Curiosity is terminal

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Oh Hello. And Also: Caturday in the Summer

There is much going on in the world to comment on.

The province has declared a state of emergency because of the fire situation here.  ATMON is very smoky, but fine otherwise. The fires are some distance off and the City is providing emergency shelter and services for those evacuated from the threatened areas.  I personally do not have lung troubles (yet)  and so I am doing much better than many, many people.  This is a thing for which I am very grateful.

There are numerous things going on in American politics, some of which I think I understand a little, and a couple of which might have actual repercussions on their lamentable president, but I don't think I know enough to comment on any of it, save to say I still sometimes think it might be a humanitarian thing to do to adopt a few Americans, especially those of the "illegal" persuasion. (disclaimer: I do not believe anyone is ever illegal and I think that borders are weird and arbitrary. I also think nationalism is an unfortunate state of mind.)

A statue of John A Macdonald was removed from in front of the legislature in BC last weekend. Many white people are offended.  Too bad, I say. We have committed to a program of reconciliation and this is part of it. No I did not do bad things to First Nations persons. But racism and colonialism are unfortunately part of the Canadian air I breathe. Many of the systems in place privilege me over First Nations. It is important that I use my privilege now to stand with them when they ask for wrongs to be righted.  It is important to learn from the past. MacDonald was a racist guy and our country was founded on racist actions. We can do better. Our history is not going to change and cannot be erased, but there is no reason to keep doing the same stupid, destructive and unkind things now and in the future.  And we can acknowledge that we have actually learned something. (Well, some of us have. Clearly Andrew Scheer and most of the rest of the "conservatives" have not.  They will simply have to be shouted down.)

I was recently witness to a facebook discussion between a bunch of women arguing about being offended by the things men call us. I am part of a women in trades group on facebook. It is nice to have this group of women, all of whom understand the many confusing, infuriating and hurtful things that happen to us on the job, along with the unique joys and successes we have. But a group of trades women on facebook is no different than a group of anyone else on facebook.  Some of them are assholes.  Some of them are stupid, some of them are rude, and some of them are offended. And many of them, just like the rest of us are immature enough to think that their experiences are both unique and ubiquitous at the same time.  I mean, in general, I like people and I think they mean well. But we have our moments.
       Anyway, the argument in question was about a woman who prefers not to be called "young lady." There were women who also did not like it. There were women who didn't mind it.  And some people had an opinion and acknowledged other's opinions as valid, and left it at that, and then a few who needed to convince everyone else of their opinion. I have mixed feelings on the subject and did not want to get into it there.  If you don't like to be called a thing, and you ask not to be called that thing, that should be respected. Period. If someone repeatedly calls you a thing you have asked not to be called, they are a jerk. If you do not state your preference, but instead steam about it every time it is said, you are the maker of your own unhappiness.  I get it: confrontation is scary and boundaries are hard and women have been patted on the head and and condescended to a lot. Many of us (me included sometimes) are afraid to get into something with a man for fear of their anger, disapproval, ridicule. But here's what I think: times, they are a changin'.  Change is hard. And change is hard for all of us. And treating men like we have been treated - like they are only capable of a certain kind of response - is counter-productive.  We have the right to know and state our preferences. Some men will welcome the guidance. After all, think about it: there are no words for women that some of us are not offended by, and so therefore, what SHOULD men call us?
     And here is another thing.  I think it absolutely depends on the context.  I am nearly 100. If I get called "young lady" it is probably said ironically, by someone who is kidding me. Also I like a certain kind of banter that might be called "flirting" in some contexts, but I like that banter with all people, especially clever ones.  I don't mind most things people call me (even the negative ones can be applicable in certain situations). I have worked with men who called me sweetheart and it seemed like a term of genuine endearment. But there is one guy who has quite openly chauvinistic opinions who calls me sweetheart and it sounds creepy and condescending.
            So there's me, containing multitudes again, and trying to acknowledge the multitudes that others contain.

In the main part of my life, I still have cats, and I have a garden.  Let me share a little of both of them with you.

This was taken July 3, before the fires got really going, but also before all the flowers really started blooming.  You have met Thomas, foreground right, sitting on the Adirondack chair I built in 2007, and Meili, on the far left, but you have not met Bandit, with his back to us near the flower pots.  Bandit lives two doors down, but is the neighbourhood cat. He is a nice boy who is tolerated outside but treated with some hostility by Meili and Lucy if he comes in the house.  He likes to come in the house and be given canned food when it is being given out (morning and night only), and play with our cat toys.  He is not hungry, because I am free feeder and there are bowls of two kinds of kibble available all the time and he eschews them both. And he is not neglected attention-wise; I have met his person and  he is as affectionate  with her as he is with us. He is just a nice, friendly cat.  We call him one of our half cats.  Happy Caturday!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Be Still My Little Set Carpenter Heart

Time lapse of the construction of the Yashida estate set on Wolverine. 

It would be so fun to build a set like this with a team. 

I spent a lot of time by myself on the construction of my two sets. A team is nice.   On both of the shows, there were actors who would peek in on the construction every day to see how it was progressing.  Those who were interested in the process were always so delighted by the changes each day. It was tremendously gratifying to build those little worlds for them.  I wonder if Hugh Jackman walks onto his sets and thinks about who made them for him? 

Monday, 30 April 2018

Closing Night

Yesterday was the 20th and closing performance for our last MainStage play of the season.  We presented The Best Brothers by Daniel McIvor.

