Monday, May 25, 2015

Front Porch in Spring

Imagine a front porch,
not the southern, wooden veranda,
but a solid concrete and stone place,
on the north side.

The modern, tall and narrow, fake, black plastic wicker
planters have just been filled with roses, lavender in topiary shape,
trailing lobelia and something white.

The grey stones are wet from watering and hosing down,
glistening even in the shade.
They remind of cobble stones in a European market place,
and sitting beside it in shiny, contemporary bakery cafe.

Two Muskoka chairs sprawl under the spread of the Amur cherry.
Birds fly to the birdfeeder, but there is no more birdseed.  The tree will provide.
Birds come here of every color, alone or in swarms:  a virtual bird paradise.

The Bergenia blooms in extravagant pink.
The Lily of the Valley is almost getting there.
There is also the Prairie Crocus.  It does well.

It is still too early for mosquitos, but the shaded spot already feels like a refuge,
on this first hot day of the year.

Everything is perfect.

Except it is not.

The place is for sale.
The realtor's lock-box is on the door handle.

No one lives here any more.
And many who used to come here, live no longer.

How can this perfect moment only be a moment?
How can it only be a glimpse?

The birdsong reminds me of my grandfather
who had little wild garden with birdfeeders.
He identified their songs and reveled in them,
tried to teach them to me.

He, too, had a shaded porch by the front steps.
He hung up a swing in it for me--a Haven for a time.

Women and Tools

When I was growing up, my Dad taught me how to do a few things, such as hammering in a nail with good strength, roofing and changing a tire. He taught me how to drive and how to arrive in time by aiming to be 10 min. early.

My husband is slightly the opposite.  He always wants to do a great job and does not trust others to do as well.  He likes to drive fast and rush and get there barely on time.  He must thrive on the adrenalin.

So it goes.

However, as an adult woman, I have found the greatest hindrance to doing jobs myself has been the disappearance of tools.  Nothing is where it was the last time.  In spite of the moaning about always having to look for things, nothing gets put back where it belongs.  "A place for everything and everything in its place"  is not a motto around here.

I do have a little hammer in the kitchen drawer.  If it goes missing, there is bloody murder and usually it is there.

Lately, I have found the solution to the problem:  I have been buying my tools at IKEA.  As they are somewhat small-ish and underpowered, no man who thinks of himself as a man would touch them. Most definitely there are not enough RPM's.  Thus, I now have a power drill, a level, plenty of wall anchors, and so on.  In great loving concern, even a gift has been made to me of a set of drill bits.  But this was not until after the one of my two IKEA drill bits was abducted.  At my complaint of loosing 50% of my severely limited stash of drill bits, I received a very nice man-type set in a sturdy container.  It has not been taken, so far, and I have had the use of it when I wanted it.

Another great idea, was mentioned to me, yesterday.  There is a lady who gives all her nieces a pink set of tools when they grow up.  Now, this really takes the cake!  PINK tools!  I love it.  No self-respecting male would think of even picking that up and be seen with them.  Therefore, he can also not loose it.  I LOVE it.  If nothing else, if I see the pink one lying around the house, I would know that it is mine, and get it back to the right place.

So, here, to all those who wish to get women independent on the little jobs around the house, get them a pink took kit.  Where on earth do you get one, though.  Let's google it.

Aha, Amazon has a collection.

A drill and some kinds of saws would be good, too. Where are the power tools?  HM.  Sigh.

Apollo Precision Tools DT9706P General Tool Set, 39-Piece (Pink)

Monday, May 18, 2015


I have been painting, cleaning and staging this house.  The realtors come tomorrow for pictures.  It's been hard work because Martin has no time, but I've liked it.

If you want to buy it, let me know.  It is located close to the new bitumen upgrader.  On the horizon you can see the huge electrical line towers they have erected to go to the billion dollar plant.

Off to Home Depo for more supplies.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Poem by me

Holy Joy

The land is laid out in quarter sections here.
The road leads straight North.

From a hilltop the prairie displays itself
In a huge flat expanse, lifting the heart.

Toward the Northwest the sun sets slowly,
The large ball hanging orange, radiating pink
over the entire, wide, cloudless sky.

By this sun we have seen all day.
By it we have had the light of life.
By it we are fed and take strength.

The silos stand at rapt attention,
Greeting their master with a reflection.

O, Lord, you are glorious.

