Curiosity is terminal

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Lawrence Arthur Herman Anderson June 27, 1938 - February 9, 2018


Pop. Papa. Papa-San. Daddy. Dad.

I grew up believing that he could do everything.  In 1976 he started construction on the house he and mom lived in for the rest of his life. He dug the basement, some of it by hand and he did all the framing, and the main plumbing and electrical himself, with professional help only with the parts that needed legal permits. He could fix engines. He knew all about the birds and animals and trees and plants on their land. He  loved science and technology and he liked to invent gadgets and gizmos to make his work easier.  He loved history and storytelling.   He was a carpenter and for the last 15 years of his working life he did residential finishing,  renovated kitchens and installed cabinets for a local manufacturer. He retired at 70 because he was finally ready to.  

I was always allowed in the shop, was always allowed to use the hand tools. I hammered and sawed and tried to use the bit brace when I was little and the smell of sawdust will forever be the smell of home and of my dad.  I don't know if he was proud or pleased when I took up carpentry in 1994 because dad was not a hugely demonstrative guy, but he must have been okay with it, because while I was an apprentice he taught me to do finishing and cabinets.  We worked on hundreds of homes together.  He taught me to be careful. If my corners were not perfect he made me take them apart and do them again. If things didn't line up, he made me take them apart and line them up right. He taught me how to use levers and cleats and clamps with cabinets that were too unwieldy for one person to install. He made it look easy.  He taught me that mistakes were not tragedies unless you didn't learn anything from them.

He was unfailingly kind. He was unflinching about doing the right thing, and he alway just seemed to know the right thing. Family mattered.  

There was no one in the world he loved more than my daughter.  He read to her and walked in the bush with her and showed her birds and animals and taught her to drive the tractor. He had more wooden boxes in his shop than he needed because she liked to build boxes and he liked to do what she liked to do.  When she was a teenager he took her to work with him and had her assemble and help him install cabinets. She is confident with tools today.  When she was four he found my old toy sewing machine or he bought a new one and he showed her how to sew. He put her on his lap and he operated the foot pedal and helped her feed fabric through the needle. She is a professional seamstress today. 

I believed that he could do everything. He believed that I could do anything.  

I will miss him so much. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Wednesday

We interrupt your regular Saturday cat post to bring you Wednesday.


 


Wednesday is The Offspring's boyfriend's dog.  She is a lovely good dog who invariably does that with her ears when she has a camera pointed at her. She is particularly perturbed in this picture because her boy and The Offspring had gone off climbing for a couple of hours and left her in my company. She is very rarely out of the boy's company, and both she and the boy get antsy without one another. Wednesday is likely to howl the blues when she thinks she is alone in the house - I know she is singing the blues because she does it very softly, almost to herself.

Wednesday thinks she would like to be friends with the cats. Alas, the cats do not all share her interest. Meili likes to follow Wednesday around, so she knows what is going on, but when Wednesday notices Meili, Meili makes mean noises. Cricket follows Wednesday around and occasionally even greets Wednesday when she comes in the house with a boop on the nose (with her own nose, not a paw). Cricket and Wednesday can be found, a few times a day, laying in close proximity and gazing at each other. We are all hopeful they will become friends, but just as things are beginning to look good, Cricket turns into a hissing, swearing demon.  There have been no actual fisticuffs, and nothing initiated by Wednesday.  She just keeps looking disappointed that no one will snuggle or submit to belly washings.  The two cats you have not met hid from Wednesday for the first week and a half, but now are sometimes seen in the same room.

Wednesday, her boy, and my Offspring are all here from the great metropolis to the south to say goodbye to my father and to help and comfort my mother.  Mom and Dad live outside Atmon, about a half hour to the west. They have 18 acres and a house my dad built that they share with Spike, the cat to whom Cricket is a 15 year younger doppelgänger.  The kids and Wednesday are splitting their time between Mom and Dad's place and our house, with daily visits to Hospice.  Mom is glad to have company while she copes with things and sorts out what is happening next.  Beloved and I cannot take time off completely, although both our employers are being wonderfully flexible about our schedules, and we are grateful that the kids are being so good to my mom.

Wednesday might be a kind of practice dog for me. I like dogs. We had dogs when I was a kid and when the Offspring was a child too. But I think dogs need much more companionship than cats and Beloved and I both work, sometimes long hours, and he travels quite a bit and I don't like the idea of leaving a dog alone a lot. I am enjoying having a dog around.

Wednesday's main interests, aside from being with the boy, are running and sniffing. She and the boy go off on long adventures every day, usually to some multi-hectare park. If there were not feet of snow everywhere, they would adventure by mountain bike, but they are making do.  Once she is sufficiently fresh-air-and exercised she likes to lay near the boy and be petted. Mostly Wednesday is having a good time here. Except when they go off without her. Or you point a camera at her.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Environmental Post

I have not done any rebel rousing or demonstrating for nearly 2 years. I just didn't really care about anything any more. Our local paper had become a mockery of actual journalism and I seemed to be surrounded by the economy-is-king types.  I was tired.

