Five For Festing

From the early spring, when most of the snow has melted, to the late fall, when it starts coming down again, the daughter (LadyRyl) is reasonably mobile.  Whether with one crutch or two, she can catch a bus a hundred yards away, over on the main street.  On bad days, she can call up the Transit Mobility van, and be taken in her power wheelchair, to places like the big mall at the edge of town.  I’m even amazed at how far away she can get from home, with just the wheelchair’s battery-pack.

All this freedom quickly disappears when the ice and snow begin to pile up.  Unshovelled sidewalks, and piles left by plows can be quite a challenge for the mobility-challenged.  She’s been stuck a few times, outside, in the cold.  Once, she thought a quartet of teen boys on foot might harass her, but they dug and pushed her out.  Then, a quarter mile down the street, at the other mall entrance, she got stuck again, and had to call her son at his work, to leave and come over to get her out.  No-one else helped.

Other than when I drive her somewhere, she spends a lot of time indoors over the winter.  You can’t read or watch TV all the time, so this is when she stocks up on her crafts.  She spins up lots of her raw fiber into skeins of beautiful artisanal yarns, then she knits and crochets some of it into shawls, scarves, hats, mitts and socks.  She and a girlfriend turn wire and semi-precious stones into jewellery.  It gets her through the winter, but by spring she’s got a lot of time, energy and money tied up in stuff for sale.

At about this time of year, along comes a line of festivals and opportunities to recoup investment through retail.  This year, it started five weeks ago.  On a Saturday, I took her 15 miles out, to a Mennonite village, to celebrate the Strawberry Festival.  Aside from fervent thanks, and a few dollars for gas, I received a couple of pints of “picked-today” strawberries.

The wife washed and hulled them and put them on a cookie sheet.  I put that into the freezer, later transferring the frozen fruit to a Zip-Loc bag.  I will be able to thaw small bowlfuls, and add them to my cereal over the winter.

The next week I took her to her monthly BarterWorks congregation at the downtown Working Center.  While it’s open to the public on a cash basis, it needs some promotion.  Still, she made a few sales and trades, met some old friends, and had a nice day out.

The third week, the cherries were in season, (In Washington State, and Mexico) and I put her and her goods beneath a nylon-topped gazebo in her nearby Cherry Park.  She and her friend sheltered from the blazing sun in the baseball outfield, and a bit more stock was exchanged for cash.

On the fourth Saturday, I set her up in the big park for the Anti-Violence Festival.  While we set up the gazebo again, she was on a small island, and well protected from the sun by mature trees.  She brought along her spinning wheel, to attract customers.

Here are some pics of the things that she and her friends make and sell, under the name Frog Pond Collective.  Included are shots of her spinning wheel, first lonely, then, fully manned (Womanned?)

SDC10585SDC10586

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDC10584SDC10583

 

 

 

SDC10587

On the Friday night before, I had been there for the big Cruise Night.  On the way out of the park, I again ran into these.  I’m not sure if this is the city’s idea of a joke – or art.   😕

SDC10569

About 125 years ago, when the park was created, one of the buildings torn down had belonged to McBrine Luggage, on this exact spot.  They’re still in business – just elsewhere in the city.  These are made of concrete, and, like the warning on McDonald’s cups, not to juggle hot coffee with your crotch, there is a metal plaque on the grass next to them, across from the bus terminal, reminding the drunks and druggies not to try to steal them.

Last Sunday, I was to take her to a fest the Oxymorons call Open Street – when they close the main street to traffic.  At the last minute – Wed.? Thur.? – it was decided to switch it to Saturday night, to meld with the Jazz Festival being held in front of the downtown mall.

It was overcast but dry all Sunday, but began drizzling as soon as we got set up Saturday evening.  Even sitting on a thick, woven rug, the spinning wheel began to get damp.  She called me to pick it up and take it home, but, by the time I got there, several vendors had had enough, so we packed it in.

The young city workers were supposed to have distributed a survey at the end of the evening, and were now desperately yelling in car windows to find what was good and what could be improved.  Aside from the rain, being located two blocks from the Jazz Fest, the only people walking by, in the dark, were on their way to their cars – very disappointing.

