The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

29 March 2016

Of oversized beans

In the dying days of 2015 my journey to work took me along the edge and over the big bridge before heading inland toward the waterfalls. This happens to be a portion of the route connecting The Centre of the Universe to The Border. This means that vast numbers of large trucks go to and fro along this stretch of highway.

Do you find them mysterious, those large transport trucks? I do. What could they be lugging from one end of the country to the other?  Sometimes we can see their cargo of shiny new cars, or they might be carting pigs to market (let's not think of where the pigs really are going), but what of the enclosed trucks.  Are they full of bicycles? Socks? Q-tips? Limes? Mmmm... limes.

The particular trucks had open beds carrying very large...somethings... strapped down with giant-sized bungee cords. Each truck was part of a procession that included a police car with lights flashing and a pick-up truck bearing a sign: OVERSIZED LOAD. The oversized bits looked like segments of a concrete tunnel large enough to drive a car through.

Every day I would see at least one of those processions, if not on the way to work, then while heading back home. Sometimes it would be while driving home from visiting the Nuts, and that route is a straight line down the centre on a rural route. Were they following me? Was it all a figment of my imagination? (I'd been spinning stories about what the pieces were for, everything from a jail break tunnel (I don't let facts like there being no prison in the area stop a good yarn from being spun.) to a tunnel under the lake  for cyclists.

Then one day, to my surprise, I noticed a tower far off in the distance - like a cold war remnant outpost . Being a clever girl I deduced the giant concrete rings I'd seen booting along the roadways were components of the tower, but it wasn't until the next day I saw the tower was becoming a wind turbine, and that the horizon was littered with them. It's like they were planted in a wind turbine garden and the garden blossomed overnight - like Jack's magic beans.

I'm not sure whether wind energy is safe or efficient, or what the long term effects are on people or environment. I do think, though, that the turbines themselves are beautifully sculptural, especially from a distance. There is something pleasing about their steadiness, and their link to the past for they bring to mind the charming windmills of yore. I marvel that they make the invisible,visible and harness what happens naturally for our use.

I wonder what else might suddenly appear on the horizon one day?

08 March 2016

Of living on the edge and Bruce Willis

I used to live in the middle. It was a geographic oddity: 20 minutes from everywhere.  Now I live on the edge which is 20 minutes from ... more edge. I didn't think it made much of a difference, but I recently discovered how a person experiences this region I call a Slice of Heaven on Earth very much depends on whether you are a middle-dweller, or an edge-liver.

One of the differences has to do with Sohoe being part of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The canal has 8 locks for shipping traffic and 8 lift bridges for road traffic. When going about your day in the middle, you become accustomed to seeing very large vessels travelling next to you, and you learn pretty quickly to either check bridge status (is it up? Do I have to find a way around? Where is the way around? Rats, I should have brought snacks.) It's cool to see this tangible evidence of how our small and relatively out-of-the-way neck of the woods is connected to the rest of the country. Not only that, but is a vital link in the well-being of the rest of the country.

Living on the edge, however, I may see the big boats out on the lake but other than lending picturesque interest to the scenery, they have no impact on how I go about my day.

Then last week I decided to visit Historic Town and chose a meandering route (we pronounce it 'root', not 'rout') that took me into the interior. What a shock to discover the waterway was dry! And being dry, I could see that the canal is actually quite shallow. It was almost disappointing: here I'd been imagining the ships (boats? lakers?) with massive hulls reaching deep, deep, deep into the water. Instead it looked almost like a tall person with a scuba mask would be able to walk across the canal bed and still be able to breathe. (Perhaps a leetle beet of dramatic license here)

I got to imagining all sorts of calamities that could lead to an emergency emptying of the canal - and as I drove further it turned out to include each of the locks as well. How had I missed hearing of this massive drought? No, surely not... a water leak, maybe? Collision!  There'd been a collision which resulted in catastrophic spillage of something environmentally frightening!  But how could I not have known this devastating thing happened? Ought we to call Bruce Willis to save us?

As I paid more attention I began to notice construction crews decked in day-glow safety outfits swarming over the structures. If there had been a noxious spill of some sort, surely hazmat suits would be the uniform of the day?  A niggling thought began to grow that this wasn't a dramatic event at all. And sure enough once I got home and did an internet search it turned out what I witnessed was regularly scheduled maintenance work coinciding with the annual winter shutdown of the canal.

Rats. We don't need Bruce Willis for that.

07 March 2016

Of bullets and journals. And office supplies!

