Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Dionne Quintuplets and Fecal Coliforms Updated

Update on the water testing:

My sample was 100 ml ... so while the acceptable parts per 700 ml for all the fecal bacteria (fecal, E. coli and eneteritis) is 0, my counts are, respectively, 6, 6, and 1 per 100 ml.

Now I really hope that my shocking the system twice with javex worked!

I can't get the re-test done till mid-August now.

I have been bringing my drinking water from the Wakefield spring ever since I received the telephone message that my water was not potable.


Lately I have found some very cheap ($3.99) good Canadian made movies about  moments in Canadian history.  I mentioned the Marilyn Bell one a while ago.  I found the one I just watched at Giant Tiger.  It was about the Dionne Quintuplets.  The male lead was the Quebec actor who played Maurice Richard in The Rocket, and the film  was directed by the NAC symphony orchestra conductor.

Surprisingly good, but unrelentingly bleak ... about five little girls taken from the parents and raised unnaturally and institutionally.  None of them managed to find happiness.

On a happier note, Kenya, Sadie and I played and swam for about an hour after I returned from running errands.  The very best place to be on another scorcher of a day.

Even my errand running was not too onerous: I found the components for a new deck to water ladder in someone's garbage, stopped in at River Echo and  learned of two other tutoring possibilities, and then went to Masham where I bought luscious juicy peaches and freshly harvested local  wild blackberries, and then picked up the things I needed to have a second water test done.

I just received the written results of the first test... I sure hope that my two flushings of the system with javex and the new ultraviolent light do their job.  The really nasty e-coli bacteria count  was 6 parts per 700.  The form is entirely in French, but I think the acceptable maximum is  0.

After the swim I took an ice cream cone down to the deck and read for a while.

You will no doubt notice the absence of any mention of tidying and cleaning ... tomorrow!

Pruning in Progress

I decided yesterday when it was cool, when I didn't have to teach, and when I had some energy, that I would tackle my den, a room that, like my garden, had become a jungle.  That decision involved trimming back the enormous plant that had covered the window, getting rid of several pieces of unfinished furniture for children, sweeping up mounds of dog hair,  moving almost everything in the room to a different location, and generally creating far more chaos than had been there originally.  The hallway and my bedroom also became involved.

I now have a much more civilized Paw plant in my bedroom and several pieces rooting on a tiny round table in front of the den window.  Two bookcases have migrated to the large walk-in closet in my den, and several books have been consigned to boxes to be sold or given away.

I am not finished yet... I suspect I will still be at this on Wednesday, but I am past that first awful indecisive stage, past the absolute chaos of everything sitting in a pile in the centre of the room , piled on a bed, or shoved out into the hall.

Coincidentally, while I was immersed in my own cleaning process, a woman was being interviewed on CBC about her book Thrifty, which is all about pruning your life down to its essentials ... not to just what you need but to the things that truly enrich your life.  She got rid of books she had kept since university, and photos that babbled at her.  She recommends clearing 1/3 of the stuff from every room so that you gain a sense of peace rather than busyness.  I think I will look for the book.

My reading lately has been omnivorous.  This will fit right into the eclectic mix.

I used to think that I was a pretty good person.  Now I realize that we all make mistakes, that we are all just doing the very best we can ... at any particular moment.  Sometimes we mother, teach or behave better than at other times ... but we are simply human so we are imperfect beings.

I have just finished re-reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler, a woman born a year earlier than I was.  She understands.  And everyone who deludes herself into thinking she is doing everything right should read this novel ... and some of her others like A Slipping Down Life.  She writes beautifully ... no preaching ... just revelation of truths.

I have just started reading An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski of Medecins sans Frontieres ... he too writes well, and he also understands that we just give what we can ... we just do our best ... and sometimes our best is not perfect.

So ... back to my still very imperfect den cleaning ... who knows?  Maybe by the weekend I will be able to start civilizing the garden. Or maybe not :-)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The People We Are Inspired to Emulate ...

I think we all liked the people who taught the subjects we loved.  They were the teachers who gave us our best marks.  We looked forward to their classes because they provided a respite from the drudgery of the subjects we disliked. Even their homework was fun to do.

I had been a very good student in junior high school, but when the move to Quebec was foisted on me, I found myself floundering in French and Latin, subjects I had loved.  I was 7 years behind in one and a full year behind in the other.  Math had also been a subject in which I had excelled, but suddenly math became algebra and geometry.  Algebra was do-able but geometry was impossible.  I was attempting to do Book 2 without ever having seen Book 1, and my impaired sense of spatial relationships made the challenge even greater. I began to hate school.  I went for tutoring in French and geometry, and managed a bare pass from grade 10 to grade 11, but by then I saw myself as a loser.

