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

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.


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…

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…


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.


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.

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-
Dale Keys knows what I’m talking about

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’

All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need…or a reasonable facsimile.

Every year a sort of whole sale slaughter goes on in my garden. Flowers and shrubs face an onslaught of hungry over sexed Japanese beetles that skeletonize foliage leaving only fragile ghosts of delicate lacy green. I’ve seen entire plants stripped bare, left to die in the heat of the August sun. According to Wikipedia the Japanese beetle isn’t much of a problem in its native Japan as natural predators keep populations in check. Here in North America we’re not so lucky. The plants that seem to attract the beetles to my yard include hostas, hollyhocks, snowball viburnums and corkscrew hazels. The beetles’ M.O. is to set up shop in these plants and fill their days and nights with snacking and shacking up.

Corkscrew Hazel

I decided this would be the year I fought back. An internet search was narrowed down to two popular methods of attack, each with their merits and draw backs. The manual approach is to place a container of soapy water under the plants and knock the beetles loose. The beetles are quite clumsy and usually drop right into the water and drown. Effective I suppose if you have twenty-four hours a day to sit in the garden like some kind of beetle chaperone keeping an eye out for any sign of beetle hanky-panky. The other suggested method is a Japanese beetle trap that uses scent to lure the beetles to their doom. The traps could be effective if used correctly but if used incorrectly might draw more beetles to the area. Given the mixed reviews I thought I’d try both.

I bought two traps but decided to only set one up. I had read how the traps worked so I already knew that floral or pheromone scent was what attracted the beetles.  When I opened the package I found the manufacturers had been much less euphemistic.  The outside packaging indicated I had bought a “Biolure Beetle Trap” the inside literature made no bones about it- I had bought a “sex trap”. I’m not big on the old nudge-nudge wink-wink type of humor. I do remember watching some of the old ‘Carry On’ movies on Sunday afternoon television when I was very young but I primarily recall being vaguely repulsed by the innuendo while enjoying the slapstick.  Still when I read Japanese Beetle Sex Lure (no biolure euphemism there) on the bait package and saw one of the ingredients was something called PEP well my brain did a little 360 and once it started it would not stop. It was wincingly juvenile and yet I just couldn’t (and still can’t) help myself.

Selective Advertising

The Truth in Plain Print

“PEP” Really? I thought…PEP? What was that? Some kind of Japanese beetle Viagra? What if I got it on my hands? Ew-w-w-w. Would beetles chase me around the yard? I told myself not to be so silly. I gingerly put the bait package down and picked up the little plastic walls that would form the top of the trap. The instructions said to “slide the vanes together at the slots to form a cross”. I slid the vanes together and in my head a little voice whispered scissor together. This thought was immediately followed by an intense self-irritation manifested through my aware interior voice answering that whisper with an “OMG REALLY???” Did you really just think that? WHERE did that come from?  But it didn’t stop there. To my chagrin everything about the process seemed to engage the formerly unknown juvenile that hitherto had resided silent in my head. I tried to be careful when I peeled the cover off the bait package. I tried not to get it on my skin but I couldn’t avoid smelling it because it smelled really strong. A-a-a-a-a-ah I didn’t want to smell it but I couldn’t help it! The voice inside my head said that’s what Japanese beetle sex smells like. Some part of me acknowledged that, as if I would need to know it sometime in the future.  Will that be the answer to some long far off crossword puzzle clue? Will I meet an entomologist someday and need a topic to make small talk about? Ugh why would I do that? Talk bug sex talk with an entomologist. They might think I was making some sort of overt pass at them. If you’re curious I can tell you that it smelled like cloves. There, now you can make bug sex small talk with an entomologist. There’s some underlying pheromone thing going on (that’s how it works for people too) but to my very human nose it smelled like my kitchen when I’m making spiced coffee cake.

Setting up the trap wasn’t rocket science and before too long the bag hanging below (see there it is again) was full. There is a bug bordello in my backyard that smells like spice cake and I am the bug bordello Madame. I get that it smells all sexy (Love for sale, appetizing young love for sale) but it doesn’t look anything like a den of iniquity. Maybe the pheromones are hallucinogenic (Love that’s fresh and still unspoiled)  and the beetles hear a siren’s call or imagine they see the seduction of  will- o’-the-wisp fairy lights leading them on (Love that’s only slightly soiled, love for sale).

