Thursday, December 11, 2008

More of Yer Modren Techmology

I have a new flat-screen, high-definition television. It is extremely large, amazingly flat, and dazzlingly high definition. The hubby and I bought it for each other as our Christmas gift this year. We have not exchanged gifts, per se, in several years, instead purchasing something for the house that we might otherwise have delayed purchasing for some time, or at all. Our previous TV, some 15 years old, was still working just fine, and had there not been this whole new technology going on, we would have stuck with it until it died. But flat-screen HDTV is the biggest change since TVs went from black and white to colour (which, my lovies, it actually did in my lifetime) and it seemed gratuitously Luddite of us to avoid enjoyment of what the 21st century has to offer in the home entertainment area, just on general principles.

So Grammar is, in fact, rather over the moon about her newfangled telly. Being who she is, the age she is, or whatever, there’s a smidge of guilt to be so giddy with delight over a completely unnecessary luxury. This joy is not to be compared with, for example, that of war’s end, the birth of a child, successful surgery, or even a gas station finally appearing on the highway when you’ve had to pee for the past four hours. But on the scale of glee Grammar has experienced in her lifetime over completely unnecessary luxury items, this new TV is right up there at the top.

Okay, well, after any cruise. Duh.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Favourite Firstborn!

Once again, I'm a little late with the birthday acknowledgement here in blogworld. My laddie had his 23rd birthday yesterday. He came for dinner with his girlfriend and a couple of other friends and it was very jolly with all the young people about, although they did display a disturbing propensity for reminiscing about youthful behaviours best unheard by mothers. But my goodness, how can he be such an age? It simply does not compute in a maternal brain. Even though he has moved out, in my mind he's simply off playing house somewhere for awhile. He's still, as the picture below is labelled in my photo album, my Chuckster-Pookster! (Sorry, Laddie!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


While the rest of you complain about the rain and the dark and the cold, those of us whose favourite season is fall are sitting back and enjoying ourselves. Yes, it is dark and rainy outside, but in my house I have warm pockets of light in each room, because I am politically incorrect and, in weather like this, I actually leave lights on. (I am sorry, militant green people, but I do not wish to live surrounded by a sea of darkness.) I also have the gas fireplaces flickering in the living room and family room/kitchen. My iPod is docked in its stereo base and set to play loudly enough that I can hear my music throughout the house. I did a good clean this morning, so everything gleams. My home feels cozy and welcoming. It doesn’t matter that I am currently the only one in it: it is a wonderful thing to feel cozy and welcomed in my own home.

There is tea, and sugar cookies, and an engaging book. There are two warm, purring kitties. I can curl up on my couch and let the rain fall outside. I have done my chores, and I have all I need right here, and this afternoon is all mine.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weather, Water, Wisitors

Today was a gift, an eye in the monsoon season storms. It was sunny and crisp, not cold, absolutely perfect walking weather. So I got out and had a trudge around the neighbourhood, waving at the many neighbours out raking leaves. And I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep up with the decorating in this neighbourhood: the guy across the street put his Christmas lights up today!

It’s interesting doing each season for the first time in our new house. Although the main privacy plantings at the back of our property are evergreens, even they have thinned a little with fall and we now have a bit of a view of Burrard Inlet, which is lovely and unexpected. There’s just nothing like being able to see water from your window. Mother nature’s water, that is. If I crane my neck I can also see a bit of the neighbour’s swimming pool, but that’s not at all the same. It also needs to be a large body of water, because puddles certainly don’t work, either. The water viewing requirements are actually quite specific, aren’t they?

We had The Lad here for dinner last night, which was great, except that it makes me miss him more when he’s gone. Most of the time I’m okay with him having flown the nest, but when he’s here, he brings his own unique life to the place and it feels right and proper that he’s here and sad and strange when he leaves.

If I were a real writer, I’d have a clever closing paragraph that combines the topics of weather, water views and visiting progeny. Alas, I don’t.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's all too much

Well, I officially have no time to work any more. I sit down at my computer with the best of productive intentions, but there’s just too much other stuff to do. What with checking and answering emails, Instant Message chats with my children and friends, tending this blog occasionally, checking out my favourite websites, doing online crossword puzzles…and now, to top it off, I’ve joined Facebook.

I joined because my daughter encouraged me to, and because I was curious. Although I feel no urgent need to socially network beyond what I was already doing with phone, email and Messenger, I wanted to see what this vast cultural phenomenon was all about. When you look at the Facebook pages of the Millennial generation, they each list literally hundreds of “friends”. The majority of these are obviously not really friends at all but something scarcely above total strangers: friends of friends of friends of friends. I’m not sure what the point is. I have, so far, all of 16 friends, several of whom are related to me. I feel compelled to check each of their Facebook pages regularly, just to see what’s going on. How can you do that with 517 friends? I’d lose my mind.

I’m glad I do not have young children in this day and age. It would be exhausting trying to keep track of all their “friends”. But my children are adults and this is their reality and they think nothing of it. It’s always been true that each new generation has a mindset quite incomprehensible to the ones which preceded it. Boomers are competent with computers; we have come to be reasonably comfortable with them, but they are not an utterly integral part of us as they are to our children. So I joined Facebook as part of my ongoing efforts to keep up, to understand. And it is kind of fun, and it does transcend age. My youngest Facebook friend is 15 and my oldest is 86.

Seriously, 517 friends??? I don’t think I’ve met that many people in my entire life!
(Happy Birthday, Missy Moo!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Update

Just wanted to report in that Halloween at the new homestead was a great success. The rain that had fallen most of the day let up just in time and we welcomed 40 little monsters and princesses to our door, far more than I was expecting in our tucked-away location. Fortunately, I was prepared and although only the first 30 got full-size chocolate bars and gum packets, I had at the last minute purchased a back-up box of those silly mini-bars, which I disbursed by the (child’s) fistful. This was very surprising to one little dinosaur, who took his time and managed an impressive clutch of candy in his tiny paw, then looked up and asked politely, “Can I have ANOTHER handful, please?” I could see the wheels turning in his brain. The first fistful was just the warmup. Now his hand was well stretched, he was sure he could do better the second time around!

The glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein heads on the porch railing mesmerized a miniature zombie. She had to examine each and every one (and there were many) before she would leave. I admired the patience of her adult guardian, who allowed the child to sate herself on wonderment rather than hurry her on for more candy.

What also pleased me was that none of the beggars on our doorstep this night appeared to be over the age of 13. I do not approve of older teenagers trick or treating, although if they have at least made a good effort at a costume, I mind it less. I really dislike scruffy adolescents showing up in their regular clothes, not uttering a word, just holding out a bag with a challenging stare. I’ve always given them something, of course, fearing the consequences if I didn’t, but it annoys me no end. Not everyone agrees with my stand on this. Loyal fan Solomon has attempted to debate me on this point, his opinion being that pretty much anyone who chooses to plod from door to door on Halloween night should be rewarded with candy. I cannot debate it because I have no particular arguments to put forth for my side. I simply believe Halloween is for children, at least the trick or treating portion of it. I also believe in giving out full-size candy bars, so I’m not all Grinch!

