Aprons

It is very cold, and brilliantly sunny this morning. The deck, the house, the trees, are snapping and cracking in the cold, -34C. There is a chill in the house, a good day to sit near the heater. My hands are stiff as I type, from the cold air. Luckily the physical objects are not as cool as the air, thermal mass heating has its advantages.

Attila is out there, braving the weather.

We are both very busy with the wood heating system on these frigid days and nights. Terra wrote to say it is very cold where they are, and that their wood stoves are keeping them busy as well.

Back here at the house I keep on my feet and moving!

Aprons are handy when cooking from scratch. Aprons with pockets are even better.

I have many aprons, and I dislike all of them. Some of them have a single neck strap, which pulls on the back of my neck and gives me headaches. Some of them tie around the waste, and do not cover my chest, which is prime splatter territory.

There is only one apron that completely delights me. I saw a picture of it online. In the 1920s, in a test kitchen, the women wore pinafore type aprons, with a high, gathered yoke, no frilly bits, and pockets. After seeing it I searched high and low for something similar to purchase. Nothing on the market came close.

But, finally I did find a pattern for a simple panel apron, with a pocket and two shoulder straps, that would suit me well. It was a Simplicity pattern. I have been sewing Simplicity patterns for 50 years. I ordered the pattern online, and Attila brought it home with the daily mail yesterday.

Now I need to find a suitable fabric. Fabrics are something to be saved for timely use. The thing is, where is the tote that contains the fabrics. That is a project unto itself, finding the fabric tote! It might be here at the country house, then again, it might be sitting at the little house in the city.

I have moved almost entirely away from Facebook. What triggered this was the deletion of a comment that I made, because the original poster was monitoring all comments to align with his chosen political agenda. While not particularly upset by this, it reminded me what a false form of interaction Facebook, Twitter, and such online forums really provide. It is place where the unseen hand can delete the thoughts and contributions of another in the blink of an eye. The problem being that this occurs invisibly, no one is the wiser, other than the silenced individual, and the dictator of voice who silences another. I value freedom of speech, and since online venues can deny this right, I am loath to spend any time attempting to interact in an environment where dissent is silently silenced.

This morning songza is playing on the laptop. A new discovery: holding the laptop with both hands brings the vibrations of the music through my hands and up my arms. Another dimension of sound to enjoy.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Clear
-34C (that is -29.2F)
Date: 6:00 AM EST Friday 3 January 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -31.6°C
Dewpoint: -34.7°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: NW .2 km/h
Wind Chill: -36 (that is -32F)

Quote

“Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970

Endless Self Promotion

Life has been very quiet since our visitors left on Tuesday. Which is a good thing really, quiet is good; just a little on the quiet side is all.

The weather has been sunny, so that we have been able to proceed with the deck staining project. On Wednesday night Attila applied the second coat to most of the deck, and last night he finished the job. Hopefully this penetrating stain will last through the winter!

Luna brought a very large zucchini with her when she visited, and left it here for us. I used half of it, with some carrots, onion, garlic and olive oil, to make a soup. The other half was cut into medallions and baked as Zesty Zucchini, which is very good. The soup, well it was palatable, but nothing to write home about.

We have gathered together all the materials we think we need to proceed with the toilet installation at the little house in the city. It will be tricky, we will only be visiting overnight on our next visit. I do not relish staying in a house with no toilet! We get there late in the day on our overnight visits, so we won’t be installing the toilet until the following morning. Tricky! Thank goodness there is a McDonalds restaurant, an all-night gas bar, and a WalMart within easy driving distance; we will need to visit their facilities I am sure.

I think this is the worst of the renovation at the little house in the city. We knew the bathroom was truly a disaster, but we were hoping we could get the old toilet out and the new in quickly. That did not happen. Better luck next time!

I have been posting away on Facebook and have to admit that it is the most depressing place to spend time, in my life. I like reading the postings of others, as they alert me to all kinds of truly interesting things on the internet. That is a plus. Be that as it may, the depressing aspect is the “social” aspect of the media. It isn’t really “social” at all. It seems more to me like a bulletin board, sitting out in the wilderness, in the rain, with signs of recent human activity pinned in brightly coloured notes all over it, but no sign whatsoever of the humans themselves. Bleak, a loud and colourful bleakness, and emptier for all the noise and colour.

On the other hand, I find the blogs that I follow quite interesting, and affirming. The blogs I follow are offered as modes of communication, rather then vehicles of self-promotion and propaganda; commercial viability is not a factor in their creation. There is always the opportunity to interact. These are lives I can understand and relate to, the experiences shared are familiar. There is very little high drama, lots of details about day-to-day life; the best kind of “reality” there is. I read blogs written by people of all ages, although with the younger crowd it is difficult to find a blog that does not fall under the category of “self-promotion”; it seems to be how they see the world. Many of the under forty blogs start out with the portrayal of a dramatic shift in lifestyle, that disintegrate quickly into a retreat back to the mainstream. Much of what is written by the under forty crowd reminds me of the Smurfs. Still, I have managed to unearth the writings of some very interesting blogs by people under forty.

