Dear You

mexican hat

The thought of driving in the city stresses me, so all day Wednesday was spent telling myself I’m perfectly capable of doing it safely, that it’s not a 24-lane freeway, that it’s not like I’ve never lived and driven in the city, and driven like a bat out of hell too, and so on. I thought I was pretty calm about it, but there must have been underlying anxiety because I was still lying awake well past two o’clock in the morning, which no doubt didn’t help me cope the next day after I had to get up at seven.

I picked Emil up at 8:00 and off we went. The highway driving was a dream: gorgeous sunny day, dry roads. Two hours later we were at the outskirts, the traffic had picked up, and I turned off the music and asked Emil to be quiet. I needed all my faculties to pay attention to the road and the lights and other vehicles.

Just my luck his first appointment was right downtown where traffic is heavily congested. I dropped him off to wait for me in front of the Avord Tower and drove around the block a couple times till a parking spot came open. By the time I rejoined him and we found our way to the cardiologist’s office on the ninth floor, I thought the worst was probably over now that I’d made it this far. Still, as I sat waiting for Emil to come out after his heart tests, I felt like a panic attack was coming on. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one of those, but I remembered what to do: breathe slow, breathe deep, keep on breathing slowly and deeply. It worked.

A quick consult with the doctor after Emil’s test made it clear that there is no heart problem and this was a trip we didn’t really need to make. Aaaak! Oh well, better safe than sorry. We’d managed to arrange to have his AFOs (fiberglas “braces” that support his ankles) repaired the same day, so it wasn’t a wasted trip. Back over the University Bridge we went (fortunately I remembered to shoulder check before changing lanes, thus avoiding a crash), and on Preston Avenue realized I don’t remember how four-way stops work. Is it counter-clockwise you go? You see, one forgets these things when they aren’t necessary where you live. It’s not just like riding a bicycle. Thank God there were no traffic circles to navigate.

After the AFOs were fixed we got into the car to drive home. “Don’t talk to me till we’re out of the city,” I told Emil. “I’m cranky as hell.” I was, too, till we’d escaped.

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Kathy Needs Tech Help Too

Can anyone tell me how to make my Documents folder icon stay on the task bar at the bottom of my screen? I get it there by clicking on Pin to Quick Access after I’ve searched for Documents and all the folders have come up and I’ve selected Documents, and it’ll go to the task bar for a while but it won’t stay, which isn’t handy. I haven’t managed to find an answer for this on Google, which doesn’t seem to understand my question.

This is the Windows version of First World Problems.

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This morning was spent at my desk, working on a proofreading project. When I went out to the kitchen to make a tomato sandwich for lunch, I realized we’re out of bread. That means I have to go to town because I don’t feel like starting a batch now. Plus, tomato sandwiches don’t really suit homemade 100% whole wheat bread, which is too filling, too heavy, too overwhelming, and we’re big into toasted tomato sandwiches these days. And we both might die if we couldn’t have toast for breakfast.

Everett’s just texted that farm eggs have been dropped off for me, so I’ll get those too. Not that I’m in the mood to go anywhere. Yesterday was enough; I long for a down day all day! Plus it’s cold out again. I think. it looks cold and the wind’s howling. I’d rather hibernate.

Emil’s staying at his home in town this weekend because they’ve got “Arts Council,” which is what he calls concerts put on by the arts council, and he doesn’t like to miss those. I have no plans other than to maybe make some cookies for Scott to take to the field. The boys (okay, men) are combining.

What I’d really like to do is lie down for a nap; I could, and go to town later — the store’s open till nine, it’s not like I have to rush. But afternoon naps don’t suit me, much as my body’s requesting one. I tend to wake up feeling tired. The wind in my face and a drive to town will perk me up. I’ll rest later, after four trips between car and house with groceries leaves me feeling sorry for myself.

What are you up to this weekend?

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Readin’ ‘n’ Ritin’

necklaces

No matter how “in my face” my necklaces are, it’s rare to remember to wear one. These are hanging right beside the bathroom mirror and I still forget.

I don’t think of myself as a writer. People have told me I am one, ever since I was a child. “You have such an imagination!” they’ve said. “You should write a book!” they’ve said.

But here’s the thing. I’m not dying to tell stories. I’m not even particularly opinionated, at least not compared to writers I’ve heard interviewed. Oh sure, I have beliefs and make judgments, but I doubt they’re unique or that expressing them makes much difference to anyone, most of the time.

What I am is a reader. I expect basic writing skills come naturally to avid readers. I like writing (that must be obvious), yet I don’t look at it as a craft I’m trying to improve at.

But what if I did? I’m not working a lot at the moment and have time on my hands. What if I dedicated one hour a day to letting my imagination go? Just to see what happens, what comes up if I sit in this chair and let it.

