Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

My Photo
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

home reno time

I wanted to do something to the house while Peter was away. I decided that I would refinish the floor in the hall and into the dining area. Unfortunately, the three photos here are in reverse order and I don't know how to change them. Just tilt your head as you look at them and everything will be all right.

I took up the carpet runners, moved the small bookcase and vacuumed. Then I stripped the wax buildup on the hallway floor, using mineral spirits. Peeew. The worst part was wearing a mask and goggles, as the sweat was just rolling off me.
Next came the sanding. I have one of those small hand sanders (not a palm sander but the bigger one). I made the command decision to feather the stain and polyurethane into the dining area, as that part of the floor has been under a carpet all this time and shows no wear. Then it will go back under a carpet and show no blend line. The worst part of the floor is right by the kitchen entrance, where all those feet over the years wore a path.

Now I have finished the application of clear stain. It says it dries in 4 hours but I should let it cure for 24 hours before applying the polyurethane. But I am in a hurry! Peter is home Thursday at 4 so I want the polyurethane to have at least 24 hours to cure before that. I think I’ll push it and apply the polyurethane Wednesday morning and that will allow more than 24 hours before he arrives, which means I can move the furniture back just before he gets home.

Monday, August 29, 2005


I did it! I called Guide Dogs and am going in to an orientation session this Friday afternoon. I have been away from it for 15 years after all and things have changed so they do want me to go and talk with them. Also, the person answering the phone said that a lot of people call, interested in the program but then they never follow up so they DO need puppy walkers. AND if they have puppies coming available soon, I might get one sooner than I thought. Now that I have done this, I am SO looking forward to it. And I’m all nervous.

And now for something completely different. Here’s another thing making its way around the internet. These lists are good for making you think, I suppose.

Seven things I plan to do before I die.

1) Travel a lot more with my husband.
2) Get a book published and promote it wildly.
3) Write another book and have it be more famous than the first. Do shaving ads and sh*t.
4) Sail on the open ocean for at least a week.
5) Get a great dog (preferably a Lab) and learn to do search and rescue with it.
6) Canoe the Nahanni.
7) Make a quilt that will be a wall hanging.

Seven things I can do.

1) Remember movie trivia.
2) Ride a horse.
3) Ride a bike long distances.
4) Understand complex issues.
5) Make things with my hands - crafts, renovations, sewing, cooking.
6) Be diplomatic.
7) Make people laugh.

Seven things I cannot do.

1) Suffer untruths to be promulgated. (Woo!)
2) Remember numbers.
3) Remember peoples’ names (unless I really make an effort).
4) Tolerate bad spelling and grammar.
5) Tolerate broken glass on the pavement where I ride my bike.
6) “Party”, or have aimless fun. My fun times have to have a purpose!
7) Needing a 7th, do a backbend any more.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

setting some goals

My big outing for the day was to bike over to Sears and buy a new HEPA filter for the vacuum cleaner. Every time I vacuum, the house smells like Uma - not that this is necessarily a bad thing but it is quite a doggy smell and I think I’d rather remember her in other ways. I decided to take bike paths as far as I could and ended up biking where I hadn’t before - past the Lincoln Fields transit station and onto Lawn Avenue and so over to Carlingwood. I went in through the entrance near the pet store and of course, I had to go in and there were two tiny yellow Labs, sleeping. They seemed much smaller than I ever remember Uma being. When we got her at 6 weeks (very young) she already weighed 10 pounds. These little guys looked like they couldn’t have weighed 6 pounds apiece. I didn’t get to pick them up however, so what do I know.

I have decided to call Guide Dogs on Monday and talk to them about becoming a puppy walker again. It would be a good thing to do for them but it would also be a better thing for me. I have thought about all the great things I could do with this puppy but I don’t want to write about it in case I am not accepted by them. I don’t have a fenced yard which is one of their strict criteria but then, I didn't have one last time (albeit 15 years ago). I just never let the dog out of the house unless it was attached to me. In fact, all the years we had Uma, I never let her out of the house unless she was leashed, until she got so old that she could hardly totter away, much less run away. So we’ll see how it goes.

