Monday, March 31, 2008

Like the one you knew before Calling me back once again

Good things:  

I got my second quiz attempt back from the professor today (finally) and I got 95% this time so it was well worth rewriting it, not only for the mark but also because I now have a much better idea of what the professor wants from me in terms of writing style.  It's good motivation to move on and keep working through the course.

I also got my school board qualification assessment back today.  This is something the school board demands if you want to teach anything outside your immediate discipline.  I actually have no desire to teach anything other than Drama but my principal asked me to get the assessment because she's hoping she can create a job for me next year by making the assignment a mix of Drama and something else that will prevent other applicants from applying.  I'm flattered she's willing to bend the rules a bit to keep me, though of course this doesn't guarantee that will happen.  But it does make me a little more generally useful to the school as the board decided I am also qualified to be part of the Learning Support Team - which means working with kids with special learning needs.

The sun is back and I walked to work today for the first time in awhile.  If it stays like this, I'll plan to keep walking for the rest of the school year.


When J arrived last night I was immediately overcome with the compulsive desire to fuss over him.  T drove here with him and from the minute the two of them walked in the front door I felt myself turning into an Jewish mama wanting to stuff them full of food and follow them around the house asking if they needed anything.  

Understandably, J was extremely tired and looked pretty stressed out at the prospect of moving all his belongings into the house and finding places for everything, all the while not wanting to be in the way.  I think I was overcompensating more than just a little bit - but I've been in his shoes and I remember exactly how it felt to move into a household that was already established, wondering how I would fit, wondering where my things would go, and feeling out of place.  I want to make this easy for him.

The moving van will come later in the week and we will figure out where to put his things.  We'll make it work.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

duck down the alleyway

Today's the last day of my holiday.  It's weird how possible it has been to almost forget that I even have a job.  That's a successful vacation!  The weather throughout the holiday wasn't great but I have no doubt it will improve immediately tomorrow when I am stuck inside all day once again.  I am looking forward now to a quick downward slope from spring break to summer holidays.


Steller's Jay came back to visit again this morning, this time two of them, and they were considerate enough to come closer than last time and stay long enough for Shawn to see them too.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

because I love you too much, baby

We had Shawn's Dad and stepmom over for breakfast this morning.  Usually they cook for us so it was a nice change to have an operational kitchen in which to cook things for them instead.  However, we ended up having dinner at their place tonight.  Sometimes I feel like they do so much for us that we'll never be able to catch up - but it seems like they enjoy taking care of us (which is wonderfully lucky for us) so I try not to worry too much about evening the score.  This is the first time in my life that I've had family so close by that I felt like I could rely upon for help or support in any situation.  Lucky.


After breakfast we went shopping for new toilets; this because J is arriving tomorrow and we've noticed that two of the three toilets drain too slowly.  The one in our bedroom works fine but the other two are a bit weird.  So, having lived with that for eight months, suddenly the imminent arrival of house guests made us think we should do something about it.  Our plumber looked at the offending toilets and pipes and decided the problem was the toilets themselves, being twenty years old.  

We'd known we would eventually replace them anyway, and decided it made more sense to replace all three at once so they'd match each other, and getting the plumber to install all three at once would be simpler than having him come back several times.  So we went to pick out toilets, an experience neither of us had ever had before.  

Toilets, I think, are the kind of thing you never notice until you are actually shopping for one, and then suddenly you realise there are zillions of different kinds and you have no idea how to decide which one you like best.  The only think you have to go on is the word of the salesman and surely his word has more to do with commissions than with anything else.  Shawn took great delight in sitting on all the toilets in the store and entertaining the other shoppers with his colour commentary.  Eventually we picked something - and I feel fairly certain that if the delivery people show up with something completely different from what we picked we'll never even know the difference.


good muffin to you

This morning I was driven out of bed at 7:30 by Shawn's snoring.  I am perplexed by the fact that this man, who wakes up when the tap is dripping in the downstairs bathroom, can sleep through the sound of his own snores.  It makes no sense whatsoever.