I loved this play.  It is about two very different  men, brothers, dealing with the aftermath of the death of their mother in a freak accident.  It doesn't sound like it should be funny, but it is. Life is funny and there are funny moments and things to laugh at, even in death.  One of the brothers, Hamilton, is quite straight-laced; an architect, married, he has very little sense of humour or play and his relationship with his mother is strained. He carries a lot of hurt and frustration and he takes it out on his brother.  Kyle is openly gay, a realtor with an ebullient light-hearted character. His relationship with his mother is easy, accepting and his ability to "let her go," as he advises Hamilton in one scene is not hampered by unexpressed needs or wishes.

In the first act, the men learn separately (but in the same scene) of their mother's death, and then are together to write her obituary (yes, it would be wrong to put your business website in the obituary), plan a visitation (blue fancy sandwiches are not fancy, they are weird), host the visitation (where Kyle and Hamilton's grief are never more starkly contrasted) and then eulogize her at the funeral (where all of Hamilton's regrets and frustrations are finally made known, and publicly).  These scenes are separated by each actor donning Mother's Hat, becoming Mother and illuminating the past. Mother is neither watching nor commenting on the current goings on.

There are two actors in this play, but there are four characters.  Each actor plays a brother, but also the mother. And while the fourth character is central, he does not appear: he is the mother's dog.  The dog is hinted at in the obituary scene and then mentioned and discussed in all other scenes, including Mother's scenes. The dog becomes pivotal at the end of the funeral and is then the subject of the play in Act 2.  Hamilton and Kyle come together again to compose thanks to the people who sent grief (and wishes and prayers), and to read the will. Mother has two more appearances, and Hamilton has a long monologue.  The second act has fewer funny moments than the first, but more growth and catharsis.  We are left feeling hopeful, and maybe, somewhat transformed?

Between the scenes, the lights dim and music plays and the actors themselves move the set around. I think these moments are kind of brilliant; the actors have slight, but telling interactions, and these are the places where their body language says so much.

While I admire all theatre actors to start with, I was astounded by these two men. Hamilton was played by Toronto actor Aidan DeSalaiz and Kyle by Winnipeg actor Ryan James Miller. Watching DeSalaiz work through Hamilton's grief and anger and frustration and hurt, and then to find some release was truly a journey, every single night.  Miller, in the more comic role of Kyle is flamboyantly expressive and  has wonderful timing. He  was hilarious and exasperating, especially when viewed through Hamilton's eyes, but heartbreakingly poignant in gestures, facial expressions and posture.   This was a play, acted by two men from different parts of the country who had not met before the company came together to rehearse. But night after night they were brothers, united in their love for an interesting, adventurous and loving mother, and working through their feelings for her and each other in conversations and monologues. I never once caught a whiff of "acting."  They were saying the things that came to their minds and responding to one another.  That I watched them do it, night after night, and deliver perfect long monologues every performance awed me over and over. I am trying to figure out how to afford to just follow these actors around the country to see everything they do, because I am sure I have only seen the tip of the iceberg that is their immense talent.  

I was their tech, and I am almost old enough to be their mother, and I have to say (though it is not my place) I was proud of them every single performance.  For the first three productions this year, I knit in the booth between cues, but I didn't bother for this one - I wanted to catch every word, every gesture, every time.

The Best Brothers was a co-production with Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, where it debuted and ran back in September. The production (and the actors, with their wonderful stage manager, Christine) is heading back to Kamloops for 4 performances May 3-5  at the Pavillion Theatre and then on to Vancouver to the Kay Meek Theatre for 14 performances from May 8 to 19.  If you are nearby these venues, go.  And if you get a chance, say hello from karen.  Tell them I miss them.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Caturday Thomas

Thomas joined our family in the spring of 2007.  He was the last of a litter of stray kittens hanging around a house where a bunch of The Offspring's friends lived. The friends all moved out and the mom cat and other kittens had found homes, but Thomas was still at the house when it became empty.  So the kid made me go and get him.  He was adorable and playful and loved us all, especially The Offspring.  He loved the dogs too, and Kodi the shepherd/rottweiler became his adoptive mom.  I don't seem to have a picture of this but it was common to find Thomas sleeping between Kodi's front paws. Bandit, on the other hand was afraid of Thomas and Thomas used to like to sneak up on Bandit and hide around corners and ambush the poor dog. Thomas did like Bandit, despite Bandit's terror, and tried to treat him affectionately sometimes. He would often wind around the dog's front legs and rub under their chests affectionately. Kodi liked this display quite well, but the look of abject fear on poor Bandit's face while Thomas did this was pretty sad.  

Thomas is a pretty easy going cat. He is not overly demanding, except when a door cannot be left open all the time for him.  In his younger days he was more snuggly, but he is mad at us for getting all these other cats and he is less affectionate.  Years ago, if you were sitting at the table reading, and you put your arms out in a circle, he would climb into the circle and lay down and purr.  He hasn't done that for a long time.  

Thomas was bereft when The Offspring moved out the first time, and he has never entirely forgiven her. Shorty after she moved out, my first partner and I broke up and he moved out. He worked away for a few months after that and so the dogs stayed with me and Thomas, but eventually even the dogs moved out. Thomas seemed quite lonesome. In The fall of 2013, we decided to get him a kitten.  I think that kitten (Meili, in fact) would have been fine, except that we made the decision to adopt the kitten's mom, Maggie at the same time. Meili was about 8 weeks old when we brought them home and Thomas was curious, but respectful of her, and they were getting to know one another after a few days of different rooms, when Meili's mom realized there was another cat sniffing her baby. Maggie attacked Thomas and from then on they could not be in the same room.  Thomas found places to hide until spring and in the spring he moved into the greenhouse.  He stayed outside all summer in 2014, coming in only briefly to eat a few times a day.

