Clutter Queens

Attila and I discussed a trip to the village this morning, a trip I would take.  It snowed all night and it is still snowing.  I can hear snow blowers in the distance, as people clear their drives.  Soon the plows will be clearing the roads.  Perhaps tomorrow would be a better day for a trip.  The errands can wait a day or two or three.  Attila has returned to work and the days of being cocooned in a snowy wonderland have begun in earnest.

January this morning.

January this morning.

WordPress has a new security upgrade that needed installing.  The task was tackled this morning, and completed.  For some reason the automatic update does not work for on this system, it stalls and it fails, every time.  After trying the automatic update once again, this morning, I reverted to a manual install.  All went well and it took less than half an hour, start to finish.

Reflecting on style, I’ve been a minimalist all my life.  Growing up on a farm gave me an acute sense of function.  In addition, my Grandfather had no admiration, and much contempt, for “doo-dads”.  Little wonder my focus is function.

However, I sometimes envy what I regard as the “clutter queens”.  Clutter queens are people who, with a sense for appeal, create very busy objects and spaces that largely serve no purpose at all except that they are fun to look at.  I’ve tried this approach, and the upshot is truly unnerving, for myself or anyone else who has to expose themselves to the resulting object or space.  This is on my mind because I’ve been reading blogs, some of them are full of appealing, visual fluff.  If I don’t stop to look at the fluff in detail, I enjoy the web page and the content of the actual entry.  Once I begin to pay attention to content of the fluff, the joy withers on the vine.

I’ve plans for my Kobo this morning!  Helena sent me an eGift of Kobo credits, just because she says, so I can select a few more books to read!  What a treat.  It seems too, that it might be possible to download library books to the Kobo through my local library services.  Well, I have my reservations about that, services are limited here, the Township does not have Inter-library Loan services, even within the Township!  I’m game to give the digital download a try though, I’ve nothing to lose except a bit of patience and a little of my time.

Worldly Distractions


-3 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 5 km
Temperature: -3.0°C
Dewpoint: -3.3°C
Humidity: 98 %
Wind: SSW 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -7


“Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.”
638 BC – 559 BC

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!

Psychic Iodine

Attila and I have been talking about supportive and non-supportive environments.  It is always nice to have someone to confide in when things are not going well, or we are experiencing pain.

Attila and I have both noted that some people have an aversion to knowing anything about other people’s feelings.  We both agree they have their reasons.

Every summer when I was a little girl visiting my Grandparents, I would play at the beach and cut my foot on a clam shell at least once.  It had to be a pretty bad cut for me to actually tell my Grandparents about it.  The reason was the cure was almost worse than the ailment.  My Grandfather kept a bottle of Iodine at the ready in the medicine cabinet.  One peep of complaint about a cut or scrape and that iodine would be applied.  Iodine is very painful when applied to an open wound.  We seldom complained about any minor injuries.

This morning as Attila and I were exploring the topic support networks and confiding in others, Attila described a common response as psychic iodine.  Psychic iodine is when a confidence is met with stinging criticism, personal attack or suggestions for resolution that would explode on impact.

There is too much psychic iodine in the world today.  Maybe there always was.


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