Sometimes I feel depressed when I consider the possibility that there really might be only six degrees of separation between me and any of one of the Baldwin brothers.  


Friday, March 28, 2008

hey sunshine, i haven't seen you in a long time

Feels like winter today.  


The pathway in my brain that was allowing new information in has abruptly snapped shut and I find myself unable to absorb anything.  I've been sitting here like a plant watching court tv with a thin stream of drool escaping my half-closed lips.  This, instead of studying.  The books, the study guides, the assignment manuals, the highlighters, lie abandoned on the kitchen table. 


When I met Carla she was passionately in love with Bootsauce - and with Jesse.  I listened to the music in her car, and I listened to her boyfriend talk, and I was envious.  Not of those things she had and loved, but specifically of the love she had for them.  Not because I wanted to be loved by her - because I wanted to be able to love like her.  I wanted to feel that there was someone, a band, a lover, an experience, something, that I would be willing to chase across the country like she was at all costs.  And there wasn't.  She was passionate in a way that I had never been about anyone or anything, in a way that held no room for doubts or reality or common sense to intrude, and I felt that she was lucky to be so caught up in a way I never could be.  Love, for me, had always been firmly entrenched in mundane things like practicality and applicability, and I couldn't imagine dodging traffic to chase Jesse across McLeod Trail so I could slap him across the face and tell him to go fuck himself, so that he would pick me up and carry me safely to the other side.  I liked Bootsauce too but their album was too expensive.  In light of that, following their tour across the continent wasn't in the realm of possibility.  Carla was someone I studied almost clinically, wondering how I could capture the type of passion she possessed and replace my pedantic approach with hers.  

When Carla and Jesse broke up she immediately became involved with S.W., a legend among nineteen year old barflies; he ran a flophouse and was regularly arrested.  To me, the fact he'd been abandoned by his parents and left alone to raise his siblings in their house seemed like a gift rather than a tragedy.  I wished my parents would do that.  And Carla's passion shifted.  Only the dynamic between them was different than it was with Jesse.  S.W. wasn't interested in being chased or in passionate fights or in any of the other things Carla was accustomed to.  He was a "popular" guy used to being pursued by many girls at once and blithely moving from one to the next.  He expected girls to move on as effortlessly as he did.  And when Carla attempted to apply her fiery passion to him it slid right off and left her sitting in a puddle of it cooling around her.  Passion no longer seemed applicable.  I lost touch with Carla but I didn't stop thinking about her.  Particularly when Bootsauce played on the radio.

And Jesse.  He became mine.  Not my boyfriend, not my partner, but my ally.  I began to understand why Carla felt inclined to slap him sometimes, although I always managed to stop short.  One night I leaped out of bed and began scrubbing dishes at 4:00am so I wouldn't grab him by the throat.  He probed at me relentlessly while I washed.  He invoked passionate anger.  I occasionally slept with Jesse over the years but we never fell in love.  I worried about his safety because he took heroine and frequently disappeared for days, or weeks, at a time.  He frightened me.  And sometimes he protected me.  While drawing me in to his circle of friends, he wouldn't let them touch me, wouldn't let me get close enough to become one of them.  We ran away together.  We went to funerals together - and that, if nothing else - was what cemented our friendship.  I've never been to so many funerals the rest of my life as I did those years I was with Jesse.  Never drank so many cups of gas station coffee either.

Jesse lived.  I'd expected him to die a Dallas Winston-style death, crumpling under a streetlight in the night, bullet hole in his heart.  Or perhaps he would overdose like Paul, dying while the party blurred on around him.  As far as I know, he's still alive now.  Maybe he's married. Maybe he has children.  You never know.  I hope he's happy.  I don't imagine Carla married though, for some reason.  I picture her at the Warehouse, still, smoking and talking to herself out loud, and sometimes the nineteen year olds buy her a beer and listen to her stories.  They probably marvel at her passion.  I hope she's happy too.  