And also -- this morning, every one of my pumpkins is still in place, unharmed. I’m impressed.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

This is our first Halloween in the new neighbourhood, and turns out it’s a big deal in these parts. Soon after the 1st of October, everyone on our little cul-de-sac breaks out running kilometers of fake spiderwebbing, along with gigantic spiders (also either fake or extremely tame), witches in flowing black robes dangling from trees and so on. One neighbour has draped swaths of tattered, shredded fabric all over the exterior of her home. She’s out there every day on the ladder, artfully placing more off her eaves or downspouts or window frames. The slightest breeze and it looks spectacular!

Our previous efforts in the way of Halloween decoration had never exceeded two jack-o-lanterns (one per child under our ownership), plus a pressure pad that slipped under our Welcome mat and shrieked hideously when stepped upon. It used to make me so nervous; I’d hover near the front window and when any child who appeared to be under the age of five approached, I’d fling open the door and start babbling a warning. They could try the screaming mat if they wished, but I wanted the wee ones to be prepared first! My own children thought I was not only a killjoy, but probably more frightening than the mat itself as I burst out the door making warning handsigns and appearing bizarrely possessive of my doormat.

In any case, we now feel obliged, as the New People, to do our part in creepifying our little street. So I’ve hung a large and ghastly witchy-skeletony object directly under our porch light. I’ve draped glow-in-the-dark Frankenstein heads along the railing. I have affixed a large cover to our front door that makes it appear you are approaching a haunted house. And I have placed a number of big pumpkins around in my garden and on the front porch. (They are not jack-o-lanterns because I am no longer in possession of any children who wish to carve them, and it’s certainly not something I’ll do without the impetus and assistance of a child.)

Now, as I placed these pumpkins around the property about a week ago, some in the front garden right next to the street, I cynically wondered how many days, or possibly even hours, they would remain there. Much though I loved my old neighbourhood and even though it was a very nice neighbourhood, I am in no doubt that pumpkins left lying around would be very quickly liberated by roving groups of teens, most likely to be victims of science experiments involving firecrackers, or possibly just thrown from great heights for another type of satisfying explosion. As teenage vandalism goes, this is way down on the seriousness list. Far better my pumpkin meet up with firecrackers than some poor cat!

So I was quite resigned and fully expecting that having put the pumpkins out so far before Halloween night, I would be replacing them once or twice. But in fact, they have not been touched. Every morning when I get up and see they’re all still there, I’m amazed. I feel as if I’ve entered some sort of Mister Rogers Neighbourhood of Make Believe. I have been lulled into starting to leave my door unlocked when I go out grocery shopping, because it’s so nice to not have to fumble with keys when toting in my bags of provisions.

Never mind that the people next door are in the process of divorcing but can’t find a buyer for their house and are therefore very tense and have some riproaring verbal battles full of extremely colourful language. We can’t hear them as well since the weather has cooled off and windows are closed. Mind you, they’d often end the battles by firing up some giggle weed and everything would get very calm, and with the windows closed, we can’t get any secondhand enjoyment of that, either.

Fun and games here in Brigadoon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Come up and see me sometime

I am sitting at my desk, sipping a strawberries and cream from my local Starbucks, within very pleasant walking distance of my new house, especially on such a beautiful day. The water of Indian Arm sparkles in the early-autumn sun. The siders are finished and the next serf (doors) not beginning until tomorrow, so no one is hammering! It is bliss.

I have just about completed the guest room. It looks very inviting, with fresh new linens on a brand-new bed. I am inordinately excited about my guest room, which is ridiculous because we have guests about once every blue moon. But I have never had the luxury of a guest room before and so it simply tickles me to have the space available.

So, Grammar fans, if you need to get away somewhere -- your house is being renovated, your spouse is exceptionally irritating, locusts have descended, you suddenly have wanderlust -- I have a guestroom! I have a large shopping mall with a pretty new Village area, a picturesque Cove to visit, a selection of movie theatres, even a coffee table full of magazines to read. And I have a Starbucks we can walk to! Oh, and just this morning I finally figured out how to program the floor-heating units in the bathrooms. What more could you want?

Only, not in the next couple of weeks. Doorserf, you know.

Photo by KCL

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hammers and Hot Flashes

Grammar is living a life of semi-sanity at the moment. (Yes, yes, all comments regarding whether she ever had better than semi-sanity are taken as said.) Hot on the heels of the landscapers have come the sidingserfs, replacing all the cedar boards on the eastern face of our new home. They arrive before 7:30 each morning to set up, and soon thereafter, The Hammering commences. They hammer all day long. Bangbangbang bang bangbang bangbangbangbangbang bang bangbangbang…. It’s like the most exquisite form of torture.

Hunkered down in my office with the blinds closed as if in a bunker with the sounds of war around me, I type raggedly away to its irregular rhythm, pausing from time to time to turn the fan right beside me on or off. No, not because of the weather, which has been very pleasant, hasn’t it? No, Grammar suffers from that wonderful phenomenon known as the Hot Flash, but which might be more accurately described as The Precursor to Spontaneous Human Combustion. Seriously, sometimes it feels as if flames are literally going to erupt from the top of my head. It comes and goes, all day, all night, with its own hormonal rhythm (which does not, as it happens, match that of The Hammering).

Well, Grammar People, I’ll try not to blog at you again until I’m in a better mood, but I did enjoy my little rant, I must say.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wilder Life

Last night Grammar’s little family were seated around the kitchen table enjoying a tasty chicken dinner. There was Grammar, SRH, VCCGirl and the Boyfriend (of VCCGirl, not Grammar). Yes, this is the same boyfriend who first met Grammar under extremely inauspicious morning circumstances almost a year ago. He’s still around, bless his heart. Clearly a fellow with staying power. Of course, when the draw is the charming and beautiful VCCGirl, why not indeed?

Once when we were on vacation in Mexico with our children, a local man eyed up my daughter, then looked at me and said in English, “Beautiful daughter, beautiful girl. Good job, Mama” and gave me a thumbs-up, and walked on. Along with feeling outraged that this slimy man would dare to ogle my young teenage daughter, I wanted to laugh at being given any credit for her. I take no credit, because that would be ridiculous, but I certainly do take enormous pride in my girl, who is beautiful both inside and out.

Anyway, we’re seated at dinner and suddenly VCCGirl blurts “Uh oh!” and points out the window. There, taking up about half our wee new back yard, was the biggest black bear I’ve ever seen, and living on the North Shore for 25 years, I’ve seen quite a few. It ambled through the yard and headed up along the side of our house.

We leapt up and ran to the front window, and saw many of our neighbours out on their porches, calling to each other and pointing out the bear’s current location. We all compared notes of where it had been, whose garbage had been raided, whose tender new landscaping trampled (sigh). The bear, oblivious, made its way down to the little park at the end of the street and disappeared from our sight, so we returned to dinner.

It was an interesting way to bond a bit with our new neighbours, I thought.

In all my years here, I have never worried much about bears because until very recently, there had been no reports of a bear attacking a human except in the very rare circumstance that you might come between a mother and cub. But there have been several reports of seemingly unprovoked attacks recently in communities near the bears' mountain homes, and no one is sure why they have suddenly become aggressive towards people, although there are some theories.

So when I went out early this morning to start the sprinkler on our new grass, I took a large, heavy shovel with me and filled my lungs with plenty of air for any ululating that might become necessary.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wild Life

My mind was on wildlife as I went to put the recycling out at the curb after dinner last night, for today’s pickup day. I was feeling a bit annoyed that we can’t put our trash cans out the night before because of attracting bears to the garbage smorgasbord. My cat, who fancies a wild life but who is not supposed to be out after dark, escaped as I was doing this.

