A Portable Musical Instrument

Yesterday I purchased a portable musical instrument.  It’s an instrument some like to ridicule.  An eye roller to some.  It’s the instrument our mother played.  I don’t recall how she came to play it.  Perhaps it was her Polish heritage or the just the era and community where she was raised.  It’s the instrument our parents bought us and we shared it and all took lessons.  I was never much more than a beginner but have always thought I should give it another go.  Somewhere along the way the instrument became a bit of a joke in some arenas but it’s always had a place in my heart and hey, Leonard Cohen’s songs often feature it.

Yes, it is the accordion.  Since it is possible there may be a comment or tease or two in response to this blog, thought I’d just get things going:

  • What’s the difference between an accordion and a macaw? 
One is loud, obnoxious and noisy; the other is a bird.
  • Why did the chicken cross the road? 
To get away from the accordion recital.
  • What’s the difference between an accordion and an onion? 
People cry when you chop up an onion.

No matter, I now own a cute grey/green 40 bass vintage Weltmeister accordion yesterday and am very tickled with the purchase!  

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I have a talented enthusiastic teacher and once I remember where the C key is located we can start.  I haven’t taken lessons for decades.  Many decades.  But no matter, here we go.  It’s important to have goals and I’ve set one and will work towards it, enthusiastically.  By the end of this year I want to play the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty Four”.  Because I own an accordion and that’s what I am.  Sixty four, not an accordion.

When leaving the house to buy the accordion yesterday I asked my husband if he wanted to come with me.  He said no thanks, he wanted to stay home and enjoy his last hours of peace and quiet.  

Boarding announcements

If you have occasion to travel by commercial airline and if you have done so for some time you will notice the difference in boarding announcements over the years. I mean those announcements telling you when it’s time to come to the gate, present your boarding pass and walk to the airplane.

Way back when they would call for people who needed more time to get to the plane and those traveling with young children to board first. Then along the way there came the different types of seats ie business class and then travellers who had earned special status for traveling a lot of miles. They boarded first.

Now they have so many categories it’s actual funny.

I think the people who pay the most go first now so the schpiel is something like this:

Calling all passengers whose work paid for them to be in business class-come right up
Calling all passengers who travelled so much in the aforementioned category that they’ve earned a seat in business class with their rewards, come right up
Calling all passengers who have our gold level card please come forward
All passengers with our silver level card please come up
All passengers who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths please step forward
All passengers who are anticipating an inheritance of over $100,000 and expect to travel a lot with us afterward come on up.
All passengers whose stock portfolio is on the rise please board now

Then there’s the call for those who need more time to walk to the plane and those with small childreni.

The service attendant then looks around the lounge and says all remaining passengers please board now. And I’m the only one left.

Remembrance Day 2013-Is One Day Off Too Much to Ask?

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Living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario, we are fortunate to be able to attend the Remembrance Day Service at our national cenotaph. Today was a cool, showery, somewhat snowy day yet the crowds came to Parliament Hill.  There could be more people there though.  In our native province of Saskatchewan, Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday.  Everything pretty much shuts down.  

When we moved here we were surprised to learn Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday in Ontario.  What?  I’ll be working that day?  In the nation’s capital?  You don’t go to work on Remembrance Day!  You go to the cenotaph in your town or city and you stand in the sometimes very cold morning and you contemplate the selfless sacrifice of so many of long ago and not so long ago.  The first year we were here, there I was at work in a meeting and 11 a.m. we stood at our meeting table and bowed our heads for two minutes.  Two minutes.  And then we went back to our meeting.

While some employers (federal government, The Ottawa Hospital, for example) do give people a day away, most do not.  Stores close till about 12:30pm and then it’s open season.  Universities hold classes without skipping a beat, schools are open and life goes on.

Like many things in Canada, there is no one size fits all.  Some provinces have deigned Remembrance Day as a holiday, some have not.  We have the lives and the freedoms we enjoy in our great country because men and women laid their lives on the line for the greater good.  Surely we can take a day and make that effort to pause and give thanks.  After all, if they hadn’t done what they did, our lives would most decidedly not be what they are today.  Seems to me that 24 hours set aside to consider not only to reflect what’s gone on before but to consider why humanity continues to inflect horrors upon its own kind is not too much to ask.  In this great country of ours, we should all have time to pay tribute to those who have shaped our freedom.  Lest we forget.

 

A Very Busy Day For Meteorologists

I imagine this day in our local weather is something meteorologists must love.  When they stand around the water cooler at work the conversation would really be about the weather.  

“Did you see the size of that low pressure system!  I haven’t seen anything like that since 2006. “

How about that forecast of the micro-burst?  Was I accurate or what!”

“I knew that storm would track south of the lake and I predicted the rain would fall around six.  And what time did it start to fall?  Six!”

