Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Weird, full-circle lives

Met a woman (Marlene) last night who I hadn't seen in 17 years, possibly more.. she is visiting her daughter in Durham, and they called Brian to do an estimate on some repairs... This same woman hosted a backyard wedding for Brian and his first wife in the early 1970's... during those same years Marlene and I worked together at the Guelph General Hospital. I also patronized the knitting store on Quebec street where Marlene worked part-time - she and I shared a love of knitting. She divorced and decided to open a yarn store of her own in Elora... I married, and am trying to remember whether Marlene was at my wedding, and I think she was... I divorced, had several serious surgeries, and moved to rural Elora. Again, I patronized her shop, as I loved Filatura di Crosa yarns. Her daughter took over running the store as Marlene went back to nursing... By the time I divorced again, I never went back to Elora. It was hard to catch Marlene at the store.

I met and married Brian, and we had Angeni. Fast forward to last night - there, in the same rural town, we go to Marlene's daughter's place for Brian to do his estimate. Marlene has known Brian and I both as individuals, married to other people, and now married to each other - she didn't know we had a child. Now she is thinking of buying a little place in Durham too... she is still running the yarn store in Elora. For sure I'll have to stop on my way through to Guelph, and see what she has there... I'm still knitting and so is she, thirty++ years later. Knitting sweaters and knitting lives that, like a well-made garment, are stitched together. An amazing, small world indeed...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nearly the end of School break

I miss summer already, and it is still August. Angeni has no more day camp, so she is home with us now for two more weeks - it is Labour Day two weeks from today. We haven't any money to do "fun" things like go to the CNE in Toronto, although with gas prices down a bit, we may squeak a day at the beach. It feels like this precious time is flying by and we can't really enjoy it... there are only so many heart-to-heart talks with the donkey one can make without beginning to feel deprived.

I can go to the gratitiude place - August did boast beautiful weather, with temperatures in our region mainiaining a low-20's place - not really beach weather, but wonderful for sleeping. No real humidity to speak of... the gardens are doing well because there has been enough rain for the plant people. The Sunchokes (Iroquois potatoes/Jerusalem artichokes) have grown past the eavesttrough on the workshop!! This is stunning growth. The calendula beds have responded, and hopefully will bloom before October. A dear friend Ron brought us a tree so Brian can begin the firewood preparation - always stressful for Brian. This summer bounty is all good... and I am grateful to the Creator for these blessings.

Another friend called to say his son was abruptly diagnosed yesterday with acute lymphoblastic leukemia - not a great way for this family to spend the end of their summer. Another friend has had a recurrence of cancer she thought was beaten 4 years ago - another summer bummer. We are blessed with good health - just no work, and facing the possibility of complete career changes so we don't lose the farm. New jobs are much easier problems to face than the health issues.

August is my favourite summer month, normally... not as hot nor humid, fewer work demands, a sense of bounty from the harvests. As a parent I have regrets that this summer will pass without being able to give my child the opportunities and adventures summer can bring. I have faith that next year, Creator willing, we'll be in a less desperate place financially and I can enjoy August again...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tech savvy - or not

I'm from a generation where only a few neighbourhood homes had TV's when my sister and I were young... mercifully we had a B&W Philco Ford TV, then a colour in time to watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan... in the mid-70's my highschool friends studied Fortran, a very basic computer programming language... in university it was a big deal to do exams on computer punch cards. By the mid-80's, I was studying Wordstar, Supercalc and some other program on a college computer that had giant record-like disks, and all the speed of a 3-legged turtle. In 20 years I've adapted to an explosion of home technology. However, even I have my limits. While this home has more computers than people in it, and I own a cell phone and ancient Palm device, I am lost when it comes to camera phones, MP3 technology, text messaging and now Blackberries. I feel left out when I hear people refer to the "Blackberry" generation. Apparently these were given out as gifts at the Oscars, and are so expensive that the IRS is saying that the stars owe taxes on these gifts.

An iPod might as well be a new mushroom out in the pine trees.

Who can afford all this stuff? It isn't just the initial outlay for the hardware, but from what I understand, the per call, per message, per song download charges are quite stiff!!! My cell phone might get used once a month, and we have it for taking in the car, in case of emergencies. I don't use it any more than I absolutely have to... I simply can't justify the expense. I love Skype, and all the VOIP capability it carries - I use Skype and it makes sense to me. Free is good, once you've got the headset and eyeball camera.

Maybe by the time Blackberries are nearing extinction, I'll find one in a discount store and be able to tell my grandkids about getting in on the tail-end of Blackberry culture. All while mooning them on my camera phone. Right - when llamas fly.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Birthday Tsunami

It is officially 7 days and counting until Angeni's 8th birthday... we've been counting for weeks, but with this final 7 days, the excitement is peaking. The most fascinating, quirky thing I do for her birthday is create a spreadsheet to dispense equitably the loot for the loot bags... 3 gums each, this one gets lip gloss, that one gets the train whistle, yadda, yadda. Then, there is plugging the confirmed attendees' names into the annual "Pirate Bob" story... Brian reluctantly dresses up to play Capt. Bob. We've done this now for 2 or 3 years, and walk the kids through the woods to various stations. They encounter a troubador, a damsel in distress, a weird pirate in a trailer, and some of the farm animals get written into the story. For all the effort, that part takes maybe 20 minutes, maximum. Oh we have the kids create their own birthday/pirate hats at the beginning of the party. I do break up the lunch time separate from the birthday cake/presents portion, and generally try to keep them amused. It seems to work. This year more than half the kids will arrive about an hour and a half into the party because of sports... their hats will be made by those kids who make it at the beginning... this is a new occurrence.

Of course, A's stash of weird and wonderful birthday presents grows... bits of lego, some fuzzy, glow-in-the-dark slippers, a Pokemon handheld game thing, some Neopet cards... I'm even sewing some pillows covered in Pokemon fabric for her bed. The cake is one of my creature classics, complete with gummy worms, plastic spiders and flies, frogs, fake doo doo and all the nasty/silly things she has come to expect. This from a woman who once taught formal wedding and gingerbread cake decorating at community college. Somehow I revel in the dark humour of my grotesque cake creations. I think it's my inner 8-year-old. A loves it, so that's all that matters.