Wednesday, blustery Wednesday

Aargh!  They are forecasting snow flurries for today!

It’s too soon, I say, too soon!

Ah, well, it was bound to happen.  We do live in the frozen god-damned North after all.

I’ll just try and remember the beautiful summer we had and the absolutely stunning month of September.  Nothing to complain about there, that’s for sure.  But still, snow?  On October 10th?  It’s just not fair.

This is going to be a quick ramble about the past couple of weeks.  We celebrated our 33rd anniversary on Sept. 29th and spent a wonderful, somewhat leisurely weekend at home.  Tim bought me some beautiful roses and we went for dinner at what was once one of my favorite restaurants, The Creperie.  Sadly, it was not as good as I remembered it being.  In fact, the whole meal was a complete let-down.  The place is old, an institution, really, but whereas some institutions have worked hard to cultivate and maintain that specialty of feeling that goes along with such a designation The Creperie has merely stagnated.

The decor is too worn and frayed to be considered quaint or antiquated; poor Tim was nearly crippled by the time they got around to bringing him a chair that had even a tiny bit of support.  The tables are too small and wobbly — every time the waiter brought something to the table I had to lift my wine glass for fear of it winding up in my lap.

The food was barely mediocre — our parmesan crisps (cut up crepes deep-fried and then dusted with garlic and parmesan) were a soggy, oily mess — inedible.  My chicken cordon bleu was overcooked bordering on burnt, the vegetables were cold and the ‘new’ potatoes were anything but.  Tim said his crepes were fine, but nothing remarkable.  Dessert was a let-down as well.  Pre-frozen then thawed ice-cream filled crepes doused with store-bought chocolate and raspberry sauces.

The service was adequate, but not what I’d consider attentive.  When we mentioned the inedible crisps the response we got was, “yes, it’s a always a mixed bag when you order those”.    Wtf?  But, I had promised Tim I wouldn’t make a fuss seeing as it was our anniversary, so I just told the waiter to take them away.  Then, when we mentioned that Tim’s back was killing him because of the horrible chair he was sitting in and that we would like a replacement, he said he’d see what he could do.  Well, his stellar efforts brought Tim a chair just as we were eating dessert.

I have every intention of writing to the management of The Creperie to let them know of our horrible evening, but I’m terrified if I do they’ll offer us a coupon or something to return and I just don’t think I could.

On to better experiences. . .

We celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada last weekend.  We had our three grandchildren for most of the weekend and that was a blessing.  It was tons of fun — just the medicine I needed.  Prior to that I had been feeling kind of down in the dumps — I think it’s the changing of the seasons.  But with their boundless energy surrounding me I couldn’t help but be lifted out of my funk.

Monday, we went over to my son and daughter-in-law’s new home here in Bon Accord and had a lovely Thanksgiving meal.  It was simple, delicious food — roast chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, gravy and stuffing.  Followed by pumpkin tarts and apple crisp — which I supplied.  Grandma always does dessert!

After we got home I decided to go out for a quick walk to help settle my tummy and I realized as I walked just how great my life really is.  I had spent a great deal of time earlier in the day talking to my parents and my siblings and that was a joy.  I got to spend precious time with my son and his family, I didn’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner, my husband finally finished our deck, I have a lovely, comfy home in a small, quiet town where I can safely go out for a walk in the darkening evening.  And, to top it all off as I strolled about the streets of Bon Accord the northern lights came out to play.

It was a beautiful end to a beautiful weekend.

Tuesday afternoon

. . . feeling a bit Moody Blue.

Lots going on right now, some of it hurting my heart.  But, I have faith, and where there is love all will be well.

I’m home sick this afternoon.  Got a chest cold.  Sounds like I have a deep, sexy voice.  Unfortunately I do not feel sexy.  I just feel awful.

Because I am home sick, I was able to contact the appliance repair people and have them come during the morning to fix my fridge.  So, now, supposedly, my year-old fridge will keep a proper temperature.  However, I noticed, right after the repair man left, a tear in my linoleum.

I want to be upfront about this.  My floors are old.  The lino is at least 25 years old.  It’s got nicks and scratches and marks after that many years.  But, it did not have any great gashes in it.  I try, really hard to take good care of my home.  It’s not always the tidiest place on earth, but it is always clean.

I take care when I’m doing my weekly wash of the kitchen floor to remove any really bad marks and I only use mild cleaners like ammonia or vinegar diluted in water to wash them.  Therefore, despite their age and the odd mark here and there, the floors look pretty good.

We’ve been talking about the need to replace the flooring but have it marked down as something to do in about five years.  Seeing as our priority right now is the outside of what we lovingly refer to as “the boondocks”.   So, I’m prepared to baby my floors just than much longer.

Now, with this big gash in the floor, in an extremely high-traffic area I don’t know how well it will hold up.

I called the repair shop right away to let them know and they said they’d have the ‘technician’ call me back.  Curious as to what exactly I could expect when he did call, I called Sears corporate offices to find out.  They told me he would take pictures and submit a claim through their insurance.   They gave me a confirmation number and said goodbye.

The repair man called.  He denies there was a tear in the floor.  Says he would have pointed it out to me if he had done it.  I said, well, I didn’t notice it when you were here, either.  I noticed it when I went to get something from the fridge.  My toe caught on it.  I told him I’d already called Sears and what they said he would do. He said he’d have to wait to hear from them.

