Wednesday, October 29, 2014

knock yourself on the head

Monday night I stayed up late to watch “The Greatest Game on Earth” – guess what the game is – golf. Unfortunately it didn’t send me straight to sleep like a regular golf game does, but was actually a bit exciting at times – true fiction!

20141028_172244-baileyGrace has friends over for a few days. Cato and Bailey have come to stay while Ruth is at a quilting conference. The birds have already been talking back and forth to each other in their funny parrot/people voices and are well settled in.


I spent much of Wednesday morning wrestling with software, or more specifically, trying to move data from one piece of software to another. I recently downloaded a new journaling app - it has a nicer interface, and a few features that I like better than the one I was using. Obviously I want to transfer the entries from my old software. Hold the boat! It isn't as simple as that. I exported from the old software in csv format, updated the file as it had lots of formatting inconsistencies, then played around with getting the date into unix timestamp format. Next, I saved it as an xml document. I used to do this sort of data manipulation a lot during my working life, and had even written a few export/import programs to make life easier for myself, but I'm a bit rusty now. It will take some manoeuvring to get the xml file formatted to match up with the new software’s input format. By the time I'm finished I would have been able to do the whole thing by hand many times over! And may still have to do so! But it is fun to try ;-)


This was written on Tuesday afternoon:

I could still hear the spirited discussion from the bedroom, even with the door closed. It was one of those days that I wished to be back in the 1950s, serving the men in the dining room then retreating back to the kitchen, which hopefully had a door. We had Carm's friend Eric, from past work days over, and I don't think he even made it fully in the door before the work talk started. Keep in mind that both have been retired for 4 years or more.

Phrases like 'infrastructure' and 'technology' peppered the conversation and they rehashed (again) their years working at odds against each other. It is a most unlikely friendship, as, due to department structure, they were often pitted against each other. However, they both love to discuss things (i.e. beat a dead horse), and neither seems to have a thin skin. So, like two huge elephant seals, bellowing at each other and crashing their enormous chests together, they continued their discussion through the afternoon. I'm sure you aren't surprised to learn that as soon as lunch was finished, I beetled out of there and took refuge in the bedroom, with the door closed. Which didn't bother me any – it gave me some time to work on this week’s writing assignment… I am having a hard time writing this one and need all the time I can get.


Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago. ~Horace Mann

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WYL #28 Preferences

I tried to keep this exercise a little more light hearted than my previous ones.


I suppose my aversion might have started at my third birthday. The cake was shaped like a girl and was covered in coconut. A photo shows me sitting, wearing a cute blue dress and smiling up at the camera, but that would have been before I'd had a bite of it. Of course I don't remember anything at all of that day, but I suspect that bits of the shredded coconut might have gotten caught in my teeth, and maybe I thought that the chewy, fibrous, texture ruined the cake.

The cake was probably 'Golden Glow Cake', a delectable recipe that has passed from my grandmother and is my mother's speciality. I love that cake, it wakes me up at night to sliver it on its platter until nothing is left. Unless there is coconut.

Birthdays are now celebrated with tall angel food cakes covered with cloud like fluffy white icing and fresh flowers tucked around the edge. No coconut. Whether it has shiny white icing or its brown outer layer is bare, the airy cake also wakes me up at night, calling to me from the kitchen to have just one tiny piece.  Except one piece will never quite do.

Maybe I just love cake. And hate coconut.


Calling me back to the house my mom insisted that I change into a dress. I hated dresses and couldn't see the point of wearing something so uncomfortable and restrictive. How could I ride my bike or scale a fence or get down on my knees to pet a puppy in a flouncy dress. Jeans. That was what I wanted to wear. They wouldn't impede me in any way. I could climb a tree or ride my imaginary horse wearing jeans. The shoes that had to be worn with dresses were also impractical and uncomfortable. Even as an adult, a pair of sturdy boots , cowboy boots even, or sneakers win out over teetering, tall, strappy high heels.


A jumble of small objects concealed the surface of the long table. All these things had to get put into the camper but the thought of just dumping them into the drawers and cupboards unfettered made me crazy and out of breath. Grabbing the car keys I headed to the dollar store - an organizers emporium. With a tape measure in one hand, and a list of measurements in the other, I stared at the long aisle of plastic bins, my mind whirling with possibilities. Soon my cart was overflowing with plastic treasures of all shapes and sizes.

Once home the shuffle started and presto, everything was neatly arranged in colour coded plastic bins, and pleasingly tucked  into the drawers and cupboards of the camper. I smiled, my inner chaos calmed.


We stood shoulder to shoulder, working together to get the pile of laundry folded while it was still warm. Carm picked up a towel and started folding, looking over at me, he grinned. I choked back an admonishment and closed my eyes for a moment - when I opened them the sloppy towel teetered at the top of the pile. Unable to resist any longer, I grabbed the towel to try to show him (yet again), how to neatly fold it, and he laughed at me, knowing that I would not be able to stand imperfection.

I remember climbing out of my crib to show my dad how to properly fold my diaper, so I guess the aversion for untidy folding goes back to when I was a baby!



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Please won’t you Please


There were a few file folders of cards, and other memorabilia in the filing cabinet that I worked on yesterday. One of the cards is the one in the photo – I saved this one as it is a perfect summary of the bombardment of begging, business plans, and pro/con lists that I have peppered Carm with over the years.

