Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Day After the Day Before

In the weird turnings of the earth on its axis, today was opposite of yesterday — not a good day. No, I'm not being moody or flighty. Something that I'm not going to talk about, not right now anyhow, came up. It sent me reeling for a while.

My reaction, or part of it, was odd. You see, when I'm not sick, I only average about one nap a month … for about 10 minutes. That's about it, no matter if I've been sleeping well or not. As it turns out, I have been sleeping pretty well lately, but I still crashed for about an hour today after I was confronted with potential problem. I felt as though the stuffing had been knocked right out of me, and I simply had to lie down. I may have slept for a few minutes of the hour, but my body, soul, and spirit sure needed whatever rest I got.

So, you get up and you plug on through because there's not much else you can do. And then you get more information, and you find out that just maybe everything will be okay. Or not … but you plug ahead anyway.

In my case, plugging ahead meant that I would try a new soup recipe for supper. It was a chicken and corn chowder concoction, and it was absolutely scrump. Maybe I'll even post it tomorrow.

In the evening, I had no desire to distribute goodies to the neighbourhood, would-be goblins, so I kindly let Cuppa handle that chore while I decided to work on my blog template. As you can see in the header graphic, I did dress up and get in the spirit of things last year. I know that I should have got a Halloween theme template up before now, but better late than never, I guess.

PS: Hah! That phrase would-be goblins reminds me of when I was young and I started to listen to football games on the radio. Let's say the Alouettes were playing the Rough Riders. I kept hearing the announcer say things like, "The runner eluded the would-be tackler." It confused the heck out of me. How the heck did a team called Woodbee get on the field, I wondered.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Yellow Disc Thing

Whaddaya know? For one sweet day, the clouds parted and that big, round, yellow thing shone its light. It was stunning really. Mothers everywhere stopped what they were doing to show it to their children and to explain what that yellow disc was. Old men wept openly and unabashedly on street corners. Stunned and mesmerized drivers careened into ditches.

Perhaps I exaggerate just a wee touch, but I can't seem to help my giddiness. Ya gotta seize a day like this in what has been an autumn like this. And so we did. We shifted and sorted the stuff in our tiny garage so that we can once again squeeze Harriet the Chariot into its cramped confines. She stays outside for much of spring and fall and all of summer, but she prefers to be out of winter's cold, wind, snow and ice. We even washed her today. Amazing but true.

Neither were we the only folk in the neighbourhood out raking sodden leaves and giving the grass its final trim for the year, 2006 CE. After our chores, the redoubtable Cuppa and Moi went for our daily (hah!) constitutional. Our most recent peripatetic excursions have required winter attire, but we were happy and warm in our spring/fall jackets today. Nice.

Oh yes, the fine folk at Environment Canada are prognosticating cloud and rain tomorrow, but it sure was nice to have today. I mean to say: it's always nice to have today, but, let's face it, some todays are notably finer than others.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

No Comment

Thanks to a few emails (thank you Colleen and Cathy), I now know that you can't comment on my blog. Who knows what is going on in the wonderful world of Blogger? Maybe I will think some more about converting to Wordpress and publishing on my own domain. OTOH, maybe comments will work on this entry. The ways of Blogger are weird and mysterious, for sure.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Here I Am

So, what the heck is an AC doing these days, and what the heck can he find to write about.

I haven't been doing a whole heckuva lot, I tell ya, which in addition to the temporary disinterest in almost everything caused by my weird and recent ailment, hasn't left me with many deep thoughts worthy of sharing. I mean to say that I more or less find material to write on the basis of what I do and upon the reflections that might occur as I meander my odd, little way through my odd, little life. So, spending almost two weeks staring at a white ceiling … well, let's just say that I really didn't find much inspiration there.

Having said that, let me also say this: I am feeling a whole lot better. While I'm not exactly perky, for the past few days, I have been able to get out about a little. I even made it to my violin lesson the other day, and it didn't go too terribly badly, or so my mentor seemed to say to my praise-hungry ears.

After the lesson Cuppa and I did lunch, shopped a bit, and then headed into the city to purchase a fiddle. I had been renting, and I could continue to do that but decided to invest in a better instrument that would be mine.

Last year around this time, I was struggling over whether to buy an iPod. In the end, I did and am rather glad of it. I use it quite a lot, and having music easily accessible in one spot is really convenient. It beats sorting through scads of CDs let me tell ya. At the time, however, it did seem like an extravagance that nagged at my conscience until I made my decision and put second thoughts behind me.

