Another week of my life has rolled by with nothing of note to signify its passing. This is a luxury.
There have been times in my life where time and geography were the only hope that existed; the moments and places were far too grim to linger or to rest. Time and geography proved worthy of the hope and trust placed upon them.
The work place is slowly balancing itself, this past week a few of the issues have worked themselves out. Issues always appear, old ones, new ones and everything in between. Most of the time they do not dominate the day, those are good days. I’ve had a week of good days.
Today I am not working at my part-time job, I have the day off. So far I’ve cut my own hair, trimmed the nails of all ten toes and all ten fingers, washed and dried two loads of laundry and paid all the bills.
I spent time researching my fantasy gift list.
Near the top of the list is a Dyson vacuum cleaner, an odd obsession I suppose. But honestly, when we fire up the old vacuum cleaner it sounds like a space shuttle launching and creates bad smells all over the house. And it does a very poor job at cleaning. I visit the manufacturer’s web site, I compare the machines, I compare the prices! Like a good Girl Guide, I am always prepared; for that ever so special purchase.
Also near the top of the list are a new toilet for the country house, and a new kitchen tap. The toilet was disgusting in ways I’d rather not describe here, and has needed to be replaced since we arrived here in 2004. The kitchen tap has dripped and was only partially functional since we arrived here in 2004. Since these articles are functioning, although minimally, we haven’t invested in replacements. Now we are seriously considering updating these daily used household fixtures.
I did try to purchase a good quality kitchen tap set that was on sale at Canadian Tire at a great price, $59.99. By the time I arrived at Canadian Tire the shelf was empty. An experience that was repeated when I tried to purchase a well priced footstool that was on sale. I just have to accept that Canadian Tire sale items don’t exist on my time budget.
Now, here is some fascinating news, toilets are on sale at Home Depot. This is heart stopping excitement around here. Our first opportunity to get to a Home Depot store will be tomorrow. Will they have sale priced toilets in stock, or won’t they? I’m sure your on the edge of your chair waiting to find out!
Attila and I visited our little house in the city last weekend. We had a nice visit with Terra and Lares. We picked quite a few tomatoes from the garden, I am still eating toasted tomato sandwiches! Our zucchini plants weakened during the heat wave when we didn’t visit for three weeks running. No amount of water after that could bring them back. Gardening from such a distance does have some disadvantages. However, we are still eating the zucchini we harvested before the plants gave up completely. We feel that we have done very well with the garden and have definitely got our money’s worth out of the small investment in bedding plants.
This evening we are attending a staff party on Lake Muskoka. It is outdoors, so we are hoping the predicted thunderstorms don’t arrive until quite late. Attila’s employers put on a real spread, the food is home cooked and delicious, there is a free bar, great scenery and everyone is kept entertained with games and competitions. Goodwill abounds.
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Humidity: 56 %
Wind: S 9 km/h
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936
G. K. Chesteron
“His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, playwrighting, journalism, public lecturing and debating, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the “prince of paradox”. Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.”…
Born in Campden Hill in Kensington, London, Chesterton was educated at St Paul’s School. He attended the Slade School of Art in order to become an illustrator and also took literature classes at University College London but did not complete a degree at either. In 1896 Chesterton began working for the London publisher Redway, and T. Fisher Unwin, where he remained until 1902. During this period he also undertook his first journalistic work as a freelance art and literary critic. In 1901 he married Frances Blogg, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life…
According to Chesterton, as a young man he became fascinated with the occult and, along with his brother Cecil, experimented with Ouija boards. However, as he grew older, he became an increasingly orthodox Christian, culminating in his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1922…
Chesterton and Shaw were famous friends and enjoyed their arguments and discussions. Although rarely in agreement, they both maintained good-will toward and respect for each other….
Attila and I are definitely getting closer to contentment. We have decided to drive into the village to go for a walk every evening. We can now do this because Attila has worked every waking hour since the firewood was delivered, to get it stacked and ready for next winter. He is so close to finishing the job so that he is winding down, taking time for himself, and for me, and walking every evening this week.
We live in Muskoka, an area listed as one of National Geographic’s ten best summer trips in 2011. Of course, we are not on a summer trip, we live and work here, which is completely different than being on holiday. So it is a real treat to have the opportunity to go for a quiet evening walk.
We have lived here seven years and are just now able to spare enough time to go for a walk together of an evening. Better late than never.