So now I sit and wait.  And waffle between feeling guilty for making a fuss over a 25-year-old floor and feeling entirely justified in making my complaint.  It is, after all, the only kitchen floor I’ve got.  And, despite its age, I still rather like it.

I am hoping this situation is resolved quickly and amicably.  What the resolution will be I have no clue.  What would be reasonable?  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Stuff like this makes me crazy.

A deck update:  Tim and Landon spent a day and a half getting the deck foundation all completed.  Now, Tim is at the ‘blocking’ stage and hopefully, tonight he’ll be able to start putting the actual deck boards on!  Am I excited?  You bet your sweet bippy I am!  Of course, the lower half of the deck is going to have to wait for Spring, but I’m good with that.  This upper half will satisfy my deck longing for now.

Good Morning — October 25th

It’s a snowy morning here in Bon Accord today.  The first snow happened on Sunday while I was away in Calgary at an Education Employees Conference, so I missed it.  Can’t say that I’m heart-broken.

Despite having grown up in the land known in other parts of the world as The Great White North I have never had a love of winter.  It is something to be endured as best as possible, always with the thought in mind that it won’t last forever.  The Great White North name tag was I think originally intended only for the North West Territories where it is pretty much covered in snow year round, but somehow it came to define all of Canada — rather unfairly, I think.  Winter is a large part of life in Canada — for us here in Alberta approximately half our year — but in other parts of the country it’s not as long, as cold or as depressing.   Alberta and the prairies are the hardest hit, most other areas experience the joy of winter for only about 4 months.  And the temps are usually not as severe as they can be here.  But, regardless of where you live, winter pretty much sucks.

So, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest. . .

We’ve got a week left in October.  Sigh.  The time has gone by so quickly.  Again.  Before I know it it’s going to be Christmas!  I am looking forward to seeing my grandkids in their costumes and going out trick or treating with them on Sunday night.  Yes, the shameless solicitation for candy — such a questionable, but fun activity.  I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween — I’m not into dressing up, not into kids getting stomach aches from overeating cheap candy, not into the temper tantrums that result from sugar overdoses, not into the senseless, petty rivalries that can develop over costumes, not into the sometimes mean-spirited pranks perpetrated on All Hallow’s Eve.  But, it is a tradition in our culture and to not participate singles you out as somewhat of a loon — so I’ve always participated, half-heartedly, and tried to keep my loonieness hidden.

Halloween has become a huge industry in our country.  In North America.  Next to Christmas and Valentine’s Day, it’s the next big retail sales event of the year.  Cards, costumes and candy.  Billions of dollars in sales.  There are industries devoted to Halloween decorations — the lights, decorations and music to go along with it.  And many people get right into it.  Much more than they get into Christmas.  In fact, I know of several people who like Halloween much more than they do Christmas.  It’s more fun they say.

I’m a Christmas girl myself.  I like the soft sentiments of Christmas, the giving and the spirit of generosity it evokes.  Christmas has its problems, I know.  It’s the holiday besmirched  with the highest rates of suicide and domestic violence, substance abuse and financial hardship, but. . .

. . .it’s also a holiday of hope.  Hope that all those negative things can be purged from our lives and that we can be reborn, that our lives can be everything we ever imagined them to be.  Halloween doesn’t offer that.  It offers only a brief escape from reality and encourages us to be selfish and over-indulgent.  Is that really all that terrible?  Given our lifestyles that are for the most part daily  exercises in self-indulgence and self-satisfaction.  I suppose not.  But that’s why I prefer Christmas.

Celebrating Christmas  makes me focus on others more than myself, makes me take stock of how I’m living my life, makes me take stock of what is important in my life and forces me to make important decisions and make changes that encourage putting the needs of others a little higher up on my list than they might otherwise be.   That all sounds very altruistic, and makes it sound like I’m a bit of a prude, and that is simply not the case.  I can be every bit as self-centered as everyone else.

I am not Sister Theresa, or Gandhi, or even the woman who runs the Food Bank in our small community.  I spend a lot of time complaining because I don’t have this or that, that I can’t afford to go on a tropical holiday every winter, that it’s going to be a while yet before I can replace the aged lino in my home with new hardwood flooring.  I get a bit annoyed every Friday when I don’t win the ‘big one’ — because I’m convinced that if I could only win all my wishes would come true and all my problems would be solved.

So. although I began this with a lament that time is skimming by too quickly and that the snow has arrived meaning winter is truly here, I am going to end on a positive note.  We’re well into what is considered the ‘holiday season’.  It began with Thanksgiving and will end with New Year.  Three months of over-indulgence in all aspects of our lives.  But, it can be good this over-indulgence as long as we keep it in perspective and try to ensure that others — especially those we love — are the beneficiaries of our spirit of giving and fun.  And that we don’t make ourselves crazy with trying keep up with the sometimes unrealistic expectations that all that over-indulgence can create.

Oops — guess that wasn’t as positive an ending as I’d planned.

Today is a Beautiful Day

Today is a beautiful day.  It’s mid-October in Alberta and our brief too-early stint with winter is nothing more than a bad memory.  I’m looking forward to working in the yard tonight and then going to yoga for some much needed de-stressing.  I am extremely grateful that the weather is going to hold long enough for our new furnace to be installed.  My sister Lori called yesterday wondering if Tim and I would be interested in going to Antigua in January.  Interested?!  You bet!  Sadly, the cost of the new furnace eliminates the possibility.  Oh well, another time.  It’s something to dream about.

Because it is such a beautiful day I want to share the following poem, one of my absolute favorites, by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
(1877)