This year, the fiddle became my dilemma, particularly after my finger flared up. You might recall that I wrote about it in I'm Not Thankful Right Now. It's since been diagnosed as a repetitive-stress injury. It hasn't gotten too very much better, but a combination of ibuprofen, Myoflex, and ice seems to keep it from getting worse. Still, there's no telling how foreshortened my fiddle career will become.

With that in mind, I really hesitated over making this purchase. While I wouldn't exactly be purchasing a Stradivarius, it's still a significant outlay to purchase a semi-decent instrument. What if I had to give up the instrument sooner rather than later? That would be a waste. Or would it? Supposing that worst does come to pass and I have to give up this pursuit sooner rather than later, wouldn't it still be of some value for me to experience playing on a better instrument for as long as I am able? Wouldn't that increase my pleasure, and isn't that even more important if my fiddle-playing days are going to be truncated?

So, I did it. The other day, I bought a somewhat better instrument with a much nicer tone. Although it might seem to be a tad extravagant, I didn't exactly have to re-mortgage the house, and I have paid approximately twice as much for a computer – more than once or twice too – so it really wasn't all that costly. Now that the decision has been made, I'll put my mental angst behind me and enjoy the purchase as much as I can for as long as I can.

We walk a fine line between being good stewards of our capital and using our resources to bring us a modicum of pleasure. We have to be sensible, but sometimes it seems right to follow life where it wants to take us.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Answer ...

... for those kind souls who asked how I am feeling.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dreams of Yesterday

Yesterday morning, my bodily needs caused me to stumble to the washroom at five o'clock. Of course, I noticed Mr Rocks lurking about and assumed that he was waiting for his six o'clock feeding of tuna. Thought I: what the heck, I'll take him downstairs now. Truthfully, I had been sleeping poorly and was just as happy to be out of that cursed bed for a stretch.

As cat and human made to descend the stairs, I heard Cuppa calling from the bedroom. She had already fed him. I stared perplexedly: how odd for us both to decide to feed the guy well before his usual time! Her explanation surprised me: "Your moaning and groaning woke us both up."

In the middle of the night, I had moved to the guest bed in hopes that I might rest better over there. It didn't work; nevertheless, I was unaware of vocalizing loudly enough to awaken both human and beast from a bedroom across the hall.

You see, not only have I been feeling rather terrible because I am miserable in body, but my supposed rest is also troubled by repetitive dreams: stupid repetitive dreams. They go on and on and on. I get on some sort of theme, and it won't quit. I change beds, roll over and over, anything to shake it up, but it persists. It's not a bad dream — just stupid — and totally aggravating in its unceasingness. It drives me crazy! And so, we all got up and headed down for morning victuals. I tried to force something down, but all I could tolerate was milk and two arrowroots. By rights, I should be svelte by now.

It was a hard day. I was very emotional: felt like bursting into tears. Don't ask me why; this illness (or whatever the heck it is) has been an odd voyage. Apart from the silly night dreams described above, there are the daytime visions. if I begin to nod off during the day, it's as if I begin to hallucinate. Scenes flash before me, and they seem real. I can still describe yesterday's scenes and today's, and I don't often remember dreams. Although I am somewhat aware of where I truly am and that I am dreaming, they are so real that I have, nevertheless, reached out to attempt to grab an object that was nearby in my dream vision. (Aside: I wonder if religious visions might not come from sources like this?)

It's all been rather vexing. I think I am now on the path to recovery, but it's more like a precipitous, narrow mountain path, I'm afraid: hardly an expressway to the Promised Land. In fact, I've been put on another seven days of antibiotics. Oh glory!

The one cheery moment from bleak yesterday was enjoyed upon finding the following picture taped to my computer. Sometime during or shortly after our early morning breakfast (milk and Arrowroots for me — yum), I moaned to Cuppa in my most forlorn voice that "it's not easy being me." When I found this taped to my computer shortly after, I laughed — a genuine and good laugh. It's from O's latest edition.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Adding Insult to Assault

I thought that I'd raise my fuzzy and aching head long enough to let Blogdom know that I'm still with you — sort of . Frankly, I'm not well. It's adding insult to assault, I tell ya.

When I blogged Bless You Ladies the other day, I chose to spare you the gory details. I will honour that, but permit me also to say just a little more. I've endured that procedure, or most of it, at least twice before but never in so shabby a room with my private parts flapping in the breeze at about a tall man's chin height and never with so much brutal pace. The doc was whirling dervish as he inserted this and that in a frenzy of activity. It was quite an assault, let me tell ya. My Cuppa observed that I had a very red face when I got out of there, and I sure took my time over the subsequent coffee at Tims. (Do try the breakfast sandwich if you haven't already.)

