Monday, June 26, 2006

How DID that Girl Get That Couch in Her Car?

The number one questioned asked to me at yesterday's flea market was how on earth did I manage to fit the Gigantic Blue Sofa in my car?

It was a throwback to the seventies---twenty feet of curving comfiness with electric blue flowers and big enough to seat everybody you know if they just squish together a little bit. It's for somebody out there with a very special rec room.(There's me sitting on it, holding the parasol in complete comfort).

I freely admitted that it was delivered by a friend's truck. Indeed it was his sofa (because that was the second question: did this thing previously reside in my living-room?). I was just the Commission Girl if it sold.

But it was unanimously decided by the other amused vendors and passers-by who had not seen said couch arrive that my car was some sort of magical mobile of Infinite Capacity.

"Yer like that Mary Poppins chick!", said one old fellow, making Poppins-like arm gestures.

Well, I did have an umbrella with me...

How could I blame them really? The regular flea-market goers have long seen me unloading my wares in the early light of dawn, and marvel what I can fit into that old Dodge beast.

I marvel.

There's barely room for me when I've done loading it up the night before a sale.

Now recently I was considering cutting back on my Flea-Marketing ways--you have to get up with the birds, it junks up your garage, and it can be a hit-or-miss enterprise depending on what kind of knick-knack people are looking for that day.


Turns out I had exactly what fellas were looking for this weekend: a whole mess of fishing rods and hooks and plastic bait and sinkers and gutting knives. Guys who regularly bypass my tables because of the plethora of pottery and doilies were suddenly hob-nobbing with me.

Thank-yous to my husband's co-worker for giving up fishing and donating all her stuff to me. I will think of her when I'm in gadding about in Venice and Rome next May. Anybody want some picture frames?--she gave me a raft-load of those too. :)

Anyway, although it was financially a good day, it was still stinky-hot weather-wise, and I nearly melted into goo despite a hat, lemonade, vats of sunscreen and my parasol.

That parasol might have saved my life. I had several offers on it. Not for sale. Uh uh.

Heh, I managed to sell all the squished out-of-shape sun hats on my table and a really ugly pair of sunglasses. People were desperate I think. There was a swim-meet going on at the park across the street and there was a steady stream of families with heat-glazed eyes and wet hair passing through looking for entertainment between races.

It was such a fine day that I actually spent a little of my market money on sparkly rings and baubles that were glittering in the stall next to mine. I eyed them up all day.

The ugly couch did not sell, no huge surprise. One seedy-looking fellow said he'd buy it and would return with cash, but I didn't pin my hopes on him. Turns out I was justifiably skeptical. At least I had somewhere relaxing to sit.

As I began to pack up that afternoon, I heard one vendor say to someone: "Ooh! I want to see how she's going to fit that thing in the car!"

The anticipation!

Yes. My magic car. I'm sorry I had to disappoint. :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Doomsday Vault

Have you heard of "The Doomsday Vault" ?

Did you know the future of the world's agriculture will soon be protected by roaming polar bears?

Safe behind metre-thick walls, deep in the permafrosted rock of a mountain in the Norwegian Svalbard Islands, not so far from the North Pole, about two million seeds representing all the varieties of world crops will soon be protected from all manner of disaster: global warming, nuclear war, changing sea levels, crop disease, Monsanto, you name it.

It's a far cry from Seedy Saturday , an annual local event where many people collect and trade heritage seeds, but I suppose the world has come to the point where we need to protect our future vegetables with blast-proof walls.

For instance, in the New Scientist article I noticed the mention of a terrorist attack in the 1980's on an international potato-seed bank in the Peruvian Andes...who knew 'tater seeds would be a viable target?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Things That Make Me Think of Green

Happy Solstice y'all!

Today's blog is brought to you by the colour green!

Here is a little green frog that we found nestled in a calla lily this Saturday while on the Denman Island Garden Tour. My brother and I photographed this obliging frog from different angles and you can find his rather similar picture on his blog, as well as some nymphs lounging in a garden pool as a bonus.

Also green , very green is the bottle of liquid chlorophyll I won as a door-prize at a mini health-fair and seminar I stumbled into. It is a dietary supplement that may have a bouquet reminescent of lawn clippings, but it is almost certainly more nutritionally sound than many things lurking in my pantry now. A teaspoon in a wineglass of water, and its like I'm quaffing Pinot Verte '06. A very fine year for antioxidants.

I looked up the purported benefits of chlorophyll and in addition to behaving internally like a big bowl of salad it also may "deodorize" my innards. Apparently if you suffer from halitosis and/or flatulence (you poor thing), a big bottle of this stuff is your friend.

In other things green, this week is the anniversary of my coming home from the hospital after having explosive appendix surgery last June. Why is that green you may ask?