This week one of our walks was out into the wild to assess the wild blueberry crop. Not much to write home about there, the berries are sparse. They should be ripe next week, so we will probably spend one evening picking, which will only yield enough blueberries for one batch of blueberry pancakes. It will be fun, but more of an amusement than a real supplement to our food supply.
The weather has been beautiful, hot and sunny almost every day. It has been cooling down at night so that we are able to keep the house at a reasonable temperature just by leaving the windows and curtains closed until the heat of the day passes.
We do not have a chesterfield in our living room at the country house or the little house in the city. At both locations we have a chair for Attila and a chair for me. We have a futon at our country house, that folds down to a double bed, but it isn’t very comfortable and I consider it a poor investment. I always have to take a painkiller if I have slept on the futon. We have a pull out couch at our little house in the city that becomes a double bed, which is very comfortable and is in our bedroom there, made up and ready for us when we visit. There has been only one comfortable place to lie down at our country house and at the little house in the city. That changed during the the last month.
One of the extravagances that we have indulged in this summer is to purchase a good quality single bed for our spare room. This single expenditure has changed my entire life. Attila suffers from restless leg syndrome, and from snoring. Usually I fall asleep first and I don’t notice either. But there are nights when I have something on my mind and I do not rest easily; those nights have been almost sleepless for me for the last 18 years. Now, when I am restless and cannot settle into sleep, I can crawl into the single bed, where there is no movement and little noise. I sleep soundly on those nights. The world seems a much kinder place when one has had a good night’s sleep. My world has become a much kinder place, and all because of a little single bed in the spare room.
When we visited our little house in the city last weekend I was having one of my restless nights the first night we were there; we had a rare two-day weekend, and drove down on Friday night. As I lay awake I thought how wonderful it would be to have a single bed in the other bedroom.
“Yes,” I thought to myself, “tomorrow I am going to see about buying a single bed for this house too!”
Then Luna and Janus and Imp and Elf and Tink and Benny and Bim arrived for a visit, pulling a little trailer full of items for our little house in the city. The universe is looking out for me, they brought a bunk bed with mattresses! So now we have extra single beds at our little house too.
What a lovely weekend we had! Luna and Janus arrived on Saturday. Terra came over Saturday morning when she came off her night shift, so that we had a house full of loved ones. When I woke up Saturday morning I found Terra quietly playing with Imp and Elf and Tink in the second bedroom, everyone happy. Later Lares arrived and the company was complete. On Saturday afternoon Terra and Lares, with Luna and Janus, took Imp and Elf to see the latest Cars movie, it was a big event. Tink stayed with us and played happily for hours and hours. However, about two hours before the movie goers arrived back, Tink suddenly felt the need to see her mother and father, and of course they were not there. She wept. Tink will be two years old in September.
There was nothing for it but to put a Madeline video on the machine in the living room, where Tink sat on her riding toy. It distracted her from feeling miserable. After a short while I noticed she was leaning face down on the toy, fast asleep, worn out from emotion. I grabbed the crib mattress that Luna and Janus had brought with them, placed it in front of the TV, carried Tink over to it and lay her down. She slept peacefully until the gang was back from the movies and then carried on with her day, although she did give me the occasional dirty look throughout the evening. A very resilient little girl!
We relaxed, sat outside under the trees on lawn chairs, BBQ’d our dinner, and had a great visit.
This weekend Terra and Lares are visiting us in the country. They have already had a big adventure. They arrived last night about 11:30 pm, and after chatting a bit we all turned in for the night. However, Lares has asthma and needed his puffer during the night, hot, humid and very stuffy weather we are having. He forgot his puffer at home, so at 2:00 am off they went to the hospital, an hours drive away. They had a good experience there, in and out they said. They arrived back here about 4 am but had locked themselves out. Their choices were to wake us up or sleep in the car; they slept in the car!
I slept through the entire adventure. When Attila and I got up in the morning I was surprised that the lights were on in the room where I though Terra and Lares were sleeping. Then when we opened up the windows we heard Terra outside. Shocked, we rushed downstairs to let them into the house.
We do let our company sleep in beds here, really we do!
After Attila left for work this morning, they went back to bed to get some well earned rest.
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Humidity: 71 %
Wind: SE 4 km/h
“If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you..”
Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce
“James Joseph Croce, better known as Jim Croce, was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1943, to Jim and Flora Croce. Jim took a strong interest in music at a very, very young age. At five, he learned to play his first song on the accordion, “Lady of Spain.” He says, “I was the original underachiever. I’d shake that thing and smile, but I was sort of a late bloomer.” Croce attended Upper Darby High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. After his graduation in 1960, Croce went to work for a construction company, staying employed there for three years before deciding to enroll at Villanova University in 1961…
Croce met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson at this time, during a hootenanny at Philadelphia Convention Hall, where he was judging a contest. When they married, he converted to Judaism…
Croce, 30, Maury Muehleisen, 24, and four others died in a small commercial plane crash on September 20, 1973, shortly before his ABC single, “I Got a Name”, was to be released.
Croce had just completed a concert at Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and was flying to Sherman, Texas, for a concert at Austin College. The pilot and all passengers (Croce; Muehleisen; Croce’s booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose; George Stevens, the comic who was the show’s warm-up act; and Croce’s road manager Dennis Rast) were killed when the plane crashed at around 10:45 pm EDT on September 20, 1973, about an hour after the end of the concert…
Jim and Ingrid Croce’s son Adrian James Croce was born September 28, 1971, and is now an accomplished singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, performing under the name A.J. Croce. He has released seven CDs of original music, beginning with a self-titled CD in 1993, and one best-of CD (Early On: The American Recordings 1993–1998). A.J. Croce is also the owner/operator of his own record label, Seedling Records.
Croce’s widow owns and manages Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar, a project she and Jim had jokingly discussed a decade earlier, located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California. She opened the business in 1985.”
It is a lovely morning out there this morning. Sunshine. Birds singing. Dump trucks dumping gravel next door, ah the sounds of progress.
Attila has been busy moving his mountain, he works till dark every night after dinner.
Attila versus the Big Wood, after one week.
This past week I’ve been busy updating web sites and tackling my own mountains, mountains of telephone calls and faxed documents. Sometimes, bureaucratically, everything seems to go haywire. A government agency lost a cheque I’d sent; they cashed it but didn’t record that process properly and were after me for another cheque. So, many telephone calls later they acknowledged the cheque they cashed and things have been set right. I knew it would work out, however, it was a very time consuming issue. This past week has seen other issues arise that were equally time consuming and even less important in the general scheme of things. Still, the issues had to be dealt with, which is what I’ve been doing every evening for the last week.
Attila and I have also needed to consider an invitation to a hearing by the Township Committee of Adjustment to grant right-of-way over an existing private lane way (not ours but very close to our property). This is at our country house. What this actually means is that someone is planning a big building project near us and want a guarantee that they will have road access before they make this huge investment. It means, for us, more traffic, another new neighbour and we are not going to oppose it. In the long term it will enhance the value of our property, or so we think.
There is some development activity going on around us, most of it by speculators buying up tracts of land they feel will become more valuable over time, mostly waterfront. Who knows what the future will bring. We are grateful we own enough property, which is not waterfront, to maintain a small bit of forest that will not be developed. It won’t save the world, but it will keep our home surrounded by trees and wildlife.
The process of displacement of the local population in cottage country is as effective as the Scottish Clearances, although much slower, almost invisible and not as brutal. As the demand for waterfront property increased, the prices rose as did the taxes. Eventually, families with property on the more popular lakes were forced to sell because they simply could not pay the taxes on such valuable property. They did gain financially, but their ties to the community were lost. Slowly, since the end of WWII there has been a shift in ownership of waterfront properties in these townships; from local families who had been in the area since the first land grants were made available, to urban based families seeking a vacation property.
What exists now are increasingly distinct segments of population. On the one hand, there are the locals, who consist of entrepreneurs owning businesses that serve the seasonal and affluent summer population and the locals who work for the entrepreneurs, usually at very low rates of pay and for only the summer season. There is a lot of poverty in the area, which is almost invisible as it exists well away from the waterfront properties. On the other hand, there are the seasonal residents, who either vacation in their seasonal homes or spend only the summers here and are usually but not always retired and winter in warmer climates. Occasionally people reside year round in their cottages, this seldom last more than a season or two, the winters are harsh and bear no resemblance to the holiday atmosphere of the summer months.
The prices at the local shops are meant for those who can afford to buy the best, and who don’t worry about the price. The vast majority of the local population does not need the best, nor can they afford it. So, the local working population has to leave the area to find food and other goods and services that they can afford. I think you get the drift here, slowly but surely this area is losing its vibrancy and ability to support a working population of families. The solution to this social issue has been to bring in large numbers of seasonal workers from the third world to work here, as they can live in residences and go home at the end of the holiday season. They are wonderful people, for the most part, but have no long-term commitment to the community, as their real lives take place far, far away.