I always used to have some scheme or plan or wish that I wanted to get Carm’s buy in for. Sometimes they were practical (I can’t think of one off the top of my head), but most were hair brained and sometimes directly from a hypo-manic brain.

I found business plans for our bird breeding business. It laid (no pun intended) out which kinds of birds to get, how many chicks they’d have and the bottom line. There was a similar set of documents for the horses. There were pro/con lists with suspiciously long pro columns for buying rental properties or moving to bigger farms.

They weren’t in the file folders, but somewhere are documents laying out why we should get a standard poodle, a ridgeback, and a miniature poodle. 

Documents exist that lay out exactly why we should add each new horse to our herd. Or build the barn a little bit bigger, or add a just a tiny bit more fencing. The plan for building an indoor arena never come true. I mustn’t have worked hard enough on that document!

My documents would be carefully laid out and sometimes even colour coded. Back in those days I could have written up a pro list for planting poison ivy if I put my mind to it! Oh, how much fun I would have now with all the software available now for brain storming and charting.


Begging is much more difficult than it looks. Contrary to popular belief, it’s a high art form that takes years of dedicated practice to master.  ~Sol Luckman

Friday, October 24, 2014

Everything is a bit of a blur

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… a blur of activity, writing group meeting and trips into the city.

On Tuesday the grey clouds sent us on a trip to the city. Our first stop was T&T for some pork neck bones for the dogs. Easy, and just a few other items ended up in our cart.

Then we went to the Brick to see what was there as we have a $300 credit to spend. I had in my mind a new dresser for our bathroom, something that looked a little more high end than the old refinished on that is there now. I barely got in the door, and my attention was elsewhere. We could replace the low buffet thing in the living room, oh, and maybe my desk too. The chairs at the kitchen counter are a bit dated as well… We left with some ideas…

Next, I wanted to pick up some paint chips from Home Depot. That set off a flurry of zooming thoughts as I imagined not just painting our bathroom, but also re-tiling, new granite counter top for the vanity, replacing fixtures, and goodness knows what else. Then the plan telescoped out to new carpet and paint for the bedroom, and finally to the kitchen where I had granite countertops all picked out.

WHOA there!!!! It wasn’t just scope creep – it was scope explosion! I picked out a few paint chips and then we left… before any rash decisions were made. Carm managed to talk me down a bit and we decided to replace the bedroom carpet (it is 20 years old so it is high time), and of course paint. Other than that, the rest will have to exist only in my mind.

Wednesday was a little more low key – a drive in to see my Mom, Dad and brother. calm, calm, calm (well, at least calmer)…

Thursday was the writing group meeting. Hum. After a night of no sleep I was, how would you say it, talkative and perhaps a bit argumentative. No calm demeanour there…

Then I had a lovely afternoon with Heather visiting for tea. We gabbed about life and solved all our problems. Carm was in the background installing a new printer (I can double side print now!!!!), but occasionally popped over to involve himself. It wasn’t really his kind of conversation though ;-)

Today started off cloudy but fairly warm so we decided to clear out some of the excess from the basement. I don’t know how many trips to the barn we made (better known as out of sight out of mind eventual garbage dump storage facility). Old dressers, homemade cabinets, barrels, ancient patio furniture (remember that white plastic stuff that was all the rage in the 80s & 90s) and goodness only knows what else was hauled into the back where the hay used to go. Patio furniture still in use was lugged to the stable section of the barn. And finally the swing was tucked away in the lean to (a tear rolled down my cheek at that point – winter is surely coming now that the swing is away) .

The pile for the garbage grew as well. It felt GOOD!

By the time we were partway done, the sun was blazing from a blue, blue sky. My coat was in a heap, and my enormous, hot barn boots exchanged for a lighter pair. I may have said “I can’t believe how nice it is” or words to that effect hundreds of times.

After all of that I headed to the bedroom where we have 2 small filing cabinets filled with who knows what – I’ll save that story for tomorrow, but I will tell you that one item made me laugh and laugh in pity for poor Carm (I took a photo to share).


I know the empathy borne of despair; I know the fluidity of thought, the expansive, even beautiful, mind that hypomania brings, and I know this is quicksilver and precious and often it's poison. There has always existed a sort of psychic butcher who works the scales of transcendence, who weighs out the bloody cost of true art. ~ David Lovelace, Scattershot: My Bipolar Family

Thursday, October 23, 2014

WYL #27 Happiness

Last weeks topic was happiness. While I have had so many happy memories, not to mention having had an overall happy life, these few hours stand out. I’ll let the story tell the rest.


A piece of straw stuck into my neck as I tried to get comfortable. The bed was hard and unyielding, but I'd done my best to make a cosy nest, and since the weather had taken a turn for the worse I was bundled up to my ears. This was my third night on watch and I was hoping it would be my last. I'd already checked Dora's milk umpteen times that day and was certain I'd seen a slight change. I lay there watching her as I tried to read my book; she seemed restless, like she was trying to get comfortable, stirring the butterflies in my already churning stomach. Throwing back the blankets, I got out of bed to check her milk yet again, but there was nothing obvious. I stood close to her, feeling her pendulous abdomen for signs of life - a heavy sigh escaped her and I felt myself relax a bit. Glancing up at the clock on the wall, I saw it was 9:30pm and almost time for lights out, so I made a final dash to the house.