We found another home for Maggie, but Thomas has never entirely trusted Meili, try though she might to make friends.  

Thomas found the move from the little old house to our new house four blocks away very unhappy. Most advice tells you to keep a cat inside a new home for three weeks. Thomas paced and yowled for a week before we gave in and took him outside. He gave us the slip as soon as it was dark, and we found him at the old house the next day. We brought him home, and this was the routine for three months: Thomas would mope and yowl for days, we would let him out, and he would go to the old house.  The neighbours all knew him and would let us know when he was back.  We took to leaving him there for a few days at a time to see if he would come home on his own. He never did. We would go and get him and he would eat and sleep at the new house and then leave again as soon as he could.  The house sat unsold for a month after we left, and then the new owners let it sit for another month after that, so the greenhouse was still there for shelter and there were raspberry bushes and bishop's weed and other shrubs to hide in. Once the new owners took over, they tore down the greenhouse and ripped up everything green but the two trees and a lilac. Thomas left us the evening that all of that had happened, and was back before it was light out, calling under the bedroom window to be let in. It was the first time he had come home on his own, and the last time he ever left.  

He seldom gets on a lap anymore, but he will snuggle up if we lay down for a nap or go to bed.  He will occasionally go and get Beloved and tell him it is time for a nap. 

Thomas hates winter, has a foul mouth and likes to put his toys in the water dish. I often think he should have his own blog.  

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Tree Time Machine

The buds are just barely beginning to show on the trees here in Atmon, but show they do, which means spring is coming.  There will be days when I am not working 12 hours and all of the daylight, and when they come, I will venture forth with a camera and get some current pictures. 

Fall was quite pretty here, as it mostly is when it is a sunny one.  I have mountain ash trees in my back yard and I am so glad I took this photo on October 30.

I was heading to work and I realized that the yard seemed bathed in golden light. I turned and saw the sun in the leaves of this tree.  It was kind of breathtaking.  

And then, the very next morning, I went out to this:

I don't remember hearing a thump in the night, but surely there must have been one.  

There is still snow around the tree, although the patio is clear now and the swing is accessible. The garden behind the swing has about a foot and a half of snow in it. At it's height, I think we had nearly four feet of snow just lying in the yard.  If it had snowed one more time this winter I don't know where I would have put the snow I shovelled off the driveway, the shovelled pile was about six feet high.  

But the buds are just barely beginning to show on the trees. It will be spring. 

Sunday, 8 April 2018

And So Begins Tech Week

(Which is a terrible excuse for missing Caturday yet again, but there you are.)

Performance number 4 this season is a travelling show.  It comes with a pre-constructed set and dressings and all we have to do is install and focus the lights and set up the stage. It is a pretty simple set. 

The curtains at the back are tied up to wash and paint the stage, and there will be some furniture once all the painting and light focus is done.  

Tech week is hell.  The lights get hung and focussed, which we have to do from scaffold and extension ladder, and then the sound and lights all have to be programmed. Then there are rehearsals in which the lights and sounds have to be synced to the action and dialogue of the play. Then there are rehearsals with full sound and lights and then full sound, lights and costume.  There are two rehearsals a day and all kinds of miscellaneous bits and pieces and details to take care of between rehearsals. Because I am the carpenter and the light and sound tech, I have to be there to run sound and lights with the actors, but have to do the bits and pieces during the actors' breaks. The days are 10 to 12 hours long.   Saturday is day one of tech week for me. We will not go to performance schedule until next Saturday.  

The lights are absolutely my least favourite thing to install.  Big modern theatres have light bars on hydraulics that can be dropped to a height where the lights can be installed from the floor.  Our theatre was carved on the cheap out of an old bakery and its light bars (called LX) are chained to the trusses.  If we are lucky, we get a preliminary light plan before the set is built and the lights can be installed by scaffold. If not, we have to monkey around with ladders on the set and it is precarious and scary. That is our shaky scaffold in the back. It is my least favourite kind of scaffold because it is always shaky, even with all of its proper pieces installed properly.  So I get 15 feet in the air, drop a rope, pull up a light, and then clamp it to an LX.  Then it had to be panned (turned) and tilted to face whatever it is going to illuminate. Then it needs to plugged into one of the many power cables I have brought along via the scaffold from the roof at far stage left.  These cables need to be secured to the LX as we go. We use a ton of electrical tape.  

I love the effect of lights. I love what light does in a show. But man, I hate putting lights up and focussing them. 

This post has been brought to you by anxiety and stress. Thanks for listening.  There will be better days (and posts!) ahead.  

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Caturday in the Giant Metropolis

Last weekend I had a small holiday. Beloved was working on the Capital Island, in a city where I don't really know anyone. So he left me with the Offspring for two days in the Giant Metropolis. After two days  I took the ferry to the Capital Island and Beloved and I drove north to a small city where we have friends. We came home again last Tuesday.

When we are together, the Offspring and I generally make things, talk about making things and look at tools and supplies for making things.  We also eat, and sometimes cook. Last weekend we also attended a play directed by someone I met through my theatre. When the offspring and I are at her house, though, we are attended by the handsome and clever Stanley.

