Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In Passing

It's another beautiful day here near the nation's capital. So was yesterday, but there were clouds inside. The kids were awakened in the wee hours yesterday morning by one of those dreaded telephone calls: The Boy's father had passed away. His passing was not unexpected, but the timing was. It happened sooner than expected.

Butterfly woke us later with the sad news and the request for a lift to an appointment and then to work. It was a pre-natal appointment. As the kids look forward to adding new life to their family, an older life has slipped away. Gilles was not that old, not very much older than I. We met a few times, and I liked him. He was French and hesitant about his English, but he always tried, and I admired his effort and was rather impressed with how well he did in his second language.

As we drove Butterfly to work yesterday, I was touched by the beauty of the day. The sun sits lower in the sky now that autumn is upon us, and it bathes the landscape in a gentle and inspiring light that enriches the already golden fields and the already resplendent leaves. It's a feast to this pilgrim's eyes and spirit.

It's rather glorious, this autumn season. It does not beat with the exuberance of spring or the vigour of summer, but it is rather glorious, and because we know that winter approaches, we seem to appreciate it deeply. We inhale the crispness of its breath and drink of its artistic canvas.

I speak both of the reality of the season and of the metaphorical autumns of our lives. I have been so very pleased to be alive and able to live my little life these past few weeks. I like to think that I am almost always content, but I have been more than that recently, for I have felt deep pleasure in the taking of my breaths and the seeing of my sights. Until yesterday, there have been good tidings -- the engagement of the girls, the miraculous beginning of the life of my grandchild, and the beginning of my music lessons -- but I rather think it is more than that. I think it is the enhanced appreciation of life as my own winter draws closer. In a sense, I seem to feel more alive, for as one of Cuppa's favourite quotes says:

Death is the sugar that gives life its pizazz.
It makes life really sweet.

Today, we'll drive Butterfly to Montreal so that she can stand beside her husband and mother-in-law in these difficult hours. But I'll also feast on the joy of being alive for one more day and for whatever time The Creator will grant me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Where the Girls Are

We have appreciated your comments about the girls and their situation in Thailand. Many of you offered kind thoughts, and Ginger's comment, based on her experiences, had a calming effect. Thank you.

In our version of It's a Small World After All, our neighbour's son teaches in Taiwan, and he has a good friend who teaches in Thailand. So, this nice teacher from Thailand wrote us a most becalming email assuring us that all was peaceful and orderly and that the girls could certainly contact him. Phew!

But, as the days passed we were quite anxious to hear from them and were greatly relieved when they finally blogged last Thursday, a whole week after their preceeding note. Double phew! Then on Friday night, actually Saturday morning, they actually telephoned to reassure us even more. Yesterday, they blogged again, and all remains well.

Thanks again for you concern. For those who want to read of their latest adventures, their blog is here. Cuppa has mentioned both her angst and relief too.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another Banking Oddity

The difficulties that I described in my Banking for Bug blog brought a few comments from others who are almost equally mesmerized by the workings (although workings seems to be a most inappropriate word) of banks. In fact, since then, The Very Nice Man has posted of his own frustrations on his blog. The sundry comments and Nice Man's blog caused another incident to resurface from the deep, dark, and dank recesses of my memory.

It was just over a year ago in our cross-province move. Within 24 hours we had to close two real estate deals: the selling of our old house and the purchasing of our new one. That's a lot of money to process within a very short span of time. The deal on the new house would unfold like so: the lawyer would call in the morning and tell us the exact amount of the bank draft that we'd have to bring to his office. The problem was that our bank in Sarnia did not have a branch of our bank in this small town.

No problem: we would simply open an account an a different bank.

In we walked to a branch of that particular bank in Sarnia. "We wish to open an account at your branch in Mills."

"Sorry. Can't be done."

"Say what?"

"We can only open accounts for this branch."

"What are we then to do?"

"Pick up the phone and dial this central number, and you can open an account at any branch anywhere."