I also went to the Home Depot on the bike home and got free instructions on how to refinish hardwood floors. Mine is that inexpensive parquet but it is made out of hardwood. And not all of it needs doing - just the hall and the part with a lot of wear. Minto waxed the hell out of the floors in between renters so I have to remove all that, then sand a little, then refinish. I can’t sand much and will do it by hand because the wood is so thin from past sandings (before they started with the wax) that I am sure I’ll go right through to the underside of the hardwood if I used a machine. My way, it will be more labour intensive but less messy and dusty so it’s a trade off. If I can get my act together by tomorrow, I can do the prep work then and apply the finish on Tuesday and it’ll be dry by the time Peter gets home Thursday. At least, that’s the plan.

Friday, August 26, 2005

on themes

I just read Gus Van Sant’s bio thingy on Allmovie dot com. The things that writers (movie makers) explore are often themes. His are the themes of gay and family and love. Woody Allen of course has themes that run through his work over and over (neuroticism, et al). And so do many others. So what are my themes?

I just finished watching “Mulan” for the first time. Even though it’s animated, the scenes where her horse risks its life for her choke me up. That sounds stupid. But horses always make me cry. But my experience with horses is so limited compared to those who have had real experiences with them. I rode a horse once or twice when I was 7 or 8. Then I rode once a week for two years when I was 15 to 17. Then, when I was suffering from undiagnosed depression, I rode horses when I was about 35, for a year (which saved my life I am sure). But not exactly growing up on a farm.

I empathize with horses - I’m not sure what I mean by that. They are very large prey animals and I am a small omnivore. But I do seem to have a rapport with them. I was thinking about writing down the goal “I want to spend significant time with horses”, but what does that mean and what does that entail? It obviously wasn’t such a burning desire in my first 47 years that I made it happen, like my coaches and owners of the last riding stable I belonged to. They made it happen.

So now I have to try to make sense of it all. Could I actually write an entire story about horses? And what about those other things in my life that I had a passion for but never realized? Medicine for example. Or dogs of course. If you combine medicine and dogs and horses you get veterinary work! But that’s not it either. [Update and edit: Of course, I realize that "horses" is a subject, not a theme! That's what you get when you write something just before bedtime and after watching something that made you sentimental.]

We all have themes. Mine could be “stranger in a strange land” about being an army brat. That was certainly a huge formative influence on me. I have often thought that having no significant roots could be (was) a very important thing for me, as a philosopher-sort. That book I referred to earlier about Identity was very good. It’s by Amin Maalouf, a displaced Lebanese Christian living in France. And even my immediate family is sparse. So that is a theme - something about belonging. Which is identity. Maybe I should explore for myself the idea of belonging, since I don’t belong. And not belonging hasn’t hurt me at all, has in fact made me strong. I think. Hmmm, maybe when I explore it I will uncover angst! Ha! I doubt it. That would have reared its ugly head a long time ago.

So it’s something to think about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Who knows what can be the cause for inspiration? Maybe it was my last post, whining about procrastination. Maybe it was the making of the buttonholes. In any event, I was in my sewing room making buttonholes, when I got the idea for four titles for stories for the CBC contest. They are:

Camping Among Aliens
The Motorcycle Trip from Hell
How We Met
Moving from Windsor to Kingston

These are are all real life stories that I can just relate with very little embellishment. I am having such fun writing the first one, about camping. It feels like the first time I have felt like a real writer, maybe. Well okay, that sounds a little annoying. I have felt like a writer before. But this time, maybe I am imagining others really reading this story and laughing at it. This time, they would be total strangers. Before, with my other writing, I imagined my readers and I knew them. They were already “fans”.


