Tuesday, October 31, 2006


by Lhasa De Sela, from her CD, The Living Road:

The Border

Today I return to the border
I have to cross over again
It's the wind that commands me
and pushes me to the border
and erases the path
which disappears behind

I drag myself beneath the sky
and the clouds of winter
It's the wind that commands them
and no one can stop them
Sometimes they fight without mercy
sometimes they dance
and sometimes ... nothing

Today I cross the border
beneath the sky
beneath the sky
It's the wind that commands me
beneath the iron sky
I am the black point that wanders
on the outskirts of luck

Monday, October 30, 2006


thank-you to everyone who has expressed sympathy for me at this terrible time. I hope I'll have the courage to tell you all how it happened soon. Right now, after crying for nearly two days straight, I don't have the strength to think about it so that I can tell it. As it is, I'm dreading going to my paying job tomorrow where I know I'll face my generous-hearted peers who will ask how Molly died...and I will cry.

I will always miss Molly. She was a funny, gentle, uncomplicated dog. I believe dogs are a part of our lives to be spirit-reminders of how to love unconditionally.

La Frontera

OK, here's my crossing of a scary frontier: a self-portrait, sans makeup, sans styling my hair. Yikes!!




~~Lhasa De Sela

Sunday, October 29, 2006

lynx sighting in Fenelon Falls

These photos are from Sept 4/06 on a day I met a man who saw a lynx right in town. See the story below in the previous post: "winter blast".

a peaceful spot downriver of the falls and around the bend Posted by Picasa

looking up-river towards the falls, these cliffs are where the lynx found its way to the water's edge to drink. On the right-hand side of the photo, where three tree trunks are visible at the edge of the lawn atop the cliffs, looking straight down, is where the lynx reached the water's edge.The lynx traveled from right to left along the ledges about midway up the cliff face. Posted by Picasa

cliffs, down river of falls, where lynx was spotted Posted by Picasa

blast of winter

Looking east out the dining room window, towards the laneway.

Very windy conditions that started in the wee hours of morning, brought with them a few snow flurries. The sun is peeking through the odd time, but 3 degrees Celsius doesn't feel very warm and some of the snow is sticking around as you can see.

In expectation of the winds, I went around closing windows last night before going to bed. Although the house is on the crest of a hill, and the winds coming off the lake buffet the house quite a bit, there are enough trees left between the house and the lake to soften the blow somewhat. In the summertime, I appreciate the wind because it keeps the bugs down.

A piece of aluminum siding has blown onto the back deck from somewhere. It doesn't belong to this house, even though I expect the eaves troughs to pull loose anytime soon!

I'm glad to be indoors today. I have the thermostat set at about 15-17 degrees Celsius. Let's see, that would be what in Fahrenheit?? Anyway, I was surprised this morning to get out of bed and feel quite cozy. I have been in the habit of getting out of bed and nudging the thermostat up because I usually feel it's so cold and damp. Today, I don't even have socks on. And that just isn't how I normally cope in this drafty old house! And noooooo! I'm not having a private tropical moment/power surge either!

It's wishful thinking, actually. It won't last. It would be nice to keep the thermostat down at 15 degrees or less to cut down on my oil bills. But I know, whatever metabolic thing is happening this morning, I will not be able to go much longer without putting some socks on my feet. And if I'm not actively moving around, physically active, I'll have to nudge that thermostat upwards just a tad closer to 20 degrees. And...the furnace will kick in and start gobbling up oil...

I walked to the mailbox yesterday afternoon and picked up the soggy newspaper. The laneway is 0.8km one way and at the end nearest the road, it passes through a mostly deciduous woods. Misty ran like a deer, enjoying being able to stretch out. As she started yoo-hooing that she had found something, I heard: "kik-kik-kik-kik", softly repeated a couple of times, from the direction Misty took off towards. Misty passed under a large dead tree, not even looking up. Up in the tree was a pair of pileated woodpeckers, Dryocopus pileatus. That gave me a little thrill. I watched them for a while, but my bare fingers were getting cold, gripping the soggy newspaper.

Earlier, around noon, when I let Misty out, movement across the laneway caught my eye. A large ?mink, ?weasel was loping across the grass from the sheds towards the abandoned house. Not seeing them often enough I can't tell from a silhouette and gait as I can with other critters (especially skunk, porcupines, deer, foxes, coyotes, and turkeys).

Misty didn't notice it and I was kind of glad. She seems to be pretty nimble and other than a cut or two on her face from raccoons, she has stayed out of any major trouble. Now I get to thinking, maybe she has tangled with fiercer foes than I previously imagined, like mink or weasels!

Last summer while I was walking along the river in town, downstream from the falls, I met a man standing on the edge of the cliff by the river. As I was trying to photograph the falls I asked him where the best vantage point was. He was too excited to answer my question.

You see, he had just photographed a lynx. He had watched the lynx make its way down the cliffs across the river. The lynx had climbed all the way down the cliffs to the water's edge to get a drink. The man, who had been parked in the Sobey's (a grocery store chain) parking lot, had been able to run to his car for his camera, all in time to get a picture of the lynx.

Yup, we get lynx wandering right into town here. Actually, wandering is not correct. The lynx obviously knew exactly where it was going.

And, was I jealous I had missed seeing it by minutes? hah.

Oh, BTW, I'm still not feeling cold. It just goes to prove my prior observation: it's true, but I don't know why, that -20 degrees can often feel warmer than, say, -3 degrees! I'm still sitting here without my socks.

But the howling winds continue and I should not be surprised if we lose our electricity at some point today.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


The second bud on Sheila's hibiscus (my name for it, because I don't actually know it's name) opened up yesterday. I snapped these photos today, with flash and without. Isn't it gorgeous?