But there's something about that kind of passion that doesn't seem to lead to happiness.  Because passion must be met with equal and reciprocal fire.  And passion, which leaves no space for boring things like compatibility and reality seems to consume itself until it burns out and goes cold.  

When I describe the great passions in my life, I don't mean passion in the way that Carla or Jesse meant passion.  My experiences with passion are slow burning, but they usually last.  I haven't always (or often) been sensible about love, but the loves that have endured have been based on something deeper than passion.  It's kind of boring, really, but it works.  


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

sick of druids

Ugh.  I did NOT do nearly as well on the quiz as I hoped.  Fortunately, the professor was helpful in providing feedback and made it clear where I had gone wrong.  The mark is still decent - a B, I think - but it's not even close to what I wanted to accomplish.  The professor offers the option to write a second version of the quiz for a better mark, but the risk is that you get whatever mark is assigned on the second quiz even if it's worse than the first one.  I decided to roll the dice and take that chance operating under the assumption that his feedback and guidance would help me do better the second time around.  The second quiz was tough too, but I tried to remember to incorporate his suggestions.  If he's as fast at marking this one as he was the first one, I should have my results by tomorrow afternoon.  Fingers crossed.  

I got completely messed up, however, with regard to time during this quiz because I changed computers (the desktop is more conducive to this kind of work than the laptop) and the clock on my desktop computer was an hour behind (because I never changed it for daylight savings).  This meant that when Shawn got home from work I was still writing away, thinking I had another hour before I would need to get dinner ready.  Not that he's the kind of caveman who expects hot dinner and a drink in his hand as he walks through the door or anything, but I felt like a twit because I'd promised to make dinner tonight and he ended up having to do it because I had another 45 minutes of writing I had to finish before I could leave my computer.  Bah.  I think I will try to think of ways to make it up before he thinks of ways to torture me for it.  :)

I hope the fact that I bought some cake when I went grocery shopping this afternoon will help to hasten the forgiveness.


no friends of mine

I studied all morning and then wrote the first quiz in the psychology of working alliances course.  It was HARD.  Unlike the abnormal psychology course quizzes, this quiz was all long-answer questions and it didn't just test knowledge or even just understanding.  It went into the higher mental processes... like synthesis and comparison and application.  Requiring real thinking.  Yuck I hate thinking.  :)  I don't know how long I should expect the professor to take with the marking of this quiz... longer, I suppose, since he will be required to do some reading, but I hope I can get some feedback fairly quickly so I know if I'm on the right track.  I care a lot more about marks than I used to.  Nerd.


It truly amazes me that there is a certain tone that at one time I found tremendously appealing, hypnotic almost in its power.  And now that same tone makes me feel ill.  Literally ill.  I have changed.  It's not temporary.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'll cut you in on twenty percent of my future sin

Steller's Jay came to visit my backyard today.  He didn't eat from the feeders, just perched up high above all the other birds and watched them.  He was so pretty and I hoped he would come down to eat so I could see him better, but he was in a hurry.
Shawn startled me yesterday when he suddenly went to the hardware store, bought some electrical supplies, and came home and built an electrical outlet for our garbage disposal unit.  I had no idea he could do things like that and was thinking we would have to call our electrician to set it up for us.  

Today the plumber is coming back.  He was delayed in his earlier plans and has so far only managed to get our sink working, but this was beyond exciting for us, having been using the laundry sink for the last three months.  When he comes back today he plans to connect the garburator and the dishwasher.  After he connected the sink, Shawn and I turned on the faucet and stood there staring at the running water for several minutes, mesmerized, before it occurred to us to quit wasting water.  It's been a long time since we've had an operational kitchen and it's been very exciting to have the last essential pieces put back in place.  

There is still work to be done: lights, flooring, paint, window coverings... but these things can wait.  Happily.  
I studied for most of the day today and made some good inroads into the course about the psychology of Working Alliances.  I may, in fact, be ready to write my first quiz in this course tomorrow.  I got my marks back from my quiz in Abnormal Psychology - I got 97%!  So the study paid off and I am struggling not to be one of those annoying "mature" students that used to irritate me so much when  was nineteen and bother the professor to find out where I lost the extra three marks.  