On my way home from the theatre last evening, though, I caught the provincial news on the CBC.  There was a story about a plastic bag manufacturer trying to overturn a plastic bag ban in Victoria.  Obviously, the manufacturer wants to save its livelihood.  Immediately after this article, though, was an article on ocean plastic.  A little later in the evening, I heard something about an estimate of when there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.  

If we ever stop privileging the economy over the environment, we will have to come to terms with the fact that some jobs are going to have to stop.  I don't think we have it in us.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Tuesday Trees (For RossK)

At my little old house, I had a spectacular flowering crabapple tree in the front yard.






I have a real thing for trees.  That tree was one of the things that made the move hard. My new home has a bigger yard and more trees. And the first thing that Beloved and The Offspring did was buy me a new flowering crab tree.  It's very little and having a hard time establishing itself,  and I have no good pictures of it yet.  

We share some unhappy looking cedars with my next door neighbour. There is a May tree and and unidentified tree in the front yard, along with the Crabapple and a Pear tree we brought with us from the old place. There are four Mountain Ash trees and an apple tree in the back yard. There were four lilac bushes here, one of them a lovely dark purple. One of the light lilacs is right up against my front window. Last spring, the blooming of the Lilacs and the May tree overlapped a little bit, and I could see this and it made me think of RossK.  


I moved to my new home somewhat reluctantly.  I had not moved in 25 years, and I was clinging to all those memories. RossK reminded me that I will have the memories wherever I go, which helped a lot. I felt, after the first night in the new house, as though I had lived here all my life. 
 This is the best spring time picture I have, but I have enough garden pictures to get us through to this spring.  






Saturday, 27 January 2018

Caturday

Good heavens! I have now written more posts this year than in the previous two years combined!  Thank goodness I have a lot of cats.

Meet Meili. According to Google translate, Meili is the simplified Chinese word for beautiful.


I mentioned last weekend that Cricket is not our most therapeutic cat.  Meili is.  If you are feeling bad it is Meili who will come and enquire as to the reason for your tears.  She is very purry and affectionate. She is also kind of the house mother. She needs to know where all the other cats are and what they are doing before she can relax. She has a busy, inquisitive look sometimes that I have never been able to capture. She will crane her neck in all directions, looking around when there is some air of cat activity that I cannot discern with my puny human senses, and I imagine her saying, "What's all this? What's happening? What's going on honey?" a al Karen Walker in Will and Grace.  She is much less selfish than Karen, but she does have a weakness for cat cookies. 

Currently she is spending a lot of time asking me what is wrong because, of course, I am crying much more than usual.  Dad has been in hospice for a week. Last Thursday, when we got word that there was a bed in hospice, he looked terrible. He was grey and wan, and oh so thin. I thought he would not last the weekend.  Friday morning, after he was whisked into his hospice bed, washed of the hospital smell, and tucked under a beautiful blue handmade quilt, he was ever more relaxed and his colour was better.  On Sunday, when I walked into his room, he was sitting up, eating ice cream and watching tv, he even had an air of cheer about him.  He had stopped eating in the hospital.  Dad has always had a thing about eating everything on his plate. It is just one of the things he has never shaken off from his childhood (desperate, irrational fear of doctors and hospitals is another). In restaurants, for the last several years he has greeted plates delivered to him with horror that he must eat so much. Now, if you give him too much,  he refuses it completely, even if he might want a few bites.  Hospital meals were all too much, and sometimes comically so.  One night, I swear on my cat's lives, there was a cup and a half of peas on his plate.  Please. I like peas and I don't want a cup and a half of them with a meal. Well. Unless they were picked and shelled before they were steamed. Then a cup and a half of peas might be all I want. But these were frozen peas. Sent from Ontario and microwaved before they got to my dad; there was nothing appealing about them.  (ha!)

Speaking of peas, when I was a child, dad contrived a game to make us eat our peas. He would estimate how many were on our plate, and we would count them as we ate them to see if he was right.  He did it for years, and he got really accurate. We always ate all our peas, too.  Of course, we ate everything on our plates, because that was what you did.  Nights when we had peas, we also had the song about peas, "I eat my peas with honey; I've done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny but it keeps them on my knife." He probably let us put honey on our peas at least once in honour of the song.  

Meiji doesn't like peas. Or any human food. She seems perfectly content with kibble, and occasionally has a few bites of canned food, which the other cats get morning and night. She likes cookies and she is quite demanding and insistent about them.  Some days we cave to the pestering, other times not so much. Meili is also the house murderer. She is our fat cat, but she is lightning fast and a stealthy hunter. I read last year that bird's eyesight is better than their hearing and that they particularly see bright colours.  Cat colouring is usually camouflage, which is why birds don't see them in time. I tied a bunch of strips of brightly coloured quilting cotton to her collar. She looked like she was wearing a ragged Elizabethan collar. At first she was mad, but she is also dreadfully vain and  we were able to convince her that she was very pretty, and then she wouldn't let us take it off. It worked: she was not able to catch birds.  