From time to time I post something in “Blondi’s” section there in the sidebar, where you’ve seen the odd “Overheard” conversation or slice of life “At the Cafe.” Entries there are deleted when a new one is posted, and those will be sporadic, so click on the bar and scroll down a little if you don’t want to miss anything.

I’m often embarrassed, later, when I read something fictional I’ve posted, because to me the author voice simply doesn’t ring true. I read a lot. I know when an author is unable to get out of the way and the reader is always aware she’s there. This is what I’m trying to avoid and, it seems to me, failing at. If I were to get serious about polishing it up, any editor worth her salt would be advising extensive deletions and making numerous suggestions regarding action and conflict and characterization and so on. I know this and am not trying to kid myself.

However if I can’t show you guys my plodding imperfections, what am I doing here? Isn’t this what I already do in my daily blogging? Except front and centre here I’m telling the truth (not the whole truth due to consideration of privacy; but no lies), while in Blondi’s story I’m fictionalizing truth and having fun making stuff up.

What’s there today was written a while ago so I was able to go back and look at it from some distance, and it seems okay. Not exciting or anything to be proud of, but okay. Not edited or rewritten, but okay for present purposes. This blog has new readers all the time, so I hope those of you who’ve been around a while and seen something similar don’t mind the rerun.  I’ll post newer stuff as I go, when I think any of it might be worth the light of day.

Burnt Muffins

The shelf beside my desk. Someone doesn’t like it. My response: “Where do you think all that stuff would be, then?” It’s a mess, but handy.

Lorna, I think Bonzo’s a monkey and Bedtime for Bonzo is a movie starring Ronald Reagan (oh, and a monkey). Might be wrong.

I made muffins — my go-to muffin recipe. I used paper liners to avoid all the scrubbing and scouring required after just greasing the tins. And the bottoms burnt. Why? Why, I ask you! Dammit.

I went online to see why this might be. They never burn when I don’t use cupcake liners.

Oh — Oh! Plus I had to bake them an extra five minutes so the toothpick would come out dry!

I didn’t find an answer, but learned that if you have a problem burning the bottoms or sides of your muffins, try putting your muffin tin on a cookie sheet or into another muffin tin before baking.

The last thing I did before going to bed last night was open the oven door and discover that the rack had somehow been situated on a level lower than the centre. That is probably the reason for the burnt bottoms. Don’t ask me how the rack got there. Next time I’ll pay closer attention.

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I wish there was something more interesting to write about. I don’t share dramatic details in the lives of my close friends. This isn’t the place for airing private conflicts or grievances either, though we all have ’em. Don’t believe for a moment that I don’t, just because I come across all Pollyanna here with nothing more disheartening to live with than the burnt bottoms of some muffins which, after all, are still perfectly edible. The political rise of redneck hatefulness around the world is a concern but not one worth expounding upon or debating; there’s more than enough of that in the news and social media and I have nothing new to add. I remind myself that getting worked up over it makes no difference whatsoever. As a matter of fact, getting worked up over anything doesn’t seem to move one ahead in any direction. I’m trying to focus on the here and now right in front of me, and on not resisting it but accepting it as it is. I’m not so good at that. Mostly I have to practise being patient with myself.

Oooh It’s Cold Out There

In the corner cupboard

Secret Agent Woman, I haven’t been to Cuba but I have a Buena Vista Social Club with Ry Cooder CD; love it. Must dig it out!

I’ve been going through rotations of about eight CDs since lugging the old ghettoblaster upstairs, clearing a space for it, and plugging it in. What a pleasure it is to listen to my old favourites again. We have the Klipsch speaker sitting on the fridge, but I still haven’t gotten into using it. I had no luck uploading my CDs into my laptop either, Alex, but I think that’s because I didn’t give them enough time and thought it wasn’t happening. I’ll try again one of these days. It would be nice to get rid of that giant black box sitting on the coffee table in the living room.

On top of the stack this morning was one of Dennis Lakusta’s CDs, and as I sing along I realize I was lying when I said I don’t hear lyrics. In Lakusta’s songs, I sure do. They’re beautiful and true and so are the melodies. Online I don’t find my many favourites to easily share, but here are some of his. You can sample a few.

“Thanks for putting that on, Mom,” Emil says as he wipes the table after his breakfast. “It was nice of you.”

“I do try to be nice,” I reply. I did put it on knowing that he in particular would like it. But so do I, as I get ready to go out the door.

Bedtime for Bonzos

about to bloom

I can never remember the name of this plant. Anyone? It’s one of the thirstiest plants I’ve ever seen.