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from”?

Here is a video that reflects how I feel about social media, and outlines the concepts very succinctly:

http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-illustrated-so-beautifully-you-will-need-to-tell-someone?g=3&c=ufb1

Being a part of Facebook is being a part of nothing.

While eating breakfast, gazing out the window into the sunshine, I became aware of a steady stream of flying insects passing up and by. Further investigation showed that there were thousands and thousands of these insects, launching themselves up and away, from the rocks and stumps near the ground. What are they? I have no idea, but I can see they are not mosquitoes. I do hope they are not planning on infesting and killing any of our forest. One never knows these days, what imported menace will emerge to permanently change the landscape! Hopefully they are harmless and will provide a rich resource for the ecosystem here.

I think they would all agree, it is a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.

Granny’s House
DSCF3070 grannys house

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 17 August 2013
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.0°C
Dewpoint: 9.7°C
Humidity: 42%
Wind: WNW 8 km/h

Quote

“The multitude of books is making us ignorant.”
Voltaire
1694 – 1778

Unglued

Today is breezy and much cooler. I have showered and feel fantastic! All of the symptoms I experienced during the heat wave have disappeared completely. Last night we slept soundly and deeply, without the air conditioner running. This morning I have cooked for the first time in over a week; a macaroni salad.

Sometimes I write long letters to myself here on this journal. I write some of the bitterness of past experiences. I write the pain of being on the receiving end of indifference, contempt, condescension, hatred, intolerance. I write the disgust I feel towards the willing perpetrators of such un-evolved behaviour. I write the misery of living in a diseased human culture, infected with self-destructive and ubiquitous greed, that has become so predominant that greed is considered desirable, admirable, “human nature” and “normal”.

I write the pain.

I delete the pain.

Then I turn inward, to connect with what is good about being human, and I look around me to see where it is reflected.

I find all around me love, tolerance, compassion, integrity and kindness. This I find in those who respect their own unique humanity first, and can therefore afford to appreciate it in others.

Hidden from the public eye, all this, and these people survive, and thrive. I believe this was the glue that allowed the human species to survive.

Facebook has the same affect in my life as television did, when I watched television. At the end of the day, when the power has been turned off, the room is empty, no one is really there, the false and phantom relationships vanish. Try it. Sit in your room, turn off the TV and/or the computer and/or the radio, and strike up a conversation with…

If you are very lucky, someone is there to fill in the blank. For an increasing number of us, the void remains intact. We no longer, for the most part, rely on the people around us for our daily sustenance and contact. We rely on remote governments, public figures, and corporations for our daily bread and sustenance. Read newspapers to see what good that is doing the human species.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
11:00 AM EDT Saturday 20 July 2013
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.3°C
Dewpoint: 14.9°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: NW 15 gust 30 km/h
Humidex: 27

Quote

“The longest journey is the journey inward.”
Dag Hammarskjold
1905 – 1961

“Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld (Swedish: [dɑːg ˈhamːarɧœld] ( listen); 29 July 1905 – 18 September 1961) was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. The second Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is among three other people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. Hammarskjöld remains the only U.N. Secretary-General to die in office, and his death occurred en route to cease-fire negotiations. American President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld “the greatest statesman of our century”…

In September 1961, Hammarskjöld learned about fighting between “non-combatant” UN forces and Katangese troops of Moise Tshombe. He was en route to negotiate a cease-fire on 18 September when his Douglas DC-6 airliner SE-BDY crashed near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Hammarskjöld and fifteen others perished in the crash.
A special report issued by the United Nations following the crash stated that a bright flash in the sky was seen at approximately 1:00.[9] According to the UN special report, it was this information that resulted in the initiation of search and rescue operations. Initial indications that the crash might not have been an accident led to multiple official inquiries and persistent speculation that the Secretary-General was assassinated.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Hammarskjöld

Cautionary Tale

If you insist on looking under rocks, you may find things that you do not want to touch. Recently this happened to me. I interacted with a politician.

Politicians and I are on different pages. I believe in equal inclusion of the population as the basis of a democracy, and that that inclusion is of primary importance, in an ideal world of course. That ideal puts me in a philosophical position where I do not accept poverty as necessary, or violence, or conflict, or greed. I accept that these things presently exist, and are ubiquitous in this suffering, dying world that we live in. But do so many of us have to suffer? I don’t think so. I think that the human species needs to calmly introduce new ways of looking at things. “Same old, same old” social structures are not how change happens, in my opinion.

My interaction with the politician was ill advised, I admit it. I know better, really, I do. But every once in a while I feel the urge to turn that rock over, the one with the word “helper” written on it, and see what is going on where the light does not shine. I feel the urge to see if a politician is on the same page as I am.

The discussion ensued after being publicly asked to donate money to a specific politician’s election campaign. I do not have money to give away. But I am a talented, well-educated individual with a lot to offer. I asked, “how can a cash strapped person support you xxxx?” And I will admit that I harboured hope, that this question would generate genuine consideration. Otherwise I would not have bothered to ask.

