March by Installment

Morning Installment

The distant sky is pink with first light. Attila is making a lot of noise outside, with the snowblower, for which i am very grateful. Last night he removed the snow from my car, before we retired to our bed, so that this morning’s preparations for work will be minimized.

It is the first day of March, we made it through the dark days of winter. At -19C this morning, winter is not over yet, but we can dream of spring now, it won’t be more than a matter of weeks before the snow will begin to retreat. Tomorrow night the temperature is to fall to -23C. This week will be one of struggling to maintain a reasonable temperature in the house. This morning it is 14C in the warmest part of the house, temperature falling quickly as one moves away from the masonry heater. We look forward to warmer days.

I am heading out the door early this morning, because when it is this cold it takes time for the frost on the interior of the windows to melt/evaporate/sublimate or whatever is happening there, to allow one to see through the glass. Attila and I will arrive home for lunch at approximately the same time. Coming home for lunch is a luxury. When I lived on a farm we always came home for lunch when working, it was a short walk up the lane from the fields. Progress has changed all that; there is usually quite a schism between home and work.

Second Installment

Where I work there is seldom good news. Today another piece of unpleasantness came down the pipes. I took the job that was offered with their promise of “opportunity for advancement”, only to find that other’s had worked for up to fifteen years before being offered part time hours, that is 18 hours a week or less. They ask me to remain on six day a week call, offer me no regularly scheduled hours, no benefits, no pension, no mileage when asked to work miles and miles away…

Those with part time and full time jobs at the corporation have always been less than sympathetic, they said, “we went through it now its your turn”. Well they were wrong. It is not my turn, and it never will be my turn. The corporation is changing the deal for the on call people, on call people won’t make the same wages as the people they fill in for, their wages have been slashed… I should say my wages have been slashed. Same job, same responsibilities, less security, no benefits… So, all that working hard and giving it my all has only resulted in slashed wages, not really the “opportunity for advancement” the corporation advertised. Of course the current full time and part time staff are still well looked after, but their numbers will eventually diminish to nothing as their privileged positions die off by attrition.

Well, that is enough about that. I can’t change it, so I’m going to ignore it as long as I can.

Attila and I are still enjoying Netflix. Because we don’t go out to movies, or have movie channels on television, we haven’t viewed current movies for several decades. So all those old movies, well, they are brand spanking new to us. We have seen some excellent films, including Elizabeth, The Last Emperor, Elling, Evelyn, Slumdog Millionaire and more. We have yet to receive a high speed Internet billing since we began the service though, that bill might just taint the experience. We will have to wait and see.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-19 °C
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -19.0°C
Dewpoint: -20.5°C
Humidity: 88 %
Wind: SE 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -22

Quote 

“Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality.”
George Santayana
1863 – 1952

Buckets of Snow

First light is just coming into the sky, the brightness aided by new fallen snow draped across the horizontal in seductive softness. The tree branches, outlined in white, stretch wide to receive the the late winter snow that plummets from the sky, clinging on contact, quickly obscured as each desperate flake falls upon another. Another morning begins.

At last, it is the last day of February.

Mist in Cat Heaven, February 2011

Mist in Cat Heaven, February 2011

Tomorrow I begin what is for me a marathon of work. I’ll miss me, as I slowly become sublimated in my customer service smile and accompanying small talk, which, while genuine, are not the whole of me. The rest of me is what I’ll come to miss, the me who thinks, who feels, who acts on impulse, explores thoughts and desire and so much more. That is the part of me that I’m going to miss for the month of March, 2011. This temporary departure from self will be short and relatively painless. When March is over the sun will shine stronger in the sky, and I will find a place to sit where the light can burn away the fog of pleasant small talk, to leave me dry and cogent and my whole self once more.

The last interview was a turning point of sorts. I lost heart. My interest in applying for work is waning. Really, “experts” in the field of employment could find no work for two women of a certain age, one of them me, who are well educated, competent, hard working, honest and get a job done. I’ve tried, the “experts” tried, we all failed. I could blame me. I could blame them. I think the problem is bigger than both of us. I wonder if a lemonade stand would turn things around…

The new positioning of my desk is wonderful! I have a panoramic view, windows facing north, east and west, forest everywhere. The road, such that it is, is visible from where I sit, and yet I am not visible to those who pass upon it. For years my desk was positioned in front of a large window overlooking the road, like a fish in bowl I sat. It wasn’t an issue, people on the road never looked in the direction of our house.