Monday, March 24, 2008

in the hope that there's a heaven

Today is Shawn's last day of holiday.  It's been wonderful being home together for the last five days - but I know I'm going to get a lot more work done on my courses when he's not here distracting me.  I've managed to make some pretty good headway in spite of his being here, but I feel certain I'll be a lot more focused when he's back at work.  When he's here it's just too much fun to go out for lunches, walk by the ocean, check out art galleries, drink wine, and snuggle up and ignore the world.  So I'm glad we had that.  And I'm glad that I have a few more days alone to get things done before I have to go back to work.

This morning we went for breakfast by the sea and then a walk along the coast - but the wind was much colder than we'd expected and we were not adequately dressed for it, so we cut it short.  No one would ever believe we came from Alberta and regularly walked through winter winds at -30 Celsius.  We've gotten soft.

Now we have not much to do for the rest of the day (apart from the studying I ought to - and hope to- get to).  Shawn is preparing for J's arrival on Sunday, getting his bedroom and bathroom cleaned up and getting all our stuff out of what will be his space.  J has called a few times in the last couple of days, concerned about coming here, concerned about whether we're really ready and willing to have him move in.  I really think we are.  J is struggling with all the changes he's had to go through so abruptly: the end of his marriage, selling the house, losing the dogs to his ex-wife, leaving his job.... it's all been a lot for anyone to manage.  I hate for him to worry about being a burden on top of all that.  I really want him to be comfortable and happy here and hope we can make him feel that way.  


Sunday, March 23, 2008

let me hear you say

I have been studying like a demon for several days now in preparation for my first quiz in Abnormal Psychology.  This first part of the course interesting so far, but there are parts that I found difficult to absorb as fast as I wanted to.  Like the history of psychology all over the world from ancient times to modern day.  In one chapter.  I also found it a bit confusing to keep separate in my mind all the different viewpoints that clinicians use (or have used in the past) in approaching treatment, particularly in light of the fact that most modern psychologists use an eclectic approach anyway.  So I studied and studied and studied, determined to get it all straight.  And then, when I was finished the unit, I realised that the quiz was an open book quiz anyway.  Amazing.  It only took about fifteen minutes to write it in spite of the allotment of an hour, this because I knew the information rather than needing time to look it up.  Being out of university for awhile has made me forget that much of the time students don't take courses in order to learn things, but rather just to get the credits needed to move on. 


It's Easter.  There's a big egg hunt planned for the kids at a nearby park - and it's pouring rain.  The plumber who installed our kitchen faucet said that it is a tradition here that it rains on the Easter egg hunt.  The puppies are not allowed to play outside and so far they haven't expressed any real disappointment although I think they do miss eating peanuts from beneath the bird feeder.  Speaking of which, it has occurred to me that the ground beneath the feeder is not only covered with spilled bird food, but also with bird poop.  And that means the puppies are NOT allowed to dine there anymore because I don't want them to get parasites.  Sharp of me to notice this, hmm, after several weeks?  Hah.  I hope they haven't already caught anything icky during the time I was half-asleep.


Today I'm going to write Quiz 1B for my course.  (Yesterday was part A.)  This second quiz covers the same material I've already studied so no further preparation is necessary.  Besides, now that I know how these things work I'm a lot less nervous about them.  


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'd be fired if that was my job.

that's just what they'll do

My countertop is coming today.  In fact, if the installers show up when they said they would, it'll be here in fifteen minutes.  I doubt they'll be on time because no one ever is, but if they bring a countertop some time today I will be very very happy.  The piece of plywood that has served as counter for several months is marked with red wine, butter, dog food, and all kinds of horrible unidentifiable stains that won't wash off plywood.  I won't miss it.

Every six weeks or so I shave Shawn's head for him.  Not right to the skin, but very short.  He likes having a haircut that requires zero time to style, so this works best.  The other night after I shaved his head he asked if I wanted him to vacuum up the hair or sweep it and put it in the garbage.  I told him he should really put it in the compost heap or else leave it in one of the trees for the birds to take and make nests out of.  He said, "Compost my hair?  Or let birds make nests out of it?  I'm getting sick of this Dharma and Greg crap."  Shawn always makes me laugh.