Stepping back into the barn I was relived to see Dora still standing - I hadn't missed anything. After wrapping her tail "just in case", I flipped off the lights and made my way to the bed. I lay there watching her, struggling to force down the feelings of excitement that nearly overcame me - I wouldn't get any sleep at all if I got too wound up, but I'd been anticipating this event for much of my life. Just as I started to doze off I heard a quiet rustle as she lied down in the deep straw. My eyes flew open as I tried to discern if she was just asleep or if the moment was finally upon us. She lay there grunting for a moment and then laid her head down in the straw. My heart pounding, I slipped out of bed and crouched beside her, sliding my hand carefully down her haunch. As I sat there in the dim light I heard a soft whoosh - her water had broken. This was it. I put aside my excitement and got ready for action.

Quietly making my way over to the pile of supplies, I put on a waist pouch filled with the essentials and used the intercom to call back to the house. I crept back to sit behind Dora and she lifted her head giving me a soft, welcoming nicker.  With her tail pulled to the side, I could see a balloon of silvery grey material starting to protrude and a foot soon appeared, still wrapped in its slippery wrapping. I carefully slid my hand inside her to check for the other foot. It was right where it was supposed to be - good - no need to call in the vet yet. A few more pushes and I could see a nose. On the next push the rest of the head appeared. She rested for a moment and then with a great heave, he was here.

I looked over my shoulders and saw Carm standing there - the sparkle of tears in both of our eyes reflected the wonder of what had just happened. 

I quickly broke open the sac and cleared his nose so he could take his first breath - right in my lap - I gulped back the rise of emotion and got back to work. Listening to his soft, rhythmic breaths I pulled the amniotic sac back and started rubbing him dry. A gnawing question burned in my mind - colt or filly - so I slipped my hand underneath him and discerned that it was a boy. I felt a flash of disappointment - I had been hoping for a filly - but the feeling quickly passed. Dora rested on her straw bed, gaining the strength to expel the last of the pregnancy.  After a few minutes, she struggled to her feet and the afterbirth slipped from her body. I sighed with relief - all had gone well.

She turned to us, me on the floor with her new foal on my lap, and helped me dry him off.  Once that was done, I started the first phase of imprinting him,  a lengthy procedure to ready him for a life with humans. I started by touching him everywhere, until he was relaxed with each touch. Then, I gently moved his head and legs continuing until there was no resistance. I finished by rubbing a crinkly plastic bag over his body and around his legs and head. After the last plastic bag was ruffled over his head, I clambered to my feet to give the mare and foal a chance to bond.

Caught in the spell of the miracle of life, Carm and I held hands while watching the foal scramble to take his important first steps. We held our breath each time he tottered on his unsteady legs and groaned when he crashed back to the floor. It was impossible to hold back and soon we were cushioning his falls and helping him to balance against us. He soon got the hang of it and started searching for his first milk. Dora nudged him into place, nickering encouragement as he searched her belly for the nectar of life. As he suckled, I could feel her pleasure at having completed such a grand feat.

Once he had figured out his feet, and gotten his fill of milk, I went back to the house to change, but didn't linger there. Back at the barn, where all my hopes and dreams lie in a pile of straw, I sat down beside the sleeping foal, caressing his soft fur, marvelling in the perfect form.  I got up and wrapped my arms around Dora's neck, burying my face in her plush fur, and thanked her for the gift.  I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears. 

For as long as I could remember I had the dream of breeding Norwegian Fjord horses. It was a fantasy that I never believed would be possible, one that I was sure would require the funding of 649. Then I met Pat Wolfe and sat in the sleigh behind his two geldings with their butter coloured haunches and fancy black stripe. My eye could not get enough of them, and moved me to increase my efforts to make my dream come true. Two years later, after searching high and low for Canadian breeders, I had my mare, Dora. The first step of my dream had come true. And with that exquisite, wobbly legged colt, I was well on my way to living the life that I had desired.





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Out of the bubble

I was ready to post my “happiness” exercise, (and in fact did and then removed it), forgetting for a moment that today is not the day for a celebration of happiness, but instead it is one of sadness for those who have lost their lives in our city, and concern for those who might still be in danger’s way.

I’ve always lived in a bubble of denial or maybe it was not denial, but innocence, or in more likelihood, detachment. It never seemed likely, or even possible, that a terrorist activity would take place here, let alone right where I used to work, and where others I know are still in the vicinity.

Stay safe everyone.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Measures Taken

When my eyes popped open at 12:30am last night I knew I had to do something. I lay there for quite a while, struggling with the lure of another day or two of productive whirlwind. I know the signs though - reduced sleep and obsession with organizing - both sure indicators of impending (or already descending) hypo-mania. It is easy to be seduced by this mood, but I know from experience that the euphoria can change to an irritable anger in a second. It is like a switch has been toggled. Also, depression often follows this elevated state. Again, at the flick of a switch.

I fought with temptation for a while, reminding myself that my relative wellness these last few years is because I catch these things in the bud, taking steps before the mood event has a chance to get a foothold. Extra medications are one of those steps. So I got up and reluctantly did the responsible thing - took my emergency meds… even though I also knew that a foggy grogginess was in store for the next day.