So here it is, 2pm and still no writing. I got up and read the paper and my blogs. Then I sewed for quite a while. I have marked the buttonhole positions on the two white cotton tops. When I make the holes, then I can sew on buttons till the cows come home. I have two long sleeved shirts in the same pattern, different fabric and one sleeveless top with five buttons in a different pattern, made from the excess of the plain white cotton. The second shirt is white with a fine blue stripe and a fine silver stripe and it has a little Lycra in it too. I am sure I will get a lot of wear out of them but since my goal is to write, it looks like procrastination to me. But I’m already thinking ahead to sewing the buttons on while watching Veronica Mars tomorrow night when Peter is not here. So then they will be done and I can start on some shorts and a knee length skirt in a plain beige cotton with a little Lycra in it. I got it for $1.50/meter on the remnant table and I think I have enough for shorts and a skirt. I bet I’ll get a lot of wear out of them too! Of course, Fall is approaching and it IS cool in the evenings so I want to think ahead to the dark brown fabric I have had sitting in the box for several years now. I got it at a sale and have several meters of it. It’s just a plain polyester and I was never enamoured with it but it was cheap. Anyway, now I think I will make a multi-gored skirt that comes about halfway down my calf. Nice and swirly and I can wear it with my knee-high boots. Of course, I will probably want to get a new slip to go with it because I don’t plan to line it. I have a slip I could use but it doesn’t flare, it goes straight down. Big deal. I probably have enough of the stuff to make some kind of top out of it. I think when I first got it, I thought of making a structured jacket but I seem to recollect it isn’t very substantial so now I am thinking something else. An UNstructured jacket? Ha. I am sure something will eventually occur to me.

Unless I get out of the house more often however, I don’t know where I am going to be wearing all these clothes. So I need to write and sell a book and then go on a book tour. However, I was also thinking of getting another guide dog puppy which would get me out and about more often. (Blowing a raspberry - how do you write the sound that makes? blpppp? That doesn’t look right.)

Okay, I shall resume editing my travelogue for the CBC contest. It’s something at least. [ ... later] There, I have it down to 2.437 words. Now however, I have no idea if it is good enough or coherent enough to submit to the contest. And of course, I am feeling guilty that all I did was edit and not write 2,500 words from scratch. Worra, worra.

Monday, August 22, 2005

on identity

I started reading the library book I got on identity and it is solid so far. How DO you identify yourself?

I am Canadian - I was born here and I have only lived in other countries for 6 years out of 47.

I am female - I was born that way. I identify more with other females than with males but I am not in lock step with them by any means.

I am a feminist, of sorts - I identified with the movement in 1974 and I have read a fair bit of feminist writing. I believe that of the two sexes, women have tended to have fewer opportunities than men, just because they were women. But I also believe the situation is far more complex than just that and cannot be solved by just one thing, event or change of attitude.

I am an atheist - My parents professed not to believe in a god but I decided to look for myself. It was a considered choice on my part to label myself “atheist” and not just agnostic.

I am caucasian - I was born that way too. My ethnic and cultural heritage is a blend of northern European types but I do not identify with one over another. My grandparents were Anglo Saxon (British, Scottish), French and Dutch.

I am formally educated - I think education in any form is a magic bullet and can solve more problems than any other one thing. The more people know and understand, the more they will realize that humans have more things alike than differences.

I am married - I chose to enter into this ancient cultural and social institution as a means of showing commitment. I thought about not getting married but the benefits outweighed the disadvantages. As it turns out, making that commitment enabled me to work at the relationship a lot harder than I might have if I had not been married. I am therefore proud that we have made the marriage work for 23 years so far.

I do not have children - I thought about whether I wanted to have children and I could never come up with a pressing positive reason to reproduce. Over time, I have asked people why they had children and none of them has ever given me a satisfactory reason. However, some years ago an acquaintance said that having children was part of the broad human experience of life and I thought that was a very good answer. It still did not make me want to have them. I realize that I will now miss out on this aspect of being human but I also realize that you can’t have everything.

