Archive for August, 2007

Blatheringly on about my life

August 30, 2007

Once again I found myself staring into those space age goggles that the dentist wears and decided that today I would just go to sleep in the comfortable dentist’s chair – blue padded leather where you can wiggle into place and have your head supported as if by a heavenly cloud. (What the dentist does to you once you are there is not so heavenly.)

He was supposed to put an inlay on. Halfway through the procedure, while my mouth was wide open and blocked by something that they tell you is to help you rest your jaw but is in fact to prevent you from eating dentist fingers whilst he tortures you, he said “I guess we’re going to have to do a crown on this one.” I couldn’t tell from his laconic voice whether or not he was saying “Oops! I carved off too much while working and now the only way to fix it is a crown.” or “I really wanted to do a crown anyway, but this customer always wants the cheapest fix. I’ll get her to do an inlay and then half way in, announce that I couldn’t do otherwise; she’d have to have a crown.”

I really do feel that I’m paying single-handledly for this young hot shot dentist’s new fangled equipment.

What was I to say. “Grrrrnn”? My mouth was so propped that all I could do was throat grunts. There was nothing I could do about it anyway.

I had been delightfully entertaining myself with those beautifully coloured lights that I can see inside my eyelids that turn and squirm, constantly morphing into new abstract images like a kaleidescope while trying to ignore the dentist in his manipulations. These forms are especially lovely when you have a powerful dentist’s light blaring into your face. The colours shift up into a higher, brighter range of pure hues.

Suddenly the shapes began to look suspiciously like coloured dollar signs. I wondered how much more the crown was going to have to pay – especially since, with the inlay, I had exhausted what the dental plan would provide for the year. Sigh.

In the end, I had a good sleep stretched out on that chair while the dentist crafted the crown. He’s got a new technology that allows him to do this in his own office and he’s taken to the sculptural aspects of it. He sits behind my head happily sanding and carving until the overlay fits correctly. Only today, he sanded and carved a bit too much and went right through to the other side, producing an unacceptable hole in it. He had to make me a plastic temporary crown and I have to go back in next week.

I must say I had a rather nice rest for an hour and needed it because I’d had so little sleep the night before. The only real inconvenience was the freezing that was still preventing my tongue from using any of my verbal skills. It moved rather thickly after this two hour abortive attempt to crown me.

Remind me never to go in for the royal life. I’d end up with missing stones in the crown and receiving a concussion as the darned coronet landed on my head. Or maybe they’d just provide me with a plastic ersatz coronation device that would glitter and shine appropriately with crystal gem replacements, but wouldn’t matter if it were stolen or dropped from my head at any official event.

From the dentist’s chair, I proceeded to an equally comfortable dental hygienist’s chair.
“How do you like this chair compared to the dentist’s?” she asked.

“Just as comfortable,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”

“We’re thinking of changing this one. It’s out of date now. ”

Could have fooled me, I thought. It was just the same blue as the dentist’s; not quite as wide; just as comfy. No wonder he needed me to have a crown instead of an inlay.

She proceeded to lecture me on flossing. I’ve failed miserably, it seems, at this simple task of cupping the floss around a tooth and wiggling it up and down, not back and forth.

We exchanged a few pleasantries about her recent wedding with all the ethnic flash and dash that her and her husband’s family had provided, complete with a bright red dress bordered in gold and hennaed hand, feet and legs up just past her knees. The honeymoon in Cancun was wonderful and they had avoided the hurricane by just a few days.

I told her about my move and the vissitudes of my various moving adventures.

“You really need a cleaning before nine months, ” she said. “I know your plan doesn’t allow for it but …” She trailed off.

“Kerchunk, Kerchunk” I thought. “There goes another one hundred and fifty.”

I escaped that one, dashed back towards the car meanwhile looking for somewhere I could have a soft lunch that wouldn’t tear off my plastic crown and one that I could eat with a recalcitrant tongue just beginning to frizzle out its freezing.

I sat a Subway and ate a six inch sandwich whilst toying with a medium-difficulty Sudoku puzzle, ran into two former colleagues, then excused myself to dash again to another medical appointment to see if I had carpal tunnel syndrome developing.

Parking is getting so expensive that I spent twenty dollars just on parking lots. The hospital zapped my fingers and my elbows with electricity that translated into a graph on the computer monitor. The upshot was that the carpal tunnel indications are so minor that I have nothing to worry about, so I blithely skipped out of there and up to Hycroft where I can get a cup of coffee and a bit of conversation. I had something to drop off there and it was close by.

At six I drove to my mother’s house, hoping not to see Otto who has been awful to me lately. There’s nothing like a will and an estate to bring out a siblings true nature. I stopped by Safeway to pick up dinner since I wouldn’t ask him for anything, not even a cup of coffee, as things stand now. So armed with Cheesies and a cup of coffee for the road, I returned home.

He wasn’t there fortunately and I was able to load up another car load of paintings and miscellania. It’s sad to see the house being dismantled bit by bit.

Without my stewardship at my mother’s house, I found the living room occupied by a king size mattress tipped on its side. All the house plants were dying of thirst. I took them with me. I took the last vestiges of my paintings that were hanging on the wall with the exception of one too large for me to put in the car. There’s still lots for the mover to move.

I drove home in a glorious dusk steeped in a deep cerulean blue with orange blending at the horizon and enjoyed every minute of that flawless sky. By the time I reached home, it had morphed into a deep peacock blue with the cerulean replacing the orange down low.
My nephew was out, visiting in Vancouver so, when I entered, I found the house quiet and still. I took in the plants and left the rest for my nephew to unload tomorrow. Mrs. Stepford came over for a late cup of tea and we sat on the back porch listening to the tall cedars whisper and drank in the summer night air.

Later, I caught that very funny serial called “Arrested Development” then headed for bed. What more can you ask from a day? It was busy, interesting, moved forward a number of things I had to accomplished, and I was rewarded with a long a deep sleep.

Visitors have arrived

August 24, 2007

Heather and her husband, her two sons and my grand-nephew have arrived. They turned up at about six o’clock last night, too late for me to do any grocery shopping, so we ordered in a pizza for dinner.

First there had to be an inspection of the house, top to bottom, and admiration of my copious amounts of paint affixed to the basement walls, all white. Only Heather’s husband had seen it in its sorry original state, but all, including him were impressed with my accomplishment and agreed that the basement will be a livable place to work in.

The youngster is seven and speaks two languages very intelligibly already, Japanese and English. He can switch from one to the other effortlessly, but stumbles over the bits of French that his father is trying to teach him now that he is in Grade One. He has the marvelous curiosity of a child and an astonishing ability to see. Perhaps this is only because I’ve not had young children of my own and I’ve not seen these marvelous stages of development in other youngsters.

He looked at my gas fireplace and then reported to me that, if I didn’t already know, there was a blue flame. Did it need to be turned off?

I explained the functioning of the pilot light.

