Sunday, December 31, 2006

Showers of showers!

I have never known such convenience before! A house with four showers. One over the dining room table, one in the bathroom (astonishing!), one in the cupboard where the dishes live (get a footstool and climb right in) and the best one, right over my bed! Sleep and shower at the same time, what a concept! Jump from bed already fresh and dewy for the day.

Could someone please just turn the faucet off? This is supposed to be the northern end of the Sonoran desert after all, and all it's done for the past two months is rain or snow, both inside and outside. Well, it hasn't snowed inside, but it's definitely rained.

It's easy to fix, assuming the temperature is a minimum of 54 degrees F. and DRY for 72 hours straight. Can anyone say April? Until then we live with the occasional unscheduled shower.

It's New Year's Eve, the 42nd anniversary of when Tony and I met. He was the blind date for my tall friend, who took one look at him and another at the tall guy who was supposed to be my date, and said, "You get the short one." I did, and still have him all these happy years later.

This will be a quiet New Year's Eve, as he has an abscessed tooth and is not feeling all that chipper, and we're not party animals anyway. There's a party in the clubhouse to welcome in 2007, but it will probably arrive without us being there. Last night was one of those occasional nights when I slept only a couple of hours, from 7:00 to 9:00 am. So tonight I will probably be well asleep by midnight.

Happy 2007!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Musings on Catmus

To steal blatantly and without shame from the younger son's holiday greeting:

Ah Catmas! The day when we celebrate the rule of our supreme feline overlords (which, strangely, coincides with the day when those of a Christian bent in their holidays celebrate the day that the baby Jesus created capitalism).

Attached is an artistic representation of a mighty feline ruler, wearing a festive and seasonal headdress. The red felt top is a symbolic representation of the rivers of blood that will flow from humans who disobey their feline overlords, while the green band symbolizes the gangrene that will infect the wounds soon after. Note the peaceful expression on the overlord's divine countenance as it contemplates this punishment.

The naughty feline overlord of this household awakened us repeatedly last night. Oh what a bad boy he was. My patience fled at awakening number nine or ten and the fearsome fly swat was taken off the peg and applied to his furry bum.

"Ha!" the overlord taunted with a hiss and slashing claw, "A fly swat is as nothing to my well-padded and thickly-furred rear end! I laugh at your paltry fly swat! My old auntie resisted stronger and more adeptly wielded fly swats than that flimsy thing."

But after his macho display he did go lie down and eventually he must have gone to sleep. He's been as chirpy and sprightly as a sparrow all day. We on the other hand have dragged ourselves from our couches only with great effort and a fair amount of prodding.

All I have wanted today was to try and recover from the last few days. I swear every year that next year I will not let Christmas (or Catmus!) get the better of me. Every year I fail miserably.

But what a merry Catmus we've had. The young members of the family arrived Friday and Saturday. We have laughed and talked and cooked and eaten non-stop since. I feel like a stuffed turkey myself.

Christmas Eve we had Tex-Mex food; Enchiladas, tamales, mole negro, refried beans, Spanish rice, guacamole and tortilla chips. I ate more than I ought to have.

What was in the stockings yesterday morning but chocolate, of the most divine and compelling kind? Oh dear.

Then, at 5:00 yesterday we had the park's community Christmas dinner, which was delicious beyond belief. Even a tiny spoonful of half the dishes filled my plate (and me) to the groaning point. I was too full to even look at dessert. Today we had leftovers. I may just blow up and leave messy blobs on the walls.

God grant me the resolve to eat celery the next few days, and only celery! After we've eaten all the holiday leftovers, dieting is in order. Otherwise they'll have to cut me out of the trailer.

Right now I am soooo tired. I'd like to sleep about a week, and not cook, or eat. And Tinpalace? She threw a tantrum Christmas Eve and her water pressure went up to 80 psi again.

I am not calling Gary on Christmas Eve, but I could hardly go without water, so I am being an anti-enviromentalist and letting the sink tap in the bathroom drip. The drip is just enough to keep the psi in the system down to 65. This regulator number three in a week. Why can't she just accept that Gary's not for her and fall for the Winnebago next door?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Forever a Captive

Okay, now this is just getting ridiculous.