The disposable collection bags are just plastic bags with holes in the bottom so the rain won’t fill them up. The beetles don’t die right away. As a matter of fact by the amount of writhing that seems to be going on in the bags I’m pretty sure they are still doing it. Even in the throes of death they are still getting it on…orgy style (OMG will it never stop?). Each new addition to the trap is probably doing it right on top of the dead beetles that were trapped there days before. Maybe the new beetles are even doing it  with the dead beetles. Maybe they’re self-aware. Well that took a dark turn. Maybe they think the entire world is ending. It’s the Japanese beetle apocalypse. There’s nothing left to lose so they might as well screw. I imagine I hear the chorus of Ultra Vox’s “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”. SHUT UP Ultra Vox in my head.

I’ve only managed to get rid of a dozen or so beetles by knocking them off the plants into the bowl of soapy water. That might simply be that there hasn’t been as many on the plants because of the traps. I’ve had to change the bag three times in the past week.  I think I’ve trapped over two hundred beetles. Holding a bag heavy with Japanese beetles I can see little legs waving out of the drainage holes on the bottom. I wonder why they don’t climb out of the bag. I think I’m killing them with sex. It’s a sexy, sexy, death, and then, Should I shake the bag? NO! Just put the full bag in the garbage…sigh… It’s like I’m arguing with a 12-year-old psychopath but not out loud because he/she is sitting inside my head.

Do you think a time out will work or is it too late?

Songs for this post.

My U tube search for music for this post was a hilarious excursion. Did you know Tom Jones has a song called ‘Sex Bomb’? I had to look up the lyrics. Though he was singing “infrared to see me move through the night” to me it sounded like “infrared semen move through the night” (what???) . I decided to double check just in case I run across one of those obscure crossword puzzle clues. I’m not linking to the video. I’m embarrassed for him. You can look that one up yourself. I found many, many other things that were funny both to my adult self and the wayward child inside but I digress.

I thought I would include the Cole Porter classic ‘Love for Sale’ as I used the lyrics above but there were so many good versions I couldn’t choose. Some of the runners-up were the Vengaboys ‘Boom Boom Boom’, Nazareth’s ‘Love Hurts’, Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get it On’ and Barry White’s ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love’ but I finally decided on the ones below.

Redbone’s ‘Come and Get Your Love’ .

Crowded House with ‘Into Temptation’.

Ultra Vox’s ‘Dancing with Tears in My Eyes’.

If you’ve never heard of the “Carry On” series you can check them out her .

Go Ask Alice

This painting is SO close to being done I can almost taste it. Today was going to be the day. I have the hook on the wall with a place ready for it to sit until it’s time to varnish it. I’ve screwed the tabs into the stretcher and strung the picture wire across the back. There’s just a bit of this to do and a bit of that but still I’m sitting here at 3 am and it just WON’T. COME. TO. AN. END. I really was going to get it done today but when I took the dogs out this morning (I should clarify my morning is your afternoon as I usually go to bed around 5am) I spotted a wee white bunny in my vegetable garden. It was sitting behind the pegged down wire fence, hunched right up against my peas. It could have fit in the palm of my hand. The white of its fur stood out in bright contrast to the garden greenery. It’s not winter here so those who know better might be surprised by the colour of its fur as the hare (not rabbit) native to this area wears a subtle shade of sable and grey in the summer. Several years ago some well-meaning idiot (the emphasis is on idiot) decided to let their domestic rabbits enjoy an outdoor environment. Since then these very cute but extremely destructive furry bundles have taken over the hamlet. They’ve forced out the native species, attracted apex predators like coyotes, and destroyed lawns and gardens. Despite this some people love them and add to the problem by feeding them. Others are not so enthusiastic. One gent down the road was shooting and eating them. He stopped when he discovered a “wormy” one.

With my sweet peas in jeopardy, unhappily it was time to call on my inner Mr. McGregor. PeterI didn’t scheme to bag up the bunny to trade for tobacco but I may have accidentally trapped him/her in my garden shed. As soon as I saw it, I hustled the dogs into the house as a bunny is just an interesting chew toy to them. Being the grown up full-sized adult that I am, I then went to the wood pile  to get a stick so I wouldn’t have to come too close to the wee little bunny. I’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail so I knew I had to be careful. I was going to try to prod it out of the garden from a very respectable distance with the longest stick (remember it was the size of a new-born kitten) that I could find. I stepped over the fence and moved towards the white bundle of fur with my stick a-a-a-and it bolted. That was a bit of a surprise. Normally rabbits freeze instinctively as predators are attracted to motion. This little guy took off like a flash towards the garden shed that makes up the back wall of my garden enclosure. It headed towards the shed and then right up under the wall. Damn it! So off I went back to the house to get the shed key.