“There’s also a red spot in there,” he stated and took my large hand with his small soft child’s one. He pulled me over to the fireplace to look at what he had observed.

“Those aren’t wooden logs,” I explained. “Those are ceramic, like your dad’s coffee mug or grandpa’s cereal bowl. They can’t catch on fire. It’s just there to make it look like a wood fire. You don’t need to worry. It’s not a hazard.”

I got into a more lengthy discussion on it with his father. The blue flame is normal. The red hot ceramic tile is not. There is something going on there but I really don’t know what. Eventually, I’ll have to get someone in, but not right now.

My other nephew has just quit his job in the hotel industry. He could pick up a job anywhere since the job market is hot, but he’s thinking about a couple of weeks of holiday, so he offered to stay with me for a couple of weeks while he looks for his next landing spot. In the meantime, he has offered to do some work around the place – lifting heavy things, doing some yard work, mowing the lawn, maybe a bit of carpentry or gyprocking.

I’ll be glad of the company and glad to catch up with this gentle soul.

It was an offer. It has been accepted on my side, but not confirmed on his. So we will wait and see.

Last night we sifted over some possibilities for activities. All the boys have gone out rock climbing this afternoon in Coquitlam. We were hoping to have Mr and Mrs. Stepford over for hamburgers, outdoors, this evening but they can’t come. The menu will be different, but maybe tomorrow they will come.

Some other suggestions were the corn maze, horse back riding, a walk on the Pitt River Dikes, a hike in Golden Ears Park, swimming at the Municipal pool, going to a farm to see cows, horses, llamas, fallow deer or any of the other domesticated beasties. A blueberry farm is on the way home. I hope they will remember to bring some.
The blueberries are plump and sweet this year. We had some in a pie last night. Best pie I’ve made, ever, if I don’t say so myself. I got compliments from the others, so it must be true.

Mrs. Stepford, Heather and I went out to lunch at a friend’s place here in Maple Ridge. She has a stunning garden overlooking the Fraser River, high up on the cliff. Lunch was the epitome of refined living – a plate with a creamy blue cheese, one with double smoked salmon, some very lean prosciutto, three kinds of breads that were to die for, and a dessert of home made raspberries from the garden crushed in syrup,ice and whipped egg then frozen, coated with Bailey’s Cream at the time of serving. My mouth is watering again just at the thought of it.

After lunch, we toured the two acres of garden and stopped at the pond that had been sculpted out of the garden and provided with a continuous waterfall that tumbled over raw marble leftovers from the house construction. In the pool, we watched koi fish collect at the edge, swimming purposefully in circles waiting for their lunch. As soon as the food pellets were tossed in, they all scrambled to feed and the large ones muscle their way in the throng of little ones to gobble up the large pellets that the smaller fish could not grasp in their yawning maws, no matter how wide they opened.

A frog sat on a lily pad. The lily pad caught the afternoon light that seeped through the shady trees around the pool.

Soon we had to go, and we left bearing large zucchinis, a couple of cucumbers and , a tub full of elephant garlic. What a lovely and generous lady our hostess is! We bade farewell and returned home to find Heather’s mate mowing the front lawn. We all came back in the house and had a cuppa.

Not such a bad day for the 23rd of August now, was it?

Horoscope

August 23, 2007

Tim Stephens is my favourite guy in the horoscope trade. Somehow whatever he writes for my sign somehow fits like a glove and I use this to my advantage when everything seems to go wrong or difficult.

Get everything done before August 23rd, he seemed to say, to a number of different signs. The consequences of not getting them done before the 23rd were not spelled out, but I hastened to finish things in any case. without much success.

My sister, her husband, my nephew and my grand-nephew are supposed to arrive today. I was expecting them around one o’clock but they still haven’t showed up, so I’m profiting to do a little post, here, because I don’t think I will have time afterwards.

So, day before yesterday a kind young painter who takes lessons with Mrs. Stepford next door was coerced into loaning me a bridge table. I’ve only met her once when Mrs. Stepford brought the two students to paint the old Japanese Maple, a wonderfully twisted, graceful tree that provides luscious shade in the front yard.

So the young painter arrives at my door with the folding table saying, “I’ve gotta go. I’ve got to pick up my youngster from daycare. Mrs. Stepford said you needed a table. Just let me have it back when you’re done with it.”

I thanked her for her generosity and thoughtfulness. As soon as she was gone, I phoned Mrs. Stepford.

“What have you been telling her?” I asked suspiciously. I could just imagine Mrs. Stepford pleading that the poor lady next door didn’t even have a table, not explaining that simply my movers had done a no-show. I’d been managing quite well balancing food, computer and coffee cups on various combinations of unpacked (and therefore fairly stable) cardboard boxes.

“You don’t mind, do you, that I asked her to give you a table?” she said somewhat slyly, a grin spreading over her face (I could just see it, over the telephone. I know her that well.)

“Geez, Mrs. S., I don’t even know her and I’m borrowing!. Don’t you know that maxim, “Never a borrower or a lender be”? I don’t want to come across on first impression as someone who it going out soliciting for things when I’ve hardly arrived in the community.”

The upshot was that I had the table and it was exceedingly welcome. I spent the evening moving the computer from its perch on boxes in the kitchen to the front room where I’m expecting to establish an office once the furniture arrives.

Only I’m getting too old for this. I can’t see the ports of entry on the back of the computer and have to feel away which plug goes into which inlet. Last time I did it, I didn’t have sound which wasn’t a biggie for me, except I miss listening to Rachmaninoff as I type away.

Things were not going well, so I just had to see the back of the computer which was now sitting under the card table blocking off all the available light. I got down on the floor with my little one-use flashlight that I got from Canadian tire. (It’s solid state; you can’t replace the battery; and it only cost one dollar. It works like a hot-damn. I got it for mom a year and a half ago and it still works!)

So there I am trying to twist the tower towards me so I can see better, but if I do, it pulls at connections and I”m worried about the fragile wires breaking, so I don’t push that. Instead, I lie down on the floor, full length, wriggle forward until I can get my head inches away from the back panel.

It took me a few minutes to hook the tangle of wires to the back and then I went to get up. Well! I’m getting to old for all this, as I said before. I slowly withdrew my head so I didn’t knock it on the computer and then, full length, wriggled backwards. Oh Lord, nobody take a picture of this, I was thinking. It’s good I live alone! I lifted my head jut shy of the table top and didn’t connect, which was a good thing.

Then I had forgot about those failing knees when I got down here on the floor. I have to get things to lean on to push myself up on.

Oh well, I said to myself. That was a lot of work, maybe I’ll just lie here for a while.

Lucky that the floor is well carpeted with a soft underlay on it. I was warm and toasty and content to recover where I was. I was glad there was no-one to ask me if I was alright. I was actually doing just fine, but it must have looked funny.

Finally I got back onto my haunches, sat for a minute, surveyed what I could lever myself onto – the window sill and a corner of the computer tower – and lifted myself off the carpet.

