Ageism, the lucky amongst us are going to face this type of discrimination, later rather than sooner.

I urge every one of us to keep an eye on how we interact with people younger or older than ourselves. Respect for differences should cover just about any situation. When we assume the way we look at the world is “normal”, we do a disservice to everyone, including ourselves.

I wonder, why would I find the comment, “you look so young” complimentary? It always upsets me, makes me feel uncomfortable and unhappy, aware of impending loss. I can tell it is meant as a compliment, so I smile. But if this is so important to people, what the heck am I going to do when I don’t look so young??? It will happen, if I’m lucky. I really don’t want to think of myself as “young looking”; I want to be “Maggie looking” and I want that to be all right. I can carry “Maggie looking” to my the end of my days, it is that flexible a compliment.

My Dad died of colon cancer. I have regular colonoscopies, which, for me, are always potentially fatal due to human error with medications (my allergy). I hate them, the colonoscopies that is, but I do it. I am always glad to come home alive. Between colonoscopies, which are five years apart, I annually complete the home “Fecal Occult Blood Test”, FOBT. I hate these too, but I don’t have to fear for my life to do this test. This isn’t pretty stuff. I read recently that a new blood test may offer an equally efficacious test for colon cancer. Please, please, please let it be true!

A lovely sunny day here! Attila is working this morning, I have the day off. A bonus because I will be working on the next two Saturdays. Day four of curing the fireplace is well under way. The masonry heater is not charged yet though, so very little heat is emanating from it. By Sunday it will retain some heat from the firings and the house will begin to warm up. Monday we can burn a full fire!

Curing the Masonry Heater October 2010

Curing the Masonry Heater October 2010

The apples we picked on our holidays are keeping well so far, but there is some urgency in eating and cooking with them before they begin to go soft and ultimately rot. Yesterday I made an apple crisp. I haven’t made a dessert in a very long time, I gain a lot of weight when desserts are sitting on the counter, testing my resolve.

Yesterday I seared two round steaks in the cast iron dutch oven, then added cubed potatoes, sliced onions, cubed carrots, pepper corns, bay leaf and water. By the time Attila arrived home hours later, our dinner was ready. There was enough left over for two additional meals! That is our solution to ready-made meals, we don’t buy them ready-made, we prepare enough for several days when we cook from raw ingredients. I guess some people don’t like left-overs; aren’t ready-made meals off the shelves in the grocery store already left-overs? I guess we see things differently.

Worldly Distractions


6 °C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 6.0°C
Dewpoint: 2.6°C
Humidity: 79 %
Wind: NNW 9 km/h


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust
(1871 – 1922)

Thin Layer of “Fools”

Last night Attila and I watched a program about the history of Scotland. I was interested, many of my ancestors came to Canada from Scotland. My grandfather spoke with a mild Scottish accent, which I picked up and was ridiculed for at primary school.

The word history is a broad term, defined by the Oxford Dictionary in several ways. It seems that the new English meaning of the word is focused on “record of important or public events”. In the media these events seem always to be focused, in turn, on power, struggles for power, violence and violent death. When a book or a television program describes history, it is almost without fail a description of a very, very thin top layer of ambitious climbers. Seldom do I see descriptions of community building and strategies for human harmony; mostly I see long chronologies of wars, battles, political allegiances and betrayals. Certainly my high school history courses focused on these themes.

However, the origin of the word history offers more than this:

late Middle English (also as a verb): via Latin from Greek historia ‘finding out, narrative, history’, from histōr ‘learned, wise man”

This origin of the word history does not state or imply a focus on important and public events. The focus of interest in the “finding out”, in the creation of a narrative of human activity, is left to the discretion of the author.

Personally, I’m interested in the how the majority lived in times gone by. How did they survive the power plays, wars, economic greed and political strategies of their times. How did they go on with their daily lives despite the ravages of the ambition, greed and avarice of the minority? For most of us, that is the wisdom we can learn from the past.

“History”, as the word is used in education and the media, focuses on those who determine issues that affect whole populations. Today’s common wisdom in Western education and media tells us that we are the authors of our own individual destiny, that “life is what you make it”, that “you can be whatever you want to be”.