Gary replaced our water pressure regulator on Wednesday. It worked fine then, but by yesterday morning the water pressure was down to a match-stick sized trickle. It took 45 minutes to fill the sink to wash dishes. I left the water running and went off to read, would come back to check occasionally. This would not do.

Gaaaaarrrrryyyyyy!! Is it possible we have a bum regulator? Yes, he said he buys them a dozen at a time and the occasional one doesn't work properly. He said he'd be by about 3:00. And so he was. He replaced the regulator and made sure we had adequate water pressure, and was away, but Tinpalace got her daily Gary fix. He's going on a cruise in January. She'd best suck it up, because she's not going to see him for at least two weeks, no matter what tantrums she pulls.

At about 9:30 - 10:00 pm Mandy, Zak, and their friends Racheal and Ben arrived. The road was pretty messy and Mandy hadn't ever driven on such a long trip before, so they were as taut as violin strings.

However a round of hugs and kisses helped. My, I'd forgotten how tall our kids are! They almost graze the ceiling in here. But we had a wonderful visit, all piled onto the bunks in the back, curled, propped, wrapped in each other's arms.

About 10:30 I cooked up a huge pot of tortellini and a pot of vegies and we enjoyed a meal together. Six for dinner is a bit of a stretch here, but no one seemed to mind. We've made plans to go to town this morning for breakfast, but it may be lunch time by the time we all get mobile.

In the meantime my worry spinner is active, since Ian is driving from Calgary today and the roads are bad. It's snowing pretty vigorously here, which means it will really be coming down in the passes. I hope there are no slides, accidents etc. to block the way, and that he is safely here before dark. I will worry about him all day, as I worried about Zak and Mandy yesterday.

When I was pregnant with Ian an older friend said, "Sleep now, because never again in your life will you sleep entirely without care. Before you sleep you will always think first about the safety of your children."

When Ian was about two Tony worked the day shift at the airport. One evening a colleague was sick and Tony was asked to cover his shift. This meant he wouldn't be home until about 2:00 am. Before I went to bed I locked up, and without thinking put the chain on the door. At about 2:30 I came bolt upright, roused by a little voice calling, "Mama, Mama?"

I threw back the covers and heard my poor husband say through the open window, "Please come and let me in. I have been knocking on the door, ringing the bell, knocking on the window and calling your name for 10 minutes, but I simply could not wake you up. Then I thought that all Ian has to do is squeak and you are awake and out of bed in a flash, so I imitated him as closely as I could and called, 'Mama, Mama?' ".

He was a bit disgruntled that I'd slept through his best efforts to wake me, but that I woke in an instant when the baby called. But that's motherhood for you. From the minute you look in those inscrutable little eyes you are forever captive.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Forget Santa!

The last few days running (no pun intended) up to Christmas will be busy ones. Yesterday we did "town" things. Today I clean house (that will take an hour) and cook. The snowbirds get together for a big meal together on Christmas day. It's planned, so we all know what we are bringing.

My contribution is to roast one of the turkeys. We have between 35-40 people coming so we need three or four turkeys, plus a ham. Each will be cooked by a different person. Doing a turkey means doing dressing as well, and gravy. Since I can't get a turkey into my boot-box sized oven, Zak will bone our turkey and turn it into a turkey roast.

In addition, I am bringing candied yams, homemade tamales and mole negro (moh-lay neh-grow). I make mole once a year, for the Christmas turkey, and to top the tamales. It's a complex, rich blend of flavours which I simply have to have from time to time. I used to seek out and grind the peppers, now I go the easy route and simply use chili powder. Mole is not hard to make, it freezes well and makes chicken or turkey into a meal fit for a king. Mole was once the official court dish of the Aztecs and was served only to the king, male nobility and the high priest.

Drummm rolll please!

Recipe for Mole Negro:

1/4 c. ground chili powder
1 can diced tomatoes
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic
2 pieces of toasted bread, diced
1 c. blanched almonds
1/4 c non-hydrogenated smooth-style peanut butter
1/2 c raisins
4 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp. Five-spice powder (Chinese section)
1/2 c butter
2 squares bakers chocolate
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
stock or water

Place chili powder in bowl with two cups hot water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Using chili/water mixture, process onions, garlic, tomatoes and toast in blender until it forms a paste. Do this in two lots if necessary. Place paste in bowl.