This is an interesting exercise. The author of that book talks about how people identify with one characteristic especially if that one is threatened and they will fight and kill to preserve it. His examples tend to be cultural, ethnic and religious. If I lived somewhere where caucasians or Canadians or atheists were suddenly persecuted, would I band together with others of that ilk to fight against the persecution? I can’t imagine that that would ever happen, not with those categories. How can I then relate to or understand people who have been persecuted? It’s something to work on.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

more about writing

This morning, I got an e-mail / comment on my blog from “Anonymous”. It freaked me out a little because I didn’t know WHO was commenting. One of the things noted in the comment was about writing itself: “More than anything it takes a great deal of courage”. And I thought, yeah, because I feel like I’m exposing myself to the criticism and rejection of the world by putting words together to make ideas that people might disagree with. So I wondered why this person would know how scary it was for me to have a blog and yet be “anonymous”. Well not ten minutes later, I got an e-mail from this wonderful person who I know intimately, saying it was she who posted the comment. She just had never done it before and decided to call herself anon. Ha! Then I reread the comment and could see right away it was her “voice” and I felt all relieved I didn’t have a stalker. Funny.

But back to writing - it IS true that I AM nervous about exposing myself in the blog but it’s just something I have to get over if I really want to write. Whenever I get a letter to the editor published, I get a chill up my spine when I see my name in the paper under the letter that hold my opinion. There’s the thrill of seeing your name in print but there’s the agony of knowing that somewhere, someone won’t agree with me. Well, I can’t control anyone but myself and I have to just deal with that.

My main problem these days seems to be coming up with some subject on which to opine. There are lots of them out there but I don’t necessarily have an opinion on them all. Stephen King “On Writing” says you should try to write at the same time each day so that your muse knows where to find you and then does so. That’s not bad advice. After the weekend, I shall see.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Orwell on Writing

George Orwell wrote:

Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

on rejection, sort of

This morning, I thought I’d better send an e-mail to the coordinator of the law program at Algonquin, to see if she needed me to teach Property again. I had not heard from her and the Fall term is coming up soon. I got an e-mail back very quickly (for her) saying that she was going to teach Property this Fall but I might be useful in the Winter term (which starts January). This was the last straw. I had just been told I didn’t get the CDI job a few days ago and now this. I felt like a total reject. Then I checked my lottery tickets from last night and they didn’t have a single digit hit. So I said, never mind and I went to the gym for my usual Thursday morning Body Pump class. And found out it was cancelled! So I wondered if I should just start drinking now or wallow in a puddle of rejection despair until later, when it was more seemly to start drinking.

I know, it’s all coincidence. And total strangers on 43 Things seem to like me. And a friend from my past made contact because of my Blog yesterday. But it was an odd set of coincidences.

From 43 Things, I learned more about NaNoWriMo (at and am thinking about just “doing it”. Sounds fun and there should be an Ottawa chapter to commiserate with when it’s all over. In the meantime, I am trying to crank out words on my Blog and elsewhere so I build up momentum and write toward the goal of getting published. In the other meantime, I want to sew a bit every day too because I really like it and it feels creative when I do it. Plus I am making a tote bag for a friend who is going to law school at Queen’s this Fall. I am actually envious of her. I would like to go back to law school and do it all over again. It would be fun! You know what would also be fun? To pick a degree program that we’d both enjoy and then do it with Peter. We could study together and talk about the new ideas we’d be exposed to and do assignments together. I think we’d really learn a lot more that way. Plus I think we’d contribute to the program just by our enthusiasm. Of course, this is not practical while Peter has to keep working to keep me in the style to which I’ve become accustomed.

I actually made myself coffee this morning as the temperature has completely changed and it is cool now. The high will be 21C which is nice but certainly not hot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

on travel

The theory is that travel broadens one, and trade is just travel with a purpose.

Many hundreds of years ago, some people travelled to trade, to broaden their base of trade, to expand the numbers of those would would buy the things they were selling. Those people broadened their mental horizons, some of them without even knowing it or intending it. Those people who did not travel kept narrow horizons. It’s a bit like “show and tell”. You can read about something but it’s not until you see it that you grasp the differences.

You can still find pockets of people who do not travel at all, who have never travelled and none of their friends or family ever travel, and they are much narrower in their outlook than those who do travel. Even people who have only made one trip in their whole lives have a broader outlook.