Yesterday was a bread baking day. It has been a while since there has been regular bread baking here. The stores near the little house in the city actually sell several kinds of bread that are safe to eat, so purchasing bread became feasible. Attila has missed the homemade bread. It is much less expensive than store bought bread and far healthier. I needed a break from baking our own bread, now it is time to get back to it.

Mist enjoys the winter months. Attila and I love to sit in front of the fire, with our feet up, coffee cups in hand. Attila usually dozes. I usually contemplate life, the universe and everything and try not to let my thoughts bubble into the morning silence. I am one of those seemingly rare people who wakes up with my mind racing, ready to embrace the day and the world. Attila likes to ease slowly into his day. He sleeps in front of the fire, I contemplate. Mist, well Mist is busy adoring. She adores Attila, and often seeks out his lap as he softly snores in his chair. Usually though, she will sit on the coffee table/foot stool and adore the flames that bring such comforting warmth on a winter’s day. Mist lives in a cat heaven. She has the blazing fire to admire, a handy lap nearby, a red ribbon to chase and pounce upon, a full bowl of food in the corner and a fresh supply of water. She sleeps when she pleases, socializes when she pleases and is the master of her own universe. It’s a cat’s life!

A friend brought this song into my life recently, ever since this song has been coming to my attention unexpectedly. I love it more every time I hear it. Buckets of snow doesn’t have the same ring to it though…

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1 °C
Condition: Snow, risk of freezing rain
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Visibility: 1 km
Temperature: -0.5°C
Dewpoint: -0.5°C
Humidity: 100 %
Wind: N 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -4

Quote

“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”
Edith Sitwell
1887 – 1964

Change of Scene

Snow all around us, coming down, blowing across, whipping up occasionally. It is so mild that great loads of snow plummet two stories to land with a great whumph!, as they slide from the metal roof. A good day to sit safe indoors. Which I have been doing a bit too much of lately, sitting that is. This will change as of next week, when I work almost every day until the beginning of April. A blessing to be working, and good exercise to boot.

This afternoon Attila helped me move my desk. The monitor faced the sliding glass doors and the daytime glare was significant. I sat with my back to the door. Now I am facing the windows and the monitor is facing the wall; much better. The arrangement also facilitates watching Netflix on the computer, as the easy chairs are setup up perfectly to view the monitor. We are trying Netflix, and have enjoyed it. The first high-speed bill reflecting our use of Netflix will determine if we continue to use the service.

Caitrìona called this morning from Florida, she is coming home next week. She has had a nice time, and would rather stay a few weeks more but the arrangements didn’t work out as she had hoped. Our gain, their loss.

Friday and Saturday were a little rough. Everyone I came into contact with was feeling a bit out of sorts. Also, I found myself on the silent end of social media, which I hadn’t experienced before, because I never invested any time or interest in social media before. I’m still feeling my way around in places like Twitter and Facebook, it isn’t always a warm fuzzy place. Lots of people I don’t know and never heard of, buzzing around making friends with each other. Facebook seems like a busy downtown street, where you can sit unnoticed for hours watching people pass by.

Attila and I have been doing the lets-stay-in-our-cave thing. Two fires thus far today have warmed the living space, Mist is a happy cat. The new desk location affords a fantastic view of white dusted pine trees and snow slowly drifting out of the sky. Moving the desk was a great idea; small change, big difference.

I am considering writing an ode to cabin fever.

Weather

-3 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -3.0°C
Dewpoint: -4.9°C
Humidity: 87 %
Wind: S 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -7

Quote

“I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.”
Michel de Montaigne
1533 – 1592

 

Right Kind of Genius

To my way of thinking we are living in a era where the cultural empire is creating a fast narrowing path to survival. The empire is ultimately self-destructive. There are historical precedents; the Roman empire, the Mayan empire… analyze these structures of power any way you like, from any disciplinary perspective, spend countless hours discussing what little we actually know of how they actually grew and died off, intellectual discussion doesn’t change that they existed, grew and disappeared but for built form. They were what they were, no matter how we analyze and categorize and philosophize.

The descendants of meek members of those cultures remain, healthy and strong. It seems a bit biblical really, the meek have inherited the earth many times over during written history and who knows how many times in the vast ages of human history before the written word.

Many times over the weak have inherited an earth much diminished by the unnatural growths of powerful structures that fed like parasites on a balanced system.

