Saturday, September 22, 2012

...And then she said:

Yes it's been forever. Well a couple of months at least. I have probably lost any audience I ever had---I think there were maybe four of you---and am writing to myself. I have not set fingers to pen or keyboard keys (except to navigate through what other people write) in a very long time.

My last post was from PEI; since then I went kayaking once on Gaspereau Lake in a friend's kayak because my own was in drydock. It got badly scratched in the spring and needed a fresh coat of urethane which is now done.I also visited a friend's cottage on the South Shore, and went camping at Blomidon Park.

The friend I went camping with has set a goal of camping at least once in every provincial campground in Nova Scotia, I will try to accompany her. Blomidon was nice: well-maintained and quiet even though it was full, great views of the Minas Basin, several hiking trails in the woods and on the beach at the base of the cape. Hapi was on her best behaviour, she knew not to go off our tent site even when parades of other dogs strolled past, never even so much as woofed under her breath at the malamute in the adjoining campsite. She wouldn't sleep in the tent though, I had to tie her to the picnic table.

We hiked out Cape Split on the Labour Day weekend which was like hiking in rush hour (Blomidon and Cape Split form a hook-shaped peninsula separating the Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy, Blomidon overlooks the Basin and Cape Split faces into the Bay). I didn't bring water for Hapi and there was none on the trail so at the tip of the Cape I went around begging water for my dog from all the people sitting in the grass enjoying the view. Got way more than enough thanks to people's generosity and Hapi's cuteness. Curiously, some people said No when they thought it was for me but changed their minds when I said it was for my dog. What, I am not cute enough?

The cabin on the South Shore was great, right on the shore overlooking a small beach on a large ocean bay. The cabin was built by my friend's father, she remembers when all there was was a platform to pitch their family tent on.

Speaking of whom, her 96-year old father was also there. He is busy working on his second book, a kind of summation of his religious and spiritual knowledge and beliefs. He is a retired Baptist minister and unretired Free Thinker. I imagine he had to keep a lot of what he really believed to himself when he was active as a pastor, now he is putting it out there for all to hear and read. He made up a little jingle to sum it all up: "God is Love, Salvation is Free, Why Worry About Eternit-ee?" 

When I wasn't listening to him expound on the nature of the universe and the history of mankind, we were hiking the shore with our dogs to a cafe for lunch, setting on the deck with wine under a canopy of stars, and watching the ongoing drama of the dogs, their respective food bowls and local marauding squirrels.

I made a hash of my garden but it turned out OK, I got 5 6 quarts of tomato sauce, 5 quarts of salsa verde (probably a lifetime's worth even after giving half of it away), a pint of pesto with more to come, a whole bunch of kale, beans and peas in the freezer, piles of potatoes, onions and carrots, and many meals of fresh peas, beans, broccoli, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. I had to finally compost the cherry tomato plants because I could not face eating another single one. Would you believe I planted 15 cherry tomato plants and every single one survived to produce gi-normous quantities of purple, yellow and red cherry tomatoes? I expect next year's garden will be full of cherry tomato upstarts.

I still have not harvested the squash (all 2 of them), the garlic was pathetic (planted 20 cloves got 8 tiny bulbs), and the green onions have become monsters I do not know what to do with. The tomatoes and cherry tomatoes were a near disaster because I did not stake or cage them and they sprawled everywhere. After the PEI trip I waded in and chopped off all the lower branches of every plant and attempted to prop some of them up against the garden fence. Amazingly, this did seem to help, but my garden pathways were quite obliterated so walking through the garden was very tricky.

But I have already planted a bed of next year's garlic, which hopefully will do much better for being planted in the fall instead of the spring. There is still more kale in the garden that I would like to turn part of into kale chips which I am told are quite good. I plan to make quince marmalade from the few quinces that grew on the bush in the front yard. And I am still getting regular meals of green beans from the pole beans.

Got all my firewood stacked away, the garden taken care of, the lawn mowed on a more or less regular basis. Killed my sourdough but fortunately had a little stashed away in the freezer so I was able to resurrect it. We had near-perfect summer weather, warm and sunny. There were a couple of weeks in early August that were unbearably hot and humid, I got very grumpy then. I don't do well in that kind of weather.

I decided to clean up my loom room which of late has turned into my junk room---anything I didn't know what to do with got tossed in there and the door closed. Eventually it got impossible. I did a pretty good job of cleaning it up if I do say so myself and then thought I should tackle the living room and bedroom. Last night in a frenzy of activity when I should have been hieing off to bed I put together a couple of shelving units and rearranged some of the living room furniture. The jury is out on whether that was a good idea.

Speaking of the loom I have revived the project started last fall and then abandoned through the winter. In the spring I dreamed about removing that warp and putting something else on the loom, I decided to follow through on that dream but at the last minute thought that if I removed the warp I would never in a million years put it back on and it might be easier, quicker and more economical just to finish the damn project. Then a friend said, instead of doing the project as is, why don't you modify it to turn it into Christmas presents for family members? Hot damn, two birds with one shuttle! That apparently was all the inspiration I needed, the project is now three quarters done and being worked on regularly. It is the kind of thing that I can sit down and work a few minutes on while I wait for tea to steep or sauce to simmer. And while it doesn't look like much to me, visitors have commented on how beautiful it is. Funny how when you have your nose buried in something for months on end that it ceases to have any finer qualities, all you can see is its faults and mundanity. And how much there is left still to do.

