Wednesday, January 24, 2007


If this were a craft blog (hysterical laughter from those who know me) there would be pictures of various projects: the sock knitting which keeps me focused on the small accomplishments, the weaving which has been put away for over a year, the baking/sewing/other "real" work avoidance lovelinesses - all would be chronicled in photos.

I love photos, I simply haven't "done" them. I am the person who went to France and Italy for 3 months and didn't take a camera. I ended up buying several disposables including one from Kodak which was faulty and which left most of 2 weeks in Provence hidden in its perfidious blackness. Hmmmm - does that last sentence make me seem even more illogical than usual?? I mean: Don't take a camera and then grump because the ones purchased there don't work. Does that sound logical to you??? Once again, I digress. (There is a reason for that term "random/abstract" in this family.) When I do take pictures, they are often quite good and I am pleased to see them when they come back from the developer. I simply don't think of a camera as the first thing to put into my bag.

The first thing is my journal. I have been writing to capture images/ideas on and off since I learned how to print but "regular" recording my life in coilback books is a relatively recent activity. "Recent" = the last dozen years or so. As with most of my enthusiasms, there are great bursts of activity followed by extended periods of fallow. The current journal has become ongoing letters to Himself. A lot of howling as you might imagine as well as News, Weather, and Sports It's almost as if I need to tell him things about our lives that I think he will want to know

wherever he is

I write in longhand with a fountain pen. The words that come out are very different from the ones that show up here in this typed writing. These words, I sometimes want to re-read; those ones, I'm not sure I ever want to see again but for one thing: I have learned that if you aren't the lucky one who gets out of here first, you will be left as we have been: shocked, shattered and grief-struck. Maybe then, when I see your eyes, I will re-read those letters and find something helpful, some small light to shine in your dark.

In the meantime, I am taking delight from these things: Two enormous bunches of daffodils - King Alfs by the looks - bought on Sunday and which, because I keep the house so cold, are opening slowly and beautifully in Gillian Paynter's (sorry, no link) vases. They look like wild jonquilles growing out of the kitchen counter. The outside temperature is up, the ice in the driveway is melting. Car friends asked thoughtfully and made me laugh on Saturday. I ranted about justice and was listened to on Sunday. A car saleswoman called me back with details and negotiations unlike the carsalesman who doesn't even know my name despite two test drives of the same vehicle. There are more RenoMen in the house: HVac today, TileMan tomorrow. The Paperwhite Narcissi are 15 cm tall and the lawyer's office has just called to re-schedule so I now have an extra couple of hours for more clearing of the decks both inside and out. And a walk - the lappage of our circle has been halted by the ice and my ability to imagine myself with a broken appendage and all the unhelpfulness that would entail. 13 laps done/187 to go before All Fools' Day.

Still breathing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Men in the House

This morning, before I'd even had my green tea let alone coffee, there were men in my house. Three + The Jr Boy. There was plywood stacked in the hall, power tools upstairs, a shop-vac drying out the toilets, one estimate for sub-tile heating and A PLAN! Oh frabjous day, calloo callay!!

This is the project The Sr Boy and I were going to "do" when we realized that the blasting being done for the (disgusting and boring and environmentally harmful to wildlife go see "So Much for the Tulips") new subdivision had probably cracked the grouting and was contributing to the fast drainage of the shower. We had gotten as far as siliconing (Himself's contribution) the cracks and dragging out magazines. After the funeral, I found our lists for the project. His read "do bathroom". Mine read "price fixtures, price flooring, find electrician, ask Jimmy to do plumbing, drywall??, Ralf???, paint chips, tear down - can this stuff go in the garbage? (answer: No - special trip to landfill required), refinish floors instead?, new vanity/bath/shower in big bath or live with?, budget??????"