(I know I'm putting off talking about Molly. Bear with me.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

last pictures

Maybe in a while I'll be able to write about it. But these pictures of Molly from yesterday morning are the very last pictures I will ever have of her. I'm waiting for some help to bury her later this afternoon. Molly died at around noon today. I'm devastated.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

calamity Jane aka Molly

Need I say more? (I'll post this pic as soon as blogger cooperates)

Actually this is better than it was last night. I have already removed nearly 2/3 of what she had in her face. Just the ones around her nose and mouth remain. But this is Chapter 8 in the continuing saga of Molly and the porcupines. I'm going with the theory that her nose is pushed too far back in her face and she just has to get so close before she can smell things better, that she, well...she gets too close.

I'm sure Misty, on the other hand, knew all about the porcupine last night from yards away and had no intention of getting too close again. She has had, to my count, only two encounters: one morning, on a walk with my former housemate, Ann, and her dog Tasha, she stumbled upon a porker in the long grass and got maybe 6 quills in her front legs mostly. (Tasha, Ann's dog, one of the most intelligent border collies I have ever met, also go a few that day.) And just the other day, when my friends Kim and Melody were here, Misty came home after our walk with one quill above her ear.

Misty was a stray, so I don't know her story before I got her. Plus, there seems to be a lot of beagle-lore stored in her brain that keeps her from getting in trouble in the same way Molly does.

Molly is sweetly stubborn. Like a lovable pig, she has an oral fixation, chewing constantly when we walk, on grass or on snow, whatever the season offers. She sashays along on our walks, huffing and snuffling at interesting scents, then runs to catch up to me. Sometimes, Misty's excited barking sets her off and Molly barrels towards the sound like a charging football player.

Misty dances around in circles, flying into the woods, tail high like a little white flag, nose to the ground, tongue hanging out of a laughing mouth. She comes back to us to urge us along, hurry, hurry, hurry, so many wonderful scents to explore, leaping over fences or fallen trees. Sometimes I see her balancing on the top rail of a fence, looking back at us, always happy, eyes sparkling:

"Are you coming? I can't wait for you guys, you're so slow. I'll go on ahead and check back with ya in a minute! Gotta go!"

Molly just is a stinky dog (her coat seems to attract dirt), while Misty deliberately seeks out the stinkiest cow-pies etc to roll in. Except for the rubbing stink all over herself intentionally once in a while, for the most part, dirt doesn't seem to stick to Misty in the same way.

The more I think about it, the weirder it seems that I love these doggies at all! I mean, unlike children, they aren't going to grow up and move away! I'll be stuck with their messes until...oh, I'll admit it, when they die I'll be a blubbering mess of grief. I've been through that enough with other pets to know I'm hopelessly attached.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

hibiscus, shades of red & hormones

Years ago, a friend of youngest daughter gave me a stick, because, the friend said, if she didn't give it to me, she would soon succeed in killing it off. Well, it had a few leaves on it and I knew it was a hibiscus.

Over the years, it has become a small tree and annually gets a severe haircut around the end of the year, or I would never be able to bring it inside again from its vacation outdoors. It is one of the 50-lb pots I mentioned in a previous post, that I lug out to the deck in the summer, and indoors again, when frost threatens.

At a crazy depressing time in my life, one bright spot was my cleaning lady, Ella, from the Philippines, who thought I spent a ridiculous amount of time caring for what, for her, was a rather common, weedy hedge plant "back home". We had many a laugh over that.

Ella has a great many hilarious stories about her sense of dislocation as an immigrant to Canada, a wonderful sense of humour, and sharp observational skills about people! And she was, bar none, the best cleaning lady I ever had, or probably will ever have. I realize that sounds like I live some posh kind of life. My only answer to certain people (who shall remain nameless, unless I start feeling really bitchy/menopausal!) who, I know criticize me for this, is that we all have different priorities. I scrimp on other things you would consider necessities.

Oh, it's lovely to be able to threaten to go 'menopausal'!! If issues I've had in the past were pooh-poohed away as being because I was hormonal, I intend to use this last hormonal fling to my advantage for a change. ;D

(Oh yeah, we were talking about the hibiscus, before I got sidetracked by my 'whoremones'!)

Above the nearly single form of its bloom. When it starts blooming again after its haircut, the first bloom is usually like this, with an occasional subsequent bloom also being of this form. The more usual double/triple form is below:

The camera flash seems to water down to a pinky shade the rather more red shade of my hibiscus bloom. Each bloom is about 5" (13cm) across!

Right now, as the days darken and the wet winds threaten snow, it is blooming in the corner of my living room at the rate of a dozen or more blossoms at a time, cheering me up no end! The blooms fade within a day or two, but who cares when more are constantly on the way?

This is the in-between-time of the seasons that I find very difficult to handle. Maybe it's the shortening days. Maybe it's that nearly all the leaves are off the trees. For a while, I enjoyed seeing the form of trees revealed as the leaves fell, but now they're just bare. It's cold. It's wet. It's grey.

I'll feel better when we have snow. (Except I haven't managed to get winter tires yet -- oooh dear -- not one of my priorities, though it should be, sigh...) Or maybe, I'll feel better if the sun finally comes out tomorrow as forecast (then I can put off worrying about snowtires, lol).

I have another hibiscus I call Sheila's Hibiscus, only because it was Sheila who gave me this rooted cutting from one of her plants. This week I'm enjoying my first bloom from it. Very similar to my other hibiscus, Sheila's is a rich pink, somewhat more frilly with a more picoteed edging to the petals. Sorry, I tried to photograph it yesterday (no good or blurry) and today, spent, it fell. But another bud is about to open on the plant and I'll upload a photo as soon as I have one.