Mission accomplished. I was feeling Little Red Hennish. I can do it myself!

I sat down and did a game of FreeCell. Yes, the computer worked. The sound was just fine. I got beeps for every error. But the new mouse is not charging up so I’m using it on it’s short leash – its charging cord – with the top of the computer tower as far as it will reach, which means that I rapidly developing carpal tunnel. And this mouse was supposed to be cordless.

I phoned Hugh. He says it should be charged up by now. Just take it back. There’s another chore I didn’t need.

Tuesday morning, I had business to do in Vancouver and went in by car Monday night figuring I could bring in a few more goodies that the new movers won’t need to and I could have two more chairs and a set of nesting tables for my company use as dinner tables. I loaded up the trunk in the evening and added the back seat items early morning, hoping to get to the doctor’s office by nine.
It was about eleven before I arrived out in Richmond at the specialist’s office.

I had to laughm when I arrived at the second floor, looking for unit 206. A the elevator, the first room I saw was 210. Next to it was 203. As I walked along the corridor which was shaped like a square around the elevator shaft, the numbers progressed in no logical fashion – 210, 203, 230, 218, 205, 206, 207, 223, 219 and back to 210. It was obvious that wayfinding was not a priority in this property management’s books.

I only had to sign a consent form and then later I will have to get some lab tests. I’m getting some very minor day surgery done at the end of September. Now I was getting late for the other appointment I had back in Maple Ridge.

I couldn’t leave the parking lot behind the doctor’s office in the direction I wanted to go because of the boulevards which prevent you from crossing the street. I had to go around the block, but when I tried that, I couldn’t turn left onto Westminster Highway going east. I had to go around again and find a main road that would allow me to do that.

Finally I was headed east on Westminster, looking for Number Six Road. I know how to get onto the Delta Surrey connector and I was sure that there was a turn off for New Westminster and from there, a quick drive down Columbia Street going east to the Brunette entry to the Number One Highway.

Only, they are doing construction on the Delta Surrey connector and some of the signs for New Westminster aren’t clear and I ended up in Queensborough Landing, which wasn’t too bad, because I reconnected with the Queensborough Bridge not long after, but it was a diversion. And I was in a hurry.

On Stewardson Way, I found that there were two Mack trucks coming towards me and one beside me, with lots of others before and behind them. I found it unnerving that my rather large car all of a sudden looked like a squashable ant, and there was no where to go. It was too much for me. I had to get off that road and did, at Third Avenue, as fast as I could.

New Westminster is hilly. I put the car in first gear and chugged up the hill. I passed Tenth Street and then noticed that the street numbers were getting smaller. What had started off as a main street had sputtered out into a residential district with traffic calming circles and four way stops at every intersection. When I found Sixth Street, I recognized finally where I was and went down to Royal where I could shoot across to Columbia.

Finally I was on my way to Brunette, Highway one, Mary Hill bypass, Lougheed and Maple Ridge. I arrived only fifteen minutes late for my appointment, but it seemed as if I’d been on the road for hours. When I finished my business, I phoned Mrs. Stepford.

“Can I come for tea?” I asked.

“Of course!”

I sat at her kitchen table exhausted. I put my face in my hands and cut out all the available light and just soaked up the peace of being in a warm and friendly kitchen. With a cup of restorative tea, the nerves of the day seeped out of me.

“I always blame the stars when things don’t go right,” I said to Mrs. Stepford. “It takes the pressure off. I don’t have to blame myself for not doing the right thing. It also means that tomorrow will be a better day. The stars will line up a different way and everything will get back on keel.”

And so here I am on the 23rd. All of those tasks I was supposed to finish are not yet done. I’m waiting for the folks to arrive. It’s just about six o’clock and they should have been here at four.

Tomorrow is another day; may the stars align in another way.

At the garden gate

August 18, 2007

 

Simon Peter and Mark were playing a game of Tarot just by the garden gate, waiting for decisions to be made on new admissions. Lucas and John were on holiday, Andrew and Matthew had days off, Jude, once again had been suspended from duty over a question of dependability and had been threatened with dismissal; the other Jude was on a different roster. It left Mark and Simon Peter with longer than normal days, with some gaps in activity in which to while away the time.Some said that the Tarot was the Devil’s work but that was just superstition; Simon Peter and Mark liked the game very much. It was complicated and was a fun way to keep up memory skills. It was more intricate than Bridge and less dependent on the number of participants. Lord knew, it was hard enough to keep all the names separate, especially when there were thousands of Smiths, Wilsons, MacDonalds, Campbells and Youngs in their world-wide adaptations to confuse the best of them. After a millenium of this work, any memory sharpening activity was welcome.

Outside the gate, there were some ladder backed chairs and some soft, comfortable wing backs. About twenty old souls were waiting for results on the entrance exam. Every once in a while, a messenger would interrupt Mark and hand him a decision. Mark would tuck the decision paper under his coffee cup until the round of Tarot was finished, then enter the number marked on the entrance exam into the ticket machine which would then flash the number written on the top corner of the results.

Mark called out. “Number 12; Number 12 please come forward” and the postulant would come forward to the gate. Mark would indicate either the garden gate or a little further down the fenced way, the postern gate. Some postulants accepted the decision without a word but some of those relegated to the end of the others stopped to argue and ask for an appeal.

Look at this one”, Mark said, shaking his head.. He glanced across at the souls sitting on the other side of the fence and tried to determine which of them was the one matching the decision.

Ten cents! For eighty-eight years, she atoned for stealing ten cents!”

What on earth would that be now, “ said Peter. “Ten dollars or a hundred? I always get mixed up on the decimal point stuff. I never went to school and I’m still thinking in drachmas and talents.”

Must have been ten dollars. It wouldn’t have bought her two ice cream cones, including Caesar’s tax, today.If she had a dime for every time she thought about it and then tithed that, God would be rich!”
“It’s a such a pity. All that time atoning for something so small, and she wasn’t more than seven at the time. She was forgiven the sin of stealing but she got docked plenty for not believing in God’s forgiveness.”

And the other thing she confessed? “
“Oh, she wasn’t at fault for the other thing. She had no hand in that. She didn’t manage to forgive the fellow even at the end when her daughter told her what forgiveness was about. Now the daughter, she knows about forgiveness. She’s an expert at forgiving herself and accepting God’s forgiveness. Mind you, she’s got a lot more sinning on her conscience, so she’s had practice.”

Well,” asked Peter, curious as to the outcome,” what’s the verdict?”

Oh, she gets in without a doubt. She was pretty upright, that one. Just look how she sits in her wingback. Its as if she had chosen one of the ladder back chairs. Like a queen on parade, that one. She got Paragon status on all but one of the virtues and a good Pass mark on Humility. It wasn’t a constant stumbling block; it was so balanced out by her lack of self assurance. Funny how those opposites operate together, isn’t it?”