What do I mean by broad outlook? If you have one, you understand that you are not the only culture in the world and that other cultures may have things to offer you. You understand that people elsewhere think differently from you and that helps you see that people everywhere think differently from you - and that there is a lot about people that is alike too. It is like stepping back and seeing the forest and the trees. It can even make you more accepting of peoples’ differences, although that doesn’t always happen. And of course, there is the usual exception that proves the rule. There are people who travel who refuse to allow themselves to broaden. But I think that could be an active even if unconscious choice.

Monday, August 15, 2005

on political parties, sort of

“Someone” has got to reinvent the political party system. If you are a Liberal (a Democrat in the US) then you are supposed to believe in everything they believe in and the same for being a Conservative (Republican). But I don’t know many Liberal voters (not party members or staffers or the politicians themselves) who believe in higher taxes and more government interference (or government control). And I don’t know many Conservative voters who believe that a woman shouldn’t control her reproductive processes or that gay people shouldn’t get married.

I suppose someone would have to do a poll, but I believe the average Liberal voter has more in common with the average Conservative voter than the politicians of either party understand. Average voters just vote for one party or the other because of family history, because of media influence, because they like the candidate, maybe because of some planks in the platform. But the average voter doesn’t necessarily support all the planks in any party’s platform. So why isn’t there a party for the average voter?

I think we first have to ask, do we still require a two party system? Do we require an adversarial process in government? What if government were shrunk to its essentials (we don’t really need a department of heritage, do we? And if you go here , you will see all the government tentacles out there, many of which need to be or could be eliminated.)? And what if there were a truly independent watchdog like the Auditor General that had real authority?

I suppose two parties makes sure that different points of view on the usefulness of government can be heard and debated. If this is really true, then I think we need two new parties. It’s much more polarized and therefore more obvious in the US because the President is a Republican but the media (and celebrities) are Democrats. Here, the Conservative party is not a force to be reckoned with, isn’t in power and doesn’t have the media on its side. (I personally think it marginalizes itself with its constant harping on the socially conservative issues that do not resonate with the average voter.) The Liberals however are entrenched in the systems and have a vested interest in keeping them all running. It’s a rare politician who says “I want to work myself out of a job by fixing the problem”. How many government agencies that were set up to fix a specific problem have ever been disassembled? It seems that if you want to fix a problem and you don’t want a permanent government body to linger on like a bad smell when the problem is resolved, you need to set up a royal commission or other type of public inquiry that has a definite end date on it. Unfortunately, these types of inquiries rarely seem to solve a problem and usually cost a fortune.

I am sure there is a solution out there. Right now, I am just posing the question.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

earrings and creativity

For some time, I have been trying to devise a holder for my long earrings. I knew what properties it had to have but I didn't know what to make it out of. Then I saw just the thing on an episode of "Neat" on HGTV. I got the materials and last night, Peter and I crafted it. It is a picture frame with tiny dowels across it to hold the earrings. This picture is small so the straight lines of the frame and the dowels a look a little odd due to the lack of pixels (or some such thing). But I am thrilled with it!

Friday, August 12, 2005

a dullish Friday

They were calling for rain showers all afternoon but it hasn’t been showery, just drizzly. There is even a dry spot on the patio stones under the BBQ. I took one of my asparagus ferns outside and clipped errant growth off it and shook the dead needles out. Since it didn’t rain very hard, I watered it when I brought it back in again. Spread needles all over the floor but since I was too lazy to vacuum, I used a whisk instead. I have been thinking about getting rid of these two ferns because they shed horribly. But I only know how to throw out dead plants. It seems odd to throw out one that isn’t dead. They have prickles all over them too, so they are doubly awkward.

I am glad the weather has changed. That constant heat and humidity was wearing thin. I have the back door wide open along with some windows, so the place is getting a nice air-out. Just checked the weather on the web and it says it is 22C and a humidex of 27C. Still with the humidex! But it feels much cooler and so I don’t have the AC on.

