Thursday, March 30, 2006

need to rant

i've been helping out with a musical production of late. this, because it's a musical, and they needed a musical director. being a semi-professional musician, and a music teacher, it seemed at first like a good fit.

i've come to think of the whole project as Hiroshima. the big bomb. it's been a calamity from start to finish. i've never seen people so disorganized. and they expect a cast of 30 or more people to wait patiently while they sort themselves out, through rehearsals that can run for more than 6 hours, with no break. one interruption after another, with the director shrieking instructions at the techs doing light and sound, way at the back of the theatre. that's the ONLY instruction they get... no stage notes for anyone.

last night, after a late start, (resulting from the usual chaos) i was told that there was no time for rehearsals of the musical numbers (did i mention that it's a MUSICAL production?!) this, after months of not being able to rehearse them properly because we didn't HAVE the music yet.

no one knows their lines, or their songs, and the thing opens Saturday. yes -in 2 sleeps. i'm expecting association with this turkey to be a most humbling experience.

just in case we're not humiliated enough after crashing and burning the thing for 2 weekends at home, they've booked a show in a nearby (bigger) center.

the costumes aren't ready yet, either.

the other night, when the sound tech called me to the booth, and said, "can i make a suggestion?" i replied, "suicide?" he thought it was funny. i was half serious. it feels like suicide. a botched suicide, resulting a slow and agonizing death.

for this, i've put my correspondence course on hold, hardly see my friends and family, never have time for my own music, or other interests, and only see my lovely home long enough to sleep and shower. if it weren't for a dear friend who feeds me supper regularly, i'd have had nothing but fruit and nuts and restaurant food to eat since Christmas.

yes, it's all self inflicted, so sympathy is not even deserved. how about mercy killing? (bad joke)

the thing about these situations is, the smart thing would be to just walk away, but you can't do that to all the other people who are working very hard, and are depending on you, and still believe in it. it's my fervent hope that they're right, and i'm very, very wrong. they assure me, "oh these things always fall together at the last minute" but the sad truth is, they don't ALWAYS fall together.

and i suspect that even when (o.k, if) the thing blows up in our midst and takes us all out with it, the perpetrators of the crime won't even realize it WAS a bomb. they're THAT oblivious.... impervious to reality.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

it's not spring here

it wants to be spring here, but it isn't yet. spring in northern Canada is a bit hard to identify. the calendar says it's spring, but we're still slogging through snow. had a light skiff last night, in fact. but the air is warm (for northern Canada in March) and the sun grows stronger every day. like it's recovering from a long bout with some wasting disease. a little stronger and steadier and heartier every day. By the time we have green trees and fields, flowers and butterflies, the calendar says we're closer to summer than spring. for me, when the pussywillows peek out, it's officially spring, though there'll be nary a sign of green, for perhaps weeks to come. it's always a very trying time for me. spring seems so slow in coming.

so, i've been surfing the blogsites of others, savoring the photos of trees covered in a mist of baby green, of spring flowers and critters. i look out my own window at winter's dirty laundry, piled in soiled heaps along the roadsides, and i'm so very glad she's left. she's like a house guest who never picks up after herself, and expects others to clean up the messes she leaves in her wake. good riddance. but we know she'll be back all too soon, fresh and white and charming.

lunch break is over.. back to the salt mines.

Friday, March 17, 2006


excellent - adj. 1. possessing superior merit. 2. remarkably good

good - adj. 1. morally excellent

i've been pondering lately about what is good, and what is not good. it's a pretty subjective thing, really. my daughter's new Hummer is, to her, undoubtedly, very good. to me, it seems very NOT good.

so i looked to my Random House dictionary for comfort. i looked up 'excellent', and found more questions. because it's still subjective.

so i looked up 'good'.... and found a circular reference. if my dictionary was an exell spreadsheet, there would be all kinds of warnings popping up, telling me the formula is referring to itself.

so i'm back where i started.

three things come to mind, when i think of excellence. they are: commitment; constancy; and intimacy.

to achieve excellence in anything, whether artistic endeavors, or sports, or relationships, or day to day things like growing a garden or raising kids, requires these. we must be committed to the value of what we're doing. we must be constant, keeping at it when the going is not easy, with an eye to the future. we must have intimate knowledge of the materials and techniques required to accomplish the goal, and of what the goal is. perfection is not required, or even desired.... or even possible, really. change, however, is mandatory; there's growth involved. and i think there's a kind of unwritten condition, in my mind, that excellence for one party shouldn't come a the expense of another. beautiful things made by poor people in sweatshops, for rich people to use, are not excellent.