I couldn’t find the bunny inside but to be honest my garden shed is very messy as well as very old. It looks like it might have had lathe and plaster in it at one time. The bunny had squeezed in under some rotting boards at the bottom of the wall. I spent several hours removing board so rotten I could pull it out by hand, replacing it with new wood, and tidying up the shed. I did my best to be as noisy as possible by banging things around exclaiming “Why on earth is this still here?” or alternatively “Why isn’t this in the garbage?” and occasionally cursing as I encountered cardboard boxes full of mouse droppings and curtains of dust clotted cobwebs still very much inhabited by their creators. I made enough noise to scare any passersby so the bunny should have been well on its way. I finished up by making sure the fence was firmly pegged down. I had to close the shed door though as an open shed door is an invitation to other even more problematic visitors like raccoons, possums or skunks.

There’s just something about this painting. I could attribute it to an adverse universe but that’s just an excuse. It should have been done over a month ago but it isn’t and I’m not sure why. I really want it done. So why have I started to write the two plays I’ve been roughing out in my mind for the past couple of months? Why have I completed an abstract painting, started another landscape and prepped saw blades? The bunny came out of nowhere but really the plays, the blades, the abstract, and this blog entry (AND the other two I’ve started but haven’t finished yet) that I’m writing, as I enjoy a gin and tonic and sing along with an old blues CD, don’t need to be done right now. I should probably confess that I’m actually singing quite loudly. The dogs are used to it, the cats don’t care about anything I do unless it has to do with gratifying their needs or desires, and I’ve got the windows closed so the neighbours can’t hear me. I’ve a half-acre on either side between the houses but it is the country and voices carry.  Goodness…now I’ve taken some pictures of my messy work space.

Almost there...but not yet
Almost there…but not yet

Another confession, there was some arm waving and a brief bit of “chair dancing” as I uploaded the pictures. So-o-o I think it’s going to be one more day (night) for this painting. I hope the bunny got out of the shed. I’ll check when I get up. I’m not really the true Mr. McGregor type.

The songs for this post are  ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane and Aretha Franklin’s ‘Chain of Fools’

I’m sorry. Did you say Bieber Fever?

There’s a part in this post that’s about pet bottoms. It’s not horribly horrible but I thought I should mention it for those who prefer not to read about those kinds of things. Anyway as I was about to say…

We’re a pet household. Pretty much for my entire life I’ve lived with some kind of pet companionship. Our current menagerie consists of two cats and two dogs. Our pets are all relatively young so we’ve only had the occasional health issue arise. There’s been nothing serious but as most pet owners do I keep an eye out for unusual behaviour that might spell trouble. Several weeks ago I was dismayed to notice our cat, Princess Lola Mae Piewacket, “scooting” across the floor (not exactly normal cat behaviour). I’d witnessed dogs do the butt drag but it was something I’d never seen a cat do. A visit to the vet was in order. As long as I was going I thought I might as well take our two dogs along as they needed to have their heartworm tests done. Not sure what I was thinking there.

It’s really not a good idea to arrive at the vet clinic with an unhappy cat in a carrier and two socially awkward yellow labs. I normally let the dogs have a good run before a vet visit just to get them a little tired out so they’re less likely to misbehave. The heat of the July midday sun ruled a run out. So that wasn’t a great start.  The overstimulation of a car ride with a caterwauling cat added the perfect incentive to go wild in the clinic environment where evidently everything smelled fantastic, and the kittens ready for adoption wandering around were enchanting, and other dogs were a possible danger, and there were people whose bottoms may not have been goosed by a dog’s nose before that had to have that particular experience. I’m lucky I didn’t pull a back muscle trying to rodeo the dogs while balancing a carrier that barely contained the heartfelt indignation of one unjustly confined feline. The upshot was apologies to all the staff at the clinic as well as some other clients for the overly friendly attention of my dogs, a summer’s worth of Revolution (protects against fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc.) for everyone, and a surprise backside procedure for Lola Mae (neither the cat nor I had any idea that cats could require this kind of “expressing”- her look of betrayal haunts me still). But wait there’s more.