Last night I was explaining something to him that I read about in my psychology textbook about the history of the term "hysteria".  It turns out that Hippocrates believed that hysteria was a condition specific to women resulting from a wandering uterus.  When a woman's destiny (to have babies) was left unfulfilled for too long, the dejected uterus would begin roaming around within her body searching for its baby, and the wandering resulted in disturbance classified as hysteria.  Shawn listened to my lecture very studiously and then burst into the Nancy Sinatra classic, "This Uterus was Made for Walking".


The countertop installers showed up while I was writing this.  At 9:28.  Amazing.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

There's a picture opposite me

I found my eye picture on the other computer.  I should have been working on my course while I was there - so this isn't much of a huge accomplishment - but today I am going to work on the course for certain.  The puppies make it challenging to get work done because the desktop computer is in the same room as their doghouse.  If I put them in the doghouse they stare at me and whine and beg to be set free, making it very difficult to concentrate.  If I let them out, they jump into my lap and pile up on top of me so I can barely see the computer screen.  I think I'm going to have to move the computer if I want to finish this course on time.  I'd like to work on the Apple laptop, but I'm not as confident with it yet and if I encounter glitches during a quiz or test, I'll lose valuable time.


We're getting some sunshine today contrary to local meteorologists' dire predictions.  I hope it lasts.  I want babies in the birdhouse.


Shawn already has Good Friday and Easter Monday off work - so he's decided to take Thursday too and make it a five day weekend.  This is great in terms of having time together, and bad news for my course.  As if the puppies aren't distracting enough, having Shawn home makes it impossible to get any work done.  If I put him in the doghouse he whines.  If I let him out he climbs all over me licking my face.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Head, Heart, Spirit, Hands

Competencies for Sustainable Living was a workshop I attended about education and how to help children become balanced and satisfied with their lives.  All of it, of course, translated through to people in general and hit home with me on a personal as well as a professional level.  I want to credit my source but I can't remember the name of the person who conducted the workshop.  It was one of those things where it all just made so much sense that I internalized it without ever needing to take notes or review it.  It just makes sense.

We need to occupy/feed four basic parts of our psyche: the head, the heart, the spirit, and the hands.

Head - means using the brain.  Like taking classes.  Like learning about something.  Anything.

Heart - means giving and receiving love.  Like a with a husband, or puppies, or mom, or friends.  Anyone.

Spirit - is harder to define.  It's that part of you that feels better when you commune with nature, or pray, or dream.  Like watching the birds feed.  Or playing with the baby turtles.  Or singing.

Hands - is about doing something.  Making something.  Creating something.  Breathing hard.  Like running or walking or building things or gardening.

When all parts are fed, no part is hungry.


cast your dancing spell my way; i promise to go under it

Today is off to a good start so far:

1.  It's Monday and I'm not at work.  The puppies keep looking at me expecting me to give them a goodbye treat and send them to jail... and seem to be having trouble believing their good fortune at finding themselves snuggling on the couch with no apparent end in sight.  On a Monday!

2.  The backyard is filled with happy singing birds who woke us up sweetly before the alarm clock.  Waking up to birds is so much nicer.

3.  The guys from the countertop place called to say that our counter is almost ready!  They are coming in on Wednesday to install it.  This means we will have both counters and sinks by the time J arrives.  

The weather is wet and rainy right now, which I'm hoping will improve as the day progresses.  Yesterday I got three new bird feeders.  We're up to five now which seems like overkill but we have a huge backyard and by filling each feeder with different types of seeds we can attract a greater variety of birds and reduce the need for them to compete with the vicious little starlings.  One of the feeders holds black oil sunflower seeds (chickadees and juncos and nuthatches), one holds millet (sparrows), one has shelled peanuts and sunflower seeds (everyone likes this one), one is a suet/fruit mixture (woodpeckers), and one is a hanging bag with thistle seeds (finches).

