Work disguised as a Gift

The world would be a nicer place if everyone understands that I do not cook. I reheat, blend, toast, and occasionally boil.

Giving me a huge amount of produce with the expectation that I will carve out time from my regularly scheduled nap/crochet/reading/sloth/kid/dog time is not a thoughtful gift. It’s just not.


Here, There & Everywhere $

Last night our city withstood a terrible windstorm. Some homes fared better than others; ours are intact although a fence came down. No big deal, right? Wrong!

I live in a city. I don’t have access to post diggers, circular saws, or any other fence repairing/replacement tools. I also have no skills in that area. There was a time when I could count on the men in my family to instinctively know what needed to be done in any outdoor situation, but that’s no longer the case. These days I hire out. Hiring someone is not itself a panacea; you have to hire the RIGHT person with skills and integrity. Not an easy find. My go-to resource is usually There you can find all manner of trades and read their reviews too. And then yesterday my confidence in this site was compromised! It turns out that lots of people who post glowing reviews are not real customers. And the negative reviews are often not even posted. So there is another level of scrutiny I have to go through: now I have to pay attention to how many reviews a certain company has, to make sure they are real reviews. After all, who could falsify over 100 reviews? Don’t answer that rhetorical question.

Luckily we know a ‘fence guy’ who has done great work for us in the past. I texted him (all hail the mighty text!) and he called back quickly with an estimate and ability to send someone over today. But the price tag was too high for us, so Husband and I needed to find a different solution. It isn’t a matter of calling a neighbour to help us out; no one else around us knows what they’re doing either! The solution we came up with was to pay the fence guy to install a temporary fence for the winter. This will be done today, considerably cheaper than the option of completely replacing that side of the fence. And the debris will be cleared too. Used to be we had to get to know our neighbours and make friends in the community so we could pool our collective knowledge and help each other. Now we have to develop a roster of trustworthy tradespeople while surrounded by less skilled, less honest ones.

This past weekend I went to Alberta to attend my little bro’s wedding. He’s a plumber/steamfitter in a small town, so his life is very different from mine. I’ve always prided myself on my physical strength and ability to figure out how to ‘make do’. What a shock when I realized this weekend that I don’t remember how to do anything outside the usual house cleaning and very minor repair. Used to be I’d have confident support of men and women in my network around me, to help figure out a solution for whatever outdoor problem had arisen, but no one else around me now has that skill set either. Weird.

This weekend I remembered a lot of sights and smells of my childhood, which was incredibly comforting. I hadn’t realized how removed I am now from my roots. I work in an office, I have lily-white hands, I studied English Literature, I manipulate words. I occasionally pay others to do manual labour at my house. We had a new door installed a couple of weeks ago, by a handyman we know. Despite all of this evidence, I still believed I was a down-to-earth, can-do-it person. I mean, I can write the absolute shit out of a technical document or anything else sent my way. But that’s all so…intangible a skill set. My abilities seem so imaginary; made up, even. I know that’s not true, but compared to the skill of putting up a fence, I doubt I would survive very well in a post-apocalyptic world unless someone needs a written manifesto.

The sun on my face

At this time of year, each sunny day is a rare blessing. The dogs and I wandered around on the beach, recognizing that today is wonderful.

Remembrance Day has come once again. A few years ago I was standing in Normandy, at Point de Hoc in particular, gazing at the water and marvelling at all of the evocative scenery and landmarks. There are bomb craters still left there although they are now covered in grass. We investigated the bunkers, taking in the details such as the charred walls. The whole day was sobering and impressive. The beautifully maintained monuments in the American cemetery (I really think we could have eaten off the platform on one of them), the perfectly groomed grass around each grave marker, the American employees speaking heavily accented French but speaking it nonetheless, were all part of a very rich experience.

Later this morning I’ll head to girl midget’s school for their ceremony. Boy midget’s school has something this afternoon. I’ll probably go to that too; it isn’t often I have the time and inclination to attend these school gatherings. Besides, much more noble to attend ceremonies honouring veterans than to rake leaves, even though the latter is more ‘productive’.

Default Setting

Why do some people immediately think the worst scenario is the most likely? Why do others expect sunshine? I’d love to know, so I can program my midgets to be optimistic survivors instead of grumbling disenfranchised curmudgeons. These 2 options appear to be the only ones available.

Also, resting bitch face: the face you wear when you are walking alone and thoughtful. Also the face you wear when paying at the register, sitting on a bus, or doing some shopping. Some people when not actively smiling, look miserable. I made the mistake of asking a passing woman if she was alright because her face looked contorted in pain. She took great offence and told me maybe there is something wrong with me to be poking my nose where it doesn’t belong.

Oh also I went out on Sunday morning to use an ATM. There was a man I front of me at the door, holding a full laundry hamper, a laundry sack, and a drink. So of course I tried to help him with the door. And of course he yelled at me for a few minutes afterward. The gist was that he doesn’t need my help and I had startled him, and I need to back off. I hadn’t realized my presence was so menacing.

Even though evidence suggests I’m bothering people with my ‘helpfulness’ I shan’t be deterred. So look out neighbours, I’m coming to your aid!