Stock Photo titled: Gorgeous Prairie Sunset In Scenic Saskatchewan In ...

Pictures hung / spring time in Alberta, May 15

Friday, May 15, 2015

One of the best of weeks / one of the worst of weeks / ukulele purchase

It has been quite a week.  I will skip the "worst of weeks" part.  I have complained lots but I won't put it on the internet...

What's good is that we had some great spring weather for a change.  This means there is much work to be done.

What's the best is that I bought myself a Ukulele and a song book, and I enjoy both so much.

This is the Ukulele here.  It is concert size and has a pick-up.  This means I can plug it into Stefan's guitar amp when I get around to trying it.

I love, love, love, love my Ukulele.  Because of its small size I can hold it closer to my head (that is not to come right out and say:  over top of the boobs).  The guitar never quite worked for my body.  My short stubby fingers can play all the chords on the ukulele.

The songbook is also amazing.  It is here.


Though I don't know most of the songs, it seems like a good collection.  What is best about it for me so far is that the chords needed for each song are pictured right above and you can keep on referring to them.  There are very many different chords in the songs making for a more sophisticated accompanying.  I love singing to the ukulele.  You can belt it out much better with the posture you are in.

I told my husband that finally there is a musical instrument he can play without having to put in any practicing.  He cooperated and quickly learned to play his first song. My favorite song so far is Annie's song: "You fill up my senses."  (That the kind of popular songs which are contained in the book.)

Here is John Denver singing "Annie's song."  Isn't it lovely.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Finished painting

Here is the other finished painting.  Let's call it Patchwork Quilt inspired.

My husband liked it and praised me for getting done Without being high on cocaine.  Well, he says, he assumes that I was not high on cocaine...

(I was not high on cocaine, just to assure the gentle reader.  It did remind me of a painting of squares I saw in the George Pompidou art gallery in central Paris, France.  There.)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Save money, paint yourself

I have to stage a house for sale.  To "save" money, I have been doing the artwork myself, utilizing what is on hand, incorporating pre-school glitter and glitter paint.  Squares seem to be the thing.

There is no workspace, so it needs to get done quickly.  The green is painter's tape, and will come off to reveal beige.

What was funny and what I want to say is that my intelligent husband came up with an interpretation for the blue one below.  He says it looks like a calendar with the days of the month.  The blue framed ones could be the ones on which one had a bad headache.  :(   But we had to laugh and I told him he was in insightful art critic.  :)

We will see if we will put them up.  Next time, with better space and more time, one could come up with more interesting stencils. But I do like geometric shapes a lot.  I think squares are beautiful, but dots are my favorites.

Monday, May 4, 2015

All the Famous People are Dying

I wonder sometimes, where I have been the last several decades.  Really.

Every day, there is a news item about so-and-so who died, whom I have never-ever heard of, whose music, I think, I have never listened to, whose comic show I have never seen, whose books I haven't read or heard of...

But this constant parade of unknown famous people dying is an opportunity to catch up really fast on some things.  You can just google their Wikipedia page, see some interviews or pieces of interviews on Youtube, etc.  In about half an hour, you can get as caught up as you feel you need to be.  If you are really interested you can order a book from Amazon, or buy a song on I-tunes.  Voila.  Now I know whom they are talking about.

So it happened that Ben E. King died last weekend.  It turns out that he wrote and performed a well-loved song "Stand by Me."  It is a beautiful song and I went and bought it on I-tunes and used it with my Monday morning music class at a day home. Everyone there, seems to have heard the song but never heard of Ben E. King.

Ben E. King Height and Weight

I have a huge spot in my heart for black singers and song.  As we read, Ben E. King grew up singing in church gospel choir.  This is no surprise.  Even nowadays, when you watch America has Talent, many singers learned to sing in this context.

"Stand by Me", also, is said to be inspried by an African-Amercian hymn "Lord, stand by me."  I went and bought that song, too, on I-tunes performed by the Blind Boys of Alabama.  This latter group, I knew about, as I heard them on CBC radio, and we went to see them as a family when they were in Edmonton.  This was for our 25th wedding anniversary, and Stefan was still alive.  The children were intimidated by the old age of the attendees at the concert, but loved the music.  Stefan particularly like Taj Mahal, who also performed.  It was a smashing hit, altogether.

Here is a great rendition of "Lord, stand by me."

