musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Saturday, July 29, 2006

quote of the day . . .

A bit beyond perception’s reach
I sometimes believe I see
That life is two locked boxes
Each containing the other’s key.
- Piet Hein


Friday, July 28, 2006

a surfeit of men in tights

Since there's no such thing as too much Monty Python:

Camelot for Trekkies


Discovered on Cherie Priest's blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

fetchez la vache!

cow tossing

If you're a Monty Python groupie like me, you've already clued in to the fact that both "fetchez la vache!" and my tossed-cow animation are nods to the infamous Taunting scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail — nothing like a few catapulted cattle to get rid of those pesky knights at the gate. "Run away, run away!"*

But why am I tossing a cow on my blog? Because last night I went to see Monty Python's Spamalot™ at the Canon Theatre in Toronto and I've been smiling ever since. Not to mention a few instances of giggling for no apparent reason and some inappropriately loud singing/whistling in the mail room. "Always look on the bright side of life!" (My neighbours have long suspected I was a bit odd. Now they're sure.)

In case you haven't already figured it out, I liked the show. A lot. From first glance at the program ("Patrons are asked not to smoke or speak Swedish in the theatre. Please use cell phones whenever possible."), to the audience sing-along finale (complete with confetti bombs), it was a thoroughly happy — if frequently tasteless — night. You should go!

Meanwhile, visit the official cow tossing game and have yourself some fun!

* No cows were harmed in the making of this entry.

Monday, July 24, 2006

jazz'n in the shower

Jazz enjoying his morning shower...every last drop!Yes, it's true. I really do shower with a bird. As you can tell, he thoroughly enjoys it, spreading his little wings to catch every drop and nagging shrilly when I put down his personal spray bottle to to focus on my own shower and shampoo.

Jazz is a lineolated parakeet, one of the smallest of the parrot family, native to Central and South America. He's very intelligent and curious, likes climbing, exploring, bossing Sam the Cat, and snuggling under my chin — something he's eager to do whenever he gets the chance. His real claim to fame, is a dedication in author Barbara Colley's novel, Death Tidies Up, a Charlotte LaRue Mystery. Find out why here.

You said Jazz's bathtime was something you wish you could see, Barbara, so this post's for you! (Click photo for larger view.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

swans and cat's teeth

swans in Lake OntarioMy quest for more and better exercise got me up early this morning to walk the west Toronto Waterfront Trail. This finely feathered flock paddled along beside me for a while, probably hoping I'd brought bread crumbs to share. Tough luck, guys.

Temptation was great to abandon the walk, park myself on a bench, and just enjoy the glorious morning, but that's precisely the lazy-ass attitude that brought me to the point of really, really needing the exercise. So...walk-on was the order of the day.

My goal is to walk the trail (or another) at least twice a week for the rest of the summer. And now that I've written it down the goal is official...there will be no excuses!

On the topic of goals, it's time to implement the vet's recommendation for keeping Sam healthy: daily regular brushing of the (remaining*) catly teeth. Not surprisingly, Sam has been uncooperative. Today we tried a demonstration of the human tooth brushing ritual. "Come, Sam. Watch me brush my teeth. Mmmm. Feels good."

Things were going relatively well — at least he seemed to be paying attention — until ... well, apparently cats are hard-wired to run and hide upon spying a creature who's foaming at the mouth. I can appreciate that.

A few hours later, having redeemed myself with treats and chin-scratchies, we tried breaking in his new toothbrush. It's blue, with soft, rubbery bristles that make a squeaky sound when rubbed against his teeth. He actually seemed to like it for the first twenty seconds or so. Then he made a beeline for his under-bed hiding place. We'll try again tomorrow. Maybe a little catnip on the bristles...

*Sam underwent dental surgery last month to have two severely decayed teeth extracted. It was pretty rough going for a while, not to mention hard on the budget, so if brushing will keep his teeth healthy, it's definitely worth the effort.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

sky ... or clouds?

a huge, blue endless sky
"The nature of the mind is like the vast sky, like a huge, blue endless sky, very clear, very, very deep and stretching in all directions. It's vast and infinite and clear and empty and transparent and luminous. That is the nature of the mind.

"Our thoughts and feelings and memories are the clouds appearing in the sky. Sometimes the clouds are white and fluffy and we're happy. Sometimes they're big and black and there's thunder and lightning and we're utterly distraught. But either way, they don’t affect the nature of the sky. However black they are, the sky is not solid. However light and pretty they are, the sky is not any more beautified. You cannot make the sky any purer or dirtier. The sky is just something that is, and it's transparent and luminous and clear.

"So why not identify with the sky rather than with the transitory clouds?"
Ani Tenzin Palmo

In August 2001, I was invited to participate in a khata ceremony to welcome Venerable Tenzin Palmo to Toronto... and yet it was I who felt welcomed by this kind and inspiring teacher. Her biography, Cave in the Snow by Vicki McKenzie, and her own book, Three Teachings, were among the long-lost items unearthed last weekend in The Great Closet Cleanout.

Interesting how things turn up when we need them most, isn't it?

2 4 8

Friday, July 21, 2006

what's on the bookshelf

Librarian Sam with his iPodI've been doing a lot of reading this year but it wasn't until I started pulling this list together that I realized just how many books I've finished in the last six months. The photo shows a few. Others have already been loaned out and many are audio versions — which explains how my iPod made it into the picture.

