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!