It seemed to work… eventually. Today I was busy for part of the day, and then chilled for a while in the afternoon. It was good, and I felt glad that I had taken action right away.

Tonight, I attended a writing workshop at the local library. I got there a bit early so had time to socialize before the lecture started - most of the attendees were from the writing group that I go to on Thursdays. I learned some tips that I'll be putting into use - but not tonight! too woolen headed for much creativity ;-)

You can overcome your circumstances or you can let your circumstances overcome you. ~Richie Norton

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Opportunity to Purge

I lay staring at the ceiling for much of the night, my mind whirling with re-organization and purging thoughts. I must have moved everything in the house last night, packing away boxes of decorations, and shifting things from one room to another. Then I started painting and re-tiling the bathrooms - well, you get the picture, my mind was whirring.

As soon as my feet hit the floor this morning I was zooming. Helter skelter, I moved through the house, packing things up, moving them into the catch all room to deal with later, stuffing stuff into the garbage. I'd move one thing and then be distracted by the next thing… well, I was spinning a bit.

6600 steps later I was done… for today. I think I made a difference, but then again, I haven't dealt with the other room, nor the bottom of the basement stairs…

I hope the energy continues!

Merikay - your advice was good - taking things a step at a time is an approach that will work for me, especially as there are so many tasks that I want to get done (painting, etc.). Dorothy - the idea of going to a smaller house only works if I purge much of the stuff.

Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want. ~Kristin Armstrong

Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Spacious than Heaven

I stood gripping the back of the pew in front of me. The chanting prayers of the priest and his acolyte echoed in the holy space. I was looking up, mesmerized by the brightly coloured murals on the ceiling and walls. All the colour and sound was making me feel a bit dizzy. I shifted my eyes towards the front of the church where a painting of a large person with a smaller one in front of them took centre stage. Arched around these characters were the words “More Spacious than Heaven”. I focused on the words, unsure about what they meant, but surely it was something important to have such a prominent place.

Some movement and a small cry caught my attention. At the front of the church, our little grand niece, Marissa, had just been fully dipped into the font of holy water. I would have made more fuss, as it was cold in the room. The melodious prayer continued (I will admit to thinking about how all the singing was somewhat like 'Les Miserable'). She chortled as the towel soaked up the precious water, and wiggled as they dressed her in a beautiful gown. Carried by her godmother and godfather, and joined by all the other children in the church, she made three circuits of the altar, and then paused for the rest of the ceremony.

The celebration continued in the reception hall, with appetizers, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. Marissa, of course, is far to young to enjoy such bounty, but the rest of us waddled out of the hall, stuffed to the gills. One of the desserts was a granular cake, almost like a cornbread, flavoured with honey and rosewater. Very unusual and very delicious.

When we got home, the dogs were frantic with the need to get outside. Once outside they cried and ran and leapt and cried, oh, and peed. They were starving too and surely thought we were never coming home again. It didn't take long for them to settle down though.

This morning, we got the camper winterized, and a bit more stuff unloaded. There is still some work to do, but the stuff that will freeze is off. Come on winter - we are ready for you… JUST KIDDING!

I was not in the greatest of states this morning, I could feel my mood slipping into a bad place and as I sat, almost overcome with negative thoughts, I reminded myself that I needed to change my thinking. Oh sure. The fact is, winter is coming, and our house is not spartan; wherever I look is chaos. So I started formulating a plan. Step one: buy some boxes that will fit well on my storage shelves. Get some pretty labels. Step two: one room at a time organize and purge. Another step: move some of the stuff from the basement into the barn (maybe garage sale some of it). Small steps of concrete action. I started to feel better. I no longer felt like I was going to fall apart. I can do this. Yes, I can do this.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I will Dream

We got home safely and started the flurry of activity to get unpacked. No, not just unpacked but put away for the winter. All the food had to come in (we could have skipped the grocery store for a week); then anything that might freeze; and then stuff that we might need in the winter.

As much of the stuff we had in the camper, it pales in comparison to what is in the house…

Partway through this process I had to stop for a cup of tea - I was about to have a melt down. The house looked like a shambles, and trying to fit another house worth of food, etc. into our already filled house was frustrating. Cupboards bulged and shelves were disorganized. Things were just stuffed in any nook or cranny. I was feeling fragile, like a balloon about to be popped. Bins of stuff sat on the counters waiting for a destination. After being in a small space with no clutter, my huge house seemed stuffed with bric a brac and other non-essentials. There was just too much stuff and I felt like it was going to make my head explode and that I'd start screaming and breaking things - throwing things out the doors.

The letter that had been in our mailbox taunted me: call us if you are interested in selling. Hum. A smaller house, with less stuff, and smaller, more manageable yard seemed tempting. It would free up time to travel around, live in our perfect little house on wheels, move with the weather. Just a simple home base to come back to for Christmas and other important family times. I felt a little calmer just thinking about this possibility.

Tea time…

A few hours later… after a cup of tea, a hot bath and a garlicky shwarma, I am resigned. Winter is coming. It will be cold. The roads will be slippery. And it will be okay.