In blender, process almonds, raisins, the sesame seeds, the peanut butter and the five-spice powder into a paste. Mix throughly with the chili paste.

In a large heavy saucepan melt the butter and then add the chili paste, stirring it constantly, until the onions no longer smell raw. Add the chocolate squares, salt and sugar. Stir as the chocolate melts into the sauce. Dilute the mole if necessary, to the consistency of heavy cream. Cook for 20 minutes over very low heat.


I was delighted yesterday to find corn tortillas in the market! I hadn't been able to buy corn tortillas in Calgary in ages, though you had to leap over great displays of flour tortillas in practically every aisle. (Okay, so I exaggerate a little, but it makes the story more interesting doncha think?)

Anyway, I bought corn tortillas and will feed my kids a real Tex-Mex feast while they are here. Tamales, mole negro, enchiladas, Spanish rice, refried beans, tortillas, salsa and guacamole. (Oops, forgot sour cream for the guacamole, well, I'll get one of them to go to town and buy some.)

We came home after shopping yesterday, gave the cat a short walk, put the perishable groceries away and quickly trundled down to the clubhouse for the snowbirds Christmas party. It was fun, with a gift exchange and a snacks "potluck". We had a really good time, laughing and talking with our lovely neighbours.

Now, the anticipation begins. Forget Santa, I'm waiting for our kids to arrive. Can't wait to see them all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Egg and the Universe

When we left our heroine on Monday she was moaning about the slow and inept service provided by She had ordered books on December 4th, paid priority shipping, and then was stunned to learn (violin music please) that said Amazon had not even mailed the books until the 17th of December.

Fear ran rampant that said books would not reach End-of-the-Roadville BC until after Christmas, and so she complained mightily and with unusual vigor in her blog, knowing full well that complaining publicly always backfires.

Today the backfire. The notice arrived yesterday afternoon, allowing me an entire day's grace to pick the books up, and even time to wrap them, if I work fast.

The universe hurls egg at me, as usual.

But my cunning plan worked. Books are in hand.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trailer Soap - Today's Episode

I filled the sink and was happily washing the brekkie dishes this morning when I glanced at the water pressure gauge, which is right by the sink taps. It read an alarming 80 psi and rising! ACK ACK ACK!!!

It's not supposed to be over 60, but ours has always been a little high, and sits regularly at 72. My panic bells began to ring as it climbed toward 90! I turned on the water and yelled at Tony to go outside and turn off the water supply. If we burst a water hose under the trailer in this weather our bank account will be very very sorry indeed.

He turned off the water supply, no easy job, considering that it's wrapped in heat tape, insulation and plastic sheeting. Then we sat and thunk. The regulator valve is a doo-hickey which attaches to the intake port, and reduces the high psi water supply to a safe level for the pressurized trailer system. Without the regulator you can blow pipes, water heater, water tank.... it's too frightening even to think of.

But we have a new regulator, put on in September. I kicked the trailer's closet and called Gary. Do regulators fail? Yes, he said, frequently after extreme cold spells. He has one in the truck, and he's coming to fix the oven this afternoon anyway, so he will attend to it then.

So, he replaced the regulator and fixed the oven. Then we followed SMMs advice and told Tinpalace, with Gary here, that he is a married man and sees many RVs besides her.

Her response? She plopped a huge drip right on his head, a small stream actually. (Trailer tears?) No, just a leak we hadn't discovered before, but strategically timed and placed. We emptied the cupboards above the sink to find that a seam at the edge is leaking, and has obviously been doing so for some time, quietly and with malice aforethought. Waiting until we put our foot down, as it were.

We gave Gary a cheque. He laughed, patted Tinpalace and said, with a knowing smile, "I'll be back in the park tomorrow."

I think she tossed her head.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tinpalace loves Gary

If you recall, Gary the RV repair man was here last Thursday to look at my non-functioning oven. He ordered the part he needed to fix it while he was here, but the part seems to be lost in limbo. They are trying to track it down.

In the meantime the furnace blew out during last Wednesday's windstorm, but it had always been "easy" to re-light before. Easy compared to a frontal assault on Everest in February. It's anything but easy, but we had always managed to get it re-lit before.

We've had reasonably warm weather in the days since it blew out, never below -10. Our panel heaters have kept us plenty warm. But we had a chilling thought this morning.