This Saturday will be a small, indoor BarterWorks again, and the last Saturday in August will be another.  The city wants to try Open Street again on the third Sunday.  (Did I say Five??!)  The daughter is considering the upcoming Word On The Street Festival, and is looking for other chances to unload the last of her stash for cash.

 

Healthy Respect For Medicine

medical_363124952_std

 

Mommy!  Mommy!  A strange lady stuck her finger up my bum, and I had to give the Government money to pay her to do it.  Then she hired some guy to do it again with a hose – and then I have to learn to deep-throat.  I don’t understand.  The charges were dismissed, why do I still have to attend the Going To Prison Seminar?

I went to see my female doctor for my regular physical – ‘cause there’s 703 days in a year, right??  Suddenly my annual checkup became an anal checkup.  It all started innocently enough.  She took my blood pressure – 120/70, which means my heart ain’t thumpin’ hard, and I’ll live long enough to make some people sorry.

“Do you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom?”  I’m almost 70 – of course.  “How many times?”  Usually once, occasionally twice.  “When it gets to three, contact me, and I’ll start you on meds that you’ll have to take every day for the rest of your life.  Is it still rigid when you have to go?”  Uhhh…no.  “Would you like some Cialis?”  That’s like offering a dog a driver’s licence.

I’ve heard about, Turn Your Head And Cough, but around here, it’s, Shuck your shorts and lie on the examining table in a fetal position, facing the wall.  Suddenly….WOW – are you right up to the wrist?  I don’t think I’m going to get out of this fetal position.  She says, “I don’t feel anything unusual.”  Lucky you, I do.

She’ll make arrangements with an internist, but first, I have to take tests to prove I’m healthy enough to survive the torture.  I asked one, innocent question.  Would a little extra adipose, just north of the belt buckle, combined with poor eating posture, prevent the esophagus from emptying into the stomach, causing difficulty swallowing?

The next thing I know, I’ve got $250 worth of stomach pills I don’t need. I’m thankful for a great medical plan, which pays for it.  The unexpected benefit is that they’re combo-pills with an added painkiller just short of Hillbilly Heroin.  I could sell these on the street.  The next time I have a headache (very uncommon) I’ll just crush one up and snort it.

After walking five miles at the Cruise Night, and then setting the daughter up for the Anti-Violence Festival the next day, and hauling her stuff back home, both hips said, “Take the pill!  Take the pill!”

So, off to the clinic I went.  I had to do a 12 hour fast.  I was starting to have food withdrawal symptoms, but I made it.  Some sadistic little oriental nurse-wannabe stuck a railway spike in my arm, and sucked out so much blood, I thought they were doing a remake of Helter-Skelter.  Then she said, “I need a urine sample.  Could you fill this little cup?”  Not from over here.

My cholesterol levels are lower than my doctor’s, although I still need to remove that spare tire.  Like any other bureaucracy, Ontario’s taxpayer-paid medical coverage can sometimes be head-scratching.  The doctor’s visit is paid for.  Four blood tests and the urine tests are paid for, but the test that might indicate that I have prostate cancer???  That one I have to pay $30 for!  😕

The wife’s had to endure colonoscopies three times.  Except for the finger, I’m still a virgin.  At least I’ll have someone to guide me through it – and point and laugh when I go all sucky and whiny.  I think I can handle that, even though I’ll have to drink stuff that makes cod-liver oil taste like Haute Cuisine, and ending up so empty that I won’t be able to face into the wind without developing a whistle.

It’s the endoscopy I’m a little worried about.  I have a sensitive throat.  I could never do gay porn.  The wife takes 12/15 pills every morning, including a couple that would choke a horse – into the mouth, a little juice, one big gulp, and they’re all gone.  Me?  Anything bigger than an aspirin, and I have to distract myself.  Oh, look, a chipmunk!….Is the pill gone?  Well, it will be by lunch.

I think if it weren’t for all these tests, old folks would live forever.  All this embarrassment and stress??  Ah Hell, let’s just die and get it over.

Candle In The Windy Park

I didn’t look far enough ahead, and my, blog-every-two-days schedule, fell on its ass again.  We couldn’t wait till Saturday to go to the Mennonite market, because the daughter and I were busy, so we went on Thursday.  I might have tried to get a post ready on Friday, but the wife and I were busy getting ready for Saturday.  If you’re confused and whirled in circles by that paragraph, you have some idea what I felt like.

