Posted by: Valerie | November 25, 2010

Damp and dreary, hard to be cheery


“ No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds – NOVEMBER!”

Thomas Hood 1829

 I have never liked November. It’s a miserable month and it seems that old Thomas Hood shared my feelings. I can remember staring out of the window of my office at the 16th century cemetery across the road, with its ancient flat tombs and dripping bare plane trees on a dreary November day. It was about three o’clock on a wet afternoon and it was getting dark. I wrote the following lines:

 The trees are whispering grey-ly (????)

And casting weird shadows

To frighten me

As I walk alone and soulless

Through this graveyard

Of eternal things

 Did I mention it was November? November 1963, that is. Perhaps that had something to do with my grim mood. I remember writing another cheery piece around the same time that began “Drab, booted wives with sodden baskets…” Can’t remember any more, and in truth both pieces are doubtless best forgotten. Suffice it to say that I got over it and went on, in 1964, to have the most fun I can remember ever having in a single year.

 46 years later… and I’m not wearing too badly. The red hair has gone and the silhouette is somewhat altered but hey, at least I have my faculties and my health. Roll on, the next 46 – no, hang on! I can’t afford to live that long!

 So, on to the mundane.

 I changed my sheets yesterday. I usually wash, dry and put the sheets right back on. They are my favourites. However, now that Ontario Hydro has decided to send the price of electricity to dizzy heights for prime time use, I have resolved to do the laundry at cheap-time weekends. So, bear with me, this meant that I had to use another pair of sheets. (The ones I generally use for guests!) I hardly slept a wink! I have princess-and-the-pea syndrome. Honestly it felt like sleeping on SOS pads. Can hardly wait for Saturday and lovely smooth, slippery sheets!

 The people from the Rehabilitation of Old Quarries turned up this week. Two brawny forestry types and a spaniel.

Let me help! Help! Yeah, help!

 The two guys felled some garbage trees while the spaniel dashed about supervising and making everyone happy. They made a really good job of lining the old quarry with the trees trunks and then packing the spaces with the branches and rotten wood . The theory is that the weight of the snow will press the wood into the sandy sides on the slope and over time as the wood rots away it will add nutrients to the soil and reestablish growth.

The finished job

 The next day we discovered that they had come back and scattered straw all over the flat ground with the same purpose. However they didn’t talk to us first and have scattered generously over the part that will soon be ploughed by Gary-the-snow plough-guy so I guess that will be wasted. Actually I think I will steal some of it to make a winter refuge for Ginger the biting cat. There is an old dog kennel outside that I will clean out and fill with clean straw for the poor fellow. I feel so badly for the poor creature when it gets to minus 30 or so and weight of the ice on his whiskers and eyebrows make them droop.

 We had a pleasant surprise on Sunday when a tap at the door announced the arrival of one of our hunter  neighbours with a present of five pounds of venison. Apparently he and his pals got seven deer in two days. I had imagined that the hunters just wandered around in the bush, popping off their guns at anything that moved but no, it’s a lot more involved than that. They prepare their territory weeks in advance by baiting it with heaps of apples so the deer recognize it as a good spot for a meal – and for becoming a meal! The jolly hunters butcher their trophies themselves and I do not wish to even think about that. We had a delicious meal of venison, prepared by Joe, that night.

What else is interesting? It depends on one’s perspective. I’m getting pretty excited about having my hair cut on Friday. I presently feel like an Old English sheepdog. My hairdresser is a very elegant, tall slim, blonde woman who, it turns out, is a full status first nations Indian. This does not affect her hair-styling skills. She is of course an excellent source of local news and gossip. Entertainment in the salon is provided by a very short and slender young man with multiple piercings and is the gayest of gays and camps it up hilariously. His name is Warren. Excitement is infectious and Joe has decided to go to Tony, the barber, for a short back and sides. No “styling” for him, I can tell you. Tony is not a bit gay but he is a collector of antique barber items and his shop is really interesting. Joe cannot understand why my haircuts cost more than twice as much as his. I can.

Joe gets a haircut

 I ramble, dear reader, and will not test your patience longer.


  1. Good morning Val… Your are the most cheery person I know… if your down get out of house for a walk… to Ottawa and see me…..go to a great movie in town and have supper….. look in the mirror smile and say this is one hell of a day….. give me a call and I will cheer you up..
    luv yea Bob great post Val

    • Thanks, Bob. Wish I could.

  2. How does Joe cook the venison ? So glad you didn’t stand on principal and refuse it!!

    • No, I have no moral fibre. I love venison. Joe cuts it into strips and sautes it with mushrooms, onions and then makes a sauce by adding paprika and a little stock. It is soooo good.

  3. I always worry about parasites with wild meat.

    Love that spaniel. The gun dogs are the best.

    • Never occurred to me to worry. We’re OK. Of course this may account for all the crossed eyes and toothless gums that are prevalent around these parts. Actually I’d always out it down to filial intermarriage!

  4. If you start to lose weight Val, without trying, you know who to blame!!

    • This could be the answer I’ve been searching for!

  5. Hi, Val. I too despise November. However, this year, the typical weather has been delayed by almost three weeks. It made for a great first half of November around here in Britannia. Today we are back to cold, rainy weather turning to slush and vice-versa. It sucks. It is depressing. It makes my joints ache. It is the crappiest weather for a photographer. Bring on the true winter!

    • Agreed – some white would cheer things up as long as there is some blue to contrast with it. I am sitting here right now listening to listening to the roof drip into the kitchen. We have supposedly repaired that trouble spot repeatedly over the years and now it seems the only recourse will be to remove the old chimney where the water originates. God, this place is a money pit! It costs waaaay more than my house in England that was built in 1772.

  6. Dreary November. We hardly had any rain in November and now parts of NZ are being declared drought zones! Including the Waikato where I live! I am thinking of not planting more lettuces and things so I don’t have to water them! It isn’t looking good for the rest of the summer although we have been promised a WET summer!!!

    Sounds like the restoration is well thought out. We have cut all our pine trees down and I was going to leave the debris to rot down too, we just don’t have the snow to press it down. The neighbours scraps from the felling operation have been piled up to burn, it will be a HUGE bonfire!

    • Looks as if November was not such a good month in the southern hemisphere either! Do hope the drought doesn’t last and that your lettuces flourish.

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