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Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn is Subtle... northern alberta. we don't see the
brilliant blaze of red touched with gold that eastern canada gets. there's the occasional flash of red in a tree, but reds this far north like to hug the ground, and are more common in shrubs and undergrowth. gold is the most predominant autumn tree color here, framing the darkening green of spruce and pine. by winter the evergreens appear almost black - a combination of coniferous heredity and failing sunlight.... this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago, just as the leaves began to turn.

the trails through the city centre follow a ravine shaped over the years by a muddy little creek. cyclists, pedestrians and wildlife meander back and forth across it on numerous narrow foot bridges. i haven't counted the bridges, but i'd hazard a guess of a dozen or so. the potential for under-bridge dwelling trolls is huge, but word hasn't reached the trolls yet... maybe they don't like the climate - or perhaps i'm unfairly stereotyping trolls. maybe they don't all terrorize travelers, demanding a toll to cross the bridge. still, i think of trolls every time i cross a footbridge.

the asphalt paved walking trails are strewn with gold. forsaken leaves lay at my feet in the bright, sun like shining pieces of eight on the dark surface of the path. more leaves whisper overhead as the fallen crunch underfoot. an occasional golden offering drifts down. we're at the halfway point of autumn now, with trees still beautifully garbed in brilliant color, and the earth scattered with brilliance.

there's a large, lone manitoba maple on the landscaped lot of an apartment building near me - brilliant gold with trunk and branches of jet. the grass surrounding it is still very green, as we've had rain for most of september. beneath the tree is a perfect circle of gold, a brilliant spotlight on the lush green, and against the upright black trunk of the tree. the maple's solo performance - its season premiere, against the darkening sky.

as summer exhales her last breath, the air redolent with moist earth and ripe berries. so thick and rich and sweet with scent i marvel that i can see through this dense aromatic, invisible olfactory fog.

there's frost every morning now. the world wakes, yawns and stretches. the first morning rays of gold pour over the horizon and prickle the edges of leaves and twigs with sparkling astonishment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

puppy = love

this small, hairy (i'm told it isn't fur) quadruped is teaching me some lessons. perhaps i learned them once, and have forgotten.... after all, i did raise 4 children, who seem to have survived the ordeal without major psychological damage. surely they taught me some of these lessons.

so far, he's taught (or reminded) me about:

forgiveness - when i get distracted and don't watch him as closely as i should (puppy trainers will tell you, "out of sight = in trouble") and i scold him and put him in his kennel for something that he really hadn't been told was not allowed - he comes out of his kennel wagging his tail, and glad to see me. it may be just the puppy equivalent of 'goldfish memory'. maybe he's already forgotten the incident, and he's merely glad to be let out. but he seems to learn very quickly not to do these things again, so i don't think they're forgotten. just forgiven.

acceptance - though he'd much prefer to be out romping all day, he philosophically accepts that i spend most of every day at a desk or working at the ReStore. he very quickly learned not to complain about it; he takes a nap under the desk until i'm ready to go for a walk. then he's delighted to go for a walk, with no recrimination.

hospitality - he's the friendliest creature i've ever met; always glad to see everyone, regardless of age, race, social status or species. he does, however, have a soft spot for puppies (of any species)

enthusiasm - whatever he does, he does with his whole heart. even in a room full of puppies, he stands out as the one having the MOST fun. he's a blur of motion and wagging tail, racing from one friend to the next.

unconditional love - he doesn't care what my truck looks like, what my clothes look like, or how big my house is. he doesn't even judge me for the kind of food i give him. he just loves seeing me when he wakes up in the morning, always looks delighted when i call his name, and is sad to see me leave without him.

and he's doing a pretty good job of training me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

what next?

is it september already? yesterday it was july.

the dog sleeps contentedly on his blanket on the ReStore floor. he's a happy little guy. with occasional exceptions (like when he ate 10 inches off the corner of the love seat's cushion while i tried to hang some shelves in the bathroom) it's hard to imagine life without him now. this is a rare moment of calm... no customers at the store (no staff either, but that's another story), the phone not ringing.... a bazillion things i should be doing, that i'll get to.... but first, i'll savor the calm.


began with a holiday.... at least that was the plan. but just a few days before the scheduled departure date, for a trip to the Kootenays with a girlfriend, a staff member became very difficult, shouting at me on the sales floor, in the presence of customers and other staff (and my new puppy, who was terrified by the verbal violence and kept me up all night with his crying over it - the night before a live spot on a local morning radio show.... but that's another story). the employee was reprimanded, the situation was discussed, solutions to grievances were sought, and i thought we had the beginnings of resolution.... and the employee promptly repeated the performance in a matter of days. so, as i had suspicions that he was going to quit, and as he was the only remaining management staff while i took my holiday (which was very badly needed.... burnout impending.... was NOT cancelling or postponing) .... i opted for staying home for my 'holiday'. to be available, just in case.

