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This was such a gem that I just have to share it (edited for privacy, of course!). Good God, I love this woman. The following is a series of emails from one of the best women in the world, in chronological order. I kind of want to illustrate this series…

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Dear Christa

HAPPY NEW YEAR INDEED
How were the holidays for you?  We had a very busy time with visiting and eating with J and R.  A few days later your mom decided that she would like to have the turkey aroma in the house. So guess what happened J and R were invited for more turkey and, of course all the delicious goodies she makes.  Hope she sent some to you.

You have, no doubt, heard that Bill is not doing well and is not expected to get better.  What an enjoyable person and at nearly 97 years also a long and happy life.  P, from what I hear, is doing really well.

I have finished all the knitting that I was doing for NL Mission, completing 5 hats and scarves and an additional 8 hats.  At this stage I am planning just what to do when your mom and stepdad go on holidays.  Don’t have too much in mind but it will possibly be more knitting of some kind.   My eyes seem to be blurring – what next –  just take what the good Lord plans for me and know that He is in charge of my coming and going.

Isn’t it surprising that I have managed to do this e-mail.  Have somewhat figured out my error.  It is too complicated to explain.  The main thing is, I am just a little bit wiser.  Do you really think so?

I seem to be at the conclusion what else to say, so again wishing you and E a very happy and bright New Year.

Will always love you,
Granny

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Dear Granny,

Hooray! You figured it out! And a Happy New Year right back at’cha.

My holidays were nice and peaceful. E stayed here for Christmas; we were at friend’s for Christmas Eve and then had a quiet Christmas together. He went to Winnipeg for New Year’s with his family, which was nice for me – you know I like my “alone time”, and that is hard to get in a 500 square-foot house with two people and two dogs. I had my friend E over on the 30th and we played a game and ate chicken nuggets, and on the 31st I had a bath and read a book – a whole book. It was lovely.

Yes, mom had told me about Bill. I’m glad that he is going peacefully. From what she says he must not be in pain, since he doesn’t seem to know why he is there, or why there is a nurse. It would be kind of nice to sleep up and wake up to ice cream when you go.

You’re knitting up a storm! I can’t muster up even enough good stitches to make a presentable dish-cloth. But I can cross-stitch my own patterns, so I won’t complain.

What will you do while they are away? Maybe you can have them stock up some good movies for you in case you want to hear some background noise while you knit, and get tired of TV. And you’ll have to live without N’s cooking, of course… if I lived in that house, I would quickly forget how to cook anything!

Right now I am planning to come for a visit sometime in early February. It looks like this will now coincide with everything that is going on I don’t know if mom had told you, but I told her at Christmas that I thought I might use your Christmas gift for part of a flight there. That way I am using it for something we can all enjoy. And I get a break!

Well, I am at work and my lunch break is ending, so I should get running.

I love you very much, and I hope to see you in a month!
Christa

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Dear Christa,

All is well and quiet here with your mom and step-dad away.  Not that they are noisy but like you I do like “my time” and it has been great so far not having to be concerned to having your teeth, hearing aids and all the necessary gadgets that nature has taken away from me in place.  As for cooking, I am glad that I do not have to think about that and they are doing just fine.

Waiting for your visit in early February sounds real good.  Seems like a long time for a visit  and your mom will be excited.  I think your brother J is planning to be here as well.
I am on the basement computer and it is really cold down here.  I am shivering and keep on getting double and triple letters like ssooo.  So must run and get uppstairs to waarrmmm uppp.

Love always
Grannny

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Hi Granny,

I’m glad you get to have some “me time” – I’m that way, too. E is good about getting out of the house so that I can be alone, otherwise I’d go a little crazy.

I need to figure out how to use my Airmiles towards a plane ticket! It always amazes me how quickly a month can pass when you know you should be doing something. It will nice to have a little vacation, though.

We had our back door replaced last week – what a nightmare that was. The contractor our landladies use is not good at what he does. We had the back door off for a good 7 hours while it was -25 outside, on a Sunday – my one day off. I was not impressed.