The one subject I never stopped loving was English.  I was still getting good marks in Dr. Smith's class, so I liked going to her classes, liked doing her homework, liked her.

Another child might not have reacted as I did, but I had loved school, and my sense of failure in an area where I had been successful was devastating.  I decided that, rather than be seen as stupid, I would begin behaving as if I didn't give a damn.  I would fail because I skipped classes, because I thumbed my nose at homework, because I was baaad ... not because I was trying hard and too stupid to learn.

In grade 11, I started skipping French classes because I felt like such a dunce.  The teacher, Ray Bolla, was strict and reported every absence.  So I began skipping school altogether. To make a long story short, I quit school in November and got a job.

Three years later, after Christmas, with two babies and separated from my husband,  I returned to the school I had hated. Now I was even further behind in everything.  Besides the gap in time,  I had lost a full term, so I was scrambling. 

I had a terrible French teacher, so I went to Mr. Bolla for tutoring.

I didn't attempt Latin this time round, opting for North American Literature and geography instead.

Geometry was just as hard, if not harder, than before.  I was in an enriched math class because there was no room in the regular stream classes.  Now I was doing Book 4 without Book 3.   My attitude however was very different at 19 than it had been at 16,  so I worked rather than giving up, and ended up passing with grades high enough for university acceptance, even in French and geometry.

Dr. Smith was no longer my English teacher.  Instead I had Michael Witham, a teacher I also loved.  He didn't have a PhD but his MA was from Cambridge and he too was an inspired teacher.

Shortly after I returned to school, Dr. Smith asked me to come to see her.  We had a surprising conversation, and she was nearly in tears during it..  She had thought about me often over the years, she said.  She wondered whether something she had done had caused me to drop out.  I had auditioned for the school play in grade 11, shortly before I quit school entirely, and she had given the part to another girl, not because she had read better, but because she could be counted on to show up for rehearsals.

I too had thought about that a few times, and wondered if it might have made a difference, but I didn't tell her that.  I am glad now that I didn't.  I am glad I told her that she probably did the only thing that made sense.  I said I didn't know whether I would have let her down, but it was certainly a good possibility.

Alana Smith was a good teacher, an inspired and inspiring teacher, but even more important, she was a woman who cared enough to worry about the effect of her decisions on her students.

Like all the really good teachers I have known she tried to give us her best. Sometimes, like all decent people, she undoubtedly made mistakes, but those mistakes were not made with any intent to harm.  She was doing her best to do what was right.

I went into teaching because of good teachers like her.  The ones who stand out were: in Halifax, Mrs. Shatford, my grade 6 teacher at Quinpool Road Public School, and Miss Hilchie, my English teacher at Cornwallis Junior High; In Pointe Claire, Quebec, Alana Smith, Lloyd Patch, Win Dixon, Michael Witham, and John Jared at John Rennie High School; and, at  Macdonald College, the education faculty of McGill, Paul Nash.

All of these people helped me in important ways, and all set wonderful examples for any teacher to try to follow.

Saturday, 24 July 2010


It is very tempting to try to escape to a conflict-free paradise, but one cannot stay out of the fray forever except through death.  Maybe that is what vacations from life are really ... small deaths.  Orgasms have been called petits morts because they too provide an escape from life. 

I guess I hoped that I could spend my old age, at least my still active old age, here is my own little paradise.  And then I discovered that few real places offer complete absence of tension.  Sentient beings cannot completely escape the fray forever.

My friend Claire posted part of a poem by Charles McKay we had both learned in high school.  (No I didn't remember the poet's name.  In fact I could never have quoted the lines half as accurately as she did; I googled her quote.)  The poem's message was that people who are fully engaged in life must take stands, some of them unpopular, and so they make enemies.

I tried unsuccessfully to find a poem that has stayed with me all my life.  I think it was about Ulysses ... perhaps Alfred Lord Tennyson ...  perhaps another English poet from that era.  He and his men were shipwrecked on an island where some lovely, tranquillizing, mood enhancing drug grew wild in the fields.  All of them, sailors, officers and captain, were sorely tempted to remain in this drug-induced state of bliss forever, but the captain knew that one cannot escape the burdens placed on us by life and so he insisted that they leave their paradise and gird themselves to face the difficult journey home to the harsh reality they would encounter when they finally got there.  He forced them back to life.