Another couple of blocks past the daughter’s place from the big park where the Multicultural Festival was held, is another, smaller, neighborhood park.  Since the smallest, pedestrian-only entrance is off Cherry Street, some bureaucrat named it Cherry Park.  It’s been two weeks since the big festival, and cherries are just coming into season, so the neighborhood association schedules a local cherry-festival get-together at this time each year.

There are things for adults and kids, but again, commerce is the unifying force.  There are two or three food suppliers, bouncy castles, a Latin-American band, and a municipal employee handing out information about seniors’ services available from the city.  Beyond that, there are a couple of dozen purveyors’ booths.  There were two offering temporary tattoos, one with roses made from wood, a palm reader, and a woman knitting and selling all her knitted items.

The daughter and one of her friends like to attend.  Between them and the wife they put out a mixed offering.  The daughter has her artisanal yarns, and shawls, scarves and crocheted cat-toy mice, made from them.  She takes along her spinning wheel to give demonstrations and entice customers.  She and the girlfriend make up cell-phone charms, bracelets, necklaces and earrings from beads, wire and yarn.  The wife makes the same kind of thing but puts the beads at the ends of fancy yarn to make bookmarks she calls book-thongs.  Lay it in a paperback, with the beads at each end, and close the book.  The grandson still has a few pieces of primitive pottery, from his course last year.

The thing the daughter believes draws the most customers, is the wife’s hand-made beeswax candles.  She concentrates on tea-lights, both in the plastic cup, and refills for those who already have enough cups, as well as votives.

There are two honey vendors at the farmers’ market.  We buy honey from one, but get beeswax from the other, to make candles from.  While the first has good honey, when he melts the wax down, he does so at too high a temperature, and *chars* the wax.

The grandson is allergic to all grasses.  Sugarcane is just an overgrown grass, and he is sensitive to cane sugar.  We used to be able to obtain reasonably cheap and available beet sugar in town, but a tariff changed several years ago.  Since then, we have used our trips to metro Detroit to stock up on white, brown and icing beet sugar.  Michigan has a large beet sugar industry.  Unless it says cane sugar, you know it’s beet.  Sugar beet growth and processing used to be big here in town a century ago, but times and crops change.

The grandson also sweetens some things with honey.  Both of the honey vendors offer honey sticks, like thin drinking straws filled with different types of honey, and sealed.  On our most recent trip, the better honey guy offered orange-blossom sticks.  There’s not a lot of citrus grown in southern Ontario.  The wife says he means from mock-orange bushes.  They have an orange smell and impart the taste.

As previously noted on one of my posts, when something creative is happening, my portion of it is usually getting things out, cleaning things up and putting things away.  While the wife poured about fifty candles, I ran down to the basement storeroom and back at least a dozen times.  If we don’t use our heads, I use my feet.  My diet is still lounging on the couch, but he gave me a big thumbs-up.

The wife had a nasty nasal infection about a year ago.  It affected nerves, and almost wiped out her sense of taste and smell.  They have come back a little bit, and we hope for more, but, for someone who relies on them for cooking, this is a devastating loss.  She used to be able to tell when pasta was cooked.  She now relies on me to smell or taste things.

We were well into the candle-making when I remarked the entire house had been imbued with the smell of honey.  “Oh really,” she said.  “I can’t smell any of it.”  The sweet smell of honey was so thick that I could have toasted a piece of bread, and just waved it though the air to pick up the taste.  It doesn’t last until the next day, but it does help make the work more pleasant.

While socially enjoyable, the daughter did not have a great commercial day.  A couple of people watched her spin, and took her card with her email address, saying that they would contact her about specialty yarn.  Of the few things that sold, the wife’s candles were at the top.

Next weekend the friend wants to have the daughter join her at a display at the anti-violence fair, back over at the big park.  Neither of us has ever been there, but I guess I get another day of set-up, take-down and schlepping.  First, a hundred-mile Tuesday round-trip, so the daughter can get her anti-pain med-infusion.  She should be in better shape to handle it.  If I find it interesting, I’ll post a story about it.  It’s been a big day.  Now that this blog is up, I need some rest.  Till then!