The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

29 February 2016

Of nuts and tea in China

The Lighthouse was begun as a way of documenting life with the Nuts - my wonderful nephews as well as their Mama and Papa Nut. At the time, the five boys ranged in age from 9 down to 1. There were high-jinks, much laughter, lots of fun, and the occasional tearful episode. Leap ahead to today, and Number One Nephew is on the cusp of 16 while the 'littlest' boy will soon be eight years old. I'm glad to have all the stories to look back on, for it truly was a most wonderful time and I know I am fortunate beyond measure to have had a share in their daily life for those four years. (My brother-in-law is a patient and generous man!)

A year ago the Family of Nuts welcomed a bundle of pink joy into their number. Five big brothers fell in love with a sweet baby girl with absolute delight and wonder. This weekend we celebrated Little Nutlie's first birthday and I tell you, that delight and wonder shows no sign of waning in the slightest.

Time passes and life changes... and I wouldn't trade today for yesterday for all the tea in China (though I'd come close to it to have them in my lap for snuggle time with books again)

16 February 2016

Of snow berries and book lists

There's something about a snow day that feels magical. There's less hustle and bustle for one thing... less scurrying about. All sounds are hushed, packed in snowflakes like cotton batten.

Taken with my phone so colours aren't clear: the
berries are very red. Evidence of
construction in the background.
There is a little ornamental tree outside my window, its sculptural limbs bend and twist in a maze-like fashion.  Even now, the branches carry dots of red berries, startlingly jewel-like against the backdrop of white blanketing the rest of the world.  I love how snow draped on the branches lends artistic interest and even a touch of mystery to an otherwise ordinary tree.

It's a snow day.  School buses are cancelled. When the supply system called at half past dawn this morning I let the phone ring. The radio was full of reports of cars in ditches and frozen roadways in my neck of the woods so I'm hunkering in for the day. I foresee books and pots of tea.

Not so for the men finishing work on the Bathroom Project of 2016.  What's a few inches of snow when there is tile to be laid?

Though there has been no update in ages, I have continued to work away at  The Great Reading Project. I reshelved a few of the books I'd been reading this morning, and thought today would be a good time to revisit The List. The crossed out titles were read as of the previous update; parenthetical notes indicate those read since.

Small Island  - Andrea Levy
Inferno – Dante (Now complete. Interesting note: the bookmark I was using had a picture of a polar bear and penguin on it. Hell will freeze over.)
Heart of the matter – Graham Greene (Completed... but I read End of the affair instead.)
The Snakepit – Sigrid Undset
Sound and the fury – William Faulkner
Man and woman – Alice Von Hildebrand (Completed)
The Cloistered Heart – Nancy Shuman
Invisible man – Ralph Ellison
Masterful Monk (series) – Owen Francis Dudley
Shepherd’s castle – George MacDonald
Last light – Terri Blackstock (I read a different title instead.)
84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff (Completed. Several times.)
Gift from the sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Unlocked – Karen Kingsbury (I read a different title instead.)

15 February 2016

Hold the dog; double the rum.

So cold.

Can barely type.

Send the St. Bernard.

Actually, never mind the dog, he'll just want walking. Just send rum. Lots and lots of rum.

11 February 2016

The sun rises

I'm watching the sun rise over a construction site.

I used to watch it rise over the ridge - the Niagara Escarpment - but the empty field across the road is being developed. I'm happy for the people who will be able to live in this wonderful, sleepy little town because of it, but I am sad that day by day my view of trees climbing the hill is turning to a view of culverts, pipes, and eventually walls and rooftops.

I'm watching the sun rise because today is the day, finally and at last, that the contractor will be here to redo the bathroom.  This sounds very grand, I know, and you are no doubt picturing glossy magazine spreads of luxe spa-type principal ensuites, and Mike the bare-armed "Do it right the first time!" man.  The truth of it is that water has been sneaking behind the tiles in the shower. When I brought it to my landlord's attention we agreed it was serious enough for a contractor and that I would have to resort to baths in the meantime.

And so began a month and a half of "It's happening tomorrow!" "Oh. No, it's not." "We've figured out the problem!" "Hang on. No, we haven't." "He'll be here Wednesday!" "Rats, the new insert is too big." (they didn't measure) and so on, until late last night, I got the call, "Tomorrow, 8:00 for sure!" Which had me once again rushing around to clean the bathroom (don't you clean before it's all torn apart?) and rearrange the kitchen as it's the direct route between front door and construction site.

For added fun, for two weeks or so since the moratorium on showers, I had to boil pots of water on the stove for bathing as the mixer had gone kerplunk.  Let me tell you, one day is charmingly old fashioned but by day three you realize that no amount of Mr. Darcy and his beautiful Pemberley could make up for hot running water.

It was the cry of "Tomorrow!" that had me up before the birds this morning. While I have reached the point beyond which I am no longer interested in the conversation (a West Wing quote), I am grateful to be sitting at my desk at this early hour to watch the glorious changes in the light as the sun came up, embellishing the torn up field with hints of soft gold and tender pinks. Even the scars in the earth look beautiful in this light.

The doorbell is ringing.  Here we go!

02 February 2016

Have you learned your something new today?

In case you haven't, I'll share these things I've learned today:

Most people set their alarm clock for 6:30 AM, but also, most people are not fully awake until 9:40 AM.  Think of the safety hazards! The excesses of caffeine! The morning meetings absolutely nobody is paying attention to!  Yikes... the somnolent driver in the car beside you on the 401! Wouldn't it make more sense to just not get up until 9:40?  Or, let's pretend to be civilized and make it 8:00.

The British are still very British, even in this post-modern era.  In a discussion of rapprochement, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and all things scary in the Middle East, the interviewee described the Saudis as being 'jolly unhappy'. Once again, understatement wins the day.

In the same vein of Britishness, a news report told of Chinese airlines resolving to fine passengers for 'boorish behaviour'.  It sounds so jolly English, doesn't it? I can't imagine an American using 'boorish'. Or 'rapprochement' for that matter.

January 23 was National Handwriting Day.  Rats; I missed it.  I've entered it into my calendar for next year, and will celebrate it with a surfeit of letter writing, fountain pens and ink.

It is common for weddings in India to have 2,000-5,000 guests.  Can you imagine?  I mean... can you imagine???  They also go on for 3 - 5 days, and can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bride's family will even pay the airfare of their guests.  I heard of one with 11,000 people costing three quarters of a million dollars.