Chariot

It’s 4 am and I’m standing in the middle of my back yard. The wind is sweeping across the empty fields. I can hear it rushing along beyond the blue spruce trees that mark the divide between the fields and the yard. I can’t see the trees clearly but I can feel them towering above. Overhead the moon fades in and out of sight, just visible and then bright, behind and in the breaks of the ragged swathes of misty clouds that race across the sky. The moon is framed by a rainbow-hued corona. The flow of the clouds creates the illusion that the moon is moving quickly across the sky. An arm’s reach downwind there’s a bright shimmer, a planet I think. It’s ever so bright (perhaps it’s Jupiter, Jupiter is supposed to be visible this time of year) and so close to the moon that they appear to be moving together. It’s as if the smaller body is pulling the moon across the sky. The illusion is so perfect, their light so clear and close, that I half expect them to sail right over my head, brushing the tops of the trees before they disappear into the blackness of the fields. I’d like to wait and see (just in case) but the dogs don’t like the wind at night. They hear things in the wind, and because they can’t see, it makes them nervous. Maybe I hear things too but only just a little. And the wind is cold; it’s December. And I’m almost positive the moon and Jupiter aren’t sailing away wildly on the wind. So in the house we go.

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Kitty Update

Several weeks ago I wrote about our cat Charlie and his scary health situation. We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out but I can now happily say he appears to have made almost a full recovery. It looks like it was idiopathic vestibular syndrome. He seems to have recovered his mobility and his head no longer tilts. For awhile we thought he was going to have a droopy eye but that’s resolved itself. His voice is a bit rough (he used to have a very sweet meow and now it’s sort of crackly) but if that’s the only residual symptom we’ll consider ourselves lucky!! We’re happy to have our lovely boy out and about again.

Music for this post- I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy CliffCharlie in the gardenCharlie on the moveCharlie checking out the harvestCharlie catching some rays

Sleepy Charlie

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Tech Support Calling

Windows Technical Support called me this morning to inform me that my computer was in “danger”. I had just gotten up, which is not a great time of the day for me. I’m not particularly “verbal” or clear-headed before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee. Rather than hanging up immediately I said “no”. I then proceeded to say “no” every time he paused to take a breath during his spiel. He eventually realized I wasn’t responding in the appropriate/hoped for way and asked me what I meant when I said “no”. He became a little testy when my first full sentence included the words “everyone knows this is a scam”. Once again I know I should have hung up but in my defense I was still half asleep. He then expressed interest in the intimacy of my assumed marital status. “I hope your husband fucks you”. Um -no you don’t but thanks…I guess. Not content to stop there he took it one step further and informed me that he “wanted to fuck me”.  Actually what he said was “I want to fuck you ma’am”. I should add here that the caller had a South Asian/Indian accent. One could assume he was calling from India so rape from afar wasn’t much of a threat. Perhaps I should keep an eye out during the next week for someone stalking me wearing a fake Windows Support Team polo shirt and a South Asian complexion. At that point I did wake up a little more and hung up the phone after wishing him a future filled with prison bars. What a lovely start to my day.

Now that I’ve had a chance to reflect 2 questions come to mind that I have no answers for;

#1-Threat of rape “ma’ am”(Don’t get me wrong –I’m not traumatized by some douche on the phone being an idiot) – Is that a cultural “go to” thing threat wise? Is that a racist thing for me to wonder? I know sexual assault can happen anywhere so that’s not the point. I live in North America where, I think, you’re more likely to hear fuck you or go fuck yourself (at least over the phone). Rape is a big media headline for South Asia/India so would I be making a judgement via a cultural bias (admittedly based on actual events) emphasized through media exposure?

#2- WHO IS BUYING INTO THIS SCAM??? I mean they wouldn’t do it unless it was making money so it must work. The idea that “Microsoft” or “Windows Support” individually monitors every one of their products purchased and calls you when there’s a problem is so outlandish. In addition this one has been making the rounds so often that my 74-year-old mother has sent me a “FWD: FWD: FWD” email about it (along with a number of others concerning –not flashing your headlights at another car, not pulling over for an unmarked police car, not accepting business cards from strangers…etc-Lord love her). I’m not saying there aren’t sophisticated scams out there that could fool even literate/savvy computer users but this one doesn’t come close.

The call made me a little nostalgic for the Nigerian Prince scam emails… at least they were sometimes addressed to “My Dearest”.

Music for this post- Lowest of the Low “Salesmen, Cheats and Liars

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Should I Ever Stumble and Fall

Monday morning Charlie, my brown tiger tabby, ran past trying to get to the stairs before me. As he turned to go down his back feet tangled and he almost fell. It struck me as strange but he recovered immediately and raced down to the first floor. When he mewed to be let out there didn’t seem to be a problem so off he went. He was gone all day and it was after 9 pm when he finally reappeared. He was a mess. He could barely walk. His legs didn’t work properly. He looked like a furry four-legged drunk. That might sound cute in theory but in real life it was scary as hell. My first concern was that he’d been hit by a car. The second was that he might have been shot. I live in a rural area and though rare that kind of thing does happen. He didn’t seem to have any marks or tender areas.  His symptoms started getting worse. There was something wrong with his eyes. It was after business hours so I decided to take him to the emergency clinic in London (about a 45 minute drive from home).  He usually puts up a fuss about the cat carrier but he was quiet on the way in.