It seems very quiet today. i went to the gym and did yoga this morning, got some groceries, and then went back with the Trek and the Yak to get cases of pop. I was going to do that earlier but Peter had put a kick stand on the Trek (for which I was most grateful) but it interfered with the pedals so I waited for him to fix it last night. I took back some more empties and got 48 cans of pop of various kinds. I’ve been reading and stuff since I got home at around noon and it has been very quiet, maybe because the rain is keeping people indoors. The birds are loving it - I just heard a loud chickadee out the back.

I checked the words “social control” in the library catalogue and there are some psychology books out there (most in the 302 section) but none look like what I want to write. I will go over and check out one or two of them for background reading. I wrote 1100 words yesterday, streaming my consciousness about the concept. I’ll have to keep doing that until I get clearer about the structure of the book. Meanwhile, I have not advanced my teen book idea and should go work on that too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I had lunch today with people who I rarely see but communicate with every day electronically. It’s an e-mail chat group by invitation and has about 12 regular posters and maybe 30 total. A diverse group is putting it mildly. These are some of the Ottawa folks who meet quite regularly face to face. Because the lunch was 18km away and I had to bike to it, it was more of an adventure than just a lunch. And a storm was brewing too, but as it turned out, our timing was good and it didn’t rain until I got home.

We talked about various things. Richard gave me a “Hard Rock Cafe” pin and I thought it was because the restaurant we ate at was called the “Hard Stones” and there had been some disparaging comments earlier. No, it turned out that Richard remembered my brief reference to the cafe in my “Notes from Abroad” “book” that a few people have read and he wanted me to have it for that reason. And then he said that he had really enjoyed reading what I had written and I took that as a real sign of encouragement. I know other people have said they enjoyed reading it (well, everybody who read it really). And Betty who I call my biggest fan. (Aside from Norah that is. And Peter is in a different category altogether - I just realized how difficult it is going to be to thank everyone at the Oscars.) But you know how sometimes the timing just has to be right. I have said that message is always there, you just have to be ready to hear it. I suppose this was one of those moments. Anyway, I feel very ready to continue writing my teen book, flog my sewing book and start on this idea I have for “religion as social control”. Good grief, no I won’t be calling it that. And I haven’t even thought of the pitch. But I know it is in me to write it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

cherry tomatoes

They are finally starting to ripen but this little bowl is all we harvested today. What I can't get over is the amazing cascade string of green ones hanging above the bowl - there are about 20 tomatoes on the one branch there. The other bright orange/red spots are nasturtiums.

a word count challenge not met

I did a word count at Lileks’ blog this morning and it clocked in at over 2000 words! Yikes. Therefore, my day today went as follows:

I woke up before 6 and couldn’t seem to get back to sleep so I watched a little tv till I felt sleepy. Then I had my usual mad dreams until after 9am wherein (among many things) Bruce Willis was house-sitting for me (don’t know why but he seemed down on his luck). After breakfast and the paper and blogs, I thought I would go to the store. I was going to take the yak and return beer bottles and get cases of pop but the tyre on it was soft and I didn’t think the pump was set to Schrader valves. So I just took my regular bike and got regular groceries. I also went to the Home Depot to do research on renovating the “foyer” - a misnomer I am sure because it comprises less than 50 square feet and the cupboard is less than 48 inches wide, good grief.

I looked at flooring and would like to get the natural stone but at $10 per SF and this being the class of house that it is, perhaps that is a bit pricey. They have just-as-nice-looking ceramic tile for less than $4 SF and incredibly cheap peel-and-stick for under a dollar SF (some of them anyway). I have to bear in mind that the cupboard sliding doors require a track on the floor and I am not sure how to work it if I use something 3D like stone. I’ll find out when I pull up the old sheet vinyl but I think they screwed the floor track down right through the vinyl.

I also looked at mirrored sliding doors, which they have for under $100 for the cheap kind ($157 if you want bevels) but none of them are 86” tall so I would have to build a bulkhead of something down 6 inches from the ceiling. Decisions, decisions. Building down from the ceiling wouldn’t be difficult but it would change what I planned to do to the interior of the closet, which is raise the clothes hanging bar to eliminate wasted space on the shelf above it and gain a little extra space to hang short jackets. I’ll think about it.