Of course, if they had stayed, reality would have found them  anyway.  Power struggles would have ensued.  Differences of opinion would have occurred.  Schisms would have developed.  Even in an opium-hazy environment, something would have crept in to tempt someone.  Isn't that the story of the Garden of Eden after all?

The human condition is simply that: you cannot stay in the garden forever; one day you either have to enter the wilderness, or the wilderness will encroach upon the garden.  Either way, eventually it will become clear that lions do not lie down with lambs; they eat them.

Friday, 23 July 2010

A Little Like Herding Chickens ... but Fun

Yoshiko and I spent a couple of hours painting, and then picked up Rowboat Flo and went to Subway for lunch.  Afterwards, we went shopping together.  By 4 p.m. I was exhausted but it had all been worth it.  Flo bought groceries. Yoshiko bought jeans for $7.  I bought DVD's. At Subway we talked to somer old women  from the States about food and sandals. (Don't ask)

And Yoshiko was delighted with her tray.

Isn't it wonderful that old women from very different backgrounds can truly enjoy one another?

Beneath the Surface ...

When I awoke this morning I found a valuable reminder in my in-box.  I have been wishing I had closed my eyes, bitten my tongue and written nothing about what lies beneath the tranquillity of our lake's unrippled surface.  And then I read this.

Earl Nightingale, a radio broadcaster and thoughtful  man was quoted as saying that the opposite of courage was not cowardice but conformity.

The writer, Bob Proctor, continues:

    It takes courage to break away from the crowd, to go your own way, to do the thing which may be unpopular. It takes courage to stand up for the person who is being unjustly criticized, rather than agreeing and going along with the crowd. It takes courage for the teenager to say no, when all the rest of the kids begin going down the wrong path.
    Earl Nightingale was correct - the opposite of courage is conforming. It is one reason so [many] people ... go along with the large group ....
    The next time you are encouraged to fall into line, to be a sport, and everything in you says no - be courageous and go your own way. There is no compensation in conformity

I decided to  publish the piece I wrote in the middle of the night.  

A Very Different Post From Yesterday's
written in the earliest hours of July 23, 2010

At 2:42 a.m. this morning I was trying unsuccessfully to get back to sleep when a loud noise sent Kenya bolting downstairs to her hidey hole and made me leave my bed.

On Wednesday night the young people next door had been playing music till about 3 a.m. The kids were quiet, but the music was loud enough to awaken me.  Today my neighbour called to tell me that she too had been awakened at 1 a.m.  despite the fact that my house and a cottage stand between her bedroom window and the source of the music.  We both had trouble getting back to sleep.  I spent the next two hours  grumbling to myself.  I had closed my windows, filled my ears with silicon, and finally I blanked out.  I have insomnia so I hate anything that sets it in motion.

Last night I went to bed at 9:30 with the windows open for air but my ears plugged against sound.  When I awoke on my own at 1:30 or so the lake was quiet.  I lay in bed for a while reading.  Kenya climbed up with me, snuggled in, and fell asleep.  At about 2:30 I turned off the light again and lay awake thinking.

Then the shot rang out.

I could hear voices from the young people next door, and their waterfront was lit up.

What would they have shot?  The half dozen visiting geese haven't been seen for a few days. But I think geese and Mergansers sleep at night.    I hope it wasn't one of the turtles that come at night to graze along that shoreline.

Surely not one of the loons whose calls often haunt the darkness.

Were the kids just very drunk and playing with a rifle?

Or did the shot come from the other end of the lake, from the only house I could see whose windows were still lighted at 2:42 a.m., the one owned by one of the strident voices at the meeting; one of those determined to wipe the lake clean of ducks; someone unable to appreciate the antics of this year's silly splashers; a man who thinks that the mergansers are eating all the fish and poisoning the lake?

I have no idea where the shot came from. This little tea cup lake plays tricks on ears, sending sound echoing from one rock wall to another, so it becomes impossible to be sure of the source.

That single rifle shot kept me up for an other hour in the middle of the night, pondering humans and their propensity for destruction; their headlong rush to obliterate the creatures that make this world a wondrous place to be; their great and grave foolishness; and yes, their refusal to consider any other way to do things.

I do hope my peace was shattered this time by drunken boys who will outgrow their thoughtlessness, but I think back to that meeting, and wonder ...