Plough wind, southeast Saskatchewan.  Need I say more?”

There’d be little chat about politics or television or movies or families.  It would be all about the weather.  Today the water cooler chat in Ottawa must be very lively.  Since the day has dawned today we have had one advisory after the other.  Sometimes we have had two advisories at once.  First there was the humidex advisory.  The temperature plus humidity was forecast to reach +41C.  Within an hour or so there was an advisory about the UV rating.  It was very high today (first time we’ve had this warning this year).  Then came the severe thunderstorm watch which turned into a warning and to cap it off we are now under a tornado watch.  

 

 

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On Monday morning there will be lots to talk about at work around the meteorologists’ water cooler in Ottawa.

I wish they would also issue tomato plant advisories.  The six plants I have in the backyard have gone from vertical to horizontal.  

Garden Motto


Observation about our gardening efforts, Caroline and mine.  

Last year we worked very hard.  We stooped over and spent hours and hours trying to pull weeds out of the hard-pan ground.  We tried to coax carrots to grow, lettuce was playing hard to get and cabbage never got past the mini stage.  

This year we worked hard but we started with some 9 cubic yards of mushroom compost.  We spread it, tilled it in and made raised beds.  The soil became a dream to work with.  We bought straw to use as mulch between the plants and the rows. Weeds still grow but we can pull them easily and the plants that are doing well…they must be almost 2-3 times as big as last year!

It’s not all roses as we have some problems: potato leaf rollers have set upon one of our varieties of potatoes, cauliflower plants are huge but there’s no sign of the heads of cauliflower (do you know why that would be?) and the same goes for broccoli (all leaf and no eating bits). It’s been a very hot and dry year and we have tried to keep up to the watering but I imagine we could have done more.   But on the whole the organic matter has been a whole lot of magic.

Moral of the story-garden motto

Say what you will about crop rotation, drip irrigation, tilth, micro herd, good seeds and so on, as far as I’m concerned the moral of the story and a motto to garden by is to add organic matter or more plainly put:

Horse shit really works!  So if someone tells you that something is a load of horse sh@$, ask them how much they want for it.  We’re likely in the market for at least 4 cubic yards next year.

Paying homage to my gut (reaction)

The Lead-Up

History: Over the years I have not always paid attention to any visceral responses I have to situations or decisions.   It’s easy enough to talk yourself out of a gut reaction and try to rationalize your way to a decision.  You know, look at all the facts and make a decision-use your head-simple enough.  Then again, there’s been many a time when, upon reflection, I should have listened to my gut.  

Customer Service: Once upon a time I attended a seminar about customer service. While the seminar was held many years ago one of the examples used by the presenter stuck with me.  She spoke about how easy it was to lose customer confidence-the example she used was air travel.  You board the airplane, get settled and before you take off you try to turn on the overhead light and it doesn’t work. When this happens you think ‘what else on this airplane doesn’t work?’  

The News Story

Today Ottawa Public Health held a news conference to report several thousand people have been exposed to potential HIV or Hepatitis infection as a result of poor standards during treatment at one local clinic.

Within the last year or so I was referred to said clinic.  Briefly put, from what I observed in both the exterior office and the consulting office, there was a lack of orderliness and cleanliness.  The physician recommended a procedure and I asked where the procedure was conducted, I was told there an operating room (or some such thing) in the back of the office.  I initially made an appointment for a future date but pretty much as I left the office thought-“No Way!”-if this is what the front of the office looks like…what does the room in the back look like?  I called back and cancelled the appointment. I did it based on a gut reaction.  I reported my experience and decision to my family doctor.  While the news report says the probability of infection is low, there are thousands of people who will soon receive a registered letter about their treatment in that office. Despite the odds of infection (which are apparently very low) the information is bound to cause many people a great deal of worry. Tonight I am paying homage to my gut.

Have you had an experience where your gut reaction got it right?

Tribute to Jack Layton

The death this week of Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition, has spawned an outpouring, a public display of affection and respect for him from across Canada. Whether you receive your news via the web, the newspaper, TV or radio, tributes to the man are everywhere.  And it is very heartfelt.  Tributes have come from ordinary Canadians who feel this man cared about them, he cared about the disadvantaged and the marginalized and he worked to make things better.  He dedicated his professional life to his beliefs.  He believed together we could make a difference.  And in the end, as ill as he was, he wrote a letter that spoke to the country and to the individual.  

In an age when it is easy and perhaps in vogue to be critical of politics and some of the things that politicians have done or not done, Jack Layton’s legacy rises above it all.  He challenged us all to work to make the world a better place.  As I stood in line today to pay my last respects to him as his body lay in state on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, it made me consider what I have done or I could do to make this country and this world a better place.