electro-magnetic woo-woo’s

Lumme, Friday already. It’s been a hell of a week for breakdowns.

There’s the ongoing saga of Siobhan the Toyoto, and really, for us, car repair stuff is fairly unusual and noteworthy.

At work, our debit machine went all screwy on Monday and had to be rebooted, and during that operation, our number one cash register deprogrammed itself and had to be reprogrammed. That’s never happened in the more than five years I’ve been at the store. More importantly for me, I’ve been computerless all week as the laptop I use enjoys a prolonged spa at the repair shop.

At home yesterday, the furnace stopped blowing hot air and a chilled, red-faced Nickolas called me later to let me know we’d forgotten about cleaning the filter. The filter is such a good one, apparently, that’s once it discovered it had to work far too hard, it sat down and called a strike.

I’m blaming on the unusual sunspot activity going on, plus the end of the current Mercury retrograde period. It can’t just be all merely human error?

Surely not 😉

#communication difficulties #repairs #spooky malfunctions


how to win the battle of the leaves?

I look out my studio window and feel immense pressure to get out there and rake leaves. A few leaves still hang onto the maple, but they are likely to retain their grip all winter long. So probably, officially, the leaves covering the ground are this season’s haul.


I’m feeling so pushed that I entertain the thought of putting a coat on over my pajamas and getting out there to rake before it’s fully light, before I’ve had breakfast and of course, before I go to work.


However, I’ve lived with Nick long enough now to know that if I were to actually open the outside door a massive discussion and hissy fit from me would ensue. I’d be breaking our decade-old routine of morning quiet time used for creative pursuits. He works really hard to prepare food and get little worries out of the way so that both he and I have the best quality time and energy to devote to our individual arts. If I were to forsake my writing, my music, my crafts and my personal interests to charge around in the half-light raking, Nick would be frustrated, hurt and exasperated. After remonstrating with me, if I still didn’t understand his concerns, he would leave me to it. And I would get more and more furious, more and more meticulous, (probably pulling off the tree the leaves that hadn’t yet fallen,) more and more late for work, and, to really point out to myself how unhappy I was, I’d more than likely pull a muscle, or fall on a root or, at the very least, get blisters.

I’m a little older and wiser today, and I don’t want to go there. But the leaves still stare at me, daring me to ignore them. I’m shifting uneasily in my chair, worried about leaving (!) them too late.

What I’ve been able to notice in the last few months, though, is that after a really successful bout of creative work, ordinary chores seem no big deal. I’m actually able to do a few dishes or vacuum or clean the bathroom and do it fairly cheerfully. Much to my astonishment I find that after I’ve engaged deeply with my creative side I’m actually ready for some physical activity. Preferably mindless and repetitive activity. This seems to provide a cool-down time that allows me to return from my introspective journey back into the everyday stuff.

So the trick is, how and when can I do enough satisfying creative work that will rocket-launch me into the yard work in time to meet the municipal pick-up deadline?

Gotta be this coming weekend, I think.

#mind games #motivation #yard work #raking leaves

siobhan’s saga sends stress soaring

My stomach is still in knots. Siobhan, our second hand Toyota, is back with a new clutch but we’re going straight back to the mechanic to have her brakes attended to.

The really upsetting part, however, is that the problem I’m most uncomfortable with is still unidentified. Now, each time I look at Siobhan in the driveway, I’m fearfully anticipating an anxious, stressful drive.
Siobhan has this intermittent behaviour where she’ll suddenly lose power. It happens most often after being stopped at an intersection. I rev the engine, release the clutch slowly, looking for that sweet spot, and sometimes she’ll move forward but lots of times she doesn’t. There’s about a 15-second gap between when I’ve pressed the gas and the motor revs, and when the car actually moves. I become terrified of being hit from behind by traffic assuming I’ll move forward consistently. Each time I see a traffic light, I try slowing down, hoping if I creep up to it it’ll change to green by the time I get there. And if I am indeed stopped, then in starting up I’ll over-rev, producing a vulgar, street-racer noise and probably sending all the drivers around me looking into their mirrors wondering who’s the idiot that’s trying to race through two lanes of heavy traffic.

When we drove home from Mr. Transmission, we noticed immediately that Siobhan leapt forward in first gear. Happily thinking the problem was solved, we made it all the way down a short stretch of highway into town traffic, and at the first light, she lost her power momentarily not in first gear, but in second. Great.

She’s been through the mechanic’s diagnostics a number of times, but she passes every time. The latest theory is that there’s a sensor monitoring the throttle position and that that’s what’s misbehaving.