I'll get back onto the treadmill. I'll start making healthy meals again. I will obsess about healthy eating. I will plan our trips for next summer. I will dream ;-)

<italic>Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.</italic> ~Oscar Wilde,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Last night

I can't believe it, but tonight is our last night camping for the next six months (or more). Just writing the words makes me choke. We have had a fantastic spring, summer and fall, but now we move into the white season... I can hardly bear to think about it.

Today the rain came down - it seemed fitting given the day. But oh, another beautiful day of walking would have been nice. The roads were a sloppy muddy mess, so I couldn't do a proper walk with the dogs, instead we drove them to one of the group camping areas. After making sure there were no deer around, I let them out of the truck for some free running. It had been a few weeks since they'd been able to stretch their legs and they were ecstatic. There is nothing that brings a smile to the heart like the unfettered joy of a dog in play.

Well, I guess that's that for now...

And now, my poor old woman, why are you crying so bitterly? It is autumn. The leaves are falling from the trees like burning tears- the wind howls. Why must you mimic them? ~Mervyn Peake, T

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shorts, t-shirts and sandals!

 Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile. ~ William Cullen Bryant



I knew it was getting close, but forgot to check when I posted my last post - this one is my 1001th post! I can hardly believe that in the almost 4 years of writing my blog that I've been that verbose… but I guess I have! I do know that each year I've printed a book with my posts and photos and each one has been a thick tome of mindless musings and endless gushing about all things wonderful.

The gushing won't stop though… Yesterday I woke up to an unbelievable morning - the sun was strong, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the wind was non-existent. It was our moving day - and we enjoyed packing up in the autumn sunshine. By the time we got to our new destination, it was still warm, but the clouds had moved in.

We enjoyed a thin crust pizza that we'd picked up from a new Italian take-out place, and then headed out on a walk. I don't know why I didn't get my camera out of my waist pack… perhaps because I was being dragged by two overly exuberant dogs (Carm was along and was being dragged by Bella). The water level is way down so we picked our way along the water's edge from one group camping area to the next. It was so beautiful - the trees across the seaway were wearing cloaks of red and orange and reflected into the calm waters.


Today, the morning was like a perfect summer morning - I sat outside with my coffee and the dogs tethered about - I was reminded why the fence is good - I was jumping up and down to move them out of the sun, back into the sun, untangle leashes… the fence may be more work up-front, but it does increase relaxation.


The wind came up around noon - it was strong and unpleasant, sending us out for a truck ride for some groceries, and by the time we got back the wind had shifted around a bit. We went for another long walk on a different route today. Lovely.

October 14th and we are enjoying temps up to 27C. Spectacular!



Fall has always been my favourite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. ~ Lauren DeStefano

Monday, October 13, 2014

WYL #26 Change

This is last weeks writing project – re-written. The version that I read to the group was… well… boring. This might not be much better! Sometimes it is hard not to do technical writing! I wasn’t a technical writer by trade, but did my fair share of it anyway…


No matter how many times I stood there cranking the dial through the few TV stations we had,  none of them had anything good on. It always came down to the same choices: Bewitched, the Brady Bunch, or the Beverly Hillbillies. When 6pm rolled around there was only news which was both boring and scary. Now, with a remote in hand, I sit in my chair and flip through hundreds of specialty stations devoted to food, home building, sports, news, documentaries - the list is endless. And still there never seems to be anything on.

When I was young I had a radio that was the size of a deck of cards, with a long antenna that telescoped out. There were a few years that I carried that box of transistors with me all the time. Out of its crackly speakers would spew forth the pop music of the 70s. A few memories are indelibly written in my brain, cued by the first few bars a song first heard on that little radio.

In one of these memories I was sitting with some friends in my tent listening to the radio - Magic by Pilot was playing. Just hearing the first few lines of  "Ho, ho, ho It's magic, you know" transports me back as if I were in a time machine. If I close my eyes I can smell the mustiness of the canvas tent, and feel the hot, heavy air that was trapped inside.

Another time travel moment is spurred by 'Uncle Albert' - then, I am whisked to the street leading from our house, up to Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. I can picture the uneven cement sidewalk (don't step on a crack or you'll break your mothers back) with the giant Elms arching overhead, and my friends talking and singing along. While I loved the that little transistor radio, I was at the mercy of the radio station, unable to cue my own songs.

Then, for Christmas in 1974, I got a boom box - a large boxy radio/cassette player. (for those that don't know, a cassette is a bit of plastic covering two reels with delicate tape spooled between them which is sometimes eaten by the player for lunch). I loved being able to play my own tapes whenever I wanted - the first two I got: a mix of 70s hits, and 10cc, an alternate rock group, were soon worn out from over-play. I still know the words to all of the songs off by heart!  The player was usually plugged into the wall, but could be untethered if I had a constant supply of expensive batteries. I'm pretty sure that my parents had ulterior motives for this gift as it kept me tucked away in my bedroom and not subjecting them to the noise of modern music!

By the 2000s technology had advanced to an mp3 player that fit in the palm of my hand. It could be carried where ever I wanted (it even went all the way to NZ), and stored enough music for several days of non-stop listening. The technology may have changed, but my dancing around the room, singing out loud hasn't!

