Monday, May 31, 2010

Waltzes and Cornflowers

A waltz, the Horticultural Society, two Joe Pye's obtained,a unique bird feeder found and purchased, an unexpected encounter with the Lanark County Therapeutic Riding Program, moving rocks, digging holes,and applying animal dust powder to lillies: all things to do with our weekend. It was a weekend for checking out plants and garden accessories hither, thither and yon and doing what was necessary to get them in the ground. If I were to try to tell you all about it, I would end up with one of those long, chronological posts that I prefer not to write, so I'll limit myself to a few points. (Hallelujah cried the visitors. Amen said the writer.)

Waltz: Most of you know this by now, but a week ago, Barry had posted the score for a waltz written and composed by the great grandfather's brother on the occasion of one of his daughters' weddings. However, Barry had never heard it played. It stuck in the back of my mind that I could help a little, so on Friday while Zach was sleeping, I began to transpose it into computer music using ABC notation. I finished late Friday evening and mailed it off to Barry. First thing Saturday, he had posted the waltz along with a slideshow and acknowledgment on his blog. It was fun for me to turn my hand to a challenge that might benefit someone else, and Barry seemed pleased and grateful. Therefore I, in turn, was pleased. It was a great start to the day.

From that point and for most of the morning, we looked for plants at three different locations. Cuppa specifically wanted a Joe Pye (see above), a tall striking plant that we had in Sarnia. We were able to find one, actually two: a normal size tall one and a dwarf which we were told would make a lovely companion planting. After much dithering, we decided where to plant it and moved rocks and added soil to expand the garden. It's out back, which needs a lot of work still, but we'll be concentrating on the more desperate front for this year.

So "What about that Therapeutic Riding Program?", I hear you clamor. Patience my dearies.

Last year, as I was whizzing by several times, I noticed a farm selling perennials, and this Saturday I finally had the opportunity to check it out. As it turned out, it was mostly a little Mom and Pop hobby enterprise. Whatever money they raise selling is donated to the local Therapeutic Riding Program, where kids with challenges of various kinds are encouraged to ride horses, apparently a beneficial form of therapy.

Their son, who is now older, benefitted from the program. He is legally blind with very narrow tunnel vision. From his proud Mama, we heard all about his winning exploits at various meets. So, of course, we bought a couple of plants from her no-Latin-names, no-cultivar-identification garden. She identified plants by calling them Lily, Red etc. The Persian Cornflowers, are new to me but appealed, so they are now situated in my garden. And for such a cause, I told her to keep the change from the tenner as a donation.

It was a good weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Poodle Ears and Silliness

Caught this look one recent morning at the breakfast table. Cuppa has just done her hair in poodle ears. One must snap such a photo quickly because Nikki Dee pulls them out pretty doggone promptly.

Poodle Ears for Breakfast

I love this kid like crazy, but I have to tell you that Grampa became very exasperated with her today.

It was so blinkin hot that I put some water in the kids' little wading pool. I was really thinking ahead, so I left the pool in the sun because the tap water would be cold for the tykes.. However, I left the pool close enough to the shade that I was able to pull it over when we finally got the kids out there.

So what did Nikki Dee do? She stood in the pool not wanting to get wet. Couldn't convince her that it was fine to sit, splash and get soaked if one was wearing a bathing suit. This disappointed and exasperated me greatly, for this is the same girl who loved to get wet in summers past. Grrr.

If you don't believe me, check out this video from two summers past.

Or these photos from last summer.

What happened over the winter sure beats the heck out of me.

Grrr. Say I. But at least Zach was happy to sit in the pool and play. But I wasn't exactly in a picture taking mood by then, so you'll have to trust me on that score.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Allium Photo

I did say that I would post a photo of the allium flowers once they had bloomed properly, so here we are. I do confess to artsying this one up a little. I confess but don't apologize, and I also confess to thinking that clicking on the picture to see the bigger version is worthwhile. Mind you, I am just a titch biased, but I like it.

Allium in my Garden

The temperatures remain crazy high, reaching 32°C/90°F today. That's just nuts!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Anniversary Weekend: Monday

Day three of the long weekend did not go as planned. The main planned event was to dust off our bicycles and take them for a spin. Although we managed to dust them off, we did not manage to ride, partly due to July-like heat and partly due to Cuppa's health issues.