Stanley chose the Offspring at a rescue in Halifax when she was a student. She went to the rescue intending to get a kitten, but the adult, worldly and adventurous Stanley climbed into her open backpack and her heart. He was 2 or 3 when she got him and they've been together for 5 or 6 years now.  While in university, the Offspring made her summer living by cooking for tree planters. She would leave great suitcases of clothes and books and sewing and knitting projects at my house and go off to the bush for 4 months.  One summer Stanley stayed with a friend in Halifax because the schoolyear apartment was to be given up, but after that, lodgings, and more importantly, roommates were kept over the summers and Stanley did not need to be uprooted.  Which is not to say there were no moves. Stanley is a veteran mover.  The offspring stayed in Halifax for a year after graduation, but then decided to come west and settle for a while in the Great Metropolis to the South. Before she did, however, she worked one last long season in the bush. She and Stanley flew out with everything they could get on a plane and they both stayed with us until the home in the GM was found. The Offspring actually left Stanley with us for nearly a year while she got established in the Great Metropolis, and also until she could manage to fly him home rather than subject him to a 9 hour drive. 

Stanley was a fine addition to our collection of cats.  He was utterly indifferent to the three cats we had, eschewing all overtures completely.  But he liked human company and would sit nearby and purr and accept any and all pets and scratches. He is the only cat I know who tolerates, and even seems to  like belly rubs.  He also likes to converse. 

We missed him a lot when he finally moved south to live with The Offspring again, but Stanley remembers us and when we go to visit The Offspring, he comes to the door to greet us and behaves affectionately. He has excellent manners and also comes to see us off. It is very endearing.  

Next Saturday: Cat Number One.  

Monday, 12 March 2018

No, It's Not Caturday (or: Everyday is Caturday!)

I haven't felt much like writing. I haven't felt like much of anything.

Lucy is cat number 3. But really she is my favourite cat (don't tell the other cats, they all think they are the favourite). Lucy is two now and these are kitten photos.  She is very cute in them, but in reality she was kind of weird looking.  When she first woke up from a nap she looked very like Sid the sloth from the Ice Age movies. (sorry, you have to look that up, I don't feel like looking for permission to post Disney pictures)

I am cute and you are in the kitchen. Why are you not giving me all the good things?

Lucy is always hungry. And she is up to try anything you are eating. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, meat, veggies, fruit, whatever; Give her some! Once she has tried stuff she leaves you alone. Except for ham and Doritos. She always wants more ham or Doritos. And she is smart.  If I don't get up shortly after the coffee pot starts doing its thing in the mornings she will either get up on my dresser and start chucking stuff on the floor or go in the bathroom and knock over the stainless steel wastebasket (why do we have a stainless steel wastebasket?).  

Lucy taught me to play fetch.  When she was a kitten, what she really wanted was to learn to knit. When I was knitting, she wanted, nay, she NEEDED to inspect yarn, needles, tools, knitting bag; NEEDED to be on my lap (she is not usually otherwise a lap cat),  NEEDED  to read the pattern, taste it, sit on it. She was an impediment to a relaxing pastime, frankly.  One of her toys is a plastic  spring coil from a coil bound book. It happened to be nearby one early morning when I was trying to knit and so I tossed it across the room. She launched after it, and damned if she didn't bring it back on the run.  So I threw it about a dozen times. She raced after it and brought it back to me lickety split and looked eager and expectant each time. After a dozen times she walked the spring back to the couch.  And after another half dozen throws she dropped it on the floor out of my reach and curled up on the cushion beside me and went to sleep. It was a bedtime routine for months. Now she brings me the spring in the middle of the night or the early morning, and occasionally when I am feeling blue. 

Meili was 2 when we got Lucy.  We thought Meili and cat number 1 would be companions but cat number 1 wanted nothing to do with Meili and we thought she was lonely. So we got her a kitten.  Poor Lucy. She was fascinated by the big cats, but cat number 1 ignored her completely and Meili followed Lucy around and made threatening noises at her constantly. For two weeks. Then, one evening Lucy was playing in a nylon tunnel toy, amusing herself, and Meili came flying across the basement, tumbled Lucy through the tunnel and they have been friends ever since.  

We think the addition was ultimately successful. This nap will eventually turn into a bath(ing each other) and then it will turn into a wrestling match, back into a bath and then back into a nap.  They are pretty amusing. Which is a good thing. I seem not to be much amused lately, but I am trying.  

Monday, 26 February 2018

Theatre Set and Socks

All I have been doing for making things is building a set and knitting socks.

Here are some construction pictures of the set. I worked on it in between hospital visits.  It was good to have something to occupy my hands and my attention sometimes, but they were wonderful at the theatre about letting me work whatever hours I wanted and taking off at a moment's notice when I needed to.  Beloved worked on the set with me too. He is also a carpenter and I worked some evenings and weekends and he came along and helped. It was not really a one man job, this particular set; the arch at the back is 8 feet high, but the panel on the far left and right are 9 feet wide and 15 and 16 feet high.

Completed walls and the mouldings going on the wall. I never work on the trim. We have a couple of guys who come in after the main construction is done and they do trim and also run a/v and light cables and things.  

The set has a bit of roof.  These are the pieces of it, and also the base coat of paint on some of the walls. 