I have had a tea that included hibiscus in the blend. Would anybody know what variety of hibiscus blossoms would be good in tea? I know what I have probably isn't poisonous because my daughter's cats used to nibble on the leaves without suffering ill effects, so I tried the dried petals in tea -- can't say they were special. They did colour the tea red. The blossoms don't really have any discernible scent.

Maybe a more scented variety would be better in tea?

According to my trusty Richter's catalogue, the variety used is Hibiscus sabdariffa and it imparts a lemony flavour and a beautiful red colour to the tea.

Hibiscus, when I think of them, envoke images of Hawaii and the tropical hibiscus, H. rosa-sinensis, which is most likely the variety I have here, or a hardy variety I have seen a lot of in old gardens, like my sister's in-laws' gardens in Kentucky, H. syriacus. Lists & Lists...Hibiscus species describes hundreds!

To begin searching for information about hibiscus, especially the tropical H. rosa-sinensis, one could not do much better than to start with the American Hibiscus Society.

Monday, October 23, 2006


AAaaargh! I've done it again, messed up my favorite links in the sidebar. Please be patient with me as I try to retrieve them or rework them or whatever it is I have to do.

weekend herb blogging

Weekend Herb Blogging is a food blogging event sponsored by Kalyn's Kitchen where each week food bloggers around the world photograph and write about herbs, plants, veggies, or flowers, and on the weekend, a Recap is published with links to all the posts. This is great fun to read and made my mouth water!

I made some more tabouli to take for my "lunch" at my paying job this weekend. A couple of my peers were curious to try it and enjoyed it, demanding that I bring it for the next potluck party we have (we try to have lots of those -- yum yum!). Of course, lots of recipe-sharing goes on. I confess, I love food, but don't really love to cook, heh heh.

But in explaining my recipe for tabouli to my friends, I finally realized why my youngest daughter says my tabouli always tastes the same, no matter how much I change up the ingredients. It's the cilantro! I almost 100% of the time use fresh cilantro. I don't always have fresh mint on hand. No matter. I sometimes do, sometimes don't, toast and grind some cumin seeds. No matter. I use different kinds of beans. No matter! I just have to have fresh cilantro!

stick-people sex

Leanne in Ghana posted this back in September, and I am having great trouble picturing this bilboard lasting anywhere in most parts of North America. Of course, the "explanation" is that it's Africa that is having the great AIDS epidemic, never mind that the numbers are on the rise again here as well! Anyhow, I got a chuckle out of this.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

radio voice

I drove into the drive-through and stopped at the speaker.

A mellow, rich, dark voice welcomed me. A radio voice, clear, warm, FM-easy listening voice. A deep chuckle threatened to break out through, enjoyment of the language, a care over the trite phrases, even a slight pompousness!

I was shocked. Usually one expects a bored, hurried, tinny voice. It might fade in and out. It might echo and be troubled by overlaying vibrations. And never, never, will the voice be made for rumbling gently in your ear, deep enough to touch off vibrations in your belly, deep enough to be the perfect accompaniment to a hot, dark, sultry cup of coffee.

I laughed at my foolish imagination, realizing the guy was probably a pimply-faced teenager with braces. I managed to give my order intelligibly, wondering if he could hear me laughing at myself.

As I pulled up to the window to receive my order, I wasn't wrong about the teenage part of the voice, a pleasant-faced young man, not very tall, ordinary in most every other way.

"It's been a long day, " he apologized.

I was about to complement him on his voice, and make some comment about how I enjoyed his performance. Something made me hesitate.

Was he apologizing for some other fumble, with the cash register, making change, something below my radar? What if he was not apologizing for having fun with being "the FM voice over the microphone"?

He brought my coffee. The moment had passed. I drove away.

I am left wondering if he knows how fabulous his voice is. I should have told him, but I didn't know if it was the right moment, or how to say it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

grey day adventures

a wily loon keeps his distance

attractive berries of, I'm guessing, Winterberry or Black Alder, Ilex verticillata

an interesting fungus on a white pine stump

more fungus that I can't identify

Bunchberry flower, Cornus canadensis. that seems to think it's early summer!

Wintergreen or teaberry, Gaultheria procumbens, in it's winter colours. The berries are edible, pulpy, and taste of wintergreen; the plant is the source of wintergreen extract used to flavour teas, candies, medicines and chewing gum.

note to self:

Do not go for a run after dark on a cloudy moonless night when you can't see your hand in front of your face, let alone a skunk! Sigh!

Help! We smell of skunk. Lordy! Do we smell of skunk!

Except for her love of eau de bovine, Misty is smarter than Molly and me. She stayed well clear while Molly and I blundered down the laneway, right into the path of the skunk.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

re algae -- not again!

A quick note on funny coincidences:

Algae makes an appearance in The Life of Pi in a way that is quite fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the way this detail, amongst others, ends up making the reader ambivalent as to whether the story is believable or not.

rain, rain, rain

Now that the leaves are coming off the trees, the lake, not visible all summer, is back. This is looking slightly north of west. A bitter wind blows across the lake and up this hillside in the winter. I must say, I'm not looking forward to that.

This is where we finished our walk yesterday afternoon, at the gate to a field which is across the laneway and directly north of my front door, the one that most people on farms here never use. I do have steps to my door, rotting away though they be. I laugh to see many farmhouses around here no longer even have steps to the front door.

Speaking of doors, my youngest daughter asked me the other day if I ever feel scared. You see, I started counting all the doors I check and lock before going to bed, and I think I came up with the number 5. As if a simple lock could keep anybody that really wanted to get in, out. No, I feel quite safe. I probably lock the doors more out of a fear that they might blow open (as they have because of some of the doors are warped and don't latch well) allowing critters to wander into the house at will. After all, I already share the house with chipmunks, mice, spiders and other bugs, and bats, at the very least!