First, the poor lady woke up with a migraine, not as bad as some, but it was still a migraine. She could feel it coming last night and tried to head it off by taking some aspirins at bedtime. That probably helped to mitigate the attack but couldn't block it completely. She did manage to make it out to breakfast, which was our other planned celebratory event for the day, but with the heat also factored in as well as her cold returning to full vigor, she pretty well folded after that. Poor thing.

However, we did get out for breakfast, and we did get the bikes ready for action. I was also able to get some garden work done by planting the last of our annuals and doing some weeding, watering and amending of soil. I sweat a lot in the heat. That's good for me — I think.

Speaking of gardening, our beautiful Asiatic Stargazer Lilies have been invaded by Red Asiatic Lily Beetles. Somehow, these miserable insects found their way to North America to munch on our lilies. Unfortunately, they have no natural predators in these parts, and the best defense seems to be to pick them off by hand and squish them. Until then, they keep chowing on the plants until there is nothing left to chow on.

All that being said, it was a lovely weekend although when the temperatures rise to 30°C/86°F in May in Canada, one suspects that a long, torridly hot summer looms. I guess we're due after two somewhat cool and rainy summers, but good golly miss molly, couldn't we just enjoy a pleasantly warm one?

Ah well.

Many thanks, by the way, for those who have stuck with these posts; they are very chronological and uninspired but they're there as a record of sorts. I don't like writing in such as pedantic way such as (i) we did this, and (ii) we did that, and then (iii) we did this and that, but sometimes it's all that I can manage.

Anniversary Weekend: Sunday

On day two of this fine long weekend, we decided to head across the river into Quebec and Gatineau Park, or Parc de la Gatineau: "a wedge of land measuring 361 square kilometres to the northwest of Canada’s Capital Region. In the Park, the NCC protects plants and animals and manages facilities and trails so that the public may enjoy outdoor activities in every season." The kids took us there seven years ago on one of our visits, before they were married and before we moved here. The picture that comes up when I post a comment was taken there. I've stuck with that picture for a long time; it seems to be part of this blog. I change my Facebook picture often but not my blog picture.

The map shows the park and our route. We drove into Ottawa and crossed into Quebec via the Champlain Bridge and despite several wrong turns ended up in Chelsea, the park entrance that has a visitors centre (arrows 1 - 3).

We drove around that section of the park, headed to several lookouts and had a picnic lunch at one of them. It wasn't terribly relaxing, especially for Cuppa, as caterpillars kept dropping onto our table from the overhanging branches. However, I did take this picture looking over the edge of the escarpment, southwest toward the Ottawa River. The Gatineau Hills are an upraised block of the Canadian Shield. Over the eons, the block has worn down and the valley has been raised by sediments, but it remains a fine outlook.

Adventurous people could walk down part of the way, but this is as far as Cuppa and I went as we weren't prepared for the kind of hiking that would lie beyond this fine entrance way. The granitic-type rock comes from the local area.

Afterward we went exploring. We headed north to Wakefield and then west along the top of the park where the scenery looked much like it does below (arrows 4 & 5).

We were able to cut through a pretty isolated and not highly travelled part of the park (arrow 6) and head to Quyon (arrow 7) where we took the ferry back into Ontario (arrows 7 & 8). At that point, we were in familiar territory and only 3/4 of an hour from home.

It was a good day but not up to the serendipitous excitement of the previous day's lunch and concert in the woods.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Anniversary Weekend: Saturday

Although the date is out by half a week, this is our Anniversary weekend. We were married on the Saturday of the long weekend, forty-one years ago. At least minor observances and celebrations are in order. Often, the weather is quite nice as it also promised to be on this weekend. However, despite generally favorable predictions, there was some possibility of showers here and there, now and then.

Saturday: with an eye on the weather, which turned out to be rather glorious in the end, we relaxed for most of the morning before getting in the car, stopping at Tims, and driving west with the Brooke Valley Studio Tour in mind. First, we stopped at gardens near Perth that we hadn't previously visited: Rockwall Gardens. You can see why that name is appropriate in the photo of moi walking towards the rock walls of an former dairy barn. It was a unique find, and I'd love to go back from time to time as the seasons change.

Back on the highway, we eventually came to the Brooke Road turnoff and soon found ourselves on a dirt road in the forests of Lanark County, where gardens must be fenced from critters (but what a fence!) ...

... and worksheds are quaint and rustic ...

... and interesting and curious abandoned shacks lurk. (Note: this photo might be worthwhile seeing large here.)

Our first stop was for lunch at the house in the photo below. For the studio tour, the family moves their furniture upstairs and sets up tables both inside and outside.

