The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

29 January 2016

When worlds collide

I've taken to listening to BBC world news while cataloguing at work.  I've been wanting to write about it, as it touches on a few of my favourite soap boxes including language and vocabulary but I'll leave that for another day.

At 10:30 Sohoe time BBC world news has a half hour program about sport. They begin with the footie, then cover the cricket and the tennis, sometimes the auto races and whatever else may be going on in the world of sport.  Imagine: a whole half hour of in depth sports coverage with nary a mention of hockey! Or American football!  Heavenly.

Then, as if that wasn't enough to make a footie-mad cataloguer giddy with glee, at 14:30 Sohoe time is a program dedicated entirely to world football. It's such fun, with interviews, behind the scenes transfer news, FIFA shenanigans, tournament updates, national league updates and so on.

Just now, moments ago, the world football program mentioned the English Premier League club Chelsea.  Frank Lampard used to play for them (now for New York City FC). As I listened to the program, I was cataloguing a book by Frank Lampard, and it's about soccer. It's called Frankie's magic soccer ball: Frankie vs. the mummy's menace. The cover shows three kids dressed as ancient Egyptians playing football in front of the pyramids.

Footie and cataloguing.  All is right with the world.

28 January 2016

A dull and dry chuckle

Cataloguer's humour:

From the title page:
"An original retelling"

So... a complete fabrication? Nothing at all to do with the original?
Is it ever "a word-for-word retelling of the original"?

Cataloguing may seem a dull and dry task to many people, but I spend most of my day in silent dialogue with authors and publishers, quietly chuckling to myself at flowery praise and implausible plots, or muttering under my breath at the librarian who chose to purchase such a book.

Just the sort of thing I enjoy.

23 January 2016

The week that was

On Sunday: Cooking rice and yet again scorching the bottom of the pot.
A scorched pot sitting on the front step in a snowstorm takes half an hour to completely cool down
The lingering odorous effects of scorching a pot takes a good week to dissipate.

On Monday: Remade rice dish leapt out of the container at lunch and landed in nooks and crannies of the armchair at work, and playing no favourites also all over my lap. While duck walking to the garbage bin  I left a rice trail much like the bread crumbs of fairy tales. Alas, no Prince Charming or helpful forest animals to be seen. Just me on hands and knees, picking individual grains of rice off the carpet.

On Tuesday: Cataloguing is dangerous work. I notice papercuts too numerous to count (because I can't be bothered to) (facts ruin a good story) and the development of a perma-claw, the result of hours of scrolling and clicking of the mouse.

On Wednesday: Day three of The Bathroom Saga.
Due to faulty grout and really old tiles, the wall around the tub is absorbing moisture. My landlord called on Sunday to let me know the contractor would be there Monday morning to start what should be a two day job. I spent the evening packing up all the personal stuff one has laying about in one's bathroom and preparing an overnight bag in case I needed to stay with the Nuts. I got home Monday to discover he hadn't been there at all, Tuesday was the same, and by Wednesday I'd given up rearranging the kitchen and rolling up the rugs to make way. I found out on Thursday that he probably won't be here until next Wednesday. Or Thursday.  So I've decided to leave my stuff about, and if he actually shows up, he can deal with it.  A girl needs her stuff!

Thursday: Taxes.  I have a woeful ineptitude when it comes to understanding numbers. Also a paralyzing fear of phoning official people in order to make appointments, gather information, or get bad news. (It's ok... I'm in therapy)  A recent kerfuffle with last year's taxes led to a pressing need to phone a scary government agency to confess my numerical sins. Utter relief to have it dealt with, a plan in place. I have confronted the monster under the bed, and by shining a light upon it have discovered it is no more than a paltry dust bunny.

Friday: Speaking of dust bunnies: what's with the drifts of dust all over my apartment?  Maybe all those phone calls for duct cleaning weren't scams after all. Huh.

17 January 2016

Snow falls to earth

One of snow's great charms is when it drifts and swirls out of the sky, landing softly on the ground with a gently increasing icing-sugar effect. The atmospheric delight of it, how it sets the scene of picture-postcard perfection, and how it enhances the warmth and coziness of home very nearly makes enduring the reality of snow possible.  It's snowing?  How pretty!  Time for a cuddly sweater, hot cocoa, and a book in front of a roaring fire.