I worry about other things. For example, I probably should disconnect the downspout from the cistern and reconnect it to the spout that will direct rain away from the foundation. I probably should start thinking about getting plastic up on the windows to help make them less drafty for the coming freezing weather. I probably should make sure the windows and vents in the greenhouse are closed. I probably should clean out the hummingbird feeders and store them away for the winter. I probably should clean and repair the winter bird feeders and set them up in the garden. I probably should drain and clean out the water barrel in the vege-garden....never mind: I know you don't want to hear the rest of the list!

It's raining today, there's a fair bit of wind and it's cold, 13 degrees C. Not a day I want to be outside attending to the endless gardening chores that are still undone. Ah well. Not that I have the time anyhow. I have to drive in to the city again today. What has me sitting, stupid, is that I can't think of anything I want to fix to take for my lunch. Not inspired to cook today at all.

Monday, October 16, 2006


We took it easy today, at least Molly and I did. Misty on the other hand probably did 5 km for every 1 km Molly and I did. Misty raced ahead, circled wide and passed us from behind many times. Often, her excited shrill bark could be heard far in the woods. Molly is becoming less excitable and it was fairly easy to persuade her to stay near me. I was conscious that we were walking pretty close to dusk so the possibility of encountering porcupines was greater. You know Molly has a bad history with porcupines!

It's practically impossible to walk without the noise of crunching leaves underfoot.

The leaves of wild grapevines have fallen away, exposing vines heavy with grapes. This vine wrapped itself around a maple sapling. I can't recall a time when I've seen such a heavy crop of grapes!

I'd love to know what the growths on this leaf are -- a fungal infection?

An oak sapling showing off it's red autumn finery.

The dogs stop to refresh themselves. Molly was panting, but because I walked instead of doing a run today, she was able to keep up.

The cry of what I think might be a red-tailed hawk let us know he/she was irritated by our intrusion on his/her domain.

I'm a big fan of the fuzzy foliage of verbascum. Next year, it will send up its spires in an architectural statement to rival any cathedral spire.

It's dusk, but perhaps the flash illuminates betten than natural light the way this grass that curls when it dries in a way that I adore,

as it also seems to highlight the seedheads of the same grass. The seedheads often tower to just over my head!
The homes of the porcupines we have encountered in the past still seem to be occupied by porcupines. The odour of their recent excrement was quite distinct downwind, even to a non-canine nose! Misty tried to climb a tree or two, but as we neared home, Molly hardly paid any attention at all, she was so winded.


I am surfacing this afternoon, as if from a dream. Such a strange dream!

Yesterday, I drove the nearly two hours to visit with my son. We got his passport photos taken and began to fill out the passport application. A huge obstacle to our plans arose when, in horror, my son realized that his signature could not be predictably controlled enough to fit within the borders of the proscribed rectangles, three times on three separate pages!

I was already experiencing a strange kind of floating foreigness after our experience at the mall. I know I haven't been to any big city, really, for a while, except to singular areas on singular errands, where the terrain is very familiar. The realization hit me in a blinding flash, that big city-ness was now very strange to me at the very same time that is familiar, like an old memory. My usual haunts of late, quiet farmland and small towns, came into sharp contrast in the assault of the glitter and intentional design in the shopping centre, when I looked at the price tag on a coat and realized that it was about four times what I would expect a similar coat to cost in the shops I have frequented lately!

It's insane, I thought. And my poor hapless son was just as giddy. His giddiness came from exhaustion, however, because he has been working 12-13 days in a row lately, including yesterday morning, prior to my arrival, and that morning's shift had been a very short shift-change between the late shift the day before yesterday and a very early ringing of the alarm for yesterday morning.

He tried out his signature again on scrap paper. It's a quick jab at the paper with pen and the result is an elegant, tight arc for the D, and a sharp spike with a tail, that represents the rest of the letters of his name. Foggily, I wondered how legible governments require signatures on passports to be.

He measured the trial signature against the space on the application and decided to try it for real. The arc of the D reached far back and scratched a hair's breadth past the border.


The instructions on the application quite distinctly say the application will be summarily rejected if the signature does not stay withing the borders of the rectangle meant for signatures!

My son was dejected. "I always had trouble with colouring inside the lines", he joked.

I couldn't think what to do. The other problem was that my son knows nobody close by that is qualified to be the required guarantor of his identity, that the photo is him, etc. etc. I was going to take the application with me. A doctor I have known for too many years to count has agreed to guarantee my son's identity.

I think, distractedly, that what I had thought would be quite simple is now getting downright weird. Thank goodness, because my son can't get time off work until the new year, that we have decided to make our trip to Ethiopia in January or February! This means we have more time. We might need it after all.

Today, I called him after checking online for the location of the passport agent nearest to his home. I had promised to call him at 1 o'clock. I whiled away the morning reading. Suddenly, I looked up. The clock above my desk had stopped, the battery dead. I replaced the battery and checked the time by another clock: 1 o'clock. My sense of time is ok, even when the clocks stop!

"What's wrong with you?" my son asks.

"What?" I wonder what in my voice betrays my stuporous state.

I have been immersed in the story of Pi adrift on the Pacific in a lifeboat, his only companion a Bengal tiger!

I explain.

My son thinks the book sounds like one he might enjoy.

Then, my son, a bit better rested today, announces that he has a plan for overcoming the signature problem. The post office across the street from his apartment is an easy source of passport application forms. He'll fill the signature spaces on application forms, without even worrying about the rest of the information requested on them, until he has achieved a perfectly signed application form, one that complies with the "staying within the lines rule", even if he has to fill out a dozen forms.

