Are we there yet?

Last night when we went to bed it was raining.  This morning everything out there is frozen solid and snow flakes are dancing out of the sky, eventually resting lightly to form a gauzy blanket over hard, hard world.

Yesterday, the first day of 2011, Attila and I did a lot of puttering about.  As we puttered we watched movies, off and on, as we passed the set.  Let’s see, we watched Gunga Din (1939), Music and Lyrics (2007) and Mamma Mia! (2008) (great fun for Abba fans!).  It was with sad relief that I ate the last of my stash of cookies and salted nuts!  Holiday food is one of our greatest joys, and we indulged ourselves thoroughly this year.  I’ve gained some weight, enjoyed every minute of it, and now it is time to get back to normal.  So, last night for dinner we ate a very healthy meal, Attila’s Turkey Soup, made with our Christmas Day turkey.  Attila’s Turkey Soup is healthy, low sodium, low fat, lots of vegetables.  The absolute best thing about it though, is that it tastes great!

One of the tasks Attila took on yesterday was to shovel the snow off the deck.  There was quite a bit there, it had slid off the roof onto the deck in a great rain-sodden mass.  The deck was clear when we went to bed last night.

Since the weather has turned colder today, Attila is busy splitting firewood for the third firing of the masonry heater that we will need today.

In my fantasy life, our deck protrudes from the peak side of the building, where no snow from the roof will ever fall on it, and Attila will never have to shovel it off.  In my fantasy life we have a central heating system that runs on a thermostat, so that the temperature is set and then heat just happens.  This would add hours to Attila’s days, and provide us with a lot more freedom of movement.  These are expensive fantasies!  Perhaps this year the house will sell and we will move into a home where these luxuries already exist!

Having enjoyed Mamma Mia! yesterday on the television, we watched it again tonight.  Actually, I enjoyed it in a different way on second viewing; we watched the film with closed captioning!  Although I didn’t miss much during the first viewing, a few points of plot became much clearer with the second viewing.

Attila has lit the third fire of the day, Mist is settling into her basket for yet another nap and I am about to snuggle up on the easy chair with my Kobo and see what is happening in pre-Rome Italy, via Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin.

It seems that we are indeed here.

Year of the Golden Tiger

Well, here we are at the end of another year.  This past year, 2010, was supposedly, according to soothsayers, the high point of my existence here on planet earth.  I am a Tiger.  The Year of the Golden Tiger ends February 2, 2011, when we enter the Year of the Rabbit.  Although this past year certainly has not panned out according to plan, it was a very good year.  Still, who knows what additional good fortune may find me before February 2!

Here is a short list of my personal good fortune in 2010:

Everyone I love is healthy.
Attila has a full time job, we survive financially.
We purchased a wonderful little house in the city, near our kids and grand-kids.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, as a rule.  I know that I will continue to do my best at everything I put my hand to, and to treat others with respect and dignity.  That is all I expect of myself in the New Year; that others treat me in the same way is all that I hope for in the New Year.

I worked today.  Attila worked today.  We are home together now, having driven home through the fog and rain.  Warm and dry, with a hot dinner before us and an evening of good and quiet company, we will welcome in the New Year.

Happy New Year’s Eve to all!

Plentiful

Attila and I set forth on Friday last for our little house in the city.  We arrived Christmas Eve day, after an uneventful drive on bare, dry roads.

As we drove up to the little house, a smiling metal sculpted snowman smiled at us from the front porch.  Terra and Lares had been busy acting as Christmas Elves and had completely decorated our little house!  The tree was up in the corner, lights festooned the entire perimeter of the living room, snowmen smiled from almost every corner of the house.  There were bright Christmas tins, candle holders and an audacious snowman fruit bowl that ended up being a huge hit with Tink.

Terra and Lares joined us Christmas Eve, and how wonderful it was to have them with us.  Christmas Day Terra had to work, and she and Lares arrived in the early evening to share a turkey dinner with us.

Luna arrived Christmas Day with Imp and Elf and Tink and Benny and Bim.  Janus had to work, and we did miss him.  Luckily Attila had the second bedroom painted adequately, so that the room was transformed with cots and sleeping mattresses for Luna and the grandbabies.

What a wonderful time we all had.  I can’t remember that we did anything that was particularly special, or spectacular…  The time flew by us as we were busy just being together.

Imp and Elf and Tink are wonderful children! How we love them. Imp is tall and independent, Elf is wiry and full of smiles and giggles and Tink is a no-nonsense little girl with a melting grin that shows off her two new front teeth.

Terra and Luna got together for my gift, which was generous beyond the actual cost.  They conspired to give me a kobo.  I am in love!  I have read the entire Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, and I’ve made my first book purchase. It took me hours to choose, so many wonderful books to read! In the end, Ursula Leguin’s Lavinia caught my fancy. I love having a good book to curl up with!

This means no more 40 kilometer round trips to the nearest full service library; no more worrying about gas money; no more worries about traveling on treacherous roads in treacherous weather; no more worrying about due dates and fines. I now have to purchase books, but I can also receive gift certificates for eBooks. Suddenly I am a very easy person to buy gifts for!