In any case, I’m left with trying to manage my fears while driving. The intensity of my fear, when I’m safe and stationary and can reflect upon what’s happening, is way above normal. The moment my foot presses down on the accelerator and nothing happens my fingers clench, my stomach drops, and I’m wordlessly praying for help. The longer the gap between the engine catching and my foot signal, the more I start to tremble, and look frantically in all the mirrors hoping other drivers will give me a wide berth. Should I put on the hazard signals? Shift back into neutral? Press harder on the gas? Restart the car? Then, just as a cold feeling of shock begins, Siobhan kicks in and we move slowly off. She moves forward confidently as if absolutely nothing has happened. I breathe deeply, loosen my death grip on the wheel, and look ahead with increasing fear to the next set of lights. Will we make it through without having to stop? Will she do the same thing again? Will it be worse? Can I do anything differently to prevent this from happening?

Usually we go through a run of 3 or 4 bad moments before either we’re on the highway without intersections or I arrive at the parking lot for the day. I’m exhausted.

We love our current mechanic, but I’m so distressed that we’ve decided to get a second opinion. Nick’s going to try another mechanic on Friday.

In the meantime, I’m trying to handle my stress. I’m coaching myself to understand that just because the car has intermittent challenges, this does not mean that I am stuck in the middle of a wilderness with no access to food or water and as vulnerable as a newborn. Intellectually, I point out to myself what resources I have. I’m a grown woman, travelling in a populated area. The twenty minute commute is not my whole life. But it’s tough. The idea of depending on something so often undependable brings back very young feelings of relying on grownups who were unreliable. I think that’s what makes this particular automobile idiosyncrasy so painful. So I suppose this is karma, another opportunity to work out an emotional glitch.

I sure wish there were an easier way!

#car repairs #karma

the way I was

I’ll get to explore my relationship with the “Black Bomber” for a while longer, as Siobhan extends her stay at Mr. Transmission. We’re hoping to welcome our Toyota back Monday noon. In the meantime, Nick and I rearrange our weekly routines. Because of the car rental rules, he’s not allowed to drive the Black Bomber, meaning I now need to pick up our Farmers’ Market shopping. We decide to postpone the rest of the town chores until Monday.
I was vaguely disappointed at not being forced to stay at a motel in town. In my previous life, working at CBC Television in Toronto, I used to do a fair bit of travelling, and I enjoyed investigating new hotel rooms. I would explore all the drawers, closets and cubby holes, making sure to put useful items in each useful place. If my schedule allowed, I’d take a bath, trying out any complimentary body care products. I’d sit and look out the window, and check out local television programming. Motel rooms weren’t as much fun, but still, I enjoyed the sense of being away.

I haven’t travelled far or been away from home for almost 15 years now. There’s been so much exciting stuff happening that as it is, I regret not being able to be at home more. So I was fascinated to hear myself worrying about contact lens solution when Nick and I discussed my staying in a motel the day Siobhan broke down.

I don’t wear contacts any more, haven’t done since 2005.

My old internal checklist of what I needed to be comfortable had sprung up fresh in my mind. That contact lenses were the first things that presented themselves as possible problems with an overnight stay astonished me. It wasn’t just habit, or a well-learned custom. It was the instantaneous feeling of my old life being present. I was suddenly a single woman in a foreign city, temporarily adrift and bereft of her comforts. Feeling the barren solitude of being stuck in an unfamiliar room, without my clarinet or book, I admonish myself to pack carefully so I’ll be able to re-create my true world in an alien environment.

A moment later I return. It’s 2014. I’ve a husband, work colleagues, different resources and different responsibilities. I’m amazed at my brief, vivid journey to the past, but soon I’m swallowed up by the challenges of the current situation, and my old, single life slips away, leaving a curious trace of sadness.

#travelling #comfort #packing #memory #the past

car breakdown reveals…?

Our poor, labouring car finally gave up her heroic attempts to keep moving despite a burnt out clutch on Tuesday . After a panicky call to CAA for a tow, we heard the news that I was stranded in town as, due to incredibly busy schedules, Siobhan couldn’t be repaired on the same day, and maybe not even until next week. The two automobile rental businesses in Orillia had no available vehicles. Return cab fare would cost more than what I earn in a day. Feeling orphaned, I began making plans to stay in a motel room. Luckily, a work colleague volunteered to take me home and back in the next morning, as she was actually going out past Moonstone en route to Wasaga Beach.