Over the next few hours I called him now and then, to no avail. Finally, I was ready to go to bed at 11 and went to give one last call. I peered out my office window, where he is used to being let in during the day. Sure enough, there he was, sitting on the porch right outside the window. As was a skunk, three feet away from him, snuffling at where the landscapers had eaten their lunch that day. The cat seemed unconcerned by the skunk, and the skunk seemed unconcerned by the cat. I, on the other hand, was highly concerned by the entire situation.

I opened the window just a crack, to test the smell of the air. It was neither pungent nor acrid, so I eased the window open far enough for the cat to jump in and hissed his name. Typical cat: rather than leap in quickly, he just stared at me with slitted eyes, assessing how badly I wanted him to do this. The skunk snuffled. I attempted to look nonchalant, which worked; the cat jumped gracefully in.

I slammed the window shut. The skunk ran off. I collapsed with heart palpitations. It is a wild life we all lead here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A New Playlist

Grammar does hope that everyone who read my Labour Day diatribe understands it was -- at least mostly -- tongue in cheek! One of the things I really enjoy about this day, the day after Labour Day, is the palpable sense of excitement in the air. I had to go out to an appointment at the unfortunate hour of about 9:00 this morning (unfortunate due to this being the heaviest traffic day of the year!), but it was such fun to see all the kids heading off to school, looking at what they were wearing, knowing how carefully it had all been selected. I remember those days well, both for my childhood self and as a mother.

On the subject of nostalgia, I created a new playlist for my iPod the other day (best thing about iPods -- making playlists for any mood, any occasion!) This one is comprised of songs which all evoke a specific memory for me. I listened to this playlist in the car on my outing this morning and it was like listening to a story, following the pictures in my mind.

I’m not going to share all my selections because of course they don’t mean anything to anyone but me (and some of them might qualify for the category of Too Much Information!) But here are a few examples:

I have I Ain’t Gonna Cry Tonight by Barbra Streisand, because that was the song that helped me turn the corner after a breakup with a longtime boyfriend. It was almost three decades ago, but when I hear that song, I’m immediately back in my apartment, getting up off my tear-stained couch and starting to dance around on my shabby grass-green carpet. I hear that song and remember with total clarity how, from one moment to the next, I went from heartbreak and despair to excitement and hope for the future.

I have Choose Something Like a Star, a song written by the late contemporary American composer Randall Thompson. I sang this at summer music camp in 1973, where I spent four of the happiest weeks of my life. I listen to that song and I can smell the grass where we sat having Ear Training lessons outside. I see my youthful fingers effortlessly banging out a Bach Prelude and Fugue, something I could not play today to save my life.

I have John Denver singing Sunshine on my Shoulders and remember a senior high school music tour to Seattle. We were heading home at the end of the weekend and I was in a car driven by a classmate. In the back seat with me was my secret crush Jim. (At least, I thought it was a secret at the time. Teenagers being considerably less subtle than they think they are, of course he knew. But he was kind.) Anyway, it was late and dark, the drive was long, and I was debating whether I had the courage to lay my head on Jim’s shoulder for a snooze. Sunshine came on the radio and it was during the 5 minutes and 14 seconds of its run (I checked my iTunes!) that my head ever so slowly tilted down, down, down…and…there.

I have Elvis singing Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, because I sang it as I endlessly rocked my infant firstborn. I hear this song and remember feelings of immense fatigue and confusion. The words seemed so apt: this tiny, helpless, squalling creature was the cause of my fatigue and confusion, but also of a new love beyond description.

The thought process of creating a playlist like this is as much fun as listening to it in sequence afterwards. I highly recommend it as a project for one of your quiet, orderly fall days!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Ahhh, Labour Day. This is far and away Grammar’s favourite day of the entire year. All summer long, all these random people mill about the streets and shops at any hour of the day. Children play happily outside until all hours of the night. Bah, humbug! Send the big ones back to their offices and the little ones back to their institutions of learning. Let the time of quiet and order and schedules begin again. As the air outside becomes blessedly nippy, Grammar can bundle up and walk the quiet streets, devoid of summertime hedonists running amok. Ahhhhh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, VCCGirl!

A wink of an eye ago she looked like this. Now she's all grown up, and she's no longer cute...she's beautiful.

PS: Yes, I know her birthday was actually a few days ago, but Grammar only remembers the blog at random intervals. Grammar only remembers anything at random intervals.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Things I Miss

I miss being able to stay up late. It’s been a busy week of work, but so nice to have the Olys to relax with in the evening. I wish I still had my old night-owl abilities and could stay up to watch more of the live coverage but alas, Grammar needs her bed by 11:00 these days.

I miss my youthful multitasking skills. This busy work week has involved a fair amount of co-ordination between a number of transcribers and the office manager. There is a flurry of messaging and emails and phone calls first thing each morning as we sort out the assignment o’ day.

So yesterday I was attempting to start a work download, messaging with two people about how this particular task would be split between us, and phoning the office manager about a download problem I was encountering. In the midst of this, one of my stable of tradeserfs rang the doorbell. SRH was unhelpfully in the shower and although I bellowed, declined to leap out of it and answer the door in a towel. Well, I thought my head was going to explode.

I miss my Laddie. I keep forgetting that he actually doesn’t live with us anymore. We ordered Chinese food for dinner tonight (Olys! Beijing!) and I automatically warned SRH and VCCGirl, as they loaded their plates, to save enough for the Lad. He’d always go to the fridge when he got home late from work, you see. It really jolted me that I didn’t need to save dinner for my boy, tonight or any other night. Funny how it hit me after he’s already been gone over a month. You think you’re ready and more than ready, some days, for them to head out on their own. But it still feels so very strange.

I also miss weather under 25 degrees Celsius -- but I’ll get that back soon! (I can actually tell exactly when the temperature hits 25. That precise point is the end of my comfort zone.) Sorry, sun-worshippers, but I’ve got autumn in my sights, and it’s a-coming!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Windows and siding and gardens, oh my!

Good morning, Blog World. Are we all enjoying the Olympics? I am, for the most part. Can’t abide water polo and fail to understand why every channel would want to show us that rather than, say, equestrian events, which I’ve seen nothing of in (our) daylight hours. Wouldn’t you think more of us would want to see that than water polo? We’ve had a lot of beach volleyball, which I enjoy except for being distracted by my own annoyance at the outfits the women players feel obliged to wear. The men wear board shorts and T-shirts, but the women, oh, they must wear itsy bitsy bikinis. It irks me.

So I don’t really have anything witty or clever to say today but feel like keeping in touch. We’ve been in our new home for a month now and continue to settle in. There are still more unpacked boxes tucked away here and there than there should be, but we’re whittling away at them. We’re as busy with tradespeople here as we were in the last few weeks at our old house. But these improvements we get to stay and enjoy!

We’re focusing on the outside, initially, given the time of year and also given that it’s difficult to do too much inside until we finally finish unpacking! After chopping down the incredible house-eating pine tree, we have had people clean out our gutters, which were of course overflowing with pine detritus. We have had a landscaper draw up plans to rejuvenate and spiff up our garden. While the wild, untended look does provide for a sort of camping in the woods effect, it needs some taming. So he has planned a lovely garden that will require no more than two or three visits from him a year to keep in shape. At this place and time, we’re all about no effort on our part!

