Thursday, June 30, 2005

You care, you really care :)

Well, I'm back at work now and back to the blog too it seems too. Dreadful sorry, gentle readers, for causing any concern from my last blog entry. Though my arm is still sore and swollen, it seems it's not the Black Death or anything half that interesting. (Er, actually I'm rather glad.)

It IS awfully nice to know you care though. (Ahem, this is mostly directed at you Kim. You are awfully sweet.)

I am soon going to be hanging a painting by Kim Bannerman in my house and I'm very pleased about that (unabashed artistic plug). I first saw it last Saturday, out at the Cumberland Talent Festival. It is the Tower from the Tarot, a glowering edifice in stark black and white, roiling with mysterious clouds and foreboding. (She even used a special TOP-SECRET technique *cough mold cough* to create it. It's a striking piece by a talented artist and now I just have to decide where to hang it.

You see, the Tower is really one of those cards you don't want to see in your Tarot spread.

Some folks get all antsy when scythe-bearing skeletons or demons turn up in their cards. But Death is not always what it seems. It could refer to a great change of direction or purpose, the death of something old and unwanted in your life. The Devil too, is often only a signpost or a warning of greed or bondage to bad ideas and influences.

But the Tower. That's the real bad-ass card. Doom. Destruction. Upset. Doesn't matter if you're the King of England, you're going to see trouble when you get this card.

Mind you, I won't actually say this in quite this way if I'm doing a reading for a friend. It's impolitic, and why ruin their weekend? But it does beg the question: where do I hang this art piece?

Not in the kitchen. My cooking is upsetting enough already. Not in the bedroom--kills the mood.
Guest room? Naw, it sends the wrong message to houseguests.

I think I've narrowed it down to either the Library because its creative and beautiful and would look fabulous on the wall there....OR the computer room because that's where we play World of Warcraft and it would fit the mood when I am Zalli the Troll bent on mayhem. Also, there is a good place for it.

What do you think?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ugh...more medical drama

Bloody hell....

I'm not best pleased with the latest development. I've had a sore swollen hand for the last day or two, but what with Jen's wedding (and it was lots of fun) and all I was kind of thinking it was some sort of allergy reaction to sunscreen or something. sort of ignoring it and taking Benadryl.

Then it started creeping up my arm and it was aching like crazy. So I went to the drop-in clinic this evening and the doctor there said it looked like I've got something called lymphangitis, a kind of blood poisoning.

"But it's not really your blood", she reassured me, it's actually lymph nodes leaking fluid and that's why it hurts, said fluid not really supposed to be leaking all around. She prescribed yet more antibiotics. Sigh. It's probably from where they had the I.V. in my hand in the hospital because it swelled up a bit then too.

I need to go see my family doctor tomorrow. I'm hoping he says it's actually an allergy to sunscreen. I'd really like my knuckles back, thank you.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Six Degrees of Separation from Maurice Chevalier

Lately, I've found myself fascinated by the "Small World" phenomena. Could it be we are all connected somehow, no matter how tenuous the relationship?

I mean, just this morning, during a marathon session of spring-roll making with Jeff's grandmother (mmmmm...peanut sauce), I find out I have a distant, insubstantial, and yet still undeniably THERE link to the great Maurice Chevalier. Yes, a brush with the late Mr. "Birds in the Breeze Seem to Twitter Louise" himself.

In 1967, American sociologist Stanley Milgram described his ‘six degrees of separation’ theory. The idea is that every person on Earth can be linked to any other person by just six ties. The short article I read said " the chances are, you’ve got a connection to a goat-herd in Outer Mongolia – but you may not know it yet!" Milgram conducted his research using a very small scale, but basically his theory seemed to hold water. But would it hold up on a larger scale?

The article continued: " In 2003, a team at Columbia University asked 60,000 e-mail users from 166 countries to reach one of 18 target people in 13 countries around the world. The average completed chain comprised just four people. However, having factored in the drop-out rate, the researchers calculated a median chain length of between five and seven people. "

Then, scratching my head as to why I seemed to associate this theory with a conversation with Tai about the actor Kevin Bacon, I typed his name and "six degees separation" into a search engine and found out this whole incredible phenomena is now a popular party game.

Yes, Elvis Presley has a Bacon number of 2 degrees of separation. Who would've thunk it?

So, how many degrees of separation from Maurice Chevalier am I? I'm still not sure how to calculate it exactly.....

Well, my husband's grandmother had an uncle named Dudley Wright who was Chevalier's personal valet, travelling with him on tour until a bout with appendicitis laid poor Dudley out in a Parisian hospital. Uncle Dudley stayed in Paris, having unsuccessful relationships with French ladies, before returning home to England after the war ended.

So, yes, a distant relative (by marriage) was Maurice's manservant. I shall never watch the movie "Gigi" in quite the same way.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's so hard to find good help these days...

Well, it's not THAT hard to find good help. Sherry recommended some students she hired from the Odd Job Squad the other day to clear some garden space for her and I ended up hiring two of them to work in my garden this morning for a couple of hours.

I can't remember ever hiring anybody to work for me before. It's a rather strange feeling. Here they were, two people to do my weeding for me. Heh.

