What Happiness Is

Yay, it’s another LIST!  I live for lists.  When I got home from work yesterday I realized that I’d been relatively happy all day long.  How odd.  I need to figure out why so I can do that again sometime.

Happiness Is……

 – waking up before the alarm goes off and realizing I can go back to sleep for another hour.

– having enough time to finish my morning coffee.

– booking extra walk-in eye exam appointments for the doctor so he has a much less crappy day.

– finding out all my contact lens patients have rescheduled or cancelled.  Proving my theory that if people book on a Saturday they will always think of something better to do with their weekend.

– listening to a wild and crazy thunderstorm and the rain pounding on the roof.

– realizing the rain has finally stopped right after remembering my umbrella is in the car.

– getting everything finished and clocking out on time because no crazy person wandered in after I turned the lights out to ask if we were closed.

– finding out it rained so hard it beat all the dirt off my car so now I don’t have to wash it.

– not having to stop and pick up anything on the way home.

– discovering I didn’t leave the bedroom window wide open after all.

– eating a piece of toast slathered with Nutella.  Knowing nobody saw me do that.

– watching “Water for Elephants” on Netflix, skipping over the cruel and brutal parts and replaying the touching scenes one more time.

– knowing that I’ve made it through yet another day, unharmed, still breathing, and mentally sound.  (Well, two out of three ain’t bad.)

It’s been raining all night long.  Our lawn is as green as a golf course and the air is so fresh it makes me want to breathe in and never exhale.  Have a Happy end-of-a-splendid-week-end Sunday.  🙂

Ten Things That Are True In My Universe

Upside down

Upside down (Photo credit: Gemma Bou)

The things on this list are not to be mistaken for those scary Universal Truths people are always going on about.  I would never be that presumptuous.  Well actually I would but then this list would be considerably less credible.  So it’s strictly stuff that is constant in my subjective reality.  Believe it if you dare.

1.  When W calls me from the island, he is sitting on the deck, looking out over the water, and downing copious amounts of rum.  I know this is true, because it’s exactly what he tells me.  Every time.  It’s of course possible that this is how he spends his entire day, with or without making a phone call.

2.  Everyone I know and everyone I meet just wants deep down to be GOOD.  At something, with something, for something.  They want to be good to someone, or do something good for the world.  Some are better at this than others.  Some will end up good at being bad, or good for nothing.  But GOOD nonetheless.

3.  No matter how hard you work or how hard you try, some lunatic manager/boss type person is always going to ask you to try harder, to be more, to do more and to get better. (And thus make him/her look better in the process.) Resist the urge to choke this nutcase and don’t make excuses;  just smile and nod and promise you will.  It’s not really a lie if you don’t mention “when” you’re going to get around to it.

4.  The harder it is to learn something, the longer you’ll remember it.  Because you sure as hell don’t want to go through THAT again.

5.  You’ll never fully appreciate what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.  And even then you’ll rationalize it to death.

6.  Nothing is ever as simple as it first appears.  If it looks complex from the get go, you’re in big trouble.

7.  People tend to hate what they don’t understand, and fear what they hate, and then they can’t understand why they’re so afraid.  And hateful.  And bloody confused.  Ignorance is not bliss, it’s hell.

8.  Love can hurt, but it’s always worth the pain.  As long as you get to be the one inflicting it at some point, it will all even out in the end.  No one gets out of being in love unscathed.  Just like no one gets out of life alive.

9.  Upside down and downside up are the very same thing.

10.  Because it’s in the last place it was left, you will always find what you lost in the last place you look.  And if you never find it, it’s because you gave up before you got to that last place.  Or some idiot destroyed it.  One or the other.

I’ve finished reading Joe Golem and the Drowning City, by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, and it was everything promised on the back cover and more.  Steampunk turns out to be a genre I quite like.  Except maybe don’t read it while you’re eating.

Grandma’s Brothers/Letters Home

My Grandma Scott lost all of her younger brothers, (Jake, Herb, Carl, Walter, Iden and Jack), from the youngest to the oldest, one by one.  (My dad made a kind of not so funny joke about it once, that they passed on in order of importance, leaving grandma – the most important of them all – to be the last one standing).  Jake died as a young boy from illness or accident and Herb did not return from the war.   I don’t remember much about the other four,  since they seemed to belong to a generation so far removed from my own.  In amongst my latest ‘treasures’ are two letters from two of these brothers who served in the first world war.