I have a feeling that the smooth mirror surface of life has been forever shattered ... that peace is a mirage in this world I live in.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Little Village That Does

 Wakefield is a village with a big heart and a small population (1000 souls), so it is a bit of a miracle that Wakefield just won $25000 to build a skateboard park, outdoor skating rink and basketball court for its youth.  It was in competition with many Quebec towns that were much larger and when it finally narrowed down to the face-off:, Beauce and Wakefield, the little village that was 1/10 the size, won.  It came down to votes on the internet.  Everyone was encouraged to vote and we all did ... some many times ... some thousands of times ... and when the final tally was counted, it all paid off.

The sense of community that encouraged people of all ages to put in a little effort for the kids is the same reason that a language school like River Echo manages to function.  People come back again and again from Germany and Japan and Switzerland ... because the people of Wakefield make them feel welcome; because the villagers take the time to try to understand their varying levels of competency in English.  They invite them to join their hiking group.  They spend time with them in their restaurants.

Today, Rowboat Flo who is 80 shared with Yoshiko who is 84 how she stays in shape mentally and physically.    They chatted about their puzzles, their gardens, and their diets as they drank coffee and ate rhubarb pie with ice cream.  Tomorrow they will shop together.  I am the verbal link but Flo and Yoshiko are the energy that flows from the community to the visitor.

By the way, Yoshiko's tray is going to be beautiful. Photos tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Hidden Truths

Just some reminders that it is important to take time to smell the flowers; that life can still be exciting and learning can continue at 84; that even the toughest looking can be scared of thunderstorms and other loud things; and that in the messiest tangled jungle of life,  jewels can be found.

Life Passes By

Noticed  in Passing ...
July 21, 2010

... a beautiful small dead fox on the highway ...  shiny coat, luxuriant tail that with each passing day changes into remnants of itself ... greyed ... scruffy ... hanks of hair and ... but after three days the tail is still vibrant ...

... a large group of playful Mergansers who splashed one another ... chortled ... and walked on water ... well ...  really more like stomped on water ...

... two tomato plants that have grown to tree size and are dripping with green fruit ...  two grape tomatoes  beginning to turn red ... I have them supported from all angles now ... the box has become a jungle  with 1 cucumber, 1 arugula, 1 nasturtium and 2 tomatoes.  The little guys are all hiding (lettuce, carrots and onions)

... grass I cut before I went to Montreal now a meadow ... with far too much strangling vine that seems to have choked out the clover I planted ...

... a wild abundance of black-eyed susans, those lovely lavender bells, golden rod and orange day lilies ...  and almost ready to bloom ... the ones I call Golden Glow ... tall plants that grow in hedges producing masses of chrysanthemum like flowers.

... friends working on the main floor of their new home ... strong and bronzed and happy against a magnificent blue sky ...

... another friend swimming peacefully, as she followed three red headed ducks ... apparently unafraid of their toxicity ...

... an artist of 60 years who wanted me to place the first brush stroke on the tray she was painting ... at 84 she is strong and vibrant and able to throw herself off mountains and hurtle down slopes ... but her confidence sags when she tries something new ... I love the fact that she will leave us after this week with more confidence than she had when she arrived.  I suspect that she has had to build each level of confidence one step at a time just as she has as she learns to paint funky furniture.

... and when I said I would pay for lunch she was shocked ... insisted on paying because I am the teacher ...

... a large bearlike dog who is terrified of thunderstorms ...

,,, the rumble of rockslides across the lake ...  

Photos will follow ...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The week that was ...

I enjoyed our last (at least I hope last for a while) days of our heat wave.

A few days with friends who live near Montreal and have a backyard pool and air conditioning ... Kenya and I both enjoyed our visit with them.  Then back home with company over the weekend ... canine and human.

I hear that Russia's fish stocks have been hard hit by their heat wave ... and I suspect that our lake's fish have probably gone much deeper than usual to escape the bath tub temperatures of the water. But those same tepid temperatures provided us with great swimming last night.  Rob and I worked on getting Charlie (the 9 year old black lab who was afraid of the water) to swim. By the end of the play time he was having fun and swimming well.  Rob and I ended up covered in long scratch marks.  Rob's are all over his legs, chest and arms.  I have four bruises and a deep surface scratch mark from Charlie's fearful first attempts.

Even Carlos went in last night ... and he has a Mediterranean horror of swimming in water that is less than body temperature.

Shea gave Tammy and me rides and Kenya swam with all of us.

I never stay up past 10 p.m. but it was after 1 when I headed up last night.  Good food, flowing wine, and great company.

