Monday, 27 June 2016

Ten

I am working on a deadline at my real job, so just a photo today.

Not just any photo, though.

This one.








And maybe just one more, from a different angle so it's clear how much cat is in that box:




The shoe box says Size 7 but I think he's at least a size 9. Maybe a 10.


Wishing you all a "10" kind of week - overflowing with good stuff.




Friday, 24 June 2016

Out and About; and Seriously, We Don't Say Oot and Aboot in Canada, No Matter What You've Been Told

Flora and fauna and other oddities I have recently encountered ...


... on my walk:

Stalwart guard on the walking path. He shows up every day.

Fungi. What an odd word. Fungi. Fungi. Fungi ...

Is someone advertising an errant hat, or did they think the fire hydrant looked chilly?



... and in my yard:


Peonies in bud. The ants have been busy eating the coating off them so they will bloom.
Perennial ground cover ... name not coming to me ... filling in its enclosed space nicely, between the steps and the wall.
Lilacs in bud. The smell is heavenly when they bloom. I can't pass by without taking a close-up sniff.


And an unexpected turn of events as I started to film this fellow. If you have your audio turned on, the end of the video will make more sense. (Listen at the 55 second mark.)


video


Why did the crow cross the road? Was it to get to the Donkey on the other side?

Nope. Just to get to the other side. (Did you hear his friend warning him about the Donkey, though?)

Hope you have some close encounters of the good kind this weekend.




Monday, 20 June 2016

A Chicken and a Bear

I know a lady who can conjure up a bear.

How many people can say that?

Her name is Chicken, and her story is here. It's amazing and kind of scary and she tells it well.

And it reminded me of my father's bear story.

Round these parts, we have quite a vigorous recycling and composting program. We all have huge green compost bins that are emptied every second week by a company with big stinky trucks. I'm assuming that the trucks are stinky, because our compost bin gets pretty stinky and when you multiply that by thousands, that's a whole lot of holding your nose.

Stinky compost bins attract critters. In the spring we have hungry critters of all kinds, but especially, it seems, bears who are just waking up after a long sleep and a good yawn and stretch and a lot of scratching of their birthday suits, and who are getting a bit on the peckish side. And they have very good noses.

And every so often, out in the country where the bears live, those noses bring them to a stinky compost bin. Bears aren't too particular about what they eat, in spite of those pictures you see of them picking anti-oxidant berries and catching low-cholesterol salmon. If there's a pizza box in the compost - even without any pizza, just the smell - they'll chew the cardboard. But usually there's more in our bins than cardboard, and bears learn fast. They visit the Green Buffet whenever possible.

Now, if I saw a bear in my compost bin, I'd probably shriek a bit, and run around holding my head with both hands, because, I'm embarrassed to say, that seems to be my reaction to scary things, and then I might calm down long enough to call the authorities and tell them about the bear. But my father? Nooooooo. He ran outside in his sock feet, hollering at the bear. And then he threw his sneakers at it.

The bear ran away.

Lucky for my father.

And maybe lucky for the bear.

It's been almost one year since my father died, and I've been having a lot of tough memories this month. But the bear story made me remember better times, when Dad was mobile and feisty and altogether a get-'er-done kind of man.

Thanks, Chicken, for bringing that good memory back to me, and for reminding me that even stories with bears in them can have happy endings.

"Is that Donkey's picnic lunch I smell, or is it a COMPOST BIN?"
 That doesn't say much for my picnic lunches, does it?
 (Thanks to Pixabay for the cute free photo.)



 

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Plants Are The Only Things Making Progress In Our Garden; or, Those Dead Leaves Aren't Going To Jump In The Compost By Themselves

Today I'm including some photo comparisons of the plants in our yard, taken within about a one week period, so that next year I will have a record of what's blooming now and show how quickly things grow this time of year. And to show that I have STILL not cleaned out the debris in the flower gardens. Ack.