Talk about mixed messages.  Who in their right mind would create a life of poverty, unemployment, underemployment, live in a war torn state or a violent neighborhood or go hungry?

I found the program on the history of Scotland interesting; a chronology of the thin layer of fools at the top, that shaped the structures, opportunities and limitations of daily life for the majority of humans in a particular time and place. What I wanted though, was to hear how the majority of people living at the time managed to survive such ravages.

I grew up around people who were very into the St. James version of the Bible, often called the King James Version, these individuals appointed Sainthood wherever they so chose. I often heard the phrase: “Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” This phrase has been discussed by many admired and noted men. As a child, what I thought it meant, was that those who lived in gentle harmony with their human and physical environment would endure, beyond the violence and machinations of those who “rose” through greed and ambition.

It seems to me this is a credible interpretation. For example, last night’s program described the “Picts” as disappearing from history at the same time that “Scotland” came into being, and that came about as a result of the “changing of the guard” in the high ranking positions, the Gaels replacing the Picts. The meek however, the majority of people living in the Picts’ lands, endured to live their unremarkable lives. Only one thin layer at the top was skimmed away to be replaced by another thin layer.

Paul, this entry is for you.  God bless.

Worldly Distractions


2 °C
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 2.0°C
Dewpoint: 2.0°C
Humidity: 100 %
Wind: NNW 11 km/h





This morning I awoke at five to find Attila up and engaging the day. He is going in to work early, as it is very busy and he wants to get a start on things early. Before leaving for work Attila has started a fire in the wood stove downstairs to keep the place warm today, and he has assembled all the kindling I need to begin curing the masonry heater for the winter.

I have my first burn crackling merrily in the masonry hearth as I write. Curing the masonry heater is an annual ritual, necessary to slowly expel all moisture from the refractory cement core, to avoid steam during the force of a full fire burn. I will burn five or more small fires throughout the day today, and will continue to build incrementallly larger fires for the next five days. In five days a small amount of heat will begin to radiate from the heater and it will be ready for full service.

I am not working this week, a short break, so this is the perfect time to charge the heater.

From the car, Thanksgiving Weekend Trip, 2010

From the car, Thanksgiving Weekend Trip, 2010

Tending fires requires my attention at intervals, all day long. So, I have set the timer on the computer to remind me when I have to tend a fire, downstairs in the little wood stove or upstairs in the masonry heater. I putter in between my fire building tasks, and surf around on the computer. Old photos have my attention today, these are almost addictive. Many portray the era of my youth, giving me small glimpses into what other people were experiencing at the time.

A pleasant surprise for me this morning, Harriet and Caitrìona dropped by for a quick coffee, a piece of pie and a little chat. They were on their way to Harriet’s cottage, and also planned to check on Caitrìona’s property to make sure all is secure for the winter. They encountered traffic jams due to several accidents on the highway on their trip here, I do hope their drive back is less dramatic. They have invited Attila and I for dinner this evening, which is always a treat, both the meal and the company.

While Harriet and Caitrìona were here I received a call to come in to work tomorrow; another little bit earned to keep the wolves at bay. I’m very pleased, and can work the second day of curing the masonry heater around my work schedule.

I’ve been diligent with my fires today, so that today’s curing will be complete in time for us to leave for our dinner engagement and the house will remain warm and cozy for the night.

Worldly Distractions


10 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.0°C
Dewpoint: 5.0°C
Humidity: 71 %
Wind: SSE 13 km/h


“Holding onto anger is like grasping onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.”
Gautama Buddha

What on earth…

I just had to write again today.

I don’t know how I bumped into this collections of photos on the net.

I don’t know what I could possibly have in common with a New York beat cop.

I don’t know what constitutes excellence in the world of photography. I don’t care either.

I know that this human being has created images, using a camera, that speak to me clearly.

Here are two photographs I enjoyed, and am grateful that the individual who created them cared to share them.

But for the Internet these images would not have been available to me.

