Friday, June 16, 2017

Ticked off

It’s Sunday, May 7, 2017.  I’m currently in a coffee shop on Portage Avenue, waiting for a toasted cinnamon bun to go with my coffee.  I’ve just come from the Living Prairie Museum on Ness Avenue, a small nature preserve within Winnipeg city limits.

I have also just terminated with extreme prejudice a small brown bug that just crawled out of my hair.  It looks suspiciously like a tick, specifically the kind and I intend to wrap its fingernail-mangled, dismembered corpse in a napkin and take it with me for medical forensics in case I discover any mysterious bites on my person suggestive of Borrelia burgdorferi infection.  Hopefully it’s the only…

...Oh, bloody ‘ell, there’s another one of the little blighters.  *mangle*

And a third.  *crunch*

Okay, it’s official:  I am not a happy camper -- or hiker, as the case may be.  That said, I knew this job was dangerous when I took it.  I’m fully aware that May is tick season, and although I’ve never actually sustained a tick bite I harbour a profound dislike for that particular insect genus.  I’m on a far less malevolent footing with mosquitoes and wasps, in fact.

I went out for a walk on the tall grass prairie anyway.

There is a poignant phrase from The Soulforge by Margaret Weis:  “If we stop living because we fear death, then we have already died.”  This is something that I strive to live by, believing as I do that we get one life per customer and that the quality of that life is directly proportional to the amount of responsibility we assume for its disposition.

If I decline to go for a Sunday stroll in the open air because I fear ticks, then something in me is gasping for breath -- not dead yet, but not fully alive either.  I can choose my battles to some extent, calculating risks and minimizing overt stupidities, but hiding indoors on a sunny spring afternoon is not an option.




And now it’s Sunday, June 11, 2017.  I’m sitting in a different coffee shop, this time one on Academy Road.  I’m on my way home from a stroll at Fort Whyte Centre and seem to have escaped unscathed.  All I did was take reasonable precautions, wandering down the center of the Lakeside Trail and back to the entrance via a floating boardwalk, staying out of heavily overgrown areas.

If I had acquiesced to the fear I wouldn’t have heard the birdsong, a dozen unfamiliar tunes.  I wouldn’t have been able to stop and smell the wild roses, which are everywhere.  I wouldn’t have seen the bright yellow lady’s slippers lurking by the side of the path, lying in wait for unsuspecting bugs.  The main insects I did see were some ground-cruising blue beauties (damselflies, I think), one larger dragonfly in a holding pattern at 1,000 mm, and some gregarious butterflies.  There was a family of Canada geese in one of the lakes, an occasional duck quack from somewhere in the marsh, and bison in the field beside the access road.

I had a good time.  Better yet, the post-excursion check-over did not reveal any ticks or in fact any other bugs hiking across my person.

It’s entirely possible that on some future stroll in the woods, some minuscule wildlife will hitch a ride home with me.  If and when that happens, I’ll just deal with it and keep going.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

One step at a time. Just one step at a time.

One of my major struggles has been the quest to renovate my home.  It’s considerably less of a struggle now, as most of the big-ticket items are done deals:  I have a new 200-amp electrical board, two renovated bathrooms, an upgraded kitchen, new plumbing all the way from the water meter, and a new garage.  Last year I demolished the old front steps and built new ones.  So far this year, I’ve had several problem trees removed, had the parging fixed on three of the exterior walls, and constructed a large planter in the back yard.

Where I fall down on the job is when I have to finish up something that is functional and not really causing me any problems.  For instance, there’s some woodwork in the main hallway that isn’t quite done.  It’s aesthetically lacking, but it isn’t something that I’m crashing into or stubbing my toe on.

One problem spot is the hallway on the second floor.  New light fixtures, new paint, old floor that’s partially replaced.  This is something that one can stub one’s toe on, and it looks less-than-optimal.  I’m moving forward on this, bit by bit -- the next sheet of plywood is purchased and partly cut, with the next piece now upstairs awaiting a few measurements to fine-tune it to the space it needs to occupy.

I’m now closing in on another uncompleted project, applying oak trim inside the kitchen window frame to give it a more finished appearance.  I had been stalling on this for a number of reasons:  Didn’t want to spend money on the trim, wasn’t sure if I would do a good job cutting the trim and would have to purchase replacement pieces, didn’t like leaning over the kitchen sink to cut the cardboard templates necessary to get accurate measurements.

Guess what?  Not long after writing the first draft of this post, I went out to buy the materials.  Then I  made some long strips out of a couple of file folders.  Then I grabbed a step stool and leaned over the sink, lined up the strips with the inside of the window frame, and made a few creases at the inside window corners.  Then I transferred the template markings to the wood I had bought.  Then I took the wood downstairs and sawed, planed and sanded until each piece had the right shape and size.  Then I glued each piece into place, and stood back and admired the work I had done.  In other words, the kitchen window is now almost finished; it just needs a touch of wood filler and then a coat or two of wood stain to complete the job.