Why do I feel so old next to high school students? Oh wait, yeah....never trust anyone over thirty, right?

Dan and Carlin were hard workers but seemed a little shy. Attemps at friendly conversation trailed off after a sentence or two. But they did know how to pull weeds which is the important thing. ( Jeff is reading this over my shoulder and opined that perhaps they just didn't know how to relate to the old lady. He deserved the glare.) They did seem a little terrified at the thought of dead-heading and pruning roses so I let them off the hook there and found them some nice thistles instead.

Anyway, they got that awful hairy corner by the compost looking pretty good, the lower patio was cleared up, and the weed pile that's heading for the compost at the dump grew twice in height, so I don't regret hiring them.

When I am rich, I'll interview potential gardeners carefully and he or she will have to be jolly and chatty as well as unterrified of roses.

Speaking of finding good help, I am absolutely unskilled at wrapping presents. Luckily for me, Jeff is amazingly good at it for our present for Jen's wedding is in a large unwieldy box which required two large sheets of paper.

He approaches gift-wrapping like a military campaign worthy of Martha Stewart. It's all about the details. The box is placed just so and the creases are perfectly straight and even. It's beautiful to watch. Apparently gift-wrapping is not a womanly art exclusively. I'm so glad. Otherwise Jen's present would probably arrive in a large paper sack of some kind. I'm a big fan of gift bags personally, because life's too short to wrestle with wrapping paper. Sigh.

Jeff noticed me studying his method and noted that I was probably envisioning one of the Fab Five doing this. Well, fellas, he's every bit as good at it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I do so love getting invited to parties!

Well, my friend Susan has sent me an invitation to her annual "Outrageous Ladies Tea-Party" and of course I'll be there if I can.
Any party where you are invited to dress INAPPROPRIATELY and drink gin and tonic from an antique silver tea set "from 3 o'clock on" is quite alright with me.

Last year we ended up stumbling all over the lawn playing croquet, shouting bawdily and some of us in our lingerie. It was great fun.

As it was also near Susan's birthday, I did a special reprise of my bellydance to Loreena McKennitt's "Marco Polo" for her and wore my beaded Egyptian headdress for the occasion.

Although not mandatory, the invitation encourages each guest to share something entertaining like a joke or story or performance. I'll have to think of something. It won't be a bellydance I'm sure this time.

Also, this year men are invited. The stipulation is that they have to come in drag. I'll run the idea by Jeff but I'm almost positive he won't leap at the chance.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

It was a baking hot June day here and I threw doors and windows wide where I could and let the flower-scented outside in. My roses are in mad disarray, scrambling over one another and elbowing each other for room in the garden.

I've been too tired to garden this last week (and the week before was a gardening write-off) but I took a gently critical survey of my garden this afternoon and I do believe the flowers are choking out the weeds. I took a basket around and pulled anything that looked REALLY hairy (ie. if you are a weed and I don't have to bend over to grab you, you're OUTTA there) and I am pretty satisfied.

I was invited to three Solstice gatherings and a drumming circle this week in honour of summer but I'm afraid I am just being a homebody this time around. (My dear friend Fireweed said her group would send healing energy my way, and I'll never say no to that.)

Instead, I celebrated today with the removal of my appendectomy stitches. It stung a little but *yoink yoink yoink yoink* and they were out. Oh wait, said my surgeon, you have a couple more down here too. *Yoink*

For those who want to know I had three little incisions and then one bigger one which was really gross and gooey-pink at first, but now looks much less impressive than it did before they sewed me up. It's only a couple inches at most. Alas, I'm yet one further step away from being a bikini model and one step closer to being , say, a pirate. Yarrr! Look at my scar! Got this one when 'ol One-Eye threw me to the sharks....

Monday, June 20, 2005

The water spirits actually received more than one ring, harking back to yesterday's musings on dreams and mermaids. My friend Kim also ceremoniously gifted the pool with a ring all those years ago, and I do apologize for forgetting. It does deserve mention. I had such magical childhood friends.

What did I throw? Well, it doesn't sound as magical, but I threw in coins. I was quite a financially tight child at the time (due to my twenty-five cents a week allowance) and so it did represent a good gift from my point of view. Once, and soon after, my friends and little brother found a twenty dollar bill lying damp and dirty in a stone alcove by the pool. Well, this was obviously a fortunate sign, and we spent our largesse from the water spirits merrily on penny candy from Marochi's grocery store.

Speaking of treats....

Today, still off from work, I treated Jeff's Nan to tea and scones in a little tea-room downtown. And then she treated me to gelato. Mmmmmm, blackberry. And then we wandered through my favourite vintage stores, exclaiming at old tea cups and antique books. I am ever on the search for those beautiful vintage rhinestone brooches, but I didn't seen any alas.

I am also on the hunt for the perfect reading chair, as I have come to the conclusion that no chair in my house is actually comfortable enough to curl up in. I DID see a circa 1920's green velvet winged armchair that made me stop and seriously covet it. I also saw some soft little red leather bistro chairs in another place that were also extremely worthy... but the price tag was nasty.