"We can open an account on the phone but not in an actual bank building?"

"That's correct. But I would be glad to dial the number for you and get the process started"

That's what she did. She talked into the phone and informed someone in someplace (Delhi perhaps — certainly not in Mills) of our request. She passed the phone over to me, and I supplied the required details.

And so it came to pass that we were able to open an account in our new town, and the financial transactions all went very smoothly.

Although, the various individuals that we had to involve in the process were most helpful, the mystery remains. Why is it that you can open an account via an almost anonymous phone call but not by presenting yourself to a branch of that institution? It's a mystery I tell ya.

Friday, September 22, 2006


We were doing some painting at the kids' house yesterday — grey paint. While I admit that I frequently get as much paint on me as on the object of my endeavours, I also admit to being very surprised to see how much I had apprently gotten on my beard when I looked in the kids' bathroom mirror. I noticed several grey splotches.

However, when I got home and looked in the better light of my own mirror, I realized that I hadn't dripped paint on my beard at all — the colour was totally natural!!

A Boneheaded Idea ...

... or so U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said.

"It is clear to me that those who want to build an enormously costly barrier across it have no clue about the character, the history and the day-to-day commercial importance of the northern border and the needs of the states and communities that would be affected."

There's more in this article from yesterday's Toronto Star.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Only in Canada You Say?!

Once upon a time, there was a long-running commercial for a Canadian tea called Red Rose. They repeated the following scene with all sorts of different actors over the years.

A Canadian would serve Red Rose tea to a sceptical English person. Said person would then be so astounded by the taste, that he or she would exclaim: "Only in Canada, you say? Pity!"

Following, are two photos from our parliament buildings. The first shows a groundhog right on the Parliament Hill lawn: keep in mind that this is in the centre of the city and on the lawn right in front of our parliament buildings where there are always, at least in good weather, scores of people walking about — well maybe not always scores, but I'm sure you get my drift.

The second is the actually the main parliament building — The Centre Block. This structure houses both the House of Commons and the Senate. And if you look closely, you'll see that it is being held together by duct tape, a rather famous Canadian product. Red Green must be ecstatic.

Somehow, I can't imagine being able to take two similar photos at any other centre of government in the world. There are also the Parliament Hill cats. Really, they have set up housing for stray cats well off to the side of the buildings. Everybody wants to see them too! I don't have a picture at hand; maybe next time.

Only in Canada, you say?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Banking for Bug

It's difficult to give money away these days.

When Bug went to Asia, of course she left things until the last minute (oh, my ceiling light just went off by itself — see here if that means nothing to you). She's like that, you know, always has been, and this banking was one of those things. She called and asked me to do her banking for her whilst she was globe trotting. Since a dad always agrees to help as he can, I acquiesced.

Without dredging up all of the details and reciting long-winded accounts about my running hither, thither and yon to obtain her funds, let me share this. In the end, I presented myself at a branch of Bug's bank (this involved a out-of-town trip because we don't have one of those branches in this town) with a thousand dollars in my pocket last week. Simply desiring to deposit said amount into her account, I presented Bug's access code to the teller. "Sorry sir, I can't punch in her access code from a piece of paper. I have to have the plastic card."

"No really, all I want to do is deposit money, not find out details. Besides the account is set up jointly. It's just that I've never used it and don't know the numbers. I can access the details online you know, I simply want to deposit money."

Of course, my yammerings were futile. Apparently, while it is deemed inappropriate to punch in my own daughter's access code, it is just hunky dory to verbally and within earshot of others dredge up all sorts of information about a person and find the account number through the back door as it were. So, I stood there for about fifteen minutes, answering all sorts of questions. To her credit, the teller eventually found the account numbers for me and deposited the money. She gave me a receipt and painstakingly highlighted Bug's account numbers for me .. to make it easier in future doncha know.