The shock and panic gradually wore off and the next day a rental car became available. My “Black Bomber” is a Mazda and pretty new. And here is where I felt like a country hick, arriving in town via horse and buggy only to find that airplanes had been invented.

Did you know that cars can start with a button? I certainly didn’t. This was my first introduction to a key fob, a little doohickey that just has to be near you as you step on the brake and depress the starting button. Cool! Automatic windows, yes, I knew about those. Automatic door locks – okay, I knew about those too, although that makes me wonder what these vehicle owners do when (okay, if) they accidentally lock their keys in the car.

But I was oohing and ahhing at the cellphone buttons on the steering wheel. The volume controls for the radio, also on the steering wheel, thrilled me. That got me wondering where the radio aerial on the car was, and as I really looked around at the traffic, I saw that many cars either didn’t have one, or had a little stubby thing off the back roof. I still haven’t found the Black Bomber’s aerial. I was really amazed to see a little USB connector beside an auxiliary battery connector, (for there is no cigarette lighter) and could begin to imagine myself lounging around in this new mobile office for days.

The real excitement though, is the plush, lush interior. All black simulated leather upholstery that wraps around me. The quiet motor, the calmly confident indicator signals, the subtle lighting all impressed me. Sitting in this unaccustomed luxury instantly recalled me to an evening ride home with a high school history teacher ‘way back when. It was after a play rehearsal during the winter when it gets dark early. The front seat of his sedan actually swivelled so I could sit elegantly, then swing my legs inside. I had been overwhelmed by the dimly-lit interior, quiet music and elegance of a vehicle I would ride in only once. The atmosphere seemed suddenly charged. Here was my history teacher looking distinctly unfamiliar. The short ride home seemed pregnant with romantic possibilities. I hadn’t ever been in a car owned by anyone other than family. The revelation that I could go somewhere far, and more comfortably and in a more exciting way hit me in the fragrance of the leather seats, the purr of the motor and the mysterious, velvet darkness.

It was a very short, ride home. Absolutely nothing happened but stilted conversation.

And Nick has called to say our car may be fixed by this afternoon, so my relationship with the Black Bomber may be just as short.

But what an unexpected thrill from an unwanted breakdown!


#car breakdown #silver lining

did I really gain from the women’s movement?

"A Cup of Tea" Lilla Cabot Perry (United States, Massachusetts, Boston, 1848-1933), http://www.lacma.org

“A Cup of Tea” Lilla Cabot Perry (United States, Massachusetts, Boston, 1848-1933), http://www.lacma.org

Reading Octavia by Beryl Kingston and of her adventures in the 1920s, I wonder why on earth Dalton schools, with their high success rate of producing happy, intelligent students, aren’t the norm. Renown for taking the brutality out of formal education, and stimulating young girls into taking both joy and responsibility for their own learning, I’m envious. Why couldn’t I have gone to one? And while we’re at it, why is it that one hundred years after Octavia’s adventures, I, alongside millions, billions of other women, must still fight for equal wages for work of equal value, and for comparable promotion opportunities? And now, heading towards retirement (I hope), most of all, I wonder if joining the workforce in the first place was really such a hot idea.

After 40 years spent being jarred awake to an alarm propelling me into an adrenaline-charged day five times a week, I long for my own time. I envy the person, male or female, who has been able to support themselves and their families while doing what they loved in the manner which they love. After being brutalized by long, angry commutes by bus, subway, and automobile, penned up in desks, cubicles and offices and subjected to terrors of deadlines, bosses and evaluations, I really wonder. What have I personally gained from the women’s movement? Food and shelter, yes, but what about personal creativity and expression? What about the music and writing I could have given the world if my basic needs were met by some manly protector, and I could have indulged in the creativity of my choice from the comfort of my own home?

Even as I think this, I feel my outrage rising. Be subject to a manly protector? I don’t think so. I’m responsible for me, not some other, no matter how well-meaning. My fantasy starts crumbling away as I picture what my home relationships might have looked like, had I not engaged with the world and learned about myself from how I interacted with others. I’m actually panicky and a little short of breath from just imagining being caged, day in and day out, by someone else’s house rules.

But what’s the difference? Rules of the father/husband or rules of the employer? I dream of financial independence from winning a lottery, but even there, a niggling doubt suggests there might be bankers, tax collectors and social obligations with restrictions of their own.

So where am I? Still needing to find time for myself, to obtain the basics of life, and to communicate with others. Still searching for the best ways to live a meaningful, creative life on Planet Earth.

It somehow seemed so much simpler for Octavia.

#feminism #workplace #equal wages #wage slave #retirement dreams