Friday, December 17, 2010

Pythagoras, Abba, and the Vinyl Café

I woke up last night to the sound of heavy rain falling on the roof, and when I woke up again this morning it hadn't ceased; the gardens are certainly happy, but it definitely doesn't feel like summer; more like May or June back in Canada.

As a result of the rain I spent the morning inside the back room of the work studio trying to develop skills as a craftsman: Skye tasked me with wallpapering the inside of a cupboard. The back of the workstudio is being converted into a kitchen of sorts; there is already a bedroom, and the idea is for WWOOFers to be able to live semi-independently out there. Since the workstudio is a converted garage, the kitchen area is what was once a toolshop / workbench area, and while the cupboards have been painted, they are still wood with no proper backing. Enter the wallpaper! My job was somewhat complicated by the permanent nature of the shelves (nailed in place, they didn't lift out) and the fact that my ruler was taller than the shelves were spaced apart. Wishing desperately for a tape measure, which would have easily bent and twisted itself to fit under the shelves, I found the only way I could calculate the correct height of the wallpaper to cut for the back wall of the shelves was to create an imaginary triangle using the ruler as the hypotenuse and then apply a little Pythagoras: a2 + b2 = c2 (or in this case, b2 = c2 - a2). Oh, and I didn't have a calculator or blank paper, either... I wrote my calculations out on old newspapers.

Between all the math I was doing, and then having to make other adjustments to the wallpaper pieces to accommodate shelf supports and such, it took me almost all morning to wallpaper the three shelves inside the cupboard; the most fun I had was playing with the paste, a gelatinous liquid made from a powder that I slopped onto the wallpaper with a paintbrush (pastebrush in this case, I suppose). For the remaining forty minutes until lunch I worked on the quilt, talking to Skye as she "touched up" a few of Finn's squares (sometimes the ending row is too lose to sew the square to another one properly, so she undoes them to redo the last few rows).

After lunch I walked over to Maria and Mike's to check on Flash the cat (since it had rained so much the plants didn't need watering), and read my book there while Flash sprawled on the ground in front of me, every now and then looking hopefully at his food bowl (Astrid, another neighbour, is in charge of feeding him).

When I got back Finn was in the dining / living room watching Mamma Mia; while the music certainly buoyed his mood and had Skye dancing around singing "Dancing Queen", it left me with an endless parade of Abba melodies marching through my head. Those insanely catchy tunes are musician kyrptonite....

Thankfully I was able to get most of the Abba out of my head tonight at St. Peter's: there was another carol singalong, although this one was themed more like a service, with several sermon-like speeches and prayers interspersed between the carols. An interesting inclusion (my musical elitism won't let me call it a highlight, because try as I hard as I can I can't appreciate choirs that don't sing in tune or with proper support) was a group of thirty men and two women from Samoa, who are currently staying in the Hawke's Bay area and were invited to sing a few Samoan Christmas carols for us. As the only Samoan song I know is "Minoi, Minoi", it was nice to hear a few other examples.

After the service was over Skye introduced me to a friend of hers named Adrian, who had brought his own WWOOFers to the carol night as well. I didn't catch their names, but they are from France, and were delighted to meet me as they said they had met someone from Vancouver and hadn't been able to understand him when he spoke; they were relieved they could understand me! I found that highly amusing, especially when I said, "Well, we have many Chinese and East-Indians living in Vancouver" and the girl shook her head vehemently and said, "No, he was a real Canadian!" How do I explain that a great deal of the Asians and East-Indians in Vancouver are just as much "real" Canadians as I am...?

When we got home Skye was feeling energetic and didn't want to go to sleep just yet, so I pulled out my laptop and played "Dave Cooks the Turkey" from Stuart McLean's Vinyl Café for her; she laughed a lot, so I think that's a good sign. Perhaps tomorrow we'll listen to "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party" or "Christmas Presents" off the same album, but now it is late and I am off to bed. Night!


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