So, it's okay for me to have her account numbers but not okay for me to present her access card number to a teller to make the process easier? I mean to say, she could have used the access number to look at a screen that I couldn't have possibly seen. The end result would have been to obtain the very same information fifteen minutes sooner that the circuitous method that she ended up employing. It's the very same result in the end. What is it that I don't get?

It's crazy, I tell you. Crazy!

Speaking of Bug (and Puff), guess what southeast Asian country they're visiting right now? Remember the bomb last weekend, down south in the beach and tourist area? Guess where the girls were last weekend? Guess what country experienced a coup yesterday? Guess who hasn't communicated with the folks at home since last Thursday? Guess who's a tad anxious?

Also, I sometimes forget my audience. While most real-life friends know of Butterfly's struggles with fertility, I pretty well forgot that y'all weren't up to speed. However, Cuppa revealed some of this in her blog yesterday.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Introducing ...

I suspect that most married couples use nicknames of some sort, at least sometimes. Because neither Cuppa nor I are terribly mushy and gushy, some of the usual suspects would never have suited. I cannot imagine Cuppa and I calling each other Honey for instance. It just wouldn't be us. While the occasional Dear might pass our lips, it doesn't suit us terribly well either. And Snookums, Poopsie, or the like beggar the imagination.

Oddly enough, or perhaps not, Mom and Dad suit. We feel comfortable with those nicknames. The kids asked us not long ago if we have always called each other that. Almost. We picked up the habit shortly after we were married and a few years before we had kids. We were still kids ourselves then, so we didn't use it a lot or exclusively, but we certainly used those appellations at times. They always felt right to us.

But times change. Around the middle of next April you can start calling me Grampa. What the heck, you can start now if you wish. But only if you really want to.

This, the first ever picture of my grandchild, I guess), is almost a month old. Read about the one who has been called Smudge at In The Family Way. Because it was taken ago, so I'm sure that a second portrait will soon be forthcoming. If memory serves, the little embryo, which is now officially a fetus btw, was only about 7 millimetres long but has now grown to a gigantic 1.5 inches or more.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fiddling While Cuppa Burned

We live in a townhouse. It's far from grandiose, but it does have three floors. The lowest is unfinished, but I have been practising the fiddle down there: mainly because it's cooler in hot weather but also because I fantasize that the local dogs won't hear me and commence a neighbourhood pack howl. As it is, the cat's litter box is down there, and most than once he has come down to use it (in a most foul and malodorous way) when I am playing. I have a hunch that it's his way of demonstrating what he thinks of my efforts. Do they still make the strings out of cat gut, I wonder?

As many of you know I tend to wander at night (stick with me here — it's relevant). Though not as much now that I have cottoned on to it a bit, I have been known to head to the depths to go over my linedance steps at two o'clock in the morning; it's something to distract my brain when my eyes will no longer focus to blog or read but when I must do something to relieve my stress  and, perhaps eventually, be able to get a wink or two of sleep. So ... the other night (do you begin to see where I'm going with this?), I went down at midnight to fiddle around as it were. I reasoned that I would bother no one because "Cuppa is two floors up and sleeps soundly."

Of course, I reasoned wrongly. Apparently, violin sound carries extremely well, even up two floors. Whodathunkit? I guess what really took the cake as far as Cuppa was concerned was the fact that when I was eventually done (at almost 1:00 a.m.) I came upstairs whistling merrily and loudly. You see, by then I had rather forgotten that it was the middle of the night and that normal people were trying to sleep.

The new rule is that I am to get all fiddling out of system by midnight and, even then, I must refrain from being an exuberant whistler when I come back upstairs.

Yes dear.

(PS: Lightning must have struck for Cuppa has already blogged her version of this event . But I had this up in draft first — really! — and refuse to permit a completed blog to go unpublished.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm Simply De-Lighted

There are strange goings-on going on in my little den. Gremlins seem to be at work.