The one on the left is from Iden, also on the left in the picture above (with Jack and Walter?)  who returned to Canada and his family and lived a long life.  The one on the right is from Herb, who never came home.

Willey Camp, June 2, 1918. 

Dear Sister – Well it is some time since I wrote to you so I will try and give you a bit of our doings here.  You will have to excuse me writing with a lead pencil but there is no pen or ink in this writing room and of course I would never think of buying them.  Often wished I had a fountain pen but that is out of my reach too.  It takes a regular financier to make ends meet from one day till another here.  I spend it all on eats.  We get very fair grub considering where we are, but of course there is nothing like having a few extra cookies or a piece of what they call pie (a lot of crust with a wee bit of jam or something of the sort on it).  The cookies are a lot like the wheat meal cookies that mother often makes only not half so good.  But we are glad to get something to chew at if for nothing more than to pass the time.  Say, I have been chumming with Willie Dobson quite a bit.  But he went to France last night.  He is a fine fellow.  Took quite an active interest in the church work that goes on here.  He also attended the college that they have here where they take up all kinds of work, all kinds of languages, and even agriculture.  I was sorry to see him go, as he was a fine fellow to chum with.  I had a letter from Jack Clazie a few days ago and also from Art Parr.  I guess you will know more about how the war is going than we do, as the English papers are not so full of it as ours are. 

Well, this is Sunday again and you don’t know how much I wish I were going to church with you today.  If the Saints back there only realized the privileges that they have they would not miss many meetings, I’ll tell you.  I know I did not go as I should have, but I now see my mistake.  If only I could have realized it, how much better it would have been.  As it is, I go by myself and study a lesson from both Quarterlies and by the way I never got any new ones, either, but I do the best I can.  I have just attended the Bible Class that they hold in one of the Y.M.C.A.’s.  They sing quite a few of the hymns that are in our hymnal and oh, how it makes me think of home.  Well, how is everything going back there?  I guess Margaret is getting to be quite a little girl now.  Say, do you know I have not had any good mail from back home for about two weeks except a couple of letters from May.  I often looked for the Times but never got it, but I guess that is the luck of a soldier.  Well, I guess that unless something turns up, I shall soon have to go to France.  Very likely in a week or two.  So I hope that you will pray for me.  Tell Father and Mother not to worry.  I know it is hard and that if Pa and I could have understood each other better it would have been better for me.  But whatever you do, don’t forget church above everything and if it is the Lord’s will He can protect me here as well as there.   – Your Brother Herb.

If there was further correspondence from Herb it has since gone missing.  This letter may well have been the last one my grandma got from him.  By the creases and the folds and the faded pencil I can tell it’s been well read.  I wonder what else Herb might have thought to say if he knew his letter would be saved for a hundred years? 

…on the train somewhere, Sunday, July 28, 1918. 

Mr. & Mrs. W.J. Scott, Port Elgin Ont.  I am trying to write this as the train is going – we are still going East – are just running into a small place named St. Clet.  Am not sure where it is but believe it is in Quebec.  It has been very level country for awhile back and some fine places but early this morning it was some poor country that we passed through.  The talk at present is that we are going to sail from Montreal and that we are to get our letters off as soon as possible but no one seems to know for certain where we are going.  The kids come up to the train whenever it stops and take the cards and letters the boys have to mail.  We are being well looked after and are getting as good if not better meals than we did in London.  Had porridge, oatmeal, potatoes and scrambled eggs and bread and butter for breakfast, and coffee.  We had supper before we left London last evening and had another on the train;  then about bed time they came through with a box of oranges and we each got one.  So they are looking after us pretty good.  I am not particularly struck with the country we are going through.  The farms are narrow and long and a lot of the land is rather low.  Some of the crops are heavy and are going down and some are very light.  Say, did you send those papers?  I did not get them but was up to the orderly room to see if they came just before I left.  You ought to see the girls shake hands with us at some of the places we stopped at, and old women too, and the cheering we got.  They just now came through with a basket of Duchess apples, and they are sour and green, but I guess they are good for us.  If I get time I will send more word home before I sail.  I am feeling fine I guess.  This is all for this time, we are crossing some large river, I believe it is the St. Lawrence, very beautiful.  Good bye.  Iden.  P.S.  Just passing MacDonnell College – very fine sights, like O.A.C. at Guelph.