I sat looking out the front door as I ate my morning oats (slow-cooker oatmeal... delicious!) and thought maybe my retinas were detaching. I've heard when that happens it's like dots floating in front of your eyes.  I was seeing dots, but only barely... a suggested whisper of dots. The dots took a straight line to the ground, like they were pulled by gravitational magnetism, and in lonely singles, as though they'd been let go one at a time from above. There was no physical evidence of them on the ground, but as I approached the glass door to look more closely, I could see that the dots were in fact snowflakes. Wee ones, to be sure, but weighty enough and determined enough to not waste time on their downward journey with drifting and swirling. They must have landed with enough force that they disintegrated into nonexistence.

In the time it took to rinse my bowl, text mom about Carmelites and almonds, and open the laptop, the singles of snowflakes have multiplied. They're now falling with purpose from the sky in clans; so many of them that their shattered remains are now evident on the ground. It may takes many hours, but there will eventually be actual drifts of snow and people will leave footprints as they walk the road beyond my window.

My understanding of how snowflakes come to be may be on the fanciful side: drops of moisture typically fall to earth as rain, but colder temperatures makes the drops playful. They leap and swirl, and gambol around in the upper reaches of the sky. Their time spent twirling and dancing alters their crystal garments, making them resplendent, telling a story of their adventures.

These snowflakes of today are too purpose-driven and time-pressed to spend any time at all on their crystal garments. They're falling to earth in their every-day wear. They might have been in the midst of gardening or folding the laundry and said, "We've got a lot to do, Esther, so no dilly dallying. Let's just get there.

I want to live my life in such a way that my garment is chock full of sparkles.

12 January 2016

Of winter roads and Canadian bridges

The Lighthouse is in Canada, as you know. As you probably also know, Canada does, from time to time, get winter. Not even Sohoe, where I live, escapes entirely.

Winter landed on us with a thud overnight. I woke to a winter postcard tableau outside the front door, meaning the front steps needed clearing and the car needed scraping.  Ahhh... scraping the car... every Canadian's favourite winter hobby.

In most of the rest of the country, folks deal with winter enough - the arctic temperatures, freezing rain, mountains of snow, slick and slippery roads - resulting in sensible, practiced drivers.  In my neck of the woods, a wee bit of snow is enough to make people lose their minds, outraged at what nature hath wrought, huddled in layers, and utter menaces on the roads.  Probably because of brain freeze.

I think Those Who Decide decided to hope that noon-time sunshine would melt the snow, and so did not send plows out to clear all the roads.  Where I live the roads are swoopy and windy, through gullies, up hills and down hills. The swoopy and windy roads are also narrow, leaving no room for error. Or for skidding on ice.  Or for getting out of the way of a fish-tailing pickup hauling a trailer with his baby snowplow in it. Those Who Decide didn't count on it continuing to snow beyond the appointed melting time, making getting home as much as fun as was getting to work.

As someone who used to live in the land of Winter before making good her escape to Sohoe (where 'winter' is a charming concept we dabble with now and then), I spend the first few days of winter driving every year encouraging other drivers under my breath with "it's only snow, you can do it! It's only snow, you can do it!"

Here are some winter car facts you may not know:
~ winter requires a whole 'nother set of special tires. That's why we don't spin out all over the place when we drive on slick roads.
~winter also requires a brush/scraper contraption, supposedly designed to remove ice and snow from hood, roof, trunk, and windows of car, but always seems to cause said ice and snow to make itself at home on my coat and trousers, and inside my boots.
~salt.  Salt everywhere. Salt turning the side of the car grey and then rubbing off on the calf of your leg. Every single time.
~pushing the seat back to make room for Big Winter Coat bulk.
~remembering to factor in an extra 10 minutes to warm up the car. If you live a litter further north, you actually plug in the car overnight to keep the battery warm.  If you live even further north, you bring the battery into the house overnight, and when you get to the store you leave the car running.
~you know it's cold when you sit in the car and the seat doesn't give one little bit. It's like perching on frozen cement.  Nice, eh?

Thinking of being Up North brings to mind a story that's been in the news the last couple of days.

The story takes place in a little town called Nipigon, It isn't the sort of place that would be known of, in the general way of things, but it just happens to be the place where one half of Canada meets the other half of Canada.  Not because it's the middle point, or where some political breakthrough took place. It is literally where the eastern and western portions cross over to the other. It happens on the Trans Canada Highway, which in that part of the world, is the only highway.

Canada is a large country - the second largest, in fact. In population, though, we are quite small (a tenth, I think, of the US) and  much of our land makes for very uncomfortable living. This has resulted in the bulk of us living within a hundred miles of the 49th parallel and the rest is left to wild, wide open space. That, combined with unendingly long and unendurably harsh winters, means we are not building roads far and wide.