I moved into my basement guest room. Am quite surprised by how comfy it is and am thinking of making the move semi-permanent. Probably it will get too cold in the winter and I would rather not turn on the baseboard heater, but am enjoying it for the present. If I am not careful my old bedroom will turn into my junk room.

My neighbour up the street is helping me do some work on my truck. He painted the whole thing and undercoated it too. He put rock guard on the lower panels. He told me to buy some chrome tape to trim the wheel wells with and put it on for me. He tore out the headliner in the cab (it was sagging and disintegrating). Our next project is to remove the cap on the box (if anyone on the west coast is reading this, cap=canopy), replace the truck cap tape, add a bead of silicone and put the cap back on again. To keep the water out. My Blomidon camping friend wants to camp at Keji in October and I would like the truck box to be rainproof by then.

I joined the Newcomers Club. I don't feel like a newcomer but of course in many ways I am. And it turns out there is no time limit on being a newcomer, there are newcomers that have been members for years. Once you join you can participate in any or all of the interest groups, I signed up for three but there are many more. On Wednesday I went biking with the biking group; we did a leisurely ride to a bakery for coffee and muffins and then back again. We laughed ourselves silly over the coffee. The night before I went to the book discussion group; I read Wreckage by Michael Crummey for that group and the discussion was quite interesting.

Several of us mentioned the literary device of jumping around in time in the course of the novel, how it bothered us because it seemed kind of choppy and disorienting. But one woman said, Isn't this how we think of our lives? I mean, we don't remember things linearly, we remember bits and pieces all over time, whatever seems relevant at the time of remembering, or next in line in our own peculiar streams of consciousness.

I will mention three books I've read this summer that were really good: Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill (memoir), Wreckage (novel,) and This is How by Augusten Burroughs (self-help non-fiction?). They have that quality of taking my breath away at how well written they are. Phrases, sentences, whole paragraphs jump off the page and demand to be memorized.

I am ploughing through everything Roger Zelazny ever wrote but I am thinking of giving that up pretty soon. Some of what he wrote I really really liked (Lord of Light is on my short list of all-time favourites) and the rest is anywhere from OK to boring.

Yesterday, in the course of thinking about rearranging furniture I was looking at my bookshelves. Many of my books are decades old and have only been read once, if ever ( I confess to buying books I should read and then never do). I picked up one at random, The Medusa and the Snail by Lewis Thomas, and realized that while I have a general idea of what Thomas wrote about I had no memory of the specifics except for one excerpt involving his thoughts after an accident lying on the pavement watching his blood flow out of a wound. Perhaps I should reread the book. Then looked at the books surrounding it and thought, perhaps I should reread them all. When?!? And if I am not going to reread them why am I keeping them?

I picked up a Fench language novel that once had been a favourite of mine (l'Ecume du jour, by Boris Vian), when I could read French reasonably well. Now, it is almost gibberish to me. I have no memory of what that book is about, and I would have to improve my understanding of written French substantially if I ever hope to find out. That book is over 40 years old, a musty old paperback. I remember a couple of other books that I bought around the same time and later culled; I wish I had hung onto them instead of this one, at least they had pictures.

The other day a friend of a friend dropped by to pick up something. As she was leaving she commented on the tree in front of my house, saying that I really should remove it. After having spent hundreds of dollars to remove the trees at the back and missing them afterward, the suggestion that I remove yet another tree was not really welcome. I pointed out the benefits of that tree, how it provided much needed shade in the summer and a degree of privacy as well. She continued to insist that it should go and my argument that it provided privacy spurred her to say that without that tree my house would be much more welcoming, and that I was just an old spinster hiding in my house behind that tree.

Well shut my mouth and call me speechless, as a childhood friend used to say. Who even uses that word anymore? I could only come up with Thank you for sharing as a response. Later I recounted this conversation to my neighbour and she laughingly suggested that I should have told her the tree was for hiding my constant stream of male visitors from prying eyes.

Other than the couple of short trips mentioned above I have been close to home and feeling a bit antsy about that. I feel like I should be somewhere else doing something else, but no ideas (or maybe too many ideas) about what. Tied to my garden as it were. Read a lot. Dream a lot. Wish I was there.

Last winter I kind of made a sort of new year's resolution, to give myself a year to figure out what I was up to next. Now that year is coming to a close and I have done very little to figure that out other than turn down or otherwise pass up opportunities to go somewhere. At one point it occurred to me that I was waiting for something to happen, something to change that would make it all clear to me and that really, if I wanted to change I had to change, not wait for change. From there I went to what would I change and quickly picked on several habits of laziness that I have fallen into that might be counterproductive time wasters. Things I do for the sake of comfort that are kind of addictions (TV, eating chocolate, web-surfing for hours on end). A little bit of TV or chocolate is nice but filling one's life up with it is not.

When my TV time rolls around each day, the pull of the TV is quite overwhelming, I make up reasons not to do anything else. And then I haul out the chocolate and there goes the evening. I figure between all of my addictions I am looking at half the day just gone. So now I am looking at how to deal with that. Quit cold turkey or pick at the edges? Figure out alternative activities to gradually replace the worst of my addictions? There is such a pull toward sloth, I can easily see myself sinking into some kind of oblivion of terminal laziness.

OK, a bit of a ramble, but that's all. Don't know when I'll be back...