Cuppa contemplates what sort of fare to expect this deep in the woods, but it hardly mattered because we were enthralled with the atmosphere as well as the cause. You see, the family with the help of the Grannies of Lanark County Against AIDS (my best remembered version of their name), the proceeds would go to fight AIDS in Africa.

Cuppa quietly contemplated that we might expect sandwiches and/or grilled burgers in such an out-of-the-way setting, but as it turned out, the food was fabulous. It's the wrong angle to appreciate, but my perogies and sauerkraut were scrumptious, far better fare than what I might expect to find in many a city restaurant — at decent prices too. How they managed to turn their house into a restaurant for the weekend is beyond comprehension, but they did.

After lunch we ambled to the neighbouring house which featured many crafts, including very interesting wicker furniture although one was required to bring one's own gorgeous model.

And then onto the next house ...

... where, believe it or not, we were treated to a concert by three fine musicians, but featuring a, symphony-quality bassoon player who talked about Mozart and Beethoven as if he was personally acquainted. Remember, we were still in the woods. How wonderfully weird!

It turned out to be quite the marvellous day. You don't always know what you're going to find when you head out to hitherto unknown locales (I think there's a lesson here, but I'll leave it up to dear reader to draw it — or not), but this expedition proved to be topnotch.

Where will this couple do today, I wonder, on yet another glorious day in May?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Checking In

Well, hasn't it been quite a few days since I last checked in? I'll blame in mostly on my cold. It's rather beastly to get such a humdinger in this lovely spring weather but it happens. Last Sunday, I had such a good day with lots of garden work and other things being checked off my list. I was feeling great, which was especially odd after writing that post about being a low energy sort of guy. I thought: "How ridiculous," as I felt great and raring to go." But whilst sitting at my computer that night I noticed that I was developing a sore throat and was beginning to feel drained. Since then, I have got through umpteen boxes of tissues and several miserable days.

I don't have much to say but must apologize and set the record straight about the number of years we have been married. When I chose to frame it as beginning our 42nd year, I'm afraid that I threw you all off. Last Monday was our 41st anniversary, which began our 42nd year, but I admit that's an unusual way of putting it.

With both of us being sick and having to babysit that day and all subsequent days this week, we didn't do anything special aside from going out for dinner. However, this is a long weekend in Canada as we celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday. Bless her for that. We have long called it the May 24th weekend although it doesn't often occur on that but this year, Monday is the 24th. Kids have adapted that and call it May 2-4 weekend as they often party and open their cases of 24 brews. They think they invented the term, but they only really adapted and massaged it a little.

Regardless, we plan to do something a little different this weekend and hope that the weather will cooperate. It won't be anything as fancy as going away to a Quebec Inn as it was last year, but it will at least be a day trip (knock on wood). May our fine weather will continue as his is the traditional weekend to plant gardens and our impatiens have been purchased and are ready to go in the ground.

Have a good weekend. Hopefully, we'll have some pics and anecdotes to share next week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garden Report

Last year, I posted about my attempts to start a garden, and I've already mentioned it once this year. I think I'll give you an update every now and then.

The daffodils are all done: deadheaded the last of them on Sunday. But just as appreciated by me are the purple ground phlox that I've placed at the front of the border. Experience tells me that these are very hardy plants that will grow and expand as much as you will let them. On top of that, they're evergreen, so when the flowers fade, as they soon will, the plant will remain. Dig through the snow in winter, and the plant will look back at you and wonder why you're disturbing its rest.

Do you remember the mystery plants at the back, behind the tree, from an earlier post? I am worried because the leaf tips have yellowed, but at least we know what they are now — allium. Looking at the picture below, the plant will soon be in bloom. I saw them at a local nursery last year, and when I came across some bulbs last fall, I had to try a few. I just forgot what they were for awhile. I could find pictures of them in bloom on the net, but I'll wait and post my own at a later date.

There is a dead plant in the middle of the garden that I won't go into detail about now, but I suspect a cat has done a naughty on it and killed it. We do have cats that are allowed to roam in this neighbourhood, and they do leave diggings in my garden at times. This time, I think one got the plant. I like cats, but ... I guess I don't always appreciate their humans.

What I'm really pleased about are the forget-me-nots this year. We have some in the front and many out back. I've posted about them the past two summers and how Dad transplanted some from his place in Sarnia to ours in the same city decades ago. Five years ago, we brought some seeds with us when we moved across the province. For the past two summers, we've had a few plants, but I have been worried that we'd lose Dad's legacy. This years we have plenty as shown in the picture above and also the one below.

