Edmonton is known as the magpie capital of Canada. Birdwatchers count between 2,500 and 3,00o of the black and white birds in the city each year. Of these, one in 1,oo0 may be a ghost magpie. The ghosts are grey where normal magpies are black. They have a mutation which prevents the pigment, melanin ( responsible for the black color) from being formed and deposited in the feathers. The condition is known as leucism and does not confer any particular advantage to the magpie. If anything, it's a disadvantage and the ghost magpies may find themselves "picked" on. The birds are not albinos who would have no pigmentation and red eyes as a result. Ghost magpies. They sound interesting so I'm keeping my eyes open. Thanks CBC where I heard about the one sighted in Edmonton today.
Last week, my tulip came out. I say it singularly because some years, it's been the one tulip or even none. This year spring has been so early, windy, and dry. The weather pattern seemed stuck on warm with gale-force winds sucking moisture from everything. I even watered my tulips a couple of times. The water sort of stayed on top of the soil and I don't think it sank in much. The rhubarb was up and I carried some water to it. The recent snow-rain mix is a boon. Wildfires can be contained and fewer will be started. It's early enough for farmers seeding, for gardeners. The lawns are all green and the poplar leaves are out. We now have a great start to an early growing season. It needs to warm up and when it does, the plants will pop. My hope is that now it has rained/snowed, we'll have rain later on and the drought we feared won't develop.
NanoWriMo is, of course, National Novel Writing month. I have created an account and twice, failed miserably. What you have to do is write 50,000 words in the month of November. This means around 1,700 words a day which isn't a ridiculous number BUT you do have to do it every day and if not, you have to get some extra in, if writing is impossible some days.
Confession: I get around the 25,000 word mark, I get behind, I give up. There are all kinds of motivational aids, on-line forums, a graph to record your progress, etc. The problem is I don't just want 50,000 words so I can say I 'won', I want those words to make sense and by 25,000 words, I am seriously losing my grip on the story.
I decided to see where last year's effort went off the rails. Confession: I didn't outline or plan but just sat down and started writing. There are people who this works for and although I would like to think I'm one, I'm not. My Prologue went on for 12 pages or around 3,ooo words. It introduced 13 characters and had trucks firing up to start the day all over town. Yikes. Today, I started to organize the work, including some kind of structure and gasp, outline. I blush to think I read this to my writers' group and expected, if not accolades, well, compliments. Parts of the 25,000 words are well written but that's far from enough to create a novel. I'll have to reign in the impatience and work really hard. Even then I may have to discard everything.
I confess I have a ping-pong mind. It sort of bounces from topic to topic, memory to memory. Today a combination of the weather and getting some birthday money into a card for my grandson led me to a long ago piggy bank incident ...
It wasn't even spring; it was fall but the weather was grey like it is now and we had been "trapped" on the farm for harvest. The harvest was in, my dad finally had a day off and a chance to relax. Wonderful except that there was absolutely no money. The crop was off but the grain hadn't been sold. In the day, merchants in our small town "carried" us and families like us from harvest to harvest. Once Dad sold grain, he'd go to town to settle the bills.
But I digress. Everyone wanted off the farm. Long pre-television days, movies still had a magic that nothing today approaches. Dad and Mom consulted with my brother and I - it was unanimous. We would crack the bank. I remember the four of us taking the coins out and counting together to see if there was enough money to 'see a show.' There was and though this might seem like we were poor (maybe we were), my brother and I remembered our childhoods as some of the best days of our lives. Ping- and then...
Each year for the last 32, Consort, sponsored by the Hospital Auxiliary Society, has put on a farce. The population of Consort is 722 (thank you, Wikipedia) and if you aren't acting, you are doing something toward the evening. This year money raised will be designated for purchasing equipment and supplies for long term care residents and staff.
The play, itself, was delightful because I knew what to expect, a farce, set in New York and featuring the requisite misunderstandings. The local actors do an admirable job; in places reminiscent of Harvey Corman in the Carol Burnett Show, one of them would crack up the rest of the cast.
