By Squidge, Day Two of My “Vacation”

My temporary masters and I are now in day two of our vacation together.  I am not quite sure about them.  They talk to me a lot.  They ask me all sorts of questions.  I presume they are rhetorical questions and they don’t really expect an answer.  So I don’t answer although I do tilt my head to one side to let them know I am listening.  

My world is viewed from 12 inches off the ground.  It’s a big world out there and things like a leaf blowing down the street can be quite unnerving.  I weigh only 10 pounds or so and big winds are also intimidating.  And they keep taking me outside.  More about that later in this, my second instalment as a guest blogger.

My temporary masters seem to care about me.  Although it was a bit scary yesterday when somehow I got into the laundry room and the door was closed behind me.  I must have been there at least 5 or 10 minutes before my very strategic but ‘I’m not really that bummed out’ little yelps sent them on a hunt to find me.  They say I opened and closed the door myself but that’s hardly possible.  Anyway I emerged happy as can be, sort of a ‘ta da!’ when they opened the door. 

It’s cold and windy here and I am not very happy about going outside.  Frankly I’d rather not.  They talk to me a lot when they are taking me outside.  I am not  eager to come to the door.  In fact sometimes when they play fetch with me and the ball lands near the outside door I’ve taken to leaving it there in case the outside swallows me up when I get nearby.  I think they should give me more snacks around walk time and that might help mould my attitude.  

All this blogging has made me sleepy.  And so, until another time, I remain.

Squidge

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My Name Is Squidge

I am a dog who has come to stay at this house for a little while.  Not long, I heard.  Be a good boy, I heard before my owners went out the door.  Well, I thought, if this is to be a new experience, why not really go for it.  I’ve decided I’ll blog a bit about the experience while I’m here.  Of course I can’t really blog or use a computer or speak but my temporary sitters think they can read my mind or at the very least they will impose their thinking into my actions.

This is me below.  I knew something was up when my owners starting packing suitcases.  Something’s happening my little doggie brain told me.  This can’t be good so I will attack the travel pillow.  When that activity came to an abrupt end I thought I’d see if I could camouflage myself and get packed into the suitcase.  Imagine their delight I thought, when they open their suitcases at the end of a journey and “ta da!!!” I jump out!

Take me with you, please.
Take me with you, please.

The strategy didn’t work and here I am in a new environment.  I hope these people know something about canine care.

Yours,

Squidge

 

 

Why Do I Keep Getting In My Own Way?

Tomorrow is January 1st and the start of a brand spanking new year.  Some people make resolutions of one sort of the other.  I have yet to decide if I will make a resolution to deal with the title of this blog.  I keep getting in my own way.   It’s as if I stick one leg out in front of the other purposely to trip myself.  Frankly I think I’ve done this for a long long time.  

When visiting friends years ago he was remarking how when they had visitors and there were immediate tasks at hand she would decide to “dust the wheels on the fridge” instead.  In other words she would take on tasks not directly related, or on the ‘critical path’ as project managers would say, to getting ready for visitors.

Is this something you do?  There is some large task or issue sitting there in your mind.  It is something you must tackle or manage but instead these other non-critical, unrelated maybe irrelevant tasks jump out in front and you say to yourself “Hey, let’s do that instead!”

If you observe your behaviour somewhat dispassionately and from a distance, then perhaps you can take steps leading to improvement.  I know, for example, if I am going on a trip, particularly a trip that involves air travel instead of packing I will undertake tasks that should have been completed months before.  I will go renew my library card, those batteries get taken to the depot to recycle and I tackle that far corner of messy stuff in the basement.  Meanwhile the packing time grows shorter and shorter.

These past few weeks I’ve been getting in my own way  a great deal.  We were having a lovely party about a month ago and would be blessed with family coming to stay with us.  Instead of making beds and setting out towels, buying groceries and doing some cooking, I decided it was crucial to re-finish the front hall bench.  The bench was picked up at a neighbourhood garage sale and has been sitting in the front hall with its original look for 8 years and now I decide to re-finish it.  And I either can’t or won’t stop myself.

 

The old look
The old look
The new "distressed" look
The new “distressed” look

I get the bench done and decide instead of getting the house ready and such, well I decide to make marmalade and chutney.  Marmalade and chutney???  Why do I need to make marmalade and chutney right now?  But I do just that as the time for guests draws nigh. Even as I’m doing it I know I should direct my attention elsewhere.

Marmalade and chutney
Marmalade and chutney

And then this week I decided I need to untangle some chunks of yarn that have, as yet, no useful purpose.  They may never end up being incorporated into a project but I sat down and put in a good 2 to 3 hours untangling that yarn.  I’ll spare you a picture of untangled yarn.  

Amongst the many sayings our mother ingrained in us was “everybody has to have a purpose”.  And like all her sayings, there’s truth to it.  Perhaps I’m expecting too much.  Not everything you do has a great or higher purpose.  Most of us will never receive Nobel Prize, be awarded the Order of Canada or Citizen of the Year or find that every task we undertake is of great import.  