The vet technician did Charlie’s intake. We waited for the doctor to come in. It was a long wait. It was a busy night at the clinic. Charlie sat up on the examination table. He wasn’t even trying to move any more. He looked, to be indelicate, as high as fuck. His eyes were wide open but non-reactive. His head was slightly tilted back and to the side. His gaze seemed to be fixed on the ceiling lights but I didn’t get the impression that he saw them. Whenever there was a loud sound in the clinic he would flinch but otherwise he didn’t move. When the vet came in to examine him the first thing she did was put her face right up to his. He didn’t see her. She flicked her fingers in front of each eye almost tapping the surface. There was no flinch, no change in pupil dilation…nothing.  She listed off possible causes (some with really long names). Then she asked me if there was a possibility that he had gotten into some marijuana.  I guess she thought he looked high as fuck too. I assured her there was nothing like that in my house (there isn’t).  She asked again suggesting that perhaps “teenagers might have dropped some on the side-walk”.  I informed her that I live in a rural area at the edge of a small hamlet. People don’t walk in front of my house. I have farm fields behind my house but one is lying fallow and the other has soy beans in it (no place for pot plants to hide). My nearest neighbours, on my side of the highway, are ½ an acre away to the west and east but if they were smoking pot outside I would have known (no secrets in a small place). I’d had my roof re-shingled the week before but I’m pretty sure roofers, a roof with an extreme pitch, and pot, don’t mix on the job site.  If my cat had gotten into something toxic it wasn’t “weed”.  She explained some possibilities for tests and treatment and then went off to put an estimate together for services.

As I waited for the veterinarian to return I could hear what was going on across the hallway in another room.  What sounded like a senior couple had brought their dog in. The dog had been vomiting blood as well as bleeding from the back-end. The vet was telling them, in the kindest way possible (there’s no use sugar-coating it) that she didn’t know what was wrong with their dog Mickey, that it was going to take a lot of tests and a lot of money to figure that out, and that they would need to make a decision because it wasn’t going to be a cheap or easy journey. I would see them later in the lobby settling their bill. They were taking the dog home and the wife was crying.

When the vet came back with the estimate it was $1100 to $1500. I signed the paper and put the deposit on my credit card. She mentioned marijuana again and I realized she thought I might be lying. I can’t be mad about that I guess as I’m sure they do have people lie to them. Still the fact that I had just agreed to pay up to $1500 for my cat’s medical treatment should be a pretty good indication that I wouldn’t be holding back any info that would help it.   I do have to say none the less that I was very impressed with the staff at the clinic. They obviously care deeply about the animals in their care. While being completely professional they went out of their way to be kind and comforting during what was a very difficult/emotional situation.

After a battery of blood tests (all negative though that didn’t stop the day shift veterinarian  from mentioning pot again the following day), and a night on IV, they were still no closer to a diagnosis. They had ruled out toxic exposure as after 24 hours something toxic would have been flushed out of Charlie’s system by the IV (resulting in a cessation of symptoms) or the toxin would have killed him. Charlie didn’t seem to have any injuries and there’d been a great deal of improvement but he still couldn’t walk properly.  The vet hypothesized that it could be something called Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome. It usually goes away on its own but occasionally some long-term symptoms remain. He might have Feline Infectious Peritonitis (dry). There’s no definitive test or set treatment for that. You just do your best to make your cat comfortable until they pass (death occurs in a relatively short period of time). It might be a brain tumor (unlikely though for how quickly his symptoms developed) or some other kind of neurological disorder.  There was nothing to do but wait it out so I agreed to take him home. To add to the stress of the situation, while I was waiting for them to get Charlie ready, a pet owner who’d brought her dog in had a (possible) heart attack in the waiting room. She kept apologizing to me, the vet, and the receptionist, whilst panting in pain waiting for the ambulance to arrive. After she’d gone I went to finish up the finances and realized I’d lost my credit card sometime between paying the night before and picking up Charlie to take him home.

It’s been a couple of days.  I can see improvements though he still has the head tilt. I thought he was a little further along and allowed him access to the main floor of the house.  He had a spill down the basement stairs. He’s very tired. He tries to do the things he could do before but his body says no. He doesn’t understand why he can’t go outside.  His entire life has changed and I don’t know yet if it will be a permanent change. Despite his illness he is still his unfailingly sweet and affectionate self. He tries to rub up against legs and hands to get his loving though he often falls over as he leans in.

Charlie wasn't impressed with the shave job they did at the emergency clinic. They did both front legs as they had trouble finding a good vein to draw blood from.

Charlie wasn’t impressed with the shave job they did at the emergency clinic. They did both front legs as they had trouble finding a good vein to draw blood from.