So then I get home and Peter has emailed me telling me the floor pump is set up for Schrader valves so I have lunch and go to Michael’s in the meantime. I have been thinking about how to hang up all my long dangling earrings which are all costume jewelry and don’t need to be hidden from burglars. I had come up with a concept but then two nights ago on “Neat” I saw exactly "the thing". So I had to go buy dowels and some kind of wooden picture frame at the craft store so I could make it. I may rethink the frame part but I have the 3/16 inch dowels so I’m on my way.

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig. Pump up the yak tyre, hitch it to the Trek and load it up with empties. Discover Trek tyres are soft but can live with it. Return said empties and, since we’re back on the wagon for a while, don’t get new beer. Go to the store and get pop instead. Wobble home, sweating.

I'm going to make the portobello mushroom burgers we discovered at the Waupoos Winery restaurant for dinner - grill a red pepper first. When it is half done, grill the mushroom caps after basting with olive oil. Prepare buns with goat cheese and greenery, place mushroom cap and red pepper slices on it, devour with enthusiasm. A side salad complete with homegrown nasturtiums, chives, parsley etc. completes the picture.

Okay, now I’m hungry.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

about history

I have been reading a blog by a Canadian who lives in Scotland now. She posted some thoughts about history and how they way it was taught (especially in high school) made it so boring. I posted some thoughts to her blog comments and now I am posting them here, a little more refined, perhaps.
She is here.

Before I studied art history at university, I thought history was boring. Even when I studied the history of art, I thought “other” history was boring. I now realize that if you try to teach history as an overview, touching on all the detail that makes it “history” to begin with, it is always boring. History only comes alive when you give it a personal perspective. Take the movie called "Longitude" that was shown on A&E some years ago. It was mostly about the fellow who invented a clock that could be accurate at sea and it was fascinating. Any time you show history from a personal perspective, people can relate to it in their own way. If you take out that personal aspect, it automatically becomes dull. Now, historical overviews are used in teaching because they give you all the important points condensed into one semester or book. Even when they go into detail - say the history of just the second world war - they give you the important points, not a personal perspective. And an interesting corollary to that is the objection of groups of people that they are left out of history. Even when you try to do an overview, you have to do it from a particular standpoint and for most of our (North American) history, that standpoint has been that of the British white male. Leaving all the women out of history wasn’t necessarily done on purpose - it was just that the man writing the history wasn’t part of that group. Anyway, if I were teaching history, I would give the overview and then assign several specific books to read to flesh out the bones of the overview. Find books about that period that were written by men and by women and by people of other cultures and people who did research into one interesting aspect of that period. It would be a lot more reading but I bet the students would remember far more about the period than otherwise.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

about the bomb and nature

Interesting post today by Don about what he thought when he heard they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. I wondered if it was true or just 60 years down the line. Then Betty posted her reminiscence so maybe they are interestingly accurate.

Don: “I remember that August morning, it was bright and sunny and I was listening to the old radio in my room over the kitchen in the old farm house. The news was read, it was an extra long news cast. I was transfixed at the news. I thought, "the world is going to change a lot, and I'm going to find out how they did that".”

Betty: “I remember that August morning, bright and sunny, and I was sitting in the living room by the floor model radio in the farm house in Kentville. I was visiting the home of my sister in law and I heard that they had dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. I went to the kitchen where everyone was gathered to help themselves to the dinner that was cooked and ready on the stove. When there was a lull in the conversation, I announced, "they have dropped an atomic bomb on Japan." They all turned to look at me as if I had just said something inappropriate and went back to their meals and to the table. I remember thinking, "I guess it doesn't matter much." I was 14 and not a credible informant, I guess. Life went on for us and soon my brothers came home from overseas.”

This is also the 2nd anniversary of the Ardeth Wood murder and the paper has a recap of it and about the fact that it hasn’t been solved (yet, we hope). I was remembering that I thought I saw the killer on the afternoon of the big East coast power outage later that same August. He was walking backwards and therefore distinguishable because of his odd behaviour. Wild animal predators pick out the weak in a herd of the prey species by observing their behaviour which is different from the norm. Too bad we have so MANY oddballs in society now that you can’t simply pick the criminals out by their odd behaviour. We have really let ourselves go as a species and are no longer much governed by Mother Nature, I think.

