To fish or to Paint—That is the Question.

Ahhhh!  !cid_AA7310DC-7EF0-4611-88DC-D4EAF0D59241Spring!

The air is full of happy cackles as bodies shuffle their feet away from the local bookstores, turning them, instead, toward blooming gardening shops and DIY stores.

Especially the DIY stores!

Isn’t it just too strange how the lovely pristine paint job from last year  is suddenly seen as having gray sanitarium undertones? Yuck and where’s the paint can?

Which brings to mind my number one Spring headache—Man-Wonder’s ability to recognize the misty-eyed decorator gaze I get while dithering between shades, hues and tones and that means I’m forced to keep one eye on him as my other eye roams because if he manages to

leaving roomslink out the back door, fishing rod in hand, I’m left either putting off my visit to the local DIY store or, grabbing up the wheelbarrow (it is only three blocks away). But it’s something I’ve been trying to not do. There really isn’t any need to add the label of ‘Mayor of Dorksville’ to my resume!

thI4JBIBM6Plus it’s a busy MHP. Imagine all the stop and drop-to-wave action while wearing a ‘no-I-haven’t-lost-it-yet’ and’ yes-my-husband-knows-what-I’m-doing’ smile. Yeah. No.

No, it’s better I get up in the middle of the night to stare at the walls and ponder the paint chips while Man-Wonder is still snoring his fool head off. I can always nap in between brush strokes. . .

Ahhhh, Spring!

 

 

Tale of the Two-Tone Toque

In a wooden basket, high on a shelf, reside a tumble of gloves, scarfs and toques. One of those toques is Man-Wonder’s favorite reminder of days gone long past—the hunting toque. One side is a charming don’t-shoot-me orange. Turn it inside out and you’ve got the dressed up going-to-town gray version with fashionable (?) orange band.

Randy's toque

The other day our truck was due for its pre-spring tune up. This means an early morning ten-minute drive to the shop followed by a chilly 45 minute bike ride back.

It’s a Man-Wonder job. He always insists he’s happy to do the ride alone.

I know the real reason—he knows what my reaction would be if, while trying to share a bumpy narrow country road, we meet one of those typical road-hogging, dink-ass, red-necking drivers he always complains about. He imagines me yelling obscenities and he pictures us having to pedal our asses trying to outrun a possible returning irate driver . . .

. . .so I stay home.

So, the morning of the tune up, he’s loading the bike when I step out to see him off. You know—the cheery ‘bye honey, be careful, I love you’ scene. And I am secretly and instantly glad I’m not riding with him because he’s wearing his god-awful hunting toque and, worse yet, it’s riding his head like some freaking knitted cone hat.

C’mon, I mean, why is it that as men age they started wearing their hats higher on the head?  Does it help to cool down an over-heated cranium? To fool others into thinking there’s more hair? Or is it to give the illusion that they aren’t getting shorter?

WHY?

It’s all I can do to not say a word. I mean, it’s his favorite hat and the man is happy. Besides, the mechanic probably won’t notice, and coming home, his bike helmet should cover it, or at least squash it.

I smile, kiss him goodbye and don’t say a single mean thing and run back inside.

. . .Later, he asks me if I had noticed anything odd about his toque before he left.

It takes me a few moments to sift through the jumble of comments before I find one kind enough to offer.

“Well, it was riding a tad high.”

“Yeah.” He nods wisely. “I had to stop on the way home. The helmet wouldn’t stop wobbling. Turns out there was a pair of your gloves shoved in my toque.”

 

Another prime example of why I call him Man-Wonder. . .

 

 

Yoo Hoo, little worms. . .

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Give me dirt. Lots of dirt. Deep lumpy clumps of dirt; hard dry glumps of peat moss; rich black heaps of manure and/or sea compost; bags bursting with vermiculite and/or perlite (and I do mean bursting) and a working hose, and I will happily make soil; And, then, give me the necessary ingredients and I will make fertilizer—food to feed the hungry. . .

Yep—it’s garden time again and this year I firmly told myself I was not going to garden without gloves. No. Nope. No way. Because nothing sucks the moisture out of hands like soil.