They are doing so well that I didn't try to stop Cuppa from cutting a few. But that will be enough cutting for this year as I'd like an even bigger and better showing next year. I'd like to have Dad's flowers pop up every spring for as long as possible. He's gone, but the forget-me-nots do as their name suggests.

Before I present the final photo, let me say in a totally off-topic sort of way but it must be mentioned, that Cuppa and I began our forty-second year together yesterday. Although it was our anniversary we didn't exactly reprise our wedding night because we both have miserable colds. There was a lot of hanky but not much panky.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early Morning Ramblings

Speaking of magazines, as we were two posts ago, my daughter passes her Redbook mags onto Cuppa, who yesterday had one opened to an article about Ashley Judd. We were sitting in our little porch on a nice Saturday morning, sipping coffee and watching the garage-sale-addicts stroll by, so in my curious leisure, I picked it up and scanned a bit of the article. I don't know many celebs, but I have the seen Judds on tv, so I had at least some point of recognition with Ashley.

She's going to Harvard these days, getting her Masters Degree in I forget what discipline. Don't press me for details as I wasn't reading carefully, but she studies to give herself more background in the work that she does for children. I know that's vague, but I was just scanning. But then I stopped at a certain tidbit of information, which is all that I essentially grasped from the article. She claims to require ten and a half hours of sleep. At Harvard, she manages to obtain about nine and feels that she's on the edge of sleep deprivation: my words, but I think I've caught the essence.

Reading that caused me realize (not for the first time) that people tend to divide into two camps, at least at the extreme edges. Essentially, there are high energy and low energy people at the opposing ends of the continuum.

My curse is that I tend to be a low energy person. When I was working, I would prefer more than eight hours sleep to be anywhere near my best, with hopefully, a little extra on the weekend. I probably still require that much but don't manage to get it anymore: like this morning when I awoke at five o'clock. I generally wake up at five these mornings; sometimes I am able to roll over and get a few more precious but elusive zzzz's but not always and certainly not today.

As a low energy person, when I was teaching, I would have to control the number of extra curricular tasks and activities that I would take on. One learns to say no and concentrate on the essentials. Ryan Seacrest is, apparently, a high energy person as he flits from one gig to the next during a typical day and week. He claims to thrive on this lifestyle; it seems to energize that than enervate him. I think it's safe to say that he qualifies as a high energy person. People such as he can accomplish a lot.

I have a SIL like that. As a kid she would wake up early and even polish the family's shoes to keep herself occupied. Her parents gave up on trying to get her to sleep longer and allowed her to do her thing as long as she'd remain quiet.

It turns out that this was a rather important quality that she possessed because as a young mother of four girls, she found herself raising them on her own. As it turns out, she was not only able to raise her brood but was able to attend to university and obtain two masters degrees whilst doing so. I think it's safe to say that she was at the opposite end from Judd on the energy continuum. I think it's a gift that some people have, and it's certainly a good thing that my SIL did with the difficult row that she had to hoe. I and many others would have been in a heap, but the eve3idence reveals that she managed quite well.

My Cuppa seems to be a hybrid. She can be quite energetic in her tasks, but she has always required a decent amount of sleep. Some people, like me, seem to require, or at least must make do with, less sleep as we age, but Cuppa's metabolism has taken her in the opposite direction to the point where she now does best with ten hours repose. On a typical night, she'll go to bed before I do, and on the typical following morning, I'll be up first. I try to stealth around the house, sometimes for many hours, so she can get her beauty rest (which works btw). She opines that I get more living done, but I'm not sure that's true; she probably gets more done in her 14 hours than I do in my 18 hours.

The only place where I might have the edge is that I can get a blog composed while she reposes. It can be a rambling post with no conclusion to draw — like this one — but it's a post. Ain't it?

I wonder how you fit into the energy-sleep spectrum, and whether your patterns have alterred over the years?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stuff and Nonsense

Stuff. People are in love with stuff. I'm a people too, so I gotta admit that I appreciate accumulating my share of stuff. I try not to love my stuff as much as some people do, but yeah ... mea culpa. (Just had to put that out there so you can see at the outset that I'm not being too holier than thou.)

But ... I was not one of the people thronging the sidewalk just outside my own door this morning.You see, our neighbourhood had its annual (sometimes semi-annual) garage sale today. Sheesh! You shoulda seen the crowd.