This afternoon I heard two explosions and thought that our local yahoos were making good their threat to kill all the mergansers on the lake.  The meeting did not go well ... and I do not enjoy being outvoted by people who are wrong ... they grudging agreed to allow us to try alternative ways of getting rid of the Canada Goose menace next spring ... but clearly intended to shoot to kill if it didn't work ... and then they brought up the merganser menace as well ... blaming the absence of large minnows on the ducks.  In view of what is happening in Russia and also taking into account the blasting that has shattered the peace of the lake, I would be more likely to blame things on disruption of habitat.

Today when I heard the explosions, I phoned my buddies who also feel that wild life have a right to co-exist with us ... and then heard from one of them that he had been setting off fire crackers to scare away some Canada Geese.  His method worked ... let's hope it keeps on working.

Rob, Scott and I played tourists in the village yesterday ... while the train was in.  Whew!  Not my favourite place to be on a sweltering afternoon, but interesting for a change.

Tomorrow I start a week of accompanying Yoshiko, the 84 year old Japanese student who is back again this year.  We are starting out here at the lake tomorrow and deciding what we want to do with our time together.

It will be fun, I expect.

I hope you enjoy our break from sweltering temperatures and some cooler nights.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Update on Dashed Hopes and Some Memory Jogging

Back from the clinic ... good lord ... 1 ½ hours of driving there, 2 hours at the clinic seeing the nurse practitioner, the doctor subbing for mine and the technician ... and sitting around the waiting room a lot in between, and then 1 ½ hours driving home. 

Five hours altogether  ... but they sent me home with my hearing and thinking processes intact.  My ear was swooshed out with very warm water and I was told to treat both ears with oil twice a week for the rest of my life.  Because I thought it was likely swimmer's ear I had been drying the wax out with aluminum drops and making things worse rather than better.  The difference in my hearing  was not as startling or sudden as I thought it would be.  You know I kind of expected a giant pop as the plug loosened and jumped out of the canal ... but no ... nothing nearly as dramatic, although I did feel woozy and had to be helped to a chair.  The technician said it was a common reaction.  After all she had just sent my balance centre into a merry go round spin.  At any rate, my little inflamed drum became visible and was able to vibrate again.  I regained my balance and my hearing ... and with them my ability to think.

One thing I noticed when I got home was that the dehumidifier makes a very loud noise ... and those machines across the lake were making me want to tell Kenya to move over and make room for me under the boiler and the water tank!

Imagine how awful it must be for a creature with super sensitive hearing! 

At the best of times my hearing is just so-so.  I was born in the era before medicare and instead of getting a prescription for antibiotics my father blew warm breath in my ear when I had an earache ... and I had lots of them until I had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was seven. 

My older kids were also pre-medicare kids, but I remembered being sick and made sure that they were looked after by a doctor ... and that they received antibiotics rather than being subjected to my breathing in their inflamed and aching ears or hoping that bronchial pneumonia would heal itself.. 

My tonsillectomy took place on the kitchen table in my foster home with my foster mother administering the ether.  I was horribly nauseated and had a blood clot in my throat which had to be removed ... but a brand new black English sidewalk bicycle leaned against the bedroom wall encouraging me to get well quickly.

My children went to the hospital for their operations., and were treated much younger.  They were too young for bikes, but I couldn't afford bikes anyway.  Instead I took a bus to the hospital and brought single rose buds ... and special cuddly toys.

Funny I can remember the rosebuds but I can't remember how I managed to pay for those doctor's visits, the antibiotics I seemed to have to buy weekly, or the surgeries and hospital time. 

I was making $1800 a year.  To give you an idea of just how little that was, someone in middle management was making $18000 at that time.  I guess you just do it when you are a single parent and you don't have a choice.

Dashed Brains and Hopes

I had hoped that my hearing and balance problems might have been resolved by today so that Kenya and I could escape the construction noise and visit a friend who lives near Montreal for a couple of days, but no such luck. My hearing is still almost nil in the left ear and I continue to feel strangely dislocated in time and space.  I am also making odd decisions.  For example I used an enormous butcher knife to break apart frozen hamburger patties ... and stabbed myself rather badly in the process.  I seemed to have lost some brain cells.

Just as I was writing the above I got a call from my doctor's office telling me that the nurse practitioner would see me today.  So ... perhaps I will be fully functioning soon.

Paddy and Tom came over last night and blasted the hornet's nest inside the hydro meter house.  This morning I inspected the premises and broke up the remains of the nest and squashed the writhing white sluglike hornet larvae ... yecch ... their hopes and brains were dashed suddenly too!