Well, the whole emergency operation thing and IV's and maddening hospital gowns made me feel rather green around the gills (actually a little lower and to the right of my gills to be precise). The whole week-long hospital stay (some of it on a bed in the hallway) was painful and boring by turns.

But it was really the disgusting jello the hospital served that traumatized me. Sometimes it was green. Alas, more often it was orange. Touching that quivering mass in the little plastic dishes they brought me dyed my fingers a frightening shade of orange. It was dreadful. How are you supposed to heal your body eating toxic gelatin I ask you? Bleah!

My other food choice was sea-water salty broth. Luckily for my intestines I had friends that smuggled home-made soup into my ward or I would have likely perished and you would not be reading this now.

In other green news, I am now care-taking someone else's garden while it is readied for sale. I am becoming a freelance gardener it seems, as this is my second gardening client, and it appears there may be a third person wanting a share of my green thumb too!

I'm excited because its another way to make some more travel money and it's a job I'm rather fond of: nothing like taking a weedy lot and transforming it into a sweet little garden again.

Here is a picture of part of the yard I'm working on--it's coming along rather nicely.

A friend phoned me tonight and asked me a gardening question and I was happy to be able to answer it fairly knowledgably. I'm realizing this is happening more and more--somewhere along the way I've become a Gardener. When did that happen I wonder?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Swords Stayed Firmly On Our Heads

The show is over! I'm so happy! I feel this enormous buoyant sensation of relief today.

It went really well. Much better than I anticipated.

Everybody showed up. Our costumes were beautiful. We didn't forget the choreography.

And above all, nobody's sword fell off their head. Repeat, the swords stayed firmly on our heads.

Even when we did drops with them. Even when we spun like dervishes while balancing them---a late addition to the choreography, but it looked so cool, so physics-defying!

And the second dance, the tribal drum solo, the one so many of us (including me) were nervous about, seemed to fall into place. Despite the mixed emotions. Despite the missing dancers at the practices. It wasn't perfect, it simply couldn't be with only a few days to learn the finished dance, but it still felt good. I was surprised at how confident I felt when the time for my solo actually came. After all, I had been still deciding exactly what I planned to do with my forty seconds of solo glory that very afternoon practicing in my living-room.

One of my fellow dancers said to me afterwards, "When I saw how much fun you looked like you were having during your solo, I immediately felt more relaxed!" Bless her for sayin' it.

It certainly helped that my good friend Emily was in the front row. I couldn't help smiling right at her.

Yes, I was allowed to smile in the second number.

In the sword dance, we all had to maintain intense expressions which is hard for me to do when I dance because I often relieve nervousness by grinning my fool head off.

My friend Sherry said that she'd never seen me look so fierce. Ah, mission accomplished.

We wore tons of dramatic eye make-up for this performance. The opening bars of the sword dance we posed with our eyes closed and on a certain beat, we all opened our eyes wide in unison. Ooh, hopefully we all looked exotic and mysterious under those hot stage lights.

It was seven intense minutes out of my life. It's amazing how much mental and physical effort (not to mention sewing) can be squeezed into a time that passed so quickly.

Aterwards, we ran upstairs to the dressing room and quaffed champagne and strawberries, giddy with adrenaline and relief.

You know, it did wonders for our confidence when we took photographs before the show and we all looked so good. We oogled ourselves quite a bit in the mirrors at Sandra's house in the hours right before the performance.

That's me (well, okay, my torso) dancing in the photo above. :)

Recognize the little chain belt you gave me, Pol?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Swamp Skeleton Dream

This was a vivid dream I had a few nights ago.

There was a man's body lying on the ground in the forest near a haunted swamp. A group of hunters discover it and do what seems the decent and necessary thing to them: they cremate the body. They are superstitious and horribly afraid that if they leave the body alone, something horrid from the swamp will take it.

But what they don't know is that the body is really a being from the swamp in disguise. It must wait for the hunters to leave, and then it rises from the fire, still smouldering, in skeletal form. It runs toward the safety and mystery of the swamp.

For now, I am an observer in this dream. I feel sympathy for the poor walking bones. It needs to hide itself in the mud among the trees to heal itself.

I know there are many other such bone-people nearby.

Night is falling, and as I follow the skeleton into the failing light, I suddenly become a creature myself--something lithe and amphibious. I run over grassy hummocks poking out of the water and then splash down into dark pools without fear or concern.

I am a night creature, a water creature, and I can see in the dark quite well. Living things are lit with a dim purple glow to me.

I think to myself: "This is my true place, a place where skeletons walk and werewolves caper. I am not afraid."

I swim through black water and see a group of beings with thick coiling eel-like tails, all lit with soft purple. I swim among them. I am not afraid of them. They are selkies and will not attack.