We also decided to get a little birdhouse (in your soul) and some nesting materials to help the little birdie mammas protect their babies and hopefully raise them nearby where we can peek in on them.  This is specifically why I was hoping for sunshine today because the expert at the wild bird supply store told us that it is important to place the birdhouse in a place where it would get morning sun to warm the little eggs, but afternoon shade so the house wouldn't overheat.  I am on a search for the perfect spot that is safe from cats, raccoons and snakes - and also gets the right kind of sunshine.  However, without much sun in the sky today I'm finding it difficult to figure out where that place is.  The birdhouse project may have to wait.  I wish I could give the birds the house and a hammer and some nails and let them put it where they want it.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

They are listed as one of the world's worst invasive alien species.

There is a bird, a medium-sized bird (making him the largest at the feeder) who has begun to visit the feeder in the backyard.  Unlike the others, he doesn't politely wait in the queue when the feeder is full.  He arrives in a flurry of beating wings that frighten away all the pretty finches and sparrows and nuthatches and chickadees.

While the other birds scatter and then watch from nearby trees, this rather aggressive creature takes his time at the feeder, standing on the bottom tray instead of on any of the twelve perches, and effectively stops anyone else from eating until he decides to leave.

I looked him up.  Apparently he isn't the most beloved bird for many bird-watchers.  Apparently he is a great threat to the delicate ecosystem in Australia.  He certainly has bad manners.  Guess who he is?  

Starling.  Hee.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

i don't mind stealing bread

I'm on spring break now for two weeks, hallelujah!  Shawn is working through most of it, with a four day weekend in the middle.  So I'll get to spend time with him, but also get some work done on my psychology course and my book club novel.  (We're reading "The Other Boleyn Girl" - very predictable choice.  I have no comment yet as I haven't cracked the cover.)  It's beautiful outside today and I'm hoping the great weather will hold up so that I can also spend time outdoors with the puppies in the garden.  I'm really happy with the way the backyard has become a bird sanctuary since we put up the feeders and I'm thinking of trying to build some new feeders and a birdhouse or two.


We got up early this morning and went out for breakfast, then to the grocery store.  It was nice to get that out of the way early and we even managed to get some cleaning up done which is the one thing we always neglect around here.  Shawn's Dad and stepmom are coming over for dinner and drinks tonight so it's good motivation to get things tidied up.  


J will be coming to live with us on the 30th.  I think he's only going to stay a couple of weeks before he goes to Europe to do some travelling - and then will come back to us when he's done.  He's going to stay with us for a bit until he finds a place.  At this point we have no idea whether he'll be staying for a few weeks or a few months or for several years.  I get the impression he wants to move quickly because he's still worried about being a burden.  I hope that after he's been here a short time and sees how much we love having him that he won't feel that pressure anymore.  

I was hoping we would have countertops and a kitchen sink again by the time J moved in but this is now highly unlikely as time is steadily running out.  The countertop people have taken longer at preparing the granite than they were supposed to (everything in this process has taken longer than it was supposed to) and we cannot install the sink until the counter is in place.  I am really getting tired of making coffee in the bathroom.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

resting in my arms again

I thought GDJ was unhappy with me because I hadn't heard from him in awhile.  There's something about communicating with people online that I find difficult because I try to (and foolishly expect others to) apply the "niceties" that one would use when writing a letter.  That is, I always use a salutation, try to respond to everything that has been said, and finish with a proper closing.  Even in chat.  

GDJ, being more modern and computer savvy than I, leaves his desk in what I perceive as a "the middle" of  a conversation without telling me he's gone.  He answers my long chatty emails with one word responses.  And I find it confusing, because he is a friend from "real" life.  In real life I never found him rude or abrupt or weird.  But when I try to communicate with him online I perpetually wonder if he's angry with me about something.  Which makes working for him a challenge.