Iden and Herb Leeder, 1918

This is how I remember my “old” great uncles, Grandma’s brothers in the 1950’s.  Jack and Walter on the left, Iden and Carl on the right. (In the middle is her husband, my Grandpa Scott, and lurking in the background, a son-in-law, my Uncle George.)   I was five or six when this picture was taken so to me they were all quite ancient and thus relatively insignificant in my sheltered little life.  It took growing a tad ancient myself to get to know a little bit about them and to appreciate who they were.

1,100 Ideas and Counting

No sooner had I finished writing about what I had for lunch than THIS little book was brought to my attention.

Really?  No one??  What if it was a tarantula and tuna eyeball stir fry?  Then would somebody care?

Margaret Mason, I hope there are lots of good ideas in your book because it’s now on my kindle, along with this book by Bryan Cohen.


Because 100 ideas are probably not enough for me.  I’m a glutton for punishment and opted for 10 times that amount.  That should get me through to the end of the year.

If it doesn’t, I might have to resort to listing various lunch items one more time. Sorry, I don’t know what came over me.

At Chapters on the weekend I picked up this book because of the delightful things it says on the back cover. It isn’t this crooked in real life.  Steampunk (which I had to look up because I’d never heard of it before) is a genre which originated during the 1980’s and early 1990’s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction.  Any book that can be both dreadful and sublime has to be worth whatever I paid for it.

The only drawback so far is that it’s hardcover and heavy and the slip cover kept falling off last night.  But right now that’s upside down in my scanner at an odd angle and I think I’ll just leave it there until I’m finished reading the book.

And then this is going to make an awesome addition to my library.  My first ever in the steampunk category.

Does anyone care what Joe Golem eats for lunch?  If I find out I’m certainly not going to tell you and risk being a mind numbing bore.  (Again.)

And I promise to share hundreds of ideas once I get around to finding out what they are.  Even if they’re completely nuts.  Or maybe especially if that’s the case.

If It’s Too Healthy, I Can Fix That

A salad platter.

A salad platter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I try to watch what I eat.  I read labels for sugar and salt and chemical content.  I rarely buy things that have the nutritional value of cardboard, even though they probably taste amazing.  I try to get enough protein.  And anti-oxidants and vitamin C and calcium and all those other healthy things that are supposed to keep you alive and kicking.

On days that I work I take a salad with me for lunch.  This started several months ago, and frankly no one is more surprised than me that I’ve kept it up for so long. Some days I’m more creative than others.  It depends on how much chopping time I’ve allowed myself and what kinds of things are in my crisper.  I’ve become really tired of peppers so I’ve taken a break from them, but celery, carrots, red cabbage, spinach, romaine, green onions, tomatoes – all these things have become staples.  I add chopped hard-cooked eggs, tuna, ham, crumbled bacon, leftover meat or cheese.  Then there’s all the salad dressings and salad toppings and nuts and seeds to choose from, and voila – it rarely gets boring.

However, as with any healthy food choice regimen, it’s pretty easy to stray off the straight and narrow, a bit at a time until you’re deluding yourself that it’s all good.  Like yesterday, for instance.  In my fridge I’m down to lettuce, carrots, celery and toppings.  (Yes, I need to go shopping.)  I made ranch dressing with Epicure spices, plain greek yogurt and a dollop of mayo.  None of that is bad, but before I ate the salad I threw in half a bag of garlic ginger wonton strips.  When the salad was gone and there was still dressing left over, I used it as a dip for the rest of the strips.  It was just like chips and dip minus the guilt.  Until the entire bag of salad toppings, which should have lasted through several salads, was empty.  And I was full.  Of mostly wontons.

The santa fe tortilla strips don’t even need dip, they’re that good all on their own.  Never mind how I know that.

What got me started on all this was finding a recipe in amongst my piles of papers that need to be sorted, even though I wasn’t sorting at all and merely moving them from one location to another.  It’s a recipe for creamy potato soup which I used to make all the time until I realized it’s full of POTATOES and carbs and starch and butter and flour and other deadly things.  And begs for thick slices of garlic bread on the side.

But just in case there’s anyone out there who would like a shorter life and a hearty soup that’s truly delicious, here’s the recipe. 