When Annie and Frank came to visit us some years ago, from England, they were shocked at the price of fresh fruit; as compared to London, Ontario. They had stopped at a local shop to buy us a basket of fresh fruit, as a treat. Even they, with two urban jobs, could not afford to buy fruit at this shop, so they settled for one plum each for the four of us.
The grocery store here is kept open during the winter as a courtesy to the local population. Their sales for the winter are less than the sales made on one long weekend in the summer. They are making a real contribution to the community by staying open, and there are a few local business owners who really make an effort to keep the community viable.
This juxtaposition of privilege and want make for strange politics and unbalanced communities, in my opinion.
Of course, visitors to the area see none of this, and if I were a visitor I would not see it either. I am certain that the visitors at the G8 meetings were totally unaware of the poverty that exists in the area, and I’m not convinced they would care if they did know. Their world “ain’t broke” so their not fixing it, again in my opinion.
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Humidity: 58 %
Wind: NNE 11 km/h
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw
1856 – 1950
George Bernard Shaw
“…an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.
Shaw's Corner residence of George Bernard Shaw
He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. For a short time he was active in local politics, serving on the London County Council…
Influenced by his reading, he became a dedicated Socialist and a charter member of the Fabian Society, a middle class organization established in 1884 to promote the gradual spread of socialism by peaceful means. In the course of his political activities he met Charlotte Payne-Townshend, an Irish heiress and fellow Fabian; they married in 1898. The marriage was never consummated, at Charlotte’s insistence, though he had had a number of affairs with married women; Peters posits that Shaw was a repressed homosexual. Shaw declined to stand as an MP, but in 1897 he was elected as a local councillor to the London County Council as a Progressive.
In 1906 the Shaws moved into a house, now called Shaw’s Corner, in Ayot St. Lawrence, a small village in Hertfordshire, England; it was to be their home for the remainder of their lives, although they also maintained a residence at 29 Fitzroy Square in London…
Kermit the Frog used to say “it isn’t easy being green”. Some environments are more tolerant of green folk than others, some paths more attuned to the land they traverse. There are times, in this life we lead in the bush, that I feel imprisoned by the tight social fabric around us; so much space, so much beauty, so much self interest, so much denial…
For instance, the politics here are just too rich for me!
We have this:
“Senior Conservative officials broke federal rules to shower $50-million on the riding of the minister now overseeing Ottawa’s austerity plan, according to the final audit of a G8 program that fuelled opposition charges of pork-barrel politics….
Mr. Clement insisted that not a penny went missing and that the projects were all completed to the benefit of the Muskoka region, although he acknowledged the paperwork “could have been better.” G8 spending in Clement’s riding left ‘no paper trail’ DANIEL LEBLANC AND BILL CURRY.
At the same time we have this:
“Having a job does not necessarily mean that income earned will cover the cost
of basic needs. When full-time minimum wage employment ($8.75 per hour) is
a Muskoka family’s income source, 67 per cent of this income would be needed
just to pay for food and rent.”
“…residents of Simcoe and Muskoka receiving social assistance, pension income or
a minimum wage would need to use much more of their limited incomes to cover basic food and
housing costs, as can be seen from the 2010 income/expense scenarios on the back of this page.
For example, based on NFB survey results and CMHC rental rates for Simcoe and Muskoka, a family of four receiving
Ontario Works would have to spend 90.5 per cent of their income for food and rent alone!
Unfortunately having a job does not necessarily mean that income earned will cover the cost of
basic needs. When full time minimum wage employment ($10.25 per hour) is the income source
for a Simcoe Muskoka family of four, 68.7 per cent of this income would be needed just to pay
for food and rent combined.”
Source: Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit
The world around us is as green as I’ve ever seen it in my life. We have had lots and lots of rain.
Around the Bend
And we had a tornado touch down nearby this past week. It missed our neighbourhood and my workplace. The storm was spectacular. Many of the roads were blocked by fallen trees and the power was out for quite a while, I think it is still out in a few areas around here. Two tall trees in our back acreage were toppled by the winds, their roots torn out of the ground as they fell; more firewood. I was asked by a customer from Toronto if I had been scared. It never occurred to me to feel scared. I was alone at work when the worst of the storm hit. The building lost power, which was when I decided which interior steel desk I would shelter under if conditions deteriorated. Then I calmly watched the magnificent storm, a nice break. Within twenty minutes the power came back on, I started up the computer systems and went back to work.