I haven't done a whole lot of work for him lately, and again I'd wondered if he hadn't asked because he was upset with me about something.  But today he asked if I want a job.  A full time one year contract with the Olympics.  He didn't give me a lot of details (short, abrupt) but it sounded interesting.  I wonder if I'm going to leave teaching again.  He said he would send me more information when he got it.  I tried to keep my response snappy.  "Thanks."


Monday, March 10, 2008

i can't get to sleep; i think about the implications

I think I might have saved my eyeball picture on my other computer (along with Shawn's eyeball) but I have been too lazy to go and check.


The book club meeting was okay; it seems that other people found the book as tough a read as I did.  It's funny how a group of teachers would dislike this book about building schools.  A good thing that happens, sometimes, is that people disagree - and when I hear that someone else loves a book that I'm disliking, it can inspire me to try harder.


I've been trying to convince Shawn to pee in my compost bin because it's not working properly and the Internet says that the best way to kickstart compost is to add nitrogen - which is most readily found in urine.  Shawn, however, is being stubborn and refusing to share his nitrogen with me.  He thinks, for some mysterious reason, that peeing in the compost bin is yukky.  I have begged him repeatedly but so far he just won't budge.  He says I should just add more vegetable peelings and grass and other things like that, but the Internet says that pee is the best way.  And the Internet, as we all know, never lies.


Today my student teacher did the exact opposite of what I asked him to do last class.  


I have managed to gather three letters of references for my Masters program and now I think I am ready to put in my official application.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

we get questions

This morning I went to visit C and her daughter, and brought Puppy D with me.  Puppy D was pleased that we spent much of the morning walking through the park although he was a little frightened of the crowds of Japanese tourists who kept wanting to photograph him in his little blue sweater.


While I was gone, much to my surprise, Shawn cleaned the house.  This was extremely sweet of him because I am hosting a book club meeting here tomorrow and had been dreading the fact that I needed to clean up in preparation for it.  The fact that I am hosting the meeting is the only reason I deserve to attend it because I have only managed to get halfway through the book and haven't enjoyed it in the least.  The book is called Three Cups of Tea and is the story of an American man who attempted to climb K2, but accidentally found himself in a little Balti village instead and became determined to build a school in the village.  It bothers me that I don't like this book because I like the idea of it.  

Anyway, Shawn cleaned the house and saved me a lot of work - which I am adding to my list of reasons to keep him forever and ever.


Shawn's mother called tonight to tell him that his grandfather has colon cancer.  His grandfather was fairly recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and has been deteriorating at a steady rate.  This recent news is unsurprising but upsetting, of course, and hard on Shawn who grew up thinking of his grandpa as a surrogate father.  I don't know how to help other than to snuggle him and love him and be there... which isn't as much as I'd like it to be.  


Saturday, March 08, 2008

When Ivan meets G.I. Joe

This is a dark-eyed junco and this is the little bird I've been wondering about for awhile and trying to identify.  This bird is the one who  likes to run around underneath the bird feeder picking up things that have been dropped to the ground.  I like his black hood and I like the way he cleans up after the other messy birds who throw the seeds around with no respect for the people who so generously provided them.  Dark-eyed junco is a common bird here and I don't know why he was so difficult to identify. 

Today Shawn bought me a new bird feeder and a tall hanging pole for my birthday.  The pole is supposed to keep the birds safe while they eat so that cats can't climb up, hide, and then catch them.  The pole is very neat in that you can add extra arms to it so that it can hold many feeders and bird houses too.  We put the new feeder on the pole; it's a suet feeder which is supposed to attract all kinds of birds that we haven't seen yet, like woodpeckers.  I hope it does.  So far it has attracted three Italian Greyhounds who all gathered around to lick the package the suet came in and were thoroughly irritated when they discovered they can't climb poles.

It was at the bird feeder store that I asked about our little ground feeding birds and the lady who worked there told me he was probably a dark-eyed junco.  She was right.  She also says we can attract the Rufous hummingbird with sugar/water feeders.  We didn't get that feeder yet, but I think the bird feeder project has lots of room to expand.