I was sent home with a small container and instructions to take samples. I did and then duly submitted said samples for testing. I hoped for the best, expected the worse, but was still taken by surprise when the vet tech called several days later. I was informed the test results had come back positive. What I thought I heard the technician ask me was…had I heard of “Bieber Fever”. I was caught completely off guard. Was she telling me that my cat had a case of “Bieber Fever”? For those of you who don’t know this refers to a condition common amongst the fandom of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber. I’m not a fan myself (many moons ago when I was a teenage girl I was more of a DOA, The Smiths and Sex Pistols kind of fan) but to each his own. In the eternity that it seemed to be taking for me to process what I’d just heard, I wondered how Lola Mae could have experienced any of Justin Bieber’s music, never mind having become such a fan that she developed the “Fever”. Was scooting your butt across the floor a symptom of this fever? How was this determined from a fecal sample? Of course I didn’t say that.

What I said was, “Sorry, what was that?” The vet tech then went on to explain that BEAVER FEVER (which I had misheard) was actually an uncommon occurrence in an indoor cat. The medical name for Beaver Fever is Giardia. It is caused by a parasite that’s usually found in streams frequented by wildlife (such as beavers, hence the name) and can be spread through the usual way these things are passed along. People can get Giardia too. I have a friend who is a lab technician and she informed me that it sometimes pops up in rural communities with poor water sanitation facilities. We think the dogs might have picked it up at the kennel whilst we were away in May. The property has a stream that runs through it. The dogs had some digestive issues when we brought them home so it’s sort of the logical conclusion.

We’ve just finished 5 days of treatment for all four of our pets. No pills but liquid and syringes. Our larger dog is 90 lbs and he had to swallow an ounce of medicine. Do you know what happens when you try to shoot an ounce of chalky white liquid down the back of a dog’s throat with a syringe? It comes right back up. This animal will eat its own vomit or any type of exotic animal scat it comes across but refuse to lick that medicine up off the floor. A bottle of medicine, by the way, that cost us $98.00. As for the cats, well there might be some permanent scarring from the “cat incident”. I can tell you it was not a happy time for anyone. We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks and test again to make sure everyone has a clean bill of health. Here by the way is a poorly edited picture of what my cat might look like if she was a “Belieber” (that’s what they call people who have Bieber Fever).

Lola JB Swag

When I looked on-line I discover a whole world of Justin Bieber “swag”. After the costs associated with our last vet visit I’m positive I couldn’t afford to support the habits of a true Belieber. I think overall we have to count ourselves lucky. It’s not known if there’s any cure for Bieber Fever but at least with Beaver Fever we’re confident we have a fighting chance.

Music for this post

If you haven’t heard of him, firstly I would be very surprised but secondly, here are two links to Justin Bieber videos. The first “Baby Baby” is the original Justin. He’s evolved a new style as he’s gotten older which you can experience in the video “Boyfriend”.

Just in case Justin isn’t your style you can give The Smith’s “How Soon is Now?” or the Sex Pistols “Holidays in the Sun” a listen.

My cat really is cute despite the awful picture I made of her. By the way I personally think that cats shouldn’t wear hats in real life unless they’re a Dr. Seuss character. It took me a terribly long time to make the Lola JB Swag image. The computer with my photo editing software on it isn’t working right now. I edited that picture in…wait for it… Microsoft Word. I then converted it to a PDF, printed the screen shot and pasted it into Paint where I cropped it and then saved it as a jpeg. Pretty sad really when there’s free editing software that I could have downloaded and later deleted. Truth be known that picture of Lola isn’t my first horribly edited photo. I occasionally make and send them to my friends and family because I NOT so secretly enjoy making images that look really tacky. It just doesn’t normally take me as long as this did because of the software issue. Here’s one I made for my nephew who is 19 years old. He loved it.