Other than it being cold and noisy that day, things have been pretty good. Well, I should run and get some things done. Keep enjoying your time to yourself! I love you bunches!
Christa

 

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To clarify, I haven’t sent this to my landladies… I just wish I had the balls to. Which I don’t.

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Dear K & M,

Let me start off by saying that you are both excellent landladies. We truly appreciate your leniency in regards to letting us pretty much have free reign of the house, allowing us to make changes as we see fit. I look forward to the spring, when I can start to bring up new plants from the earth, paint the garage wall, and have birds as regular visitors.

On that note, we are wondering if it would be ok for us to leave all of the trash/wood your contractor has left in our backyard out on the street for him to collect, seeing that he has mentioned that he has a “garbage guy”. We realize that it is a large amount of trash, but we feel it is only fair that he picks up his own waste. There is enough tinder stacked against the garage for a decent bonfire. I would think that he needs at least a truck with an open bed to get this stuff hauled away, rather than his convertible late 80’s-red-style car he always arrives in. The water tank he brought in when we didn’t have hot water was probably about one good bounce away from creating a highway catastrophe.

(side note – I’m pretty sure the “new” water heater he got for this house for a “great deal” is mostly calcified on the inside… we can take a 5 minute shower before the hot H2O runs out… no wonder the stairs to the dugout broke when they installed it – a 265 man on one end, a giant rock of a water heater, and a helper – let’s say 170 pounds as an average… those stair boards that were rotting from the great flood he created back in the day when he let my dogs run free so that I missed a day of work – thank God a friend was called about them – and he had to call in someone to measure the dangerous amounts of mold in the house… *cough*… this guy is spectacular)

Since he has been at our house numerous times without invitation, and has never, ever shown up on the dates or times which he has promised, we feel it is only fair that he hauls away the refuse which is a result of his nincompoopery. Also, this should be an assumed responsibility for ANY contractor, don’t you agree?

For example, we have several doors, many boards with protruding nails, and a large amount of just plain old trash which has been left behind (note – the pack of roofing shingles which adorned our roof for several months). We feel that he, in his capacity as a contractor, should have some type of waste-removal system that does NOT involve us, the tenants, hauling off his waste.

Although we are in no way discriminating against other people, we would like to NOT be the “White/Asian trash” couple on the block due to circumstances beyond our control. We have accomplished a considerable amount of improvement to the front and back yards with the intent of having the house presentable for such functions as back-yard BBQ’s and friendly get-togethers, and we are aware that there is a high volume of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, which passes the house regularly, especially in the warmer seasons. We would very much like to have the house look it’s best, even though we are simple renters – not necessarily expertly manicured, but definitely well-maintained. We do honestly feel that our efforts are being circumvented by the remainders of the contractor’s rubbish, and we have neither the capacity nor the will to complete his job for him.

Besides the obvious solicitation for a job which he made to me through the home-building company for which I work (which will never, ever happen), he has managed to interrupt our lives both by not showing up when promised, and also showing up unsolicited. Beyond this, he has sullied our attempts at recycling our compostable waste by adding such things as nails, insulation, and what appears to be steel fibre to our compost bin. He has also managed several times to “fix” things, after which he leaves behind a mess of scrap material for us to pick up.

My favourite parts of his recent “back door reno” when the old door warped to the point that it could not be either shut or locked include the following:

1. purchasing a door which obviously would not fit. I expressed my concern to E well before Christmas that this door was not going to work.