In a dutch oven combine 10 medium potatoes, 2 carrots, 4 celery stalks, one onion, (all vegetables chopped),  1 crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper, 3 cups of chicken broth and water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables are tender.

In another pot, melt 3/4 cup butter, add 1 tsp salt, 3/4 cup flour.  Make a smooth paste and bring to a boil.  Add 4 cups milk, stir and cook until smooth, add to soup.  Cook until thickened.

Serve with bacon bits, chopped green onion and shredded cheddar cheese.  (But no wonton or tortilla strips please.  We have to draw the line somewhere.)

Itsy Bitsy Argyle Sweater In the Rain

It’s an overcast, blustery, rainy June day.  Perfect for sleeping in.  So I did.  Why is coffee the most blissfully amazing gratifying thing there is on a day like today?  Why do I sometimes sigh with relief when the sun doesn’t shine?  When it’s not the bright light that blinds, but the vibrant electrifying green everywhere I look?

Today is day two of four days in a row at work;  then one day off, then FIVE days in a row!  Like a normal person!  They’re trying to kill me!

These page a day calendars can be invaluable writing tools on days when there are no motivational spiders in your life.  Or time to listen to them if they did show up.  Just rain and coffee.  And work, work, work.

The Weekend

It’s fake flower time again – this is a picture of another card I like that folds out to look 3D.  My sister sent it to me.  It has nothing really to do with anything else I’ve written here, except that now I can put this in the 365 project category and not feel guilty.  Like that ever happens.  Me feeling guilty about my categories.  They’re way beyond random most days anyway.

Since our big schedule change at work that has me working both weekend days, having a Saturday and Sunday off was just one of those rare things that won’t be happening much anymore;  so this past weekend was especially savored.  My daughter went south for two days and I got to enjoy my 11 year old granddaughter and her crazy little dog livening up my empty house.  We went camera shopping on Friday night (grandma, why does he keep showing me PINK ones?), everything else shopping on Saturday, including a couple of hours in Chapters, (did a lot of looking and picked up some great books) and then spent a lovely relaxing Sunday with me reading and Kenzie working on her novel.  This has been in the works at her home in a notebook which she brought with her so she could type it up on my computer.

She has completed a cover page and four chapters.  Printing and revising and reprinting has used up a lot of paper and a lot of ink and a LOT of brain power between her bursts of inspiration and my proof reading and spell checking.  I think she will NEVER forget the difference between your and you’re after grandma having a total freak out about it.  Grandmas should be good for something besides printer ink.

I really want to know how the story ends, but she’s the kind of writer who is keeping that a secret, so far even from herself, and just letting her characters live their lives in an old house where strange things happen.  She is very excited to write up the back cover blurb, and already wondering who she should mention on the dedication page.

Four chapters is way too thick to staple, so the pages are hole punched and tied up with yellow ribbons.  If it never gets beyond this stage, it doesn’t matter.  It’s beautiful just the way it is.  And she’s incredibly proud of it.  And I’m incredibly proud of her.

The dog is another story.  I put a blanket up on the back of the love seat because he CANNOT resist getting up there so that he can look out the window and bark hysterically at anything that moves.  Then he runs down the hallway to the back bedroom if things are moving to the left, and is away to the back door if things are moving to the right. After that he must immediately come leaping back to the window having discovered for the gazillionth time that the back door is closed and the window in the bedroom is covered by a curtain and nothing that he saw outside actually ended up in either one of these two locations where he expected to find them.  OMG, they must still be outside!    Better jump back up on the love seat to see what’s going on out there!  This continues until he drops from exhaustion.  Which is never soon enough to suit me.

I think he would make an interesting addition to her story, even though what motivates him is difficult to pinpoint.  Lack of exercise, maybe.  We should have walked him more.  Perhaps serious authors should not own crazy little dogs.

Book Spine Poetry

If having completed a post a day, EVERY day for FIVE MONTHS (!) is not sufficient proof that I have way too much time on my hands, this post should finally do it.

I got the idea here  so it’s not like I dreamed it up on my own.  As if I have time for things like that.  It does kind of prove that anybody can be a poet.  Notice I left the words “good” and “successful” out of that sentence.

Like they suggested, I was going for interesting and thought provoking in the first one, and funny/weird in the second.  Or if you think it’s the other way around, that’s perfectly fine with me too.

She watches me by the light of the moon.

