Perspectives: April 23-29, 2012

     Signs of summer.

     There are a number of things in my world that mark the “official” change of the seasons.  When the leaves change colours and the air gets crisp, it’s fall.  When Starbucks has peppermint mochas on their menu, it’s Christmas.  When the Leafs are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs its almost my birthday.  And, living by the harbour, when the boats are in the lake, summer is around the corner.

     For the winter, the docks are moved together and the boats are pulled out of the water, stacked, shrink-wrapped, and stored.  Which, of course, is one of the things that marks the end of the summer.  And they sit there, all bundled away for months on end until they are put back in place for the start of another season.  Which was a wonderful thing to notice last Monday morning on my way to work.  And it was the first day in weeks that the water was this calm…hopefully this is a sign of things to come!

Stealth masks… 

     Sometimes I teach things to children.  And this week I had the pleasure of teaching some grade one students to make masks out of clay.  I love grade one students (and kindergarten students) because they’re old enough to kind of have personalities, but young enough that they haven’t developed inhibitions.

     Basically, they say what they’re thinking.  And I like to teach this age group because you can ask them questions and the answers you get are so complex and interesting and usually have nothing to do with the question you’ve asked, although I consider it a personal challenge to find a way to make their answers relate to the question (Q: Boys and girls, what do we know about masks? A: My dad went on vacation and I have a cat. Follow up: Well, in other parts of the world people wear masks for different reasons than we might here and some masks have different characters, like animals, so you could have a cat mask. BOOM–RELATED.)

     So anyway, there I am teaching the afternoon portion of my day, which is usually less fun because no one has an attention span after lunch and they’re all ready for a nap, but I’m getting through my little Q&A section.  I’m mildly disappointed because the answers are slightly less awesome than the morning group until I ask them, “Boys and girls, what kinds of people wear masks?”  Of course, I get the usual answers: people at Halloween, actors in a play, kids playing dress up…when out of nowhere, this adorable, slightly pudgy little Asian boy wearing glasses raises his hand.  So I call on him because otherwise it’s always the same five kids who answer questions.  And in a very serious, quiet voice he tells me, “Sometimes ninjas wear masks so they can be stealth.”  And it took every fiber of my being not to yell out, “FUCK YEAH, THEY DO!”  Instead I told him that he was awesome, after explaining to the rest of his class what the word “stealth” meant.  And when I saw him dancing around in his own little world later, I thought to myself, that kid is going to be a billionaire someday and the rest of these kids don’t even know it yet.

     Paddle in progress!

     I mentioned a few weeks ago that Mike and I met Bruce at the Cottage Life show and decided to sign up for one of his paddle-making workshops.  The much anticipated moment finally arrived bright and (very) early on Saturday morning–we packed up some peameal bacon sandwiches and hit the road for his workshop somewhere between Guelph and Elora (and thought to ourselves that we should complete all our tasks on Saturday mornings before 8AM because there is NO TRAFFIC on the Gardiner or the 401).

     It was a bit chilly, so we wound up working inside the workshop, which was nice and cozy and filled with interesting things.  Bruce is a really cool guy and I will probably write another post about the actual workshop, but suffice to say that good humour was necessary on both our parts as I am not an experienced wood worker.  And this picture sums up a lot of the experience.  Basically, you send Bruce the style and length of the paddle you want and he cuts out the block in advance.  Then he teaches you how to draw your “do not cross” lines and, basically, you then use hand tools to take off all the wood outside of those lines.  My arms are still sore, but it was well worth it.

Curly.   

      This is the part of my paddle that didn’t come home with me–the mess on the woodshop floor.  And it reminded me of a lot of things.  By the end of the day, it looked like a warm, soft place to curl up and have a nap.  It also looked a bit like my hair–curls everywhere and a bit of a mess.  Representative of the tangles of my life.  I had a lot of stress and anxiety this week for no particular reason, which was even more frustrating than if it had been for a reason because at least then I could’ve fixed it.  Probably it was the result of too much caffeine and not enough sleep and it seemed to get better by the end of the week, but the beginning was wild.  Maybe all that hard work by hand helped?  Or perhaps the fact that I was in such agony on Sunday that I didn’t move from the couch?

     Either way, all’s well that ends well.

      And that’s how I saw the world this week.  How was your week?

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