We live in townhouses, so there are lots of houses with stuff to pawn off. Even though half of the houses (like us) choose not to participate, half do, so garage-sale-devotees can still hit a lot of vendors in a short time. So ... yes ... they come by the busload (not really, but it sure seemed like it this morning).

When we slipped out in the early afternoon to run this errand and that, we found more garage sales all over town. A community sale here, a cancer marathon sale there, and many private sales here and there. Many.

All so people can get more stuff.

If I were to participate, I'd probably see stuff that I would like to have. So, I choose not to participate, 'cause I gots enough stuff, eh? Well, not really, but I try to be selective, and if I stay away from such events, I find that I can be. I mean to say, they don't sell my wants such as high tech stuff at garage sales anyway. I won't find my new camera there or a terrabyte hard drive or ... well, you get the idea. That's not really all that much stuff that I lust after though, so I think I'm sorta, kinda cool that way.

When the street sale ended at noon, I saw various neighbours putting their unsold stuff in the trunks of their cars (I wish we said boots like the clever Brits). After making whatever they could off sales, they would be taking the unwanted stuff to the local Goodwill (or equivalent) Dropoff. Cuppa and I prefer to do that first and just get the stuff out of the way and to heck with the garage sale pittance. It doesn't make us any better, but it does make us a bit different, I guess.

What is it about people and their stuff? We have more stuff than anybody at any time in history, but we keep wanting more. Why do we need and want so much stuff? Is it the only way many have of trying (in vain, no doubt) to fill ourselves up?

Stuff and nonsense, say I.

(Sincere apologies if you're a garage sale person. Some of my best friends ... etc. )

Photos From Laos

My niece and nephew are travelling in Asia for a number of months. They taught ESL in Korea for several years and are exploring Asia before returning home and going back to school. They recently trekked in Northern Laos and took some great pictures, which I'd like to share with you. I've embedded the Flickr slideshow below but recommend that you go to Flickr to view it larger. There are some great portraits. You can read the account here.

Recommended: Watch larger on Flickr

Friday, May 14, 2010

An Offer We Can Refuse

In the mail, an envelope from Good Housekeeping. Through the window in the top left corner we see that we have a credit adjustment of $33.91. Say what? We have nothing to do with Good Housekeeping (I mean the magazine because I think the house is kept in pretty good shape — well it's clean, even if not exactly up to big spread photos.) I considered that, Thesha gave Cuppa the O magazine for her birthday, so maybe she ordered and paid for another one, but they can't deliver for some reason and our sending us a nice little refund.


Open the envelope. Just offering us $33.91 off the supposedly regular price of $53.88 for the magazine.

So, they want us to subscribe to Good Housekeeping for $53-33 - $33.91 = $19.97. Well, why didn't they just say so?

Just how dumb does Good Housekeeping think people are?

Pretty dumb, I guess.

But even the young readers of chickaDEE wouldn't be taken in by that offer.

It's certainly an offer that Cuppa and I can refuse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Curious Case of my Malfunctioning TV

The picture of a part of my den depicts two Christmas presents, separated by several years.

The first was the fridge with the logo of my favorite hockey team: the Montreal Canadiens (for those who don't know, Canadiens is the French version of Canadians). This is my pop fridge. We brought an old, big fridge with us when we moved, but it was too big to get into the basement, and everything froze in winter when we tried to keep it in the garage. The new, den-size pop fridge showed up that Christmas.

It's worked well, but the television, which came several years later, hasn't. It has a hockey connection too, however. Cuppa would fine me watching games in tiny windows on my computer screen and thought that a better solution was in order.

It was a great idea, even if it hasn't worked out very well — because it's a really weird little tv. You see, it goes through stagees where the picture won't show up properly. There are times when all it will give me is a dim, fuzzy — in otherwords totally useless and unwatchable — display.

I can usually and eventually cajole it into working but experienced no joy at all the other night when I couldn't get it to work for the whole game. So, I ended up watching it on the computer. Fortunately, I could at least embiggen this feed to fill the whole screen, so it wasn't too bad. Still ...

Sometimes, even when the tv is supposedly off, I see it flickering at me. Maybe that's when it works, but I don't know for sure. What I do know is that it's not flickering in the off state right now, and it won't properly turn on either.

Tonight is game 7 between the Canadiens and the Penguins, and I suppose that I will be watching on my computer. We do have other tvs, but I prefer to watch in my den. For one thing, the main, living room tv is often recording another program, and for another thing, I don't like to disturb Cuppa by using the bedroom tv as she is kind of an anti-fan.