And so it is that there is but one road that skirts Lake Superior, and but one road joining Ontario to Manitoba and that one road passes through Nipigon.  Every Canadian who has made the trek across country knows Nipigon and the bridge over the Nipigon River. No matter where you start from in Ontario, more than half of your journey to reach that bridge is going be be through the North Country... Canada in it's wild state, unpopulated, unsettled, largely untouched still, making it easy to imagine what it was like for the first settlers as they battled nature for survival. It's a full day's driving to cross the province, 12 hours from Toronto, 13 from Ottawa, and 13 from Sohoe.

Imagine then, that you have planned your trip. You are appropriately provisioned, and you are mentally prepared, for the isolation you will experience requires hardiness of mind. You've left in the weakest morning light and arrive long after sundown because you are now so far north that the sun gives up earlier, curling up somewhere warmer before trying again the next day. Then you find out the bridge is broken.

That's right, the bridge is broken!  This happened for real.  It's a new bridge, hardly driven on and it heaved. Or buckled. Whatever it is that bridges do when they break.  It seems it was made with Japanese bolts.  Japanese bolts don't like the cold, apparently, and they, like the sun, decided to give up early.

If you consider the transporting of goods, the travel of tourists, and the daily lives of folks in Nipigon, that bridge is vital. The nearest alternative route is at least six hours away in Sault Ste Marie, and that route takes you through the States, meaning you need a passport, and a change of currency - a painful thought in this time of the below-70-cent-Loonie.  How this happened I do not know but I truly do feel for all those who found themselves stranded in Nipigon just as winter is hitting its stride.

The mayor of Nipigon was on the radio, talking about how the residents of his town were throwing open their homes, providing food, shelter, and fellowship to stranded travelers. Isn't that lovely?  It might be colder than cold up there, but the people are warm and kind.

06 January 2016

The sliding scale of time

When I was a young person (and by young I mean under 20) it never entered my mind that the world would exist into the next millennium,  or that I would still be alive after 30. I couldn't picture myself, or imagine what my life would be beyond my 20's.

Here we are now, well and truly into the 21st Century.  It is 2016; sixteen years beyond the potential end-of-all-things of Y2K.  Sixteen!  The year 2020 is just around the corner, with 2025 knocking on the door of the near future.  Doesn't the number all by itself sound unfathomably SciFi?

Think about how the world had changed between 1880 to 1925.  Electricity, telephones, long-distance travel, to name only three things, had jarring and far-reaching effects of daily life. Fashion, even, went through drastic transformations in that period of time.

If you look at your own life, what it looks like from the outside and how you experience it, do you think it has altered as much?  We (mostly) all have telephones in our back pocket and have the potential to heat food in 30 seconds flat, but beyond the superficial, I don't know that we've had the same surge and scope of change that they did in the same amount of time back in Yore.

(Pardon the tangent... I got to thinking of a book Mark Steyn wrote in which he discusses contemporary man's lack of innovation. I think he's on to something.) (Back to your regularly scheduled...)

Time keeps ticking along, and calendar pages keep flipping over.  I'm beyond the oldest age I used to be able to imagine for myself, and "the future" is here.  I don't feel terribly different from that young thing I used to be, though the me of today wouldn't sleep on the church basement floor during a youth group fundraiser if you paid me a fortune (even if prorated for the cost of living), and I  constantly find myself making comments about "kids today!" and how the doctor must be all of 12 years old.

Have you ever noticed how there is  innate beauty in youth?  Brand new people are beautiful simply because they are brand new. Its particular brand of beauty is tender and delicate and hopeful, and it's  heart-aching. It gives way to the years and becomes something deeper, sturdier, individual because how we live those years is like the sculptor's chisel, and no two strokes of the chisel are the same.

(Another tangent.  Perhaps 2016 will be a year for tangents.)

To the me of Yore, time stretched endlessly and distantly ahead of me.  On the first day of school, summer seemed to be a lifetime away.  When I was 5 I thought I'd never turn 10, and when I was 16 I couldn't turn 18 fast enough.  These days, I'm positive that with all the monkeying about with Daylight Savings, someone has taken an hour or two away from every day, and possibly an entire day or two out of every month.  For sure and certain we've skipped at least a year since 1995 because how on earth is it possible that it is already 2016?

At this rate, by the time I wake up tomorrow morning it will be February already.