Now, if you're a cat, books are ever-so-good for sitting upon (best if your human is trying to read the book when you sit) and also for chin scratching (another guaranteed attention-grabber). So, of course, Sir Sam had to get in the way get in on the fun. Once assured that he would indeed be featured in the photo, he quickly laid claim to the iPod. Mmmm. String.

No, that red you see on his paw isn't blood. Click photo for a larger image. He's wearing his Soft Paws® Nail Caps. They're vet-approved, Sir Sam doesn't complain at all about wearing them, and they've brought a new and awesome peace to our home — no more shredded upholstery!

But I digress. Here's my booklist. What's on your yours?

Books I've Read, January to July '06

Donna Andrews:
We'll Always Have Parrots
Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon

Nevada Barr:
Blind Descent

Cynthia Baxter:
Lead a Horse to Murder: A Reigning Cats & Dogs Mystery
Hare Today Dead Tomorrow: A Reigning Cats & Dogs Mystery

Barbara Colley: (an client :-)
Wiped Out, A Charlotte LaRue Mystery

Lilian Jackson Braun:
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards
The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern
The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare
The Cat Who Played Brahms
The Cat Who Played Post Office
The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts
The Cat Who Turned On and Off
The Cat Who Smelled a Rat
The Cat Who Went Underground
The Cat Who Came to Breakfast

Dan Brown:
Digital Fortress

Kate Collins:
Mum's the Word

Carolyn Hart:
Death of the Party
April Fool Dead

Laura Joh Rowland: (an client :-)

The Way of the Traitor
The Concubine's Tattoo

Thursday, July 20, 2006

ahhh, feels so good...

Puss 'n Slippers

You've heard of Puss 'n Boots, now meet Puss 'n Slippers. Acupressure slippers to be exact. For some strange reason, Sam thinks these knobbly, foot massaging sandals are the cat's meow. [Did I say that out loud?]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


This candle burns for Mom, Anne, and RebeccaSometimes

the stillpoint

is too far away.

My thoughts tonight are with my Mom, and with two good friends in need ... one seeking a solid path for her future, the other seeking strength to battle breast cancer.

Light a candle.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

on writing

take a deep breath
and reach out for the one line.
from emptiness bring it
down to the paper
without hesitation.
concentrate your whole being
on writing.
draw the line
and let it go back
to the empty space.
on the white paper
the one line conceals
the way this happens
cannot be put in words.
it can only be seen
with the heart.
- Nadja Van Ghelue

Monday, July 17, 2006

too hot for words

No, seriously.

It's 34 degrees outside my window right now and, factoring in the humidity, that feels like 40 (or 104 Fahrenheit for the metric-challenged among us).

Sounds like time for a big glass of homemade extra-lemon iced tea and something cool and salad-ish for dinner. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

And that's all the words I can manage after a hot 40 minute commute home from work across the construction-clogged top of Toronto.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

road trip redux

Osprey nesting platform
Last Saturday was the perfect day for a country ramble. A friend and I packed our sunscreen and water bottles and hit the road early. Our first stop was a lily farm near Coldwater where we enjoyed fields full of beautiful blooms. Next stop, Abbotts of Craighurst a for a leisurely lunch, starting with baked Brie. Yum!

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring shoreline roads around Lake Simcoe, where we spotted a curious collection of platforms perched atop hydro poles and sporting large twig nests. A bit of research tonight has confirmed my suspicion that the tenants of these pole-top villas are Ospreys. The good news -- we saw two or three energetic babies moving around in each of the six nests. Click the photo for a larger image. Unfortunately, it's not a close-up. (Didn't figure out the zoom function on my camera until after I got home.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

three bags full

Yesterday was closet cleanout day, resulting in the 'three bags full' of stuff that's going away - one to the dumpster and two to the local clothing donation bin. With all that out of the way, you might think I have tons of space in my closet now. But, no.

See, when I moved here in the summer of 2001, I brought a lot of past-life minutae in boxes that got put "away" wherever I could find a spot to wedge them. Hey, it was my second move in two years and I was tired of packing and unpacking. But now the time has come to deal with it.

Today's a scorcher here in Toronto (31 celsius, feels like over 40 with the humidity factor - that's 104 Fahrenheit!), so rather than venturing out, I'm aiming to face up to my past and start going through the boxes. What bits and bobs were important enough to keep and carry through two moves but not important enough to look at even once in the six years since?

2 5 1

Friday, July 14, 2006

magic in the moment

Friday Farmer's Market in Toronto

There's often a touch of magic in the air at a farmers' market ... the heady smell of onions and ripe fruit; the bright, exotic colours of flowers and vegetables; a chorus of shouts to tempt shoppers, "Try it! Guaranteed you'll be back for more!"

So this is my Friday morning escape, every week from June to October. Today I hauled home fresh corn (peaches and cream, first of the season), dew-spangled broccoli and a fragrant red onion from the booth in the photo, and for a special weekend treat, a pint of wild Ontario blueberries. Mmmmm.

quote of the day . . .

"You're the only one who knows when you're using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you're opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is - working with it rather than struggling against it. You're the only one who knows."
- Pema Chödrön

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sam in Kannon's Garden

Samcat with statue of Kwan Yin (Kannon)in the balcony gardenescape





stillpoint .

Kannon/Kwan Yin keeps watch over the bubbling fountain in this shady corner of my balcony garden. It's my favourite spot for reading or just being on a hot summer day. Sam, my cat companion, agrees.