Ralf is the most important part of that list. Ralf is our friend from forever who is a designer and whose wife said, "Ralf will help" when everything else fell apart and I still had a leaky shower. Ralf said, "Take up the floor, take down the tile and those 2x4s and that (tacky - he's too polite for that but it was obvious) wallboard in the storage cupboard and call me." The Jr Boy started and the mess was appalling. We discovered that the floor of the shower was 15cm of sand and concrete, that tiles make really sharp edges when broken, that wet gyproc is disgusting. And that the @#%%*& parquet flooring was apparently stuck down with crazy glue. Tapping it off with a hammer and screwdriver, one parquet at a time, was strangely meditative but immensely time consuming.

That was back in October and then there was the entertainment of The Eviction which took up my November energy followed by Christmas which finished off December's energy. On Himself's (and Elvis') birthday, Ralf came back and said, "Leave the rest of the floor but get those tiles off the ceiling of the shower and I'll be back Thursday with the electrician and the labourer."

Today is Thursday.

Things I have learned: I am a heller for tearing stuff apart: not too polished with the sledge and pinch bars but I get the job done. I also look like Revenge of the Reno Nerds in my attractive Reno Clothes: from the bottom: hiking boots (after dropping something on my slippered foot - no Workers' Comp on this job), ancient flowered pull-on trousers, ditto sweatshirt, and, (too bad there are no pictures... no really, use your imaginations) my head/eye protection which consisted of my glasses covered with safety glasses in day-glo yellow and a ball cap underneath The Jr Boy's old bike helmet. Be very glad you weren't here!

On the coldest day so far this winter, I am off to tour the RenoPorn stores with The Jr Boy and Ralf. If the borrowed car starts. If I can get it open in this cold.

Should you look, you can see me: still breathing - looking as if I am smoking a la a kid on the first frosty day.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Today - well, yesterday but I'm still awake so it's really today - is/was Epiphany: Showing Forth. The Holy coming into the world in a way that we limit and expand to fit our own needs and vision. The recognition of this season is usually along the lines of singing "We Three Kings..." and I am a bit tired of that. So.....

Tonight, in this house, there was a celebration of Wise Women. I think there were about two dozen of them and ages ranged from 19 to 80+. Food and wine were abundant as was the conversation and the cross-connections of people who didn't know that they knew or were connected with one another. The original timing was 1800-2100 and the last have gone home about half an hour ago (i.e., we are now into tomorrow...)

I am wearing jewellry given to me by women and a man that I honour and respect and who, by these gifts, have shown me the same. The Jr Girl is doing the same - she is wearing G'ma's Woolworth pearls and my non-WW-ones. She is also cleaning up the kitchen and gaining a special place in heaven not to mention the hearts of those of us who are going to get up in the morning to a clean space.......

We toasted "Wise Women", "Absent Friends", and "Those who are invisible" and prayed for the grace to make a difference. Darlings, we miss you.......

The stories have been delicious: children's successes and growing opportunities, elders' laughings. You had to be here....

The driveway was shovelled in honour and no one broke any important bones getting into or out of this house. This means A Successful Party.

Still breathing..... oh! and now officially looking for a new car....

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Truth about Layers

The secret to comfort in cross-country skiing is layers. As in: layers of clothing and, in our family's skiing rules, layers of wax. The Senior Boy and I started downhill skiing back before global warming was really noticeable and quit when the daily lift passes got to the atrocious sum of $20.00. We would get up at 0500, get ready and drive 3 hours to ski all day. Occasionally we would stay with friends who were closer to the mountain and that made for some great weekends. Except for the fact that I was always cold. I would start and end the day cold and be a lot of cold in between. It didn't matter how I dressed, the ride up the lift would freeze me solid. Once, skiing on the Coast in the rain (yeah somewhat obsessive, eh?) my ski suit froze to the chair on the uphill and I almost went through the roundhouse at the top. The leap off (about 5' - same as my height) in front of the liftie got me the "trying out for the ski jumping team?" award. It may have been the same time we were wearing green plastic garbage bags in an effort to stay dry.... I am wandering...

