Self Care Album Rock

Smart people–my mother, my mother-in-law, my brothers, Tim, my friend at the market–say that I need to take care of myself. So tonight, rather than rushing out the door to do the grocery shopping after supper, I said to hell with the grocery shopping and drew myself a bath.

I am not a bath person. But when in Rome. To mitigate the annoying bathroom fan noise, and to up the self-care-ambience, I extinguished the light and fired up every candle I could find in the house.

I put Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back on the turntable and resolved to listen to the entire album (those of us unused to languid nights need conceits for lolling).

Lest lolling prove too much, I had a good book at the ready. But I did not need it.

It was a an unmitigated, relaxing success.

First Try at Handmade Paper

About a year ago I asked Catherine if she would dig out her old paper-making gear for me, and a few weeks later some tubs and screens and some waxed paper emerged from the depths of her studio and into the depths of mine. Where they stayed until today.

Today I took my first stab at making handmade paper, using the condolence cards and flowers we received for Catherine over the last few weeks. My intent is to make thank you cards from the paper with my letterpress; today was a beta test for that project.

Here are the first 8 sheets of paper, each about 5 by 7 inches:

Paper made from Catherine's condolences cards

As you can see, I experimented with different amounts of flower petals thrown into the blender with the ripped-up paper, with different colours of flowers and of paper paper, and with different consistencies of pulp.

It was a very helpful learning experience, and I’ll come back at it again tomorrow with with I’ve learned.

Instead, you just jump right in.”

From an essay by Mira Ptacin in Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.

Ptacin writes about relocating to Maine from New York City, and how her first week was spent at the home of a grieving family friend:

Here are some of the things I learned at Rosemary’s that first week after leaving New York: I learned that when a widow is crying and smoking a cigarette, you let her cry, and if you speak, it’s to ask if you can get her another Diet Coke. I learned that no one cares that much what you do for a living, but they will be grateful if you stay up with a six-year-old and watch Dennis the Menace because his grandfather is dead and he cannot sleep. Rather than get into a political debate about the war, you thank an Iraqi veteran for his service. You do not check your BlackBerry in the middle of a toast, and when someone hands you a crying baby, you hold it. I learned that ice cream cakes make grandpas feel really special, and when a neighbor invites you to swing by the food pantry during her volunteer shift so that she can take a look at that nasty poison oak on your shin, you go, and you wait patiently until she can get free to see you. I learned that you don’t judge someone’s worth based on what they can do for you and that you aren’t expected to ask, “How can I help?” Instead, you just jump right in.

He’s not nearly as bereft as he appears…

On Saturday afternoon Oliver insisted that we leave lumpen form at home and go out on the town for some fun, in part to celebrate the birthday of our next door neighbour.

At the last minute I threw my sketchbook in my back pocket; it’s a habit I’d fallen out of in recent months, and something I miss.

We landed at Receiver Coffee, having muffins, coffee, and a London Fog. I used the opportunity to make a quick sketch of Oliver; I pulled my long-dormant watercolour set out my bag and added some hints of colour.

Sketch of Oliver

Its a rusty sketch, which reflects my time away from the pen. Oliver didn’t look nearly as bereft as I’ve rendered him. But I do think that I managed to capture some of his essential Oliver.

We continued on our way, stopping at The Bookmark to buy aforementioned neighbour a birthday present, and then, when we dropped it off next door, found ourselves invited in for a pleasant evening of tea, birthday cake, and conversation.

All hail Oliver, my social animator-in-chief.

OK Google, play me songs of love and loss”

Facebook knows you’re pregnant before you’re pregnant.

Spotify is in on this game.

Yesterday I hit “shuffle” on my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist, and the first three songs it played were:

  • The Book Of Love, Peter Gabriel
  • You Can’t Rush Your Healing, Trevor Hall
  • Only You, Jimi Charles Moody

Now all credit to Spotify: I had been playing covers of I Think It’s Going to Rain Today on rotation for a few days, sending up a fairly obvious signal flare.

But really, Spotify robots, you play me a song with this as the chorus:

So, you can’t rush your healing
Darkness has its teachings
Love is never leaving
You can’t rush your healing
Your healing

Fortunately, I’ve arrived at a place where descending into a torrent of tears, or some variation thereof, seems like a pretty healthy thing to be doing. So a hat-tip to the robots.

Also, The Book of Love is an amazing song, especially the Peter Gabriel cover.

And from there it’s a short hop, skip and jump to The Power of the Heart, which Lou Reed wrote for Laurie Anderson as a marriage proposal and Peter Gabriel also covered.

You looked at me, I looked at you
Your sleeping heart was shining through
Wispy cobwebs that we’re breathing through
The power of the heart

That’s not such a bad place to dwell.

Annals of Electric Vehicle Charging

For the first month we had our Kia Soul EV electric vehicle, we charged it from a regular 120 volt outlet at the end of our driveway, an outlet originally installed to power the heating cables to keep ice dams from forming on our roof. We used the portable charger that came with the car. While this was convenient, inasmuch as it didn’t require us to install anything, charging the car this way is very slow: at least overnight to go from 50% to 100%.

When we needed faster charging we used “level 2” chargers at places like Access PEI and Efficiency PEI; these 240 volt chargers charge much more quickly, and can go from 50% to 100% in just a few hours.

On January 18, 2020 a new option became available, a high speed “level 3” charger off the Canadian Tire parking lot in Charlottetown. This charger can take our Kia Soul from empty to 80% in less than half an hour.

New DC charger at Canadian Tire in Charlottetown

This faster charging comes at a hefty price: because only Maritime Electric can sell electricity, the use of this charger is billed by time, not energy, at a rate of $20 per hour.

The first time we used it we paid $14.84 for 8.06 kWH of electricity (a whopping $1.84 per kWh, or about 13x what we pay for electricity at home); four days later we paid $7.02 for 10.5 kWh (still an almost 5x premium over retail electricity). What determines the rate of charge, and thus the cost per kWh, I do not know.

A couple of weeks ago, our electrician came to install the wiring–a 240 volt “dryer” outlet in a weatherproof box–for our own EVDuty-brand charger, which we received as part of the purchase of the Soul from Pure EV in December. And finally, late last week, I got around to mounting the charger itself on the side of the house:

Our EVDuty charger at 100 Prince Street.

There are several benefits having a level 2 charger at home:

  • The faster charging time means that I’ll rarely, if ever, get caught without a way to quickly charge the car.
  • I can set the Kia Soul EV up to automatically charge to 80% or 100% every night if I like, as long as it’s plugged in, and I can also set it to warm and defrost the vehicle, from the mains electricity not the battery, so that it’s ready to drive at a time I set.
  • The charger is there for others to use; outside of the flaky charger in the parking garage of the Delta Prince Edward, this makes it the first EV charger in downtown Charlottetown. And while I can’t support full-on public charging–I need to be able to get my own car in and out!–I’m happy to offer those that need it a “top up.”

So far I’m happy with the EVDuty charger: it does what it says on the tin, and, after I paid a $100 upgrade fee online, I have real time access to the charger via an app on my Android phone.

I’ll report back once I’ve had more experience with the charger.