At least, this is what I believe. Suddenly webbed fingers reach out and pull me deeper under the water. I am surprised, but only panic a few moments later when I realize that the selkies are holding me down and I have lost my power to breather underwater.

I awoke with a start and a gasp for air.

On the bright side, although my unconscious dream-state is obviously still roiling around with er, swamp-creature issues, my waking life feels much happier than when I last made a post.

The dance group is making the best of it, and we DID have the one practice where ALL of us danced together---it made a lot of difference to how I felt about the overall cohesion of the dances.

I called back some of the friends I ranted at to let them know I was feeling more chipper about it all.

And since this swamp dream, I've gone on to have perfectly lovely dreams where I am having coffee in a little shop in London with Kim, and collecting sea-shells and treasure in a magical temple by the sea. So luckily, it's not all swamps and unfriendly sprites in my mind.

This dream was not actually a nightmare, by the way. I immediately wanted to go back into it because it felt such an mysterious world.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Looking on the Bright Side--Nothing's On Fire

Heh, I'm luckier than I know, despite my worries about this upcoming performance: at least nothing's caught on fire.

I was speaking this afternoon to another friend who is also dancing in this show, but in a different troupe.

She was sewing her costume yesterday(a much more complicated affair than my own)when she laid down her work and left the room where her sewing machine sits.

Distracted with other tasks in her house, she forgot about her sewing until she heard a whirr as her sewing machine started up by itself. And then she suddenly smelled a horrible electrical burning smell. She rushed through her house, following her nose back to her sewing machine which was busy gouting out tall flames.

She grabbed it and ran with it, throwing it out her front door onto the sidewalk where it died a dismal short-circuiting death.

"It was rather unnerving...", she told me. I should say!

(I remember once I put a stick of incense in a frog-shaped wicker planter and left it. The peat moss in the planter smouldered and caught fire (there's a safety tip, boys and girls... the Irish in me should have realized peat moss burns) and soon nothing was left of my planter except the marbles of the planter frog's eyeballs and a horrid lingering smell. If I hadn't luckily left the thing sitting on top of the metal washing machine, it probably would have burned a whole lot more. I remember that unnerved feeling quite clearly.)

Susan's not sure what went wrong.It was certainly unsettling behaviour from a small, previously trustworthy appliance. Is it all part of an encompassing whammy: Curse of the Unprepared Belly-Dancers perhaps?

After I shared my own dancing woes (suddenly feeling they are less dramatic in nature),she told me that her group had chucked their planned second dance recently because it simply wasn't ready either. A distinct parallel to my own group's decision---to chuck or not to chuck?

I say again: at least nothing's on fire.

Dance Practice Disappointment

This is the week of the dance show, so a certain amount of mental unrest is fairly typical for me.

Alas, aside from the usual excitement and tummy flutters I experience before I dance in front of people, this time I'm feeling an unsettling mix of frustration and disappointment.

The dance group has had very few nights where everyone has shown up for practice. Two members have perhaps shown up three times total out of perhaps ten practices. As a consequence, dance number one (with the swords) is mostly ready for the stage.....but dance number two is sadly unpolished.

The two dancers who have been absent constantly apparently emailed the rest of us last week saying they'd be unable to participate in the second dance, but none of us got the message. Unfortunately, this leaves big holes in the dance where their parts were (we've been practicing pretending we were dancing with them as part of the number). Actually sometimes there were three of us dancers pretending the other four dancers were there! It's been rather disheartening, not to mention difficult.

We tried to show it to another dance teacher (3 of us) and she smiled and nodded kindly and said: "You have some good ideas there...but there are some holes..." Yes, several dancers missing for starters!

Frustration! Aaargh! I'm ready to throw my hands up and say: Let's just do ONE dance and do it FABULOUSLY...instead of doing a second one in a half-assed fashion. In fact, I DID say it today. Other dancers did too. The sword dance may be a slow piece, but it's intense and interesting at least.

But one of the troupe, Bee, has invited eleven guests and is very upset at the idea of us giving up the drum dance. She is going to experience intense disappointment if we do. "I am going to be very hurt and very angry if we do that", she said, and she fixed us all with a determined steely gaze.

I understand her point of view: she is one of the dancers who has put a LOT of time in.

The thing is: there is only ONE more opportuniy for the entire group to practice together before the show. If people don't show up for tomorrow's practice, the second dance simply won't happen.

But if they DO, even then, it's going to be a scramble getting it together. I am so not in my happy place about dancing right now.

I've been thinking about my reasons for not blogging as much lately, and I'll have to partially attribute it to this dance show. Last week: Sunday morning practice, Monday evening, Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening, Thursday evening dance class, and Sunday morning again. And the other part of the time I'm in too black a mood to write.

