August 13th, 2012


12. Putting the 'toil' in...

The wasps, I doth hate them. Once last week I was taking out the refilled hummingbird feeder and one was on top of me as soon as I stepped outside. I only had time to set the feeder on the railing (instead of hanging it up) before retreating. It drives me nuts how they bully the hummingbirds, too. If I had protective gear, I'd go out and try to skoosh them every time I saw one.

Since my last post, the time has been punctuated by more visits by cousins (all of the children of my youngest uncle were here at once, a rare occurrence) and getting to know another family that is down here for the same reason I am, for their matron is also facing illness.

It's been interesting getting to know this other family - they are all very intelligent, and fortunately they are also kind enough not to be difficult to be around. j/k I've been down at Andy's several times while they've been here and we've shared our stories and experiences. Andy's friend Josh has been around too - I think he's a natural storyteller, because he can get everybody onto a narrative and the laughter from his audience is as free as the falling rain. [One of the family wrote about their visit, check out the post!]

For my part, I don't really tell stories very often. I ought to - I've had enough experiences. In my younger days I'd think nothing of a little exaggeration and invention but these days I think it's far more important to tell the unvarnished truth as I see it. And so I don't tell nearly as many stories now. I see my prospective audience bore almost as soon as I open my mouth. But I'm pretty good with one-liners. In fact, I even irritated one of my new friends on this: "Are you going to join our conversation, or are you just going to sit there and toss in random volleys?" The words "peanut gallery" were thought by me, then said by him, rather derisively. I was very tired at that time, though, and I was just waiting to walk this friend and my cousin back home. My cousin understood, but he's known me longer.

One thing I realized that I just have time to barely touch on - we have a tendency to reduce the complexity of reality, and sometimes we go too far. Some of us never get beyond an 8-bit view of reality, and we might even be lucky to get there. Even as I was trying to get a foothold in science, I was desperate for it to affirm my simplified (if not simpleton's) Conception of Things. I don't even want to give examples from my life - it's beyond embarrassing, really. As a child, I explained oh so many things loudly and wrong, and as a so-called adult, I hung onto a few of my tracts. Well, no more.

I also want to, sometime, write about my sense of self as it was when I was a kid. People laughed with me, laughed at me, loved me, but I don't think anybody really understood - and I'm not entirely convinced they would now, though at least I have a convenient label. (But beware again the low-resolution view of reality that such labels reflect.) I was allowed to go completely off the rails - as the seasons passed, I spiralled into a deeper and deeper pit of denial and dishonesty. Well, at least I got enough love not to be completely dead.

On another night I visited my cousins' mother's camp by the river. The lengths the youngest of the cousins went to to wash her face and brush her teeth before bunking down were quite impressive - she should probably be among those to colonize Mars. We all sat around a fire and I got to talk to one of my cousins' cousins, a fellow I hadn't seen in at least a decade. He was an auto body guy, so we talked about cars with ease. When he heard what I was driving he said "Well la de da," but that was before I told him that it'd seen a lot of Nova Scotia winters. There's a similar car that's a model year older that I see driving around Sherbrooke - it's bright red and looks in better shape than mine.

Speaking of, our neighbour did repaint the door. It doesn't quite match, but it'll serve. I just need to get it through one more winter (for school) and after that I don't really care because I'll be able to work in any old place and get another vehicle if I have to.

I was talking about my IT program and how there was a little more BS in it than I'd like. I remembered and talked about how I railed against our web development teacher when she suggested that we ought to scan our parchments and certificates ("This certifies that Will Matheson attended the Dean-Student Forum and may even have said something though we can be certain that he availed himself of the free pizza.") for our portfolios. It just struck me as kind of tacky. The only reason I wasn't forced into it was that some people didn't have any certificates yet ("Congratulations to Will Matheson for completing the first grade with a major in marginalia drawing."). If you can imagine. But another reason I'm against it is that our education (especially at a vocational school!) is reflected in what we can do, not what absurdly expensive pieces of paper we've collected. It's a shame we can't return our degrees for a partial refund - I know I certainly would.

I was going to write about the ordeal with the cottage toilet but the writing carried me other places. It suffices to say that I was stressed out most of Friday and I was running around the village trying to find supplies - buying (and returning) Drain-O, trying to find a snake to borrow and finally buying one. My cousin, who'd been staying up there, put in a good half hour or more with the plunger after I'd given up. I later used the snake, but to dubious effect if any, though I did pull out a rusty nail.

Then my elder uncle arrived and I told him what had happened. He explained that the toilet will only suffer an absolute minimum of use. I went up to the cottage again, and finally the toilet worked again. I guess it just needed time. "Sometimes it does that," several people affirmed. I think that if I hadn't tried flushing the toilet (I saw a few flakes of white in it when I was up there returning the washed linens, and I didn't want my uncle to see them), nobody would have noticed any problem because it would have cleared itself up anyway by the time my aunt and uncle arrived. So all I did was stress myself out and get myself off my feed for the next little while.

I've been reading A Song of Ice and Fire voraciously - I'm onto A Clash of Kings. It's a great great read, but it's going to be impossible to talk to other people about until I finish it as far as it's been published. At the rate I'm going, though, it won't be long. With most books I'm always eyeing the page numbers and disciplining myself to read x more pages before putting the book down. With these I hardly ever do that. My favourite character is Tyrion (the Imp).

It looks like my grandmother is going to be going back to the hospital. [Yep, she went.] She can get more help with her nausea there, perhaps. At least they have the space for her. She'd go to Halifax again to try to get a pancreatic stint again, but only if they can keep her there overnight, and last time they said they couldn't and she had a hell of a ride back. Do you believe that every last bed at the VG or the Infirmary was occupied? I don't, but life is more complicated than that sometimes.