The post-master or mistress may wonder at what my son is up to, coming back for dozens of passport application forms, and draw the wrong, but obvious, conclusion!

As a result, we may be arrested before we even leave Canada! My son will be arrested because there can be few reasons why a 25-year old young man needs 12 passport applications, and me, because I encouraged him!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

more wild thoughts

A friend, who shall remain nameless, said something to me some time ago, that I have been pondering now for months. I confess, I'm still no closer to understanding it at all.

It was a quick throw-away line, probably one she didn't really mean, and probably one she intended as a joke (I think).

It was in the context of her re-gifting (she made me promise to never tell the person who gave it to her anticipating she would really, really enjoy it) to me a sex-toy that she had never used and apparently didn't ever intend to consider using, as she said, with a laugh:

"I'm holding out for the real thing."

(ok, just a thought here, she surely didn't mean she assumed I would never again experience or wasn't interested in the "real thing", did she?? either way, I'm slightly offended, actually!)

Now, those of you who know me well, know that while I'm quite open-minded, I'm also quite naive and idealistic. Don't mistake my conservative appearances for being a prude, however. This makes sense to those who know me, while those who live on the surface of first impressions would assume I would be uncomfortable in a sex-store. (of course, it would have to be a nicely elegant & tasteful store ;) )

So, I'm trying to wrap my imagination around this "real thing", as I said, and I'm having a hard time (gee--no pun intended!).

In case this seems off track for a gardener, just keep in mind that I believe Adam made a big mistake in the Garden of Eden, by not stopping to ask for directions...and then, in proper patriarchal style, he blamed Eve. And as Adam would be a specimen of the "real thing" in question here, as understood by my friend, in my garden, it is relevant.

In waiting around for the "real thing", as I suppose a patriarchal society would have us women do, I'm pretty sure I can imagine what women are supposed to do (or not do) in the meantime...That wacky ideal is as disconnected from the real world as saying, for just one wacky example, that children need a mother and a father to be raised properly (so we should just go and remove children from all the homes where there is only one parent, usually the mother -- and these days in AIDS-riven Africa, the grandmother or an older sibling who is a child him/herself -- who is parenting children solo) Or for another wacky example, only straight marriages are valid because they produce children. (Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because they won't have children.) In other words, while waiting for the "real thing", by which I assume my friend meant "a man with a penis", it is rude for me to ask, isn't it, but I really, really don't understand: is the only other option abstinence? Hah. I already know Dr. Laura would indeed say "yes", & respectfully, I disagree with almost everything she says.

But I'm pretty sure my friend is pretty realistic, actually, about "in the meantime," and how disappointing the "real thing" sometimes turns out to be...(remember, they notoriously don't stop to ask for directions!)

I just don't know. As I said, I still don't understand the comment at all!

wild thoughts

OK. Yesterday was a sortof break from wildness; but that was just so that the weather could take a deep breath before really breaking out today! I woke to calm, sunny-blue skies. Suddenly, I was retrieving the dogs indoors out of the hail storm. Then it was a mixture of all three: rain, hail, snow. Then the sun came out, briefly. Then, about half-way across the cornfield curtains of hail and snow marched from west to east, while here in the house, I sat in sunshine, looking out my window at the bizarre display. Now, it is quite calm, only a gentle breeze. There is blue sky to the north, dark grey clouds to the south. (note, i did start to write this mid-afternoon, but had trouble uploading photos via blogger...)

What is one to think of all that? All intentions I had of putting the house to rights after four days of almost non-stop go-go-go have vanished. (OK, I'll admit, your idea of go-go-go and mine are probably miles apart, as having to show up at a paying job for more than three days in a row easily sends me over the edge into an emotional storm to rival today's weather!!)

So what have I been doing on my long-awaited day off? Well, first I made a large pot of coffee. Then I turned on the computer and started browzing through, wherever links spontaneously looked interesting or thought-provoking, sites about nursing and medical humour, (more than 50% of my siblings are in the healthcare field), and about Alaska (one of my brothers lives in Homer).

I didn't know it yet, but my coffee was getting quite cold while I was happily distracted for hours perusing the photos of street fashion in Helsinki.

Maybe -- no, I really was -- getting dizzy from lack of caffeine and food, in that order, I started laughing because I remembered another interesting site I stumbled upon in much the same way many years ago.

But first, let me try to explain why I thought this was funny. (I did make a fresh pot of coffee.) Fashion reminds me of my mother. My mother, my sister, and now my oldest daughter, are the fashionistas in my family. Me? Well, just look at my deliberately and thoughtfully chosen outfit of today:

socks, the most comfortable socks I've ever owned, purchased from the Running Room yesterday, so of course, I had to try them on, didn't I?

fuzzy slippers from ?Zellers, in the sale bin at $3/pr (two left feet fastened together which I didn't discover until after I brought them home)(ok, I don't really remember which store and how much they cost, but let's pretend I do since I'm giving you a live fashion commentary.OK?) Posted by Picasa

comfy flannel pyjama-bottoms... Posted by Picasa
comfy flannel pyjama bottoms, with happy colours, given to me by my ex-housemate, Ann.

hemp sweat shirt, stained and full of holes, approximately 10-15 years old, from "The Friendly ?somethingIcan'tremember " store. (Again, I honestly don't remember the name of the store, but I do remember the colourful bongs in the back and being thrilled to find hemp-fibre clothing, vs cotton, which I think is produced -- cotton, that is -- through some of the most un-environmentally friendly farming practices -- but that's another story) (No, I don't have difficulty remembering the name of the store because of marijuana use-- not that I would disapprove -- because I have never inhaled it(heh heh), except as second-hand smoke -- I really don't remember the name of the store--because that's the way my mind has always worked -- except to say it was near the downtown of a mid-sized Ontario city which shall remain nameless, around the corner from a pub called the something-or-other -- probably 'thirsty' -- Monk -- honest!! ) (OK, it's pretty obvious I haven't eaten properly today, isn't it?? Who cares about all this extraneous detail -- or even this whole goofy story??!!)

manicure by: chipped nails by lifting 50lb pots of lemon verbena and hibiscus around!