More when I have a fully functioning brain.  This has been a week that has been hard on bodies and brains!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The week that was ... I think

The heat wave is over.  The temperatures will continue to be higher than we are used to but the humidity will be much lower than it has been.  Thank goodness!

Kenya is becoming more and more freaked out by the blasting which was supposed to be finished this past Monday but which, in fact, has continued all week.  Yesterday I couldn't find her when I was setting off to get the mail and I thought she must have gone outside when I hung out laundry.  But no.  She was nowhere to be found.  I called and called.  I went back indoors and called some more.  I went all around the house looking for her.  No Kenya.  I headed off in my car and asked a neighbour if he'd seen her. No, but he would bring her home if he saw her on his way to the village.  I returned and did one more check everywhere ... down at the lake and indoors.

That's when I discovered her curled up under the shelf that holds the water heater and the boiler.  Curled into an impossibly small ball among the tubes that feed the in-floor radiant heating.  A black ball of a dog in a dark spot where she shouldn't have fit.

I am not sure just how the blasting is affecting her physically, but psychologically it is certainly having a deleterious effect.  She is frightened the whole time the workers are across the lake.  She recognizes the horn honking signal that a foundation-shaking blast is imminent.  She doesn't want to be outside or in the lake when the workers are there, and she sticks very close to me whenever she can.

.I wondered if she had been deafened when she didn't respond to my calls.

We went off to Erin's Meat Party after I found her.  The humidity had tripped the power bar  in the barn 

where her freezers are plugged in.  The meat at the bottom was still solidly frozen but the upper layers had started to thaw, so she decided to have a meat party.  Lots of people bearing beer, wine, soft drinks, salads and desserts ... and dogs ... arrived and spilled out onto the deck.  Ed did the barbecuing, and we all feasted.

Kenya was delighted to be surrounded by dog people, and happy to have so many canine buddies. She was particularly popular with the big boys, Jesse, Connor and Cole.  She knew C and C from three years ago when we looked after them.  Their owner, Andrea, brought photos of her new baby ... a nine week old foal.  I think we will go over and visit him soon. 

I am not sure whether it is the blasting or all the swimming without ear plugs, but I have gone deaf in my left ear.  A party is an odd occasion when you cannot hear on one side. Last night I felt a bit as if I were watching a silent movie with a lot of static on the sound track.

This morning  I  treated it with hydrogen peroxide and then with almond oil mixed with tea tree oil .  I hope whatever it is clears up soon.  I don't want to have to see my doctor who is 1 1/2 hours away, and it isn't a medical emergency which could be treated here in the village.

My Swiss student, Sibylle, has headed off to British Columbia for the next stage of her vacation.  I have enjoyed her company, and will miss her.   I have one free week and then I will be spending time with Yoshiko, the 84 year old Japanese artist, the following week or so.  Yoshiko was here last year and amazed all of us with her energy and youthfulness.  She still downhill skiis for goodness sake!

She is in better shape than I am these days ... deaf in one ear ... exhausted by the heat wave ... and swollen up with a reaction to a hornet sting.  A neighbour's son visiting here on the lake this week  has promised to help me blast the two nests I have here: a wasps' nest under the first step from the parking area, and a hornets' nest in the cute little box housing my hydro meter.  Because I reacted so strongly to the hornet's sting I received the other day, I am afraid to try to get rid of them by myself.

Oh ... and before I forget ... for those people who were following the doggy taste test ... I bought a bag of Pedigree Dentabones at Costco the other day. They are made by Mars, the makers of the Natural Defense bones that Kenya loved.  They smell the same but are smaller and are to be fed daily rather than a couple of times a week.  And Kenya loves them too. They cost $18.99 plus tax .

The list of ingredients:

sodium caseinate
rice flour
vegetable oil
tapioca starch
natural poultry flavour
propylene glycol
wheat bran
calcium carbonate

dicalcium phosphate
potassium chloride
sodium tripolyphosphate
microcrystaline cellolose
iodized salt
potassium sorbate
'choline chloride
zinc oxide
vitamins A, D3 and E
zinc sulphate
iron sulphate
magnesium oxide
d-calcium pantothenate
copper sulphate
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B1
Folic Acid
Vitamin B12

I will have to find the post I did on Natural Defense but I think this list is longer than the ND one was.  I will check and edit this post.