Friday, August 05, 2005

corn husking

I like husking corn. I was going to say "shucking" but that's for peas. I think what I like about eating corn in season is the fact that it IS in season. When things that are grown naturally come into season, it's good to eat too much of them. We should keep in touch with the natural movements of the planet in small ways like this. Right now, it is HOT and we should enjoy the heat because in only a few months, it will be COLD. And then we should enjoy the cold and snow. I suppose if I lived closer to the equator, I might have a different perspective. But I don't. I am north of 40 degrees latitude and so I feel I should live accordingly.

about reading

The New York Observer asked some people what they were reading this summer. This was an especially entertaining answer:
(more at )

Tom Wolfe, writer, I Am Charlotte Simmons
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane. If Stephen Crane hadn’t died at the age of 29, he would have been remembered as a giant. I’m literally rummaging around my desk to see what exciting things I have here …. The Abs Diet by David Zinczenko. Here’s the thing: I never really had sharply defined abs, even when I was an athlete. I always wanted them to look like a cobblestone street. That was before six-packs; they didn’t have six-packs, but they did have cobblestone streets. My wife said, “You have cobblestone streets, but they’ve been paved over.” Here’s a real barn-burner: Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas. This has to do with what I hope to write: a history of the last 1,000 years of the world in 98 pages. It was going to be 100 pages, but 98 sounds so much shorter, don’t you think? No one is interested in this book but me. There’s a book called Status Anxiety; the fellow has kind of a French name. [Alain de Botton.] That’s another thing I want to write— a book about status ….
And Hemmings Motor News, which is a thick periodical—this one I’m looking at is 672 pages. It’s full of ways to either fix up old cars or do things with new cars …. This is all part of my desire and attempt to, as they now say, pimp my ride. I have a Cadillac DeVille, which people think of as a stodgy old-people’s car, but I have the intention to show people that this is a sensational old-people’s car once I pimp it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

second post

It is up to 33C and a 43C humidex. I only left the house to get the mail and it was just junk mail.

I have been reading blogs but then I made myself sit and write the introduction to my sewing book. It's 650 words which fails to fulfill my "rule" about writing 1000 words each day. But I have written some emails and other things so maybe I am up to 1000 words altogether. I haven't decided who my audience is for this blog yet but then, I haven't told anyone about it either (except for Peter) so I may ramble a bit too much. Maybe I'll settle on Peter as my audience, as he was when I wrote all those emails to him while I was away for a year in 1995-6.

Now to finish "A Canticle for Leibowitz" which was recommend to the world at large on someone else's blog. I'm enjoying it, especially knowing it was written in 1956 as science fiction then.

first post

So I didn’t win the lottery last night and now I have to start writing in Ernest (I always liked that non sequitur “two maggots were fighting in dead ernest”). I actually started a book with the words “once upon a time” yesterday, so I am happy with that. And I did a post of 800 words to my 43 Things entry of “write 1000 words every day”.

Today, I haven’t even gone outside yet. Pretty pathetic. My excuse is that it is HOT and humid out there. I need to go to Home Depot to get closet fittings but I think that can wait another few days, as I only started thinking about redoing the closets about 5 years ago. I suppose I should go get the mail but since the only thing yesterday was a rejection letter from a prospective employer, there’s not really a great incentive.

So I will do the exercises that a writing instruction book suggested and see what develops from there. I also had some ideas last night while falling asleep, about the intro to my sewing book. I seem to have become enthusiastic again about it and will write that intro today.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

About Me

Born in 1958, I don't consider myself part of the Boomers. I grew up as an army brat and the constant moving and travelling shaped my views of the world and human culture. We live on a very small planet where we are far more alike than different, and yet we focus on our differences to the detriment of our progress as a species. We should celebrate the fact that our differences are merely cultural and learn from each other how to live our lives in harmony and without harming others.