things that are excellent

salad made from organically grown veggies picked just outside my back door.
tomato sauce in jars that glow warmly at me when i open the door to my pantry on a cold winter's eve
a friend who knows all the bad stuff about me and still loves me
the spontaneous giggles of children
warm sun on my face
hand-knitted mittens
a day off from work, with pay, (today, in fact!) to appreciate how lucky i am to have a good job
home grown music
a good story, told by a good storyteller, in good company
the raspberries in my freezer, picked by my elderly neighbor, from her world famous raspberry patch, and given to me, just because she knows i love them
a warm, soft, comfy, hand-made quilt

my love of food comes through loud and clear there. i'm thinking this theme would make a very nice list, done up in caligraphy. i'm looking for additiions... ? they don't have to be food

Thursday, March 16, 2006


ex-cel-lent adj. 1. possessing superior merit. 2. remarkably good.

i am of the opinion that moderation should not be overdone. the phrase "everything in moderation" speaks to me of mediocrity. it eliminates the possibility of excellence. Excellence is essential to the good health and growth of our spirits.

having said that, i must elaborate on the concept of excellence. contrary to popular belief, excellence need not cost a lot of money, or be available only to 'winners'. it is, however, costly. excellence requires from us commitment, intimacy, and constancy. regardless of its medium of expression, excellence requires many hours of our time, intimate knowledge of the tools, techniques, and materials required, and dedicated hard work. we tend to think of creative endeavors when we think of excellence - art, music, dance, literature, craftsmanship ... sports is another area where we see its application easily. and those of us who love to eat, see excellence in the way the food we eat is prepared and presented.

The same ideas apply to other, less obvious things, like, for instance, love... not just romantic love, but familial love, and the love of friends and neighbors. community... and living a sustainable lifestyle. these things can't exist without commitment, intimacy, and constancy. they can't exist without the hard work that alone produces excellence.

the salad made from vegetables grown organically in the garden out my back door is a very fine example of excellence. and the jars of spaghetti sauce from the same source, that glow with last summer's sunshine at me every time i open the door to my pantry on a snowy winter's eve... excellent! i've labored for years learning how to grow things naturally, and built my soil up from what was once a gravel driveway where not even the quackgrass would grow, to something that can feed 14 foot sunflowers and equally tall tipis heavy with runner beans, in a semi-arid, and nearly sub-arctic climate. excellent! salad made from botanical frankensteins, shipped half-way across the continent, blowing burned hydrocarbon emissions every mile of the way, and rotting in my fridge a few days after i've bought them, despite all artificial prior-to-sale attempts to increase their shelf life, are definitely NOT excellent. i suspect the time will come when they're generally understood to be poisonous.

the irish band i play with, practicing around the kitchen table, banjo and boron (irish drum) leaning against the wall, guitars strumming, accordian sighing along, my fiddle moaning a melancholoy harmony in a lament, or trying to break the speed of sound in a jig... changing the way we do a tune every time we run through it... trading tips on raising teenagers or grandchildren, or tomatoes... excellent! far from perfect, but most excellent! the music i listen to on the radio, or on CD's, is good, some of it even exquisite, and quite possibly excellent for the maker of the music, but it can't compare to the personal excellence, the excellent imperfection of the music i make myself.

a new friend, no matter how clever or beautiful, or gifted, is not excellent. a friendship takes many years and many heartaches to achieve excellence. friendship can't be fragile and shellac - coated to keep it bright and shiny. the good ones are scuffed and faded, made of sturdy materials that continue to be functional and comforting and rich long after they've become frayed and worn, and a few seams have popped. excellent!

moderation should be carefully moderated. too much of it leads to the grey, invisible death of everything colorful and bright and strong in our lives. of excellence.

having just downed the last drop of my second glass of blackberry cider, as i have tomorrow off, and am celebrating, i will now confess to blogging under the influence.