2. leaving said door in our back entry for well over a month and a half

3. promising several dates over a span of two months (including Christmas eve and day) to fix the door, which, of course, he didn’t show up for

4. showing up (finally) and removing the existing door and frame only to discover that… wait for it…

5. the new door does not fit (does he not have a measuring tape?) because it is 4″ taller than the last door

6. “fixing” the problem by leaving our now completely open back entry (oh yes, he did rip out the door and frame before measuring) entirely open for more than 7 hours while he tries to find the appropriate tools to fix the problem – I had to prop the bigger door over the opening because he didn’t think to do so before he left – that was a fun negotiation with me and the wood/nail ridden walk way… thank your lawyer that I have had tetanus shots in the last four years

7. “fixing” the 4″ differential problem by .. wait for it … REMOVING THE HEADER FROM THE DOOR FRAME – part of me hopes that this part of the house collapses… it would be a refreshing “I told you so” moment for me, although it will make letting the dogs out pretty much impossible. Seriously, this dude is asking for a Project Manager job as he is removing structural beams from the house I live in. I rarely succumb to internet abbreviations, but… WTF, dude?

8. returning the next day to install the trim, door knob, etc., meanwhile leaving us exposed during the night with a back door which was secured from invaders and the cold with a sock shoved into the doorknob hole. Mind you, it was a black AND gray sock, so it was probably pretty intimidating to rapists and murderers.

9. again, NOT showing up when he said he would (in the morning), but rather, at 5pm, as E was headed out the door to get groceries for a dinner we were planning to make

10. running an air compressor in our home while we tried to eat delivery pizza in the -25C degree weather and watch TV, because E couldn’t get groceries, and I couldn’t cook, and the rest of the house is now completely inaccessible to us, due to the rubbage, nails, and mess he has managed to spread all over the place (also, thanks to him for having me take the dogs out to the front yard on leashes, which they took as a “walk” rather than a “hey time to poop and pee” thing… that was fun. Also, the wood splinters on my dish cloth and towels, which were used at some point for who-knows-what were wonderful.

10a. Oh yeah, he also managed to invite himself to a caramel from our candy jar, which is in a sealed glass container on a shelf above the fridge. I know this because he left the wrapper on the counter, and neither E or I have eaten a caramel since freaking Halloween. I would give him the whole jar of caramels if he could do his job properly. This guy is NOT spy material.

11. leaving our back entry full of sawdust, old, discoloured rotten wood and mold, and nails/screws for us to clean up

12. the new door is no better than the old door, and still doesn’t shut properly (a good, house-rattling slam does the trick… seriously, it’s like fitting a rectangular object into a parallelogram), and now has no deadbolt… *singsong voice* “Heyyyy Robbers!”

12a. He was kind enough to leave us with the parting words “Hey, I left some silicone in your caulking gun (*note that he had to borrow MY – a girl’s – caulking gun) and you’re going to have to paint a bit.” All E and I could say, with complete glassy and disillusioned stares, was… “K”. All we were thinking was “get the *@##$%^” OUT of our house!”

Thank you again, for responding in a timely matter to our concerns regarding home invasion. However, we strongly recommend finding a contractor who doesn’t think that any washer and dryer are “stackable” (ours certainly weren’t meant to be, which we have remedied – thankfully before the dryer fell off of the washer), that you can lay down linoleum (ugh) flooring without any adhesive – although the bubbles in the bathroom floor are kind of fun to stomp on – or that 2″ screws going through a .75″ wall built in 1910 are an opportunity to hang decorative items on the other side of the wall (whee! Free mounting opportunities!).

Also, ovens should probably not open into the same bank of cabinetry, and we should not be able to see the beautiful night stars through an opening in the ceiling.

But these are just thoughts.

As a suggestion, you would be wise to allow E and myself to purchase the materials for the dog run which was promised before we moved in (which will do wonders in preserving the back yard, which we hope to spend some time in, come spring, and will ultimately benefit your resale value because it will look nice and tended), and install it, rather than having this semi-“pro” do it for us. We would be happy to take on the labour if you will supply the materials, and we would definitely do a better job of it.

VERY sincerely,

Christa (and E, I assume)

PS. Your contractor’s idea of replacing the offset garage doors was to replace them with EXACTLY THE SAME DOORS, only newer, and not painted. Either he is a kind of genius that eludes my grasp of reality, or he is a moron. I’d bet everything I have on the latter. Or, in his words, the “ladder”. Also, those old garage doors are still sitting in the back yard.