One way of looking at it is family coming to stay was an impetus to re-finish a bench that  might otherwise stay in its original state.  While we never got to sending Christmas greetings this year, the marmalade and chutney were nice gifts from the kitchen and that yarn might never be used but it gives me satisfaction not to see it sitting in a tangled mess.  Maybe it’s more about giving oneself a (sometimes misguided) sense of purpose in the smallest of tasks.

For example, writing this blog this morning, has questionable purpose.  I haven’t been blogging much lately and no one is clambering to read bits of wisdom from this keyboard.  But I’ve done it anyway.

I think I’ve just talked myself out of one potential New Year’s Resolution.

Tell me, do you get in your own way?

What Do You Expect Me To Do?

In the little bubble that is my life and observations of same, there is something very weird.  Some may say, my take on it is skewed, it’s anecdotal and could not be proved in science.  Frankly, I don’t care what others may think, for as my friend Mike would say “there is a truth”.  And the truth in this instance is my believe that machinery and events conspire around me.  And they do so largely when the more mechanically minded of the two of us (and usually the purchaser) is away.   I think the machines and events converse in some dimension we never thought existed and they say “Let’s have some fun today.  Let’s break down or do something weird to make Barb think we are conspiring against her.”  And you know what, it works.  I’ve written some about this before and here we are three years later and it’s still a truth.  The thing is, the conspiracy is usually centred around something I have no understanding of or ability to fix.  Hey, I am happy when I figure out how to change batteries in the thermostat.  And if duct tape, a coat hanger and a hammer don’t work (and I’ve used them all), then I’m sunk.  I have found forcing it, though, is not always a successful plan.

My husband travels for his work on occasion. Things happen when he is gone, all the time.  Well, maybe not all the time.   Not all that long ago when he was away I noticed a new droning sound in the house.  I tromped around the place putting an ear to the fridge, downstairs to the furnace and into the laundry area thinking the washer might have decided to do a load on its own.  Nothing.  Then I opened up the door into the garage.  Attached to the ceiling is some sort of woodworking accoutrement designed, I think, to clean the air when woodworking.   It was purring away-on its own.  There is NO switch on the wall to turn this device on, it’s never turned on by itself before and there was no reason for it to turn on this time.  Guess who called to some far off place to ask said husband what was up.  As you might expect I was met with a “what do you expect me to do from here”.  Well, for one thing, tell me why this thing can be attached and assembled and sit there for 10 years before deciding to self-turn-on (when you are away).  Turning it off meant climbing up high on a step ladder and swatting the plug out of an outlet in the ceiling.

Why does this come to mind now?  Well, probably because of the for-no-reason eternally spinning wheel on the computer when I try to turn it on.  I didn’t do anything, honestly.  And I don’t plan to call to him to ask what to do.  Now, where is that hammer.

 

Madness, Briefly

Recent acts of terror

Soldiers killed on Canadian soil

Fear and suspicion has opportunity to reign

But instead is shoved aside 

By the courage of everyday citizens

Who move in to help, lay flowers to remember, stand quietly in honour

For these men and all who have served

Let us turn out en masse on Remembrance Day

All across the beautiful, peaceful place that is our Canada

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Ten Years

It is ten years today since my sister Joanne died suddenly and all too young.  We talk about her fondly and miss her deeply. In the time that has passed since she would have been proud of her husband and how he cared for their daughters as a single parent. She would marvelled at their daughters as they forged their way in the world.  She would have been in her glory to attend her daughter’s wedding and to watch her newly minted son-in-law snag a home run ball on his wedding day.  

After she died it struck me I had assumed we would all grow old together. 

It can’t be ten years.  It was only yesterday and at the same time it was a lifetime ago.  

A Perfect Pair-A Perfect Day

What are the odds?  Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear a bookmaker lay odds in the events that unfolded in this true story: 

Once upon a time there was a young couple who were in love and decided to join their lives together in marriage.  One of the things they enjoyed doing together was watching the game of baseball, namely watching Major League Baseball.  They lived in Canada and decided a destination wedding to Chicago, Illinois was their perfect wedding.  They tailored their wedding day perfectly to their tastes and those of us who shared in the day were delighted to be there.  (Full disclosure: the bride is our niece and we have been honoured to be close to her all of and live close to her much of her life.)

On a Sunday not long ago we gathered in Chicago to attend the wedding in a beautiful loft not far from downtown.  The ceremony was personal and fitted the bride and groom to a tee-touching, warm, full of love, all the things I presume they wanted their day to be.  They are so obviously in love and it’s clear that for them there was no greater gift in the world than be joined to each other for the rest of their lives.  They are a perfect pair.  

After the ceremony and brunch, did I mention we were all going to a baseball game??  At Wrigley Field?  From the reception to the ballpark we did go.

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And what about the weather, you say.  It was sunny and hot.  Isn’t that grand for there are many kinds of weather that could visit a July day.  Off we go, some two dozen of us and we are seated in the Budweiser Bleacher Seats Patio in right field.  This space will seat approximately 60+ people and when there you can eat as much baseball food and drink as much beer (Budweiser of course) or soda as you’d like for the duration of the game.  