What if the furnace requires a replacement part, or (horrors) replacing? It might be something that takes a number of days to get done and Christmas is bearing down on us, with the associated houseful of guests and activities. If it turns cold we could be hooped.

So I called Gary this morning. He said he'd drop by this afternoon and look at our furnace. He arrived right after lunch, looked the furnace over and had it lit in two minutes flat. It's NEVER lit in less than five or six minutes for us, and I have lain on the floor for up to 20 minutes at a time trying to re-light it several times in the last few days.

This confirms my worst fears. I have to do something to cool Ms. Tinpalace's ardor for him. I thought a good kick to her cabinetry was in order once he left. A cold shower obviously doesn't work, because she's sat in the rain and snow for the last three or four weeks without any abatement in her desire to have him for her very own.

Anyone with suggestions as how to redirect a trailer's ardor let me know. If she could fixate on one of the neighbours that would be fine. None of them charge for their time, and one is even a bachelor. Admittedly he's 82, but he doesn't look a day over 72. He's quite a good-looking man, even if he is 82, and he's awfully nice. He's come for a couple of meals, and you'd think she'd have taken notice.

Maybe Tinpalace feels the same kind of adulation and hero worship for the repairman that an adolescent feels for her family doctor, especially after he fixes her sore throat or broken toe and comforts her in his detached but well-practiced manner.

Excuse me while I go out to kick her tires and take the hammer to her hitch. There has to be some way to knock sense into her - she's no teenager, at 32 she's practically a dowager, though admittedly one with many replacement parts!

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Cunning Plan

I have learned that all I need to do to make things work out right when I'm not satisfied with a product or service is complain - loudly. Now, this does not work in the way you may be imagining. I do not complain to the company, no, I go right to the heart of the matter and complain to:
1) My long-suffering husband,
2) my children,
3) my friends,
4) people in line with me at the supermarket,
5) anyone within earshot, like people in the parking lot at the mall.

The homeless guy who busks at the door of the supermarket will listen to me bellyache for half an hour for five bucks. Is it any wonder people get this "cornered animal" look when they see me bearing down on them, complaint at the ready?

Everyone is cleverly eluding me at the moment, and I have hatched up a plot which absolutely requires that I complain to someone, so trusty blog reader, you get to be part of my cunning plan.

I am so aggravated with that I could spit! I ordered several books from them on Dec 4th, to give as Christmas gifts. I was careful to choose only books which were in stock. I paid priority shipping, in order to speed things along. (I want to have time to wrap them after all.)

The Amazon site cheerfully chirped, "Lots of time for Christmas delivery", (the ordering date for delivery by the 22nd was the 16th) but warned that using their FREE delivery might result in a delay. That's why I paid the $25.00 priority shipping.

This is the 18th of December and my order was delivered by Amazon to the post office in Toronto yesterday at 3:00 pm. Toronto, a mere 3000 miles away. It took them 13 days to get the books from their shelves to the post office. This is priority?? Someone get them a dictionary!

You tell me how the post office is going to get it from Tronna to here by Wednesday! And it has to be here by Wednesday because our PO doesn't deliver parcels to rural routes. You have to go to town to pick it up. That means the PO has to get the parcel, send out a notice (the next day) which I will get after the PO closes, and then I have to get to town to pick it up. If it's not here by Wednesday I get the notice too late to get the package until after Christmas Day.

I sneer at Amazon's customer service. I revile them! I rebuke their lying website!! I regret paying for priority shipping!!! If I do not have those books in hand by the 22nd they will be refunding my priority shipping charge or I will round up the Knights who say Nee and we will mount an assault!!!

Now, by having kicked up such a lot of dust in front of such a lot of people, the universe will do its usual thing and make a big fool out of me by plopping the parcel into my hands by Friday, maybe even a day or two early.

Come on universe! I'm counting on you to make me eat my words - as you have done so often in the past. The only way to do that is get those books here on time! Then I'll be chagrined to have been so cranky and cantankerous. I'll look at my shoes and mumble when I type my blog, and I won't look my friends and family (or the homeless guy) in the eye until March. Small price!

Note to universe: I hope this plan isn't too cocky, I don't mean to be cocky. Just make a fool of me in the usual way. I'm really not expecting any special treatment, just treat me like you always do.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who Knew a Trailer Could Fall in Love?