His medical condition has turned the house upside down. The dogs are confused by the attention Charlie is getting and are upset that they are being admonished to be careful around him. My other cat, Lola Mae, seems to think I’ve brought an unfamiliar cat into her territory. I’m not sure if he smells different or if it’s the way he’s acting that’s set her off.  She’s never been the friendliest of cats but she and Charlie had an “agreement”. It was along the lines that she would do her best to not give him a moment’s peace and he would try to stay away from her. She’s called “Princess” Lola Mae for good reason. When Charlie first came home I confined him to a small room with all his necessities. Lola Mae spent some time hissing and growling at the door. She also took up hissing and growling at the dogs and everyone else no matter how nicely she was being treated.  Since I’ve let him out, she’s attacked Charlie at least once and continues to show aggressive behaviour. If it turns out that Charlie’s condition is a chronic neurological disorder I may have to think about re-homing her.

It’s never been a secret that she’s the kind of cat that would do better in a household with no small children or other pets. She’s a young beautiful looking cat and when she gets her own way she can be nice. She makes lovely little chirruping noises and will come for a treat if she’s awake when you call her name. But if Lola Mae isn’t happy, no one gets to be happy. I may have a place lined up for her already with an older woman who lives with her senior mother but I’m still going to wait and see how everything turns out. Honestly I’ve never been the kind of person who takes in a pet thinking it will be anything but a lifelong commitment so the thought of possibly “giving up” on Lola leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But if Charlie’s mobility is permanently affected and he can’t protect himself from her I might have to. Time will tell.

Music for this post- Danny O’Keefe’s ‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues

 

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Post from the Edge

This post was written mostly off-line and discusses 2 separate events approximately 3 weeks apart~

 I have no home internet access as I type this. Today so far I’ve missed out on learning how to keep avocados from ripening too quickly, finding out what Seals and Crofts look(ed) like, downloading a template for jumping jacks, as well as the usual things I look up on a regular basis like email, on-line newspapers, and the weather. I live in a rural area so internet access can be a bit spotty. Well maybe not for those who have mucho dinero to spend but I’m just a regular Joe so I have to take what I can afford.  When I first moved out to the country the only thing available in my area was dial-up so what I have now (satellite internet) is an improvement. Though it claims to be broadband I seriously have my doubts. It’s a trade-off; Beautiful country living- mostly craptastic internet.  There was a storm last night and today is Canada Day so chances are the internet will be down until tomorrow. It’s usually down for a day or so though several weeks ago it went down for 3 days. That one wasn’t an area outage though. It was just my account. My Internet Service Provider had no idea what the problem was. They were going to send out a technician but it would be a 3 day wait. In a strange turn of events the next day my land line stopped working. The phone company assured me a technician would be there as quickly as possible… in 3 days.  Cue the scary music as those 2 combined events felt a bit like the beginning of a slasher flick with the main character slowly being isolated from the outside world. I used my cell phone to text my family to let them know and admonished them to “avenge my death” after my bloodied corpse was discovered.

The land line wasn’t a big deal as I still had the cell phone. I often go without internet access when I travel but three days of being at home with no internet was a big deal. I found myself wandering around the house unsure of how to proceed. Apparently I check my email over and over again each day given the amount of times I found myself trying to access my account to see if the internet had magically reconnected.  Recipes for dinner, movie reviews, random fact checks that usually lead to hours of website and Wikipedia searches, life hack tips, funny cat pictures, and guitar tutorials were no longer at my fingertips.  How many sticks of butter make up a cup? What do the lyrics of Pink Martini’s Sympathique translate to?  Should I be concerned about this mole(help me WebMD!)? For an individual who once spent a summer as a child reading encyclopaedias, the internet information highway is a heady place. Then there are the blogs and newsletters I subscribe to as well as daily or weekly updates from YouTube channel subscriptions, galleries and theatre groups I follow or am associated with.  Oh and of course my 2 blogs, my 3 email accounts, Pinterest, Facebook and the on-line volunteer work I do for a local non-profit (website updates and production promotion) Yikes it’s a lot! And it all happens on the internet. Maybe it’s a good thing it does go out every once in awhile-AND I’m just kidding about that.

When the 3 day outage was finally resolved by my ISP (frankly it sounded like someone accidentally turned it off at their end) I had almost 200 emails in my primary account and pretty much the same in the other 2 plus all the other flotsam and jetsam  It took me a couple of days to get through the backlog. When this stuff happens I start thinking about the amount of time I spend on-line. Other than woefully staring at my router multiple times a day when my connection is unavailable I actually get quite a bit done, work and home upkeep wise. Lines of thought about quality versus quantity and simplifying my internet scheduling, maybe a little less Pop Urls and random surfing, start to arise. Honestly though as soon as I get back on-line those thoughts seem to fade away faster than droplets of dew in the morning sun.  Chances are when the signal is back up I’ll head right back to Imgur or Wikipedia because you know…funny cat pictures and information.

Update

Well the latest internet connection interruption has been repaired (obviously as I’ve been able to post this). First order of business after a little over 30 hours of no web access; Google search engine query “How long do squirrels live for?”