Back in grade school, I peeked at the back of my scribbler to get the answer for one of my times tables. I just couldn't memorize the numbers, they all jumbled in my head, or worse yet caused a complete blank out. When I got to high school we started using basic calculators and then the Texas Instrument scientific calculator made its debut. The technology may have improved, but I still don't know my times tables!

My initiation into real computing power started in 1981 when I started working. First there was a mainframe computer that took up the floor of an office tower. We used dumb terminals and punch cards (google it!) to send commands.  I remember reading a 1981 Popular Science article that said someday the whole of the Encyclopedia Britannica would be stored in a hard drive the size of a grapefruit - it was absurd! Impossible! In fact, by 2014 it can be stored on something the size of a thumbnail! I get chills just thinking about it.

By the mid 80s, the first PCs made their way to the tops of our desks. Even though they had not much more computing power than a modern toaster, they helped us make huge strides in productivity.

The advent of the internet put information beyond our wildest dreams at our fingertips. My first search was for Alex, an African Grey Parrot being trained to identify objects with words. There he was, right on my screen - I was hooked. In the beginning searches didn't always turn up many hits, but it was exciting to see the encyclopedia of information grow - by the 2000s you were sure to find anything you were looking for (and some things you weren't). The internet is part of my everyday life: finding new recipes, looking up technical manuals, learning about new things - I'd go into serious withdrawal with it.

Summer skies are not the only places to find clouds - the world of the internet has them too. Imagine a data store available to anyone with internet access and you have a cloud. Applications like Goggle calendar make it possible for me to share calendar entries between my own computer and tablet. Even more amazing I can share them with Carm and even my parents, or anyone else for that matter. Before the cloud I would chafe with impatience about managing file versions across devices. I liked to edit documents on my laptop and my tablet, and keeping the versions sorted was a headache. Enter the cloud. I no longer had to manage versions - the cloud did it for me. Thrilling!

Computers weren't the only technology to proliferate during those years. Digital cameras first made a tentative arrival in 2001, with initial quality being not so great. After a few years of improvements, my film cameras were shoved into the basement, and a digital one was slung around my neck. Taking scads of photos, and being able to grab the best ones to include on my website was a boon - newborn foals soon cavorted in cyberspace.

I think I must have been born a gadgeteer as nothing makes me happier than a new piece of technology! I entered my 50s with technology for listening to music, taking pictures, searching the internet, and writing documents (this!). It is unusual for me to go a full day without my fingers on a keyboard. I am addicted!


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

~Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, October 12, 2014

House of the Rising Sun

The first and only song that I could play by heart on the piano played on the radio this afternoon bringing forth a memory of being trotted out like some sort of trained animal to play for guests. I honestly wasn’t that good, and knew it. That said, what a great song to know, and I wish I could still play it, even in my clumsy fashion.

I lay there in the light of the sun which hung low on the horizon (you know, like a rising sun) – it is October – but the heat felt like July. Whatever the sun hit was warmed, but the air remained unaffected and stroked my bare arms like a cool hand.

It really was a glorious day, perhaps the nicest day of the year, the same way a rare bottle of wine tastes better than the ones in the discount bin. If the payment for this golden day was the countless days of dreary grey and cold, well, it was worth every droplet of cold rain.

We started out with breakfast at the golf club, and then headed over to the flea market – I wanted a hair cut, and Marilyn does a great cut for only $10.

Back at the camp, I got the dogs and headed out for a long walk, just a light windbreaker to keep me warm. By the time the walk was 1/2 done, my jacket was tied around my waist like a fashion statement from the 80s that had slipped from my shoulders.

When I arrived back, Carm was talking to the neighbours, who were curious about Grace. She loves to come outside and be admired, especially with the sun is shining so brightly. She modelled her bright red tail and grey cloak edged with lace, impressing them with her beauty.

We all must have visited for close to an hour, then we settled back into our chairs to enjoy the last rays of the day.

Magnificent. Fantabulous! Well… I think all that sunshine has rattled my brain and caused an effluent of rhapsodising!


Travelling back to Friday:

There wasn't much sun in the sky on Friday, but there was sunshine all about with my mom visiting for the night. Carm had his annual bridge tournament, so mom came by for a night of mother/daughter time. We try to have at least one and better yet two times a year that we can talk about things that only mothers and daughters talk about. If my sister Kirsten would have been here it would have been perfect.

Saturday was mostly cloudy and cool, but I did get Grace and the rest of us outside for at least 1/2 hour of sunshine. It didn't last long though - the ever present grey cloud returned.

On Thursday morning you could have fired a cannon through the campground without hitting, or even coming close, to anything; by Friday afternoon it would have been hard to get a clear shot, and on Saturday you'd have no chance. Everywhere you looked on the weekend there were people out walking their dogs, or huddled by campfires (I wonder if that weird sound I hear is of people's teeth chattering!). We Canadians (not me) are a pretty hardy bunch to be spending all their time outdoors this weekend. I will admit to being a warm weather outdoors person - when it is cold and/or windy, I'm more than happy to sit inside my comfy trailer looking out of one of its many huge windows ;-)


Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The air is wild with leaves

Spike has been languishing on the sofa all day, even having to be encouraged to go outside. We think that he made himself sick by worrying so much when I was gone this morning. I headed out to my writing group first thing this morning. As usual it was a wonderful time - when it came time to read my story though I really didn't want to - I wanted to come back here and do a re-write.