But she’ll have work duty as soon as she comes in.. She never recognized a few things in her lifetime that God’s noted down here. She’ll have to get some counselling; but this one was a great student. She’ll be a quick study”

Like what” said Peter, looking at the Virtue sitting elegantly erect in the wingback chair.

Maligning tradesmen. She never trusted them and then always accused them of stealing her blind. For someone who knew nothing of the trades and their skills, she was mightily ungrateful and seldom right. She shouldn’t have been so mistrustful and so quick to jump to conclusions.”

That was part of her pride fault. She was so proud of having come from a poor immigrant background and having risen to the heights of academia and thence to the upper limits of the bourgeoisie that she disdained everyone who did not meet her level of achievement. That’s not very charitable. On the other hand, her tithing was impeccable. It more than balanced out.

And then, she had great difficulty in believing that her children were truthful to her at times, to the point that one of them turned into a blatant liar to protect herself from the consequences. That poor girl She was damned if she told the truth and damned if she lied. There was something wrong there. Virtue will have to confront that and settle it out before she gets to see God.”

And she had some prejudices against anyone not British. Very chauvinistic. It got in here way in dealing with visible minorities. They are all God’s children, no better, no worse. That too wasn’t very charitable. She’ll need to get that straightened out.”

On the Ten Commandments – she was a great defender of them, assiduously reminding people that they weren’t options; they were Commandments. It annoyed some of her family” At this, Mark tittered, as he remembered a few of the young ones squirming under her admonishing glare. “But she got a score of ten on that one. “

Peter and Mark watched as she came towards them, tall and lithe as she had been in her youth, as if walking to the start line of a hundred meter race, the kind she used to run.

How are you today?” asked Simon Peter.

No pain, praise God. It seems an eternity that I’ve been suffering my old bones, but I just feel wonderful today. Not a bit of pain!”

Well, you passed. Come on in.”
She passed through the gate without it opening and disappeared into the mists.

Sometime later, she found herself watching her children go through their daily activities in a kind of television performance that had no edges to it. Talk about wide screen and new technology!

She saw Heather and passed her hands over dear Heather’s forehead and pushed back her curls. Heather smiled for no reason and felt warm for once. For a few minutes, Heather’s worries lifted and she relaxed as she watched a magnificent sunset from her Sechelt balcony.

Otto, well there was a case. She’d never understood how he had become the man he was. She shook her head as she watched him talk about family and then machinate how he could manipulate the others out of what money they had. He had a twisted logic that came from having read too many self-help books on wealth management. He had never learned that money wasn’t the only goal. He was stuck on using other people’s money to make himself rich. But what did he do with the money? Spent too much of it on alcohol and dinners out. Gambled it in highly leveraged real estate and risky mutual fund speculations. What a waste! Why did he feel so cheated vis-a vis the others, she wondered? He’d had more than any other, lost it all twice and had it replaced. And still he was acting as if he had not been blessed. She sighed. She hadn’t found a way to turn that around in him, in life, and now that was her challenge, before she could see God. That could take some time and thought. She put it aside.

Otto scowled. His sisters were taking unfair advantage of him. He’d fight for the last penny. His mind started to spiral into all the times he had received the wrong end of the stick. In a curious way, he relished each detail. A thought of his mother went through his mind. She seemed so far away, unreachable.

Then there was Lizbet. She passed her hands over dear Lizbet’s forehead as well, but with a bit more reserve. Lizbet, after all, had been the first one to say, “If no one else wants this silver plate, I’ve always had my eye on it” and “When these are getting divided up, please remember that I want the two blue ones.” There was a little too much attachment to material goods, thought the virtuous soul looking out.

Over all, Lizbet went to church regularly, followed rules, was impeccably honest, did charitable works and was learning to be more generous and less prideful. She implanted the desire in a collector to go buy a painting from Lizbet and in an instant, she saw Lizbet glow with happiness as her patron of the arts chose a large painting, wrote out a cheque and left with her prize watercolour. That would keep Lizbet for a month, Virtue thought. Then she passed along to Kay.

Ah, Kay! What was she going to do with Kay?

Now there was another case! The soul shook her head.

In Kay she recognized a wonderful dose of kindness, the kind that helps small birds to fly away, that fosters lost children and helps them through their growing up in a marvelous way that the soul had never been able to do. It was Kay who had accompanied her to the garden gate, and a long arduous journey that had been for the both of them. Virtue all of a sudden recognized how much work that had really been and Kay had managed to stay even tempered ninety five percent of the time, bless her heart. She deserved a good life now. The virtuous soul felt a moment of happiness that she had been able to tell Kay how much she had appreciated her.

There was trust in that girl. Too much trust. It got her into the most grievously dangerous situations sometimes and she saw, with her new omniscience, that Kay had only come unscathed from those situations with the help of a host of good angels. God had assigned duty time and again to new angels to ensure that girl came out okay. High maintenance, was Kay, of which Kay was entirely ignorant.

She saw how Kay had been blessed or cursed with too much logic and had wallowed in her youth with the black and white sides of ethics and had, eventually opted for a pragmatic grey area that functioned well for her but had some iffy aspects to it, Kay couldn’t extricate herself from situations sometimes because she held to promises that didn’t make sense. The girl took things too literally. And there was one of those situations hindering her right now.

The soul sat watching and thinking. She was used to direct commands, as befitted a mother, as a means of dealing with personal situations. Black and white had worked for her through life. Just think on the Ten Commandments and the answer was always clear. It wasn’t the what-to-do but rather the how-to-do-it that complicated the task.

Three cloud-sitting days later she had the answer. Franc was the stumbling block in Kay’s life. She was still stuck on that “till Death do us part” promise she’d made, and couldn’t see that she would be released from it if she was drawn into the Devil’s work. That Franc, he kept drawing her away from her life work. That Franc was constantly flirting with Beelzebub.

She hovered over Franc and seeded doubt in his jealous mind, and the rest took care of itself. He was bright, Kay’s Franc, in a curious way, ….

But he didn’t understand her Kay. Never had. He’d never admiitted she had a mission in life and that she was driven by it. It got in his way. Virtue had just about missed it herself, but Kay had been able to make her see it finally. It was a God-given talent, and you don’t mess with those.

Kay didn’t have too many years left. This was her first opportunity to be on her own, to spend her time on her gifts without hindrance. Virtue even saw that, in her slow dance with Death, passing to the other side, she had robbed Kay of her time and focus. Now Virtue had the opportunity to give Kay this gift of time and focus that she didn’t even know she needed.

Virtue bit her thumb at Frank. Frank stewed in his impatience. More than usual, it festered into ire. Virtue had set Frank into the motions of him breaking off his relationship with Kay who would never suspect Virtue’s hand in it.

Up past the clouds, the Virtuous Soul nodded her head.

There you go,” she thought. “That’s the power of ultimatums. Everyone loses. But that’ll be so much easier in the long run for it to work. His pride won’t allow him to come back.”