Music for this post- Seals and Crofts “Summer Breeze” because Wikipedia says they are still alive and members of the Baha’i faith (I couldn’t tell you much about the later as I only made it through the first paragraph on that page) and of course Pink Martini “Sympathique“.

Sigh- What a time to be alive…

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Our path emerges for a while, then closes…

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

– Ernest Dowson, from “Vitae Summa Brevis” (1896).

Around mid-January I received an unexpected phone call. It was from a representative of the organization that oversees the administration of a place I used to work at. They were going to be embarking on a transitional period in their staffing and wanted to know if I would assist them during that time. I have to confess I had some misgivings. Not just because there were some serious issues surrounding their change in staffing but also because this was a position I had resigned from with no intention of ever returning. In the summer of 2012 I gave my notice. I got all my files and paper work in order (with the exception of a government grant application that I would finish pro bono for them a couple of weeks later) and spent the last 2 weeks of my employment training my replacement. I hadn’t resigned because I hated the job. I quite enjoyed the work. Granted it was a very demanding position (there was a 6 page job description) but I had a good handle on that. I had some really good times there, met some great people, and found great satisfaction in moving the organization into a new period of growth but it certainly wasn’t all sunshine and roses. There were some pretty significant issues that negatively impacted my life both on and off site.  In the end I left because of a number of factors (people and situations) that eventually created what I felt was an untenable working environment.

I’m not a grudge holder AND I had invested almost 5 years of my life in the place so I cautiously agreed to lend a hand. What I said I would do was update all their security information, write a couple of employment grants, and assist with an event they were holding in early February. I thought I had made the limited nature of my commitment very clear but when I arrived on site I was handed keys to the buildings and a one paragraph job description for an interim manager’s position. I was also told I was welcome to apply for my old job if I liked. Yikes!! I reiterated my acceptable level of commitment and in the end I was on site for around 90 hours over a 3 week period. And you know what? It was just a really, really, really weird experience.

It was sort of what I think it would feel like to suddenly find yourself hanging out with your “ex”. It’s not like I’ve done that kind of thing but I can imagine the strangeness of something like it. You genuinely loved that person but had to leave them because it turned out they were pretty loopy and the relationship just wasn’t healthy.  The qualities you fell in love with are still there but you can’t deny the loopy stuff that let you know it was time to go.

I found myself sitting at my old desk doing some of the things it used to be my job to do. But it hadn’t been my job in a long time and it wasn’t going to be my job in the future. It felt familiar yet foreign. One thing I did on my brief return was read my personnel file. Now don’t get your knickers in a knot because I wasn’t snooping. It wasn’t locked away or anything like that. It was in the drawer of my old desk where anyone could see it. If any of you had the wherewithal to not read your personnel file if you came across it… well hats off to you. Just so you know there weren’t any surprises in there any way. It was an opportunity though to take a trip down memory lane. It was a short trip. I hadn’t worked there in over a year and a half. I’d only been on site for a couple of days before I found the file. While I could see there were some changes since I’d left, under the surface it was still a lot of the “same old same old”. It was just an odd little twist that the “same old same old” was what had me sitting at my old desk reading about myself in the third person.  If nothing else (well I did get paid- I’m not that much of a patsy) my three weeks on site, hanging out with my ex so to speak, let me know I had made the right decision in the summer of 2012.

I finished up the night of the February event. During my exit interview I was pretty candid about a great number of things I would never have addressed as an employee. It’s definitely easier to speak out when you don’t feel like your job is on the line. I really hope what I had to say helps the organization. Maybe they’ll take some of it under consideration but if they don’t, well that’s life isn’t it? Tomorrow becomes today, and then it is yesterday, and we move on. It’s all just water under the bridge.

Music for this post is Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree

Chair from an abandoned squat camp on a Lake Erie shoreline cliff

Chair from an abandoned squat camp on a Lake Erie shoreline cliff

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Christmas Wine Drinking Tips From My Home to Yours- Cheers

Step 1: Wait until less than a week before Christmas to purchase your Christmas tree.

Step 2: Decide it’s a good idea to purchase your tree in the after dinner hours of a moonless December evening.

Step 3: Head out to the farm you usually buy your tree from to find the farm yard dark. Uncertain as to what to do, wait because you want a tree and this is where you usually get one but it looks like they’re done for the season. After what seems like an uncomfortable amount of time someone will come out of the house.

Step 4: Turn down the farmer’s generous offer to let you head back into the snow covered bush and cut down your own tree.

Step 5: Pick one of the four pre-cut trees that you only just noticed as it is extremely dark in the yard. Pay for the tree. Load it into the van and head for home

Step 6: Once home unload the tree and leave it in the backyard where it will stay for the next day and a half even though you were certain it was absolutely necessary to get it that very evening. Notice the farmer short-changed you a dollar. Well it’s dark, that sort of thing happens, and it is Christmas…so ho ho ho. You will have gotten your tree though and success deserves a glass of wine. Go ahead and indulge.

