Category Archives: this and that

Time

Time’s a funny thing. How long would you say three minutes is? Not very long, right? Not much you can do in that time.

But actually, I’ve recently been surprised by just what you can get done in that time span.

A friend of mine gave me this beautiful handmade microwave heating pad. It’s filled with flax seed, which makes for a lovely, comforting smell when it’s heated. Because that’s what you do with it: you pop it in the microwave for – you guessed it – three minutes, and then you cosy up on the couch and let it warm your back or your lap while you slowly wake up to the day. Or really, two minutes, and then you flip it over and do one more. But I’m usually lazy and just hit the 3 and let it buzz away.

But then I need something to do until those three minutes are up. I don’t want to sit down on the couch to wait, because it’s not enough time to get comfortable. So I putter around the kitchen.

This morning, I got a dozen jars of marmalade labelled and put in their box to go downstairs to the pantry while the pad was heating. If you’d have asked me, I would have sworn that task would take at least ten minutes. But no, I got the last “Marmalade 2020” written on the lid (first canning of 2020, how fun!) before that beep sounded.

It’s funny – I had the labelling of those jars on my mental list as a “job” to make time for before heading out for this year’s February trip to Europe. A much bigger deal than it turned out to be. And the reason I know it didn’t take long is that I had the microwave buzzing away for exactly those three minutes, giving me a clear and objective measure of time.

And then of course there are those times when you’re sure that you’ve only spent three minutes, but in fact it’s been half an hour…

Life, the Universe, and the Fluidity of Time. Is it just me, or do you have those experiences too?

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The Twelve Days of Christmas…

…start tomorrow, Christmas Day. Twelfth Night, which is one of my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays (especially the 1996 film version with Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley), was written for a Twelfth Night party, the celebration to mark the end of the twelve days of jollification that in Ye Olde England(e) was the true period of Christmas.

Incidentally, I was just listening to Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and he mentions the Twelfth Night party, too, when the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge around to see people celebrating:

…the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of it, until they left a children’s Twelfth Night party, when, looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he noticed that its hair was grey.

(from The Christmas Carol on Project Gutenberg)

Unlike in most film adaptations of the story, the Ghost of Christmas Present doesn’t just give Scrooge a single day’s worth of celebration, but good ol’ Ebenezer gets a condensed version of a span of almost two weeks. If that hadn’t cured him of his bah-humbuggery, there really wouldn’t have been any hope for him.

So, remember I said there’d be a surprise coming your way? It’s a twelve day long surprise! And it starts tomorrow…

Life, the Universe, and a Christmas Surprise! Just one more sleep…

amovitam_Christmas Ornament

 

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#WordlessWednesday: Christmas Pyramid

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#WordlessWednesday: Autumn Cat, or: Please Let Me In

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#WordlessWednesday: #Socktober

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Catching Up (“All the World’s a Stage” etc.)

Yes, I know. It’s been a while since I put up a proper post.  It’s been such a busy spring and summer, with all those summery things like harvest, and trying to keep up with the garden (I didn’t), and food processing, and several major family events/travel opportunities. (As I said on Twitter a while back: while having your family living a long ways away can be a pain in the rear, visiting them does make for good #amtravelling occasions).

I’ve been back home for almost a month now, but it took me several weeks to feel I’d “arrived home” again. I landed, and hit the ground running – well, stumbling-staggering-falling-on-my-nose, more like. But eventually, I got caught up on the jobs that were waiting for me, processed another couple of boxes of peaches (and fended off the clouds of fruit flies that inevitably moved in with them), did a massive grocery run to refill the depleted freezer, wrote a new chapter of my latest WIP for my critique group, and so on and so forth – in short, sort of settled back into normal life, whatever that means.

