Curiosity is terminal

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.