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…