Natural Defense definitely had a shorter, and, I suspect,  healthier ingredient list:

Ingredient List:
corn starch
potato starch
natural flavour
dehydrated myrtle leaf
sodium tripoliphosphate
potassium sorbate
a number of vitamins
rice hulls
What do you think?

Have a great weekend.

Monday, 5 July 2010

An Exhausted Post

I understand why they talk about heat exhaustion ... and I am here at the lake ... not in Toronto without power ... or even in Ottawa.  I can jump in the lake and cool off or kayak and create a damp cool breeze as I move ... or I can even tip myself into the lake when I am careless getting into my kayak ... as I did this afternoon on my way to the mail.

That became an adventure of sorts.  My glasses flew off my face and I didn't notice immediately because I was busy getting the kayak right side up and bailed out..  Then I went for the mail and discovered a couple of overheated intruders on the private beach ... Betsy's Beach ... she would not have been pleased if she had noticed ... hmmmn.

Anyway then began the mad search for my glasses ... or for a second pair ... I became overheated and sweaty and went out one last time in only underpants and a short silk wrap.  There they were just past wading depth but visible.  I finally managed to snag them with my toe and in the process became a silk kimona version of a wet t-shirt demo.

It is hot even here ... but not in the downstairs part of the house.  A cement slab creates its own cooling system.

My new student is lovely ... and we are having tomorrow's class out here at the lake.  We will break up the academic parts of the class with swimming and boating.

I hope you are surviving our latest heatwave, but if you need a respite at a lake, give me a call. I have always felt I was too lucky to keep this to myself and still feel that way.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

More Ketchup

While I was busy filling in imaginary words and thoughts for speech balloons, I missed the real excitement.  A tree fell and hit the top hydro line (that's the only live one) and caught on fire.  Only Hydro Quebec could resolve that situation, and they arrived 16 hours later when I was already out for the night (around 10 p.m. on Thursday).  They brought their poles and left them on the side of the road and used their cherry picker to lift the tree (its fire long extinguished on its own) off the wire.  I don't know how I missed it.  Apparently they had several big vehicles and massive lighting units operating right across from my bedroom window!  Even Kenya slept through it.  And through the fireworks that my next door neighbours set off.

Of course Kenya is sleeping through a lot these days and nights.  She is exhausted by all the swimming and playing she's been doing.  She chased sticks thrown by the little boys most of the weekend, and for the last couple of days I have been exercising her with the kayak.  Yesterday I whipped across the lake to deliver dog fur to a neighbour who has a pesky groundhog.  Kenya swam behind me and while I visited she chased sticks into the water.  Then we headed home.  She was finally beat enough to say no to retrieving a stick.  I still had enough energy to go for a long refreshing swim that relaxed me.

On Friday night I joined a group of people at a local restaurant ... interesting but a little strange.  The woman who invited us all failed to show up and the odd assortment of people who were there were somewhat bemused by her absence.   We ended up doing what people usually do ... found those people with whom we had most in common and chatted.  Nice break from talking to Kenya and bearing the noise of machinery.

My box garden is becoming a rainforest of tangled vines.  Lots of nascent tomatoes and nasturtium flowers.  Just leaves on  the pepper plants and leaves and vines on the cucumber.  The onions are doing well.  I ate one yesterday.  The second crop of radishes is coming along nicely.  And I have given up on the chard and the leeks.  The Thai basil  and the arugula are quietly doing their thing and providing me with salad ingredients nearly every day.

I nurtured a weed in my chard square for a few weeks, but when I went to the market yesterday morning I asked the farmer from whom I bought Swiss chard what she thought had happened to mine.  She said that I would definitely have chard by now if the seed was viable and had not been killed off by heat or eaten by a bird. So I went home and uprooted the very healthy weed I had been growing and transplanted a lettuce into that square.  I think I will transplant one of my regular basil plants into the leeks' square.

Outside the box, the zucchinis are producing lots of flowers but far fewer zucchinis ... I think I have a plethora of male blossoms.  Apparently you can deep fry them.

All the herbs except the basil are doing well.

The beans, nasturtiums, and morning glories are all madly climbing the trellis to the deck railing and I have a riot of green foliage and lots of blue and red flowers but no bean flowers or beans yet.

Tonight I am entertaining Tom and Marlene.  I am not sure what I will prepare but I do know that my herbs will be part of the meal ... and the Dutch ginger cake I bought at the market will be served with an iced coffee drink that is wonderful.  You make double strength coffee and blend it with ice cubes and vanilla ice cream and then chill.  It is very refreshing but not calorie free.