I sweat a lot in bed the next few nights, but I didn't think much of it. That sort of thing happens to me on occasion. But in this case it presaged something, for on Monday night, I came down with severe shivers and shakes. It was uncontrollable. It lasted for two hours. At that point, I went back into my sweat mode. The cycle repeated: shaking-shivers followed by more sweats.

Guess what? It's a urinary tract infection picked up from the cystoscopy. How do I know? Let me tell ya, you know. I've never had one of these infections before, but I know. Fortunately the doctor left me with a prescription for antibiotics — just in case doncha know. Unfortunately, the meds are strong and cause headaches (which I already had btw) and come with various stipulations: take a pill on an empty stomach one hour before eating or two hours after; and, don't consumer dairy products or antacids for at least six hours before or two hours after. For some reason, I can't hold onto the two stipulations and find myself reading and rereading to try to get them into my head — my poor, achy head.

So that's it. The old expression is "adding insult to injury," and while I won't throw it out completely, in this I feel that it's more like adding "insult to assault."

Spare a thought of commiseration today, will ya? Huh?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Elvis and Cher

Where is Sonny? Who knew that Elvis and Cher had a togertherness things going?

In case you haven't guessed, it's another photo from my mother's album. That's Cuppa and me circa 1970 in my parents backyard.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


This photo is was taken on July 04, 1919 in Cartierville, a suburb of Montreal. It's my almost headless maternal grandmother with my mother (bottom right) and my Uncle Charlie. This is the one grandparent that I don't remember. Charlotte, or Lottie, was born in rural Eastern Ontario in 1880 and died in Montreal in 1949, on Christmas Eve when I was two. I have no memory of grandma although I sometimes fancy that I have a dim recollection of being held by someone in her bedroom when she was in bed, presumably on her deathbed. I don't know is it's a real memory or whether I fabricated a phantom memory from scraps that I have been told. I was told that I visited with her in her bed a few times, but she never saw me or not more than dimly anyway. You see, by then, the poor lady was blind, but I think she still took some joy from her only grandchild, and I assume that I took the same from her.

According to my mother, grandma took a nasty fall down a set of stairs on New Years Eve, several years before she passed away. Apparently, she went blind afterward, and I believe that she may also have suffered from diabetes. In any event, that tumble was, so I have been told, the beginning of the end for poor, old granny. I wish that I could have known her because according to my mother's notes in the photo album: grandma was "industrious, humble, extremely friendly and helpful, a real jewel. I was lucky in my parents."

The curly-haired boy became my only uncle. (Yes, we are a small family — Uncle Charlie never married, and my father is an only child — as am I). A diminutive man, Charlie might have been described as elf-like, but if so he was a rather jolly elf. I think that I was blessed that we lived with both him and my grandfather when I was young. Perhaps incorrectly, I attribute some of my sense of humour to having lived with him; he had a much more cheerful and joyful attitude than my own parents. Maybe to some extent, he and grandad normalized me a little bit? I'm speculating and not denigrating my parents who were very honest and honourable people.

Unfortunately, Uncle Charlie died young; he was still in his fifties. That was a very hard passage for me to endure because I felt quite attached to him. The rest of my near ancestors lived to decent ages. My grandfathers lived until 78 and 80, and my maternal grandmothers lived well into her eighties, as did my own parents. Notes in the photo album tell me that even my great grandparents, at least on my mother's side, lived into their late eighties, which is pretty darn good for back then.

The cycle goes on, however. Although all those stout hearts have stopped beating, just the other day I heard the heartbeat of my own grandchild. Believe it or not, Sha captured it on her cell phone when she was at the doctor's office. All sorts of genes will be passed along to Smudge from those people in the photo: my mother and uncle when they were kids and my long deceased grandmother who was then younger than I am now. I hope that I get to tell Smudge some of the stories in person when s/he is old enough to hear them.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bless You Ladies

Today, on Friday the Thirteenth, I found myself identifying with the fairer gender as I lay in a hospital bed in a most undignified manner: my feet in stirrups and my most private parts on grand display. Like ye of the more beauteous countenance and shapelier construction, I was prodded and invaded mercilessly. Without getting too very graphic, let me say that the session ended with this wretched male having unpleasantly wet legs.