PPS. You would be completely within your/our rights to tell him to come and collect all of this crap from all over the yard, and that it was a part of your contract(s) for the work. However, we are willing to do part of the work and amass the refuse into one mighty pile, so that he can collect it all at once, in case he “misses” anything.

 

 

You’ll notice that I occasionally blog a couple of times a day. This is because sometimes I will write something and lose interest. So here is an unpublished piece from a while ago:

Did you ever notice that in older books the word “should” has a different connotation?

“I should have regretted that, had I given in”

“I should have been no worse for the wear, if James had done so…”

“Should you like a tour of the house?”

“I would have thought to marry him, but I was too naive”

“The doctor thought I should die”

etc.

Turns out it is based on vocabulary from the 18-19th century (that’s right, we all lived in the 19th century).

If you look it up, there’s a joke about it:

An Irishman, drowning in a river after the bridge has collapsed under his horse, cries “I will drown and no one shall save me!” An English man on the shore hears him, and takes it as a statement of suicide, because an Irish man should have said “I shall drown because no one will save me!”

Oh, nerdery.

This has been a draft since October!

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Today is my mom’s birthday. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this blog, but I’ll write for her today whether she likes it or not! 😉 And then, I’ll call her.

When I was a kid, I thought that a person’s favourite colour was pretty indicative of who they were. It didn’t make much difference to me what the shade or tint was, I just categorized them into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and carefully (my parents being very educational types, and me being ultra receptive in this area)  white and black. (whicharenotreallycoloursIknowbutjustshhhhhhhbecausetheystillcountinaboxofcrayolas)

I went to great pains to decide what my favourite colour was going to be. I abhorred pink, a girly colour that told me all I needed to know about someone who’s favourite colour was a shade of cotton candy. Red was also dismissed for being too masculine, too fire-truck-ish, too Calgary Flames. Yellow was the colour of sick people. Green … well … meh, it was pretty much everyone’s favourite colour, and how awful would it be to be like everyone else? Blue… kinda the same feelings towards it as green…

Now hold it. Purple. Even the name sounds strange. Puuuuuuuurrrrple. THAT’s a colour. Purple. Purple people are weird. They are separate from conventional people… they are royalty, they are twisted, they are ARTISTS.  Purple, I deem thee “Favourite”.

And so my magnificent mother allowed me to sponge-paint my room with purple, rectangular sea-sponge marks over a pink (yeah, I know, but it matched, so shut your face) background. The house was not a favourite of any of our family (who moved pretty frequently), but it was a house that my mum allowed me to let loose in. I painted almost-accurate (but kind of warped) Looney Tunes characters in the room that held our TV.  Maybe it was because she didn’t plan to stay there, or because she didn’t really, ultimately care what was on the walls, or maybe it was because she saw me eying the walls like blank canvasses.. But at the same time, Mum was busily painting the kitchen, the bathroom, the fireplace, and the whole house.

Mum as always been the biggest proponent of colour, and colour change. Every year or so, we’d see mom up on ladders, taping off edges, and freezing rollers full of paint for the second coat. Walls would go from light yellow to black, and then back to a tan. When she couldn’t invest in her home as a solid point on the grid, she made the choice to personalize it with colour. My mum enveloped us with a rainbow.

So, you’ll notice I didn’t mention orange… well, heck… orange is my mum’s favourite colour, so that was immediately a Don’t Pass Go. Like polka dots, which I used to HATE because Mum loved them. Like my hands and feet, which are exactly like Mum’s, and she liked, so I immediately hated… orange was black-barred. Instantly. Unequivocally. Completely. … NO.

My mum likes orange. For her, it is a signal of season – wide swatches of orange cover the mountains in the fall, various shades of orange leaves arch over streets and walkways, drift down and make crunchy carpets. It’s vibrant enough to be alive and grabs attention. When I close my eyes and think of Mum, orange is on the back side of my eyelids.