Oh well, my computer screen is actually larger than the tv screen anyway.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Friendliness Reciprocated

Little Miss Friendly encouraged me to do our grocery shopping at Wal Mart this week because there's a McDonalds in there, and she had a yen (which is Japanese for craving fries). There was another little girl, smaller but older than Nikki Dee sitting with her parents at the adjacent table. Before I knew it, Nikki Dee was over there hugging the other girl who must have been impressed because when they were ready to leave she seemed totally smitten and was grabbing Little Miss Friendly's hand. I think, she was trying to take Nikki Dee home with her.

What a kid! She greets everyone, and everyone is her friend. It would be great if more of us could be like that. Sadly, most of us aren't. Especially me. Maybe it's not too late for me to learn from this kid. But it probably is.

Whenever Pam is out with her dogs, Little Miss Friendly wants to visit. She likes both Pam and the dogs although she keeps an arm's distance from the pooches. So, when Pam saw us out weeding, she offered to take her around the back of her place to pick lilacs for mom.

And so we did.

Here we are diligently weeding just before Pam came over.

And here is one of the lilac bushes.

Pam and Nikki Dee.

Flowers have been picked and Buppa is happy to pose with the kid.

A nice diversion and a beautiful bouquet for Mom, all because Little Miss Friendly is who she is. Methinks the planet needs more Nikki Dees.

Found: Stop Fretting

A personal message to y'all about me finding hankies. Except that I mistakenly call them kleenexes in the vid. What can I say, I was so excited about the project. :)

Before you view, if you do, turn the volume down as I had my mic set too high. That was because it wasn't cooperating at all at first, and, to my chagrin, I had recorded a few silent clips. So, I over-compensated. But despite the sound and calling them kleenexes, I didn't want to do it again. After all, we're just talking about kleenexes here ... er ... I mean, hankies.

Watch on YouTube

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Crying Game

I am here to report that I have certain issues with the forebears who are most responsible for my sometimes unfortunate genetic heritage.

Not only do I have a hearing loss (for which I blame my dad and his) as reported here recently, but there are a host of other issues that I don't exactly appreciate. Now, I assure you that my purpose today is not to chronicle every single one of said issues, for the simple reason that I must work within the constraints of a not-too-lengthy blog post as opposed to a ten volume serial on The Life and Times of AC and His Many Bodily Issues. However, I do wish to share with you my latest affliction.

For the past ten years, perhaps a few more, I have enjoyed (as if) a relationship with Blepharitis, more commonly referred to as Dry Eye (for which I blame my Mom and hers). Essentially, this condition causes one to produce tears because normal mechanisms don't keep the eye sufficiently moist. I know it sounds odd to produce an excessive amount of moisture because you are not producing enough moisture, but that's essentially what it seems to come down to. Well, that's my unscientific analysis and explanation anyway.

Fortunately, I have been able to keep the tearing under control by applying eye drops in the morning. After waking up with dry and crusty eyes, a few drops are all that I need to get things working more or less as they should. Until about two months ago, that is.

At that time, behold mine eyes dideth commence to watering copiously, and nothing could seem to stem the flow of tears coursing down my face. My doctor sent me to my optometrist who possesses the necessary type of instruments for a up close and personal look at what is going on. In the event, my optometrist has passed my file onto a plastic surgeon ophthalmologist. Let me clarify: she has referred me to such an ophthalmologist, and informs me that with luck I might hear back from him and have a consult with said fine doctor before my earthly days have run their course: or not. Apparently, you see, there are so many needy eyes and so few available specialists that one could possibly expire before being granted an appointment, for as reported in this space recently, I only have until August 2028 to get this done.

My difficulty, as my optometrist explains it, is that my tear ducts have shifted so that they can longer do what we all take for granted: drain the moisture from my eyes. Without that accommodation the moisture builds up until it is forced to simply spill over and run down my face in the form of tears. (For this condition, I blame my bachelor uncle in Singapore and his maiden aunt in Beijing.) Hence, I have taken to carrying a crying rag with me everywhere I go — or so I attempt to do, but I am prone to continually misplacing the thing.) They are rags too: just pieces of soft cloth from discarded clothing, but better than tissues that become ratty and linty in no time flat. If I ever track down real hankies (is there such a thing anymore?), I may purchase some, but these crying rags will have to do until then.

The picture shows what I am now forced to do every few minutes — if I am lucky, because keeping track on that dad-blasted crying rag is easier said than done.