Monday, March 13, 2006

spring fever

i was just over at the blueberry patch, reading about Mr. E's squirrel building a spring nest. squirrels aren't common in my neighborhood. they're not popular with my neighbor. he has a series of sheds full of collected stuff that the squirrels seem to appreciate far more than his neighbors (hush my mouth!) do. so he wait for them (that is, he waits for the squirrels... i haven't heard of him laying in wait for neighbors..... YET) with a b.b. gun and plays sniper.

but i do have a lot of birds. one in particular, that Mr. E's story brought to mind, is a gentleman robin, who, devoid of a spouse, had far too much time on his hands.

my house, a renovated church, has a deck wrapping around the steeple, at the second storey level. the front entry to the house is, of course, on the ground level of the steeple. there's a big supporting beam for the deck running overhead, as one walks under the deck, to come in the house. the joists for the deck rest on this beam, forming a dozen or so open ended boxes under the deck floor, along the beam.

Mr. Robin, who i think must have been very new to home building, proceeded to build a nest in EACH of these spaces between deck and beam. Waynorth can be a very windy place, in season, and i remember that spring being particularly blustery, so his efforts were blown away, and rebuilt, and blown away, and rebuilt, many times... all dozen of them.

i don't know how he managed to find the time, but, between building and rebuilding a dozen nests (no Mrs. Robin in sight, by the way) he hung around my kitchen window, which had a scaffold in front of it, as the roof was being refinished. he would stalk back and forth on the scaffold, glaring at me, as i worked in the kitchen, then, without warning, he'd throw himself at me, and bounce off the window. there was a window in the living room he also favored for this passtime. it was quite unnerving, and very startling when unexpected, and it went on for months. i called him The Wonky Robin (and other less gentle things when he'd just startled the daylights out of me) the windows were filthy from his mucky little feet and feathers, and never stayed clean long after a wash, so i gave up trying to wash the ouside of them at all.

and for all these months, the nests remained empty.

then, one day, he was gone.

a week or so later, i noticed a pair of robins completing a nest on the lamp attached to the wall of my neighbor's garage (not the squirrel shooter, thankfully) i'm sure it was my former adversary, having finally found a wife.

and she didn't like ANY of the homes he'd already built, so she insisted that they build ANOTHER, to her specifications.

i think they were very happy together, and, late as they began, managed to raise a nest of lovely babies before the snow fell.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Yes, blerg!

(I borrowed that from Madcap Mum. it's a magnificent expletive!)

I look out the window at the ice coating all horizontal (and some vertical) surfaces, and the blowing snow under arctic grey skies, and I bellow BLERG! At Mother Nature.

Now, I know this it just the lacy fringe on her petticoat as she brushes it over us on her way out. But does she have to starch it quite so much? It’s a rough, abrasive, harsh garment. I can’t imagine why she insists on ALWAYS wearing it – or why she insists on raking it over our tender, exposed flesh.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


i was in the nearby city, picking up some second-hand furniture the other day. my daughter is 'moving up' and selling her old stuff. her old stuff is better than most everything i've ever owned, and the price was right, so i bought some of it. in order to transport the goods, i'd borrowed a friend's 3/4 ton farm truck, and enlisted the services of another friend. we were both appropriately attired in old jeans and jackets. i managed to put the finger tips out of a couple of the digits in my knitted gloves in the process, and it was windy, so i had very bad hair. we weren't garnering any glances of admiration, to say the least.

in fact, shortly after we pulled up in the afore-mentioned chariot, which was bumble-bee yellow wherever there was paint remaining, with a mismatched hood, and a muffler that was determined to be heard ANYWHERE, it became abundantly clear that daughter and her fellow were most anxious to be somewhere else, so they drove off in their baby Hummer - i think they call it an H3 - hopefully before anyone noticed them talking to us. so much for any hope of help loading the stuff. perhaps they had to be at the gym - they're both very into fitness.

so, my very helpful friend and neighbor (did i mention that he is on disability, and suffers from fibromyalgia?) and i loaded the stuff up and tied it down and tarped it up for the 2 hour drive home. it's not usually 2 hours - more like 1 1/2, but, as i said, the wind was howling, so we took it slowly.

so, as I drove through the city in this humble, but very reliable and hard working mode of transport, made available by the good hearts of thoughtful friends, i couldn't help but notice the many gleaming new SUV's and their ilk, as they pulled up alongside me as i drove along, and pulled up at stop lights. perhaps i'm a bit over-sensitive but, i'm sure we were on the receiving end of more than one 'look', and definitely one curled lip, from perfectly coiffed and manicured, impeccably dressed, and rather haughty occupants of nearby vehicles.

i said to my friend, "i think you should drive, and i'll sit on one of the chairs in the back with a shotgun across my lap" . i felt like Granny Clampet.