then the fellow who'd assured me that he could do some renovation work on my condo dropped the ball. left me with a heap of old kitchen cabinets piled in the middle of the kitchen because they were too heavy for him to move. so i moved them. had to make room for the new ones. and he left a hole in the bathroom floor which he'd cut to check for dry rot and didn't have time to repair. so i repaired it. and a whole pile of other work that he assured me he'd do wasn't done. so i did it. over my 'holiday. 12 or 14 hr days of drywall mudding, sanding, painting, laying laminate, coordinating plumbers, electiricians, etc. ...and walked the very energetic (read 'psycho puppy') dog. by the end of the 2 weeks 'holiday' i thought, "i'll have to go back to work for a rest".

on my return to work on the 17th of August, there was immediately a series of days dealing with the aforementioned difficult staff member... sort of. he didn't come in to work, didn't answer calls, etc. and the new guy who was working under him came in to say he'd just taken a stick in his leg swimming in the river (12 stitches) and couldn't work. this got infected, and he was off for 2 1/2 weeks. also on the day of my return, my construction supervisor for our Habitat build gave 2 weeks notice. he'd accepted a plum job in Edmonton. and, of course, it was the end of summer, so the summer students would be gone in no time.

leaving me with one 1/2 time employee to run the ReStore (usually 3 staff plus myself) and complete our Habitat house.... organize volunteers, orientations, work shifts, meals, trades, donors, teams, services connections, yadayadayada for a 2 unit semi-detached house for occupancy by the first of December.

then, just as the summer students were leaving, they passed on the killer cold. i've been so sick. but interviews had to be done, new staff had to be hired, volunteers have to be recruited, scheduled, and kept on track. i should be jailed for spreading this monster bug around.... and i know i have......

haven't been to see my very elderly parents for several weeks because i don't want to bless them with this bug.... they've been in and out of the hospital all summer.

and just when i thought things couldn't get much worse, i found a notice in my mailbox telling me the electricity is going to be disconnected.... good grief!! when's the last time i paid the bill?! the summer is such a blur..... i can't remember.... must be a while! so i got it all paid online immediately, called to tell them so, and they disconnected me anyway.... because my bank doesn't give a transaction number for online payments, and they had no proof i'd paid.... i went to the bank personally to get a transaction number, as none was given at the time.... and was told "we don't do that." "what then," i asked in bewilderment, "is the point of making payments online, if i have no proof that i've made the payment?" this was met with stony silence, and will soon be rewarded with a letter to the branch manager.

bloody hell. it's cold here at night now. and dark. the dog - now a boisterous 25 lb of teeth and energy - doesn't like the dark, so i have to carry him up the dark stairs to his bedtime kennel.... it's that or drag him by the collar. he doesn't like those dark stairs. and i'd just bought lots of lovely groceries in celebration of the new kitchen. the fridge was full to burstin' with delicious things.... which have all spoiled. and more than anything else, i want a nice hot cup of tea to soothe my poor raw throat before i climb into my cold bed with my hot water bottle. fortunately, unlike the electric stove , fridge and tea kettle, the hot water is gas powered, so i comfort myself with lots of hot baths. it's a week today, with no power..... i was told 1 to 5 business days.... and of course there was a long weekend in there......

as i walked the dog the other day, i wandered down a new trail, and found myself in a neighborhood sporting houses all in excess of 4000 square feet. beautiful stone and brick work all over the place, perfectly manicured yards, 3 and 4 bay garages with numerous brand new vehicles parked in front of them. and i thought "i wonder how many of these people have ever had their power disconnected. or ever gone without anything at all..... and i felt a wee bit sorry for myself. but as i went a little further, and found myself back among the glorious autumn foliage of the trees along the creek, with the smell of the wild cranberries sweetening every breath, i remembered that i lived for years without power, by choice, in a log cabin along the Yukon River, and didn't consider it a hardship. and i thought of the millions of people in Haiti and Pakistan, whose lives are endangered by circumstances they have no responsibility at all for. all things are relative, after all, and my small inconvenience is, sadly, self-inflicted, and gladly, not life threatening and only temporary.

the fellow with the stitches in his leg is back at work now, but my 1/2 time worker just called in to say she has a Dr's note saying she has to stay home all week.

i'm starting to think i should just stay in bed tomorrow morning. if the power isn't on when i go home tonight, i'll be sorely tempted to do that..... till the dog needs a walk......

Monday, September 6, 2010