The kids bought me a new ceiling light for my birthday. It came with a fan. I needed a new contraption up there because the old one wasn't working well. The old fan had always been very noisy, and the light had recently begun to make little, alarming, static-ey sounds. The new one, the birthday present, is a spiffy model with a remote control. There are no chains to pull; just click whatever button your heart desires: light on or off, dimmed or not; fan at low, medium, high or off.

I thought it so very neat and was well pleased with it. But as the days progressed I kept thinking to myself: "I don't remember turning the fan on ... but, I must have."

Then, one day last week I was sitting at my desk facing the window. Suddenly it seemed as though a light went out. Sure enough the ceiling light was off, but had I really had it on in the first place, or was my imagination playing tricks on me? I didn't think it was my imagination, so I went downstairs to ask Cuppa if she had just been by and turned my light off. No, she had been on the ground floor, nowhere near my upstairs den.

I explained what I thought had happened, and we both headed-up to check things out. We'd turn the light on, and it would go off. Same with the fan – over and over. It was pretty funny. Was somebody watching TV, and was his/her remote control affecting my light? Was my remote control affecting his/her TV? It's amusing to ponder the scenario. Since then, I have had no further incidents with the actual light, but the fan still turns on by itself every now and then.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Writing With Writely

It seems that more than one blogger has recently had trouble losing a post or two. To prevent this, many of us write our posts in a word processor and then copy and paste it into Blogger. I have recently experimented a little more with Writely, the online word processor that I mentioned last month. One of its options is to post directly to Blogger. It seems to work pretty well, even carrying formatting such as italics and font changes with it. The one problem with direct posting is that it doesn't port the title over to Blogger (strange since both are Google products -- but Writely wasn't initially developed by Google -- but neither was Blogger for that matter) The other minor problem to me is that I often use en dashes and/or em dashes ( – and — ) which won't post directly. I have to copy and paste that code or enter it myself. But that even happens within Blogger if I happen to switch from the Edit Html View to Code View; I find that ever so annoying.

Caveats aside. I find Writely to be a pretty attractive choice for creating and posting blogs ... as I have just done.

(As with most Google offerings [God bless Google], Writely is free.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Directions for Old Bodies

There is something about being this age that surprises. It's not just me either. It seems that when people hit their fifties, they tend to take off in new directions. The violin lessons that I have been blogging about lately are a case in point, but there are all sorts of stories out there.

Cuppa is an example. Never having tried it before, she began painting as she was closing in on the magical five-oh-oh birthday. She did really well but was stopped short by a compression fracture in her back. My BIL took a course on tree management. A friend started quilting like a fiend, and she and her husband also took up cycling very avidly: so avidly that they put Cuppa and me to shame.

However, the biggest metamorphosis of all is my sister-in-law. Let's call her Heather ... because that's her name.

Last fall she decided take an evening course in writing at University of Toronto. She also joined a local writers group and began to do just that — write. And write. And write. She's written a number of short stories and is now totally consumed by her novel. During her vacation, she would get out her laptop first thing in the morning and begin to type. She typed all day, right up until bedtime. Next day she would get up and do it again.

One day, we were all sitting around in the living room when she stopped typing for a minute to check her email; she became ecstatic. You see, she had entered a short story contest, and she had just received word that she had made the top ten: quite remarkable for a beginning writer. But wait, there's more ...

A week or so later, Heather received notification that they had narrowed the list to five entries, and her story had made the cut. But wait, there's more ...

Last Saturday, Heather attended the breakfast meeting where the winners would be announced and could hardly believe her ears when they announced that her story had tied for second place. What an honour! What a thrill!

But the best was yet to be, for Heather had submitted two stories, and the other one had won first place — without a tie. When she called us, she was over the moon as they say.

How remarkable is that? Heather submitted two stories, and they finished first and second. (Note: they have since moved the second story, Colour Outside the Lines, to Honourable Mention; it must have to do with tie-breaking formulas and rules about double winners because she defintiely was listed in second place up until yesterday. I know because I went back to the web page any number or times.)