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Yeah, I don’t listen to myself any better than anyone else does. .

But mostly, because, as any lover of the earth’s loam knows, the act of plunging fingers deep into soil, of gently coaxing tender curly masses of roots loose before bedding them into the soil is an act of pure satisfaction. It’s also a way of learning.  Temperature, moisture levels and general health of the soil all need bare fingers.

I get the connection and I understand why many people spend hours playing and creating in their gardens.

However, my gardening does come in spurts thanks to a couple of arthritic joints puffing themselves into cranky knots when they’ve had enough bending kneeling, twisting and squatting. At first, they just give me a few pokes along with a whispering of the word ‘enough’.  If I fail to heed those soft nudges, the pokes morph into barbwire fences around the joints.

Which means, after cajoling Man-Wonder into doing most of the heavy grunt work, I’m learning to spend more time chatting with the worms and giving the plants a serious heads up on what’s expected from them.

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And, for the record, I want to say—there is nothing like watching a man work up a sweat—just for you!

 

To Quote a Quote. . .

 

 

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During a cleanup of computer folders, I came across this quote from Jeff Foxworthy and  laughed well and hard since it seems that we are halfway there.

You know you’re a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn’t.

Then, because reading quotes is way more interesting that clearing out folders, I went off track and found a few (many) more and had a great old time.

 

The smaller the mind the greater the conceit ~ Aesop

 

When I works—I works hard, when I sits—I sits loose, and when I thinks—I falls asleep. ~ Anonymous

 

If only. Those must be the saddest words in the world ~ Mercedes Lackey

 

After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box. ~ Italian proverb

 

Parents wonder why the streams are bitter when they themselves have poisoned the fountain ~ John Locke

 

Fiction is the truth inside the lie ~ Stephen King

 

The most complicated task today is finding a way to live a simple life ~ A. Nance

 

There is no cure for birth and death—so enjoy the interval  ~  George Santayana

 

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out alive anyway. ~ Elbert Hubbard

 

My last quote is the one I have on my March calendar page and it brings a smile to my face every time I read it. It helps that the weather has been so springy too:

When I opened my window this morning, spring kissed me BANG right in the face. ~ Langston Hughes

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Books on my ‘right now’ reading pile

The War on Art by Steven Pressfield

war on Art  It is described as nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. (Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived in ancient China. He is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an influential book on military strategy.

This book takes the reader on a trip through the hows, whys, and ways of the evil genius called Resistance that lives within us and he shows us how to beat it. It’s an easy, interesting read and intriguing layout of a battle plan for defeating this enemy. Great read and it does give the reader’s brain interesting nuggets to think on.

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The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick by Gene Stone

0761165819 Here we’re shown twenty-five different remedies from people who swear by each method. Did I believe everything in it? No. But there are sections I want to know more about. Topics include:people living in Blue Zones, people who eat dirt, swear by chicken soup, have daily encounters with H202(hydrogen peroxide), who run, who do yoga, them that detox by various methods, and a ton more. A book worth reading.

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Book Art Studio Handbook by Stacie Dolin and Amy Lapidow

1592538185  Like to make your own books? Every so often I give it a try because the idea of creating something to create in is an urge too big to ignore. This book shows you how to set up a studio with good descriptions of each tool needed (lots of pictures). It shows you how to make some necessary (good step by step and picture instruction). It takes you through planning a book (materials) with chapters on different style of books, albums, and containers for books. It’s a picture book for those interested in book-making methods and definitely a few steps beyond creating books from cereal boxes (which are fun to do too!).  If I had to use one word for this book, it would be yummy. But then that’s not a proper book word so I won’t. . .

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Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory

1452135479 I love this guy! When he writes a book, his voice is all over it—you read and it’s as if Danny is over your shoulder talking out loud to you. He makes art so simple, so joyful it’s impossible not to just do it. I credit this artist, along with Cathy Johnson, Brenda Swenson, (okay, we can’t forget Kooje Koene and her  ‘quickie’ art lessons on YouTube), and Liz Steele with pushing my art to a more comfortable level inside my head and on the paper.