I’ve been like a small child with a security blanket; clutching my kobo as I travel from house to car, car to house… The kobo will fit in my backpack and can be read while waiting in lines, waiting in waiting rooms, while traveling as a passenger… sigh, how wonderful.

Food! My how we have enjoyed the holiday food this year! Turkey dinner, apple pie, mincemeat squares, Luna’s shortbread and chocolate chip cookies, Attila’s chocolate chip cookies, nuts, clementines, chocolates… Chocolates are last but certainly not least!

Attila has been chopping wood since we arrived home. The indoor temperature is rising and soon I’ll be able to remove my parka. The electric heaters kept the house well above freezing while we were away, which is a relief, at least until the next electric bill arrives in the mail, LOL!

I am working New Year’s Eve Day, but not too late. Attila returns to work tomorrow morning.

Our New Year celebration will be a quiet one. We will sit in front of the fire and enjoy remembering the very good times we have had over the past year, and all the truly wonderful things that have happened for the people we love.

Lunar Eclipse falls on the Solstice, 1638, 1703 and 2010

At 2:41 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, December 21, 2010 a lunar eclipse  started. December 21 is also the Solstice.  What was the world like, centuries ago, when this phenomena occurred in the past?

I could copy and paste a list of the large political events that occurred in specific areas in 1638 and 1703.  However, certain of the larger events caught my interest.

In the 1630s

The great migration from England to New England occurred in the 1630s, the first settlers were a mixed company of fortune seekers and Puritans.

New England Earth Quake

Anne Hutchinsonin 1638, the First Church in Boston conducted a religious trial, accusing Hutchinson of blasphemy.

In 1703

The city of Saint Petersburg is founded in Russia.

The Great Storm of 1703, an Atlantic hurricane, ravages southern England and the English Channel, killing nearly 8,000, mostly at sea.

Poet Chiyo born, haiku poet of the classical period, became a Buddhist nun which gave her freedom to travel the country.

After both working today, Attila and I are busy with our Christmas preparations. Wrapping our modest presents, baking and beginning to tidy things up around the house. As we putter along, A Christmas Carol entertains us, starring Alastair Sim. This movie was released the during my early childhood, I’ve been watching it every Christmas for most of my life. I have never tired of it.

After all, “mankind” is our business.

Wishing every one a very peaceful holiday. Remember a smile is the greatest gift you can give.

Clogged Ink

The month of December has seen me attending a program for old workers.  As result I am not home during the day.  That means we have only two fires in the masonry heater (fireplace) each day.  Nights have been cold, below -15C, for quite a while now.  We need a third fire during the day, from time to time, to keep the house reasonably comfortable.  This has not been happening.

I am working from home today.  It is 17C near the masonry heater, the temperature falls as you move toward the perimeter of the house.   It was when the ink refused to flow from the pen that the cold became an issue.  One pen after another refused to give up its ink.  The pens must be warmed by the fireplace before they will work.

There is a silver lining to this chilly cloud; sleep conditions are optimized.  The eiderdown makes for cozy, deep slumber in the cold bedroom.

The old workers program did not find any work placement for the two old women who participated.  Even temporary subsidized positions are non-existent in this area, at least for the two old women in the program.  This does not feel good.  The bright side is that resumes are polished and interview skills are honed, so that if any positions materialize, one might apply for them.  However, nepotism is probably the main (perhaps the only) method of attaining positions capable of sustaining life.  All in all, the program “giveth and taketh” away.  It gave me better resumes and interview skills, it took away almost any hope I had of using the interview skills or gaining any kind of regular employment.  I am still sending out applications.

I feel downhearted about the results of the old workers program; only because I allowed myself to buy into their enthusiasm and premise that  having a great resume and doing well in interviews might solve the non-employment problem.  More employment opportunities would solve the non-employment problem.  Unemployment in Canada only means recently without work and still receiving a steady government insurance income.  Attila and I have both been there and appreciated the income when we were both out of work in 2005.  Non-employment means that one has no income at all when the government income runs its course and ceases.  I would not be surprised if the non-employed outnumber the unemployed significantly.  The Canadian government ignores people who are non-employed, interested only in the unemployed when it comes to keeping statistics to use in drafting economic policy.

Well, enough about that!  My time was not wasted and I survived financially for one more month.  Small mercies.

It is snowing again today and, since I don’t have to commute, I am enjoying the beauty of slowly drifting snowflakes.  I like working at home, beautiful scenery, familiar tools, nearby food and washroom, no interruptions and I can burn that third midday fire to make the house cosier.

Southwestern Ontario was hit by serious snow storms this past week, closed highways, military rescue units removing people from closed roads, icy, slushy, zero visibility conditions on most highways and roads… we feel lucky by comparison.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -10.0°C
Dewpoint: -10.8°C
Humidity: 94 %
Wind: SSE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -13

Quote

“We are able to laugh when we achieve detachment, if only for a moment.”
May Sarton