The Virtuous Soul smiled. Her machination was working. Now all she had to do was to keep Kay’s mind off Franc.

Virtue took stride, herself, for the first time in ninety-five years. As a retired mother, she was having better success than ever before in arranging what she knew to be right for her children, while waiting for her wings.

Challenges

August 18, 2007

By Sunday, I understood that the movers wouldn’t come Monday as I had thought. It was just as well. Lizbet was in town with one of my second cousins whom I had met only briefly a week or so before when they came through town on their way to one of those resort condominium things in Parksville. They were back now, happy for the holiday, disgusted with the treatment they got at the resort and ready to enjoy complaining about it as they recounted their week away. On Monday, that left us with a free day. I kept on packing my infinte belongings that never seem to diminish on the leaving side and seem to be piling up on the receiving side. How can that be?

Lizbet went to the art store and visited with a Little Ethel at Mom’s previous residence. Alice went across the street to the mall looking for things she could take home to her grandchildren. We agreed to meet in the afternoon and go down to Spanish Banks where there is a Concession stand that sells the best fish and chips in the world, bar none.

At six o’clock, we piled into one car complete with Sara the dog and drove out to the beach no more encumbered than by our sun glasses and sun hats. No towels, no blankets, no shovels (now what would three middle age ladies do with shovels at the beach?) no sun screen. We were only going for fish and chips.

It was the long weekend. It was a Provincial holiday. The beach was packed; there wasn’t a parking spot to be had. We waited in the parking road space waiting for someone to leave and finally got a spot far from the concession.

A light breeze was picking up. The sun was gloriously sinking to the horizon in a leisurely way. It still had two hours to fulfill it’s daily commitment. The tide was in and we could see the life guard in his red t-shirt lazily rowing his boat near to shore and the swimmers. Way out in the bay, there were three tankers floating high, indicating they were waiting to lade cargo before they left port.

There were family picnics and association picnics. A whole community of African-Canadians were gathered together joyfully barbecuing dinner, kids playing and cavorting, mamas sashaying and flirting while keeping an eagle eye on their charges, men playing frisbee and gossiping in groups.

In other areas, people lay on blankets or lounged in canvas portable chairs. It was a holiday and people here were taking full advantage of it.

Lizbet and Sara-dog went to find us a place to sit and eat while I went to get three orders of fish and chips. Cousin Alice went with Lizbet too, and once the spot was chosen, came back to help me transport our dinner to the beach.

We sat watching seagulls scrap over someone else’s left over meal. Crows hovered but did not drive off the community of gulls that had congregated. One log over and one log down, three Phillipina girls sat with a young Caucasian lad having a celebration – probably a birthday – because one of the girls had a lovely bright bouquet of flowers carefully wrapped in a beach towel to protect it from the heat. Early evening light fell gloriously on the group creating long shadows typical of late day. With my trusty digital camera I was able to surreptitiously take photos that might translate into a drawing some time. Lizbet, Alice and I speculated on the relationships of those four and then cast our eyes out on the other beach figures, looking for beach beauty.

Eventually our chips were gone and we reluctantly brushed off our sandy bottoms, , dumped our little cardboard chips containers in the garbage container, and turned for home.

As we walked back to the find the car, we were fascinated by a young couple that stood swaying at the shore, lip-locked and body-locked, oblivious to the passers-by, kissing as if the world it were a World Championship marathon. The tide came in closer and closer, sweeping in in a three-waves-small, fourth-wave-a-big-one pattern, drenching them to the knees and they continued to kiss on. Every once in a while they would brace against the spray from the fourth wave, slightly shift their swaying position. Perhaps they took breath. There was a shift, in any case, and they seemed to start afresh.

Isn’t that romantic? Lizbet opined as she continued to commentate on the lovers’ status as if it were a skating championship on television.. “I mean, if you were going to make the most romantic scene in a movie, wouldn’t this be it, with wave crashing a brilliant spray about you while you obliviously cling to your lover in an endless embrace?”

And

They haven’t come up for air in twenty minutes. Are they actually taking a breath?

And

Ah! I see a shift. Did you notice that shift in position? He’s moved his hand from the upper back to the centre waist. That’s a classic move. They haven’t separated yet!”

What a marathon! You’ll never see better than this!”

In the meantime, Alice and I were laughing hilariously. Lizbet and Alice set each other off. I’ve seen them engage in more fou-rires, those uncontrollable fits of laughter that end in tears running down your face and you, gasping for air. I was doing it, too. If only the couple knew what a spectacle they were providing! It probably would have changed nothing.

I thought of Mama; how she would have been disgusted with these kiss marathoners; how she would have scurried us away to not look in case this unacceptable behaviour was somehow a virulently contagious disease.

We continued to the car, the sun now giving it’s last brilliant show, yellow and gold blazing low through tree branches, picking up wavelets and shattering them against the seashore with golden glitter. We reluctantly set off back home.

Just one other story of note from our beach trip: When we were arriving, we stopped by a panel that wrote out in detail the dog walking etiquette for the beach. We read it and ho-hummed. It was much like every other park. We knew the rules.

On our way back to the car, we noticed another sign that we had missed on the way in. It said that dogs were completely forbidden from the sandy beach area. The fine for disregarding this rule was $2,000. We had been sitting at our log nonchalantly eating dinner and people watching, entirely ignorant of this rule, and Sara the dog was at our feet, patiently hoping that the left overs would be for her and not for the seagulls. Little had we realized the monetary peril we had narrowly escaped.

Oops.

But I started this tale with no intention of telling you about the beach. I started to tell you that the movers never came. I’m at odds with Otto about the rent and me still being in the house, while I should be inhabiting my own premises. If he has to pay a larger portion of rent this month, because I’m out of there, then I should be out of there.

There is enough contention in our family over the will and selling of the house, that I am desperate to keep the peace. I don’t like arguments at all. Though Otto has apologized for his angry and violent outburst prior to Lizbet’s and Alice’s arrival, (and I’ve let this lie quietly as a result), I don’t want to give him any further opportunity to find excuses for not meeting his commitments. So I do want to be out of there.

But here I am with no mover and I think I’ll have to find another one. So I’ve made two more trips with the car to bring things to my new home. This last one has been a commitment to living in my new place, even though I still have a room full of boxes and all my furniture still there at Mother’s house in Burnaby.

I’m camping. But I’m proud of myself.

Hugh happened by as I was loading the car. He made me unhook all the cables from the computer so that I would have an idea of where they would be hooked back up when the computer and peripherals were reassembled. Hugh carried it all to the car. It was delightful and unexpected to see him again. He’s about to leave for Ottawa to study for his Masters degree. I got a few more hugs and bit more conversation and was grateful for it.

I also took my hair dryer and my medication. That is all at this end, the new house, now, and I’m really here.