I still believe in colour as a register of people, but in different degrees;  some people chose to make their homes up of cool whites, a calm, clean environment, and some people like firey reds, bright corals, a dynamic environment. My mother has a thousand different, vibrant, and beautiful personalities splashed across my memory in the form of paint. But mostly, she is orange.

I think everyone must go through these: those jolting moments when you realize “hey, I’m going to die”. Not in an immediate sense, but maybe you think “The roads are bad today… what if I die on the way home from work?”. Or maybe it’s something like looking at a photo of you a grandparent, and wondering just how much time you have left with them.

Today, weirdly, what set me off, was a Twitter comment by Bill Cosby. Apparently, back in August, his death was a Trending Topics top list news item. He subsequently appeared on Larry King Live to prove that he is, in fact, not dead.

But he is 73. And he looks old, as he should.

That makes me remember the young Bill Cosby of the “Cosby Show” and “Jell-O” commercials. You can still see young Bill Cosby when you look at images of him today, but you know that he’s very very long in the tooth. One eye looks at you and the other doesn’t.. that type of thing.

THAT is what makes me think of how many years have passed since Bill Cosby was young. I remember watching him as a vibrant 40-something-year old, and now he is an old man. I have aged at the same rate.

I kind of think of 18-40 as a “holding stage”. We rapidly accelerate in our youngest years – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.. they FLY by. At six, you start to recognize what getting older is, as you fall into a rhythm of schooling and routine. By ten, you’re an expert, and by fourteen you are positively ACHING to be older, and have more freedom. At 18, you start to think “holy crap, what am I doing with my life?”.

From what I’ve seen, there isn’t a big difference between a 20-something-year-old and a 40-something-year-old. Maybe it’s a generation gap; a combination of our parents’ forfeited 20’s and the average 30-year-old’s angst that they should have their life settled. No matter what it is, it’s like looking up from your desk, your busy life, your fun and entertainment, your abject misery and your pure joy, and thinking, “Hey, how many years of these things are left?” And then, the realization, the mid-life-crisis of “now it’s time to age”.

Sometimes the years can span out like terrifying, awesome potential, and sometimes you can feel breath of the years on the back of your neck, like “It’s” right there – what I’ve been trying to do for years is sit down and have a fairly good-natured conversation with Death. “Hey, I’m getting older, and I am going to die… how do I manage this gracefully?”

My aunt recently set her Facebook status to:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO what a ride!”

I agree with the sentiment whole-heartedly, but it’s a little bit terrifying at the same time. Am I really skidding in sideways? I’m definitely “skidding in”…

When you are suddenly 70, or 80, 90, passing the benchmark of 100… was it because you lived carefully? Because you did everything right? Or is it ok to give up the ghost at 70, to have enjoyed each moment and really LIVED? And if either one is the case… will I have truly enjoyed these moments that I savour – a book, a bath, my dogs, the movies, the blogging even?

If I discovered that I would die in a year, would I do things differently, or would I find satisfaction in my daily routine?

Yeep!

The heel probably started off as women wanting to show off their calves, to look taller, to visually slim their heels.

I wear heels so that when I walk around you KNOW I’m coming, and you should probably show respect.

Padding around is for wusses.

 

(you)Scrooge(Grinch2)+5 years w/o family@xmas = (your)status = :*( (sparkly tear) = C.to.the.K.

YEP. That’s good ol’ X-mas.

 

 

I am all puffy-faced from crying.

I just finished reading a book called “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, and I’m all puffy-eyed from crying. This is a great book, and the ending is sweet and sour, and I had to take a moment to devour some love from my two beagles when I set it down… to love them and hold them, and appreciate the love that they unconditionally give me. Mostly Biggs, but I am getting there with Buttie.