But, despite the day and it's number, I'm lucky really — no really! Problems were identified, medications were alterred, and surgery was avoided — for now at least. As luck would have it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

On the Giving of Thanks

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Yesterday, we left town at dawn for the three hour drive to the cottage. We chose to drive very rural roads and were in thrall as the sun rose to light the autumn foliage while tender mist hung picturesquely in the low areas. The deer were out in force, however, foraging for their own Thanksgiving banquets; they were out in such force that we had four narrow misses. Yes, our hearts leapt to our mouths more than once as we braked and swerved to avoid colliding with those white-tailed critters.

I am thankful that we were able to avoid the breaking of bodies and denting of vehicles, but it is the Giving of Thanks rather than the feeling of thankfulness that has been much on my mind lately. For the time being, I am not so much thinking about feeling thankful for our blessings but about our responsibility to express our thanks to others when they have aided us in some way.

You see, I live with a very considerate woman. Come the end of June when school was out for the summer, she was the only one of our Tuesday night group who thought to give a card and little gift to our own Linedancing teacher. The only one! Heck, I was an unthanked-taken-for-granted teacher for thirty years, and I didn't even think to express my appreciation for this woman who freely donates her time, week in and week out. Another little example: when we moved last year, The Boy asked a few of his friends to help him do little jobs for us. Cuppa was thoughtful enough to show her appreciation by sending them gift certificates. They were blown away and felt very good about having come to our aid because they knew that we really appreciated their efforts.

It's simple: people appreciate being shown appreciation. Most of us like to help others; it makes us feel good to lend a helping hand. But sometimes we don't feel so good about what we have done if an appropriate measure of thankfulness is not returned to us. A number of years ago, for example, we had a computer to give away. Although it wasn't new, it was still a very decent computer in very decent shape. We asked daughter if she knew of a deserving university student who might be able to make use of it. She did, and we packed up the computer, monitor, and printer, and deposited it at Bug's place for this other student to pick up at her convenience. Months later, Bug said, "Oh yeah, XX said thanks for the computer." Somehow, I didn't feel thanked. Could the girl have not taken a few moments to pen a few heart-felt words in a card? That's all she had to do — not much — but it would have helped me feel a whole lot better about the giving of this gift. As it stands, I was cheated out of much of the pleasure that is supposed to come from giving.

I think most of us are like that. We're human, and we like to feel appreciated. About a month ago I watched Oprah's special on New Orleans. Bon Jovi was on the show; he and his band had donated a million dollars to provide housing for evacuees. I'm sure that it felt good to do that, but I think he felt really good to be there on site and show the families their new homes in person and bask in their happiness and appreciation. Bon Jovi wanted to help and didn't need grand gestures of appreciation, but, being human, he had a need to hear the thanks of those families. It was a sort of validation; he could truly see and feel that he had done a good thing. Sometimes, we humans need a lot of reassurrance.

Our neighbour (let's call her Ivy) is another good example. She was dabbling with painting last winter. When she showed us her art work, Cuppa mentioned that I used to scan and print Cuppa's own paintings on the computer and how nice it was to have cards or reproductions of one's own work. Cuppa used to delight in giving cards of her art. Of course, I had soon volunteered to do the same for Ivy who was absolutely thrilled when she had the results in her hands. She asked me how much I wanted to be paid: "Nothing, Ivy. It's just nice to be able to do nice things for people." However, in a few days I found an envelope stuffed under the door. It contained a nice thank you donation. I knew then, that she really and truly appreciated my efforts. I didn't need her donation to put food on the table, but the gesture meant quite a lot to me. Words of the moment come cheaply, but when someone expends a little time and even expense to show her appreciation, we know that it's the real deal.

So, that's all that I want to share, and it's no grand insight, but I think it's an area that many of us overlook. Oh, we're thankful, or so we say, for the lives that we live and the nations in which we live them, and I'm sure that we appreciate the kindnesses that others sometimes bestow upon us. There are many of us, however, who need to learn to take the time and energy to properly express our gratefulness. It doesn't take much and needn't always involve monetary outlays, but it does mean a lot to people to feel truly appreciated for their acts of kindness and generosity. We all want to make a difference in this world, and, when we receive true and meaningful thanks for our humble efforts, we feel that we have, perhaps, achieved our desire and really made a difference — however small.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Autumn Colours and Elvis

We had a sunny day yesterday, and it also dawned on us that, quite suddenly, autumn colours were at their prime, so we headed out on a drive to see what we could see. Because recent high winds have knocked a lot of leaves down prematurely, the colours may not have been quite up to usual standards, but, as you can see from the photos above where we crossed the Madawaska River on our way to Renfrew, they weren't too shabby either.