The patio was not full and our group pretty much had the run of the place.  There was another group of about 10 but they only watched the game for a short time and then seemed more intent on keeping hydrated with beer.  The fact that we had many options of where to sit figures into the odds scenario.  The guests and and the bride and groom moved about on the three levels of the patio throughout the game between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.  There was the atmosphere of Wrigley Field and the joy of the day that was washing over us.  The Cubs were losing, we were talking, some of us watching the game closely, some not so much and then a rookie for the Cubs, Alcantara came to bat.  I was talking to another guest and he, with one eye on the field, said “Watch for it!  Watch for it!”.   When you clink this link you will see Alcantara hit his first home run and the ball, as if set on a laser beam flies into the Budweiser Patio and to the young man, the groom, who was married only a few hours before!

http://m.mlb.com/video/v34553959/atlchc-alcantara-hits-his-first-career-home-run/?query=alcantara ever. 

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A perfect pair, a perfect day.

 And really, what are the odds a rookie major league baseball player would hit his first homer to a man (a huge baseball fan) on his wedding day.  

 

June is Accordion Awareness Month

My friend advised me earlier this month she heard June was Accordion Awareness Month. Who knew? Well, now you do and so do I. Really I wonder why they limit it to just one month for the accordion could stand a lot more awareness.

And just in case you think accordion is only for polkas and Parisian sidewalk cafés check out this article in the Huffington Post about the ten best accordion covers. Gangnam Style on the accordion. Obviously it is a leading edge instrument.

We usually host an open house at our community garden plot every year. This year we were thinking we would add a new twist. If I could learn Beautiful Kauai on the accordion, Caroline says she will do the hula.

Community Gardening-Year Four

We are well into our fourth year of tending our 1,000 sq. ft. community garden plot.  Looking back:

Year One

Our first year was about discovery and learning the ropes.  It had to be about something for it certainly wasn’t about garden bounty.  The soil was hard, there was lots of clay and we spent hours weeding (unsuccessfully) as it was pretty much impossible to dig down to most roots.

Year Two

Year Two we decided to go big or go home.  We invested in 9 cu. yds. of mushroom compost, an irrigation system, uber row covers and more straw for mulch.  The results were outstanding.  Broccoli plants higher than your waist, tomato plants burdened with fruit and weeds that were much easier to remove. And bounty was an issue, a good issue at that.

Year Three

We are starting to get the hang of this, sort of.  As with any garden, there were failures and successes.  There was enough butternut squash to feed a small village, tomatoes by pail and the squash beetles continued to win in the end.  As they had every year in the past.  

Year Four

We are officially an expanding enterprise.  We are now three partners tending the garden.  

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There is plenty enough for three to do and it’s great in giving some flexibility in time away over the summer.  Snippets of the season thus far:

  1. A few planning sessions to determine what we’ll grow and where it should be grown (plant rotation and all that).
  2. Everyone took on starting some plants from seeds.  For the most part, we all had success.
  3. More mushroom compost was ordered and delivered in spite several false starts and an almost saga of a stuck dump truck.  
  4. Introduced our friend and new gardening partner to the garden and the neighbours.  
  5. Garden progress to date:
  • Late start to spring/summer
  • Everything is planted (sometimes twice)
  • Trying to grow leeks from scratch. Am thinking we may be lucky to have leeks that are the width of a pencil by harvest time.
  • Trying other new things this year, such as horseradish, kale and arugula.
  • The garlic is prolific.  
  • Irrigation system up and running, straw mulch in place.
  • Cut worms have murdered two pepper plants.
  • Squash beetles are showing up already.

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No matter, it’s great to get out there with your friends or on your own.  We convene with Mother Nature and if we’re lucky, we’ll have carrots, organic carrots, from our own effort and they will average about $10 a two pound bag!  

How is your garden growing? And do you have any advice about combating squash beetles?

 

Siri, the Accordion and Me

You are likely familiar with stories, perhaps from a movie or a book, where a human connects with an avatar or a computer generated semblance of human form.  There are stories of people leaving their human spouse to marry an avatar.  That’s not my story but recently I did find myself feeling some kinship with Siri, the voice activated assistant on my iPad.  Apple says of Siri “Its wish is your command”.  

On days when I think I have extra coordination, I use the metronome installed on my iPad to see if it’s at all possible for me to keep time.  During one practice recently when I had made my umpteenth mistake, the metronome app got tired and went to sleep.  Rather than waking up the metronome, in error I pressed the button that activates Siri.  Up came the little wavy bit with a phrase along the lines ‘how can I help you?’.  I said “Siri, help me play the accordion”.  And Siri’s reply?  “I’m sorry.  That’s beyond my capabilities at the moment.”  Me too, Siri, me too.

P.S. I have moved on from expecting a mistake free, anywhere close to the right tempo version of La Donne E Mobile to learning Oh Susanna.  Currently I play it at the tempo of a death march.