I constantly have to remind myself that projects are comprised of thousands -- yes, thousands -- of tiny steps.  I also have to keep reminding myself that it’s not fun to keep looking at the same undone work day after day.  It’s not healthy for self-esteem to be reminded of one’s failings, especially if the fail can be attributed to inaction rather than “Hold my beer and watch this!” derring-do.  Sometimes you just have to give it a go, even if that means cutting a board, swearing under your breath when you realize you cut it two inches too short, and jumping in the car to go buy another one.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cleanup on Aisle 9!

I am finally seriously getting back into writing, after a 6-year hiatus in which I was blogging but not really working on other projects.

As part of this process, I've decided to go through TSG and do a bit of tidying up.  This blog is staying put, at least in the short term, but a lot of old posts are going to be "disappeared" permanently.  If nothing else, it'll be a nice stroll down memory lane as I decide what to keep and what to toss.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Einherjar Fitness is open for business.

My somewhat sudden rediscovery of fitness, triggered by an urge to go cross-country skiing one Sunday morning back in January, is still going.

This is weird.  This is extremely weird.  In fact, it seems to be getting worse -- or better, rather, as it's been a positive boon for my overall health.  I'm losing weight, my right foot hurts less, and I no longer randomly topple sideways when attempting to tap dance in the living room.

For whatever reason, I seem to have become addicted to a wide variety of individual sports and body-mobilizing activities and am thinking of trying even more, with the intention of creating a well-rounded routine:
  • On Sundays I go out somewhere that has lots of trees and trails and wander around for a while (utilizing skis or snowshoes if the weather permits).
  • For the next few Tuesdays I'll be taking a swimming course, in the hope of making my swim strokes a bit better, and have reserved Tuesdays as Swim Night till Icelandic classes resume next fall -- whereupon Swim Night will just have to be some other night of the week.
  • Thursday night is Gym Night, but it could just as easily become Bouldering Night, Canoeing Night, Skating Night, Historical European Martial Arts Night, or something even more bizarre.
The symbol I've chosen for this madness-in-progress is the Einherjar, or Lone Fighter -- Y'know, those inordinately brave dead chaps who get a first-class ticket to Asgard via Valkyrie Airlines.  I'm sure team sports are a lot of fun, but there's something special about going it alone and knowing that it all depends on you.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unpacking spring

*THUMP*

(Springy G stumbles down the stairs, yawning and rubbing Her eyes.  She opens the front door just in time to see a large truck rumbling northward up the street.)

Ah, good.  It's here, right on schedule.

(tries to drag an extremely large box through the doorway into the sun porch)  Nnnope.  (fetches utility knife from kitchen junk drawer and cuts tape on top of box, then reaches inside)

Okay, let's see what we've got here.  One package weird weather, check.  One package assorted seeds and bulbs, check.  (smells milk chocolate and inhales deeply) Bag of Easter Bunny Chow.  Rampant Geopolitical Silliness expansion pack?  Oh, that's for Tiamat.  She asked Me to order it for Her to save on the shipping.  Okay game, I guess, but way too many wild cards.

(pulls out a pair of tap shoes)

-- Oh, dear.

(reaches all the way to bottom of box and pulls out a flute, a bass clarinet, a pruning saw, a pair of hiking shoes, a swim cap, and a dental appointment card)

Oh, dear.  Someone is going to be busy this spring.

(starts gathering up stuff)  Best of the season to one and all! If you need Me, I'll be in the living room working on My shuffles and ball changes -- because a  tap-dancing goddess can't possibly make the world any weirder than it already is.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Elvispeggios

How do you know when your music harmony classes are finally starting to "stick"?

When you're working on a band piece called A Tribute to Elvis and you've taken a pencil and marked up the 12/8 triplet arpeggios in "Can't Help Falling in Love" with things like "G," "Bm (iii)" and "Em (vi)."

How do you know when your parallel love-hate relationships with arpeggios and metronomes are paying off?

When you can play those suckers.  Mwahahaha!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Springy G Versus the Pool Noodle of Doom

Over the years many people have said many things about Me, but never let it be said that I back away from a new experience.  I am, in fact, the poster kitteh for that unfortunate cat who was killed by curiosity.

I have a whole bunch of mottoes, but one of the front-runners is this one from composer Virgil Thomson:
Try a thing you haven’t done three times.  Once, to get over the fear of doing it.  Twice, to learn how to do it.  And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.
So this evening I tried to figure out how Aquacise works.

It sounds simple enough:  Go to pool.  Change into bathing suit.  Jump in pool and flail about for a while, trying to keep time to the music.

Nope.

The problem, as I see it, is that I am an overly buoyant goddess.  It's hard to keep time when Your feet won't stay on the bottom of the pool.

Now, about that pool noodle...

When warmups were over and we started into the deep-water part of the class, we each were given a flexible cylindrical fiendish thingie to use in the exercises.  If this had been a judo tournament or a rodeo, I would have been eliminated in the first round because that razzafracking flotation device kept dumping Me.  When it wasn't sneaking out from underneath and bobbing to the surface while I fell sideways in the opposite direction, it had Me doing involuntary ballet moves en pointe or trying very hard not to stick a foot in My ear.

Maybe I'll just skip tries #2 and #3 and go straight to rock climbing or biathlon instead.