Friday, 30 April 2010

No Thinking Allowed

"The finest people marry the two sexes in their own person."  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Apropos of nothing ... but I like the concept.

Yesterday I finally finished the taxes ... I know I made mistakes but I finally said "That's it!  They can figure it out," and I drove to the post office and deposited both envelopes.  The post mistress gave me the name of someone in Masham whom I will burden with my taxes next year.  Then I went to Le Hibou and ordered their most decadent and delicious platter of smoked nachos and drank two glasses of red wine to celebrate coming out from under the cloud of taxes.

I get utterly frustrated while working with the figures, explanations and tiny almost invisible lines and numbers.  I hate moving back and forth among the guide, the form, the extra sheets to fill in and the receipts and other documentation.  It is not the arithmetic involved.  That is no problem.  It is the chaos of trying to keep that many details aloft all at one time.

I find it as difficult as working with drawings of three dimensional objects and attempting to see the spatial relationships among them.

I empathize completely with people who are dyslexic and others who cannot function in our literate world when I am faced with a task that demands competence in areas where I am sadly deficient.

I have several areas of incompetence ... and they seem to proliferate as the world becomes more complex and my brain ages, but taxes are one of those things that we all should be able to handle ... just like we should all be able to read, operate a computer, and drive a vehicle, because those are now just basic life skills.

On a much more pleasant subject, a neighbour gave me some hydrangea roots ... they are the bushes that produce those lovely snowball flowers that turn russety in the fall.  I dug the holes for them (huge holes requiring removal of very large rocks), one in a corner within the perimeter of my new garden, the other just outside the perimeter near the opposite corner.  I prepared the biggest  hole with manure and fresh soil and tea leaves, and the other with the addition of crumbled egg shells.  This morning I gave them both a drink of tea before making my own pot. (No, I didn't pee on them, despite the fact that they like urine.)

I have some wood ash, but I think it will make the soil too alkaline for these shrubs.  Apparently hydrangeas like coffee grounds, citrus peel, as well as urine and tea ... and they might even turn blue or pink with the right PH.

I have also heard that copper added to the soil will encourage blue colouring. I have a bunch of copper piping that I want to use for trellises.  Do you suppose my green and yellow beans will turn blue if I use them?

Today I intend to accomplish tasks that make absolutely no demands on my intellect.  I will paint the garden furniture with the next coat of varnish and take my car to the village where I will vaccuum it and get it washed.  I also intend to eat chicken breasts done with oranges (so the hydrangeas can have  a treat later), basmati rice and some fiddleheads I picked yesterday afternoon at my secret spot on the other side of the lake.

If I decide I need some mental stimulation later I will do my April accounts and continue reading my newest book, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White.  I just finished reading Ten Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott... can recommend both.   Outcasts is about a man imprisoned for bank fraud in a leper colony, and Ten Chickens about a family that throws off their new Zealand life to raise their children in Botswana. Both reveal a great deal about what is important in life, but I think Ten Chickens is a better story ... less earnest.

And now I am off in pursuit of unthinking pleasures.  Have a great weekend.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Tiffany: a case of mistaken identity

An Email to a Friend sent Thursday:

Yesterday I took a break from the!@##$$$%% taxes and went to Montreal with a neighbour and friend.
Strange trip ... but fun. I thought she was inviting me to go to the fashion district with her sister but in fact she wanted me to accompany her to the Tiffany Glass Exhibition at Les Beaux Arts.

I prepared by shoving my camera and a skirt I wanted to find a top to match into my pack.  It was only when we were actually on Sherbrooke Street looking for parking that she said we would not be going to the fashion centre she had mentioned; that her sister said it specialized in skimpy tops for very young people.

Before we made the trip, she had said that Tiffany would only be in town for a few more days and I thought Tiffany was a friend of her sister's ... someone coming with us! Duhhh ...

Anyway we had lunch with her very strange sister ... 70 years old ... and GLAMOROUS! For forty years she was Holt Renfrew's top salesperson selling Estee Lauder ... and believe me ... she proved that make- up can transform a woman. Skinny as hell. Spike heeled boots. A knee that juts out to the side. A packrat whose 3 bedroom apartment in NDG is so stuffed to overflowing that she has to sleep on the livingroom couch and she won't allow anyone in.

And delightful!

At the restaurant women kept coming up and telling her how much they missed her ... clients ... ranging from a chic fifties matron to a thirty-something lovely natural beauty who had been going to her since she was a teenager. And, except for the make-up,  there wasn't even a hint of artifice about her.

So we were really there to go to Tiffany Exhibition:

I love stained glass ... used to do it ... still have my tools and some glass ... so it was fun to go to the Musee ... but oh my, I hate crowded galleries and museums ...  you have to make your way through masses of hot sticky odiferous humanity to see the exhibits.

Montreal is fresh and green, and the women, as always, amazing ... it was a good break from the drudgery of taxes!