The interaction wound around in various directions, suggesting I volunteer locally (the money they asked for was not for a local campaign, but to help this politician in his personal bid for power). I have been watching what the “local” group does and I will not be joining. Since I was asked by the particular politician for money for HIS campaign, I was asking how I could support HIM, which is what I told him. The discussion went on, and I had the impression that he was feeling impatient with my request for suggestions for cash strapped supporters. At one point he stated, “I am not looking for viable and profound solutions to the world’s problems. My job is to have a team in place to beat the Harper gang. This is how change happens.”

And this is where we are not on the same page. For me the old adage applies, “It is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game.” If a politician is elected, I personally would hope that they were interested in all problems that impact all Canadians, including world problems. The politician and I have stopped interacting. I suspect he felt he scored points by explaining, to the cash strapped Canadian woman, that change happens by beating the Harper gang. I shall leave him with whatever impressions he has garnered from the interaction. I have stopped reading what he writes, and what he shares. For no matter how plausibly he speaks of change, I know that the kind of change I would like to see is not what he is talking about. Once I know verbiage is what I perceive as “doublespeak”, what they are saying is not what I am hearing, I cease to listen.

I only learned one new thing from this interaction. It was the Facebook never forgets. The politician’s original statement, “I am not looking for viable and profound solutions to the world’s problems. My job is to have a team in place to beat the Harper gang. This is how change happens.” was edited out of the comment within minutes. I was disoriented by that for a few minutes. Then what I discovered was that if a comment on Facebook has a little word Edited below it, and if you click on Edited, you get to see the before and after of the edited comment, and you get to read what the author decided they wanted to change about what they said. So those words, although most people won’t see them even if they read the post and comments, will always be there. And of course, if you are sent email messages alerting you to each post comment, you will have a record of those words in your email Inbox.

In a way it is a cautionary tale to all of us who interact on Facebook. “Big brother” corporation is watching, keeping a record, of every single word. I was also thinking that it would be extremely easy for big brother corporation to rewrite history, would it not?

Worldly Distractions

Weather

9C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 9.2°C
Dewpoint: 3.6°C
Humidity: 68%
Wind: SSE 32 gust 52 km/h

Quote

“Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.”
A. J. Liebling
1904 – 1963

Black But Not Blue

This morning I am black to the elbows. It is chimney cleaning day. This year the chimney is getting a good cleaning just a few days after the end of the heating season; after the embers have all died. The whole setup is now clean, glass and all, and ready for the curing ritual, at the beginning of the next heating season in October.

It came as quite a surprise this week, to relearn a lesson that I had learned as a teenager. Lost in the details of survival, this lesson was lost to me, until this week. And where did I come to learn this lesson a second time? I learned it on Facebook, to my astonishment.

When I was a teenager I attended an outdoor music festival in Toronto. It was the sixties. Peace and love and making a better world, were the supposed agenda of the young. I was seated on the grass, about half way to the back of the audience area. The crown was too close to the stage, it was a problem, and the singer of the band asked the crowd, the peace and love crowd, to please stand up and all take a few steps back. There were two of us that stood up. There was no moving back, because not one other person in the crowd was giving any ground. That is when I learned the lesson that the better world that most of those people were looking for was a wholly personal better world. Me and mine, that is what “we” meant to a great many of those “flower children”.

After that experience I did a lot of observing. I found few real world examples where people who talked of the “we” actually meant anyone other than “me and mine”.

There is a sort of flip side to what I have observed. It consists of people who claim that everyone is completely selfish, that human nature is violent and aggressive, and that there is no other motivation in the world other than self-interest. I do not buy it, as a package. Sure, the people who talk a good “we” seem to be consistently self-referencing, and self-serving. But then there are those that spend no time flapping their lips, and a great deal of time exercising their freedom to be kind and compassionate. They are all around, if you watch you can find them. If you merely listen, you will miss them though, they are not frequently out there shouting over the crowd for attention. They are busy working towards a better world.

Facebook facilitates a quick grab for attention, but does not seem to offer any concrete ways in which to enhance our lives, or for us to enhance the lives of others. Clicking “like” is not a social movement. A series of unrelated comments do not constitute a strategy building discussion. Facebook is an empty vessel, in my opinion.

I am going to try and teach myself to watch Facebook for instances of people exercising their freedom to be kind and compassionate in concrete and meaningful ways. I don’t know if it is possible in an environment based on being visible and popular. Maybe not, but I am going to watch anyway.

Ontario Barns April 21, 2013 [Taken at 90 km an hour, through a closed car window.]
Web 007 red white

Today’s Snack

Nuts and Berries: roasted whole almonds and dried cranberries.
NutsANDberries

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 17.4°C
Dewpoint: 5.6°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: SE 9 km/h

Quote

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln
1809 – 1865

“The Lone Ranger and Tonto were ambushed by Indians. Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, “looks like we’re in trouble here.” Tonto says, “What mean we, white man?”
Who knows where this came from, good call though.