Two windows on the east side of our house are being replaced, and after that’s done, a fellow is coming to replace all the cedar siding on that side, which is rotting disproportionately to the rest of the house (which is not at all rotten). We are told this is common on the east side because most weather hereabouts comes from that side. Winds driving rain and all that. I don’t know, but it’s important to SRH that this be done.

So once we have new windows and siding and a lovely new garden this fall, we will turn our attention to the inside -- where I hope there will be no more boxes left to impede our improvement efforts there! Our friend KCL, wearing her decorator hat, has many ideas for us and we are excited about implementing them.

So that’s what’s up Chez Grammar: the buzzing of tradespeople. Oh, Grammar does love having serfs about.

EDIT TO POST: It was pointed out to me by eagle-eyed fan Missy Moo that in the above pic, it appears my new garden is going to spill way out into the street. It won't, of course. Obviously a problem with the software (or user thereof). The perspective is very inaccurate.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Boomer culture?

There was a little article in the paper this morning headlined “Boomers to remain ‘cultural titans’ as they continue to age, author says”. Caught my eye, of course, being both a Boomer and interested in being considered a titan of pretty much anything.

Turns out the author of the headline is a historian who will be speaking at the World Future Society’s annual conference in Washington on Monday. I have no information whatsoever on the WFS’ history of successful prognostication because although they have been around for over 40 years and have a website with some bits and pieces of information, nowhere does it provide statistics on how well they tend to forecast. So I suppose I’ll have to just hope for the best on this titan thing.

The main focus of the brief newspaper article was a specific aspect of culture: music. The writer opens by saying “Get ready for more radio stations blasting golden oldies…”, but a few paragraphs later expounds on “the disappearance of a generation gap in cultural terms [with] the iPod overlap between parents and teens, usually finding 20 to 30 per cent of songs in common.”

Well, you can’t have it both ways. Either the Boomers want only to listen to songs from the 60s and 70s and will commandeer the radio waves to ensure they’re played in plenitude, or we’re open to music outside of those two tired decades. Or perhaps her message was that what she calls the “millennial generation” (those who began graduating high school in the year 2000) include our golden oldies on their iPods.

I think it’s probably some of each, myself. I do agree that whatever gaps exist between my generation and that of my children, music is not one of the bigger ones. Rap and hip hop are not generally big with the Boomers (although Ellen Degeneres, who is one of us, has gone a long way in broadening the comfort zone of the older women who watch her TV program, as she is a fan of hip hop and opens every show dancing to it.) But there is much more to modern pop music than rap. My kids and I do have a percentage of overlap on our iPods, and it goes both ways. When I was 20, I listened to very little but the Top 40 radio stations of the day. It's a wonderful thing that my progeny are much more open-minded. They enjoy and have on their iPods music from a wide gamut of genres and times.

So I don’t know about this idea of a proliferation of oldies radio stations. I think most of us Boomers are actually pretty done with listening to the same armful of songs from 30 or 40 years ago. Some of the music from our youth has proved enduring and classic, and that’s the stuff that’s on our kids’ iPods. But a lot of it is just horribly cheesy and inane and needs to be left in the archives. If we Boomers are to continue to be titans of anything as we clump into the senior demographic, I think music is a bad example. Frankly, and sadly, I don’t believe we’re going to be titans of anything at all other than the paycheques of Millenials who are trying to support our health care demands.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Job One

Bye-bye, tree!

Today at Chez Grammar we are in the throes of the first big priority in shaping our new home to our own liking. There is an absolutely enormous pine tree in our back yard and three strapping and well-insured young men are currently involved in the long, careful process of taking it down.

Now, Grammar likes to hug trees and have her oxygen refreshed and all that with the best of them, but this tree is completely out of scale. Ours is a very small back yard and the tree is undermining the patio with its roots, eating the back deck with its huge scraggly branches, and generally looming ominously over our roof. High, high over our roof, at least again as high as our house. It is a tree that belongs in a forest, not an urban back yard. We cannot imagine how the previous owners allowed it to get this way. We do know that in notifying our immediate neighbours of our removal plans, they all expressed gratitude that appeared heartfelt, although I’m sure they are not enjoying the chain-saw-wood-chipper racket any more than we are. That kind of ceaseless noise just wears you down, doesn’t it? And it’s going to be going on for a long time yet. Did I say how big this tree is…?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Further to my post of yesterday, Grammar received word from Jimdandy this forenoon that all is well in his telephonic world. It seems the fine gentleman at Telus he spoke to yesterday apparently does have the clout his title would suggest. A woman called Uncle first thing this morning to assure him that three years' worth of overpayments would be immediately credited to his account, meaning he will not have a phone bill for some months. She was very apologetic that they could not offer more than three years, but that was as far back as she was able to check the records. Uncle thought that was jimdandy and graciously accepted. The woman gave him her name and direct telephone number and told him that any future problems he had with Telus, of which she fervently hoped there were not any, he should call her and she would personally fix them.

Now, wouldn't it be nice if we all had our own personal customer service rep down at the utility companies? But no, the rest of us who are not 95, stubborn as mules and persistent as bulldogs will still have to Push 1 for service in English...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Man on a Mission

There are days when Grammar feels every one of her 50-odd years. There are days when Grammar feels every one of them and a dozen or two more she’s not even entitled to. But then sometimes she gets reminded that her mere half-century is nothing.

SRH has an uncle who is 95 years old. To look at him or talk to him, you would peg his age at a healthy 20 years younger than that. He has every marble he was born with and a lot more he's picked up along the way. He lives in the same little East Vancouver house he’s lived in for the past 60 years. He will not entertain for a moment the idea of moving into any sort of older folks’ home because he doesn’t want to live with “a bunch of old people”. He has no help and wants none. He cooks his meals, including baking for dessert. He keeps his house clean. He tends his garden. The other day he didn’t answer the phone and we were a bit worried, but it turned out it was because he was out on the porch painting his front door.

Well, the other day he got his phone bill and noticed there was some sort of rebate on it, which pleased him very much. But he also noticed that there were two rental charges on it. Now, Uncle Jimdandy is one of the last people on earth who actually still rents a phone from the telephone company. He has rented this phone for about 40 years and we figure he’s paid about $3,000 for it by now. But he likes it because he is a little hard of hearing and he insists its volume control is better than any of the newfangled phones we’ve made him try. But it’s only the one phone, and he couldn’t figure out why there would be two rental charges on his bill.

So he phoned me, because about 100 years ago I worked for the telephone company for a few years, so clearly I would know what this charge was. I asked him if the charge had appeared only on this bill, or if it had been on previous bills. Jimdandy checked and gosh if it wasn’t on all his previous bills, too. (I’m not sure whether he checked all 40 years’ worth, but I wouldn’t be surprised.) I suggested he phone Telus to explore the matter.

Well, Jimdandy will never phone when he can speak to somebody in person. So he got in his car (yes, he still owns a car and a valid driver’s license which the powers that be, in their wisdom, renew for him every year) and he tootled over to the big corporate office known hereabouts as The Boot, because of its shape. Took him a long while to find a place to park, then the machine didn’t take cash, only credit cards, of which Jimdandy has never seen the need for one, so a kind -- or impatient -- lady also waiting to buy a ticket bought him one on her card.

Then he tootles into the building and marches up to the first desk he sees. He commences telling the young lady seated thereat his tale of rental woe, and she interrupts him to advise that he is in the wrong place; this building is just a corporate office. There is no customer service here, no billing inquiries.