It's been a busy few days, not necessarily intentionally. I think the Tinpalace has a crush on our RV repair man. She keeps finding ways to lure him back.

The ladie's coffee group is having a cookie exchange at our meeting next Monday morning. I decided a couple of days ago that I needed to get in gear and get my six dozen cookies baked. We have a nifty little stove. Three burners up on top, and an oven the size of a bread box. I have used the burners almost daily since we arrived, but have never once lit the oven. I use the microwave, as I know using the oven will turn the tinpalace into a slighter larger oven.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. The pilot light lit right away but the oven itself wouldn't light. Hmmmmm. GARRRRYYYYYYY! He came just as I was changing from my jammies yesterday morning and after taking all the bits apart discovered that the tiny jet the gas feeds through from the pilot to under the thermocoupler was plugged. If you hold a flame under the right spot the oven lights right up, but goes out as soon as that flame is moved away. Couldn't get the jet unplugged so he called and ordered a replacement and will be back next week. I bought six dozen cookies today. sigh

In the meantime, we had a heck of a storm a couple of days ago. Terrific winds, and another snowfall. Flakes as big as silver dollars, never seen the like of that before and I've seen plenty of snow. At some point during this storm the wind blew out the pilot light on the furnace. It is a witch to light, you have to lay on the floor, hold a button in at a very awkward angle for six or eight minutes, hold your mouth right, pray, call on the spirits of your ancestors, promise never to think another bad thought as long as you live, swear to do charitable deeds, wear sackcloth and ashes .... and then it lights. Or it always has in the past.

Not this time. I've tried to light the thing for two days and can not get it to catch. Don't know why, the glow plug is heating up, but that's as far as my understanding of how furnaces work goes. GARRRRYYYYYY!!!!! Thankfully we have two very efficient panel heaters and a small electric heater with a fan that keeps the air circulating. It got down to -8 last night, but we never dropped below 70 d F. inside. We're probably fine to -15, but then I'd start to worry about the pipes under the floor. Gary is going off on holidays after Christmas, gotta get this fixed before he goes.

Last night was "Light-Up" in Oliver. They close down the main drag, there's street dancing, games, food, caroling, a visit from Santa and to close, a fireworks display. I thought, since Oliver has all of 4000 people, that the fireworks display would be six Roman candles and a firecracker, but the display was spectacular, as good as the Stampede's fireworks! We enjoyed watching from a perfect vantage point, looking out our side window. Tony didn't even sit up.

Two of the fellows get up early one morning a month and make breakfast for everyone in the park who wants to come; pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages and coffee. This was the morning, so we started the day by sharing breakfast with most of the people in the park, including our newest neighbours Des and Carol. What a nice couple! We've really got wonderful people around us. It's so much fun being here.

Even though it was crisp outside today it was sunny. Love to see that sun! By noon we were on our way to town with the laundry, and while Tony watched the clothes go round and round I ran to the grocery store for cookies and to the pharmacy to get disc one of Handel's Messiah to complete the set. Once we had the clothes folded we had lunch in town and then came home to put clothes and groceries away. A very productive day!

Now it's 3:15 and the sun has disappeared behind the mountain to the west. I have to take the tinpalace behind the woodshed and talk to her about the facts of life. Mostly financial facts. Gary's a perfectly nice man, but she has to understand that she's fallen for someone who charges for his time, and that means tears before bedtime, unless she has some cunning plan for making her own money.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Salvadeer the Ham

When you see cats dressed like this you know Christmas is at hand!

There's nothing like ham dressed in cat skin. He was going to shake these felt antlers off, and had already done so several times, till he saw me get the camera out. Then he smiled and held very still - until I had time to take a number of Salvadeer pictures. Any one need a movie extra?

We had a sunny day today! Blue sky! You've no idea how exciting this is until you've not seen the sun in two or three weeks. The downpour we've endured the past two days has melted the snow so Sal and I took advantage of the weather and had a nice walk. He was one happy cat!

Then we (the human we) went to town and shopped. I found a CD of one of my favorite pieces of music, Handel's Messiah. But, duh, I was so concerned that I was getting the entire thing that I only bought disc two. Honestly, guess my brain was off in the chocolate aisle, moaning like a sick cow over forbidden fruit. I'll have to go back and buy disc one.