This is the roof up and the beginning of the crown mouldings as well as the final colour of the walls.  It is also a mess. I made a mess that day.  Some days that is all I do is make a mess, but on this day I also installed a roof and cut weird crown mouldings. Weird because the set is designed with a forced perspective, so the angles are a bit challenging. As I told the designer after it was all done, I like a challenge, although sometimes not while it is happening.


Here all the trim is up and the columns on either side of the arched opening are in place. The painter has also started the wallpaper that covers the roof panels. It is still a mess.

This is the finished, painted and mostly decorated set. The bookcase you see peeking out at stage right of the archway (which is on the left) will be fastened in the centre of the archway. For the first scene there is a piano in front of the bookcase. 

And here it is finished and lit.  It's quite elegant, I think. There is a nice little pot bellied stove to the left of the white chair that I cannot seem to get in one shot.  I might try to get some shots sometime when I have the theatre to myself before the play is over.  It's hard to take a good picture of it; it's very wide and so hard to get the whole thing in one shot. I joke that it is so wide it probably has two official languages.  

I knit socks while I was at the hospital and hospice with my dad.  I can knit socks without a pattern and they are small and portable, so I nearly always have socks to take places with me.  I knit five and a half pairs of socks at his bedside. 

The other two pairs are in the Great Southern Metropolis with The Offspring and her Boyfriend.  

During the run of the play,  I operate the sound and light boards. There are about 90 light cues in a 130 minute play, and about 50 sound cues, so I have some idle moments in the booth. So I knit in the booth too. Again, just socks because I can do them without thinking and frankly, I am not up to anything complicated right now.  Since the play opened on February 16 I have knit two pairs of socks. 

Yes that is two and a half pairs, but you will notice there are two of the patterned socks on the left of this photo and only one of the same sock in the photo above. One of the pairs spanned hospice and the play opening.  

It's a good thing that my life currently consists of pushing a button when my stage manager says, "go," and knitting, because I am not really functioning all that well.  Maybe I will write about that soon.  

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Lawrence Arthur Herman Anderson June 27, 1938 - February 9, 2018

Pop. Papa. Papa-San. Daddy. Dad.

I grew up believing that he could do everything.  In 1976 he started construction on the house he and mom lived in for the rest of his life. He dug the basement, some of it by hand and he did all the framing, and the main plumbing and electrical himself, with professional help only with the parts that needed legal permits. He could fix engines. He knew all about the birds and animals and trees and plants on their land. He  loved science and technology and he liked to invent gadgets and gizmos to make his work easier.  He loved history and storytelling.   He was a carpenter and for the last 15 years of his working life he did residential finishing,  renovated kitchens and installed cabinets for a local manufacturer. He retired at 70 because he was finally ready to.  

I was always allowed in the shop, was always allowed to use the hand tools. I hammered and sawed and tried to use the bit brace when I was little and the smell of sawdust will forever be the smell of home and of my dad.  I don't know if he was proud or pleased when I took up carpentry in 1994 because dad was not a hugely demonstrative guy, but he must have been okay with it, because while I was an apprentice he taught me to do finishing and cabinets.  We worked on hundreds of homes together.  He taught me to be careful. If my corners were not perfect he made me take them apart and do them again. If things didn't line up, he made me take them apart and line them up right. He taught me how to use levers and cleats and clamps with cabinets that were too unwieldy for one person to install. He made it look easy.  He taught me that mistakes were not tragedies unless you didn't learn anything from them.

He was unfailingly kind. He was unflinching about doing the right thing, and he alway just seemed to know the right thing. Family mattered.  

There was no one in the world he loved more than my daughter.  He read to her and walked in the bush with her and showed her birds and animals and taught her to drive the tractor. He had more wooden boxes in his shop than he needed because she liked to build boxes and he liked to do what she liked to do.  When she was a teenager he took her to work with him and had her assemble and help him install cabinets. She is confident with tools today.  When she was four he found my old toy sewing machine or he bought a new one and he showed her how to sew. He put her on his lap and he operated the foot pedal and helped her feed fabric through the needle. She is a professional seamstress today. 

I believed that he could do everything. He believed that I could do anything.  

I will miss him so much. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018


We interrupt your regular Saturday cat post to bring you Wednesday.


Wednesday is The Offspring's boyfriend's dog.  She is a lovely good dog who invariably does that with her ears when she has a camera pointed at her. She is particularly perturbed in this picture because her boy and The Offspring had gone off climbing for a couple of hours and left her in my company. She is very rarely out of the boy's company, and both she and the boy get antsy without one another. Wednesday is likely to howl the blues when she thinks she is alone in the house - I know she is singing the blues because she does it very softly, almost to herself.

Wednesday thinks she would like to be friends with the cats. Alas, the cats do not all share her interest. Meili likes to follow Wednesday around, so she knows what is going on, but when Wednesday notices Meili, Meili makes mean noises. Cricket follows Wednesday around and occasionally even greets Wednesday when she comes in the house with a boop on the nose (with her own nose, not a paw). Cricket and Wednesday can be found, a few times a day, laying in close proximity and gazing at each other. We are all hopeful they will become friends, but just as things are beginning to look good, Cricket turns into a hissing, swearing demon.  There have been no actual fisticuffs, and nothing initiated by Wednesday.  She just keeps looking disappointed that no one will snuggle or submit to belly washings.  The two cats you have not met hid from Wednesday for the first week and a half, but now are sometimes seen in the same room.