It was Cuppa who decided that we should go for a drive, and when the lady speaks I listen. We drove to and through Renfrew and then crossed the Ottawa River into Quebec. We hadn't been to that area previously. The crossing to Quebec was basically made over a power dam, and we returned via the ferry that operates out of Quyon, Quebec. On the road to the ferry we passed this decrepit fairgrounds building with Elvis looming large.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I'm Not Thankful Right Now

My general philosophy is that "on the whole life is good, enjoy it, and roll with the punches as best you can in those periods of trial that come to all of us." But we're all human, and we sometimes need to moan and wail for a wee bit before we get on with it. Since Canadians have Thanksgiving coming up on Monday (we'll have our family DO on Sunday) and I'll have to adjust my attitude by then, permit me to wallow in a bit of self-pity for the nonce.

You do recall that I have begun violin lessons? I've had three, am practising diligently, and enjoying myself immensely. Sometimes, I go at it for quite a long time (more than hour and sometimes more than once a day, and that's not bad for an ancient beginner).  At that, I often have to drag myself away, and when I have reluctantly finished with it, I sometimes feel a great sense of joy. Yes, I know I've only had only three lessons and that any listeners would be at great pains to share my joy, but that's the way that I feel about it: up until the past week or so, that is.

Now, where I once had joy, I now have cause for angst and concern and dejection.

I have had some arthritis in my hands for years now. It hasn't been in my fingers but in my palms, below my thumbs. But I suppose that in point of fact it actually has been there lurking in my fingers because the index finger on my fiddle-fingering hand is now acting up beyond all reason. I can hardly bend it in the morning for example, but it is has been a constant problem for the past week or so. It's plain now that the arthritis has been there all along but subdued and unnoticed until all of my exuberant fiddling has greatly inflamed whatever was already present in the joints.

Frankly, I'm in a dither. Does this mean that I have to give it up? That's my fear, and I'm not happy about it. I mean to say that I'm not training to be an Olympic gymnast; all I want to do is move my fingers a bit. Surely that's not too very much to ask of The Universe? In the past, I have given up other activities with rather good grace, I think. For example: there was a time in my life when I played tennis almost every day during the summer. Then there came a day when wrists and elbows and backs and heels all got together and advised me, rather strongly, to call it a day. I did and pretty darn gracefully too, even if I do say so myself. But I'm not exhibiting grace right now. I will be very sad if this is pleasure is taken away from me ... as I fear it may be.

I haven't given up yet. I will curtail practice sessions for a few days and try to practice differently after that: shorter sessions for one thing. I'll see if I can have teacher concentrate on slower songs rather than the exuberant jigs that we've also been experimenting with. Maybe it will work, and if it doesn't, maybe I'll be ready to handle it gracefully. Maybe! But for now I'm upset and dejected. It's my pity party and I'll grump if I want to.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Portrait #2

I have three brand new ultrasound images sitting on my desk. Mom-to-Be brought them over for scanning this afternoon after her appointment, and she wrote about her feelings in her post, Perfect Little Thing. I can't help but notice that my grandchild is 3 days more advanced that s/he should be. Well of course! What bloodlines Smudge has inherited.

In all seriousness, Sha was extremely pleased as are we. As are we.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Silly Cat

... or is he?

It's been over two weeks since we brought a little gift bag home. What! You don't see it? If you look under the cat, you'll see the edges.

It's not a big bag, and Rocky is not a small cat. Although he's not as big as the corrected distortion indicates, he's still a pretty hefty size. It's neither a comfy bag nor an alluring spot — in the corner of the upstairs hall by the linen closet, otherwise know as the cupboard in which the towels are kept — but The Rocks frequently nestles down as if it's the best spot on earth.

He's got a pretty good attitude when you think about it. He treasures what he has where he is and pines not for those things which he has not.

Monday, October 02, 2006

French Kissing Etc

What a unique country this is! Next door to Ontario lies a very different place, the province of Quebec. It's largely French although I know unilingual Anglos who can still get along in Montreal. There are clusters of French people elsewhere in Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Manitoba), but French is dominant in Quebec, and their culture is different.

For one thing, they kiss a lot. Well, maybe that way too, but I mean when they greet each other. It's a double kiss, one per cheek. I know that we hear of the Hollywood air kiss, but these are actual pecks. You can hear the lips smacking. Women kiss women; women kiss men; men kiss women; however, I don't see men kissing men. I'm pretty darn relieved about that in point of fact. I mean to say: a stolid old WASP can only endure so much culture shock. Actually, I didn't kiss anyone, but I offered my cheeks appropriately and permitted women to have their way with me. It's the gentlemanly thing to do after all.