The irises:







The peonies:







 The lungwort:

Also known as "Mary and Joseph" (a much more picturesque name), it has both pink and blue blooms on it. Complete with bumblebee.

Without Mr. B, but with more pink. Mine seem to produce the blue flowers first, then the pink ones. Very strange and pretty cool.



And the butterfly bush:

Well camouflaged against the dirt.

Well chewed by a mysterious pest. It's too early for earwigs, the usual culprit, so I suspect ants, of which we have a boatload this year.


The rhododendron:


This was taken in April; it should have been covered in leaves and buds but the deer needed fed and thus it was bare.

It's still pretty bare, but there is hope that it will live, although not bloom. I don't know how many years it can keep up this resilience, though.



Other peoples' plants are thriving, too. Here is that huge tree stump covered in ivy that I pass on my walks:



It will be even more splendid later this summer. Updates will be posted.

And another tree that didn't look impressive when it was bare:




Barely recognizable. A good outfit can cover a multitude of sins for trees as well as for people.

We are well on our way to summer, if you ignore the 8 degrees C nights (46 degrees F). It's been wonderful for sleeping, so I'm not complaining.

And I just realized that the dead leaves don't really show up in these shots, because the new growth hides them. Meanwhile, those old leaves are keeping the weeds down and feeding the plants as they compost. I don't know how procrastination could get any better than that.

The old plant stalks probably need to go, though. Soon ... soon.  




Monday, 13 June 2016

Mus, Mi, Mo, Mum ...

The title is one of the few things I recall from Latin classes. It is the beginning of the declension of the word "mouse". I think.

It was 45 years ago, after all.

But strangely, it is the exact phrase that runs through my mind whenever I think about mice. If I see a mouse, or a picture of a mouse, or someone talks about mice, I automatically think, "mus, mi, mo, mum ..." Isn't it odd how our minds work?

Anyway, I wrote awhile back about one mouse that got in our house and lived to tell the tale. That was quite a feat, considering we have three cats.

But it was not a one-off event, by any means. We've had other mice, and once our cats spy them, then I take over, and by hook or by crook I've been able to get them back outside without any casualties.

In a couple of cases, our fiercest cat even had the mouse in her mouth and was carrying it triumphantly to the next room when I saw her.

The first time it happened, I picked her up, mouse and all, and headed for the back door. When I paused to open the door, she dropped the critter and it ran under an edge of the cushion flooring next to the door jamb.

After closing the cat in the bathroom, I lifted the edge of the flooring and found the poor tiny creature flattened to the thickness of a dime. But when I poked him gently, he decompressed into his natural shape and lodged himself into the corner furthest from me, where the wall met the cupboard. Eventually I was able to get him into a bucket and took him outside. I left the bucket on its side and when I checked a few minutes later, the mouse had vanished into the warm night.

The next time it happened (same cat), we repeated the trip to the door, the dropping of the mouse at the last moment, and the hiding of the mouse under the floor covering. This time it was late fall, and outside the snow had been falling for about an hour - big flakes in the quiet night, leaving a light fluffy blanket on the deck beyond the open door. The mouse was determined to stay under the flooring, evading my finger-prodding as he went left, then right, then left again. Suddenly he seemed to spy his escape route, and scampered to the centre of the doorway and hopped up on the sill.

For a moment he paused, then - just like a cartoon character from a Disney movie, I swear - he made a flying leap onto the snow-covered deck, then a series of leaps through the snow that took him to the top of the steps - and just like that, he was gone.

Only his miniature footprints in the snow were left to show that he was more than a figment of my imagination.

It was truly a magical moment to witness, and a memory that is bright and clear and warm in my mind.

Not so much for my cat, but that's okay. She got over it.

Fugit mus. Feles oblitus.*

*The mouse escaped. The cat forgot.

Courtesy of Google Translate, English to Latin. Because it's been 45 years since I constructed a sentence in Latin. And because we never got to write cool sentences like that. Instead, we wrote about "agricolae" and "urnae" (farmers and jars). I've never once wanted to write about farmers or jars in those 45 years. Just mice.