You will find her name (twice) on The Writers' Circle of Durham Region website, and her winning story, University Education May Cause Premature Graying - Recent Study Finds, is published further on down the page.

Her daughter, my niece, recently wrote a tribute to her mother on her blog, Sassafrass Tree. Why not go and check out both sites?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Anvilcoud Goes to School

The old man had his first violin lesson today. Teacher is approximately the same age as he, and her first question was: "Are you nervous?"

Oh yes, I most certainly was, and I told her so. I said that it was a difficult proposition for a adult to know that he was about to screw up something like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which sounds more like Starkle Starkle Little Twink when I play it). I mean, I wasn't quivering in my boots, but I was experiencing some qualms, some of which I shared with you two posts back .

But she is quite a down to earth type, and we chatted, and she told me about another older student that she once had. He had taken lessons from another teacher who retired or moved – I forget exactly what the reason, and it's irrelevant anyway. The point is that this guy could already play fairly well, but he was so hesitant that he sat through two sessions with her before he would play a piece. Except for his former teacher, nobody had ever heard him play. Apparently, this even included his wife because he used a muffler on the fiddle when he practised in the house.

I told Teacher that I wasn't nearly that nervous or reluctant or whatever, but mostly we talked, and I relaxed very quickly. She spent a lot of time showing me how to properly hold the bow and how to draw it across the strings. It's all much more complicated than I guessed. You position your fingers just so and grip very firmly. You get your elbow up and shoulder down. You rest the instrument firmly under your chin, but you make sure not to grit your teeth. And then you relax. Say what?!

I did play a few pieces for her, but the new position was very foreign, so it wasn't as good as in practice, but although I felt a bit stupid when I hit two strings or missed notes, I didn't mind terribly much or feel too very embarrassed. I mean to say that I did feel a little embarrassed, but who wouldn't?

She seems to think that there is some hope for me. She decided that, for now at least, she didn't have to tape markers under the strings to show me where my fingers should go. I guess that's good, and I suppose that it means that they fall more or less where they're supposed to. She did remark that my goals seemed realistic. Apparently, some mature students come to her expecting to become concert violinists, and, of course, she needs to disabuse them of that notion.

I think that I will concentrate on simple pieces this week. I had been nearing the end of the beginners instruction book that I had picked up and had been trying to learn a couple of jigs near the end of it. They are a lot of fun, but I have to concentrate so much on the speed and fingering that I tend to lose whatever technique that she is trying to instill in me.

One other thing that is a little bit funny: during the lesson, when I was practising the bowing technique, I began to look at her. She advised me to look at the strings because there was nothing on her face that would help me. I replied that I was looking for approval. She laughed: "You're doing really well, AC."

That's the story so far. Aren't you proud of me? Do I have your approval?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Reason to Rejoice

Cuppa and I are blessed to have two wonderful daughters. They are both kind, gentle, compassionate, and generous human beings. The younger daughter (D2 or Lady Bug or just Bug) is gay. Although I'm sure that some of my readers have read between the lines and figured it out, I neither hide it nor flaunt it. While I am proud of her, I am neither proud nor ashamed of her sexual orientation, just as I am neither proud nor ashamed of my own. Whether arrived at by nature or nurture, our proclivities are what they are and totally natural to each one of us.

Bug recently shared with us the news that she and Puff were engaged to be married. It's legal in Canada, you know, and most of us seem to be comfortable with the concept of equal rights for all. I don't know where you, dear reader, stand on this issue, and I truly don't want to argue gayness or gay marriage here and now although I am supporitve – obviously.

It's a different notion, and, at first blush, we might react less enthusiastically to a gay engagement than a hetero one, but marriage really means the same to all who desire to enter into it. Forget orientation for a minute, and just think about how magically wonderful it is for two people to love each other so much that they are willing to pledge a lifetime of commitment and allegiance.

That's what I thought about as I processed the news, and I rejoiced.

