24 February 2012

California Dreamin'

It snowed last night. Again. Grey skies, white ground, grey slushy roads. There was nothing else for it, I had to pop the Mamas And The Papas album into the car CD player and listen to "California Dreamin'" all the way to town and back. And I was going to moan, snivel and whine about this weather to you today, but then I realised that the more I think about it, the more depressed it's making me. So I won't.

Just yesterday, I heard a spring bird chirping outside my window. And the snowdrops are still going strong, with the crocus and daffodil shoots making an appearance just a few inches over from them, too. It seems winter and spring are really duking it out this year. Winter is probably trying to make up for its initial reluctance by excessive February tenacity. But, alas, it's a losing battle; winter is doomed. It's just trying to make me feel some of its gloom before it goes. So I'll look at my California pictures and blow a raspberry at winter, because I know the sun will be back eventually.

And then I was thinking about this phrase, "duking it out". Aren't there some kind of rules for boxing matches that were first written down by a duke of some sort? Queensberry Rules, I believe. Oh, no, wait, Queensberry was a Marquess. Wrong sort of aristocrat, one level too low for a Duke. But higher up in the ranks than Earl Grey and the Earl of Sandwich, whose inventions were far more useful to humankind than a set of regulations for which part of the body you're allowed to land a blow on.

Life, the Universe, Seasons and Sandwiches. I know which aristocratic inventions are highest on my list. Do you take milk in yours?

17 February 2012

Lucifer and Ice Worms

The other day, my propensity for reading historic fiction prevented a potential accident. Really! I was driving down the road, listening to Felix Possak's warbling on the CD player. He's got a medley of a couple of World War I songs, which starts with "It's A Long Way to Tipperary", and then goes into "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag" - and that's when I nearly drove off the road. You see, I'd never really paid attention to the words - have you? This is how it goes:

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag
And smile, smile, smile,
While you've a lucifer to light your fag...

While you've a WHAT to light your WHAT?!? But then, with a lag of only a split second, my historic-fiction-reading filter kicked in, and I straightened the steering wheel with nary a twitch and we continued rolling down the road on our merry way instead of being marooned in the ditch as we might have been otherwise. "While you are in possession of a MATCH to light your CIGARETTE", that's what that means. Rather more innocuous than one might think.

Incidentally, my other favourite song on that CD is "When the Ice Worms Nest Again":

There's a husky, dusky maiden in the Arctic

And she waits for me but it is not in vain,

For some day I'll put my mukluks on and ask her

If she'll wed me when the ice worms nest again.

In the land of the pale blue snow,
Where it's ninety-nine below,
And the polar bears are roaming o'er the plain,
In the shadow of the Pole
I will clasp her to my soul,
We'll be happy when the ice worms nest again.

Ah, the romance! Ah, Canadian culture and folklore! Ah, the tender chirping of the ice worms as they nest in their charming arctic ice nests, gathering ice worm fodder for their little ice wormlets! Incidentally, the song ends with the singer being creamed over the head by his sweetheart with the ham bone of a bear because he stayed out too late and didn't come home to their igloo until half past two in the morning. Serves him right, I'd say.

Life, the Universe, Lucifers and Ice Worms. I suggest the reading of historic fiction to keep you safe on the road.

13 February 2012


This one is for Bonnie Heather, who was asking today if it's springtime yet. Look what's blooming beside my front door! Aren't they lovely? Yes, spring is on its way, even though just a few feet over from the snowdrops there's still a dirty patch of the white stuff that gives them their name.

I planted the bulbs for these little beauties last fall; I finally remembered to get some and actually put them in the ground. In the last few years, every spring I'd go "Gee whiz, I forgot to plant spring bulbs again!" but this year, I remembered. And then had to replant the poor things once or twice, because the cats figured that handy spot beside the front door, right against the wall of the house where it's protected from the snow, must be meant for a litter box for them. Grrrr.

I'm not a good gardener; really, I've always had a bit of a brown thumb. When it comes to remembering to actually look after the plants, it's usually something along the lines of "Oh dang, you're dead! I suppose I should have watered you before now..." (What does that say about me that I don't talk to my plants when they're alive, but only when they've gone to their lack-of-watery grave? Hmm...) But there are some things that I've managed to grow over the years, and, if I may say so, the fact that they're surviving against the odds (meaning "me", who is, admittedly, quite odd at times) makes them all the more special.

I'm especially fond of spring flowers; there is something so hopeful about them. So far, I've had crocuses, which are very lovely, but as I said, the snowdrops were a long-time wish. The crocuses are only just starting to poke up out of the ground (you can see their little shoots beside the snowdrops in the picture), so it'll be a good month before we see blossoms on them. They'll be the colourful harbingers of real spring, but the snowdrops are like a promise that winter is winding down, and spring won't be far behind.

Life, the Universe, and Snowdrops. Yes, Bonnie, it's springtime, or at least it soon will be.

05 February 2012

Going Grey

I've been progressively going more grey. Actually, my first grey hair ever I found when I was 24 (which was, umm, some time ago). I pulled it out and carefully preserved it in my journal with scotch tape. However, that one grey hair was the only one for quite a while; the silver didn't start proliferating until a few years ago. My daughter one day, around Christmas time, said "Mom, you've got tinsel on your head! Oh, wait..." (That's a rather festive way of looking at it, isn't it?)

And then yesterday, I was in a conversation with someone, and he said something like this: "As we get older, we see more of the grey areas in life. And I think there is much, much more grey than there is black and white." That, gentle reader, is profound. As the greys on our heads multiply, we also (if we're healthy people) start to see more of the grey around us.

And grey, let me tell you, is an important thing. Remember that chiaroscuro I've been waffling on about some time ago? It's impossible without grey. You need the grey in between the blacks and whites to give shape and depth to your image. In art theory, it's called the halftones. What we call black-and-white is, actually, shades of grey; it's not often you actually get full-on black and full-on white in a picture. You can, of course, and it's very dramatic when you do, but you lose most of the shape and practically all of the depth.

And now I'm wondering: is there, perhaps, a connection between our society's insistence on women, in particular, colouring their hair, not letting the grey show, and a general unwillingness to see the depth and roundedness of life as a whole?

Life, the Universe, and Shades of Grey. It's all in the halftones.