Listen, in my opinion—anything Danny produces is worth reading or watching.

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Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

1780671067  Like to draw? Like to doodle? Like to Zentangle? This ‘coloring book’ is bursting with images and ideas. When it’s doodling time, this is one of my mainstays to pull close. And, it’s not just for drawing. I’ve found some of the pictures excellent for transfer to fabric to embroider. It’s a shelf have-to-have for me.

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Vintage Trailer Style by Lisa Mora

1446304523  I’ve probably mentioned this one before but, somehow, it always seems to take itself off the shelf and insert itself into my ‘at the moment reading’ pile. Love, love, love this book! The travel trailers in this book are joyful and from page one you feel the burn to hit the open road. I mean – from trailers for girly girls to an airstream called Mimsy’s Trailer Trash Tattoo Studio—from Gypsy romance to the Wild West—what’s not to love about this book?

Excuse me—I have to get a napkin for the drool. . .

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Buddhism plain and simple by Steve Hagin

buddhism plain and simpleI think the title says it all. I have had a burning curiosity about Buddhism for a long time but always shied away because, well, for one, I couldn’t see myself in an orange wrap, with a fuzzy head and meditating twenty-five hours a day (okay truth—I LIKE the fuzzy head part). Thank God for this book is all I can say.

I’m reading it in slo-mo because it’s a pondering book chockfull of AHA moments.

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SKULLS by Simon Winchester   (subtitle—An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection)

0999730444  Now here’s a Picture Book!  Over 300 different pictures of animal skulls with information about each skull, plus a listing of what kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and behavior they belong to. Turning the pages it hit me — suddenly I could see where so much of our local, and stunningly beautiful Native Art originates from. I think this could be a valuable book for many artists in many different fields.

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And, to end my list, are my at-this-moment favorites in the who-dun-its—Ellery Adams, Molly MacRae, Kate Carlisle and Laurie Cass

laurie cass kate carlisle indexLZ2P2FG0 indexEG7DRHCU bookmobile ellery adams index index0PAEHFHR

Hike; to trek. Walk; to amble. Brain—to differentiate

The words walk and hike—for some reason I’ve allowed those two words to co-habitat the same brain cell, like twins, for much of my confused life.

Well—no more!

We survived our colds and the winter monsoons but needed a walk real bad, so when the latest version of ‘Hikes around Vancouver Island’ showed up I grabbed it.  (Notice how I casually and idiotically grouped those two words into one sentence?)

However, I’m not a complete idiot—I only marked out the hiking trails closest to home and then ignored anything not labeled at the beginning as ‘easy’.

In the end, it was the hike with the suspension bridge and picnic-friendly lake that won out. Fun stuff to the clogged brain.

So, with book firmly in hand, we hit the trail. The first 100 meters was as lovely as it claimed. The suspension bridge was as nerve-tingling as expected. Part way over an awful thought passed through my mind like an ill wind—if the bridge was ever going to weaken – wouldn’t it be the parts dead center—where most people walk?

I shifted both feet out so I was walking side to side.

Did you know if you walk off-center on a suspension bridge it really, really sways? And the person not creating the swaying will squawk like a chicken and begin hustling toward the end. And, did you know, that moving faster causes more swaying?

Suddenly there were two squawking, hustling idiots on a swaying bridge. . .Yeah, too cool for words right?

Thank heavens the next 300 meters were easy-peasy—as the book promised. And, it’s too bad I, before we started, glossed right over the part that warned the following 100 meters were steeply uphill.

Lying buggers!

I swear it was closer to 1000  2000 meters and I felt like a monkey grabbing at branches as we hauled ass over slimy mucky rocks half-buried under gushing rivulets of water. I imagine our heart-pounding, sweat-dripping, wind-sucking gasps for air (okay, mostly mine) scared off any wildlife lurking in the bushes.

Methinks the authors need to state just who the ‘easy’ is directed at. Couldn’t be for us poor sods bulging with fatty baggage and left over cold left-overs.