Fire and Rain

There’s been a downturn on the health side for a friend of mine. He and his wife stopped by earlier today to drop off some stuff and let us in on the news. Years ago he was the victim of a virus that damaged his heart. He and his wife have never made a big deal about it but it’s always there in the background. Lately he’s been feeling a little more tired than usual and decided to find out if there was reason for additional concern…unfortunately there was. His heart is now only working at a 20% capacity (compared to the 40% it was at before). It’s time for a pacemaker. I can unequivocally swear that though this man’s heart may be physically weak it works overtime in the generosity and caring department. He’s the type of person that is always trying to figure out how he can make life better for those around him (whether they want him to or not- I say that with the greatest affection). He works in an industry where he is exposed to the lowest of the low when it comes to the awful things that people can do to each other. Although it’s made him a bit jaded he does his best not to let that drag him down. He’d give you the shirt off his back if his wife didn’t point out that other people don’t need or want used shirts with bold Hawaiian themed prints on them. My friend isn’t a small guy and he enjoys “orange chips” (Nacho Doritos), the occasional libation and bacon- lots and lots of bacon. Though his weight didn’t cause his heart problems it doesn’t take a genius to determine that his heart wouldn’t be as stressed if he weighed less. They’ve decided a paleo type diet might be the way to go. It calls for lots of small meals, lean meats, no processed food or dairy and (unfortunately for my friend) as much fruit and vegetables as he’d like. To be honest the amount of fruit and vegetables that he would like would be “zero” so they’re going to have to work on that.

It’s always hard to know what to say at times like these. Obviously it’s upsetting and the first thing you want to do is offer comfort and support. Sometimes though I’m an idiot and I either say the wrong thing or I try to say the right thing but I don’t say it the right way. Case in point…My friend is a writer. It’s not his primary occupation but he’s been published in local print papers. For as long as I’ve known him he’s been mulling over the idea of writing a book. He wants writing to be his legacy. I can understand that. My family makes jokes about how my work will be worth more after I’m dead (SO hilarious every time they make that joke-NOT). They don’t understand that one of the most important things for me, after the all-encompassing fascination of the process and how “whole” I feel when I’m painting or drawing, is that it does carry on even when I’m gone but it’s not about money. Though that would be nice for my family (don’t tell them I said that). I want my work to have a life of its own, to touch people and continue to develop in ways I can’t even imagine. In a way I’m endeavouring to leave my mark on the world. History decides what constitutes culture. I have no control over that but I still want to be part of the mix no matter the outcome.  You might wonder who I think I am; to have such a grandiose ambition. My answer would be, I am merely my own self and as such I’m free to dream my own dream…as is anyone. So what did I say when my friend told me his heart is literally breaking? I said “It’s time to write your book”.

Not the first thing out of my mouth but pretty damn close. I’m surprised it could make it out from around the foot that I was determined to wedge in there. I meant what I said in the best possible way. He wants to write a book. He is more than capable. He has just never got around to starting. To be someone who creates regularly you have to feel a sense of urgency. You have to make it a priority. I, for example, get terribly distracted by the minutia that makes up a day-to-day routine until I sometimes find all the time in the day has been used up by things that only take me further from where I want to be. You can’t let that happen if you want to produce a body of work. I repeat that to myself daily as I try to focus on becoming who/what I want to be. You have to remove the barriers that you’ve created. The first thing my friend said when I told him he should write his book was that he was concerned about the stress working on it might bring. I told him that if he would just try to write an hour a day he was not going to up his stress level (it might even reduce it as he would be doing what he’s really meant to do). So I had opened up my mouth and said this thing and of course his wife, who is also my very good friend, started to cry and then I started to cry. We ended up hugging and laughing because despite my inability to keep my mouth shut, she knows I love them both dearly. After they left I spent an hour online looking up paleo snacks that he could have at the bonfire we’re having next weekend. Apparently you can buy organic paleo hot dogs so he can have those (if I can find them locally) with no bun while everyone else has the regular ones.

I don’t think my friend is going to up and die on us just yet. There are no guarantees but even if he had a smidgen of a thought about giving in without a fight his wife would never have it. That doesn’t mean this isn’t scaring the shit out of him. He’d be a fool if it didn’t and he’s no fool. You may be familiar with the saying “Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent”. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned more about the latter part of that quote than I would prefer. I have had people I love leave suddenly (the unfairness of a child’s death will ever be a mystery to me). I’ve said good-bye to loved ones who suffered terribly before they left. I never did say good-bye to the one who decided he would just rather not be here. Although I accept all these as truths, there is still a part of me that can’t help but find it all utterly surreal.