Attila and I are just plain tired. With both of us working full time there are only a few hours left in the day to follow any pursuits of choice. This is easier for me of course, than it was when I was working part-time, going to school full-time and raising two children by myself. How did I do that? I don’t know, I was younger, driven to do the best I could for my kids and there wasn’t anyone else to shoulder any of the responsibilities. There are just us two adults now, the responsibilities are fewer by far, and yet I am very tired. Age may have something to do with this.
Our firewood delivery is scheduled for this week. This means lots of work, in particular for Attila. All that wood needs to be moved and piled in the woodshed and lean-to, a very very big job.
We are hoping to get down to our little house in the city again soon, the grass needs cutting. We are looking forward to seeing how the garden is doing. Terra and Lares watered the vegetables for us this week, then it rained. I am hoping that the flowers in the front yard are doing well. It seems to me our plantings should do well, if the flourishing grass and weeds on the property are any indication.
I haven’t managed to get back at scraping the flaking paint off the exterior siding, the yard work is all we’ve managed to tackle this spring. On our next trip down to our little house we are transporting the new window for the basement. Attila picked up this used window for $20. It is in excellent condition, is double glazed and even has a screen. Local cast-offs tend to be of very high quality. It will be a huge improvement, visually and environmentally as it will help prevent heat loss during the winter.
So the days go by, up early for work six days a week, one day of rest per week, four days of rest per month. These are my golden retirement years!
The way I see it, if I am healthy enough to work, and lucky enough to have work, then our life is as good as it can get for an ordinary Canadian; never mind the media portrayal of carefree recreation and travel for seniors, that is not for most of us, it is for the relatively few seniors with pensions high enough to afford purchasing power. On an even grander scale, our life here is stupendously fortunate compared to most of the population on planet earth!
Still, watching material wealth daily does wear on one’s sensibilities.
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Humidity: 59 %
“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”
When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul. De Profundis”
“In London, he had been introduced to Constance Lloyd in 1881, daughter of Horace Lloyd, a wealthy Queen’s Counsel. She happened to be visiting Dublin in 1884, when Wilde was lecturing at the Gaiety Theatre (W. B. Yeats, then aged eighteen, was also among the audience). He proposed to her, and they married on the 29 May 1884 at the Anglican St. James Church in Paddington in London. Constance’s annual allowance of £250 was generous for a young woman (it would be equivalent to about £19,300 in current value), but the Wildes’ tastes were relatively luxurious and, after preaching to others for so long, their home was expected to set new standards of design. No. 16, Tite Street was duly renovated in seven months at considerable expense. The couple had two sons, Cyril (1885) and Vyvyan (1886). Wilde was the sole literary signatory of George Bernard Shaw’s petition for a pardon of the anarchists arrested (and later executed) after the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886.
Robert Ross had read Wilde’s poems before they met, and he was unrestrained by the Victorian prohibition against homosexuality, even to the extent of estranging himself from his family. A precocious seventeen year old, by Richard Ellmann’s account, he was “…so young and yet so knowing, was determined to seduce Wilde”. Wilde, who had long alluded to Greek love, and – though an adoring father – was put off by the carnality of his wife’s second pregnancy, succumbed to Ross in Oxford in 1886…
After Wilde left the court, a warrant for his arrest was applied for on charges of sodomy and gross indecency. Robbie Ross found Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel, Knightsbridge with Reginald Turner; both men advised Wilde to go at once to Dover and try to get a boat to France; his mother advised him to stay and fight like a man. Wilde, lapsing into inaction, could only say, “The train has gone. It’s too late.” Wilde was arrested for “gross indecency” under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, a term meaning homosexual acts not amounting to buggery (an offence under a separate statute)…
The final trial was presided over by Mr Justice Wills. On 25 May 1895 Wilde and Alfred Taylor were convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years’ hard labour. The judge described the sentence, the maximum allowed, as “totally inadequate for a case such as this,” and that the case was “the worst case I have ever tried”. Wilde’s response “And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?” was drowned out in cries of “Shame” in the courtroom…
Wilde was imprisoned first in Pentonville and then Wandsworth prisons in London. The regime at the time was tough; “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed” was the guiding philosophy. It wore particularly harshly on Wilde as a gentleman and his status provided him no special privileges. In November he was forced to attend Chapel, and there he was so weak from illness and hunger that he collapsed, bursting his right ear drum, an injury that would later contribute to his death. He spent two months in the infirmary…”