A beautiful rainy day it was. Light, gentle rain. No wind. Peaceful. There’s still a bit of snow around, or there was till today.

I’ve been lazy for two days in a row. And I just let myself be that way. Why not? Sometimes that’s the way it is and I don’t know why.

At least today I got the dishes done and chopped up and bagged and froze more tomatoes and went to town for Emil and picked up a few groceries and baked some chicken thighs for supper and did some writing for fun and that’s about it. Pretty much only exactly what I felt like doing, except for the dishes. I never feel much like doing them, but feel great when they’re all done and put away.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be helping Karen cater a funeral lunch. I’ll enjoy working alongside her and seeing the people who attend.

I’m on the living room couch watching “Silent Witness,” with Emil beside me. He’s yawning but not ready for bed. I’m tired too so we should both smarten up and hit the hay.

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If you want to serve a carrot side dish when you’re having company over for a meal, try a Baked Carrot Casserole for something a little different. It’s the latest recipe added to my collection online. See Plain Cookin’ (click the bar and scroll down) or go straight to http://stubblejumperscafe.blogspot.com.

Punishments and Voices

travelling journal

Apparently all women stand this way. Have I posted this before? I’m trying not to post the same photos here as to Instagram — which is far easier (no resizing, no downloading from camera to laptop) and quicker so I’ve posted a pic there every morning recently.

80 YEARS AGO, Kelvington Radio, 1938, NOBLEVILLE: On Sept. 22, three brothers pleaded guilty in court to attacking and robbing an old-age pensioner in February 1937. The three were sentenced to one year in jail and four lashes. -Reprinted from Wadena News, “Looking Back”

Wow, lashes! It’s not just a Saudi Arabian practice. What a backward lot. Thankfully the penal system here doesn’t still do it.

Another excerpt from the same local newspaper said that in 1948 a drunk driver lost his licence for three years and got 30 days in jail. Now that’s more like it. I might not go so far as to suggest lashes are the way to go, but I bet a lengthy stint in jail and the threat of losing your licence for years would make some difference.

Maybe lashes would put the fear of pain and public humiliation into the hearts of lawbreakers whose good judgment is totally gone. I’ve known one or two who would drive without a licence even if being caught meant going to jail. Would the threat of lashes deter them? Clearly the possibility of killing someone else on the road doesn’t. This province has the worst incidence of drunk driving in the entire country and it doesn’t seem as if that statistic is changing. Are we just a bunch of dummies or what?

No, no. Not dumb. Just impaired by alcohol. Judgment-impaired.

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Mary, I have Diana Krall’s album “Love Scenes” and it’s coming with me when I go to the desert island.

Bridge City Poet, just as Gardot doesn’t do anything for you, Norah Jones doesn’t move me. I like her music okay and have one of her albums, but my blood doesn’t start sizzling.

It’s interesting how we are all so fundamentally different, right down to our bones! It’s no wonder I always felt like slapping Creep Ghomeshi when he’d announce on national radio, “You must have this music!” Um, no. No thank you. It may be all the rage to some, but there are certain types I listen to for a minute or two to give myself a chance to like them, and usually end up turning off the radio before the song is over. Why torture myself?

One thing about music is that it’s not the lyrics that I twig into; Gardot could be singing about baked beans and I’d still get all dreamy. I don’t seem to note the words, just the melody and her voice.

And isn’t it fascinating what you like and what you don’t? For instance, there is a wiriness in the voice of Iris DeMent that irritates the hell out of me; yet the wiry-sounding aspect of Emmylou Harris doesn’t bother me. A minor variation in tone is all it takes to put a person off a certain singer.

I’m not a fan of Billie Holiday; in spite of my initial aversion to Madeleine Peyroux I now love her stuff — yet her singing reminds me very much of Holiday’s. Go figure. We like what we like and that’s an end to it. Maybe someday I’ll even find something to appreciate in the vocal style of Janis Joplin, which sends me running from the room to escape the noise.

 

Turn My Crank

One time when preparing for a romantic interlude, I suggested to Scott that he put on some sexy music. I forget what he played — something forgettable? — whatever it was, it wasn’t “sexy.” It didn’t create or add to an intimate mood, at least not for me.

What is sexy music, then? I guess it’s different for everyone.

An example of my tastes can be heard by listening to this video. Ooh la la. If it doesn’t make me want to slow-dance with my partner, nothing does.

You’ve heard this from me before — I’m assuming you’ve been reading my blogs for the past 20 years, but I don’t mind repeating myself when it’s something as important as this: sound that ignites passion.

Or does it? I mean, for you. No question it fires me up. What does it for you?

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Speaking of romantic interludes, check out Blondi’s latest “Overheard.” Click on the bar.