion.  I hope the same is true of the larger unit, the year, and of the still larger one, the decade.  2010 began badly for me.  I have spent the past week dredging up old hurts, old mistakes, old sins  ... examining the exhumed bodies relentlessly and finally returning them to their tomb.  I have written nearly 15,000 words of analysis and contrition.  I am completely flat, completely emptied out right now.  I have nothing to give to my blog so I am going to retire it for now.  I will return at some point I am sure because writing is one of my lifelines, but I may start a new blog for the new decade.

For the next while I am going to concentrate on painting.  I have two chairs I must complete soon, and a few Christmas presents that didn't get done in time.  Besides, painting allows the worrying part of my brain to take a vacation, and I need that.  I may post photos as the work proceeds, as photos are my record of work that I give away or sell, but there will be few , if any, words.

Happy New Year, everyone.  Thank you for reading "Gone to the Dogs".  I hope this decade will be the best one ever for all of us.