Sometimes, we stand alone, sometimes we stand together.  Always we pray for the Lord to be with us and to keep us.  Into his hand we commend ourselves and all things.  Into his hand we also commend the brother singer Ben E.  King, who made beautiful song.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cashiers with University Degrees

I am still thinking about the last post, and the ironies felt by the ladies at the till, at Value Village.  One had a degree in English literature and the other one had a degree in Genetics.

It has become a common occurrence, that people have spent much time and much money getting degrees with nothing to show for it in terms of employment prospects.  Even professors complain that they only teach sessions and can't make a living or have any prestige.

One thing I have learned is that the institutions in Alberta pump out many, many more teachers than are needed.  Myself and my siblings have thrown ourselves into this group.  I taught at Lutheran school, my sister went to Japan to teach and married a Japanese, my brother went to teach in the South Sea islands and now teaches on-line.  None of us obtained a well-earning position with the regular school board.  The way I recall it, there are about 200 teachers needed in a year, and there are about 2000 new graduates with a Bachelor of Education.  That is a stiff competition for work, and my feeling has been that it is who you know not what you know that gives you a leg up in the job market.

This is disheartening and wrong.

In Germany, my friend's daughter is becoming a Chemistry teacher.  She has a practicum which is several years long and and when she is finished she will have a decent position.  This is certainly more humane, fair and effective.

We are doing a lot wrong over here.

--And the schools have big windows.

(Picture from Google Images)

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Way of Blankets / Value Village

"The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."

Crochet  Afghan | Pink Chevron Afghan | Blanket Throw | Lap Robe

When  I went to Value Village, the other day, to pick up some inexpensive items, I noticed how cheaply you could acquire a used hand-made blanket--for example, this type of crocheted chevron design.  It takes a long time to make one of these.

It is a little bit disheartening to observe the way of these kinds of blankets, hand-made--not exactly art--lovingly and patiently stitched together by hand, wrapped around loved ones on cool evenings, slung over a favorite chair or sofa to cuddle there with a book by the fire...  If the blanket could tell stories...

Now, it hangs neatly on a hanger and costs about $5.00.  The fabric does not look too nice anymore.  Good for camping.

And that could be more value still, physically speaking, than the loving hands of a grandma, who may have knitted it and who has been long gone, missed much or not so much.  Who knows.

Still, I could be motivated to make something really crazy colorful, like this:

Would that not be fun?  It would be easier than the lace knit on the round, I am involved with now.

Funny, too, and a little sad and morbid, too, were the ladies at the check-out at Value Village.  What I did end up buying there was a stack of books, all of them classics.  There were used Dostoevsky's, Homer, Ellie Wiesel, Canadian short stories and poetry.  I probably got about a dozen, so that the woman at the check-out, a lively, chatty one, said:  "Are you taking a class?"  I said:  "No, not a class.  I can read all that and save the money on a class."  She said:  "Yes, I took my degree in English, and here I work. (Embarrassed to work at Value Village)"  The lady at the check-out next to her said:  "And look at me.  I have a degree in Genetics."  She was not joking. 

This proves my point.  Just read good books and forget the extra degrees. 

Read a book.  Crochet a blanket.  Cuddle.  

Work and chat at Value Village.  It's all good. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Joy / Love / Lust

I had printed out and laminated this verse at New Year's and attached to my fridge, the side of it.  The front of the fridge is not magnetic anymore.  But still I could see it there.

Then I gave it away at Easter as a present and noticed how much I missed it.  So I have just have printed it out again, four to a page, to laminate and give away again.

We probably have the old ditty in our head:  "This is the day, this is day..."  It sounds infantile.  But the verse is still powerful.  Just keep it in front of you for a few days.  It will make you more grateful, present in the moment, and happy.  It IS the day, this very day, that the LORD has made for you.  Seize it.  Live it.  Love it. Pain and all.  Warts and all.  Hope and all.  Forgive.  Be forgiven.

Pastor Riley posted a deep and moving piece today:
A stony heart bathed in tears.  It is easy to always think of someone else, but we need to try and think of it about ourselves.  How is our heart so hard.  How do we have lust rather than love?  What will create a true joy?  Lust or love?  Giving or receiving?  Being selfish?  This is where self-actualization falls down.

The rejoicing day is in the Lord, not my desires otherwise.  Otherwise will let us down.  Some time.  Some how.