I’m sleeping on a day bed couch-become-mattress on the floor. I have an unpacked box of files for a night table. The pillow is a chair cushion. I sleep luxuriously under a duvet that is feather light and keeps me warm. I’ve been camping out more roughly up until now with just the overhead light, nowhere to sit (no furniture) except this daybed mattress. It’s hard to read at night before I go to bed under these conditions. However, on this last trip, I brought my bedside lamp, so now I also luxuriously read my way to sleep in camping comfort last night, without having to hoist myself off the floor to turn out the light.

I’m proud that I was able to assemble my electronic piano by myself. There were only four screws, but I got that right, and it’s up and the connections are made and it plays as well as I can make it.

I’m proud that I assembled the computer with only one glitch. All the terminals are plugged in the right places. Everything operates. The printer prints, the scanner scans, the mouse scampers. That was last night.

The only glitch was the keyboard. I had proven that the computer worked by playing several games of FreeCell, but when I tried to input a new telephone number to the Address Book, nothing worked on the keyboard.

I made a distress telephone call to Hugh who knows everything about the computer. His last advice was for me to try the keyboard on Mrs. Stepford’s computer. If it worked, then it was the computer at fault, but if it didn’t work, it was the keyboard at fault.

Worst case,” he said, it’s the motherboard.” My heart sank. Why do I have to have problems with it when Hugh is going away. I guess I’m going to grow up with my computer and learn to do more myself. None of this leaning-on-a geek business.

As he said good-bye, casually as a statement of an everyone-knows-this,-you-know fact, he said, “You know that the keyboard has to be plugged in before you turn the computer on or it won’t work?”

We signed off. As a last effort before I traipsed over to my neighbour, I turned the computer off, reconnected the keyboard, fired the computer back up again and, lo and behold, the keyboard works.

So I’m back in business. Except the CPU of the computer is on the floor as is the scanner and the printer. I tried sitting on the floor to work but the only flat surface I have to mount the monitor on is a less than stable cardboard box. It took me five long minutes to get up from the floor with these old bones.

When I use the mouse at floor level, the old carpal tunnel flares. With the monitor at one angle and me at another, I’ve cricked my neck trying to see what I’m doing. Is this what computer camp is like?

Since dinner, I’ve assembled a little low coffee table (again, with four bolts.) It’s raised the mouse by a foot and a half. I found the Reader’s Digest Atlas for a lap table; I borrowed a chair from my patient and generous neighbour, Mrs Stepford. So I’m now happily back in business:
Oh Suzanna, oh don’t you cry for me,

‘Cause I’m off to Alabamy with

A keyboard on my knee.

And in this quiet house, I’ve done my first post from here, waiting for my Internet connection to be installed seven days from now, to publish; and I’m thrilled that I’ve assembled my electronic piano, a taken-apart-for-shipping coffee table and a computer all in one day. I feel I’m reaping the benefits of my Hippie days in making do with what I’ve got.

“Let tomorrow come! I’m ready!”

 

Hugh is going – Onwards and upwards

August 7, 2007

Here’s a late night update.

Nephew geek Hugh was up to dinner tonight. This is indeed a pleasure!

He sat across from me, his shaved head shining. He’s going bald young just like his grandfather and says, “If I’m going to be bald, I might as well be as bald as I can be.”

He’s a big man, six foot three, solid, brilliant, and gentle like a teddy bear.  I think he inherited it from his grandfather, my dad, who had the same attributes except that he was much thinner.

Hugh was wearing a khaki green hoodie over his matching T-shirt which I thought was inside out, but was merely constructed with the seams looking raw on the outside as a decorative effect.  If he wants to be a diplomat, he’ll need to polish up his style.

He mentioned that he had had a suit made to measure recently and is waiting for it to be finished, hoping of course that there is no glitch before he leaves the Province. So there’s a change! Imagine! Men always look so distinguished in suits.

His visit happened to coincide with Lizbet and my cousin from Winnipeg coming (and leaving again tomorrow) so we had a feast – ribs, chicken and fresh corn from Maple Ridge, rosemary potatoes that Hugh knows how to do so well, cauliflower and raw veges. I haven’t had such a meal since the last time the ladies sailed through on their way up to Parksville.

Hugh is on his way to Carleton University to resume his studies in Political Science. Ottawa will be a great place for him to be – in the centre of the political storms. He didn’t stay long after dinner and I drove him home. We stopped for a coffee and had a little private good bye. I’ll miss him a lot – may only be able to communicate by e-mail and telephone. That’s not so bad, I guess. He’s taking his wings again, with the expectation that he will not be back in B.C. again except for an occasional visit. The work is in Ontario or any of the major cities of the world.
I’m proud of him and wish him wonderful success in what he wants to do.  But this means many changes for me. My world is altering around me, with new house, living alone for the first time in decades, finally having a place to paint and a place to show my own work, leaving Mother’s house behind, not working in the daily grind kind of way. Now Hugh will be gone and with him, my computer resource.

It’s funny. I had plotted out how it would be, and some of it is materializing, but not the way I imagined it would be. It’s a new adventure. I trust that there is a reason for what is happening in my new world and that it will bring good things.

It never ends. I still have some growing up to do and I will tackle it in good faith.

So, onwards and upwards for us all.

Suspense!

August 6, 2007

A lovely friend gently reminded me that you, my loyal readers, might be hanging in suspense as to the outcome of my July 1st post. Franc had gone off in a huff that had begun as an inflated bombastic balloon, threatening divorce, and ended as a deflated wrinkly remains of one, looking lost and defeated.

There has been a whole month of silence in between. Life rolls on at it’s merry pace with or without us. I’ve been overwhelmed with “must-dos”, those tasks that one cannot avoid or at least, at great peril of one kind or another, and so have not blogged much. My story of Charlie the painter got half written and then I could no longer devote the necessary time to it. It took Charlie and me a full week to get the apartment painted for resale. Then I met with Realtor who is an old friend. She brought me a few more tasks to make the place presentable. My brother-in-law, bless his heart, came from up Sechelt way, with his truck, and took four or five loads of goods out to the new house, including the wooden Ikea shelving that I use to store my vast collection of paintings on.

I followed my brother in law out to the new house with car loads of paintings and household paraphernalia. I took one look at the basement where all this stuff will be stored and where I suspect I will be spending a great deal of my time, since I’m hoping to have a pristine looking in-home gallery on the main floor, and decided I could not live with the ancient rose colour that had become encrusted with dust and grime, nor its erratic companion colour of hospital green – left over paints from the fifties, at best. I needed there to be light and brightness. There was no other option than to paint out the grime and the depressing colours with bright white. I couldn’t put anything away until the painting was done. So I’ve spent a week at this already and have only done one wall, complete with all the built in shelving and the cold room.