But it’s been a lovely summer – so many great memories. If you’re connected with me on social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook), you’ll have seen some of the pictures of our adventures (yes, Steve was there all along, too). I just got the newsletter from the Globe Theatre in London – yes, “Shakespeare’s Globe” – and in my mind I was right back there, standing in the yard with the other groundlings, watching Pericles

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In fact, we went to the Globe twice, the Travelling-Companion-Offspring and I, on our three-day stop in London on our way to the aforementioned family event. We’d met with my friend Helen Jones – you know, the writer! – and had lunch at a pub just a few steps over from the Globe. Then we traipsed through the pouring rain over to the afternoon performance of A Comedy of Errors. When we booked the tickets before our trip, I was being wimpy and didn’t think I wanted to stand on my feet for two hours, watching the show. So we’d shelled out big £££ for the privilege of having seats, under cover, while the groundlings (standing-room tickets) in the open yard had the rain dumping down on them (many of them had on cheap rain ponchos from the gift shop that said things like “Hey, Ho, the wind and the rain” on the back). It was a wonderful performance. There’s something to be said for watching Shakespeare the way it was meant to be played, on a stage jutting out into the open yard, no curtain, no fancy scene backdrops – just the actors doing their thing, and doing it so very well indeed.

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Then the next day, I got to hang out with my wonderful friend Louise (E. L.) Bates, who came up from Cambridge for the day. We went to the Victoria & Albert Museum; then had a lovely tea, with scones and everything, in a tea room across from the British Museum; then on our way back to King’s Cross Station took a detour and found Bloomsbury Publishing (which took a bit of hunting, as their premises don’t look any different from any of the other houses in the square), and took selfies in front of their door. Yeah, well, writers, you know. No, we don’t fancy ourselves J. K. Rowling, but hey, we had fun. (Louise being from the States originally, and me from Canada, we tend to spend a lot of time going “We can’t believe we’re doing this! In London! Eeep!”)

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I dropped off Louise at King’s Cross, and met up with the Offspring again, and we looked at each other and said, “Should we go back to the Globe?” The groundling tickets only cost £5… So, yes, we went back. The tube train we went on got stuck (some accident on the line), so we pulled up Google Maps on our phones and figured out what other route to take (the Circle Line, getting out at Southwark), and we arrived at the Globe ten minutes after the performance had already started – but it didn’t matter. We paid our £5, snuck in the side door, and stood under the warm, darkening summer sky not ten feet away from the edge of the stage, letting the company take us away to Tyre and Tarsus and Pentapolis… I forgot about my aching feet, forgot about the sandwich I had in my backpack (there hadn’t been time to eat supper before the show), forgot about being jet-lagged and exhausted. This 400-year-old play, in a replica of a 400-year-old theatre, has as much power to move as it did when it was first written and performed.

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The next day we went to see Buckingham Palace, just because I wanted to be able to say I’ve seen it. Okay, now I’ve seen it. It’s BIG (bigger than it looks in books and TV shows), and the crowds of tourists milling around in front of it were very touristy. Well, rocks and glass houses, dontcha know, so, enough about that.

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And then it was already time to head out to Gatwick Airport for the next phase of our journey, which involved family, and friends, and cake and bread and cheese and meat and Sauerkraut and shopping and cider and scrubbing bathroom tiles and riding a tandem bike around Munich and celebrating and conversations and coffee and cooking and… In short, all those things that a family visit usually entails.

And after three weeks of that, back on the plane, and a head-first dive back into our everyday Canadian lives…

SCENE: Western Canada, a living room.

AMO, sitting on couch with laptop computer. Enter stage left, STEVE, a small stuffed bear.

STEVE: Why dost thou waffle on incessantly?

AMO: ‘Tis needful, small and fluffy animal.

Yon readers, waiting there with bated breath

For great effusions of my warbling wit

These many moons have been deprived.

I must…

STEVE: Oh, whatever.

Yeah, I don’t think the Bard had to contend with a Steve in his life. But the bear has a point – I think this is enough for now. So here’s me, exit stage left, pursued by a bear.

Life, the Universe, and a Summer full of Living and Travels and Shakespeare. All the world’s a stage…

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#WordlessWednesday: The Canadian Backyard Tiger in His Jungle Habitat

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