But we made it!  And that’s when Man-Wonder barked. (I swear he did)  “Holy Crap Honey—recognise this lake?”

“Uh, no.” I said, my memory being equal to that of a squashed bug.

He pointed, “The big, flat rock? We hiked up here on our first date.”

“Nope. No way, even twenty years ago, would I have forgotten that hill. But, yeah, that rock is familiar. . . ”

“We came from the other direction. It was an easy hike in. Even for you.” And then like a goober, he smirked!

All I can say is he’s lucky I wasn’t packing pockets stuffed with bear scare, mace, and rocks like I was twenty years ago. . .

 

Book Review : Emails From India

Funny how things happen. I was at the library and picked this book up because India fascinates me (seems there is a large number of people in that group). I gave the book a quick study and decided not to bother with it, but for some reason the book wasn’t put back and it ended up in my check-out pile. I am so glad it did!

*On a side note—I’m beginning to see how the word ‘book’ and the word ‘pile’ always seem to run hand in hand with me. . .*

 

emails from india  Emails From India by Janis Harper

Many women, from around the world travel, often alone, to India, according to Janis. They have been doing so since the time of the British Raj. And they like to talk about it. She describes herself as an Indophile from sometime in her teenage years; yet it took her until close to reaching fifty before she finally made the trek.

And so, there is this book—Emails from twenty-seven different women about their experiences. Emails sent to friends or family and passed on from them to others because they were too delicious to not share, or they offered a loose travel guide of what not to do, where not to go, what to do and where to go.

Descriptions of young soldiers at airports with taped together AK-47s; beachy laneways in Candolim; a Muslim-rich ancient community called the Moplahs along the Kerala coast; a lush description of an Indian lover; narrow alleyways twisting left and right and ending at skinny staircases rich in aromas of sandalwood and rot, and so, so much more.

This is an incredible book to read if you have even the slightest curiosity about India. It is a book rich in the art of patience, of facing fears and diving into our endless wells of courage. It is a book of living life large.

 

The Wheels go round and round. . . or not.

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Man-Wonder and I went for a bike ride.

We’re not bike fanatics and our bikes are at least fifteen years old but they are skookum in structure and wicked awesome in color—honking yellow/black, and purple/black. But mine is cooler since I have extensions rising from the straight handlebar so I can ride upright if I want.

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Man-Wonder says I remind him of the old woman in the Wizard of Oz movie. I tell him I’ll be more like the wicked witch if he doesn’t shut up; which has no effect on him since he was born to flap (and we aren’t talking body parts here Toto).

Yesss indeedy, we make a fine sight when we hit the road.

Anyway, last week, Man-Wonder came up with “Let’s drive over to the fish hatchery; park on the road above and ride down and follow the river. A nice easy loop—under an hour max.”

It was a great ride until half way around I spot a trail heading into woodsy area in the center of the loop.

“Any idea where it goes?” I ask.

“Probably follows the rearing channels.”

Like an idiot I say, “Let’s check it out.”

“Sure, how bad can it be?” the goombah in him replies.

Holy Keee-risttt!

no no It turned out to be absolutely, no way, nada, as in not fit for a bike, and it didn’t take long for the trail to downsize until it felt like it had been cleared by squirrels. There were a few slimy slippy-slidey skids over protruding tree roots and, at the bottom of one slope, we were forced into a sharp S turn to avoid a dip in the creek dead ahead. Another corner and another slope was suddenly funneling us onto an itty-bitty wooden bridge with half its planks rotted out.

Did we turn around? Nah. We were sure the end was near.

And it almost was. For me anyway.

Because, that’s when we hit THE hill and by the time I reached the top I was sucking, really sucking wind. But I did arrive just in time to watch Man-Wonder take off pedaling down the other side like a demented hamster while hugging his handlebars. Hugging—because to reach the other side of the canyon (okay, big ditch) he had to ride under a massive fallen tree trunk . . . oh . . . say . . . a smidgen above bicycle height!

“Are you kidding me?” I said looking skyward.

Apparently not—Man-Wonder made it up the other side with head attached. Which meant it was my turn.