Meili does not have as many nicknames as the other cats. She is our second cat, so she is sometimes called Two, and we call her Kitty Girl and Pretty Girl, and I sing her a song with her name in it that goes to the tune of "Make it Go Away" by Holly Cole. Meili comes to me whenever I sing.  She is gentle and very snuggly, but on her terms, as most cats.  She really does make you feel better, which she managed to do this morning  just by me  writing about her.  

Have a happy Caturday.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Monday Making Things

I make things.  I used to draw and paint and when I was 10 my dream was to go to art school. But my parents said art was not a job, and I needed a job. And I believed them. Even when I went to high school and took art classes and met art teachers, whose jobs were art, I believed that art was not a job.    It's possible there is a connection between all of that and the fact that I have been depressed most of my life.  Of course, I may just have abnormally low iron, too. Who knows?

Last year I somehow got to help a local painter with a backdrop for a theatre production (different theatre group than I am working for now) and I kind of felt like I was breathing again after a long time.  I mentioned to the director of the play, who is also a friend, about my parents teaching me that art was not a job. He said the most amazing thing. He said, "maybe art is not a job, but sometimes it is a life." Every once in a while someone says something that takes your breath away because it is so true.

And it occurred to me, about that time, that art has managed to seep out of me, in spite of it not being an acceptable life to my parents. I make things. I can't help but make things. I knit and sew and I have some silversmithing tools and I make silver jewelry sometimes. And I build things. And I have to try stuff all the time, like making my own hand lotion bars.
So now  I am going to try to work at making something every day.  And on Mondays I am going to post what I made last week, or last month or last year.  I am going to post the stuff I make on Mondays.  Last week I knit some socks and some gloves, but I have no pictures of those. I also built half a theatre set, of which I do have a picture.  


So Caturdays and Mondays toward the resurrection of a blog.  And in the interest of getting me interested in something again. Thanks for coming along.  




Saturday, 20 January 2018

Caturday



Good Morning! Welcome to what I hope is a new feature: blogging every Saturday! I figure if I have nothing else to write about, and nothing that I can bring myself to write about, I have a plethora of cats I can write about. And maybe I can bring myself to write about the things I can't bring myself to write about in a roundabout way.

That is the inimitable Cricket. Cricket is a year old. I adopted her from a family with small children whom I think pulled her tail and mauled her. She is very particular about being touched (only on the top of the head and the chin, thank you human) and it took about six months before she raised her tail off the floor.
My dad has always described a particular kind of jumpy, manic behaviour as being like "a flea on a hot griddle."  He had a customer years ago, when he was selling doors and windows, whom he described that way. Some time after, when I had become a carpenter, I learned that this particular man had a strong liking for cocaine. We don't know if Cricket likes cocaine or not, because it's not a thing we have around, but like most kittens she certainly bounced around like she had been snorting the stuff by the bushel. "Flea" seemed an inauspicious name for a pet, and so we settled on Cricket. We also call her 4 because she is our fourth cat, Bunny because she is a clumsy dumb bunny and Lux because she swans around here in the world's most luxurious fur coat.

That is Cricket doing what Crickets like best: climbing things that are hard to get down from.  And that is the autumn view from my bedroom window. The cat and her expression are also my morning view from March to October. She goes outside, climbs the swing and hollers in the bedroom window.

The cats are a funny distraction from the current sad things happening in our lives.  Dad was moved to hospice yesterday. It is a relief to have him out of the far too crowded ward and room he was in. The nurses were wonderful and kind, but he was sharing a room that was designed to be a private room and it was too near the nurses station. He was hearing snippets of conversations and as he becomes disoriented he thought all conversations were about him. He was getting kind of paranoid.  He is not in great pain, and he is pretty lucid most of the time and still very articulate, as long as his mouth and throat aren't dry. He's been depressed for a long time and sometimes he is really frustrated and angry, and sometimes he wishes with all his being that it would just be over. I have always been close to my dad and it is hard to lose him. He will be 80 this year, though he is very unlikely to make it to June, and this is the way of life, but every day I encounter things I will not get to tell him about some day, share with him some day, ask him about some day. I am trying not to think of him as gone yet, but it's hard not to miss him.  We are also coping with the news that Beloved's mom is in hospital and failing back in Saint John.  She was here for a month over Christmas and we had a wonderful time, so we have something good to hold onto there. We are feeling a little overwhelmed.

While Cricket is not the most therapeutic of the cats, she likes to be near someone. I am the person of choice when there are multiple people here, but mostly she prefers to sit just out of touching range.  As I type, she is sitting behind the computer monitor and occasionally puts a paw under the monitor, or plays with something rustley to remind me she is there. It is enough.