Years ago I had a wonderful friend. Her name was Sue. Sue and her girlfriend were originally friends of my mother and her 4th husband.  She and her girlfriend were breaking up at the same time that I came back to live at home after leaving a horrendous relationship. I had a 3 month old baby, a crazy stalker ex-boyfriend, I was 20 years younger than her, and I had returned to live with my mother because I had nowhere else to go and I was in terrible trouble. Despite our differences we became great friends for the year I lived at my mother’s house. When I moved back out on my own our lives grew apart but we still kept in touch. Several years later Sue was diagnosed with cancer. She made it through the first treatment and then the cancer came back. She couldn’t go through it again and opted to let nature take its course. The last time I called to talk to her was on a Wednesday evening. She was lying down and didn’t want to come to the phone. She died that night. She wasn’t alone though. She’d met a woman and taken a chance on love again. Sue was a person who enjoyed everything that life had to offer. That didn’t mean she hadn’t struggled in her journey. She was gay well before there was any kind of advocacy for lesbians. She was a large woman and had faced negativity because of it. She had an 18 year long relationship with a woman who had physically and mentally abused her. That partner had come to the relationship with a child that Sue helped raise as her own until he was killed when he rode his bike out of the driveway into the road without looking. She hadn’t had it easy but she was full of joy. Sue loved children, cats and dogs, food, and talking about her big boobs, and laughing at her own farts. You may think those last two things are childish but she rocked who she was and when she laughed she made you laugh too. And then one day she wasn’t there and the world was a poorer place for it.  I had known people before who died but this was the first person I considered not just a contemporary (despite our age difference) but an actual friend. I’ve been thinking about her lately. She had this fantastically big booming laugh that made you want to be in on the joke and when she said my son’s name you could actually hear the love in her voice.

What does this have to do with my heavy-hearted friend and the foot in my mouth? What I really want for my friends is what I want for myself and for my family; for them to be fulfilled and to live life to the fullest. Ugh…that sounds terribly optimistic but it is how I feel. Truth be told, as a rule I run more along the pessimistic line. I always expect the worst. If it turns out bad, well that’s what I expected. If it turns out well, I get a happy surprise. Despite all that, I still believe in “the dream”. There are factors we can’t control like cancer or a heart virus but if you have something you really think you should be doing, do it. Now I’m not advocating abandoning your family or shooting hobos (if that last one is your dream I feel compelled to tell you that’s definitely a “no-no” and  there are better things you should be doing with your time “treatment” than reading this blog post). What I am saying is stop getting in your own way. Find a version of your dream that works for you. You want to act? Register with a talent agency or try community theater. You want to sing? There’s an audience of millions waiting for you on U tube. Are you going to make big money? Probably not but then again …you might. Is everybody going to love you? Who knows?

As far as I could tell Sue always remained true to herself, living life and facing her death on her terms and to the best of her ability.  She owned her death like she owned her life. None of it was easy but she took everything she could from it and she didn’t apologize for that. I’m not saying she didn’t have regrets. What I’m saying is she didn’t let fear hold her back…not from life or from death. That’s what I meant when I told my friend to write his book. Not “Hey you’re going to die you better get on it” (because really that could be said of us all). What I was trying to say was “Wow that’s scary but you’re going to get through it – one way or another (as a reader of this blog please feel free to substitute whatever bit of shittiness you prefer for the word “it” in this context). While you’re working your way through it why not look for a bit of happiness (immortality if you so desire) doing that thing you were born to do?” In addition to the wonderful friendship that Sue gave me during a difficult time in my life she taught me this great lesson. You’ve got to own it. It’s yours so why not? I really hope my friend writes his book.  He was thinking about it. I could tell.  In a way I guess it would be a story within a story. Whether the subplot has a happy ending is really up to him.

Music for this post

Ben Taylor’s ‘Not Alone’ as it speaks to friends, relationships and changes that come. Then there’s the Fabulous Thunderbirds with ‘Stand Back’, a song that captures the spirit of “getting it done”. Lastly for my dear friend Sue (pictured below having a chat with my son when he was a baby) because this post is not only about how much I miss her but how she continues to be a presence in my life so many years after she left, James Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’.

Chatting with Sue


Several years ago I sustained an eye injury that was rather life changing. I wrote “rather” because in a relative assessment of all possible life changing events it doesn’t alter the bell curve. Still as it is my event, it does seem fairly significant to me. Not earthquake, actual space aliens, win the lottery life changing but more mundane every day life changing. My event was an easily avoidable injury that was in fact totally my fault.

