Demystification Guru

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

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Monday, October 30, 2006


I got the pumpkins carved today. But one needs some more work which I may do tonight or tomorrow - there's still time.
squirrel chewed spot
This pumpkin was a nice shape but it had a bad spot on one side. No matter - that would be the back. But I've been keeping the pumpkins uncarved, outside for the last two weeks and a squirrel chewed on a spot. I actually caught him in the act, if not on film.
ready to carve
Now I've cut the tops open and scooped out the insides on both pumpkins. You can even see on the tall, narrow pumpkin where a squirrel chewed too!
sleepy and happy
Here are Sleepy and Happy, deployed in a test run, complete with candles. I have to scrape out more of the inside on Sleepy so the light shines through better. And then I have to get Peter to take a photo where the flash doesn't wash out the light effect. Tomorrow. And then one of these days, I'm going to come up a costume idea so we can dress up! I want our costumes to be complimentary (an historical couple or something), warm because it's Canada eh, and comfy. I don't mind elaborate and they can't be too easy to guess but they definitely have to look like costumes and not just like we dressed oddly that day. I was actually thinking about van Eyck's Arnolfini wedding (as I once was an art history major) but then that might be a little TOO obscure. Looking at it again however, we would be warm!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cold and wet and my roots

Last night, I'm sitting watching tv and feeling the cold I got on Monday (I refuse to identify a rhino virus as "mine") and wondering what can I have to drink - not to get impaired but just to have something nice to drink. I go look at the "liquor cabinet" (five bottles over the sink) and rediscover the bottle of Laphrohaig. I pour an ounce and a half in a nice cut crystal glass and top it up with the same amount of water - no ice. I sip - no wonder "whisky" means "water of life".

I think about my "roots". One quarter (at least) is Scottish. I want to visit Scotland and tramp around the hills in the cold and damp and stop at every pub I pass and have a glass of the local whisky. I want to feel to salt air of the North Sea on my face and stand, leaning into the wind on the Orkney Isles and fall down if the wind stops blowing (go read Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island").

Then I recalled another quarter of my heritage which is Friesian. Take a look at a map and find the North Sea. Scotland is on one side and Friesland is on the other (okay it is a little bit "south" but not that far). I also want to tramp along the dunes on the coast of Holland and feel the cold salt wind in my face, giving me chapped lips and chilblains. No wonder I am who I am! In fact, I have walked the dunes and spent some time in Friesland and I cherish the memories. I want the same chance at Scotland.

This morning, it is raining and windy and about 4C and I decide that I have to get a few groceries and I'd better do it now in case it snows later as they are predicting. I put on some GoreTex pants, two sweaters and my GoreTex bike rain jacket. I find a hat we got out of a case of beer some years ago - it is some funny artificial fabric that I figure will repel instead of absorb water and it has a brim on it and it fits tightly enough that it shouldn't blow off in the wind. Together with the leather-palmed river boating gloves I got at the MEC and my duck boots, I set off on my bike for the grocery store. It's really not that bad out there - at least it's not yet freezing. I get the things on the list and head home. By the time I enter the park on the final leg home, I am singing out loud. Not really loud mind you, in case there actually may be someone else outside, but still - singing. I pass by some Canada geese hanging about in the park. They have ventured close to the path because no one is about today and when they see me coming, they honk in alarm and waddle away. I honk back at them. I do enjoy my heritage sometimes!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Three Things

I was tagged by ML over at Zee's Space with this meme. Ack! I have such a hard time with some of these things. You want to make yourself sound not too stupid, and yet clever and funny at the same time. Anyway. Here are my Three Things. I won't tag anyone else (too much work!) but if you too can't think of something to blog about and/or are looking for different ways to look at things, this may be useful. Enjoy.