Right: ski passes got expensive and we'd met new people who were doing this uphill skiing thing and freaking out the downhillers. It looked good. We skied on tracked trails and we skied in the bush. No telemarking but lots of other conditions and styles (face first, bum first and so on) but always - even with the "variable" (that's code for "changes every 10 metres") Coast conditions - always on wax. None of that fishscale, vibrating under your feet base for us. We waxed or, rather, The Senior Boy waxed. I waited in the cooling car and, in time, les enfants waited in the cooling car. The Senior Boy was never cold b/c he had often waxed four sets of skis before starting the day's skiing.

He was really good at it: the thermometer would be thrown on the snow and he would march off to check the temperature on the hanging thermometer. Wax would be stroked on (we will talk of KlisterTheUsefulEvil later in the season) and we would be allowed to cork it in. On the Coast, the wax often had to be changed several times (see definition of "variable") and then completely scraped off at the end of the day. Here in the Interior, he would base wax with Extra Green at the beginning of the season and then wax for the day. He had a tool box with odds and ends of waxes and klisters and spreaders and corks and (highly toxic) wax remover and rags and cherry lip balm. Once a season, he would set up the sawhorses, clean everything off including the detritus from the trails and then set up the base and begin again.

Today, I skied with a dear friend, only the third or fourth time ever without Himself. I wore 4 layers on the bottom, 6 on the top, an inadequate toque (maybe my knitting daughter will take care of that), my old gloves, Himself's overgloves and, after half an hour, I was warm. For the first time, I did my own waxing. I couldn't find the tool box - instead, there was an ice cream pail I don't remember with brand new waxes and cork and a clean scraper. I thought it was a mistake until I saw the cherry lip balm. When I opened it, his finger print was still there from last season - a surprise kiss. I stroked on some Green over last year's leftovers and tucked an Extra Blue into my pocket in case I needed some more layers.

I didn't.

It was a good morning and I'm 7 km to the good for Rachael's exercise program. She's going 100 miles which means that up here in the True North, some of us are having to go 160 km!!

Still breathing (and wearing several layers as well....)

Matt's here for "coffee"

Tonight, we have been gifted with a friend who is being deployed to Afghanistan in February. This is the same person who I first met 22 years ago when he was 2 and I was a lot younger and very pregnant with his brother's best-friend-to-be. Matt, who is now large and funny and sensitive and charming, is here for beer and conversation and, underlying everything, is

A F G H A N I S T A N.

That amazing country which, if one is smart enought (take note, GeorgeW) to read history, one would realize that "we" can't "Win". "We" can bring aid, "we" can bring a "new vision". "We" are not part of the solution and "we" need to think about that. I wish I could think of which history book to suggest to him except that, being in the military, I have to realize that, perhaps, history is not what is wanted. Except he wants to be doing the right thing.......

Grace and safe home we pray for him and all the others....

Snowing, skiing planned for tomorrow, and still breathing......

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More words I never thought I'd say...

"I am thankful for airbags."

The Jr Boy has had an "incident" which will necessitate an x-ray tomorrow and the serious beginning of car shopping after that because the SamCar is Done.

And here I was fretting about dealing with dealers when negotiating something newer.

Thanks, Godde - for everything.

Still breathing.....

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day, 2007

According to the calendar, it is New Year's Day.

One thing I've learned recently: every day is NYD.

The Christmas of New Reality has passed. After some minimal decorating (angels and Polish stars in the Benjamina ficus and bears, snowpeople, a more few angels, and the stained glass creche in the the usual other places) and even more minimal baking (all but the crumbs gone and not too much on me), we packed out to the Island for four sleeps in a lovely cottage in the village where I spent my childhood.

Things have changed. There is no more logging running one-log loads out. The roads are all paved. Places are closer together. And smaller. My school has completely disappeared and the site so grown over I couldn't pick it out. But some things haven't changed...

It rained a lot - that's what it does out there - but we walked beaches anyway and watched satellite tv (bad idea for me who gets nightmares from scary cartoons let alone CSI) and ate amazingly. And when, on the last night, awakened in panic (see previous sentence), I opened the window to the skyful of stars and the susurration of the west coast water that run in my soul, I remembered that despite the emptiness, we were all

still breathing.

Happy New Year