Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lunch in Burnstown

It's 4:30 p.m. on a damp and dull Saturday afternoon. I'm sitting at my desk in my study, the windows thrown open, having just got up from a nap on the green leather couch in the fire place room, where I was lulled to sleep by the mellifluous arias of an opera on the French CBC radio station. When I awoke, I lay inert on my side, glancing about me and staring out the patio doors onto the cedar deck, drinking in the rich gem tones of that exceedingly comfortable room and the soft colours of Autumn beyond.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Afternoon

Can there possibly be anything more pleasant than a quiet Friday afternoon at the office! It helps, I have no doubt, that we have been exceedingly occupied both this morning and until mid-afternoon, and now I am able to gloat by celebrating the unexpected though thoroughly welcome surge of commercial activity and the reward of having successfully prosecuted the work at hand (especially as it involved that almost funereal business called corporate law, for which I have always thought a lawyer with perfectly white hands and manicured nails is so extremely well suited).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who Cares!

In the scheme of things, there isn’t much that really matters. However, I regrettably find it difficult to distance myself entirely from the irksome details of daily living. There is always debate about what constitutes the anathema of life, but it is fairly safe to say that the popular opinion (even though perhaps wrongly held at times) is that it is others. Philosophically (and in contradiction to this thesis) one is inclined to reject the visceral reaction and turn the sword upon oneself, on the theory that we are ultimately responsible for our own happiness, and that we cannot conveniently blame others for disrupting our inner peace. As a practical matter though this generous and cerebral schmaltz seldom holds water for long. Instinct, the demonic thing that it is, prevails in the end.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Don’t Say!

If ever we spoke the truth about one another, the conversation would be considerably more entertaining. To sterilize our comments is equivalent to removing all the fat from the gravy, it just doesn’t taste as good. The unfortunate part of such a candid posture is that it invariably dwells upon what are considered by many to be the more undesirable elements of another’s personality. Can you imagine, for example, what you’d be inclined to say if someone asked you how your family were? Of course the immediate inclination is to gloss over the matter entirely by saying they’re all fine, but that really tells the listener nothing. How much more engrossing it would be to say, "Well, my husband has become a certified alcoholic; we now know with certainty that my nephew will never marry; my mother is driving me crazy; I haven’t spoken to my sister since the fracas last Christmas; and my aunt who lives with us is a complete bitch!" Such an overview provides numerous avenues which to explore in further detail; cuts to the chase, so to speak, broadens the horizons. I mean, why bother with all that namby-pamby stuff about how excellently well everyone is doing? None of us lives in a cartoon world of defined edges and limits; we’re all constantly overflowing and making a mess of things, if the truth be known.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The "Retainer Agreement" - Say It Like It Is

My poor little office is becoming more and more like a museum with each passing hour. One can almost hear the dust collecting. After a dearth of activity in the past week (in which I diluted my income tax payable only by enlarging upon my tax deductible expenses - a replacement cheque writer), I had hoped that an improving Thanksgiving Dinner would have spurred my existing clientele to action; but, alas, I have done little more this morning than rearrange my collection of historical agenda (I have saved every one of them for the past thirty-three years except 2006 for some strange reason). Oh, and I also changed a light bulb and called a roofing contractor to see about repairing some eaves trough ruined by vandals on the weekend. My bank account (which I regularly check, about as often as I do my email) resonates with the same inactivity as my own business. Even sizeable trust cheques which I have written and sent to deserving Beneficiaries of the Deceased have not being cashed (or, at the very least, the bank employees are not posting the activity). One more reason to assuage my paranoia and accept that the current famine is universal.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Monday Snooze

Shortly before noon today we drove from Ottawa where we had earlier been recapitulating with my parents the events of yesterday's family turkey dinner, a tradition of copiousness and excess which my elderly mother insists upon hosting every year in spite of her advancing age and all the work and preparation it involves. Following our brief but blunt dissection of the social components of the gathering (always a source of contention in our clan, compiled as it is of so many strong willed and opinionated characters), we reclaimed the chafing dish in which we had transported the leek concoction (our small contribution to the feast, along with the red and white wines) and then departed fairly abruptly, seeking with some gusto to remove ourselves from the heat of the reignited embers of the fray and frazzle of immutable family politics and economics.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

Surely there can’t be anyone at this time of year, on the eve of the commencement of the traditional Thanksgiving Weekend, who doesn’t fill his or her head with images of turkey dinners, roaring fires, autumn leaves, windswept billowing clouds, Martha Stewart and family gatherings. Everything about Thanksgiving has such a compelling, cozy and woolly feel to it. Perhaps because the event is not plagued with the necessity and utter distraction of gift-giving, Thanksgiving is less tangled than Christmas celebrations often become. Thanksgiving is so thoroughly about the sensory delights of sight, sound and smell that even if one isn’t the least spiritual, there is ample room for indulgence (yet another pointed departure from the Christmas experience). The American amalgamation of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims has all but been abandoned in modern society, at least as far as the Puritanical feature goes; and the wild turkey motif which has replaced it commonly comes in a glass bottle.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Quiet Times

In what would appear to be the indicator of business buzz, our first meeting of the day was at 8:30 a.m. this morning, to review and sign the last Will and Testament of an elderly Client. I had arranged to have my capable Assistant in attendance at that time, though she usually does not arrive until 9:00 a.m. Why it was that my Client wanted to meet outside regular office hours I do not know, nor of course did I ask; but it has to be observed (perhaps snidely) that only a retired elderly person would be intent on doing so.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hitting the Wall

As the post World War II generation ages and continues to march ever more closely towards approaching retirement, the subject of the labour force in general surfaces again and again in a variety of ways both in the media and in casual conversation, and from many different angles. There is the obvious matter of declining numbers of older workers and the expanding spaces in the workforce which are being freed up for the younger workers. It is nothing to hear that it may be impossible to find enough people to plug the holes of the departing members, which might at least be a source of encouragement for youth. Another slant is that the younger people are going to bring to the workplace a significantly different approach to work, not just more balanced, but certainly more technologically savvy. This further entails that people may modify the traditional work environment by switching places in a standard office to a home-based production. The novelty of a "virtual" office is no longer purely hypothetical.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Drag Queens and Compound Interest

The natural effluxion of time has as we all know many repercussions, some of which - like aging for example- are not altogether enviable. On the other hand, the business of adding interest to the principal in order to earn interest on the interest is considered (by the lender or investor at least) to be a very favourable result. This fetching proposition illustrates, however, that time must be more than a vacuum if it is to produce desirable outcomes. It further captures the need to reinvest in what one already has, rather than merely allowing one’s resources to exhaust themselves. And finally, the corollary of the latter principle is that for every gain there is an off-setting deprivation. In plain terms, the summary of these generalizations is as follows: a) don’t just sit there, do something; b) take care of yourself; and, c) don’t be a pig about it all.