I was acting as manager for my son’s hockey team. I was taking pictures of a practice drill and got too close to the action. I didn’t realize how close as I happened to be looking down into the screen of a digital camera. The reason I was standing so close was also the reason my right eye wasn’t turned into mush. Because I was looking down I had no idea I was right behind the net and because I was looking down the edge of the puck caught me in the supraorbital foramen (which is a fancy name for the brow bone above the eye) rather than the soft jelly of my eyeball. The puck then tipped flat to compress the eye and cheek bone.  The bones around the eye socket did what they were supposed to do which was to protect the eye as well as possible but it was a slap shot so I wasn’t getting away scot-free*.

At first I had no idea as to the severity of the injury. I just thought my eye was watering. It was the beginning of the season and that night the team was going to be voting for captain and assistant captain. We were also going to be handing out jerseys.  I patiently explained this to my husband (who was coaching the team) and the other hockey mom who had gone with me to the bathroom (I don’t know why but for some reason my first thought after getting hit by a slap shot was that I needed to wash my hands). They both were equally insistent that I had to go to the hospital immediately. I hadn’t looked when I was in the bathroom so I had no idea how bad it was. It hadn’t even really started to hurt yet. I do have to commend that same mom who went to the bathroom with me for not missing a beat (I originally had written “batting an eye” here but I changed it because, well, hockey puck-eye, it seemed like too many eyes) when I asked her how it looked. The fact that she kept all expression from her face and calmly answered that it was probably for the best to have it looked at when she could actually see my skull gaping through the wound was admirable.

The hospital visit was quite an adventure but that’s a story all its own. I’ll save that for another time. The short version was they stitched up the wound and sent me home. I have a scar conveniently located in my eyebrow that you can only see if I point it out and I lost a portion of the vision in that eye. I have a small blind spot. It is in the centre of vision for my right eye so I can’t use that eye to do anything you need central vision for. Additionally the muscle that dilates the pupil was damaged so it doesn’t work properly. It’s been years since the injury occurred and I still experience sharp stabbing pains or a dull aching throb that spreads through the right side of my face. The optometrist says the pain is caused by nerve damage and it’s not going to go away. He showed me a picture of the scar caused by the injury on the back of my eyeball (it was seriously cool to see but obviously I’d trade the “cool” for not having been so careless). Sometimes the pupil is round and sometimes it is oval in shape and it doesn’t react well to strong light. I experience bright flashes of lights or dark spots that move across my vision. My depth perception has been affected so I’ve had to relearn certain skills and practices. I know I’m lucky I didn’t lose the eye. I am extremely thankful for that but now I have to think twice about things I never gave even one thought to before.  Applying make-up or putting in my contacts, driving, reading or watching television have all required adjustments.

One of the most problematic things for me as an artist is that for some reason the eye injury has changed the way I perceive colour values. I received treatment for my injury at the Ivey Eye Institute (eyes are what they do there) but they weren’t sure about that one. Also they were confused as to why I would read eye charts from right to left for the first couple of months after my accident. Personally I think it was a concussion which would also explain the forgetfulness and random fits of crying but I’m not a doctor (my former family doctor at the time was not the most attentive guy so who knows?).   Anyhow the reading thing worked itself out but the colour thing didn’t.  To be clear I can tell different colours apart. I am not colour blind. But say if there are different values of black, or blue, or even white which are close together, I have issues. The painting I am currently working on has made this more than apparent. The composition has sky and clouds that gradate in values that are for the most part very close.  I’ve been trying to build up thin layers working from dark to light. I wanted to work with thin layers because I’d never used them before to create depth and I thought the technique would provide a balance of power and delicacy. It’s been an exercise in patience.

There have been some other things that have factored in. I’m working with acrylic paint and gel medium along with a retarder so I have to be careful with the ratio of pigment to additives.  The painting is part of a series based on a single image so I have to keep my tendency to explore different directions in check as the piece progresses.  It’s a big canvas with a lot of area to cover and despite the fact that I really enjoy the process there are days when it is difficult to stay on task. Normally when I encounter any kind of road block I find that music can help with the process. I purposely pick something to listen to that I last listened to when my work was going smoothly. It helps to bring me back to a state of mind that is engaged in the process. I will put a CD or a song on repeat and listen to it for hours and hours.  My latest “go to” is Mahalia Jackson’s “His Eye is on The Sparrow”. Today though I had a bit of a freak out and all the Mahalia Jackson was not going to move me forward.  It wasn’t the technique or the materials that caused my little mini meltdown; it was the fact that I could not “see” my way through the resolution of the composition.