Jimdandy is unsatisfied with this response. He does not believe this can be so. The building says Telus on it. He has a question for Telus, and someone is going to answer it. He begins wandering the building to find such a person. He goes up to the next floor and finds another young woman behind another desk. She gives him the same unsatisfactory response, so he gets in the elevator and goes up another couple of floors. In telling me this story, he notes as an aside that he saw a lot of people in the cafeteria. Was it like that when I worked there?

Finally he runs across “a nice East Indian man in a suit”, who kindly asks if he can be of assistance. This man listens patiently to Jimdandy’s tale, inspects the offending bill he is proffered, then tells Jimdandy that although the people he has spoken to are correct that there is no billing inquiry office here (and in fact they now only exist either at the end of a telephone line, where you are just as likely to be speaking to someone in the Philippines, or online), that he will take Jimdandy’s name and phone number and look into the matter personally. He gives Jimdandy his business card and advises him to call him directly if he doesn’t hear anything within a few days.

In telling me this story, Jimdandy first asks if I know this man, which amazingly I did not, then reads me his title off the card. I laugh: the man is the next thing down from a vice president. When I tell Uncle this, I can practically hear him puffing up with satisfaction. That’s more like it! He’s been a customer for 70 years, never mind renting this particular phone for only 40. He has never missed a payment. This is the sort of person he should be dealing with.

He also assured me that if he doesn’t hear back in the next few days that Telus will rebate every single overpayment he may have made, he’s going to the media. “They’ll eat this story up!” he declared. And he’s probably right, so if you see a dapper gentleman in a shiny suit and even shinier shoes on your television news one day next week waving a rotary dial telephone and ranting about ripping off the slightly elderly -- that’s our Jimdandy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

We're home!

Hello, Blog People! We’ve been in our new home three days now and are happy as little clams here. The move went as smoothly as such chaotic things can and we’ve organized a lot of stuff but still have a long way to go before we’re really settled in.

Although I am missing my old neighbourhood and particularly old neighbours (some of them are really, really old, not mentioning any names), I’m surprised to find myself not pining for the old house at all. I’d anticipated being terribly homesick for it and it just hasn’t happened. I think it’s because our new place is so perfect for us, we’ve bonded with it instantly. The layout couldn’t be more suitable. The kitchen and bathrooms are so much nicer than the ones we left behind.

You can hear the West Coast Express more clearly here, as we are just above Burrard Inlet. The wail of its horn is a sound that means home to me, as each of the two houses I grew up in were only a block away from the tracks. (On the right side of them, of course!) When you look east from my back deck you see the green hills of Belcarra across the water. When you look east from my front deck, you see the water of Indian Arm. Our back garden is a mass of mature indigenous greenery, huge rhodos and vine maples and the like, making us feel very cozy and private and part of the natural North Shore world. (Also, being indigenous, it won’t expect us to tend it.)

Also since we last chatted, The Lad has moved into his own place. He is over the moon with excitement and glee and phones us regularly to update us on how excited and gleeful he is. He phones us when he installs a shower curtain. He phones us when he cooks bacon and eggs. He phones us when he buys bananas. We know that soon enough he will stop doing this and are enjoying it while it lasts; it is touching that he still wants us to be part of his life.

So here we are. It will be weeks or months before we get ourselves totally sorted out, but we’re delighted to be here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Well, blog people, this will be my last message from the old homestead. It is our last day in it as our home as we knew it. Although we do not actually move until Tuesday, tomorrow the movers come and box everything up. So this evening we will be shutting down our computers preparatory to that, and when we next fire them up it will be from our wonderful new place. How soon I’m back blogging at you depends upon (1) whether our Internet Service Provider is Providing Internet Service right away; (2) how quickly we figure out -- without The Lad, who no longer lives with us! -- how to get ourselves up and running; and (3) when I find the time and energy to blog after the flurry of moving!

But one day soon Grammar will be back to tell you how it all went. Wish us luck, and goodbye from this station!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July Wedding Number One

Grammar had a good day today. It was just what she needed: a distraction from waiflike wandering in the domicile. It was the wedding of a dear pseudo-niece, held at Hycroft, a beautiful Edwardian mansion owned since 1962 by the University Women’s Club of Vancouver. (Interesting side-note: when the club purchased it, they had to pay in full, as women at that time could not hold mortgages in their own right.) Absolutely fabulous spot to hold a wedding and SRH and I enjoyed ourselves very much.

The Jaynut, Grammar’s dear old school chum from a lifetime ago and dear old friend to this date, looked so beautiful and proud and ridiculously slender in a stunning red dress. Grammar was watching her face more than the bride’s during the ceremony and it just seemed so impossible that someone who is still about 17 years old in my mind was watching her daughter get married.

Mind you, today Grammar saw many old faces with remnants of people she knew 25 or 30 years ago hiding under the wrinkles and pounds. She saw, for example, the older brother of the Jaynut, looking far too wise and grandfatherly for someone who used to tease me by endlessly calling me Lima Bean. (Long and silly story -- but he remembered!)

It was not the sort of formal reception given to speeches but instead the guests roamed the various rooms of the stately mansion, nibbling, drinking, mingling. It felt like a very relaxed and comfortable house party and I made a mental note to recommend just such a wedding to VCCGirl for when her time comes.

However, had I had opportunity to make a speech, I probably would have told the story of when the bride (let’s call her Kaitlyn) was about three years old and Grammar was visiting with her in her home. We were playing some sort of complicated game of Kaitlyn’s devising. Luckily, as Grammar was pregnant at the time and rather a victim of inertia, my role merely required me to lounge on the couch and eat the tea party food served to me. After I had dutifully consumed a particularly frangible cookie, Kaitlyn commenced a very thorough brushing off of my bosom. When I remarked after a time that I thought I was probably quite clean by now, wee Kaitlyn exclaimed, “Oh, no! You don’t want crumbs on your breasts! When I have breasts, I won’t want crumbs on them!”

So there you are, new husband of Kaitlyn: my wise advice on this your wedding day. It will behoove you to make sure your wife’s breasts are always crumb-free.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Outside my Door

Five days to the big move! Yes, I am still freaking out, spending much time nomadic in my home, dragging my trailer of memories behind me. But I am also trying to remember that the entire world does not revolve around Grammar’s relocation. It’s hard; this event feels as overwhelming to me as anything ever has in my life, particularly with the added twist (of the heart) that my Little Guy moves away from home on the very same day.

But I fear I’m beginning to wear out the compassionate listening ears of even those who care the most. I do not want to become a screened phone number, or encounter nothing but “Appears Offline” on Messenger. So I’m trying to get a grip. I’m trying to get some perspective. I’m trying to focus more on the world outside my door.

Outside my door, friends have children living -- or about to commence -- exciting lives overseas. Blogs are wonderful things for keeping us all updated on their adventures, although the young do seem to be unclear on the concept of how much and what sort of detail is required for us old folks at home to be able to properly live vicariously through them.

Outside my door, there are weddings galore happening this month. This weekend a young namesake, daughter of the Jaynut, a successful, brilliant and beautiful young woman, will be walking down the aisle, despite the fact that my brain insists she was born about two weeks ago. A couple of weeks later, an old friend is quietly marrying for a second time, looking for another shot at the happiness he well deserves. And at the end of the month, dear sister Punkin is formalizing a union of decades. If the sun is shining brightly for that event, we all run the risk of being blinded by her gigantotron ring, but I guess we’ll take the chance.