Little things…

Attila and I headed for the little house over the Thanksgiving weekend.  We took the scenic route, thinking that the sunny day would enhance the colours of the fall leaves.  The sunny day was breathtaking, but most of the leaves had fallen.  No matter, we enjoyed our drive, even if it took an extra hour.

The second bedroom at the little house has been such a mess that we have just shut the door and forgotten about it.  The smell in that little room has been awful.  Now that the forced air furnace is working the smell is not confined to that room.  On Sunday morning Attila managed to remove the last of the tiles from the floor, a job that Lares had done much of the weekend we took possession of the house, they were all covered with mildewed carpet backing.  Attila removed the bits and dust from the gluey sub-floor and put down a new mahogany sub-floor.  He then applied a primer coat of paint to the walls and finally applied primer to the new mahogany sub-floor.  The paint smell was awful, but superior by far to the smell of mildew! There are still holes in the walls, punched right through the drywall, but that is for another day.

Second Bedroom Mahogany Subfloor

Second Bedroom Mahogany Subfloor

Sunday the girls and grandchildren spent with their husband’s families.  Their first turkey dinners of the weekend!

On Monday the painted floor in the second bedroom was dry and we moved a lot of items onto it to be stored.  I washed the window frame and storm window screen and put up a curtain.  The room is still very rough, but a huge improvement.  We can leave the door open!

Monday morning, right after breakfast, Attila began assembling the ingredients for his turkey dressing.  By 9 a.m. he had the turkey in the oven.  In no time the house was filled with the aroma of roasting turkey!  Terra, who worked all night, slept a few short hours and rose at 2 p.m., and she and Lares arrived shortly thereafter.  Soon Luna and Imp and Elf and Tink arrived.  It is a small house, and quite frankly I like that.  Everyone was together, moving, talking, laughing, crying (Tink fell trying to walk and bruised her cheek on the table leg).  Imp and Elf dragged the kitchen table from the tiny dining room to the middle of the living room, where there would be enough space for everyone to sit around the table for our turkey dinner.  Imp, Elf and Tink took over Grandma’s bedroom and played for happy hours with Lego.  I bought them each a HoolaHoop, one pink for Imp, blue for Elf and pink and green for Tink.  Not one of the assembled party was able to successfully suspend the HoolaHoop, but they were put to good use in other ways, rolling across the floor and tossing over stools.

After dinner talk and activity continued non-stop.  Terra, tired from shift work, perhaps a little bit irritable, was teased by Lares, who found a stick outside, which he smuggled in to poke at her;  she laughed so hard she couldn’t breath!!  I’ve never seen her laugh so hard.  We all laughed till we cried.  Lares has a real sense of humour and, although very impish, the love behind it is always there.

Luna kept an eye on three little balls of energy and helped me with the dishes in the kitchen after dinner.  We enjoyed chatting to the point that we weren’t sure whether I was drying dishes, setting them on the counter, then picking them up thinking them dirty and handing them back to her to wash again.

Later Janus arrived, coming straight to ours from work in Montreal.  Imp and Elf and Tink were ecstatic to see him.  He picked up the twins to hug them as he came in the door, and as I was holding Tink at the time, I put her in the middle of the twins, where she latched onto his neck for a super big hug.

Grandpa showed the kids how to use the HoolaHoop, sort of.  Grandma held Tink as she tried to grab Grandma’s glasses; Auntie Terra took a video of that, which was hilarious and looked as if Tink was walloping Grandma in the head!  Uncle Lares showed Imp, Elf and Tink the interior of his service truck, and let them wipe the ceiling with rags.

A good time was had by all.

We didn’t get away till later than usual, almost 7 p.m., arriving home just after 11:30 p.m.  We unloaded the car, Attila took a hot bath, I puttered and we were in bed within an hour of arriving home.  Mist was unhappy with our absence, and let us know, loudly.  The house was cold, but it was too late at night to put a fire on, so we just went to bed.  We slept soundly, as we always do when the house is cold.  Mist, she slept soundly too, with two heating units under the covers of the bed where she slept.