After the bird feeder store, we went to the dog food store and got treats and bones and dog food and a couple of new dog toys, one of which D destroyed within three minutes of pouncing upon it.  These dogs are hard on their toys.  To make up for the disappointment of not being permitted to eat suet cakes, they will get knuckle bones later this afternoon at which point I think they will forgive us for our cruelty.


Monday, March 03, 2008

With glowing hearts

I grew up in a rather homogeneous neighbourhood.  My parents weren't rich, but fair to say upper-middle class with ambition and a lot of financial sense.  Alberta isn't the most culturally diverse place to begin with and when you tuck yourself in in a cozy and somewhat wealthy suburban neighbourhood, in spite of the benefits of growing up in such a "nice" place, you miss out on knowing and making friends with kids from different backgrounds.

Though I don't agree with or like all my parents' values, they stand on the good side when it comes to racism and discrimination.  They taught me to be open minded and to reserve judgement.  In fact, one of the father-daughter moments that stands out most sharply in my memory was my father telling me that I was free to marry (or not marry) a white woman, a black man, or whoever treated me well and made me happy.  The product of an interracial marriage herself, my mother had experienced and witnessed some cruelty - and taught me better.

In my fifth grade class there was one boy who was a visible minority.  His name was Miro and his parents were from Nigeria.  He, however, was born in Canada and spoke perfect English.  I liked him in the way that fifth grade girls like boys.  That is I sometimes bopped him with my book bag and then ran away in hopes he'd chase me.  Sometimes he did.

One day in Social Studies class the teacher was talking about immigration in Canada.  She was talking about how some of the people who were being brought into the States as slaves escaped and fled to the Maritimes.  This resulted in some predominantly African communities developing in Nova Scotia where previously most of the immigrants were Spanish and Scottish.  She showed us a picture of some school children in one of these communities.  It was an interesting picture to us, four rows of African children in school uniforms, looking solemn and sincere.  And then, in the back row, one blond boy, looking just as solemn as his schoolmates.

The teacher had us look at the picture for a long time, and then after directing our attention to the one blond boy in the photo, said, "How do you think it would feel to be this little boy?  How would it feel to stand in his shoes?"

I immediately looked over at Miro, knowing that he knew exactly what that little boy in the photo felt like, and waited for him to say something.  He didn't.  In fact, I was completely astounded to see that Miro was obediently staring at the picture and trying to imagine what the blond boy felt like.   I was angry with that teacher at the time, thinking her terribly insensitive, though perhaps in retrospect I should concede her intentions were good.  She was, of course, asking us to empathize.  I just couldn't understand why we had to empathize with that little blond boy instead of with the little Nigerian boy who sat next to me.

Where I live now, we are so culturally diverse that I am often in the minority.  The thing about living in a place that is so diverse is that over time you stop noticing.  Enormous progress for humankind.


Sunday, March 02, 2008


The bird feeder is attracting dozens of birds at a time now and the ground underneath it is covered in a thick carpet of seeds that various birds have tossed on the ground for some reason.  The ground eaters are gobbling up the seeds on the ground but nowhere near as fast as the perching birds are dropping them.  I wonder if the seeds that don't get eaten will grow. The birds are so pretty - I wish my camera was capable of getting good close up pictures.  There's a particularly lovely bird with an orange face and chest who throws seeds on the ground with great gusto.  He (and his friends) spend lots of time at the feeder and sit long enough that if my camera was better I could take some very nice photographs.


Last night I dreamed I was making the twelve hour drive to my parents' place.  And I noticed that my car clock said it was 4:15 making me realise that I wasn't going to be arriving until early the next morning.  The thought of driving through the mountains alone in the dark made me nervous and so I was speeding, thinking irrationally the way one does in dreams, that I might get through the mountains some ten hours faster if I did.  

I was pulled over by the police for speeding, and when I got out of the car, the police woman became instantly certain that I was some escaped fugitive from the law and that she bringing me in.  Her delight at capturing me overshadowed any procedural regulations and I was given no opportunity to defend myself.  It was an odd dream.