Here is where my thoughts on genius intersect with my thoughts on culture.

The right kind of genius would put the weight of its talent behind a balanced structure of human habitation and community. Since the beginning of written history the right kind of genius has not been culturally favoured. Genius instead has been siphoned off and poured into the foundations of imbalance, the gathering of resources into the hands of the few.

An example is Christaller, whose theory on central place was used extensively by the Nazi’s to create, among other things, a network of internment camps. Christaller’s contemporary, August Loesch, see also, was comparatively ignored; I wonder if this was because his intellectual integrity was not as useful to political and economic strategies. Dr. Loesch did not join the Nazi party.

These are names of people who carried genius. Much of the built form in our present day-to-day lives, in Europe and North America, has been shaped by the product of their minds in the hands of the powerful.

In spite of the successful efforts of this towering structure of wealth, that reaches towards the heaven of its own desires, the right kind of genius remains, germinal, a force of nature, not of culture. And that is as much “human nature” as is greed and competition; more so in my view.

I wish my world were an ancient tale, a sleeping beauty and I a prince to kiss us all awake, in time to live the lives we have been given.

May those who carry the seed of genius with integrity live happy and fulfilled lives. If they can, then we will. Thank you for existing.

What can I say, I am like this in the mornings.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: -10.0°C
Dewpoint: -13.2°C
Humidity: 78 %
Wind: W 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -16

Quote

“I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.”
Bessie Coleman

From the movie The Matrix
Lock: “Goddamnit, Morpheus! Not everyone believes what you believe!”
Morpheus: “My beliefs do not require them to.”

Pre-Dawn

Here it is pre-dawn. The trees outside the window are just becoming visible through the windows. I’ve been awake for several hours now, no idea why. The fire is burning bright in the masonry heater, Attila is preparing the food he will take to work. I am sitting at the computer. Typical morning.

There is another WordPress update to install. It seems like the last update was only a few weeks ago. Accomplished before 9:00 a.m. this morning. The manual update always works the first time, it is just so time consuming!

Terra gave me a few Starbucks coupons for songs, pick of the week. This will be another wee project for today, something new.

An investigation of the online digital library service revealed that the library nearest the little house in the city accesses the same service used by the library near the country house. This is good news for the Kobo. Early this morning another interesting library book was finally ferreted out of the lists of formula romance and vampire novels. It is called Made in the USA by Billie Letts. There are good books in this library collection, but it helps to have a list of titles and authors ready to assist in the search for your preferred reading material. Most of my list is not offered in the online collection.

Above Bathroom Vanity Little House in the City, February 2011

Above Bathroom Vanity Little House in the City, February 2011

One of our next projects at the little house is to install a medicine cabinet above the sink in the bathroom. When we bought the property there was only a hole in the wall where a vanity might go. Who knows why, best not to know I think. Anyway, last summer I found a newish medicine cabinet for $11 at a ReStore, a fundraising entity for Habitat for Humanity. Installing the medicine cabinet is on the list, but will require more than a one night stay to accomplish, so perhaps when Attila has another Saturday off in a few months he will be able to tackle this project.

There is no counter space in the bathroom at the little house in the city. Toiletries were carried in and out as needed until I came up with my clever, cost free solution. The bottom half of a plastic pop bottle, with a slit near the top on one side, is hung from a stick-on hook, placed on the wall above the sink. Clever yes. Pretty no. Functional yes, it works.

I’ve been thinking about Facebook this morning. One thing I like about it is that people I know are there, on the other end of the ether, so to speak. At times we are sharing the moment. A strange connectedness in absentia.

Google facilitated a search on sharing the moment, and this site came to my attention. Apparently the site was created by a graduate school student in Helsinki. The ideas are far from practical, from a mass-produced, economy-of-scale, lets-make-a-profit perspective. The ideas are interesting nonetheless. The M.A. Thesis of Michihito Mizutani explores sharing the moment in various ways. Truth be told though, I’d rather share the moment in physical proximity to my friends and loved ones. And there is nothing like strolling down a busy city sidewalk. The most interesting concept I found at this site though, is one aimed at sharing culture and cleansing the planet, the Global-loon Proposal. Quite imaginative; I think it is the geographer in me that is drawn to this particular design.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-4 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -4.0°C
Dewpoint: -4.8°C
Humidity: 94 %
Wind: 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -6

Quote

“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”
Leonardo da Vinci
1452 – 1519
(translator unknown)