"I didn't forget. I'm just ... busy."



 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Weird Stuff I've Seen Lately

The title says it all.

A fence post covered in green algae? moss? your guess is as good as mine, unless you're a botanist, in which case your guess is probably much better than mine. Aren't nature's colours lovely and varied? There must be hundreds of shades of green here in the spring, plus all the flower colours.



A three-eyed tree monster. Again, if you're a botanist, you probably know more about this than I do and have a fancy name for it. I'm open to your knowledge. 


Okay, these aren't weird. They're bright and cheerful, and really really hard to get rid of. It's a good thing I like them so much. The reason they are in this post about weird stuff is that they're growing up through the asphalt. I've always found it fascinating that tender plants have that kind of strength. There's a lesson in there somewhere.


For months, I drove past this every day, and smiled because I thought the power guys had left a raincoat on the wire by accident when they were out fixing the lines. I did think it was strange that they never came back for it.

Turns out the joke was on me. When I finally took a picture of it, and was able to zoom in closer with my camera, it was clear that this yellow plasticky thing wasn't a raincoat but some kind of weatherproofing doohickey that was put there on purpose. I don't know what it's called, and even the botanists out there probably can't identify it unless they're also familiar with the care and feeding of power lines. If you can enlighten me about it, I would appreciate that.

And finally, here's another foreign object on a wire. Looks like a piece of a branch that grew around the line, and it was easier to cut around it than to remove it completely when the tree was cut down. It really bothers me to see it hanging there, for some reason. Someday it will weather sufficiently and fall off. Until then, I suffer greatly.

A closer look.


How about you - have you seen any weird stuff lately? Do you feel drawn to photograph the weird stuff too?






Monday, 6 June 2016

"Good, better, best ...

... never, never rest, 'til your good is better, and your better, best."   (- St. Jerome)

That seems like such a tall order right now. But the worse things are, the more I need to remember it.

For the past few weeks I have been struggling more than usual with my tendency to ruminate over slings and arrows aimed in my general direction. It is a complicated situation which fortunately has nothing to do with my home life or my work life but affects me in a more public way. But my post is not about that - it's really just about me trying to smack myself upside the head and do better at being better.

I decided to dig into my digital file of quotations and little verses that encapsulate Things I Should Remember. They sum up life lessons that I have learned through the years, sometimes painfully. They also represent life lessons that I have yet to master. They are a beacon of goodness that I can read and say, Yes, this is important, and without this, I am not fit to be around other people.

So I dug into the file, because I've been grumpy lately, and because why save the good stuff in a file, real or digital, and never get around to using it?


Samuel Johnson had two bits of advice that made it into my file. Since I have what I consider to be very high standards for my file of good stuff, that made me sit up and take notice. What I noticed first was that I don't have a clue who Samuel Johnson is. So I Googled him (of course), and if you are likewise wondering what kind of person he was and what he did, go to this link for a short Wikipedia article that will fill you in.

Here is the first quotation from him that I liked:

“Reproof should not exhaust its power upon petty failings.”

How true that is. Save your disapproval for the big stuff. Don't use a peashooter on every little thing. If something big comes along, and you can do some good with your objections, load up a cannon, aim carefully, and put things right. I'm thinking that may not be the best analogy because a cannon is kind of overkill most of the time, but analogies never were my strong suit. I have a very literal mind. But I think I get his point.

And Sam again:

"To hear complaints is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy."

Other people might be happy, or not, but it doesn't matter - nobody wants to listen to me whine. I still want to whine, badly. But it's not going to win friends and influence people, as Dale Carnegie put it. Instead, it will make me look like a big whinypants. Maybe even a Whiny McWhinypants. Because I would BE one.

So, how should I be behaving instead?