Nighttime is my time but I’m not alone.

While I’m falling,

After three cups of tea before I go to sleep,

On these still and silent nights of rain and stars,

I hear the voices say

Are you afraid of the dark?

I ask them to speak softly.

She can hear.

What’s wrong little Pookie?

What matters most?

Something under the bed is drooling?

The Cheese Monkeys eating the dinosaur

Must escape from the Alchemist?

No great mischief.

Go to sleep.

As you can see, throwing a couple of kid’s book titles in there makes for a bit more fun.  Although either one of the above could give you nightmares if you think about them long and hard enough.

So, don’t do that.  But really, you should try it. Pile up a bunch of books and make a statement!   It’s the most fun I’ve had all day.

U is for Undines

Undine by John William Waterhouse, 1872.

Undine by John William Waterhouse, 1872. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, you read that right.  It is NOT supposed to say undies.  Although underwear was my first choice until someone suggested umbrella, and then this word came up and the rest is history.  Or soon to be.

Undines (from Latin Unda – a wave) are fairy-like water spirits.  In European folklore they are said to be able to gain a soul by marrying a man and bearing his child.  (Surely there must be an easier way.)  After that, if the husband is unfaithful an Undine can curse him so that if he ever falls asleep again he will cease to breathe and thus die.  This helps to explain why there are so many men out there who are afraid of marriage, and also terrified of turning the television off and coming to bed.

Next time I’m hanging around a forest pool or a waterfall I’ll keep my eyes open for one of them.  Although I’ll probably not mention that to whoever I’m with.  Undines are also supposed to have beautiful voices sometimes heard over the sound of the water.  So look and listen and carry your Iphone with you so you can immediately upload the video image to facebook.  You will probably get a lot of likes.

Français : Ondines

Français : Ondines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Undine
by Henry Van Dyke
‘T was far away and long ago,
When I was but a dreaming boy,
This fairy tale of love and woe
Entranced my heart with tearful joy;
And while with white Undine I wept,
Your spirit, — ah, how strange it seems, —
Was cradled in some star, and slept,
Unconscious of her coming dreams.

There’s a movie called Ondine, but it’s not on Netflix yet so I haven’t seen it, but the review I read says she turns out to be an imposter and not a real Undine at all.  The alternate spelling should have been our first clue.  I don’t know why, but the name just makes me want to write a country song about it.  Something like….

My sweet Undine,

Why do you treat me so mean? 

Come on, get out of the pool,

And marry this love crazed fool! 

Huh.  I probably should copyright that.

Well there you go.  Who knew there was such a wealth of information to be googled and waded through on Wikkipedia about Undines.  I’ve only skimmed the surface.  I hope I have inspired you to research this fascinating topic further and maybe set my poetry to music.  At the very least I trust you’ve found it all to be slightly more interesting than underwear. 

I Love You June!

“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast that it invented romance.” Bern Williams

Starting off in the month of June is like starting off on the first day of a holiday and knowing that there are days and days to follow just like this one.  Because all that warm sunny weather in July and August and September is still to come and winter is far, far away.  It’s also the month of the property tax bill, but I’ve already paid that just to get it over with and make the interval from now until the next one that much longer.  And the longer daylight of this month is maybe the best thing about it.  Going to work in the daylight and coming home in the daylight – wow.  Makes me feel like work is not the only thing I did while the sun was shining.


There are birds in the bird house, seeds in the bird feeder, nuts and things in that little tray for the squirrel and green leaves on the tree.  A big black crow has taken a liking to the squirrel food and the squirrel is not amused.  It can get a little noisy out there.

And speaking of noisy, I was finally able to snap a picture of my elusive magpie, hopping about on the garage roof screeching magpie expletives at me.  There’s a reason why it’s called wildlife.


Sparkly shingles are not his natural habitat, although he does spend a lot of time up there pretending to be severely pissed off.  It’s actually my roof buddy, you need to get over yourself.  And come down to the ground where I can get a decent shot of your mad little face.

Photogravure of Robert Browning, 1865, printed...
Photogravure of Robert Browning, 1865, printed c. 1893 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“And let them pass, as they will too soon,

With the bean-flowers’ boon,

And the blackbird’s tune,

And May, and June!” 

Robert Browning

Well, I’m off to flip over all the calendars.  Be still my heart.  Have a perfectly beautiful June kind of day.