Wednesday, her boy, and my Offspring are all here from the great metropolis to the south to say goodbye to my father and to help and comfort my mother.  Mom and Dad live outside Atmon, about a half hour to the west. They have 18 acres and a house my dad built that they share with Spike, the cat to whom Cricket is a 15 year younger doppelgänger.  The kids and Wednesday are splitting their time between Mom and Dad's place and our house, with daily visits to Hospice.  Mom is glad to have company while she copes with things and sorts out what is happening next.  Beloved and I cannot take time off completely, although both our employers are being wonderfully flexible about our schedules, and we are grateful that the kids are being so good to my mom.

Wednesday might be a kind of practice dog for me. I like dogs. We had dogs when I was a kid and when the Offspring was a child too. But I think dogs need much more companionship than cats and Beloved and I both work, sometimes long hours, and he travels quite a bit and I don't like the idea of leaving a dog alone a lot. I am enjoying having a dog around.

Wednesday's main interests, aside from being with the boy, are running and sniffing. She and the boy go off on long adventures every day, usually to some multi-hectare park. If there were not feet of snow everywhere, they would adventure by mountain bike, but they are making do.  Once she is sufficiently fresh-air-and exercised she likes to lay near the boy and be petted. Mostly Wednesday is having a good time here. Except when they go off without her. Or you point a camera at her.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Environmental Post

I have not done any rebel rousing or demonstrating for nearly 2 years. I just didn't really care about anything any more. Our local paper had become a mockery of actual journalism and I seemed to be surrounded by the economy-is-king types.  I was tired.

On my way home from the theatre last evening, though, I caught the provincial news on the CBC.  There was a story about a plastic bag manufacturer trying to overturn a plastic bag ban in Victoria.  Obviously, the manufacturer wants to save its livelihood.  Immediately after this article, though, was an article on ocean plastic.  A little later in the evening, I heard something about an estimate of when there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.  

If we ever stop privileging the economy over the environment, we will have to come to terms with the fact that some jobs are going to have to stop.  I don't think we have it in us.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Tuesday Trees (For RossK)

At my little old house, I had a spectacular flowering crabapple tree in the front yard.

I have a real thing for trees.  That tree was one of the things that made the move hard. My new home has a bigger yard and more trees. And the first thing that Beloved and The Offspring did was buy me a new flowering crab tree.  It's very little and having a hard time establishing itself,  and I have no good pictures of it yet.  

We share some unhappy looking cedars with my next door neighbour. There is a May tree and and unidentified tree in the front yard, along with the Crabapple and a Pear tree we brought with us from the old place. There are four Mountain Ash trees and an apple tree in the back yard. There were four lilac bushes here, one of them a lovely dark purple. One of the light lilacs is right up against my front window. Last spring, the blooming of the Lilacs and the May tree overlapped a little bit, and I could see this and it made me think of RossK.  

I moved to my new home somewhat reluctantly.  I had not moved in 25 years, and I was clinging to all those memories. RossK reminded me that I will have the memories wherever I go, which helped a lot. I felt, after the first night in the new house, as though I had lived here all my life. 
 This is the best spring time picture I have, but I have enough garden pictures to get us through to this spring.  

Saturday, 27 January 2018


Good heavens! I have now written more posts this year than in the previous two years combined!  Thank goodness I have a lot of cats.

Meet Meili. According to Google translate, Meili is the simplified Chinese word for beautiful.

I mentioned last weekend that Cricket is not our most therapeutic cat.  Meili is.  If you are feeling bad it is Meili who will come and enquire as to the reason for your tears.  She is very purry and affectionate. She is also kind of the house mother. She needs to know where all the other cats are and what they are doing before she can relax. She has a busy, inquisitive look sometimes that I have never been able to capture. She will crane her neck in all directions, looking around when there is some air of cat activity that I cannot discern with my puny human senses, and I imagine her saying, "What's all this? What's happening? What's going on honey?" a al Karen Walker in Will and Grace.  She is much less selfish than Karen, but she does have a weakness for cat cookies. 

Currently she is spending a lot of time asking me what is wrong because, of course, I am crying much more than usual.  Dad has been in hospice for a week. Last Thursday, when we got word that there was a bed in hospice, he looked terrible. He was grey and wan, and oh so thin. I thought he would not last the weekend.  Friday morning, after he was whisked into his hospice bed, washed of the hospital smell, and tucked under a beautiful blue handmade quilt, he was ever more relaxed and his colour was better.  On Sunday, when I walked into his room, he was sitting up, eating ice cream and watching tv, he even had an air of cheer about him.  He had stopped eating in the hospital.  Dad has always had a thing about eating everything on his plate. It is just one of the things he has never shaken off from his childhood (desperate, irrational fear of doctors and hospitals is another). In restaurants, for the last several years he has greeted plates delivered to him with horror that he must eat so much. Now, if you give him too much,  he refuses it completely, even if he might want a few bites.  Hospital meals were all too much, and sometimes comically so.  One night, I swear on my cat's lives, there was a cup and a half of peas on his plate.  Please. I like peas and I don't want a cup and a half of them with a meal. Well. Unless they were picked and shelled before they were steamed. Then a cup and a half of peas might be all I want. But these were frozen peas. Sent from Ontario and microwaved before they got to my dad; there was nothing appealing about them.  (ha!)