At first I couldn't understand where the first half went. I put the disc on and got busy putting away my groceries. When I looked up and "came to" the dead were already being raised incorruptible without benefit of so much as an overture! I thought I'd gotten so engrossed with stacking cans of beans and tomatoes that I've missed the whole thing till I grabbed the cover. Sigh..... Zen and I part ways so many times during a day that it's embarrassing.

There will be a point in the next few days, after I buy disc one, when I will sit down and listen to the entire oratorio with entire concentration. It's a sublime mediation and never fails to fill me with inexplicable joy and deep contentment.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Complaints Choir

On a cold winter day in Helsinki Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen fell into a discussion of how the huge amount of energy people put into complaining could be channeled into something else. In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression "Valituskuoro". It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen said to each other:

"Wouldn't it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir?"

Thus was born the idea of the Complaints Choir. Listen to the Birmingham Complaints Choir by following the "video" link on their entry. You won't be disappointed. You will be wiping tears away, and you'll probably be singing their song yourself before long, the chorus of which goes:

"I want my money back,
My job's a cul-de-sac
And the bus is too infrequent at 6:30
Why don't they pay me more?
Life was good before
And I'm thirsty....."

When I got an e-mail today from Ian saying he is cleaning house and taking boxes to the thrift shop and garbage (presumably boxes of MY stuff) I was inspired to write my own complaining song. I'm going to shamelessly steal both the meter and tune of the Birmingham Complaint Song.

Tune up: lalalalalala, now all together!

Old Folks' Complaining Song!

I live on a pension cheque,
I've got a sore, stiff neck.
And my rotten kids threw all my treasured stuff out.
I think I'm going blind,
I have misplaced my mind,
And I smell bad.

Getting old ain't fun.
I should have cut and run,
When I was fifty.
Our health care sucks for sure,
No doctor's found a cure for being cranky.

The trailer roof still leaks,
My knees and elbows creak,
And what hair I've got has gone all grey and mousey.
My bowels are slow to move,
And I have lost my groove.
I need a walker.

Getting old ain't fun.
I should have cut and run,
When I was fifty.
Our health care sucks for sure,
No doctor's found a cure for being cranky.

The bus steps are too high,
The sidewalk's never dry,
And the clothes these days are just too damn revealing.
The music is too loud.
I'd like a smaller crowd,
And my head hurts.

The pace of life's too fast,
Viagra doesn't last,
And my toenails are too far away to cut them.
They charge for what was free,
Can't sleep - I need to pee.
No one listens to my stories.

Getting old ain't fun.
I should have cut and run,
When I was fifty.
Our health care sucks for sure,
No doctor's found a cure for being cranky.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Quietly Filled

We are cups,
constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over
and let the beautiful stuff out. 
- Ray Bradbury

The temperature is 1.1 C!! It is not-freezing for the first time in at least a couple of weeks. All the old-timers are saying that it's never been this cold this early, or for this long. But, aside from a frozen septic line we survived quite comfortably, despite -20 temps and bitterly cold winds of up to 50 kmh. We have been warm and comfortable inside.

With two and a half weeks left to Christmas we are preparing to welcome our kids and friends, and we're looking forward to enjoying the food and festivities of the season. The tree is up (all 18" of it). It's loaded with one string of lights, and hung with tiny toys and ornaments the boys made when they were small.

The cat is fascinated with the tree lights. He can't believe his eyes when they go off, and he's amazed when they come back on. As far as he's concerned it's magic.

This time of year usually makes me pensive and a bit sad, but this year I haven't struggled with that. It may be because we have so many windows that there's not much chance of light deprivation. It may be because we have many more social contacts here, or that we have the satisfaction of being independent for the first time in years. A deepening meditative experience is also helping me keep my emotions on an even keel.

But then, who could be sad? The mountains are covered with snow, the air is full of the sound of wings and bird conversations, from the Fee-Bee of the chickadees to the honking of the neighbourhood Canada geese. They fly back and forth twice a day, honking like New York cabbies. The quail cluck and do a little "half-crow", much like chickens. They scratch industriously in the snow for seeds and fuss over blades of grass. A crow flew overhead yesterday and panicked the quail. They must have thought the crow was the hawk who hangs around, picking off a bird or two every day. In their blind panic the quail flew into the windows, into the side of the trailer, into the front of truck. The hawk need not hunt, all he need do is wait for one of those foolish quail to knock itself out.