My mother, the fashionista, and some of the gothic fashions took my circuitous monkey-mind thoughts to my mother's avowal many times that things were so different in her day. Through her rose-coloured nostalg-g-g-glasses, my mother doesn't remember any dysfunctional family history, alcohol or drug abuse, sexual aberrations, etc. You name it. Whatever you might think is wrong with this time and place (my mother's current mantra is that she just isn't a part of today's culture any more; she believes she and my dad are quite out of the mainstream now), didn't exist in my mother's memory of her youth. That's just her way of dealing with life, I realize. But it does tickle my twisted sense of humour to see the goth fashions of today make their link in my mind with Tom of Finland (warning: sexually explicit erotic art at this site: do not go there if this offends you!)

For those who only want the Coles' Notes' version, Tom of Finland was the nom-de-plume of Touko Laaksonen, born in Finland in 1920, only a couple of years before my father was born. He went to Helsinki in 1939 to study art. The war years were a time when many social restrictions seemed to fall away, and many of my parents' generation like to recall those times of fun and anguish, a kind of heightened awareness of life being for living, with great frequency. Or maybe it's a Finnish thing to be a bit maudlin and nostalgic, period. I can't say with any objectivity, can I?

I find it ironic that it was during the war years (men in uniform and all that authoritarian culture of the military must be extra sexually stimulating and liberating!!) that "Tom" found easily available outlets for his urges, that while my dad was absorbing the "pure" ideals of Hitler's distrust of the "swing kids" music and the like, Tom was "liberated" by nazi uniforms. But during the post-war years, his particular style of homoerotic art wasn't appreciated in Finland, even in the small bohemian-artsy set in and around Helsinki. To make a long story short, his "legitimate" career was pretty much in conventional advertising, and not until the '70's, did his homoerotic art begin to make him any real money, and then, mostly in the U.S.(another touch of irony, George!). He was even managed by a Canadian company, if I remember correctly (don't you just love it, Stephen? In case you didn't know, Stephen admires George so much he wishes George were his older brother and tries to emulate him.)

The thing in today's fashion world of the variations of the goth, that reminds me in some dark way of Tom's world of uniforms, leather and bondage, is just simply that: the dark side of human nature. And it does no good to pretend, in my mother's lovable ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand way, it hasn't always existed. Not only that, it exists, not just in "those people" (pick your favorite brand of type of people you are suspicious of), it exists in each of us as individuals. Why not have fun with it? Really, I believe repression leads to the really bad perversions!

I can't picture myself wearing any of the goth styles, (my usual dress being quite conservative in fact) but I do admire and enjoy seeing the variations of it that are worn by 12 and 13 year olds these days. As I looked at some the baby-faces wearing the edgiest goth-stuff, I felt sorry for my daughter, whose own daughter is not there yet, and may never wear that stuff, but who is already appalling her mother aka my daughter in ways similar to her mother's ability to frighten me, years ago. How useless were my attempts to protect my daughter by ensuring she dressed in certain (my preferred) ways! As if how you dress could actually protect you. Just visit I Blame the Patriarchy , where Twisty dishes out very clear examples of exactly how the sins of the patriarchy are blamed on the victims, again and again!

(BTW, just to be clear about variations of sexual tastes: I may not enjoy certain things myself, but between consenting adults...whatever! But for your information, I am totally against, and cannot abide anything where the power-equation is not implicitly and explicitly equal, especially kiddie porn or pedophilia!)

Anything that is humorous and tweaks the imagination a bit, that nudges us out of the comfort-zone, once in a while, is a good thing. That is why I think dressing up, even dressing up for Hallowe'en, is a great thing. We feel renewed, maybe even new and different! We imagine, play with, and accept and/or reject, the various possibilities of the different facets of our complex personalities.

And OK, sure. Most people would like to see me clean up and get dressed to go out...Most people would probably vote to make it a 'fricken National Holiday ( as my sister used to say: honestly, truly ... christianately!!) if I promised to never wear this particular outfit (my slippers, pj's and thread-bare sweatshirt, as above) again. Ever! In public or at home!!

OK. my sugar-fix (from some Parnoosh dates) and my caffeine-fix (from three large cups of coffee) haven't helped the brain-sizzle much, so maybe I should go and cook something sensible, and actually nourishing, to everybody's relief, including my own??

Friday, October 13, 2006

colours in the rain

the colours in the rain are almost surreal Posted by Picasa

rain, snow flurries, wind

Wild weather, the leaves are being torn off the trees and blown away. The only leaves remaining are those which are still green. The coleus is dead, but the rest of the plants in my ice-cream cone pots are still alive. Unbelievably, I still haven't potted up the siningia. Of the cuttings I tried to take, only one did root. I potted that and the coleus cuttings.

In addition to the work and stress levels at my paying job being through the roof this week, the weather has been unruly, to say the least. Wednesday it poured down rain, making the drive slower and much more tension-building than usual. Thursday there were snowflurries and it was quite windy. The snowflurries didn't stick to the ground at all, so except for the wind, the driving was fine. But the wind kept it up all night and is still howling this morning.