Intermission- It will rain all the next day and night. Friday morning the winter wonderland will be a sodden muddy mess and it will be very apparent that the “snow drift” in your front yard was just a light cover of snow over top of a huge pile of leaves you never finished raking because someone broke the good rake.

Step 7: Get your first look at the tree in the light and notice the elbow bend in the trunk that you missed when you bought it in the dark. Trim the stump but not too much because you paid for a big tree and dammit you’re going to have a big tree.  Make sure you lay lots of plastic sheeting on the floor as it is hardwood and you don’t want that to get wet while the tree drips dry. Drag your sodden tree round the front of the house, in through the front door (pine needles, pine needles everywhere!), and spend a fair amount of time trying to anchor it straight in the tree stand. Realize this tree was just born crooked, you paid for it, and you’re going to have to live with it. It will look okay if you only view it from the front. Anyway it’s the holidays and there’s no need to get in a flap about little things.

Step 8: Shoo the cat away from the tree. Tidy up a bit. Pull the cat out of the tree. Get ready to go out to dinner and the theater with family and friends. You can decorate the tree when you get home. Shoo the cat away from the tree. Close the door to the living room. The cat will not be pleased.

The cat WILL NOT be pleased.

The cat WILL NOT be pleased.

Step 9: Head out for the evening. Make sure the person you’re driving into town with hates city traffic and, despite knowing it is the exact hour of the Friday evening rush hour and that Christmas is less than a week away, will become so incensed they won’t be able to enjoy the restaurant and then later, exhausted, will sleep through the first half of the play. Your other friends will stay awake so you will have people to talk to. Decide that a glass of wine during dinner might be nice. Hell, why not make it two? You should probably super-size those because it is Christmas after all.

Step 10: Return home and check on the tree. Shoo the cat away from the tree. Notice most of the water in the tree stand is gone. Put more water into the bottom. Pull the cat out of the tree. Pour a glass of wine. Check the water level and THEN notice the water leaking from a crack in the bottom of the stand onto your hardwood floor. Grab the shop vac. Turn it on. Don’t panic when it doesn’t work. Grab some towels and sop up the water. Drag the tree outside. Google shop vac trouble shooting. Fix the shop vac despite its horrible design weaknesses. Spend an hour drying your floor with your hairdryer hoping it won’t stain. It will. Drink another two glasses of wine. Go to bed.

Step 11: The next day after your breakfast meeting head to the hardware store where a clerk will convince a dubious you that their puny tree stand will indeed hold your 8 ½ foot tree. Go home.

Step 12:  Realize the clerk lied to you. Hate the clerk and wonder if it’s okay to have a glass of wine even though you haven’t had lunch yet.

Step 13: Plop a bucket into the old cracked tree stand, drill holes into the bucket, and run the tree screws through it. Take your tree, which is now 6 feet tall because you so wanted the new stand to work, and put it in the old stand. Voila it’s up. Decorate your tree. Make sure you don’t put a single solitary breakable ornament on it…shoo the cat away from the tree…no tinsel either.

Step 14: Shoo the cat away from the tree. Get a spray bottle to shoo the cat away from the tree. At one point notice the tree has fallen over. Spend a half hour trying to get your already decorated tree to stay upright in the broken stand until you admit it’s just not going to work. Grab some picture wire and string it from the picture rail to your tree. Your tree will be standing upright again. Who knows for how long but yea-a-h! Have a glass of wine.

Step 15: Leave the spray bottle on the ground in front of the tree as a warning to trespassing cats. Have another glass of wine and consider whether or not it’s time to start on the hard liquor.

The music for today’s post is Neil Young’s Comes a Time. When taken in the proper light the lyrics strike me as particularly appropriate for this post.

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There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…

I’m not sure how old my house is but when it was built it was erected with no plumbing or vented heating. The walls are lath and plaster. The plaster is the kind that has horse or cow hair in it. I know about the plaster because several years ago a section of my living room ceiling collapsed. A road crew was using the bucket of an excavator to break through the road asphalt in front of my house. With each bang of the bucket on the road I watched part of the ceiling droop. It didn’t fall right away but several days later I heard a big crash and walked into the room to find bare lath and a whole pile of plaster on the ground.  Old houses are like that. Stuff just happens.

I have a lot of questions about my house that will probably never be answered. Like what’s the deal with that room in the basement. I’ll call it a room but it’s sort of not as it isn’t completely excavated.  To clarify my basement has two rooms with concrete floors. The first room has a lath and plaster ceiling but the walls are just poured concrete. The second room is less finished. There is a door in that second room. When opened that door reveals a space which is a sort of room but it’s filled with dirt. There is dirt that is lower by the door opening but piled up higher towards the back wall within a foot of the ceiling. Water pools in the partially dug out area when it’s really damp out. Looking at it I really can’t tell if they were in the process of filling it in or digging it out. The only time I ever open the door is if I find water in the “proper” part of the basement.