I did read, and I have come back here to re-write. I'll post what I wrote in a day or two.

The wind and rain have kept us inside today - I snuck out into the north wind for 10 minutes in between rain clouds and got dragged around by three dogs sure there were squirrels under every leaf.

<italic>Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!</italic> ~Humbert Wolfe

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dark Clouds Roiled

I shouldn't have spoken so soon. The wind was picking up and dark clouds roiled above us. We weren't at the farthest part of the park from the villetta, but we weren't close either. Suddenly the heavens opened, pelting us with icy cold drops of water. Running toward the shortcut, we remembered the picnic shelter - the only one in the park. Veering to the left we got there just as it started pouring. The dogs shivered beside us, cowering at the frigid wet wind blustering through the shelter.

The whole day was really too good to be true. The forecast had called for rain most of the day, but up till our walk in the late afternoon we'd been spared. There had even been some sunny breaks (one of which had lured us into our trek). The rain did eventually abate and we got home with just wet feet. Right way I flipped on the fireplace and got a two out to dry the dogs. It seems toastier and cosier since our foray into real fall weather.

Yesterday I made another 10,000 steps, but I fell short 1000 steps today. The dogs are thrilled with the challenge, always up for a walk, wait - strike that, except when it is raining, none of them like the rain.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

every leaf is a flower

Monday was almost a perfect fall day - blustery in the morning, then sun in the afternoon. Every moment of sunshine seems like a bonus this time of year, and when it is highlighting the autumn leaves, even more so. I will say though, aside from the leaves along the highway, the colour has not been good. Many of the trees here have gone yellowish brown, and skipped the vibrant shades. Perhaps that makes the trees that do have good colour all the more appreciated.

We took advantage of the weather and went for a few walks - enough to get me over 10,000 steps. All totalled, I probably walked close to 2 hours - that is not sustainable! 10,000 steps seems like a crazy goal!


When I wasn't walking, I was working on a few stories - two for my writing group, and the beginnings of another short story. At the end of the day my brain was mush! This writing stuff is hard work (so it must be good for me). I can't believe how long it takes to get a story to where I like it - hopefully someday I'll be a tiny bit faster ;-)  Then again, it isn't like I have anything better to do. Oh, except vacuum up the werewolf like orange beetles. Isn't it amazing that they can fly! Carm read that they have good eyesight too. And how can something so little create so much stink? I have a cotton ball with essential oils stuffed into one of the vacuum vents to try to freshen our tiny space.

Tuesday morning it vacillated between inviting sun and discouraging dark cloud. Bella stood looking out of the window on high alert for squirrels, Spike slept on the sofa between Carm and I, Kabira lay in front of the fire, and we had our tablets. A fairly typical morning!

until… the rain started falling… exit stage left over to the golf course for breakfast!

Luckily it didn't rain too long and by the time we got back I was able to walk the dogs on the pine needle route (no mud!).


We are almost caught up with the new Dr. Who episodes - I'll have to say that I've gotten used to the new doctor quickly and think he is a pretty good replacement – which is something to say – Matt Smith and David Tenant were fantastic. The writing has been good - think of your worst nightmare and add some Dr. Who music.


Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WYL #25 Generation to Generation

This was much longer when I first finished it, but once I started reading it outloud I realized that it was far too long to read at the writing group. Someday I’ll use the extra detail about my trip to Jordan to write a story just about that. The other stuff will be used somewhere down the line. This was a fun story to write!


It was 1974 and my family, along with my grandfather, were on our way from where we had been living in England to Norway, with a few sightseeing stops along the way.

As we neared our first destination, small cars zipped around our pumpkin coloured station wagon, impatient with our seemingly slow transit as we moved through the busy city streets. Dad eventually found our hotel in the labyrinth of roads that make up old Paris and we rushed to check in so that we could explore the city on foot.

First stop - the Eiffel tower. The criss-cross of iron decorating the skyline with its imposing elegance was magnificent to us prairie bumpkins. We made our way up to the viewing platform, an aerie in the heavens with a multi dimensional map of Paris unfolded below it. We gawked and gawked, enchanted with the view. Once back on earth, my Grandfather started looking for a souvenir shop: the Eiffel tower in all her glory must be remembered! Not far from the foot of the tower was a little stand with replicas from the size of my pinkie to ones well over a foot tall. Perhaps thinking his eyesight might fail someday, Grandpa bought the biggest of the lot, a towering statue sure to dominate any shelf.

Back at the hotel room, the ribbing started. Oh, how my Dad teased Grandpa about his treasured souvenir. He talked of the hole Grandpa would have to make in the shelf back home to make room for the lofty structure. It was when Grandpa started trying to pack it in his suitcase that we all fell on the floor in fits of giddy laughter. He might have to cut a hole in his suitcase too!

Fifteen years later, in 1989, I was watching the world pass beneath me from 30,000ft. My Dad was beside me and we were on our way to Jordan. Dad was teaching a course there for a few days and I was lucky enough to accompany him.