3 things that scare me
Making cold calls (okay, any phone calls)
Trying out for Jeopardy
Unstable people with nukes

3 people who make me laugh
My husband
My sister

3 things I love
A good story (in books, movies)

3 things I hate
Cold jellied consomme
Looking at litter

3 things I don't understand
People who don't pick up their dog's poop
People who wear too much scent
People who litter

3 things on my desk
Nail file
Lip balm
Coffee cup

3 things I'm doing right now
Drinking coffee
Trying to come up with these 3 things
Thinking about cooking dinner

3 things I want to do before I die
Pet a dolphin
Live out in the elements for weeks (sail around the world, hike the Appalachian Trail, canoe the Nahanni)
Write a book that influences people to try harder

3 things I can do
Draw something so that it looks like something
Ride a bicycle 100km in one day
Cook without recipes (but not baking!)

3 ways to describe my personality
Interested (I can find something interesting in just about anything)

3 things I can't do
An axel
Leave a picture hanging crooked on a wall (even if it's not my wall)
Pass a dog in the street without petting it

3 things I think you should listen to
Your parents
Your friends
Your intuition

3 things I think you should never listen to
Angry "music" (that kind that tells you to beat up people)
People who want to convince you of something for their own benefit
People who put you down just so they can feel superior

3 favorite foods
(This one was too difficult. I like most everything - except consomme and caviar - see above. I think half the reason I like cheese is because it's salty so I have to go with flavour groups. I prefer salt to sweet, vanilla to chocolate, etc.)

3 things I'd like to learn
To play the piano
To fly a plane
To ballroom dance with my husband

3 beverages I drink regularly
Wine (especially red)
Fresca (now that it's back)

3 shows I watched as a kid
(Kid's shows)
Adventures in Rainbow Country
The Wonderful World of Disney

I couldn't think what I used to watch in the 60s so I found this website and what a rush down memory lane! So I herewith include the other shows I know I used to watch every week. I watched other shows too but these I remember in great detail and with fondness.

The Ed Sullivan Show
Adam 12
The Avengers
Hawaii Five-O
Mod Squad
The Saint
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Brady Bunch
The Courtship of Eddie's Father
The Flying Nun
Green Acres
Gilligan's Island
Get Smart
Hogan's Heroes
I Dream of Jeannie
That Girl
My Three Sons
Peyton Place
Rat Patrol
The Time Tunnel

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thoughts about life and inspiration

Joan was wondering what season got other people most inspired to be creative and it made me think. There is something to love about all the seasons, and likewise, something to dislike. Summer can be too hot and buggy but I love the warmth, the sun, the relative quiet because people go on holiday, the urge to just hang in the back yard and put one's feet up, the garden. Fall can be wet and cold but for the first 26 years of my life, it was also the herald of new adventures beginning at school. (The 26 years is not entirely accurate of course, as for the first 5 or 6, I didn't go to school. But you know what I mean.) Winter can be even colder, wet and dark but you also get the pure joy of the first snow, you have Christmas, and those crisp cold mornings when the sun sparkles on the ice and snow and everything looks perfect. And Spring can be a dreary slog through the slush but it also means the tiny new buds of green on the trees, the cardinal singing in the top of the maple, the geese honking their way home, the smell of earth unfrozen.

Mostly however, when Joan posed the question, it occurred to me that this would be my first go-round of seasons in 16 years, starting with the current Autumn, that I would be without a dog. I have always enjoyed being outside in any weather but having a dog ensures that you will be outside every day, at least three times a day. In the two weeks I have been without Rockwell, I haven't taken a deliberate evening walk once. Here it is a holiday Monday morning and I haven't been outside except to grab the newspaper. And it is stunningly beautiful out there. We plan to go for a bike ride a bit later, when it warms up a little more and that will completely satisfy the urge to be outside. But I wonder if I shouldn't maybe take an evening walk as I used to, every night. It's a great conclusion to the day and it's quiet out there - time to think and reflect on the day. You see what stage the moon is in, you feel the wind, you sense the coming weather. Orion always appears in the sky at this time of year and I haven't noticed him yet because I haven't been out at night. Is night my favourite time of day? No, I think early morning is. But maybe I think better at night, as if all the thoughts that were swirling around in my head all day start to come together and make sense.