The cold room is an anachronistic and charming left-over from the pioneer times when one preserved the summer harvest in jars for winter use when you could not expect an airplane to fly in tomatoes from Mexico or Spain. There were no grapes arriving from Chile. California was not sending year-round strawberries. We have no idea how rich and spoiled we have become in achieving our daily necessities! We take it all for granted. This cold room might have stored root vegetables like beets, carrots and potatoes in boxes full of sand, bins of apples and hard pears waiting to ripen on a window sill once they were liberated to the main living area of the house; rows on rows of canned-at-home green and yellow beans, fruits, asparagus, corn and other vegetables, chutneys, jams and pickles. There might be jars of dried fruits, dried beans – the seed variety – There were no corner stores; nor refrigerators, nor freezers.

Now this lovely cave like room is going to store a bit of my food storage but more so, it’s going to be storage for art supplies that will not be affected by possible damp. I’m not one hundred percent sure of the humidity levels in there.

This room was very clean, but depressingly grey. It has now been over-painted completely in white and I don’t feel so depressed going in there. This was another of the week long painting exercise I’ve just been through.

Heather and her husband left on Tuesday morning of that week and Lizbet and a cousin I’ve never met from Winnipeg came on Thursday morning to start their summer vacation with a day and a half here and then a week in Parksville in a time-share condo on the shores of the Georgia Straight.

All of that is to say, I’ve not had time to stand still. I’ve not had time to brood about Franc, although he has been in my thoughts in spare amounts of down time. And we have had two encounters, neither of which elicited conversation.

In his parting comments to me on the first, he asked me to move all my stuff out of his place as soon as possible. I arranged for a mover, I can’t remember the date, about the 15th. (Beware the Ides of Julius?). Perceptive Franc had seen me drowning in family responsibilities just after Mother’s death and had prodded me to pack up my things, knowing I would have to move, and he offered me a spare room in his apartment to fill up with the ensuing boxes.

It helped me in a number of ways. It kept me busy while motion, any motion, took my mind away from wallowing emotions; it gave me swing room while I coped with the vast amount of goods and paintings I had accumulated that needed to be moved for an eventual and more urgent change of address; and most of all, it gave me the feeling that at least one individual had some idea of the strain I had been living under for the last year in particular, and that he was offering a me safe haven, not just for the goods but for me, when the family and it’s Arrested-Development-type disfunctioning came out in spades.

Now here I was clearing out the room, under conditions that were truly saddening. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks. His face was stony. He sat on his couch where we had sat many evening, he watching television; me cursorily doing the same while fiddling with a Sudoku or crossword puzzle or crocheting the latest blanket. He was assiduously trying not to look at me. I still had the feeling that he had been steam rollered over and was terribly unhappy about how things had gone.

I looked at him and my tongue froze. Such is the power of ultimatums that they generally make for two losers; there is no middle ground, no room for compromise, no way to save face. Both of us were unhappy and I couldn’t say a thing. There was silence from both sides. He spoke to the movers, whom I had warned that I didn’t know what his reaction would be, in normal tones, helpful, directing their work, but there was not a word to me.

It took the movers about an hour to empty the room. All the bits and pieces of our life together had been separated and divvied up. His walls were bare of my loaned paintings. My Sudoko and crossword books were returned. The hardest thing to look at are the goofy lime-green frog slippers he bought for me at a flea market for a dollar so that my feet wouldn’t get cold. He thought I’d never wear them but they were so outrageously goofy with a tiny red tongue hanging out just about where my big toe goes, that I couldn’t not wear them. Now they are still in the back seat of my car. I can’t bear to throw them out, and I don’t want the constant reminder of what has occurred between us.

When the movers were ready to drive off, he came to me and spoke. I was glad that he had the power to break the dreadful silence. This time it was me who felt like a deer caught in the headlights, powerless to speak, powerless to move.

“Did Charlie finish the painting for you?
“Yes, he finished on Sunday.”

“That seems overly long.” he said.

“Well, he talked me into doing the ceilings as well; and he repaired the woodwork on the balcony. And he talked me into painting the surface of the balcony too.”

“And he did it properly?”
“Yes. It looked beautiful.”

“You are moved to the new house now?” I shook my head in reply.

“It’s just the beginning. You asked me to do this quickly and I did the best I could. With the painting and the real estate stuff, I haven’t had any time to do otherwise. ”

“Just send me the documents I need to start the divorce”

I nodded dumbly.

“Well this is it, then,” he said and hesitated as if there were more.

“Good luck.” It was said flatly. Or maybe with a bit of irony. I couldn’t tell. He went back into his apartment and I left.

Less than a week later, while Lizbet was here, it was his birthday. I agonized over whether to do something, to acknowledge it or not. I have good support from my friends. I’m not a very private person sometimes. They’ve been through this once before twelve years ago, but loyal as they are, God bless them, they will still put up with me and my roller coaster relationship.

I didn’t want to give him anything. I’ve never been successful in giving him presents. He doesn’t seem to want them anyway. Any one I’ve given has been mocked or ignored so that finally I stopped giving them. The only thing he seemed to want from me was time and companionship. I gave of that what I could, given my commitments to family that I wouldn’t break this close to the end of them.

I couldn’t say anything. The only things I wanted to say he would not listen to. I’d already had those mocked on the night of our disagreement. Talk about an impasse! I wrote a half dozen letters, each getting more concise, that all met with the shredder on a dark and stormy night.

Finally I wrote a short note telling him that I couldn’t let his birthday go unnoticed, but that we were both a pair of old fools, stubborn and recalcitrant; recognized that I understood why my stance had most likely hurt his feelings, but that he was not to think that I had not appreciated all he had done for me; that I loved him anyhow (which is something I’ve often said when things didn’t go my way).

On the morning of Lizbet’s first full day here, we decided to go to the Monet to Dali exhibition. I agreed as long as I could take the morning to go do something first. Business I had to get out of the way. I drove that long drive out to Surrey listening to Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto. It’s become a salve for me, calming my spirit in heavy traffic, or in heavy emotions. The day was sunny with mists hanging in the delta farm fields. I drove in and out of fog while the sun tried to burn them away.

At Save on Foods, I stopped and purchased a plant, red, his favourite colour. Not roses, I had been counselled. Too romantic. Something more sedate.

Carnations? Too fluffy. Alstromeria? Too palid, too wishwashy. Gladioli? They were one of his favourite flowers, but not yet in bloom. A begonia or azalea just seemed out of the question. I settled on a cyclamen, a long lasting plant with good strong red colour.

A few days later I called up my nephew to ask him a geeky question, like how am I going to make a slide show of photos if the CD player won’t play them to the TV? I dialed the number from my overactive brain and found myself talking to Franc. Their numbers start with the same 778 prefix and I guess the rest was an auto-Freudian slip up.

I apologized for disturbing him. He thanked me for the flowers. The conversation was driven by a hurry on both sides to hang up. And I’m left wondering if he’s OK.

Of course, he’s not OK. I can read in his face, in his voice that he’s not OK.