My friend's response:

LOL  You thought Tiffany was a friend of her sister? That is hysterical. Did it ever occur to you that you might be seen as odd by some?  Naw, not possible.

I guess everyone within a thousand miles of Montreal knew that the glass exhibition was in Montreal except me!  I am going to have to leave the hermitage more often!

Sunday Update

A Quiet Uneventful Day after a Busy Couple of Weeks:

Kenya had her annual vet visit and shots, and is trying to become a little more svelte before the next one. The vet said that when I look down at her I should see a waistline.  I said that when I looked, I saw a waddle, not a waistline.   Kenya was the only one not amused, but she felt better when she heard the remedy.  We are to cut back on kibble, not treats ... seems like an odd diet to me ... but Kenya is delighted.  She was less delighted with the next procedures: a manicure and an anal gland check.  Before we left we picked up our 6 month supply of heartworm, flea, tick and other anti-pest meds.

My car went in for its semi-annual check-up on Thursday, and seems healthy, especially for such an old girl.  My mechanic says she is barely broken in at 177,000 kilometres ... and she will be 13 this fall.

Tamarack, Carlos and Ian came for dinner one evening; Techwood and Scott another.  Tammy re-installed Picasa while she was here, and Techwood showed me how to make my photos more portable.  He also left me a book on square foot gardening, and explained it while Scott gave me a back massage.

I headed off to Montreal under false assumptions on Wednesday, but enjoyed my time there.  More about that in a separate post.  It was one of those "DUH! How could you be so dumb?" occasions.

Teddy and Shea came to spend the weekend on Thursday afternoon.  I bought a new magnetic broom in anticipation but despite wielding it almost constantly, am unable to keep up.  Shea is blowing his coat and swimming so I am continually picking up clouds of his undercoat, and what remains behind is sodden and stinky.  Teddy goes swimming in the lake's outlet creek when we stop for a drink.  (He is the only one off-leash.)  Afterwards, he sheds leaves and sticks and other debris for hours and hours.  Tammy says Teddy is his own magnetic broom ... and she is right.  Everything sticks to him and gets tangled in the soft fur.  Despite all that they never leave my side for more than a few minutes, and I do love them.  Kenya is far more independent so it is a change to have dogs who cling.  I am lucky to get a good cuddle with Kenya in the morning, and after that she regards me as good for the occasional massage or stick throwing session. You know the old saw about familiarity breeding contempt.

I had fish and chips at Le Hibou on Friday, and, on Saturday, Pat and Mike brought a delightful delicatessen lunch with lots of treats.  They also brought the hollow stumps down from the parking area to the garden ... five stumps too heavy for me to lift, let alone carry ... 39 steps, a 300 foot path, 22 steps, and another path ... Those stumps had been transported from their source location across the lake in several stages.  One neighbour got them into my car, another got them out, and  Pat and Mike did the heaviest part of the job.

In among all this I have finished Jenny's harlequin chair and sent it off, got a good start on the yard clean-up, got most of the way through the rough draft of the taxes, and done some of the preliminary work necessary to get three pieces of garden furniture ready for the summer ... hope to finish that today. 

I have removed all the sharp bits of wood, nails and screws from the two handmade chairs our strange neighbour threw out after partially removing the arms, and will wash them with TSP today.  I will paint them, and the star table I created from a student cast-off a year ago,  with boat quality varnish which I hope will allow them to stand up to the weather.

Next week looks a little less hectic ... finishing the taxes is the only big job thing still looming.  And my back is feeling almost normal again ... so I am looking forward to a more happily productive period.  I have a number of funky furniture projects lined up waiting, including more outdoor furniture for the deck and the garden.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Sun May Be Out, BUT ...

I have been cleaning up wood, sawdust, the porch, the windows, and repairing water damaged walls ...   and ... and  ... and.

I have just finished the harlequin table for Jenny, and I am now feeling completely snowed under, engulfed and drowning in tax forms.

Quebec residents fill out two completely separate forms so the misery of tax time is doubled ... perhaps more than doubled because I find myself attempting to translate the English translation at times.  Some things are wonderfully clear (better than the federal tax forms) but others are indecipherable.  Right now I am taking a mental health break..

Here is the table.

I have been invited to accompany a neighbour to Montreal tomorrow ... and I may decide to abandon the tax mess for a day in order to save my sanity.

I suspect my blogging will continue in earnest after the tax deadline.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The sun goes in and so do I ...

I haven't disappeared forever ... but like the sun which is little in evidence these days, I am not very visible.  I didn't realize just how closely tied to sunlight my moods and energy levels were until we had that wonderful spate of clear skies and warmth and then lost them abruptly.

I have been working on harlequin diamonds on the table legs, balloon decorations on the table top, plaster on water damaged walls, and primer on them and the high chair I am recreating for the new baby we are expecting in September.  Not very bloggable occupations, I am afraid.