Tracy, if you are reading this, know that I covet the ugly yellow armchair in your living-room. It is just the most comfortable thing.

Nan and I got into a conversation about things that are old but still useful and wonderful, and she told me about her Philco refrigerator that still sits in her kitchen out on the prairies. Sure, the door is now held shut by a bungee cord, but it works as fine as ever. And she still remembers the day back in 1953 when her and Jeff's grandfather sold some pigs to buy it.

I told her that if the Philco company is still around they should use her in their advertising. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Oh, the red tape! It makes my head hurt!

We are filling out the forms for our visas for Kenya and Tanzania. They are only good for three months so we can't mail them out too early...OR too late, of course. And we have to organize it so all four of us who are going have got everything together in one place. Apparently, the embassies are just across the street from one another in Ottawa so it is acceptable form to ask them to run our passports across the street for us from embassy to embassy. I have this vision of some harried employee running out into traffic clutching a handful of passports and application forms in one hand, paper cup from Starbucks in the other, puffing and panting and dropping paperwork as they cross the street. I'm just not happy about letting my passport out of my hands so close to a trip.

We went and had ourselves photgraphed for extra passport photos for our visa applications too. The new rule is that you are not allowed any facial expression on a passport photo. The girl who took the pictures mentioned that she had been told by the powers that be that this rule was because you are not allowed to show teeth in the photograph because teeth can be ALTERED. Like, hair, for instance, CANNOT be altered? I think hair changes a person's appearance much more, but the government has not pressed us yet to keep the same hairdo for the five years a passport is valid in Canada.

At first, I chafed inwardly against the no smile rule, but as it happens I usually grin my fool head off for photographs and the no-smile rule has produced a better picture of me than the one which I currently hold in my present passport where I am grinning like said fool, all apple-cheeked and with LONG hair besides. Plus its in colour. I don't really like it at all.

The new visa photo shows a woman in black and white who looks very serious. She has SHORT hair but no teeth showing. Her face is a lot more angular (due to having not eaten much lately due to my hospital stay) and I rather like THAT side effect anyway. It's a much nicer picture of me in general actually.She looks like she COULD be a Russian spy, however, and you'd never guess that from my other photo.

Yes, now EVERYBODY will look vaguely sinister, mysterious, and/or criminal. But possibly less goofy.

Sigh, going to Africa is lovely but it seems a lot more complicated than going to Italy.

Yes, note to self, I'm going to Italy after this trip.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Mary Poppins has a new time slot it seems.

I caught the last part of the old movie with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke on CBC tonight. As the chimney sweeps tap-danced their way across the chimneypots of London, I happened to glance at the clock and realized it was nearly ten at night.

What children were up watching old Uncle Albert have a tea-party on the ceiling? Who was enjoying humming "Tuppence a Bag"? Not many children probably.

"Would they even sit through it?", wondered Jeff, watching the protracted musical numbers. Hmmm, not many children I know now. But I LOVED musicals as a kid. I am probably the target audience, sigh.

On the subject of children's movies, I was lent the new version of "Peter Pan". I thought Peter was smart to run away from Wendy at first. She was obsessed with kissing him. No small wonder Tink was annoyed. But I did like the movie overall. Great pirates and the most wonderful sinister mermaids. I wish they had played a bigger part.I think my favourite part of the whole movie was when Wendy reached out to touch a mermaid's webbed claw and then thought better of it.

"AREN'T mermaids sweet?", asked Wendy as she saw them silhouetted eerily in the water.
"They'd like to sweetly drown you if you aren't careful", Peter replies.

I've always thought mermaids should be a little bit dark and otherworldly.

I once had a dream of a mountain pool that I know of, up in the hills behind Cumberland. The water there is always dark and icy cold, even in summer. I dreamed that water spirits lived there and would only live as long as their pool was protected, so they were fierce about defending it. In the dream, I threw rings and bracelets into the water as gifts. They pulled themselves out of the water a little bit and I saw they were like mermaids, only with slick scaled heads and webbed fingers instead of flowing hair and delicate skin. They just looked at me with strange eyes.

After this dream, my friend Tai and I walked up to our mountain pool and threw little gifts in. I think Tai threw in a ring and I remember being very impressed. I was about thirteen.

And yes, OF COURSE I believe in fairies!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Well, my dear writing friends, you have inspired me to start a blog. I have jumped out of the journal-writing habit for a little while now, but its time to jump back in.

This week, laid low by an explosive appendix and an unexpected hospital stay, it feels like just the right time to start a new journal.Nothing like a call to the emergency room to make you feel like a mere mortal. If you are still feeling immortal, dearies, cherish that lovely fuzzy feeling.

Then again, there is a bright side to all the unpleasantness."Trust you, sweetie, to arrange a reading holiday!" said one of my co-workers, bringing me a stack of novels to my bedside. That's it! A reading holiday! It was all a cunning plan......

I have baskets of good books to read, and time to read them now that I'm home. Time to get all sorts of non-manual sorts of things done. I could paint. I could draw. I could play World of Warcraft. I could write. Curiously, no urge whatsoever to catch up on housework. :)