I have always had a very active imagination. Since I was a child I’ve seen things. Catching glimpses of objects out of the corner of my eye or from far away I sometimes perceive them to be other than what they really are. I see the huddled figure of a solitary walker that turns out to be a shrub along the rail line. The monkey (I live in Canada) sitting on the deadfall out in the field is just a part of the deadfall. I know that it’s a big log with a broken branch but it still looks like a monkey to me; a real monkey. In the shadows of the alley way for just a second one day I honestly believed I’d seen a crocodile, or something crocodile-like, nestled beside the wall. Intellectually I know these things can not be but part of me still believes that the shapes in the shadows under the trees are cats or people or elephants or trolls. I’m not saying that trolls aren’t people. If there are trolls I’m sure they think of themselves as people. In my house occasionally the shadows form shapes. Like cats, cat-like shapes or, I don’t know, maybe like a baby crawling at my feet; something small though and just a blush of colour or form.  When I dream, I dream in colour. As I fall asleep gold flecks of light coalesce to form the pictures I see behind my closed eyes. It always, all of it, makes for an interesting inner dialogue.

The other night I was using my bandsaw to cut a fairy door for a project I’m working on. My bandsaw sits on top of a workbench which is located in the part of the basement where the mystery door is. It was a particularly windy night which is not unusual where I live. Normally on a very windy (or cold) night I like to snuggle down right in the middle of my bed and take comfort in the space that divides me from the wild elements. But that night I had work to do. A bandsaw is fairly noisy but not so noisy as to block the sound that seemed to come from behind that door. There was a noise from the other side of that door that sounded big, howling big, wild and mad. Granted it was windy outside but I was in the basement so why would the sound of the wind come from behind that door? It’s underground. I suppose I should have opened the door to check it out. It’s just a half dug out or half filled in space. But you know what? I didn’t. In my mind’s eye I already knew there was an enormous twilight zone whirling vortex to hell behind that door so I didn’t really need to open it. My imagination provided more than enough of a story line to send me hurrying back up to my work space. I’m not one to poke the possum. I think it’s better if we all just act like it really is dead.

This project I’ve been crazy busy with the past month is some volunteer work I’m doing for a non-profit group that supports local amateur theatre. I’ve been designing and building a set for their next production. It’s really fun and a great opportunity to try new things while contributing to a community based organization. The space I’ve been doing the majority of the construction work in is an old defunct Mason’s lodge that the municipality rented to the theatre group.  There are peep holes in the doors and a sliding door with a padlock to close off the largest room. The ceiling of that room is arranged in such a way as to indicate the 4 compass points and there is a separate switch connected to a single light bulb located at the centre of those points.

It’s probably not the best place for someone like me to spend a large amount of time alone. I haven’t discovered a small town conspiracy of hidden ritual murder or been dragged into the clutches of the Cult of Cthulhu that is secretly still operating there. I haven’t been sucked into the wormhole that only opens at midnight on a certain night of the year when the stars are in perfect alignment…

…yet.

Music for this post-

The Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood and Gene Wilder with Pure Imagination from Willie Wonka.

The “Lodge”…

Peep hole Narrow stairs up to the old lodgePadlock to guard their secretsLights to the 4 corners of the earth The Alexandra Lodge at night.

 

Posted in A Chill, Echos, Narrative Collection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Octogenarians Want Love or Something Not Even Remotely Like It (Too?- Hell I don’t know)

I like reading the weekend newspaper. I work on the NY Times crossword that runs only in the weekend edition. I enjoy the letters, the editorials, the comment pages and perusing the classified ads. I recently came across a slice of life in the singles column of the Classifieds.Singles Ad

The singles section in my regional paper is located near the euphemistically titled “adult entertainment” ads which are followed by the escort ads. I don’t know why adult entertainment and escort services need different headings because as far as I can tell they seem like the same things. For those who can’t find “Twoo Wuv” I suppose it’s convenient to have the services that replicate the mechanics of said relationship for pay advertised nearby. This gent seems to be trying to cover all bases-wide age range, possible marriage (based on a 2 hour a week get to know you time schedule) and cash for…well…“stuff”. I’m guessing he’s not shelling out $500 a month for 8 hours of holding hands at the movies. I have no idea what the hell is going on here but there is no denying that his hope, or something else, springs eternal. Whether it’s for love or a cash transaction only is uncertain. Will it be wedding bells or is this a senior ready to “mingle”? There is no doubt that age has no bearing on desire. I’m no expert but I’ve had my own little run in, rather unfortunately, with that truth.

I worked as a museum manager for almost 5 years. As a not for profit organization funding was always an issue. I was the only employee (with the exception of summer students). It would have been difficult to operate the site without volunteers. During my tenure I came into contact with a number of seniors.  I unintentionally managed to secure the “affection” of a married man more than 45 years my elder. Unbeknownst to me he had a reputation in the community for womanizing.  If I had known that, when I got to the end of the line of seniors I was giving a quick hug and a peck on the cheek to after an event, I would never have included him.

An explanation might be in order as it may seem strange that a professional would engage in such behaviour.  The individual who had held the position before me had complained about visits, from volunteers and members of the society that established the museum, hampering his administration. When I was hired it was made very clear to me that it was a part of the job and as such took priority over other administrative tasks. I was to have an open door policy and work to establish strong ties with any local individuals who chose to visit or participate on site. It led to a very interesting dynamic developing with a number of senior members who were involved with the organization. The closest term I might use to define that relationship would be “familial”.