I am also reading ... finished Three Cups of Tea and Tuesdays with Morrie and am now reading a collection of short stories ... Yesterday's Weather.  I used to avoid reading short stories.  They were over just as I was getting to really relate to the characters.  I could appreciate the craftsmanship but I preferred novels which took me into another world and kept me there for a good long time.  My reading habits have changed quite radically in the past few years.  I am reading more non-fiction now too.  Not sure why.  Perhaps my attention span has gotten shorter or maybe my eyesight is not quite acute enough for extended periods with small print these days.  Or maybe good movies have replaced the need for good books.  It is easier to watch a good movie than it is to read a good book.  All the interactive and interpretive work has been done by editors, directors and actors ... you just need to sit back and appreciate their interpretation rather than making meaning yourself.

A sad realization in so many ways ...

I wish the sun would come out so that I could get back outside to continue my yard and porch clean-up.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Time of Change

It is time to change my header photo.  The last of the lake ice disappeared on Friday, Kenya spent all day yesterday celebrating the 9 degree water. Even Tom's grandsons leapt in (and out very quickly), and my next door neighbours christened their new kayaks.

Young old friends came for dinner on Friday and helped me get my recalcitrant screens back into the windows that had been installed upside down and then re-installed.   They also helped me get my clothesline back up, but darkness overcame our efforts so that job was completed Saturday when I enlisted the help of the son of my next door neighbour to complete the ladder climbing part of the task.

I spent Saturday working on a table for Jenny, digging up sawdust, doing laundry, tidying up plants, and washing windows and floors. I managed to get 3/ 24 windows cleaned thoroughly .  (When I planned this light bright house with its multitude of views I did not think about cleaning windows.) 

My intention for today was to continue the work on windows and floors, but my hips and knees seem to have given out simultaneously, so this may be a day of rest and recuperation with some work on Jenny's plant table.

I am having fun with this one.  She wanted teal as her base colour, but  also lots of bright colour.  Red, gold and cream circles of different sizes are splashed randomly on the teal top.  Some overlap.  Others float free.  I figure they can become spots for plant saucers, but they are very balloon-like as well, so the legs will be done in harlequin diamonds using all four colours.  The clown itself will not be there ... just his tights and his balloons.  I hope to post a photo when I complete it, but I need to uninstall Picasa which is corrupted in some way and then re-install it.

Sarah phoned last week to suggest bringing a seafood feast to the lake today, but her baby became ill on Friday so we had to cancel that visit.  It looks as if today will be another wonderful day so it is too bad they won't be here to enjoy it, but that, she said philosophically, is life.

I may put the kayak in for its maiden voyage this year.  I don't need hips or knees, just upper body strength for kayaking.  Or I may use the old clothesline to map out the pathway in the garden.  Or I may just paint.  Or I may take a book down to the deck and bask in the sunshine.  And I will eat leftover roast beef for dinner with a dandelion green salad, red wine ... and too many of the gooey sweet delicious squares Julie left on Friday ...

Happy Easter, everyone.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Shot at 11 in the morning ...

Shot by a radar gun, that is ...

This morning ... I turned off the 105 onto the road that leads one past the funeral home, past the community spring, and through the village.  The speed limit on this road is 50k/hr.  I was likely traveling about 52 k. as I approached the man in black holding a gun pointed directly at me.  I slowed to 50k just as he signaled me and the driver following me to pull over.  I drove onto the siding at the spring as did the other guy.  The police officer parked his vehicle behind us.

I was thinking, "What the hell did I do?", but assuming (as I always do) that I must be in the wrong.  After all I'd been pulled over.  And I had been going a couple of kilometres too fast. 

I turned off my engine and rolled down my window.  My heart was beating a whole lot faster than it usually is, and I was flushed — a sure sign that my blood pressure had jumped.

The officer came to my window and greeted me.  I said hi and waited.  His response was a smile, and the words, "You can go.  It wasn't you."

I stopped at the post office to calm down and mail a letter.  The post mistress laughed when I told her what had happened.  But my heart didn't resume its normal rhythms till about two hours after I had put away my groceries.


I hope someone reading this can give me some advice.  I have a great deal of cedar sawdust (a couple of Rubbermaid bins full).   If I can use this in some way, I will, but if not, I need to know of the best way to dispose of it.

I have read that throwing it into the woods, onto the lawn, or mixing with other compost may not be the best choices because cedar takes forever to rot away, and when it is decomposing it leaches nitrogen from the soil. 

It is also not a wise choice for a fire starter in a wood stove, because it explodes.

I could make some little sachets for drawers and dog pillows  to discourage moths and creepy crawlies, but really ... the amount of sawdust I am dealing with is far too large for such a project. 

So ... any ideas?

And that, my friends, tells you how I will be spending several hours of  this glorious weekend.  The amazing temperatures will finally melt away all the residual ice and snow imprisoning the construction debris and free the lake from its current dangerous state of being halfway between water and ice.  I will have to work in small bursts because my hips give way, but the weather should be good for several such spurts of industry.

Happy Easter weekend.