It's been a time of being filled...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Going to Seed

You've no idea how much I am enjoying my new bird feeder, though you are probably getting tired of me chuntering on about it endlessly. But I am really enjoying it! (Did I just say that twice? Guess I did.)

Today's new visitors were a pair of magnolia warblers, wee little things, smaller and sleeker than a sparrow, with brilliant yellow breasts and heads and black and white wing bars. They have a lovely song.

At one point the yellow warblers and the hoary redpolls, with their deep pink caps and breasts, were at the feeder at the same time. With a handful of natty little slate coloured juncos as counterpoint it was a pretty color combination, made all the more attractive by their darting movements and bright eyes.

We got a chuckle out of two quail this morning. They were standing beak to beak, then hopped up to bump their chests together repeatedly. Maybe this is a courting ritual, or maybe they were having quail fisticuffs, but it was highly amusing to watch.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Book Tag

For a bibliophile and book publisher this game is close to heaven! I got the idea from Susan and send my thanks!

Book Tag:
The rules are: Grab the book closest to you - Open to page 123 - Scroll down to the 5th sentence - Post the text of next three sentences on your blog - Name of the book and the author - Tag three people.

The closest book is: Birds of North America. Well, that doesn't even have paragraphs. Next; one from my own press, You, Me and Myasthenia Gravis; Third Edition. Dear, dear, page 123 has a table listing medications. Okay, third book wins:

"In the morning after breakfast he started back to the village, and when he passed the site where he had left the float camp he sounded the whistle and the Scottish granny and the children rushed out of the house to wave and call to him. After that he saw no one: he passed no boat." I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven

BTW, this is one of my favorite books and is literally falling into pieces from being read, read and reread. Like a four-year-old I love a familiar story and read my favorite books time and time again.

I tag: SMM; and Mandy;. Okay I know it says three but my blogging circle is small....

Two Beautiful Words

Two of the most beautiful words in the English language are "working toilet".

Gary the RV guy came yesterday. I had just fussed around with the system enough to find out that our dump line (4" diameter and 20 feet long) was full of uhhhh.... effluent and frozen solid. Together Gary and I removed the full, frozen hose. It shattered into shards of blue plastic in our hands, leaving us holding cores of uh.... best not say.

We then wrapped heat cable around the new hose, wound heat cable up around the dump valves and against the bottom of the septic tank, hooked it all up and wrapped everything in styrofoam or fibreglass. The trouble light went back in under the tank and we closed the skirt up again.

This took a good hour and a half, and it was dam*ed cold disgusting work, but it paid off. Gary is going to the Caribbean next month and today we have a working toilet. sigh Such a simple thing. A tank, a hose, a little valve you open, a little avacado green toadstool of a thing in the bathroom. Three steps away.

On another subject Salvador has decided that walking on frozen snow is not so bad, though he is ready to come home after 10 minutes, rather than the 45 he took before. He's now lying on the table bird-watching. Once we get a sunny day I'll try to get pictures of some of our feathered visitors. I tried but it's so overcast every bird appears grey in the resulting pictures. Not worth the battery juice and effort.

Think I'll just go LOOK at the toilet. Admire it. Pat it approvingly. Sweet talk it. "Nice toidy, lovely avacado green toidy, sorry I said you were horrid and ugly before, I was in a bad mood and my chakra was in a knot. I really do love you."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Surmounting Cabin Fever

Our new bird feeder is providing excitement and entertainment for the cat, oh and me too of course. As I said before the first birds arrived two minutes after I hung the feeder in the apple tree eight feet or so from the front door. In two days the birds sighted at the feeder include a red-shafted flicker, dozens of slate juncos and hoary redpolls, several chickadees, a downy woodpecker, too many quail to count, and heard again last night but not seen, a great horned owl.

Salvador reached the limit of his endurance for being housebound today despite the snow and -8 degree weather. He'd been bouncing off the walls all day. Cabin fever took over and about 3:00, he leapt out the door and took himself for a short walk while I talked to a new set of neighbours who arrived night before last.

He walked around the trailer, investigated the storage shed's "news" corner and checked for monsters under the picnic table. Only then did he break and run for the safety of carpeted floors and an MEC sleeping bag.