Daily walks with a dog make you notice what the dog notices - the blowing leaves, the squirrels, a whiff of scent on the breeze, other dogs - everything is a bundle of potential. For the dog, the potential is either for something to eat or something to play with. What more could a dog want, really? For the human, the potential is more complex but still, filled with exciting possibilities. The best part of life, I understand now, really is the journey. It isn't arriving because what do you do then? You look for something else to do, some place else to go. Enjoy the journey because that is what life is.

Some commercials are true

The Tide pen really does work as advertised. While having breakfast one morning in San Diego, I stuck a fork in a home fry and slipped. The small pool of ketchup beside the bit of potato jumped off the plate and splashed across my - wait for it - WHITE corduroy jacket. I jumped up and blotted off as much as I could in the bathroom with paper towels. Then we made a beeline to the nearest pharmacy where I asked for "the Tide pen that Kelly Ripa advertises!" I forget how much it even cost but as soon as we bought it, I deployed it according to the instructions. Most of the orange colour of the remaining ketchup stain came out but there was still a mark. However, the jacket was also wet in the spot from all my blotting so I just hung it over my arm to wait for it to dry and forgot about it for a while. Hours later, I thought to look at it and discovered that it had dried perfectly white, with no trace of the ketchup. I subsequently washed it normally when I got home a few days later and it is as good as new.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Things I never need to buy again

As far as I know, this started with Dress-a-Day's list wherein she described five things she will never buy again.
Bbrug also has such a list which ranges from cardigans and turtlenecks to stationery and mixing bowls. Of the latter, Bbrug confesses she has 18, "ranging in capacity from "minced capers" to "small sheep, slightly folded"." That last one made me laugh out loud. I think my largest mixing bowl might be able to hold a couple of cats but that's about it.

So what things do I never need to buy again?

Stationery - I agree with this one. I have a file box that normally holds magazines full of stationery, some of which dates from high school or before. And since I graduated from high school in (how old AM I?) 1975, that's enough. If I ever use it all up one day, then I will be allowed to have more.

Post-it notes - I have accumulated stacks of Post-it notes, in varying sizes but all in the original yellow. I think most of them come from my own stores, when I had an office and would buy them in bulk. I hope not too many of them come from pilfering from times when I worked in other peoples' offices. But the newer versions of Post-its with colours and motifs and sayings on them are so much fun that I want to have them too! So I'll apply the same rule as stationery - if I ever run out, then I can buy more.

Coffee cups and mugs - Over 25 years or more, I have purchased various cheap china sets and have broken most of the pieces - plates and bowls and such - except for the coffee cups that come with them. I had such a stack of mismatched cups and saucers about 10 years ago that I wrapped them all up and gave them to Goodwill. And then there are the many promotional mugs with logos on them and the mugs that people give as fun gifts with pictures or sayings on them. If I ever have a coffee party where I invite 40 people, I'll be set, and that doesn't include the 8 espresso cups.

Pens and pencils - This is a tough one. Like the Post-it notes, I have accumulated coffee mugs full of pens and pencils. Sometimes I go through them all and cull the ones that have thankfully dried up in the meantime. But still I accumulate more. Many of them are also of the promotional type, with some business name printed on the side of the barrel. But even some of hem are really nice and you just don't want to throw something away that is so useful. But then I start a project and I want something "special" with which to write. Maybe a new ink colour for the fountain pen cartridges will do? I have a "rule" that I made which says, "no new pens will be brought into this house until all the old ones are gone" but since I break it all the time, it's not doing me any good.

Pleated pants - We both have several pairs of pleated pants that never get worn any more because you should be over 6 feet tall and weigh about 100 pounds (male or female) to be allowed to wear pleated pants and neither of us are or ever will be close to that, and not just because of the height thing. I think this one will be easy to maintain.

Now, if someone looked in the garage and saw the 6 bicycles there (and no car) for the two people who live here, they might add bikes to the list. However, it is really hard to make an all-purpose bike so we have different kinds for different rides. Maybe after there are 6 for each of us, we could stop buying bikes. I can't imagine that shoes will ever be put in this list. I think I have as many pairs as most men, which is to say, not very many. And in spite of what my long-suffering husband might wish, I will not add fabric to this list either. One can never have too much fabric.