I took off pedaling like a demon child while literally kissing the crotch-banging bar (or whatever that bar is called) and made it almost halfway up the other side before doing a slow motion sideways collapse and watching my bike slide away to rest under the tree.

“Can I help?” Man-Wonder asked, trying not to smirk as he skip-skidded down to grab my bike.

“Use the cell to call an ambulance?” I gasped. “And a new owner for that bike.”

 

. . . . . . I wonder if rollerblading would be any easier?

Cleaning Up with the Japanese Art of Decluttering

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Recently zoomed through the book, the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo.

untitledAn interesting and worthwhile read because Marie offers a fresh look, with some new twists, on a subject that feels like it’s been around too long already. She takes the idea of de-cluttering and shines it up to a brilliant level.

The theme of the book is not to throw out to tidy up, but to remove anything that doesn’t delight or give a feeling of gratitude for having it. Marie says once this is achieved you will never step back into a cluttered life and will come to understand yourself better.

I requested this book even though I smugly thought we didn’t need it. Not after our massive clean-out sixteen months ago when we downsized. We’ve been living with the smugness of that purge—even as we grew stash(es) of writing and drawing papers, cup-hoards of pens and—OMG—the books!

Those little buggers had been multiplying like horny little hard hares on the shelves—so we started with them:

Step one – gather every book from everywhere and pile them on the floor.

Step two – pick up each book (unopened) and listen to the feeling it evoked. Was it :

  • A sense of guilt because we hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet?
  • A sense of shame because we’d read a few pages before putting it down, thinking we’d try again another time? Only we hadn’t.
  • Or, if we did read it once but because it was pricey we somehow thought hanging onto it would give us a better deal??
  • A sense of delight, because somehow, someway, the book connected with us?

If the answer was one of the first three the book joined the giveaway pile(s).

In total, we gave away one hundred and twenty-one books!

Now, when we look at the bookshelves our eyes don’t skitter away anymore. We feel a nice sense of wonder and delight we have such great books.

Then it was time for the pen stashes . . . oh just  tsk  tsk  tsk.

Ain’t  weren’t we fine examples of pen-hoarders. A plastic bin, the size of a shoe box, carried away our shameful excess.

And you know what? It’s heaven to not pick up a pen that feels like ick. Now, when we pick up a pen it feels good—every single time!

I’m glad I read her book. . . and as soon as we rest up from our ink-loaded endeavour we’ll be tackling our over-the-top passion for paper, pads, notebooks and my personal hoard of pretty papers.

new papers books oh my

 

 

 

Tout naturel or au naturalle ?

So, there we were—Man-Wonder and I quietly getting our breakfast as the radio played behind the sounds of the kettle heating, cereal pouring and toast being buttered. Nary a  ‘watch out eh’ or a ‘Scuse’ said between us.

Definitely not one of those mornings where it’s like we’ve spent the night the night dreaming and thinking and coming up with things to discuss. Those mornings are like two blabber-guts over cereal!

But the morning was quiet. And as we sat across from each other chewing, the radio kicked in with the morning news and up comes a little news piece worth some serious discussion.

It was reported that the police on the mainland (outside of Vancouver city) were searching for a  hiker. Seems the guy had been spotted on three different occasions wearing nothing more than a backpack and ear buds. They did say when he realized there were others close by, he hid behind a tree.

So—not a pervert nor an exhibitionist—just someone who likes to be out and about, away from the general population, naked, au naturalle , tout naturel. Call it what you want – he prefers it all off.

“Kinda’ cold for naked skin.” I said, when the news ended, as I looked out the window at the thermometer and slurped my nice hot java.

Man-Wonder grunted. (I think partly because he’s cut back on his java.)

“But,” I added, buttering my toast, “I don’t think it’s illegal, if he’s in an area where he’s believes he’s likely to be alone.”

Man-Wonder raised his head from over his cereal bowl and stared at me for a lonnnng moment before raising one eyebrow and smirking as he said, “I’d be more worried about squirrels hunting for nuts.”

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. . .Let’s just call that breakfast conversation one of our shortest ever. . .

 

 

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