Bug and Puff have landed in Tokyo to begin their Asian adventure, and they have started a blog, A Team Adventures.

Here they are on Canada Day, dressed wildly and flamboyantly – as usual – Bug on the left, and Puff on the right.

Monday, September 04, 2006

September Beginnings

I suppose that it was rather unfair of me to tease you the other day, but I really am in a bit of a dilemma about this. It's just something that I am trying. It's rather bold of me in a sense, even though I am not exactly bold about sharing it.

"Why not?" you might ask.

Because it is more than likely that it will be a seemingly failed attempt that I will have to give up on sooner rather than later. In almost all ways of looking at it, it's rather silly of me to begin to take violin lessons in the year before I turn sixty. For one thing, many consider it to be the world's most difficult instrument. For another, I know that I'm not musically gifted – not challenged exactly but by no means gifted. And for yet a third reason (and I probably could go on), my hands and fingers have already stiffening up with arthritis. No, the odds are not with me.

"Why would he even consider attempting this?" you may ask.

Well, I took a year of lessons, actually less than a year I suppose, about forty-five years ago. I stopped because we moved, and life shifted and maybe for other reasons too, for it certainly wasn't cool back then. In the intervening years the fiddle seems to have made a comeback. I see it being played in all sorts of contemporary, cool groups. But it was most uncool then.

But I hung onto the instrument for lo these many years because I had never totally given up on it. In the back of my mind, albeit far back, the notion was always there – that I might try it again at some point in time. However, even though I had this notion, I discarded the instrument when we moved last year. I calculated, rightly or wrongly, that after sitting idle in the attic through cold and heat for so many years, that it would no longer be very viable. There's also the fact that I sat on it once many years ago; it was repaired, but I always doubted the instrument's integrity.

Regardless, the notion to take the instrument up again has been gaining momentum in my thoughts for the past few years as it became likely that we would move to this area or close to it. You see, this is a musical area, and the fiddle is certainly a large part of both its musical heritage and present scene. It seemed as though the opportunity to try again was being presented to me: the opportunity to complete something that has been dangling as a loose thread for so long. You could call it closure, I suppose, for whether I come to enjoy a small measure of success in my endeavours or whether I bomb out in a great conflagration almost immediately, I will have the sense of having completed something that I once began and set aside prematurely.

I have already rented a violin and have picked up a beginners book, and I am squawking and screeching my way through it. Actually, it's better than I thought it would be; I'm not making too many intolerable noises, but I know that there's only so much I can do on my own. So … I've contacted a teacher, and I think (but am not yet sure) that we're set to begin lessons within the next few weeks.

In the interim, I practise on my own, and I experience many self-doubts. I hit two strings; my fingers sometimes don't find the right notes; and, my aged digits don't exactly glide easily along the strings. Yes, I hold a lot of conversations with myself about whether I should even attempt this — whether I am in my right mind in doing so—or in my more lucid moments, I concede that it seems like ridiculous undertaking.

However, should I proceed no further along this path than I have gone in these meagre first steps, I already begin to feel some of that sense of the closure that I have previously mentioned.

And really, I can hardly fail. Not really. Oh, I may not do well by any real world measurement, and I may decide not to proceed very far along the path, or my teacher may decide for me. But I believe that what they say really is true: "The only failure is in not trying." I'm certainly trying. What else can a person do but try to make the best of what they have? I haven't been given much in the way of talents or gifts, but I strive, and I have become competent at a number of things in my lifetime. While He was Competent may not exactly be a stirring epitaph, I do what I can. What else can I possibly do?

There you have the dirty little secret that I have been hesitant to share. That's my new beginning this September, the month that I consider to be the real New Year.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Year Squash

Just recently, I have come across more than one blog whose author is getting things in order now that summer is drawing to a close and autumn is fast approaching. To me, September, seems to me to be the propitious time to re-evaluate old things and, perhaps, begin new things. The kids go back to school, and the bittersweet tang of changing seasons already hovers in the air. It's the real New Year in my opinion.