Speaking of peas, when I was a child, dad contrived a game to make us eat our peas. He would estimate how many were on our plate, and we would count them as we ate them to see if he was right.  He did it for years, and he got really accurate. We always ate all our peas, too.  Of course, we ate everything on our plates, because that was what you did.  Nights when we had peas, we also had the song about peas, "I eat my peas with honey; I've done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny but it keeps them on my knife." He probably let us put honey on our peas at least once in honour of the song.  

Meiji doesn't like peas. Or any human food. She seems perfectly content with kibble, and occasionally has a few bites of canned food, which the other cats get morning and night. She likes cookies and she is quite demanding and insistent about them.  Some days we cave to the pestering, other times not so much. Meili is also the house murderer. She is our fat cat, but she is lightning fast and a stealthy hunter. I read last year that bird's eyesight is better than their hearing and that they particularly see bright colours.  Cat colouring is usually camouflage, which is why birds don't see them in time. I tied a bunch of strips of brightly coloured quilting cotton to her collar. She looked like she was wearing a ragged Elizabethan collar. At first she was mad, but she is also dreadfully vain and  we were able to convince her that she was very pretty, and then she wouldn't let us take it off. It worked: she was not able to catch birds.  

Meili does not have as many nicknames as the other cats. She is our second cat, so she is sometimes called Two, and we call her Kitty Girl and Pretty Girl, and I sing her a song with her name in it that goes to the tune of "Make it Go Away" by Holly Cole. Meili comes to me whenever I sing.  She is gentle and very snuggly, but on her terms, as most cats.  She really does make you feel better, which she managed to do this morning  just by me  writing about her.  

Have a happy Caturday.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Monday Making Things

I make things.  I used to draw and paint and when I was 10 my dream was to go to art school. But my parents said art was not a job, and I needed a job. And I believed them. Even when I went to high school and took art classes and met art teachers, whose jobs were art, I believed that art was not a job.    It's possible there is a connection between all of that and the fact that I have been depressed most of my life.  Of course, I may just have abnormally low iron, too. Who knows?

Last year I somehow got to help a local painter with a backdrop for a theatre production (different theatre group than I am working for now) and I kind of felt like I was breathing again after a long time.  I mentioned to the director of the play, who is also a friend, about my parents teaching me that art was not a job. He said the most amazing thing. He said, "maybe art is not a job, but sometimes it is a life." Every once in a while someone says something that takes your breath away because it is so true.

And it occurred to me, about that time, that art has managed to seep out of me, in spite of it not being an acceptable life to my parents. I make things. I can't help but make things. I knit and sew and I have some silversmithing tools and I make silver jewelry sometimes. And I build things. And I have to try stuff all the time, like making my own hand lotion bars.
So now  I am going to try to work at making something every day.  And on Mondays I am going to post what I made last week, or last month or last year.  I am going to post the stuff I make on Mondays.  Last week I knit some socks and some gloves, but I have no pictures of those. I also built half a theatre set, of which I do have a picture.  

So Caturdays and Mondays toward the resurrection of a blog.  And in the interest of getting me interested in something again. Thanks for coming along.  

Saturday, 20 January 2018


Good Morning! Welcome to what I hope is a new feature: blogging every Saturday! I figure if I have nothing else to write about, and nothing that I can bring myself to write about, I have a plethora of cats I can write about. And maybe I can bring myself to write about the things I can't bring myself to write about in a roundabout way.

That is the inimitable Cricket. Cricket is a year old. I adopted her from a family with small children whom I think pulled her tail and mauled her. She is very particular about being touched (only on the top of the head and the chin, thank you human) and it took about six months before she raised her tail off the floor.
My dad has always described a particular kind of jumpy, manic behaviour as being like "a flea on a hot griddle."  He had a customer years ago, when he was selling doors and windows, whom he described that way. Some time after, when I had become a carpenter, I learned that this particular man had a strong liking for cocaine. We don't know if Cricket likes cocaine or not, because it's not a thing we have around, but like most kittens she certainly bounced around like she had been snorting the stuff by the bushel. "Flea" seemed an inauspicious name for a pet, and so we settled on Cricket. We also call her 4 because she is our fourth cat, Bunny because she is a clumsy dumb bunny and Lux because she swans around here in the world's most luxurious fur coat.

That is Cricket doing what Crickets like best: climbing things that are hard to get down from.  And that is the autumn view from my bedroom window. The cat and her expression are also my morning view from March to October. She goes outside, climbs the swing and hollers in the bedroom window.

The cats are a funny distraction from the current sad things happening in our lives.  Dad was moved to hospice yesterday. It is a relief to have him out of the far too crowded ward and room he was in. The nurses were wonderful and kind, but he was sharing a room that was designed to be a private room and it was too near the nurses station. He was hearing snippets of conversations and as he becomes disoriented he thought all conversations were about him. He was getting kind of paranoid.  He is not in great pain, and he is pretty lucid most of the time and still very articulate, as long as his mouth and throat aren't dry. He's been depressed for a long time and sometimes he is really frustrated and angry, and sometimes he wishes with all his being that it would just be over. I have always been close to my dad and it is hard to lose him. He will be 80 this year, though he is very unlikely to make it to June, and this is the way of life, but every day I encounter things I will not get to tell him about some day, share with him some day, ask him about some day. I am trying not to think of him as gone yet, but it's hard not to miss him.  We are also coping with the news that Beloved's mom is in hospital and failing back in Saint John.  She was here for a month over Christmas and we had a wonderful time, so we have something good to hold onto there. We are feeling a little overwhelmed.