Some people are bestowed with Cadillac bodies, but my progenitors have conspired to gift me with all of their worst parts to the point where my body is more the equivalent of a rusty 1970s Ford. Sigh.

Excuse me. I must dab my drippy eyes.

Oh for crying out loud, where did I put that %&^$ rag?!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I Hold My Next Vacation in My Hands

There is a high cost to be paid for being afflicted with certain conditions.

I first had my hearing tested shortly after the age of 40, when all seemed not to be as it should. It was then deduced that I didn't yet require hearing aids. Several years later, however, when a class laughed at my answer to a certain question, I knew that I had misheard the question and given an inappropriate answer.

My next hearing test revealed what I had suspected: that I was due for hearing assistance.

That was four aids ago. They only last for about five years, give or take.

The pair that I had been wearing was seven years old, and both aids had already been repaired once, and I knew the end was nigh and planned to get a new pair this year. I wasn't quick enough, however, and one device quit working before I was able to implement my plan. Oh, I could have had it repaired at a cost of $400, but they would only guarantee it for six months. On top of that, I figured the other one would likely give up the ghost at any time.

So, here's the result.

Yes, I have two new hearing devices, so I should, more or less, be set for another five years.

The price ... are you ready for this? ... $3000.

And this is the basic, no frills model. A pair of top-end hearing aids would cost at least double that amount.

It's nice that our provincial government will chip in $500 per device, but two thousand smackeroos for these little, fit-in-my-hand-easily suckers is still a mighty big expense — and one that will crop up again every five years or so until ... until you know when.

Compare one to the size of my thumb.

There is a high cost to be paid for being afflicted with certain conditions.

Consider that our first car cost slightly less than this tiny, little pair of cuties.

That's the equivalent of two round-trips to the West Coast for two ... or one very, very fine camera.

But it beats saying "Eh?"all of the time. I guess. Eh?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Here's to Red Trilliums and Twisted Sisters

Raining and cold on a Saturday morning at 6:15 when I've already been up for almost an hour. These days, my odd sleeping patterns continue to be odd but in an upside down sort of way. To wit: instead of going to bed late and having trouble falling asleep, I am going to bed early and having trouble staying asleep — at least past an unearthly early hour. In fact, I almost didn't sleep past about 2:30 this morning but did manage to get a few subsequent, fitful hours of repose. In the event, I'll probably be very tired tonight and go to bed earlier, which means that I'll likely wake up even earlier tomorrow morning.

Cuppa and I will go out for Mothers Day breakfast sometime this morning. Depending on whether we think today's or tomorrow's weather will be worse, we'll then head out on a studio tour. You see, today calls for rain and tomorrow possible snow, so we're kind of between the devil and the deep blue sea — if you'll permit a metaphor that doesn't seems to fit too well when we're talking rain, snow and cold. Whoda ever thunkit that we'd be longing for March weather in May? Really: March and April's weather were preferrable to what May hath wrought so far.

Aside: would it be to much to ask to be able to see the cursor in the Blogger compose box? What happened to that thing anyway. Editing becomes a mug's game, especially when you're the world's most hapless and abysmal typist and must edit frequntly.

You should know that the studio tour that we're going on is the Red Trillium Studio Tour and that we invited Lorna to come along. Apparently, she preferred to tour France instead. The nerve. In fact, she just posted her first post from France at a MacDonalds in Paris [sic]. Both Cuppa and Lorna are jewelry freak-mommas, which is highly appropriate for Mothers Day weekend, and Cuppa wished to introduce Lorna to the marvels of Twisted Sister jewelry (get it: she twists metal into jewalerific shapes that please ladies to no end?), which is a stop on the tour, and really the only reason that we plan to do this particular tour — for the ninety-fifth time.

If all goes according to plan, AC will dip into his limitless pocket book to purchase a glittery bauble for Cuppa's Mothers Day gift. He'd better do it too since he has managed to lose the card that he purchased just two days ago: the one that Nikki Dee promptly bent, and the one that he then hid ever so cleverly.

It's now 6:30. Do you think I should go in and wake up her sleeping beautiness, so that she can get an early start on her MD weekend? No, I didn't think so. We wouldn't want to slip an a between the M and the D in our Mothers Day abbreviation, would we?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

More Fiddling and Step Dancing

For those who can stand it, here's one more clip from our fiddling weekend. This is from the other concert featuring local talent, and it is shorter than the previous one. The five fiddlers and two step dancers all reside in the local area. I'd give their names, but without the spelling of one or two in front of me, I'll resist rather than risk making a mash of it.