I have a Christmas party to go to, and I need to make a cracker dip, since it is a pot-luck, and I hope to get everything done in time (Eric is already busting my hump, telling me I need to get ready), but I want to hold on to this feeling for just a bit longer. I will shower, and I will go to Safeway and get the ingredients for the dip, but right now, I am completely overwhelmed by this book. It’s like taking Black Beauty and Old Yeller, Marley and Me, and the Tao of Pooh, and slinging them all together into a beautifully sad and happy story.

I’m going to get in the shower and erase the crying and hopefully some of the puffy, and get on with my day… I will wear my nice new clothes and smile while I am there, but I can’t wait to crack the next book, and hope that it is as good as the one I just closed.

Seriously, read it if you can – it’s at Costco for ten bucks. Worth every word. I am an hour behind my projected schedule… I need the puffy-face to go away.

Just so you don’t think I’m all-the-way lazy, I wanted to put some photos up here. Also, my last few (*ahem* most) posts are texty, diary-style randomness coming from a semi-schizo brain.

To be honest, I had even forgotten how to add photos to this post. I’ve been too distracted by audio books and freezing-my-butt-off temperatures, and also a general gloominess that always comes along with winter and makes me be more artsy than usual (in that I post stream-of-consciousness stuff).

Sooo… this is what my random self did two  nights ago:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I keep on forgetting to post things to FB and the blog… this means that you get the ranting raving person, and they get the photos!

 

 

 

I have finally succumbed to the temptation to get an audiobook (that is, now that my iPhone has made it free). This is something I have put off for a long time. I just haven’t been able to reconcile myself to the fact that a) I’m going to need to pay someone to do something that I can do myself for free, b) I’m going to have to pay someone to say all this stuff in a tone of voice that I have no control over, and c) it seems kind of lazy.

So, my first two objections got most-of-the-way wiped out when I took out the word “pay”, but I still had this niggling little bit of doubt, because I’m still going to have to listen to it in someone’s voice, and to attach a single voice and actor to a plethora of personas seems a little bit like every time I ever remembered the story, I’d remember it the way someone other than the author or my own self told it.

This is why I HATE to watch a movie before I read it… not only because they skip out on all kinds of fun stuff, but also because when you read it after seeing the movie, you picture every person in the book as the actor who played the character.

For example… Harry Potter.

THIS just came up in your brain, didn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, if you were lucky enough to read the books before seeing the movies, you might see this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you didn’t read the books and live in a cave, you might think of this:

 

 

 

 

 

THIS, on the other hand, is what comes up when you Google a less movie-adapted book, like “The Bedside Book of Beasts”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very refreshing! Pretty much just a book title! *whew*

Anyhoo, because I had these little nagging doubts in my head, I have kind of held off on the whole Audiobook thing. But I’m pretty sick and tired of my CDs in my car, because I go about 1/2 hour to work and 1 hour home every day… and I haven’t read in a while for a few reasons that aren’t really good enough to rob me of something I really enjoy, but they still do…

So, I thought, “Ok, if my FIRST TIME” has the potential to make or break this for me, what should I listen to?

The criteria:

1) Something I have already read, so that the experience can’t be ruined

2) Something told in the first person, so that I don’t hear the same person talking through a billion characters

3) Something I won’t have to pay a ton of attention to, since, after all, I am driving

4) Something that can be stopped and started with relative ease, because the drive isn’t all THAT long, compared to my regular reading, and someone reading aloud is going to take a lot longer

5) Something free

And, I came up with….

Black Beauty, which, after a Google search, will look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

But, if you look in my memory, still looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got to chapter 6 today, to and from work. Nice, short, descriptive chapters. And one description was of BB, with “one white hoof and a pretty little star on my forelock” or something to that effect, and that he was thought “rather handsome”… which, after oh, about 20 years, brought the book rushing back to me.

I have to say, I am still not the greatest fan of listening to someone else’s voice telling the story, since I am so used to reading fluidly, but so far, it’s beating my old CD, and the Christmas tunes on the radio, and I’m getting a delicious little bit of my childhood back.

Audiobooks, you get a solid “B”! Yes, I do grade on a curve.