While Cricket is not the most therapeutic of the cats, she likes to be near someone. I am the person of choice when there are multiple people here, but mostly she prefers to sit just out of touching range.  As I type, she is sitting behind the computer monitor and occasionally puts a paw under the monitor, or plays with something rustley to remind me she is there. It is enough.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

It Was A Wonderful Show

I mentioned last fall that I had taken a job as the the set carpenter for the local theatre. The theatre was in a bit of flux this year: The set carpenter for the previous two years decided that he wanted to stay with his summer job; the light tech moved to England to be with her fiancĂ©; the prop expert decided to go back to school and the costume/wardrobe mistress moved south because of her husband's work.  Previous to all of this happening, I had made the acquaintance of the production manager and he put me on the volunteer list for the second MainStage performance. He thought, until the day before the season actually started, that his carpenter was returning.  

So I was offered the actual job at the last minute in a bit of a panic. He was pleasantly surprised that I could build things, needed little instruction or supervision and also that I was interested in learning new things. Because Jules and Dirk and Jake's Gift travels with all of its set and nothing needs to be built, all there was to do was hang and focus the lights. Lights are their own art, and I have a new appreciation for their importance in theatre. Sadly, we do not have a mechanical light system, which means that we work from scaffolds and ladders. I am not fond of being up high. I prefer the stability of a scaffold over working on a ladder, not to mention the advantage of being able to reach multiple locations from one, but I don't care for being off the ground very much.  It's not my favourite part of the process, no matter how much I admire the effect.  

Mainstage 2, on the other hand, had a big, busy set. I started building set pieces in September, when I would ordinarily be building MainStage 1, and there were several changes before it was all finally assembled. I don't care much for spending my days undoing and then redoing the work I did yesterday, but apparently this is a theatre thing. In the end, the work was worth it. 

We presented It's a Wonderful Life as our Christmas production.  I have never seen the movie, can you believe that? We presented it as a radio play, with live a live foley artist doing sound. The set was the interior of a  40's radio station.   Doing a straight up radio show doesn't provide a lot to watch, so our director did something I thought was pretty cool: He started the play 15 minutes early, as soon as the house opened, with 15 minutes of improvisation. As you were taking your seat, the actors were arriving at the radio station, checking out the microphones, practicing lines and sounds and chatting informally with each other. The actors are called to the mics, a countdown is called,  the "On Air" sign lights up, and the radio play begins. For the first 15 minutes of the play, it is a straight up radio show, actors coming to the mics with their scripts and reading the play. All sounds are produced by the foley artist at stage right, including all footstep and door openings and closings. But then, just as a now grown George meets the also grown Mary, it becomes a play. From this point, the actors begin to act and interact as the characters in the play and they also produce the footstep and door sounds. I thought it was pretty cool, and nearly all  of the feedback I saw on the play was positive, although some people were confused at first.  

That is my set, at the top of this post. I built its bones, all of them, the raised floors, the walls, the foley desk at stage right (that's on the left of the photo), the benches and desk, and the wind and thunder machines as well as a few other noise machines that are not visible. I didn't design it and I neither painted nor dressed the set, but the bones are all me.  

You might notice that there is a sound booth behind the foley desk. Because a radio station needs a sound booth, right? A sound booth needs someone doing sound tech and running the mics, right?  There is no sound tech in the script and there are no characters who can believably be put in that booth, so what to do with a booth that actually takes up a large portion of the set? Why, run the light controls into it and put the light tech on stage, that's what! And so I was on stage, playing the sound technician and running the lights. I was the first one on stage, and most of the actors checked in with me during the improvisation as if I was the boss. It was very fun.  The actors, all professionals from Toronto and Stratford and Vancouver and Calgary, were fantastic. They were utterly professional, generous and kind. I have worked two shows, with a total of 12 out-of-town professional actors and two professional directors, and if they are representative of professional theatre in this country, then something REALLY great is happening in theatre here.  They were a joy.  It was one of the funnest experiences of my life. I am really glad I had this time and met all these kind folks before my real life went to hell in a hand basket.  

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Hello? Is This Thing On?

Oh look. I still have a blog.  

Three posts in two years. That is pretty poor output, I must say.  

I have been great and depressed and all things in between. I have had neat things happen and lousy things happen and days when not much happened at all.  I have been addicted to the rabbit hole that is Facebook for too long and I have been too busy to think. 

Currently the lousy thing that is happening is taking all my time, but I think writing might help me through, so here I am. 

My dad is dying of lung cancer.  

It is 7:38 AM, and I have not yet showered or eaten but I have been sitting in the dark, waiting for the light to rise and drinking coffee and thinking for about an hour and this will not be a long post because I want to see my dad before I go to work at 10.  

I am cycling through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's 5 stages of grief at about 10 minutes each, in random orders, which is good, because the anger is kind of exhausting, but the acceptance stage sometimes comes with the ability to laugh.

I'm going to try to alternate posts about dad and sadness with posts about other stuff and hopefully happiness. It would be easy to get mired in the grief, and I think I will need to force myself to remember good things. 

When I was quite young, maybe even in my teens, something crappy was happening. Not this crappy, mind you, but crappy enough. and I remember thinking I just wanted everything to be the way it was before. And I suddenly realized that it was never going to be the same again. And that that would be true no matter what. 

Nothing is ever going to be the same again.  But the sun is coming up. And despite the return of the cold, it looks like it might be a bright, sunny day.