I was so tired when I got home last night, that I didn't turn down the heat before going to bed. As a result, I slept poorly, having one restless dream after another. The howling wind probably took part in my dreams in some way. At one point, at something like three o'clock in the morning, I thought I heard someone knocking very loudly -- one, two, three, four! -- on the back door. It woke me with a start and my heart was pounding so hard I thought it would burst through my ribs! The dogs slept peacefully on, so I decided the knocking must have been in my dreams. In fact, Molly, who usually initiates the barking, was snoring so loudly in her laundry-room lair, that I could hear her upstairs in my bedroom!

All these late nights ( I had to stay an hour overtime a couple times this week) had me sleeping in late. I decided to catch another hour of sleep instead of doing my yoga and is my body paying for it! My muscles in my neck and shoulders are so tight that a simple massage would never loosen them: it would take a pounding or maybe electric shocks or a red hot poker!

OK. Now that I've got all that whining off my chest, I am off to the city again today. But this time, I am meeting my youngest daughter for a late lunch, who gets off work at three, and shopping for those new running shoes I need, remember? And I am hopefully going to drop in on oldest daughter and granddaughter too. That should be more fun. And I'm being sensible: I'm doing some yoga stretches before I get into the car again for another few hours
worth of driving.

Below is my Lion's Tail, Leonotis leonurus, blooming like mad. According to my Richter's catalogue, it is a native of southern Africa where it is used for epilepsy, headache, hypertension, and for stomach and bronchial problems. It is apparently also called Wild Dagga, because it is used like marijuana by Hottentot tribesmen for it's euphoriant effects. Hmnnn. That potential bonus is probably wasted on me, (would it relax the tight muscles in my neck and shoulders?) because I will have difficulty figuring out how to use the resinous tops and leaves if I can't come up with a way to make them taste good. (remember my absinthe experiment? LOL!!)

Leonotis leonorus Posted by Picasa

aka Lion's Tail Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 09, 2006

overwhelmed with gratitude

In the middle of contemplating my troubles (I whine a lot) and worrying about all the things in my life that I wish were different, I looked up this morning to see a golden shower of leaves wafting gently down to the ground. The maples' leaves have flushed red and everywhere sunshine glowed through the trees. Suddenly I was overcome by the abundance of it all, the light shining from within each glorious leaf, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the butternuts littering the drive by the garage, the squirrels busy, running back and forth along the cedar rail fence.

As I potted up some of the tender plants that summered on the deck, I laughed to hear the chipmunk scolding, for I had taken over "his" greenhouse for a while.

I glimpsed the large, dark wingspan of something flying past overhead, but wasn't quick enough to catch a proper look.

Even a Mourning Cloak appeared briefly at the kitchen window, then flitted over the house to skip across the back deck.

The sun set in pastel shades of peach, pink and mauve.

I thought, this is the last of many glorious days for a long time. Winter is coming. Among my worries is the fact that I haven't planted those garlic bulbs yet.

The din of the blackbirds flocking in the trees about my home was nearly deafening.

And then, as my shoes squashed dozens of fallen crabapples in the drive, I thought, it doesn't matter. Whatever will be, will be. Just as I didn't even think of preserving some of the crabapples, I can't hold on to it all. My job is simply to try to remember to pay attention to the golden showers when they fall. Soon the ruby leaves outside my bedroom window will also fall and all winter long, I will be able to lie on my bed at night and see millions of stars through the bare limbs of the trees.

More abundance. I humbly realize I keep forgetting to pay attention to the abundance.

eau de bovine

She's all wet and unhappy to be confined to the hearth-rug.

Arrgh! After the amusing adventures of the morning, Misty decided to douse herself in the very appetizing (to dogs, I presume) odour of eau de bovine! I'm not sure when she did this, but the odour wafting from her at suppertime was overwhelming! So, into the bathtub to be scrubbed with my bubbliest and perfumy-est shampoo before any talk of Thanksgiving supper for her!

She is condemned to stay out of the rest of the house for now until she dries off. And she is trying her damnest to look miserable so I'll relent and allow her to roam around as she pleases. I am not fooled! I am heartless!

I'm only hoping that soaking her collar in the aforesaid bubbly and perfum-y shampoo will get the odour out of it as well!

We might(or might not) all be pretty girls, but my doggies and I completely disagree on what smells good!

what is wrong with this picture?

The dogs started barking at something mid-morning and at first I paid no mind. It is Thanksgiving. My landlords are all up from the city, enjoying the holiday with their family. I thought they were probably working or walking or playing about on the property somewhere. I barely glanced down the laneway.

I thought I saw maybe a couple people walking and a dog...No! That's not people, that's a couple of cows! They do not belong in the laneway!

I called M.R..

When K. answered, I exclaimed:"This is Kati. The cows are in the lane!"

Later, when K. came up to check it out, he teased me that it sounded like a code phrase between spies or like a line from a nursery rhyme!

Anyhow, the bull in the picture, a cow and her calf, had gotten out through old gate that had been needing repairs. They made a merry excursion into the alfalfa field to the north before the fellows rounded them up and guided them back into the fenced pastures to the south of the barn.

Such are the entertainments of country life!

it never rains but it pours

My friend Debbie used to say that an idea or issue would catch her attention three times...the way the universe had of saying: "hey, look at this!" Well, this is three. First Lene, then the Canadian Ckayaker, and now the CTV news. To what is the universe insisting I pay attention? Algae.

I am getting used to the mysterious synchronicity of life, so I wasn't surprised to see the issue on the CTV news last night. I think what is most disturbing is that this particular variety of blue-green algae secretes substances into water that is toxic to nearly every system in the body, including the nervous system. I am frightenend by the growth of this algae spreading in our fresh lakes and waterways.