Last year, my new beginning took care of itself. Many of you might recall that that it was then that we undertook our momentous, across-province move. But has it sunk in that it's been a year? A whole year! It's almost beyond my ability to fathom. The barely visible hands of life's speeding timepiece spin faster and faster.

We've settled in pretty well: taken up line dancing, been to concerts, become security guards for a weekend, and, as a result of having escorted so many visitors about the area, have been enshrined in the local tour-guiders hall of fame. What now?

Now becomes like other Septembers. Now, we think about what's next. Next does not necessarily have to be anything radical or new but may simply be the picking up of things that have been partly neglected or even almost forgotten: a mid-course correction if you will.

For one thing: I will begin a new online course. That's not exactly a new thing for me, for I have taken any number of such courses over the past few years. But it feels like the right and proper thing to do right now. It's a course in Photoshop that will concentrate on adjusting photos. It seems odd to say that, odd to emphasize photos in Photoshop, but a lot of people get very arty with the program and do a lot of madly creative things with it, things that are well beyond the tweaking of pictures. Me? I use it for its primary purpose – to adjust photos. Although I think that I do a workmanlike job already, there's always more to learn and much to review. I forget easily, you know.

A bigger thing: several years ago, I slimmed down quite a bit. I didn't put the weight right back on either – kept it off for two years as a matter of fact. As diets and their rates of recidivism go, two years is not bad, But, somehow, I lost my way over the past year. My surroundings changed; I was closer to family and the concomitant get-togethers (always involving lots of food, of course); we've explored our environs and eaten out; we've shown guests around and ended up sharing both home-cooked and restaurant meals with them.

And so, pounds have crept back onto my frame: not all that were lost for sure but too many. I don't want to go back to where I was, so it's time to take action. Hopefully, the change in diet will begin to be detectable on my body by Christmas.

To begin to achieve that goal, I made spaghetti squash last night. For those who don't know, you can replace the starchy noodles in spaghetti with the scrapings from this squash. After baking at 350 for 90 minutes, you discard the seeds and take a fork to the meat of the plant. The meat scrapes off in spaghetti-like strands. By replacing pasta with these squash noodles, I was able to eliminate the usual plethora of carbs that reside in pasta. I also used lean meatballs, low fat sauce and sprinkled light Parmesan cheese on top to serve. It was a tasty yet nutritious and satisfying meal.

That's part of the September change too: turning on the oven. We don't cook much in summer. We grill, forage, and get by. But come the cooler days of September, we switch modes and begin to cook anew.

Yes, it's the real New Year as far as I'm concerned, and I think I've begun to address it with the care and consideration that it deserves. I have even bigger news, but I'm a little shy about it, so it must wait until I am able to screw my courage to the sticking point. I'm not sure when or even if that will happen.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Reluctant Rider, Reticent Riter

That's been me this summer. We'll have a few weeks when we get out biking fairly regularly but then before you know it we spend a month on the sidelines. The weather gets too hot or too windy or rainy; visitors come for a visit; or, we'll head off on one little trip or another. So, intervals between both rides and blogs soon become rather protracted.

But we finally climbed back onto the saddles this week. We've been out three times. Yesterday, we did our longest ride of the year 33k/2mi up to Almonte and back. I think we're getting better at navigating the constant grades of the local undulating topography. We're learning to gear up and down a lot and perhaps make better use of downhill momentum to get a good start on the next upslope.

The grade below, however, is the worst. Going down as I am in this photo is pretty wonderful but pedalling back up is a whole other story let me tell ya.

Yesterday, we found a new (for us) spot by the banks of the river. A friendly older couple and their dogs were there at first. They were so friendly that they almost apologized for not being able to have us strangers over for lunch that day. That's the Old Town Hall in the background to the left of Cuppa.

The writing (blogging) also continues to be both sparse and sporadic. Will the season change that actuality, or is it to become my new reality? Time will tell.