A long time ago, Aristotle said:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

And he was right. Maybe it's hard right now not to reply to the insults and innuendo, but with practice, maybe it will get easier. And when it's finally easier, I will hopefully be a slightly better person.

I'm trying, but - oh, man, this is hard. Like HARD hard. Like SISYPHUS hard. If you'd like a breather from all the stern self-talk I'm sharing here, have a look at this video, which is much cuter than a quote from Wikipedia about Sisyphus would be, but makes the same point.

That video is really, REALLY cute. Did you skip it? I'll wait while you backtrack. It is an excellent visual representation of how I feel right now .......

Oh. Ohhhh. I believe I am guilty of whining right there. I'm sorry. 

Moving along now, with my big backpack of woe. I do believe the next verse sums up what I should be focusing on, instead of what I should not be focusing on. There is a subtle but important difference between the two.

Do all the good you can.
By all the means you can.
In all the ways you can.
In all the places you can.
At all the times you can.
To all the people you can.
As long as ever you can.

-John Wesley

That covers all the bases, I think.

And it brings me to a quote my mother has loved all her life, taught to her by her father, and taught by her to me:

"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."   (commonly attributed to Stephen Grellet, Quaker missionary)

There is no lack of inspiration here to be a better person, but I'm really starting to think I need a rubber mallet to pound this stuff into my head. Wish me luck, please, and pass the mallet.

Bad thoughts, listen up:

Fly away now ... far, far away. Whiny McWhinypants has spoken.



 

 

Friday, 3 June 2016

My Name is P. Donkey, and Apparently I'm a Grump

Recently while in a local store at the mall, I noticed a sign on one of the counters. It said:

THIS COUNTER IS CLOSED. ONE OF OUR OTHER CASHIERS WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO SERVE YOU. I was quite surprised they managed to get all of that on a sign that was small enough to fit on the counter.

Be that as it may, I have to say I did not see any of the other cashiers giving any sign of being happy, let alone more than happy. They were not jumping for joy, waving wildly at me, or even smiling. I have visited this store often because it has necessities that are not sold at other stores in our town, and I can tell you that all the cashiers could stand to smile now and then. This is a store where comfortably middle-class ladies are the cashiers. This is not Wal-Mart where the employees are overworked and underpaid and lucky to have a job even though it has no medical or dental benefits or life insurance or pension plan. Someone in Customer Service at this store should probably have a little in-service about pleasantries and professionalism.

But, also, someone in Public Relations may need to chill.

Whatever happened to

CLOSED

or

NEXT COUNTER PLEASE

or even

ONE OF OUR OTHER CASHIERS WILL BE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU.

 Although that last one, again, might be assuming too much.

Where is all this hyperbole coming from? I believe in good manners. I believe in respecting your customers. But this seems a bit over the top.

Maybe the problem is that this is less like good manners and more like a sales pitch.

COME ON IN!!!  HAVE WE GOT A DEAL FOR YOU!!! NOT JUST HAPPY - MORE THAN HAPPY!!! THAT MEANS RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS AND PUPPIES AND DELIRIOUS WONDERMENT FOR YOU!!!

No, thanks. I'll just take my little self home and be happy there.

And please think about having that in-service.

If I must deal with grim clerks and cluttered aisles and overpriced faddish merchandise in order to find one outfit that I need to buy new, because who wears second-hand clothing to major life events? or to purchase a shirt for my husband or shorts for my grandbaby, then I will shop in your store.

But if I want happyhappyhappy I will look elsewhere.

Geez, is it just me? Am I just grumpy today?

Oh. Maybe I should go apply for a job at that store!

Oh. This is too ironic, considering my upcoming post on "how to be a better person".

*goes away, boils up some spaghetti, and beats self with wet noodles*

Yes, I'd say I'm grumpy.

Stay tuned.

Is anything making you grumpy today or have you been grumpy lately or have you ever been grumpy or are you thinking there may come a day when you might possibly be grumpy?

Feel free to tell me all about it. I'm all ears. Har har.