As soon as we settled into our hotel we headed out with a street map in hand. The street scene was not North American - donkey's pulling small carts, and camels with large bundles were led by Arab men in flowing white robes.  Small shops brimming with colourful goods lined the roads and narrow alleys. The tall, narrow spires of minarets punctuated the skyline, amplifiers for other-worldly chanting could be heard no matter where we were, reminded us of our exotic location. It was all so wonderful and we wanted to capture it forever - a simple memento would not suffice. A camel blanket, horse blanket, woven camel hair bridle and reins, leather stools to be stuffed when we got home, painted wooden dolls and traditional tribal jewellery all made their way back to the hotel room.

One of the Indiana Jones movies was re-lived when we took a trip to Petra. Perched atop old horses, we made our way down the narrow canyon that leads to the treasury. As we squeezed our way between the cliff walls, I wondered, if, after so much anticipation, seeing the actual treasury would be a let down. It wasn't. The rose pink facade glowed as if lit from a sun within. Camels and their men stood about the square with the dust of two thousand years at their feet. My breath caught in my throat and a few tears pricked at my eyes.  It was spectacular. A trinket would never capture the experience, but we got a few anyway.

Our trip was over all too quickly and it was time to pack up to go home. Eying our piles of souvenirs we started laughing - how were we going to fit this excess into our already straining bags! We each stuffed, and squeezed, mashed and wedged, and finally resorted to brute force to pack away our treasures We looked at each other and memories of that evening in Paris made us laugh so hard that tears rolled off our faces. We were both just like Grandpa.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

share your weakness

I stood at the far corner of the hayfield with the sun shining on me, warming me. A slight breeze carried the sweet, earthy scent of fallen leaves. Looking around me at our property, a feeling of gratefulness washed over me, causing my stomach to shift and my eyes to water. How could I be so lucky as to have all of this. The frilly blue asters and the round purplish blossoms of the clover contrasted with the autumn trees in the distance. The dogs played in the green grass, horsing around with the pure joy that seems reserved for dogs. Bees were buzzing. I was glad.

I thought back to my day and felt grateful for that too, maybe even more than the rest. It was writing group today, my third time. I sat through the meeting and felt awed by the feelings of acceptance and openness, and yes, I would say love, that was around me. This wasn't just about writing a memoir, it was much more than that. The women shared feelings and events that had perhaps not been shared many others. There were times that the stillness of the room was filled only with the poignant story being read.  I was amazed and humbled to be part of such a group. And grateful to Christina who told me about it, and glad that I hadn't whinge'd out like I often do.

When it was my turn to read, I cleared my throat and told my story. There was nothing poignant about my tale - instead of held back tears, there were chuckles and sometimes even laughter. I wasn't as nervous this time, and managed to read the story without racing through it like an LP played at the 45 speed. My hands didn't shake (at least not much).

After the group was over, Heather followed me back home so that we could sit on the swing and eat our lunch (yes! swing still!). We talked as if we already knew each other for ages. It was nice.

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength. ~Criss Jami

Testing blogaway for android

Second time trying for this post. The last one disappeared, and who knows why? It doesn't ask if you want to save when you move away from an edit. And there doesn't seem to be any text formatting capabilities - no bold or italic, at least Blogger has that...

It is easy to add a photo though.

I wish there was a way to save as you go. I hate writing a big long post without being able to save it a few times.

note: the paid for version seems to have more text editing capabilities, as well as being better for adding photos. It is less than $3 so I might break the bank and test!

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." ~Albert Camus

I'm testing Bloggeroid - an android blog writing app

So far the interface is not as good as Blog Post that I used ages ago (its developer stopped supporting it a few years back, but I kept using it until it was broken). That app let the user add photos inline, as well as easily change text characteristics. With this app you need to know some html :-/

I'll post and see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bees at my Knees

The warmer weather returned this afternoon, tempting me out of the house to meander around the property. My first circuit of the field this morning was cool and a bit breezy. This afternoon though, the bees were at my knees as I pushed through the tangle of clover and blue asters. They don’t seem bothered by my gentle passage.

The dogs have been thrilled with all this outdoor time and rush to the door whenever I stand up! Spike has been cracking me up on these walks – I usually carry a few little treats so that I can practice recalls. So he lags way behind, standing in place, waiting for me to turn around and raise my arm. Then he runs at top speed till he screeches to a halt at my feet, waiting for his treat. And of course I give him one, and then laugh out loud at his shenanigans!



The fitbit has shown me what I already knew, but without the facts flashing on the screen in front of me was able to ignore. I am shocked at my level of inactivity and am surprised that I don't have moss growing up my legs!

Speaking of inactivity - my computer is sucking the steps out of me. With email, Facebook, financial stuff, mood logs and food trackers all vying for my attention, my seat rarely lifts from the chair. Thank goodness I drink a cup (or 2) of coffee every morning to get me moving to the other end of the house.

After all that important work is done, I head over to the sofa with my tablet for some writing time. I may be writing my blog (like now), or working on assignments for my writing group. With my legs curled up under me, my fingers tap at the keyboard (maybe I need a fitdigit!), until my legs fall asleep.

The writing has been going well - I'm really enjoying it. As I work on an assignment, if it is going well, I love what I'm writing, thinking it is really great. Then I put it aside for a while and when re-visited, find I don't like it anymore. The process goes back and forth like that - with Carm being subjected to each version - until it is time for the meeting. By then I'm usually happy how it turned out - until the next week when I post it on the internet - then it seems awkward and childish.

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
Percy Bysshe Shelley