Then, there are the memory cards. They give them out at funerals. A memory card (I don't know if that's the right term) is almost the size of a playing card, but it's plasticized (or laminated or whatever). It contains the name, picture, and date of departure of the deceased. People have been known to carry several memory cards around in their pockets or purses. Maybe they also do that where you come from, but it was new to us Ontario Anglos, and, of course, new almost always seems odd. I once lived in Montreal and have attended English funerals there, and we never had that custom, but maybe they do it now for all I know — my last English funeral there occurred about thirty-five years ago, and customs might have changed.

Differences like this make life interesting. I remember attending a funeral in Kansas City. At the end of the in-church memorial service, the family sat at the front, and everyone filed past, viewed the casket, and nodded pleasantly at the family. I actually preferred that to here where we generally wheel or carry the casket out at the end of the service, and people file out behind it rather somberly.

Once upon a time, friends from Western Canada, the Prairies, told us that when they invited people to drop in out there, they really meant it. She claimed that for the most part, we Easterners don't. Certainly, when I trekked out west several years ago, people did seem to be friendlier. I recall stopping at a gas station in Calgary to ask directions, and I pretty well had people running over to the car from all corners of the lot to offer help. One guy actually had us follow him to our destination.

Madcapmum once wrote about the Canadian tendency to take our shoes off at the door. It makes sense to have gotten into that habit because we do have this little season called winter in these parts. We tend to wear boots and must naturally shed them at the door. I mean you can't go tromping about the house in overshoes. What would be next after all: snowshoes, skis?

There is really no point to all of this, except to share what I have shared and to wonder what differences might exist from your geographical area to mine. I'm told that the Brits like warm beer and cold toast for example, and there are dishes called grits Down South. We wear toques on our heads and sleigh down hills on toboggans. Therefore, I chuckle when I read of Americans wearing toboggans on their heads, just as they laugh to hear that our milk comes in bags.

And yes, I am rambling. I really just wanted to mention french kissing when I began. What did you think I was going to write about? Hmmm?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's Time to Recuperate

I need to relax today. Yesterday, for the second time in four days we made a three-hour trip to Montreal -- that's 12 hours of recent driving, too much of it in difficult surroundings for me. After dropping Butterfly off to be with her husband and MIL on Wednesday, we returned yesterday for the memorial service.

The drive to Montreal between Ottawa and there was beautiful on both days. The leaves are turning gloriously, and the countryside is rather pleasant. I'm not sure which day was nicer. On Wednesday, it was quite sunny, but yesterday there was sun mixed with mist, which was very picturesque.

That's between the cities. However, once you near Montreal, the drive isn't so very stirring. The traffic gets heavy, and the view becomes more urban. In Montreal itself, we drive on an elevated highway that goes through the middle of the city. There are no shoulders, the lanes are narrow, and the amount of traffic is befuddling for a guy who lives in a little town. The traffic signs are all in French, which isn't that hard because est is east, and highway numbers are the same in both languages, but it still seems to take me an extra second to process, which is why veered left instead of right at an interchange yesterday and got myself on the wrong highway. At that point I began to speak in something other than the Queen's perfect English. No, you would not have been proud of my vocabulary for a few moments. But, we were able to turn around and find our way back — thank goodness because we were under a bit of a time crunch.

When all is said and done, we got to the funeral home, which I believe they call a funéraire in French, and we observed the ceremony. I can understand some words in French, and if I read slowly enough may even be able follow the main idea of an article — on a good day. But following spoken conversation or a delivered speech is totally beyond me. However, I didn't go for me, and what I understood or didn't understand was of scant importance. We went to support the kids: Butterfly because she is lost in French and sometimes feels awkward; and The Boy because he is a great kid who has lost his father. That's what family does: pulls together and supports each other.

Cuppa, who is very thoughtful, asked if I might compose a little eulogy to Gilles. If I did, maybe someone could translate it into French and read it at the ceremony, for there would be little point in presenting my English version. Why would Cuppa not write it herself? Well, although she doesn't think so, Cuppa is a fine writer, but it comes more slowly to her. She dithers a lot over how to say things and tends to ramble a bit. I can seem to rattle off something much more quickly. So, she asked me to do it, and I'm glad that I acceded, for it seemed to be appreciated.

I plan to relax and recuperate today.