My dear loyal friends have offered some advice, and since I seem to be relatively naive in my relationships, I am trying to make the best of the conflicting advice.

“Just give him time to think things through; to come to terms with his own emotions. In my opinion, he’ll be back when he’s had the time. He needs to be able to save face.” It took him five years, the last time we went through this. I’m less vulnerable now; more sure that I can survive on my own. When I look back on where we were twelve years ago and where we are today, nothing has changed. Why would I wait again?

“It was somewhat of a lopsided relationship anyway. Let it go. Go meet some other people” Easier said than done.

“Sorry darlin’; I hate to tell you but there aren’t many single men in Maple Ridge. This isn’t a place to go meeting people.” Thanks for the support.

“Maybe it’s for the best.” Maybe. He’s made me see all colours of the rainbow. I’ve put up with things unthinkable for me and my upbringing. Why did I put up with any of it. Why do I want to bring it back into my life, now when I have a short time at the end of my career to do the things I want to do.

And so in the interstices of my daily living, I am filling up the cracks with thinking of Franc, the pros and the cons. He was tremendously generous in the last few years with his time and his incredible skills, repairing my house at Lisbets and at the apartment; with his brawn in helping me with my move, and in my garden; with his listening ear when I was bearing up with the days of Mother’s dying, despite the fact that she wouldn’t allow him on the property and would not tolerate his name mentioned in her hearing; with his chauffeuring, since I can no longer drive long distances; with his repairs to my automobile; and in many other ways.

Weighing this with his jealousy of how I spend my time with others. Weighing this with his criticism of my visual and written creativity that comes of a complete ignorance of what Fine Art is all about. Weighing this with his penchant towards surveilling my actions as if I were slightly retarded in my development and need constant correction – still after thirty years of knowing me. Or with his stubborn belief that what he has decided I want is really what I want, even though I tell him otherwise, and then imposes it on me, whether I want it or not, irreversibly. And many more things I don’t care to mention.

And so, as another friend has counselled, “Why are you always trying to rescue people? Just let it go and see what happens.

Christmas Rose

August 6, 2007

helleborus

Tiny ice crystals melt and drip into the frozen earth, forming dark pockets in the snow. Inside each of the pockets, a robust white flower with round cup-shaped sepals seems to generate some measure of heat that helps expose it’s presence under the latest snowfall.

It is Christmas. Mother boasts that every season in the year, she can bring some plant life from her garden as decoration for a table centre. A few branches of this lovely flower are Mother’s miracle plant that blooms even under snow.

Our horticulturist grandfather gave this plant to her. Today it is mid June. I have been digging out the rock walled garden, rescuing the crop of tulips and daffodils that I planted only last fall – and the few remainders that my friend the squirrel (arghh!) did not eat for his own Christmas dinner.

In the oak half barrel, there were more dafs and tulips. That barrel had been pure compost, not very refined, only four years ago. Now it is the best earth on the property – rich, black and loose. I filled the bottom of a very large planter pot with this rich soil then dug up the Christmas Rose, its roots dark and robust, extracted a couple of Spanish bluebell bulbs, then carefully wound the long, deep exposed roots of the “rose” under the root ball clinging to the upper roots, tucking them under and into their new home. The plant has been there so long that it has grown sturdy and broad. I was able to get two large plants from it. Tomorrow I think I will be able to extract another few stems of it that were left behind in the garden.

It was light until nine o’clock this evening. I love warm summer nights like this. The wind was up this afternoon and still running softly this evening. But it got too late and too dark for me to do any more digging. The rest will have to wait until tomorrow.

I have a large flat of baby marigolds waiting to fill all the space. I shall have an orange and yellow garden this year. The blue has been dug out for transplanting. The house will be sold and maybe razed.

The treasures of Mother’s garden are coming with me for my new garden.

Mama, look at me now!

August 2, 2007

I took hundreds of pictures in four days, about eight hundred in all. I had no idea what to expect as volunteered photographer for a women’s conference.  My reveries were shaken when I was handed a long  list of required photos. All of a sudden it sounded like a mightily dull task I was headed for, for five days straight.

Picture of the President. Picture of the Executive Director. Picture of clubs receiving awards. Picture of the Resolution Chair (and what on earth was that?).  The Parliamentarian.  And on and on.  I started to think “Ho, Hum, snore!”.

The arrivals desk was dressed in a sassy lime green. Two familiar club members were already in place, lazily gossiping as they awaited the first attendees to register, whilst fixing up signs and directions, attending to last minute details.

I joined in the chatter and was rather delighted at the reception I got. People had seen my photographs before and were expecting great things from me. I was impressed that they were impressed before even seeing anything.  I chattered so much I missed the first set of photos I was supposed to take, and I simply could not line up the folks for a second chance. The attendees had left for tours throughout the city and I’d lost the moment.

I made up for it later, taking away more pictures than were required. I love taking pictures, fixing in time the people watching that I do. There was a real mix of dress code with some in very casual wear and some dressed as if for an important day in the office. The President of the organization came with a new outfit for every session and I was happy to capture that because she was a slight, perky red headed woman, reminding much of one of my business friends who had the same energy and charisma.  She was beautiful and wore her clothes well.

I did as requested and took all the required photos but the light levels were poor and I was hampered by daylight blasting through gaps in the curtains and by pot lighting that I discovered afterwards had made halos or tiaras on top of a person’s head. I used my Adobe Photoshop skills to diminish the effects of these afterwards. There’s a miracle in that programing!

As a result of those conditions , I was careful to take portraits afterwards of people in their best outfits and I managed to get some beatific smiles. Really, the plainest person is beautiful when she lights up a radiant smile. All the character comes out and shines.

There was some light relief with the receptions and the banquet. On Friday, there was a salmon barbeque. One of the decorations was a fabulous crisp ice sculpture that melted as the evening wore away getting less and less precise as time went on to a rounded edged version of the same. It was simply enough done that I could photograph the distant city and the mountains through it. That was fun!

At the banquet on Saturday night, I found myself at the head table, all but next to the National President and facing the banquet sponsor and the Conference Chairperson. I was rather surprised at the honour but realized that it was very practical for me to be right at the front to be able to get up and photograph as important events went by. I could have been at the next table at the front and done as well, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain.

I had a smile in the back of my mind and maybe one on my face too. Mother set such store by honours and dignitaries. If only she could  see me now,  would  she ever be  proud.

I must have been daydreaming because I all of a sudden heard “the toast to the Queen”. With a startled haste, I flipped on the power switch of the camera and as it booted up, I missed the occasion. I didn’t even get a photograph of the woman who had had the honour of proposing the toast.  I asked her to go through the motion again, but she, a stickler for protocol, told me that you have to be so careful in toasting the Queen that you must adhere to it precisely. Sorry, but the moment  was lost.

Mama would have been proud, but I can just imagine her vicarious embarrassment that  I had missed the most important photo of the evening.

If you were watching, Mama, that was Win one, Lose one.