Considering that the story about the Quebec lakes first broke at the end of September, and it is now nearly two weeks later, and the people in Quebec are seeing little relief, we should pay attention. Unlike some natural disasters which seem to remain localized in effect, this is a story that has been brewing for some time and we are doing little to prevent widespread devastation. We continue our lives much as we have done for years, oblivious to how we are affecting the environment around us. And where we notice, we feel irritated and unwilling to change our ways, or helpless in the face of such monumental problems.

I live in an area of Ontario that is mostly farmland, verging onto the lakes districts of the Canadian Shield. Some of the lakes here are very highly poluted and become quite bad by the middle of July. "no swim" signs are frequently posted on some of our local beaches, but I'd venture to guess that many cottagers coming up from the city are blissfully unaware of the problem and are boating and swimming away every weekend. If they don't have wells and are drawing their drinking water from the lakes, they could be in even greater trouble.

It's a sad thing to observe our beautiful lakes and waterways becoming so poluted that they are actually toxic. I was horrified to read of Lene's discovery of dead beavers in the algae-covered water near her home. We should pay attention and take immediate measures to prevent the death of our fresh waters or we will without a doubt find ourselves paying the price so many of the residents the Lake Massawippi area of Quebec are paying right now.

There is an initiative amongst the farmers in our area to manage waste so that it doesn't pollute our water. I would love to know more about it, how effective it is. If anybody knows, let me know. I have seen some signs on farms in our area proudly proclaiming that they are participating in the management of farm-waste to ensure clean water. Any farmers out there? Let me know more about how this is working!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

how does that work?

For Andreas, aka Buddha, in Sweden. I'll be curious to know which of the ingredients are/aren't available in Sweden.

My youngest daughter claims that every time I make tabouli, it tastes the same. I can't figure that out, because, as I noted before, I often use very different ingredients. The basics are the same, but the veggies, herbs and other seasonings vary.

Variation on Tabouli (or Tabbouleh) -- sounds like it might be a musical composition, but it's not ;) -- this composition is supposed to be enjoyed with the gustatory sense, not the auditory one!

Pour boiling water over cracked wheat (bulgur and/or couscous), about 2 parts water to 1 part grain, in a heat-proof bowl and cover. (I sometimes use half bulgur and half couscous to a total amount of about 1 cup.) Let this sit for about 20 min to 1 hr to allow the grain to absorb the water. (couscous alone takes 5 min or less) Meanwhile:

Chop fine lots of flat-leaf parsley (about 4 cups, more or less, depending on how much you have on hand), fresh mint 1/2 cup, fresh lovage, fresh cilantro, etc. This can be quite loose, as I tend to like less of the green stuff in proportion to the grain than the traditional recipe calls for.

I usually use cilantro, parsley and mint in this. Lovage does change the minty-ness to a licorice- like taste a little, which I like just fine!

Chop 1 bunch scallions, with some of the green parts, or any other onion, about 1/2 to 1 cup chopped onion. I also add a finely chopped clove or two of garlic.

Chop 3 ripe tomatoes, seeded (again, I left this out.) I often chop some cucumber, sweet red pepper, celery or radishes into this as well. Most recipes for tabouli don't include them, but I toss in a drained can of chick peas.

For the dressing, I usually whisk together about 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, some champagne vinegar or herbal vinegar, and about 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil. I season this with some toasted ground cumin seed, about 2 tsp, some ground dried hot peppers, about 1/4 tsp, some paprika, about 1/2 tsp, and some black pepper and sea salt to taste. The lemon should sing in this recipe. Again, most recipes do not include the cumin and the peppers.

I toss all the herbs, veggies and seasoning into the now moist grain with the dressing, taste again for salt and lemon, and serve. This recipe makes lots, but it does keep well for days, covered, in the fridge; but I usually add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice to wake it up again before serving.

Friday, October 06, 2006

bad neighbour!

To my horror, I glanced out a window to see this (hopefully not!) new neighbour coming out from under the back deck. When I slid open the patio door to snap a picture, the tail went up and the skunk ran towards the vegetable garden, then circled around the beauty bush and eek!! came back towards the deck.

Sorry about the dark picture, but I hope that's the closest I ever get to my new unwanted neighbour! What now??

death on the roadways

Driving along country roads one becomes accustomed to the sight of roadkill. The most common victims are cats, raccoons, skunks, birds and less often, deer. This time of year, I usually to see a lot of snakes. I have no idea where the snakes are going. They don't seem to be basking on the sun-warmed pavement, as I had thought they might. Instead, they seem to be on the move, on the way to somewhere in a hurry.

In my own hurry here and there, it is still a gut-wrenching feeling to hit and injure or kill any living being. This snake had been struck just by the entry to my laneway. He/she was about three times as big as the little gartersnake I hit the other day on my way to the city to my paying job.

I think the most horrifying sight I have seen was a raccoon which stumbled out of the darkness into my headlights one night. It had obviously been hit, it's eyes glassy in pain, disorientated and staggering about in the roadway. That's a bad memory I'd rather not have. I didn't know what to do at the time. In hindsight I regret that I didn't stop to put it out of it's misery somehow.

tabouli variation

Sometimes one must have cravings because the body perceives a deficiency or a need for the boost. So, off I went into the garden and picked handfuls of parsley and cilantro and lovage. Now I know traditional tabouli is not the version that follows, but in my tabouli salad today, I used some toasted cracked wheat, finely chopped red onions, garlic, cucumber, celery and the herbs above. I also added some chick peas, and seasoned everything with some of my own red-wine herbal vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and some ground black and dried hot peppers to taste (my taste). Yummy! I often add chopped tomatoes, sweet peppers, radish etc, if I have some on hand, or the mood strikes.