The more I worked on the sky the flatter (as in one-dimensional) everything became.  Layer after layer, the light seemed to fade back into the middle tones and the more I strove for definition the less I found. When you get to that point it’s usually best to walk away for a bit but to be honest I’ve been working on this piece, on and off, for a couple of months now. I’ve been doing some other stuff but this canvas is dominating my small work space and frankly I’m ready to see it done.  There was also the very undeniable fact that my “wonky” eye simply wouldn’t allow me to move forward with the realization in the manner I wanted to. So I abandoned the plan and painted over a portion of the sky I had built up layer by layer. As I was doing it I was actually telling myself not to, to just leave it alone, that I was covering up a ton of work and I was going to be sorry.

At first I was sorry. I stood back and looked at it. Then I took a picture of it and looked at that. The repainted area was stark and not particularly well articulated but looking at the image captured by the camera I could “see” that it accomplished more for creating depth than all my multiple layers. There’s still a lot more work that needs to be done and I still might regret my choice but then again nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I used to get angry with myself every time I had to make some kind of change or compromise because it was my own carelessness that had served to make my life more complicated.  Granted on the old bell curve I mentioned in the first paragraph my injury doesn’t rate up there with things like death or divorce but for me it has had a very significant impact on everything I do. We have a tendency to overlook how little is actually required to change the playing field. Like most people I could name at least a handful of other events in my life that have been tragically heart breaking so I can’t help but think how odd it is that such a small slip should be the thing that touches all areas of my life. The things I took as a given changed in the blink of an eye (and yes I did use the phrase “blink of an eye” here on purpose).

The doctors told me there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to develop cataracts because of the injury but I’ll cross that bridge if or when I come to it. If the choice I made with the canvas was a mistake, well I’ll deal with that too. You could quite correctly say that the painting and a possible eye surgery are not even close to the same thing but for me they are in the end about actions and consequences. I think the important thing with any of it is to not get stuck and to not be afraid. If you can, you’ve got to roll with changes. Who knows how it all will turn out?

Songs for this post Mahalia Jackson His Eye is on the Sparrow. This isn’t the version I’ve been listening to but it’s pretty close. And because of the title of the blog entry- David Bowie Changes

Now if you want to see a picture of my eye or the painting I’ve referred to scroll past this little bit about “scot-free”. If I remember correctly the picture of my eye was taken about 10 days after I got hit so it was well on the way to healing but my whole face was still pretty swollen. Also the puck hit me so hard I ended up with a bit of a black eye on the other side as well. They shaved off part of my eyebrow, so they could stitch the wound, but it grew back just fine. I don’ t have a larger picture but I think you can still get the general idea even at a low resolution.  

* I just looked up he meaning of “scot free” as I had no idea of the origin of the term. 

‘Scot’ as a term for tax has been used since then in various forms – Church scot, Rome scot, Soul scot and so on. Whatever the tax, the phrase ‘getting off scot free’ simply refers to not paying one’s taxes.

No one likes paying tax and people have been getting off scot free since at least the 11th century. The first reference in print to ‘scot free’ is in the Writ of Edward the Confessor. We don’t have a precise date for the writ but Edward died in 1066, which is a long time before Dred Scott.

The use of the figurative version of the phrase, that is, one where no actual scot tax was paid but in which someone escapes custody, began in the 16th century, as in this example from John Maplet’s natural history Green Forest, 1567:

“Daniell scaped scotchfree by Gods prouidence.”

‘Scotchfree’ was a variant based on a mishearing. An example of the currently used form, that is, ‘scot free’, comes a few years later, in Robert Greene’s The Historie of Dorastus and Fawnia, 1588:

These and the like considerations something daunted Pandosto his courage, so that hee was content rather to put up a manifest injurie with peace, then hunt after revenge, dishonor and losse; determining since Egistus had escaped scot-free.

Work in Progress
Work in Progress
They stitched inside the wound as well as the outside
They stitched inside the wound as well as the outside