I once had a senior volunteer end a phone call with “I love you” to which I responded to without a moment of hesitation with a “Me too. See you tomorrow”. For months I spent several hours each week visiting with a gentleman (not the not-so-secret admirer) whose wife was confined to a care facility as the result of a stroke. He would stop by my office and bring samples of his wood work as well as photos of his former property and harness racing horses he had raised. As the manager of a historical site with a mandate to preserve local history people would come by to share stories of family histories, traditions and of course gossip. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy sharing a bit of gossip whether it happened last week or a hundred years ago.  Living and working in a small rural community, as well as the nature of my job, meant that the lines between my work and personal life were at times nonexistent. It wouldn’t be unusual to have someone drop by my house on my days off to talk about something work related or to drop by my work to talk about something personal.  So hugs and pecks on the cheek for pseudo grandparent figures were not out of line.

It wasn’t even a week after the event that I realized I had unintentionally created a problem for myself. That small gesture of affection had fanned the flames of a desire and I found myself the subject of some very unwanted attention. Suddenly I noticed that my not-so-secret admirer was around more often. He would make excuses to speak to me (not that he had to, it was my job after all) but he didn’t really have anything to say. I began to hear about him asking for me when I wasn’t on site, wanting to know when I would be back. He would take any opportunity he could to come into contact with me. At one point he took my hand and wouldn’t let it go. I can tell you it is very awkward trying to disengage your hand from an 88-year-old man’s grasp without hurting him when he’s determined not to let go. At that point I was embarrassed and I felt a bit sorry for him as well as his wife. I blamed myself because you know maybe I shouldn’t have hugged him (even though it had never been a problem with any of my other seniors). I had no idea this was a regular thing for him. If I had, I would have faced it head on. He wasn’t making any attempt to hide his interest. I began to make sure I was never alone with him. That wasn’t so hard during the summer when there were students working through the busy season. The slow season began in September. The students would be heading back to school and I was going to be alone on site. So of course you know that’s when it came to a head.

It was just a normal weekday when he showed up. I was sitting at my desk doing some administrative work on the computer. I kept working as he came in hoping he would see I was busy and leave. He stood behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. Well I tell you I was at a loss. I began to explain what I was working with on the screen. I looked up at him and he said “You look sad” and then he bent down AND KISSED ME ON THE MOUTH and said “Does that make you feel better?”. HOLY-CRAP-IN-A-HAND-BASKET. I was stunned. Just then out of the corner of my eye I saw the gas lady walking across the lawn to check the meter. “Oh it’s the gas lady” I exclaimed and I almost ran out of the room. He followed me. Now this man was in his late 80s at the time. He then had and still does have a Tweedledee Tweedledum physique. I wasn’t afraid of him. I’m pretty sure I could take him in a fair fight. But I was extremely uncomfortable and angry. I was angry at him. I was angry on his wife’s behalf and I was angry at myself for waiting and just hoping the whole thing would go away.  I turned to him, making no attempt to hide my anger and asked “Does your wife know you go around kissing other woman?” My tone of voice made it clear it was both a question and a threat. I walked away to talk to the gas lady and my not-so-secret admirer left.

I wish I could say that was the end of it but of course it wasn’t. A year later he showed up for a site event. He tried to speak to me and I walked by him without acknowledging his presence. Later that day I had a chat with one of the organization’s board members and related the whole thing to him. It was agreed that this man would be “discouraged” from participating on site. I don’t work at the museum anymore. I made sure to warn my replacement during her orientation. Sometime later I mentioned to a friend who had grown up in the area that I’d had a problem with a senior volunteer being inappropriate. I didn’t even have to mention his name. She knew who it was right away. Then someone else mentioned another incident they’d heard of.  With all the gossip I had been privy to while running the museum there’d not been a whisper of his womanizing.  On reflection I realized the majority of those talks on site had been mostly with older women. It seems that younger women had borne the brunt of his attention. Don’t get me wrong I’m not one of those people who believe love is only for the young or that May-December romances are wrong. I do believe if you’re married, YOU’RE MARRIED. And if you want to carry on like you’re not, then you shouldn’t be anymore. I also think that a healthy dose of reality should temper every ego. If the person who placed the ad I pasted above is single and ready to mingle by all means he should go for it. I hope he finds someone who is looking for what he has to offer. All things being equal both of them should meet on common ground regardless of age but equal in availability and desire.

I still have strong ties to many of the people I met while I worked at the site. I’ve heard my not-so-secret admirer still stops by to ask about me. There’s that hope (in his case that can be translated into an amoral and misguided ego/libido) springing eternal I suppose. Obviously I’m no longer contractually obligated to talk to any and everyone but when I hear that he’s been asking about me I like to imagine I might allow a very brief discussion with the desired effect on my part of further crushing that hope like a nasty bug beneath my heel.  The reality of course is that hope is indestructible.