Outside my door, summer has at last arrived in Grammar’s town, and although a little too hot at times, I’ve kept the complaining about that to a minimum. It’s been so soft and pretty, here in the most beautiful place on Earth where I am lucky enough to live.

And in five days, in an exciting new home!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is this really happening?

I am moving in 19 days. I am leaving the house where I’ve spent two happy decades, raising my family. In 19 days I am leaving the place that has been my home, my castle, my sanctuary, and will no longer have the right to walk in its front door.

I don’t think I have been this emotionally labile since my teens. One day I am weepy and morose, the next I am manic with excitement. Some nights I lie in bed and my heart starts to pound and I can hardly breathe and have to get up. Other nights I fall into a coma of emotional exhaustion. Moving has made me bipolar.

I got to go into my new house yesterday, for the first time since being its putative owner. It is completely different than the two previous times I had been inside, when I was merely eying its potential. This time I was looking around at rooms that are mine. Luckily, I still loved it. A lot. That made me giddy with relief and glee. This is going to work! I am going to be able to bond with my new castle.

We just need to get through the moving days first -- and there are three of them, really. July 7 the movers come and box everything up except our beds and essentials. July 8 we move. July 9 the movers return to unpack for us and we clean and hand over our current house.

You’d think no one in the world but me had ever moved, wouldn’t you, the way I’m carrying on? Sorry, can’t help it. This is my moving experience, and this is my blog.

19 days. 19 days.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Still Daddy's Girl

Happy Father's Day from your Pussycat!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Strangers Keep Wandering Through My House

It is Sunday afternoon, and I’m just sitting here at my computer passing the time until we must vacate for today’s open house. We did a good buff-up of the house this morning but it didn’t take long as we’ve been keeping it up very well all week. (There’s a concept! Keeping the house clean all the time!)

We’ve had some interest this week in a couple of private viewings and a reasonably well-attended agent’s open. There’s already been one building inspection conducted by a potential buyer. We are not accepting offers until tomorrow, so as not to exclude any interested parties who might attend our first general open house today. But we are feeling cautiously optimistic that we won’t be in this state of discombobulation and unnatural cleanliness for long.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chaos reigns

Oh, the chaos! But it is almost over. We’ve had a bit of a week from hell, with chaos in my house, chaos at my office, and chaos in our poor exploding brains, but today is the wrap-up day, at least of the house stuff.

Yesterday the Got Junk truck came and took away many cubic yards of life detritus. That felt very, very good. Today our driveway was tarred or sealed or I don’t know what you call it. All I know is black stuff went on it and it looks very fine. We also have today our handyman Ziggy (that’s his real name, and I must say it does suit him) doing all the final bits and pieces of repairs here and there. Once he’s gone, I can get in and do a thorough clean (much easier to do when most of your belongings are either junked or in a storage locker!), and we’re ready to receive the buying hordes!

As of this time of writing, we have not yet appeared on the MLS website, but are assured it should be “any minute”. We are already featured on our realtor’s website, which I am not going to post here in case crazy people decide it would be great Saturday night entertainment to come deface our splendid new driveway, but if you are friend not foe, you can call or email and I’ll give you the link. The pictures do look fabulous!

The sign is to go up on our lawn tomorrow, and that’s a big psychological thing. That makes it very real indeed. Possibly a bit lump-in-throatish. I have lived in this house longer than any other in my life: nearly 20 years. It is where I raised my children from babies to adults. It has seen a huge and important segment of my life go by. We are leaving wonderful neighbours. However, we are only moving a couple of kilometers away, and it’s a great and exciting new beginning of the next phase of our lives.

But first, I must clean!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The House Journey

Well, blog people, you've shared with me the frustrations, disappointments and ultimate joy of being a househunter. Now come with me as I travel on the journey of being a vendor!

The euphoria has worn off and reality has set in. Our house goes on the market next weekend and we are working harder than people our age (and condition!) should have to. We can contract out a lot of stuff, but no one but us can box up our life.

Every day we get up early. I spend the mornings cleaning out closets, cupboards, drawers, nooks, the basement, and boxing and bagging up stuff to go to the storage locker (or dump) so that when we show our house, it will seem as if we have no stuff and therefore people will be terribly impressed by the masses of room in this house. I then spend the afternoons and into the evenings doing my paid work.

SRH spends all day doing repairs, weeding the garden, pressure washing things, boxing stuff up, and working the phone to hire people to do what we can’t. This weekend we had a guy paint the inside of our garage so that it’s now so sparkly white you could be forgiven for believing it to be an alternate dining area. In the next few days we have a guy coming to resurface our cement stairs and sidewalk, a guy coming to repair two bathroom sinks, and a guy coming to do miscellaneous other handyman chores. SRH also spends a great deal of time and energy slinging ant poison about because it’s that time of year and the little buggers keep trying to come in and take over and make our house look infested and seedy.

Trying to pretend you’re something you’re not is exhausting!

I had to go out and buy a blow-up bed. We are currently only using two of our four upstairs bedrooms as bedrooms; one is my office and the other a TV den. We were told that at least three of them must appear to be bedrooms because apparently house-hunters are generally of such low IQ that if they don’t see a bed in the room, they will not be able to imagine it could be used for such a purpose. They will look at our large house and say sadly, “Oh, only two bedrooms! Such a pity! We’d have bought it if it had only had one more!” So the couch in the den is removed and replaced by a blow-up bed resting on a couple of large suitcases, all covered by a cheap bedspread. Pillows, a table, a lamp, and voila! Instant "bedroom".

It was suggested I buy a blow-up doll to put in the blow-up bed, perhaps sporting a blow-up cigarette and the Kama Sutra open on the bedside table, but I think not.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Now, my blog people, I want you to hear the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey in your head right now, please. (Otherwise known by its original name, Also Sprach Zarathustra.) If you don't know what I'm talking about, please go find it on YouTube and have it playing before you read further. Ready?


Saturday, May 17, 2008

24th of May??

So this is just a little thing, but does anyone else wonder why we're celebrating Victoria Day -- otherwise known as the 24th of May weekend because May 24 was Queen Victoria's actual birthday -- this weekend, when in fact next weekend is the 24th of May?

We are most confused...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And blah blah blah

I am starting to feel itchy to blog again. I don’t have a topic yet, but I think things may be simmering in my feeble brain. Something might just bubble up to the surface soon -- or it might not; I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. I just have that feeling.

For now, maybe a simple update on the Grammar Family will suffice. After all, I started this with the idea that it was a forum to unabashedly talk about myself (without doing the icky public diary thing). I had no delusions of creative grandeur back then.

Let’s begin with SRH (not, as in a never-corrected earlier typo, SHR. I don’t know what that might stand for that would reflect that he’s mostly retired. Shy Husband Recluse? Suddenly He’s Resident?) Anyway, he’s very much enjoying his two days at work each week. It’s very gratifying for him as there is always much useful for him to do and clearly they would be very happy to have him come back three, four -- seven days a week. This, for any number of reasons, he won’t do, of course. Two days is good. With the better weather of late he’s been pottering about in the garden in very appropriate retired-chap fashion. He’s no horticulturist but he finds weeding a pleasant activity for an hour here and there.