Tomorrow I start another week of teaching.  I expect to enjoy it ... two hours a day with a middle aged Swiss woman  who would like to have some of her lessons in a canoe.  We may ask Conchita who is married to one of the men on the lake to join us.  She is not too sure about cold Canadian lake water, so we will see.

I have been  reading another travel book called The Female Nomad and Friends.  It is a combination of adventures and recipes picked up along the way by an interesting and varied group of solo women travelers.  Almost all of the women have websites to visit and several have  recommended SERVAS as a good way to meet interesting people as you travel. A few weeks ago I decided to become a host for SERVAS and if I ever get my act together will jump through the necessary hoops.  And then I may register as a traveler as well.  All this reading about adventures is making my feet itch again.

So that's it ... the weekend dollop of ketchup ... hope your weekend has been enjoyable and that you are looking forward to a week of blistering heat in a pleasantly cool environment.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Peace and Quiet

Today they didn't show up at seven .... and here it is, almost 9, and the lake is still lovely and quiet.

Kenya awoke with a start at 8 ... a Merganser was on our deck ... she went out and shooed it back into the water with its two siblings and then lay there in the sunshine guarding the deck from any more intrusions.  it was quite sweet watching her lying there watching the trio of scruffy headed ducks swimming nearby.  Kenya recognizes territory quite clearly, and understands that the lake is to be shared ... but not the deck.

All the time the blasting and noise has been going on, the Mergansers have been absent from the lake ... likely hiding in the furthest corner away from the noise.  The loons are a little more comfortable with human noise so I have seen them more often.

Twice this week I have dreamed about hugging absent loved ones ... and both times I have awakened feeling at peace.  Nice that the peace will not be shattered today!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Filling in Speech Balloons

It's been really quiet on the other side of the lake ever since a good sized landslide occurred about an hour ago.

Five men are gazing up at the spot where it occurred.

I can't hear what they are saying of course, and I feel a bit as if I am looking at a cartoon and waiting for the speech and thought balloons to be filled.

"Duh, do you think if we dig a little more out in the middle those trees up there will come down with the earth?"

"Yeah, and then we could just scoop everything up with the shovel and cart it away.  No need to dig any more or blast."

"Those are pretty big trees."

"We could get chainsaws and haul them away.  No problem."

"Yeah ... but look where the hydro lines are."

So they ponder the problems they have created on this Canadian holiday when they probably all wish they'd stayed in bed.

A Little Later:

Well, they've decided to go ahead and hope for the best.  A tree came down and hit the hydro line but did not break it and they were able to nudge it away with the shovel ... and that seems to be the plan ... uproot and guide.

Not sure what happens when they leave at the end of the day with trees in jeopardy ... but we will see.

They have an enormous pipe with them and intend to use it to build a tunnel on the inner side of the road.  They hope it will catch falling rock before it hits the road.  So far they have spent twice as much money as they thought they would and they are days, perhaps weeks, away from concluding the work.  The hydro men were supposed to move their poles and erect higher ones than originally intended ... and their visit has been postponed till July 17.  Maybe, just maybe, my peace of mind will be returned to me by the end of July.

Happy Canada Day

Canada Day at the Lake
July 1, 2010

7:01 a.m.    Two red trucks arrived followed by a black car.  Five minutes later the whole damned crew was back across the lake and the earth moving machine was revved up and rarin' to go.  I groaned and began to wander around the house turning on taps.

7:15 a.m.    I have now let all the taps run again.  The object  is to clear the chlorine from the system so that the pipes will not be corroded.  Last night Ryan (my plumber) installed the new UV lamp, showed me how to do it next year myself, and left instructions to pour Javex through the system again.  I did it at bedtime stripped down to my undies and slippers so that I would not damage my clothes again.  Good thing because I forgot to close the bottom of the filter container and pure Javex sprayed all over the floor and my slippers.

7:33 a.m.    I am still half asleep in my grey polka dotted slippers and my jammies and robe wondering if I should escape to Hull or Montreal or if I should make yet another attempt to prepare lessons for next week. 

7:37 a.m.    I think I will grin and bear it yet again.  I am still not feeling A1 ... possibly because of the E-coli in my water?

8:21 a.m.    Email and such finished for now.  Better get at something productive ... or at least get dressed and have breakfast.  I want to take Kenya for a good walk, get into the village at some point because there will be festivities and I need to buy a sympathy card for a friend whose husband died yesterday, and start a writing project based on my recent reading.  What I don't feel terribly inspired to do is plan those lessons!  But that is what I should be doing.