Posted by: Valerie | February 14, 2011

Romance, deposed dictators and a trashed living room

It’s February 14th. Valentine’s Day for most people or at least those who choose to acknowledge it. Much less of a commercial occasion when I was growing up as Valentine cards were only sent, anonymously, to someone you really fancied and of course we all desperately hoped to receive at least a good handful and then tried to guess the sender. I didn’t receive any at all until I was 16 and had an official boyfriend.

Sweet little Victorian Valentine card

Mainly however Valentine’s Day had another meaning in our family as February 14th was the birthday of my father, Thomas Valentine Marrs Winsor, always known as Val. I recall that Dad’s birthday always preempted any silly romantic celebration. Good heavens, he even managed to be the centre of attention after he was dead as his funeral was on Valentine’s Day too!

There are not too many men named Valentine these days – or even back in 1913 when he was born. I guess his mother who was Irish and, perish the thought, maybe originally a Catholic (no evidence of that) thought that her third child should be named for his saint’s day. She was keen for me to be named Victoria after the queen whose birthday I share. And no, for all of you who are assuming that I was called Valerie after my father, I was not. My mum was young when she had me and called me after Valerie Brent, The School Detective and Anne after Anne of Green Gables!

 But to return to the present day, Joe and I were hoping to go out for a pleasant meal tonight. This idea however, is a bust! Nowhere open for even a sandwich within 25km. There is an attractive restaurant on the shores of nearby Paudash Lake with really good food. Nope – closed for the winter except for weekends. So I am going to cook a delicious dinner of pork chops and sauerkraut. Sehr romantisch!

 Later: it was really pretty good!

So – what about Egypt then? I must say thatJoe and I have followed it day to day, wishing and hoping with the protesters. Mubarak’s departure is by no means the end of it obviously and I believe the ancient lizard is still baking his scaly hide in Sharm-el-sheik. I wonder who will give him shelter. I am always surprised at the places that give sanctuary to deposed dictators. Look at Idi Amin resting his evil bones in Jeddah until he died in 2003. Baby Doc Duvalier enjoys refuge in Paris, Erich Honecker found his second home in Chile. The list is long, too long. On a happy note, here is a photo of my friend Janice Gray in Tahrir Square after Mubarak’s announcement. I’d love to have been in that photo too! Most of all, though, I would love to have been on the Berlin Wall with a sledge hammer in 1989!

See - she's got a flag too!

 Generally things have been somewhat humdrum here. We were supposed to drive to Oshawa on Sunday for lunch with Joe’s son-in-law, Howard and the family to celebrate his birthday but the weather report told us to expect lots of snow so we called off and waited for the snow that never appeared. So we missed a birthday party – boo-hoo!

Today we had a thaw. Not necessarily desirable as it may have required a bucket in the kitchen to catch the water from the leaky ceiling but, hey – we were in luck! We had a flash freeze instead.

Oh, and I had a mini-drama last night. Joe had gone to bed, all was quiet. But only for a moment or two. Suddenly there was quite a loud scrabbling noise right behind my head as it seemed. Oh, shit! What furry visitor had invaded our home this time? Sounded much too loud for a mouse. Maybe a squirrel? That would be a pain to have Charlie the cat in full pursuit of a panicking squirrel in the living room.

Investigate. Nothing on the sofa. Haul the sofa out. Mouse droppings – lots. Still scrabbling. Is the damn thing inside the guts of the sofa then? Topple the sofa. Nada. Scratch, scratch, scritch, scritch. Cat is going crazy, all bristled up and looking intelligent. I trust the cat in these matters as he is rarely wrong. He is concentrating on the heating vent so I lift the cover. Nothing to been seen but scritch, scratch stops. Hmm – how to get mouse/squirrel out of heating vent? I know – get some cheese and leave it on carpet beside vent cover that I have removed. Theory – mouse comes up, cat catches mouse, leaves it on carpet for me to dispose of in the morning. But then what if cat decides to explore duct and can’t get back? Not to worry – cat eats cheese and is to be seen giving himself a thorough grooming when I throw in the towel and go to bed.

Cat gathering energy for hunting

As I lie drifting away, I suddenly realise that the living-room looks as if it has been trashed by intruders. Joe gets up earlier than I do and will be mighty perplexed at what greets him when he arises. Must remember to wake up soon enough to warn him…

Total failure in solving the problem. The best thing to come of this is that I actually vacuumed the floor behind the sofa. I’m not much into that.

I wonder if the critters will return for another round tonight. I expect s/he is still down in the basement scuttering around in the ducts. Maybe s/he will die in some completely inaccessible spot and stink the house out while s/he decomposes. That has happened before.

I do love living in the country. I do – really!


  1. At least you don’t have to combat packrats who eat all the wiring in your car if you leave it unattended –or do you??
    I had forgotten your father was a Valentine–imagine the ragging he must have gone through.

    • No, I don’t know a thing about packrats. They don’t sound like welcome guests though.

      My Dad was called Tommy until he grew up and I think Mum decided to call him Val. we used to call him TV when we were being polite. “Old Bugger” was an alternative.

  2. Hi Val,

    Years ago I lived in an apartment in downtown Perth that was the top half of an old farmhouse. The downstairs had been converted to shops. One night I went to bed expecting to fly off into the land of dreams. I was half-way there when my ears detected sounds of wings flapping in and out of my room. I got up and felt something brush my hair. I turned on the light and came face to face with a bat. I stood still and watched as it flew around the apartment going from room to room. The doorways to each room were low, as dwarves first lived in Perth. I got out my largest beach towel and timed the flight path of the bat. It took two or three tries but I finally tangled it and jumped on the towel – gently. I opened it up and there was the cutest bat face staring at me with big eyes and squeaking pitifully. I took it downstairs and released into the night.


    • Hail, Jean,

      Bats are my friends when they are outdoors gobbling mozzies but I don’t appreciate them in the house – although all the cats I have ever known believe that the arrival of a bat is some kind of Christmas. What fun! I took Joe to the airport for a trip to Hungary and got back to find two bats swooping about. The cat got one of them and the other disappeared. I found it next morning swimming in the loo. Not being as kind as you, I flushed.

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