No spoilers but the finale involved everyone scratching and rushing for the shower. When they reappeared, the policeman wore a toga, one of the other men was swathed in a gigantic towel and another had leopard print underwear. The women wore various bathrobes. The misunderstandings were finally cleared up and the lights went down.
Kudos, Consort. An entirely enjoyable evening for a wonderful cause.
Technology and the internet are connecting us all and the world is shrinking. Although this is true, my cousin's daughter encountered complete strangers, to her, by a serendipitous chance. She was, with her daughter, on a school trip to South Africa. An elderly English couple on the same flight got to talking with them as people will, when the flight is long and the entertainment has been exhausted. They discovered she was a Trefiak from this area and were beyond excited. John and Mary Thornton introduced themselves to my cousin's daughter, and explained the connection. My mother, who was an orphan, had lived with Mary and her family for four years. They had come to Canada for a visit thirty or so years ago and we had taken them to the Battle River. Gary barbequed huge, bloody moose steaks and they devoured them with delight. John went goose hunting with Gary and remembered the hunt still. I'm not sure why this couple in their late 80s, John may even be 90, were making the long trip to South Africa but it was a joy to hear about them. It is a small world.
Now I remember why I seldom shell out to see a movie in the theatre. Unless, (and even sometimes then), they have won an academy award, I am going to be disappointed. Because I was in Edmonton, and there is a wider choice of films (using the term, loosely) to see, my kids and I chose to go to 10 Cloverfield Lane at the Princess.
I can't lie, the opening scene is effective. We all jumped out of our seats as a young woman crashes her car. The initial impact and screeching, grinding sounds at high volume have your attention. In the next 20 minutes, everything goes downhill, for the heroine and the plot. 10 Cloverfield Lane is slow except for the really loud noises when something or Howard, her abductor, comes in. Is Howard right? Has he kept her safe from the "bad" air and aliens?
Spoiler- kind of. It's just that he's a psychopath and will kill her on a whim if she doesn't follow the rules. Finally, after making a Project Runway-type haz mat suit from a shower curtain and a Go-Go Gadget gas mask from two pop bottles, all held together by duct tape our heroine, Michelle, escapes to battle the aliens. She makes a molotov cocktail from a paper towel fuse and a whiskey incendiary (whiskey found in Howard's truck). When the alien anus is close enough, she throws it in. Fire, explosion, smoke, sound. Done. 10 Cloverfield Lane is the second of the Cloverfield franchise. I will not be paying to see the third.
You'd think after 44 years, there would be rudimentary communication between my husband and me. A simple clarification would have saved me some stress and embarrassment. It's tax time and we are taking our "records" etc. to an accountant for the first time in years. There are a variety of reasons, the main one being that they might be a little complicated for our usual
method. My files are are their usual mess of bits and pieces and manila folders. They needed to be organized and I was sure my husband had said he was making an appointment for us to meet with the accountant on Tuesday, April 5th. With Monday being April 4th and my normal penchant for working to deadlines, I had an early morning dose of stress as I organized my records. It wasn't that big a deal but I normally procrastinate, so...When I was finished, my husband somehow "communicated" that the appointment would be for April 11th. I was a week ahead of deadline!
In the meantime, I had texted my son asking that he get everything I needed ready for Tuesday, April 5th which involved him scanning and emailing the necessary documents. I had to text him at work to explain he could get his receipts, etc. to me a week later; there was no urgency...except I texted the student I am tutoring. Red face and a text to my son that he actually received.
Communication is key. I'm going to work on it and maybe listening...but, nah.
although I know they are total pests, their pure joy at being above ground in the sunshine is unequaled. I met a pack of humans out on the walking trail, strolling along enjoying each others' company and the lovely weather. Mud and run-off puddles have mainly dried up. The grass is brown still but there are catkins on the poplar trees and my friend tells me the crocuses on her hillside should be out by Tuesday.
Maybe there is one more defiant huff from Old Man Winter but that's all it will be. The sun is strong and the air has a new quality. The sparrows know. Spring is here.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.