and i wondered, as i left that all behind me, about the lifestyle i'd left behind as well. and i wondered about my daughter, who's a lovely young woman, and much smarter than me, in many ways, but has no social or environmental conscience at all.

i wondered if she had any inkling that her way of doing things may embarass me as much as my way of doing things embarasses her.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

on a Sunday winter's eve

nearly 7 p.m. and the sun has pretty much set. the shadows have taken over the landscape. with no direct sunlight, everything is the grey-blue of shadowland. still very bright, with the pristine purity of the snow bouncing back the half-light of the darkening sky. street lights have all come on, and there's an orange cirle of light around each of them.

just spent a frustrating hour or so surfing my blog neighbors' posts. blogger is not cooperative tonight; sometimes let me in without so much as a pause, other times, couldn't even read comments, let alone make comments of my own. it's the e-equivalent of wanting someone to talk to, and finding no one i call or visit is at home. i may have to make a hot cuppa to drown my sorrows.

i'm starting a grow op. if you don't hear from me, you'll know the police have raided the place and taken me in. well, i've been told tomato seedlings look just a bit like cannabis, if you squint and turn the lights down. on the list to start are tomatoes, leeks, brussell's sprouts, spaghetti squash, and more annual flowers than you want to hear about. i have all my seed, and organic fertilizer, and plant trays, etc. i'm just waiting for the arrival of some little heat mats to keep my little green babies' bottoms warm. it's the damping off that usually does them in, when the inevitable long stretch of cold, overcast spring days hits. So i'm combating that by not being dependent on the fickle northen sun to keep my babies warm. they'll have full-spectrum fluorescent lights above, and heating pads below. i'm counting on having more babies than i need, and selling the excess to friends and neighbors to help cover the cost of building sun-surrogate nursery shelves. does selling babies make me a bad mother? i will, of course, only sell them to good homes.

having recently finished (mostly) the main level of my renovation-in-progress residence, i now have, for the first time in recent (within the last 12 years) history, some semblence of organization in my home. i even have my books sorted, and arranged in shelves in their appropriate areas of the house. today i went through all my music books, and reams of loose sheet music, sorting and exclaiming, "oooh! i'd forgotten all about this!" sadly, there are also a few dear old friends conspicuously absent... i'm very bad for lending things, then forgetting who i sent them with. some of them never return home.

the sun is now completely set, and the sky is indigo, with charcoal etchings of trees upon it. the orange lights of the skating rink down the street light up the neighborhood, and the air is very still and heavy - like the bottom of a deep lake, where sunlight doesn't penetrate, and every movement requires huge effort.

must g0 make a hot cuppa, then wrap myself and my fiddle around some of the lovely music i've rediscovered.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


thanks, all, for the birthday greetings. it was a very lovely day with many greetings from far away friends and family. i'll not forget that i'm loved for a whilie. a neighbor came and shared some blackberry cider (that another friend had given me for a birthday treat) in the evening, so i didn't make it to the computer for my birtdhday blog. he did, howerver, get the modem all set up, etc, so i'm set to go.

the friend who gave the blackberry cider also called the local radio station to ask to have me added to the list of birtday greetings, and chatted up the announcer, whose children i used to teach violin. later, when the announcer came to list all the birthdays for the day, he began with something like, "this is a day when a lot of good-looking women were born" and proceeded to list the name of famous 'babes' born March 1 - and added my name to the end of the list. so everywhere i went yesterday, men were giving me big smiles, and wishing me a VERY happy birthday. not the sort of thing a granny expects on her birthday, but kind of fun, in a mildly embarassing way.

Mum - i do have a few recipes, but it's only me here to eat the stuff, and i'm trying very hard to lose the weight i gained over Christmas. and gf cakes only get gritty when you have to keep them awhile, or freeze them. so, yes, i gave up cake for Lent. (if i'm struck by lighning for pretending it was a REAL sacrifice, i hope you'll write, and sing, a lovely song for my funeral service... i guess i'll have been cremated..? so please scatter the ashes over my strawberry bed. ashes are said to deter slugs.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

many candles on the cake

today is my birthday. not getting much done so far, as 'happy birthday' emails keep coming in. i'm feeling very loved. got the computer set up, and the modem in, and the truck's in the shop overnight, so i'll have to stay home this evening. sounds like a very good opportunity to visit all my blog neighbors. :o)