Songs for this post

What a Fool Believes by the Doobie Brothers because delusion played a serious role in my unfortunate incident. His for thinking he had even a smidgen of a chance or mine for hoping it would just go away-pick whichever you’d like.

Backdoor Man by the Doors. Not because my not-so-secret admirer believed he had that Jim Morrison thing going for him. Rather he was hoping to sneak around with someone, anyone, as long as she was decades younger than him and not his own wife.

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Hair Raising

My sister got the good hair. Her hair is thick and dark with just a hint of a wave and grows at what seems to me to be an unfairly quick rate. My hair on the other hand is made up of delicately fine strands that take forever to get to any real length.

Crazy fly away hair

Crazy fly away hair

When I was small I developed an aversion to having my hair brushed. Because it was so fine it would constantly knot (still does). Apparently brushing my hair when I was a child was such an ordeal that my mother once lost her temper and hit me over the head with a hair brush. It was one of those hard plastic ones. It had a pink handle and white bristles. I’m not sure if it was a defective brush or she just hit me so hard that it broke but I do remember it coming apart and her being left holding the handle whilst the rest of it flew across the room.

Years later I think my mother just gave up. I'm pretty sure my hair isn't brushed here at all

Several years later I think my mother just gave up as I’m pretty sure my hair isn’t brushed here at all

I’ve had all different lengths of hair from a shaved head to almost waist length and there was a time when I wasn’t really sure what my natural hair colour was (my hairstylist assures me that’s normal).  I’ve always had to work to keep it under control. I am the grown woman you will see sporting a high ponytail  even though I once saw a tongue in cheek comic that stated the higher a woman’s ponytail the lower her IQ was (take from that what you will). I’m no stranger to pigtails or braids. Sometimes I rock a little Princess Leia bagel earmuff action and pile it up on either side of my head above my ears. Why do I do this? Well other than it’s my hair and I can do what I want with it (you judgemental hair police can keep your snarky comments about age appropriate hairstyles to yourselves) it’s just a practical way of avoiding “Hair-maggedon”.  It doesn’t always work though.

The other day I woke up and found a big clump of what I think was pine tar in my hair. The day prior I had been in the garden shed, my hair piled in a loose bun atop my head, clearing out old gardening pots and the like so I hadn’t been near any pine trees. You’d think as a mortgage paying adult I would have a handle on stuff coming into contact with my head but apparently I don’t.  I still have no idea why/how I woke up with a pine tar head but having lived with this mess of hair for many years I’ve developed a list for fixing this and other sorts of Hair-maggedon issues.

What it takes to get the job done

What it takes to get the job done

Pine tar or anything really sticky can be removed with Goo Gone (in an emergency you can use WD-40 but it’s really greasy) and then shampoo. Really bad knots require a lot of patience (frankly that’s a given for any method) a comb and conditioner. Latex paint that has dried will come off with a regular wash and then brushing the flakes until it comes out. Oil paint requires a solvent to remove followed by a wash and a good deep conditioning pack. Wood glue can sort of be scraped off but if you want you can soak it until it softens beforehand. If your hair catches on fire PUT IT OUT and then trim off the singed ends as they will smell horrid and look ratty. For the most part food items can just be rinsed out but there are some exceptions.

I don’t only fall victim to knots and pine tar. If I’m enjoying an ice cream cone at the ice cream stand it’s more than likely my hair will come into contact with my ice cream, drag over my cheek and leave a streak of dairy goodness across my sunglasses (you should never lick that off as it just makes a big smudge).  Campfire marshmallows are like delicious booby traps and I have multiple memories of waking up in the tent after falling asleep in my bathing suit (don’t judge me I was a child) with clumps of hair and marshmallow glued to my face.

Dale Keys knows what I'm talking about- http://dalekeysillustration.com/

Dale Keys knows what I’m talking about http://dalekeysillustration.com/

I sometimes have to pull my hair out of my mouth whilst dining in areas that aren’t even the least bit windy. I’ve tooth-brushed my hair right into my teeth and chewed my hair into my gum. Gum by the way is one of those things I very rarely can get out of my hair because the strands are so fine. I’ve tried ice and peanut butter just to name a few methods but depending on how much hair is stuck there may be no other recourse than the scissors. Many years ago I was dating someone and we were joking around. I spit my gum out at him and he responded by picking the gum up and mashing it into a tress of hair at the back of my head as hard as he could. Yes we were adults. Yes it was immature and again it was years ago. I had to cut it out. I lost a section at the back of my head that was an inch across and about 6 inches long. I was lucky it wasn’t right against the scalp or I would have had a nice little bald patch to grow in.

There’s an old saying that states a woman’s hair is her crowning glory. I wouldn’t say that’s true in my case …for me it’s more of a conversation piece.

Currently I'm a brunette which I enjoy much better than being a sun-streaked blond with "oh my God she should do something about those roots" accents.

Currently I’m a brunette which I enjoy much better than being a sun-streaked blonde with “oh my God she should do something about those roots” accents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music for this post

Lady Gaga with Hair

Hair from the musical ‘Hair’

Posted in Chatter, Day to Day, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments