Tuesday, 16 July 2013 19:59
I had a terrific dream the other night - sad but lovely. I dreamed that I was trying to photograph a rabbit coming out of its hole. Behind the rabbit hole was a tree and behind the tree a raccoon who kept circling the tree. The rabbit kept popping its head out of its hole and going back in, so I was trying to set up my camera to snap a shot of both animals. But I am the world's worst photographer, so it was a challenge for me.
But suddenly my eldest brother appeared on the right of the rabbit and the tree. He is a very capable photographer, so I was delighted. He would be able to help me get the shot. As he was moving towards me from the right, another person entered the frame from the left. It was my father! I was ecstatic. He died 18 years ago and he has only visited me once since he died - some six months after his death. On that occasion, he only spoke to me, but kept himself invisible, but here he was as clear as could be, so I was thrilled.
I thought maybe I could get a photo of him with my brother. Maybe Dad would be visible in the photo, but maybe, because he is a ghost, he wouldn't. Either way, it was worth a try, and, if I could get my brother to move, they would both be in it together. But I didn't want to startle Dad, so I whispered to my brother, "Al, look over there. Dad's here. Move over beside him and I will get a photo of the both of you together."
Just as I said it, they both vanished, and I realized that my brother, who died last year on Hallowe'en, was himself a ghost now. I was stricken with sorrow. And yet, the dream left me with a residual sense of well-being; that they had come, and come together, to visit me, to help me, to be with me, was deeply gratifying.
It reminded me of the many times my maternal grandmother has come to visit me. I will be looking in a mirror and suddenly my face will disappear, and my grandmother will be there instead, telling me not to worry, because she is watching over me. Earlier this past week, I had another dream of people coming to visit me, wanting to help me, so this new dream felt like a reinforcement of that promise. It seemed to tell me I have allies I cannot see, supporting me, ready to help me if I let them. So this week I am going to try to let them, whoever they may be.
Saturday, 25 May 2013 10:24
Here is the list of books for 2013 - 2014. No ISBNs because everyone seems to read different versions - hardcovers, softcovers, Kindle, Kobo, etc. The links will take you to Indigo books, but we don't care where you get your book.
| Date || Book || Author || Hostess
|Wed, Sept. 4 2013
||Far From the Tree
|Wed, Oct 30, 2013
||The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor
|Wed, Nov 27 2013
|Wed, Jan 29, 2014
||Miguel de Cervantes
|Wed, Feb 26, 2014
||The Hole in the Middle
|Wed, Mar 26, 2014
|Wed, Apr 30, 2014
||And the Mountains Echoed
|May 2014 - TBA
||Year-End Party : Location - To Be Determined
Sunday, 28 April 2013 11:37
The 2013 Jane Austen Ball Weekend in Toronto was a hoot. In the bicentennial year of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, many Elizabeth Bennets were in attendance, as well as a few Darcys. My daughter and I, costumed respectively as Mrs Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, appalled a pair of attendees over tea and scones by stating that we found Elizabeth Bennet to be a bit of a bore. We prefer our characters. Bonnie likes the imperious, self-satisfied and outraged Lady Catherine, and I love the flutterings and spasms of Mrs Bennet, who doesn't care about the so-called "class" of her "betters", but who appreciates the value of "ten thousand pounds a year" and manages to marry 3 of her girls off reasonably well (Yes, Wickham is a cad, but silly Lydia was always going to choose badly, and the success of the other girls more than make up for that.) In this photo, we stand beside a lovely (and very sweet) Elizabeth, whose Darcy took the photo for us. Video of me dancing is also out there somewhere, but not for the public. Sorry! Bonnie and I thank the Jane Austen Society, Toronto branch, and Danceweavers, who organized the event and the Toronto English Country Dancers, the dance group that taught us how to be Elizabeths and Darcys for the ball. And yes, Mrs. Bennet made her own dress, but of course, Lady Catherine de Bourgh did not.
Sunday, 28 April 2013 10:27
The winners of the Dairy Farmers of Canada 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix awards have been announced, and below are the winners in each of the nineteen divisions. More information on each of these cheeses is available on the Dairy Farmers site.
- Fresh Cheese
- Ricotta, Quality Cheese Inc., Vaughan ON
- Fresh Cheese with grilling properties
- Queso Fresco Cheese, Latin Foods Inc., AB
- Soft Cheese with bloomy rind
- Le Noble, Fromagerie Domaine Féodal Inc., QC
- Semi-soft Cheese
- Tre Stelle Feta Cheese, Arla Foods Inc., ON
- Washed OR Mixed Rind Cheese (Soft, Semi-soft and Firm)
- Le Mamirolle, Fromagerie Éco-Délices, QC
- Firm Cheese
- Gunn's Hill Five Brothers, Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese, ON
- Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
- Swiss-type Cheese
- Louis D'or 18 months, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
- Mozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder)
- Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese, Arla Foods Inc., ON
- Blue Cheese (Various rinds, with or without veining)
- Bleu d'Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
- Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-particulate Flavourings
- Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PEI
- Flavoured Cheese with Added Particulate Solids and Flavourings
- Raclette de Compton au poivre, Fromagerie La Station, QC
- Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months)
- L'Ancêtre Organic Mild Cheddar, Fromagerie L'Ancêtre, QC
- Medium Cheddar(aged 4 to 9 months)
- Medium Cheddar, Maple Dale Cheese, ON
- Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year)
- Cheddar 1 year, Fromagerie Perron, QC
- Aged Cheddar (more than 1 year up to 3 years)
- Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar,Cows Creamery, PEI
- Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)
- 5 Year Aged Cheddar, The Black River Cheese Company Ltd., ON
- Farmhouse Cheese
- Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
- Organic Cheese
- Bleu d'Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:50
Apparently Heraclitus wrote that all things flow, but he didn't realize at the time that they all flow to my basement. I have to get rid of some stuff. It was easy to get rid of the kids' old soccer shoes, the office supplies, the paint cans, the excess vases and the rusty metal cookie tins, but the following remnants of past hobbies have resisted disposal.
- Yoga Mats
- I live in an imaginary world in which my five best friends and I are going to do yoga together in my basement, and I supply the yoga DVDs, the meditation CD music, and the yoga mats for all 6 of us. When I actually do yoga I do it alone - usually lying in bed for a few minutes as I drift off to sleep at night. I don't ever come downstairs, fetch a mat, put on a DVD, and yogafy (or is the correct term yogate?) But if I did, I would have 6 mats to choose from.
- Craft Supplies
- The biggest pile of stuff I resist throwing out is in my craft room. Fabric, threads, wool, cake pans of various sizes and shapes, and supplies of various other crafts seem to fill half our basement. Yet it has been years since I finished manufacturing a single satisfactory project that I didn't immediately eat. I believe that Ontologia-Verificata, the goddess of reality-checking, has a message for me here if I would only listen to her. Maybe I could embroider a little wall hanging with some suitable axiom about that subject and hang it where I could contemplate it sitting on a yoga mat. Do I have the correct supplies, I wonder, or should I go out shopping today for more thread? And anyway, even if I were to be able to part with these supplies and equipment, where would they go? Does anyone sew anymore? Embroider? Do macramé?
- Christmas Cards
- If I ever decide to go back to sending Christmas greetings by snail mail, I have cards enough to send to all my friends for several years. I have already quit funding two charities who ignored my repeated requests to stop sending me “ free ” packages of Christmas cards.
- I spend my days at home, ten steps from my fridge and stove, but I have eight thermoses of different sizes and shapes. Why is that? What kind of compulsive fear of drinking cold tea or hot Coke is that?
- Tax Returns
- I have a typical Canadian stomach around tax-time: the niggling fear that, no matter how honestly and meticulously I do my taxes, I will be audited, an error found, and I will be jailed for tax evasion! So I have 30 years worth of tax forms and receipts still in my home, ready for the audit. Perhaps too many, but as the daughter of a tax department employee, I can't seem to toss them. And it would take me years to shred them first anyway.
- Camping Equipment
- What kind of camping will we really do in the future? My current kind of camping is a trip to a Holiday Inn. Without a kitchenette, we are roughing it. Yet we actually did go tent camping - Coleman stove and all - last summer and maybe we will again. But perhaps we only need 2 sleeping bags for the 2 of us, not the 8 we have.
- Space Savers
- If I got rid of all the empty space savers piled up, I could fit another bed or closet or even a small bedroom in. No room for storage in it though.
- Grandchild Things
- I should really get rid of all the things that I have kept for my grandchildren. I fear that the same gods who govern rainfall govern grandchild production. As long as I am prepared for the event, either with an umbrella or with a knitted layette and a stuffed teddy bear, it will not occur. The only way to get a grandchild will be to pass all these clothes, books and toys on to someone who already has one.
- Old Electronics
- Someday my computer son is going to come home from California for a long break, and figure out how all these troublesome pieces of equipment are messed up, and get them working again. Then I will be glad I saved the old computer, the old cell phones, the old video and DVD players, the old stereo, the old printer, the old analog TV, etc. Or maybe not.
- My son once pointed out to me, as he was reading “ War and Peace ” online, that it was a great story and someone ought to publish it as a book. He is clearly from a different generation with a different sensibility about reading. For me, feeling the paper book in my hands is half the pleasure. My basement is stacked with boxes of books we have collected and can't let go of. I have dictionaries, grammar books, and detective novels in every language I have troubled to learn a bit of. A few of my books are frequent re-reads, but many we have never read, at least not completely, and probably never will. And when you consider that I have given up cooking almost entirely, far too many are cook books. Somehow it seems criminal to throw books in the garbage, but nobody wants them anymore. Our library will only take books published in the current year. So where can these treasures go?
- Every phase of our life together (and even before we got together) seems to have been documented in photos we never look at, in all of which I look too fat. Maybe it's time to face the fact that a lot of these photos are not all that interesting, even to us. And burn them.
The whole process makes me worry about what my next hobby will be. Something that requires no equipment or supplies, like a blog, maybe. At least blog entries don't take up any space in my basement.
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 14:39
We are in the first stages of a reno of the basement - the tear-out is almost over, and some basic structural realignments are taking place. So I feel like I am living in a war zone. Why do this to yourself, you might ask, especially if you have ever lived through a reno before.
We want to end up with a house that will be easily saleable at the end of the process. We don't want to sell for a few years yet, but we also don't want to have to worry about selling the house when the time comes. In my experience, when you have to move out of your house, you are under some time pressure and don't want to do a reno then.
A second, more nefarious, reason is that, now that the children are gone, we want to have a little more room in the house to get away from one another. Our 1100 sq ft house, which was plenty big when full of 5 people, a dog and a cat and a cage of gerbils, now seems overcrowded when the two of us we are in it together for the whole weekend with no work to do. With my husband just beginning to think of retiring sometime in the distant future, this looms large as a future issue. If the basement was usable again, we could have more distance between us when needed. And we have a little spare change now, so now is the time.
However, it means we have to get rid of junk to make room for the contractor to work. But whose junk? John's junk, which consists of an old Mount Allison jacket that is threadbare and no longer fits him, and some ABS plastic pipe fittings that might come handy some day, or my junk, which is the rest of the basement? I am accordingly experiencing all the difficulties of letting stuff go.
Like when you move, I know I will feel better when it is gone - lighter, freer, etc, - but it is hard to do, particularly for an indecisive person like myself. There is some defunct version of myself embedded in all that stuff and I don't seem to be able to say goodbye to her. I don't quite know who she was, or who she thinks she was, but she isn't there any more, and I have the same problem with her I had with my kids: I can't seem to work up the courage to get rid of her superfluous stuff! But I am slowly stripping things away - box by box.
Some mornings I wake up and I suddenly realize that a whole box of stuff I was hanging on to can go without my ever opening the box again. But other days, I retrieve a box I had already stuck in the garage, thinking "No, I love this junk, and it is of utmost importance to my future plans to keep it!" It's a little crazy, and since my husband is sick and tired of hearing about it, you get to instead.
Sunday, 03 February 2013 16:41
This weekend I attended the memorial to my eldest brother Alan, who passed away the night of Hallowe'en last year. Melitta, Alan's wife, held it at the National Yacht Club in Toronto, a lovely venue, and it was a wonderful event. I was going to put a photo of the memorial here but my camera is new and we don't know how to use it, so almost all our shots were garbage.
The photo of the wild brunch above - Rob, Joe, me, John, Sue and Dan, from left to right- was taken this morning at the Fox and Fiddle on Bloor, when we were all still waking up, and just before we all headed off in our different directions homewards. A stranger at the next table took it, and I guess I should just have given him my camera since it was almost the only decent shot from the whole weekend.
We had all been up late the night before, eating pizza and sharing stories about our late brother, and then teasing the youngsters, Bonnie and Rob. And, of course, making wild guesses about our own futures.It had been a grand evening of siblings, such as we get to enjoy all too seldom, and I only wished our missing sibs, absent or gone, and their respective partners, could have enjoyed it with us. But the day was a lovely one as is. There are far too few really happy days to grumble about the might-have-beens. At least that is what I was thinking at the wild brunch this morning.
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00
One of the things I want to accomplish in 2013 is to increase the amount of exercise I get for fun, rather than as an arduous task. So I have 2 activities I am involved in for the sheer pleasure of it. First is tap-dancing, the craziest hobby ever for a chubby old broad like me. You can see, to the left, my tap dancing instructor, and below, my tap-dancing classmates. That is my Monday exercise fun.
The second activity is 45 minutes of cardio (bike or treadmill) with my friend Heather, who I otherwise don't get to see enough of. Currently, given the weather, that 45 minutes is spent at the gym. But in the spring, summer, and fall, given good weather, we can take it outside. I know I look blurry in the photo, but I am always a little blurry after a workout.
Monday, 28 January 2013 16:29
It has been snowing since 4 am this morning and the white stuff just keeps piling up. I have already shoveled once and am about to head out to do it again. This is how the outdoor looked after the first shovelling.
The back yard was no better.
But I always think the apple tree looks gorgeous, winter or summer. However, it looks at best advantage from inside the house, with a coffee cup in one hand and a hunk of chocolate in the other, not at all an outdoor thing. That is, of course, me with the coffee cup and chocolate, not the apple tree.
Loveliest of trees, the apple now.... Forgive me, Housman.
Saturday, 26 January 2013 18:02
Sudbury warmed up considerably today. It is -10° C now in the middle of the afternoon, with the sun's rays just beginning to lengthen. And it hasn't been colder than -24° C for 24 hours, so it is definitely in a heating phase. So I took Keagan, or he took me, for a walk to see the sights of the neighbourhood. He checked his p-mail, and I took in some fresh air after a sequestered week.
In the included photo you can see his preppy sweater. He got groomed two weeks ago, and he was so matted the groomer had little choice but to give him a razor cut close to his skin. He needs a sweater now that the temperatures have dropped - to -36° C one day last week - but he won't need one for too long. His fur grows fast and the worst month of winter is over.
For a before and after comparison, see him here in his pre-shave version, in a photo from my friend Melanie. He doesn't look like the same dog. Without his outer coat, he looks like a white dog, and it is the outer coat that betrays his part-poodle heritage. Bonnie prefers the teddybear fuzzball, but I like the fighting trim Keagan better.