Well, er, I've been out in the garden a lot too, so I suppose it's not all doom and gloom.....

You'd think with something taking up so much time and energy, this performance could have been an amazing piece of art. But you can't make a team effort with half the team missing.

Thank you, readers, for listening to my rant.

Normal blogging without dance-related emotional angst scheduled to resume starting sometime around Friday night.

I still can't publish pictures...hmmm....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

All Part of the Mystery

Grrr....Blgger has not been letting me post pictures these last few days...sigh...

I shall have to relate a non-illustrated anecdote I suppose.

I was at work the other day, out on the playground, and listening with half an ear to two of my co-workers discussing their figures. They were bemoaning how no matter how much they dieted or exercised, they still couldn't get rid of their love-handles.

Their dismayed faces were almost comical to watch as they examined their hips. These two people are among the slimmest women I know. In my experience it's always those people with the least figure problems that criticize themselves the most.

Anyway, it seems one of our wise five year old boys was also listening to this exchange with interest.

As one of my co-workers asked aloud the question to the air-- "Why, oh why, can't I get rid of them, no matter what?" -- he piped up from nearby in a comforting tone "I guess it's just all part of the Mystery...."

You could hear the capital M in his voice.

Yes indeed, just all part of the Mystery. Remember that next time, ye who look upon your hips and despair. :)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Their Spiders are Meaner Than Our Spiders

My mother-in-law and her visitors from Australia popped by my house today and brought me a really unique present: a bee house, complete with sleeping resident queen bee and court inside. (Not our regular local honey-bees apparently, which are low in numbers this year due to a virus, but another kind (mason bees?) who will help out with cross-pollinating and other necessary bee chores and return to the bee house each year in theory. They purchased them locally so I will have to find out more about them.)

Our Aussie friends noticed that I seemed to have quite a few bees tumbling about the blossoms in my garden and we got to talking about local insects and other wildlife. They gave a collective shudder. Apparently Jeff's mom took them on a nature walk today and they still had the heebie-jeebies from the experience.

No, they didn't see bears. Or cougars. Or a fierce squirrel. Or even a bunny rabbit with big pointy teeth.

But they DID see lots of spiders. And snakes.

And apparently seeing spiders and snakes in Australia means you had better turn tail and run the other way, or otherwise prepare to perish horribly from some ungodly neuro-toxin.

Reassurances that our local reptiles and arachnids are not only utterly harmless (mostly), but downright helpful and welcome in the garden were met with skepticism.

I laughed a little. I would have thought living in Australia would make strolling around in Canada a breeze--maybe boasting a little like Steve Irwin or Crocodile Dundee as they inspect the webs in my garden: "That's not a spider....(then pointing to a random arachnid on Australia's poisonous spiders identification chart)... THIS is a spider!"

But realizing I really had very little knowledge of their country I sought out the advice of the online Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to see what that wise tome had to say:

Tips to Surviving Australia

Don't ever put your hand down a hole for any reason whatsoever.
We mean it.
The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think it is.
Always carry a stick.
Do not attempt to use any Australian slang, unless you are a trained linguist and good in a fistfight.
Thick socks.
Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people nearby.
If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.
Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.
See also: Deserts: How to die in them, The Stick - second most useful thing ever and Poisonous and Venomous arachnids, insects, animals, trees, shrubs, fish and sheep of Australia, volumes 1 - 42.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Poppies and Blog Procrastination

These are the pink poppies from the seeds I acquired at Seedy Saturday two years back.

It's a swarming, noisy zoo of a seed swap and you come away from it loaded with packets and packets of wonderful things--all in exchange for the wonderful things you don't personally want any more of in your garden.

I traded some little envelopes of columbine and foxglove for these poppies.

You want to know how many foxglove and columbine I have? A lot.

Come on over to my house and you can have some.

So I haven't exactly been blog-a-licious lately.

It's rather odd because I like to write something most days and I've had lots to write about: two rather wonderful weekends and a trip to Vancouver (including meeting Kim's baby for the first time), a series of sometimes frustrating dance practices, successfully and accidentally avoiding being present at a rather unpleasant confrontation of sorts, changes at work, the frustrations of computer problems (okay, well that's one reason for not blogging every day), interesting conversations, good books, the time my evil black umbrella bit my thumb and wouldn't let go....well, perhaps just as well not to relive the unpleasantness of that incident!

Anyhoo, I have lots of things to share....but once again I'm leaving my readers (who, mostly being friends or blood relations will love me anyway and contine to check my blog even if I'm not writing every day) with a vague post about my doings, and also the irony that I'm reading a book called The Procrastinator's Handbook .....