The Lad has added DJing (as in clubs) to his list of professional activities. It suits him right down to the ground as he has never been averse to the position of centre of attention. He and his partner in this enterprise recently were the openers for some Grammy-winning personage at a big downtown venue. (I was told the Grammy person’s name but as it meant nothing to me, it stayed in my brain about three picoseconds.) They spun music and did their shtick for about an hour and a quarter for a large and exuberant audience. His sister, who attended with a posse of friends, tells me they were a huge hit and had the crowd in the palms of their hands. Certainly when I spoke the next day to The Lad, he was higher, figuratively speaking, than Cheech and Chong put together on any given day in the seventies.

VCCGirl has completed her first year of college with a 3.5 GPA, so we are extremely proud. She had a tough time, academically, in high school and it just goes to show what happens when you’re studying something that actually interests you. These are not Mickey Mouse courses she’s taking, either. A number of perfectly good universities accept VCC Hospitality grads directly into third-year Commerce programs, and they wouldn’t be doing that with a diploma of cartoon courses. She is currently taking a required math course she decided to drop last semester so as to better focus on it by itself, a plan I endorsed (for what that’s worth!) She is doing this while also working full-time, thanks to some understanding and flexible employers. I really admire the work ethic, but this girl has not had a vacation in over two years -- heck, she hasn’t had more than two consecutive days off in over two years, and most of the time, she does not have any complete days off at all, only hours here and there. One worries a little.

As for me, well, nothing changes, and I’m content with that. The other day one of my children half-jestingly accused me of being agoraphobic. I suggested that for one thing, I’d be unlikely to head out into the ocean on a cruise ship as regularly as I do if I were agoraphobic. For another thing, if I am agoraphobic, I’ve been so most of my life. But I’m not. It’s not a phobia that causes me to stay in my house as much as I do. It’s not even a neurosis. It’s a preference. It’s the lifestyle choice of a cocooner. I do choose to be inside over outside most of the time, but it doesn’t have to be my own house. I can be inside a mall just as happily. (Or a cruise ship!) And I do, in fact, regularly walk outdoors without the slightest tremor of nerves. Call me fuddy-duddy and boring if you must. Call me a hermit, a loner, a weirdo, even. But don’t be accusing me of some mental illness from which I do not suffer!

Jeez. Those kids can still push my buttons, can’t they?

Well, okay, so a lot of this ended up sounding like one of those Christmas letters everyone laughs at. Aren’t we great? Aren’t we fabulous?

Well, we are, you know.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Just Holding My Spot...

I am blogging today. I am not doing this because the muse has returned -- she hasn’t, at all -- but because I am afraid if I don’t, I’ll get booted off this website. I suspect one has to show a certain amount of activity.

So here I am, actively blogging.

We haven’t found a house. The new realtor is doing his thing and we have looked at a few, but nothing suits. I know we’re being very picky, but we just don’t want to end up in something we’re not happy with. But I’ll confess, I’m getting a little depressed. Going out to look at houses is no longer exciting but a big chore. I suppose one of these days we’ll finally just settle. But we’re not quite there yet.

VCCGirl is annoyed because this next house was supposed to be her turn at having a private space such as her brother has enjoyed in the current house for the past four or five years. Now it’s taken us so long that her time to benefit from such a perk would be short. She will graduate with her diploma a year from now and plans to blow the parental popsicle stand the minute she’s working full-time.

I’m annoyed because we would have done all kinds of renos to this house if we’d known we’d be here this long. But we can’t start a renovation when the house of our dreams might suddenly appear the minute we gutted the kitchen. It’s very frustrating.

The Lad is delighted because he’s out of here this summer without ever having to leave his lovely space in our basement for a little room down the hall from his parents in a smaller house, as he had feared.

Anyway, BOR-ING. (And quite poorly written.) But keeping Grammar’s blogspot in place until the muse returns from sabbatical.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Well, I’m trying to keep up the blog, but the muse has really deserted me. (Desertion is her default position. It’s more notable when she actually pays me a visit. Annoyingly, she often chooses to do so at 3 a.m., when magnificent swaths of golden prose will suddenly appear in my brain. If only it -- my brain -- had a Print button. Maybe one day…)

So we fall back once again on the What I Did Today theme.

I did not begin the day with my beloved Saturday paper, because when I arose at 7:30 it was not on my porch. This could not be blamed on the snow, which had not yet begun to fall. So I phoned the newspaper office and pushed various buttons until I got to the one that promised a paper would be couriered to me pronto. Some time later, something made me look in my mailbox, and there snuggled my paper, fitting so well I would never have known it was there until Monday except for that nudge of a hunch. The paperman has never before put it in my mailbox. It was a silly thing to do. And a half-hour after that, the automated button delivery truck appeared and SRH and I had the luxury of a paper each. (I really, really love my newspaper, and normally SRH is not permitted to sully its pristine daily virginity before I have my way with it. It’s one of those marital quirks you just have to accept in your spouse.)

No time to read the paper then, however. Had to get over to Safeway and stockpile groceries against this alleged major snowstorm. I was not the only person with this idea.

Back home, still no snow. Decided to get my weekend’s worth of transcribing all done today so that I could have tomorrow entirely off. It’s very seldom that I take an entire day completely off, but that is my plan for tomorrow. So I rattled away at my keyboard for a couple of hours.

Still no snow. Was in a baking mood so made some banana bread and apple-oat squares. (Apparently I was in a very fruity baking mood.)

Neighbour MSL (Magic Sock Lady) wanted to take a break from her own busy day so came over for tea and a game of Life. I never get tired of that game, especially the new electronic version Santa brought to our house at Christmas. I got married, had a baby girl but proved barren after that, enjoyed a flourishing career as a clown, started a successful sushi business, won a lottery, went hot-air ballooning, took a vacation in the Sahara (but it rained the whole time), and about a dozen other wonderful things, all the space of an hour. MSL beat me.

Then I finished my typing, and had a little while to scan this week’s People magazine before time to make dinner. (Yes, I confess, I read People each and every week. I maintain it’s research for the pop culture questions in my crossword puzzles.) Good dinner tonight: prawns sauteed in garlic, butter and white wine with rainbow rice (rice with peppers in it), and peas. Peas are boring but SRH likes them. Well, I do, too. Do you suppose there are people who don’t like peas?

Somewhere around lunchtime, the snow did arrive and continues to do so. But that’s okay. My only plans for tomorrow involve a book, a fire, an iPod and maybe some hot chocolate and banana bread! Oh, and maybe I'll have time to read the paper.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Ode to Socks

A long time ago, when I was a young and ignorant 50-year-old, I did something very foolish, as the young will do. I made fun of my friend’s membership in the Sock of the Month club. I did it in a public way, in this forum. That is why I am now humbling myself in the same place.

KCL knits stunningly beautiful socks. Everyone in her world, except for me, has benefited from numerous pairs of these lovingly hand-crafted hose. I was not permitted any, my feet frozen out by mockery. As time went by, and I aged and matured and the blinders fell from my eyes, I saw how lovely, how unique, how deliciously warm and cozy and real KCL’s socks were. I coveted a pair, but dared not beg.

But KCL is a forgiving friend. Yesterday I was finally privileged to receive a pair of her socks. Skillfully fitted to my stubby little feet, perfectly ankle-high, they are striped rose and green and warm and soft and wonderful. Wearing them, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to wear store-bought socks. Why did we stop making our own socks and start buying them in stores?

I suppose one answer is that it’s actually cheaper to buy than make them, at least to make nice ones. But there is no comparison. Socks hand-knit with quality yarn are in a different league, universe, cosmos. I do not hyperbolize and I am utterly sincere. I am in love with my new socks. And bitterly, bitterly ashamed of ever making fun of the Sock of the Month club.