When you read the words 'bullet journal' do your eyes light up and do you have a reflexive impulse to reach for your washi tape? Or do you mentally go through the 12 steps of an addiction recovery program, giving thanks for having got out of the BuJo craze with sanity intact?

For those of you who's first thought was along the lines of "huh?", a bullet journal - or bullet journaling - is a life style devoted to...

I'm kidding.  Sure, if you do a web search of 'bullet journals' the results will give you page after page of blogs devoted to them, and YouTube is overflowing with people eager to show you just how they bullet journal. (Yes, it is both a noun and a verb.) You wouldn't think there could be that much to say about it, but there you go... I'm sure there are many dozens of channels devoted to this very thing and their videos are long.

What exactly is this bullet journal business? Well, let's being by talking office supplies. More specifically those office supplies designed to help organize, schedule, and track all the nitty gritty facets of life: agendas, notebooks, actual journals, blocks of sticky notes, calendars and such like. Do you ever find yourself standing in the store flipping through all the many varieties of agendas and notebooks monologuing about how you don't need a list of international calling codes, nor even, fun as it may be, a world map of time zones, but could really use more blank pages for all the lists you tend to write (the lists that include tasks already completed so you can cross something off. Ta da! I am efficient and productive in manner of terribly organized person.) Or perhaps you like the daily layout of this agenda but that one has a better monthly format? And what about the other one that is very nearly perfect but it's slightly too big and has a soft cover in the most vile shade of purple ever seen? And after careful selection you find yourself still writing lists in multiple notebooks and stuffing the agenda with sticky notes.

Bullet journaling is ... hmm.  Well, it's a system, I suppose. (I was going to say way of life) It is an endlessly customizable tool, to your precise specifications because you're the one who designs the layout, what goes into it, and how you run with it once you've made the choice of what notebook to use.  There is no special (ie. high-priced) 'official' journal you must use. I've seen tutorials and blog posts from people who use expensive German notebooks but also regular issue find-it-at-the dollar-store notebooks.

The idea is to set up what ever yearly, monthly, weekly, daily calendar pages you need, as well as keep lists, jot reminders, record special events, track goals, document expenses or any ol' thing that might be important to you.  There are certain elements that are common to bullet journals that make bullet journaling a 'thing' and distinguish it from a typical store-bought organizer. One is having an index, another is having a standard set of symbols to quickly inform you if a notation is a note, a task or what have you. While that may not sound like the bee's knees, once I thought it through I cottoned on to how brilliant it is.  Of course, the cottoning happened days after I first saw how some people were bullet journaling and near passed out from the anxiety attack.

You know how some people put their photos in an album but some people get all scrapbooky about it with the stickers and 3D embellishments and the perfect calligraphy? Well, there is a large contingent of bullet journalers who have bedazzled journaling to a whole 'nother level. They doodle like they have a PhD in doodle arts. They calligraphy as though taught by a medieval monk. Did you know there is such a thing as decorative tape? There is! Pretty sticky tape in gorgeous colours with designs in the Country Chic, or Barnyard Cute, or Modern Minimalist styles meant to make putting borders around your pages a breeze.  There is even an industry now that supplies notebook add-ons like ribbon bookmarks and pen loops. It seems there is no end to the possible embellishments possible, though I do believe there are people who are working diligently and hard to find that end.

And then these extreme bulleters give viewers or readers a tour through their most recent month of journaling. This is an actual thing people do!

I'm all for being organized. The Lord knows I have a thing for pretty office supplies. I look at some of those pictures and videos and think, "Gah!!" I mean, they sure are talented people and the results of their labour are gorgeous, but it stresses me out! I don't have Copperplate penmanship, I cannot doodle, and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if I have to decorate a title page for every month (remember having to do title pages in elementary school?  Again, "Gah!") as well as make every single page pretty in colour-coordinated inks, I'd get no further than the middle of the first month - and that's being generous with myself.

The saving grace of all this is that I found a blog post today in which the author encourages moderation and keeping it simple. I love keeping it simple!  I realized after reading it that I am already using some of these principles in my current agenda, but now have ideas for how I might eliminate the proliferation of notebooks and sticky notes... as well as have some fun with whatever creative impulse happens to strike. I sure am tempted to buy a brand new book to give this a whirl, but in the spirit of keeping it simple I'll stick with what I've got.

Do you BuJo?  If so, are you extreme?  If not, are you the tiniest big tempted to find out what it's all about?