Watch on YouTube

Monday, May 03, 2010

Out of the Woodwork

I am beginning to think that in these parts the surest sign of spring has not to do with robins or tulips but with fiddlers. After not being aware of many, if any, concerts for lo these many months, I have been receiving concert notices apace lately. On the weekend, we chose to go to two concerts. It's not something that one would normally do, but one has become more or less a spring-rite for Cuppa and me, and the other featured three very notable fiddlers that I didn't want to miss.

On Friday evening, we attended the Fiddle "n" Fame concert, the one with the three noteworthy fiddlers, in Pakenham. The fiddlers represented different styles. Andre Brunet brought us Quebecois fiddling, Louis Schryer more of an Old Time or Ottawa Valley style, and Troy MacGillvray represented Cape Breton (Eastern Canada).

They each did their solo thing, but the neatest thing is when fiddlers get together and feed off each other. I took the following video when they were doing this at the end of the concert. It's a long set (about six minutes) followed by a coupe of minutes with step dancing being added to the mix. I don't know if you will be up for the whole clip, but for however long that you do watch bear in mind that these three have never played together before.

In part, I attend such concerts to bear witness to the tradition that now only exists on the fringes of awareness. As a pathetic beginner fiddler, I also can begin to appreciate the incredible skill of such people. For me, such skill is worth supporting, and such traditions are worth keeping alive.

(Oh, I got the kids' Camcorder out of storage. It's new to me, but I dusted it off because it's zoomable, which makes it a much better tool than our little camera. However, it is taking some getting used to, as is trying to figure out how to work with the result. It works with a tape, a digital tape but a tape nevertheless, which makes it different and more difficult to work with. What with that and trying to figure out the appropriate software, it took me a mighty long and frustrating time to be able to post this clip.)

Watch on YouTube

Not So Significant Anniversaries

I checked out the "How Old Are You?" calculator that Ruth mentioned in her post about worship. This is what it calculated for me.

My two billion second birthday will occur in January 2011. I am giving you lots of warning: lots of lead time to consider and send appropriate gifts.

I also learned that I will die on August 02, 2028 when I am 81 years old. Actually, this calculator assumes a life span of 81 years for everyone. Eighty-one seems good to me right now, but I suppose that if I make to 80, I might not be so sanguine about it.

I am posting this because I am too lazy to think of something clever to say and because you might like to check out the site too.

PS: I do kid a lot, but I think you could at least send a sympathy card to Cuppa come August 18 years hence.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

How Do You Like Dem Apples?

Last weekend we had Nikki Dee out for a ride and stopped to visit the horses in these pictures. Because she kept trying to feed them twigs and straw that she scavenged from the ground, we decided to take her back later in the week along with some apples. Unsurprisingly, she was hesitant to get close enough for them to take the apples from her. So, it was left up to the Bupster.

When the apples were done, she went back to offering them twigs and straw.

Turns out that the critters weren't terribly interested, but they did hang around hoping for more apples.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Calling Long Distance

Back in 1967, Cuppa and I had only begun to go out just a few months before I headed off to university. My place of residence that year was in an old building with long halls. It wasn't exactly the Ritz, but it was maintained and functional, and unlike the newer residences, the rooms were a good size. So, I was fine with the place as I was with the whole university experience, which I loved.

I had worked for a year after high school and was mature and motivated enough to really appreciate and enjoy higher learning. It was a nice campus, and my classes were relatively small, which worked well for me and how I best learn.

But I missed my Cuppa. We wrote a lot of letters back and forth, and I got home on most weekends, but I still missed her.

At some point I discovered that the school's telephone switchboard was located in my residence. It was the old fashioned kind but standard for its time. The operator would put the necessary plugs in the appropriate holes as they did in those days. I learned that the school had an open line to Toronto, and while it wasn't meant for frosh such as I, I could make use of it if I went down to the switchboard room, which I began to do with some frequency. Come eight or nine o`clock, I`d head downstairs and ask the operator if the line was free. More often than not it was, and he [sic] would let me dial Cuppa on the public phone in the switchboard room.

People were careful about calling long distance in those days. There were no long distance plans as there are now, and it was relatively expensive to talk across the miles, so making the trip downstairs was a way to save a few bucks and keep in touch with my sweetie.

I get all poignantly wistful thinking of those times on a Saturday morning forty-plus years later. Life was good. It still is, but you know what I mean.