Have I abased myself enough, O Magic Sock Lady? Will you make me more, more, more socks? I have to take these off to wash them sometime, and then what will I wear??

The Socks, as photographed by their knitter.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Power of Your Minds, Please

Further to the subject of New Year’s hopes, we are launching into our second year of house-hunting, an activity which has begun to depress us a little. However, we have dispensed with the realtor who had been working with us for the past 15 months. We were not happy with the quality or quantity of her efforts to find us our new home and finally decided to make a fresh start with the New Year. You might even say we resolved to get a new realtor!

So we have met with a new young fellow who we hope, even as you read this, is out pounding the pavements for the elusive ranchers with basements. SRH would very much like to be done with the daily navigation of stairs, so we would appreciate it if all of you Grammar fans would set up a clamour to the Powers that Be (however you perceive them) requesting that 2008 will see us moved into our new home.

Oh, SHR? That’s semi-retired husband.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Music from Heaven

I was just listening to music on my iPod, which I had set to Shuffle. Because I have an extremely eclectic variety of tunes on my Pod, this can lead to sometimes jarring juxtapositions of a Billy Joel song followed by a Christmas carol followed by a Bach Kyrie. But it’s an adventure.

My all-time favourite aria came on, and after blissing out through two repeats of it, I felt moved to blog. I’m sure Georges Bizet (the composer, who has been dead for 130 years) had no idea it could cause that reaction in somebody.

The aria is Au fond du temple saint from The Pearl Fishers. Surprisingly, despite a robust classical music education, I had not heard of this opera until about ten years ago. I highly recommend it, and this aria in particular sends me into raptures every time. It’s a duet between a tenor and a baritone. I’m not going to get into the whole story of the song, but basically they’re singing about a woman they’re both besotted with. I have often thought that if I had my wedding to do over again, I would use this aria as my processional. It has a stately tempo conducive to queenly aisle-walking. Even the lyrics are totally appropriate.

Now, those among you familiar with the words might be raising an eyebrow at this point. It may be, now that I think about it, that they are really only appropriate for MY wedding. Here is an excerpt from the aria (translated from the original French) and you see what you think.

At the back of the holy temple
decorated with flowers and gold
A woman appears!
I can still see her!
I can still see her!
The prostrate crowd
looks at her amazed
and murmurs under its breath:
look, this is the goddess
looming up in the shadow
and holding out her arms to us.
Her veil parts slightly.
What a vision! What a dream!
The crowd is kneeling.
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess,
more charming and more beautiful.
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess
who has come down among us.
Her veil has parted and the crowd is kneeling.
But through the crowd
she makes her way.

Yes, of course I’m being a little tongue in cheek, although what woman would not want to walk down the aisle while two gorgeous men with voices from heaven were singing that to her? But if it might be just the teensiest bit over the top for a wedding processional, it’s a stunningly beautiful song. Even if you’re not an opera fan, it’ll melt you into a puddle. Trust me. Go download it, and if you don’t like it, I’ll give you your 99 cents back.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


My friend KCL wrote in her blog recently that she is making no resolutions this year but has only hopes. That’s a good way of looking at it. I think most of us reach a point in life, with dozens of repetitive resolutions discarded by the roadside, where we realize that if there are important things we want to change about ourselves, we can and will do that on any old day. The ones made dutifully on January 1st are likely the ones most doomed to failure. The ones made out of real strength and determination on any given Wednesday afternoon are more likely to stick. I don’t think you have to be young to be resilient enough to change, either. You can decide to change something when you’re 30 or 46 or 82 and if you’ve reached a place where it matters enough to you, you’ll do it.

I think if you’re 85, though, you get to be exempt. If you achieve your 85th birthday, you can rest on your battle-scarred heinie and flip the bird to the whole dang world.

So maybe at the beginning of every January, instead of looking back at all the failed resolutions and making pointless lists of futile new ones, you should think about all the little things you’ve done on any given day throughout your life that have made you a better person. Because most of us are better people than we were at 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or whatever last decade you celebrated (or tried to ignore). Think of all the times you resolved to hold your tongue instead of lashing out in anger, and did. All the times you resolved to be patient, and were. We’ve all faced a few or several or a lot of hard things as we’ve scrabbled along, and resolved to play the hand we’re dealt, and have, and make that resolution anew every morning of our lives. We’ve been successful in hundreds or thousands more resolutions than we’ve ever noted down on January 1st. We may still be fat or smoking or spendthrift, but we’re coping. We’re doing the best we can.

So I am resolving nothing at this time, and even my hopes are only the most basic and universal. I’m playing the hand I’m dealt and enjoying the game.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I don’t do much in the way of resolutions anymore, but I would like to try attending to my blog more often. We’ll see how that goes!

Reflecting back on 2007, it was a very good year in the Grammar household. Everyone stayed reasonably healthy, happy and gainfully occupied. RH retired in April, one of the year’s banner events, but has remained gainfully occupied ever since doing all kinds of helpful household tasks and regularly bringing me tea as I’m working in my office. I’ve quite taken to having him around, as I knew I would.

Another banner event of 2007 was VCCGirl commencing her college education. She completed her first semester with a B+ average, so we’re very proud, especially as she accomplished this while simultaneously keeping up two part-time jobs. With that work ethic, we foresee great things ahead for number 1 daughter.

The Lad spent 2007 working very hard at building his career in the music recording and producing business, with very long hours in his studio and lots of networking. He was rewarded with major involvement in a terrific Christmas album by an up-and-coming Il Divo-type group called Insieme. (Look for them!) It’s a little hard for him to watch his sister flit around in her Fit while he buses everywhere he needs to go (especially with a girlfriend in a different municipality), but he is saving every penny he can towards buying into a condo, and we’re proud of his focus and thrift. Number 1 son is growing up!

As for me, it was pretty much same old-same old. I hugely enjoyed two cruise vacations this year, which is all it takes to makes me happy. RH and I had a warm and wonderful time in the Caribbean last January and joined our favourite traveling companions, the Lawman and Ms. K, for an extended trip between New York and Quebec in October.

Looking towards 2008, I expect a few big things to happen. One of them already has: RH is no longer quite so R. After almost nine months of full-time retirement, he has now signed a one-year contract of a type known as an as and when with his old employer. He will be heading in for his first “back to work” day tomorrow, when he expects to begin hashing out the as, when, where, what, how and why of his new part-time work. The idea at this point is that he will go in a couple of days a week, primarily for mentoring/teaching type work, but also whatever other little things need doing around the office that no one else has time to do.

Every office would love to have a do-all-the-crap-stuff worker, right? I did exactly that one summer while I was in university, and while the things I was tasked to do were boring and repetitive, I performed them with reasonably good cheer and was extremely popular with my crap-stuff-free coworkers!

We also expect our son to fly the nest in 2008, as construction of his condo is due to be completed this summer. Although we hardly see him as it is now, this will still be a wrenching, milestone event that will probably make me cry. But of course this is what I have spent the past 22 years working towards: my child being ready and able to become independent. They will be proud tears.

The last big event we are really, really hoping happens in 2008 is that we will be moving into a new house at last! After about 15 months of frustrating and fruitless searching, we are going to start this year off with a new realtor and, I hope, a fresh perspective.

And there will be cruises…