Another January Day

I know what our next door neighbour did yesterday – pranced around on his front lawn in a t-shirt.  Okay, he wasn’t actually prancing.  More like zipping out to his car for something and then taking his sweet time going back inside because it was relatively sunny and warm here on the first day of the new year.  And by warm I mean around the freezing mark.

Sorry that’s all I’ve got on him.  Just happened to see him briefly from my front window and have no idea how he spent the rest of his day.  Here in the late afternoon we were feasting on an awesome vegetarian lasagna made by my son.  We didn’t have the whole gang because life and work and other priorities take people in different directions.  I’m always happy to see whoever drops in.  Especially when they bring food.

This morning the wind woke me up early and has been blustering away all day, blowing snow off the roof tops and the trees and depositing it in our driveway.  No t-shirts noted anywhere on the block.  Colder weather is forecast for next week.  I wish we could send some of it (minus the wind) to Australia.  Along with a ton of rain.  I fear the devastating disasters in store for all of us if we don’t take the climate crisis seriously.

But I won’t get myself started on that tonight.  I’ll tell you what I’m happy about instead.

– all the Christmas leftovers are gone

– except for some fudge and butter tarts, and W is taking care of those

– all the decorations are boxed up and put away

– except for the outdoor lights, but W is taking care of those too, probably by February at the very latest

– we have had our youngest three grandchildren around sporadically for almost two weeks.  We find them interesting and they find us boring, and that’s how these relationships usually work with the very young and the very old.  I suppose we could try to be less boring.  There’s a thought.

– I love quiet evenings inside where it’s warm, a hot drink before bed, reading until the kindle falls out of my hand and I can’t keep my eyes open.  Simple pleasures.  I’ve already said boring, no reason to repeat it.

This month always seems to go relentlessly on and on until you swear it’s never going to end.  Sort of like a pregnancy in the ninth month.  My doctor told me she’d never heard of a pregnancy that didn’t terminate (how reassuring) and I guess that applies to Januaries as well.

Two days down, eleventy seven to go.

Looking Back and Going Forward

Sometimes I talk like I’m ancient and on deaths door. When I’m gone, before I die, life is short, time to downsize so my kids aren’t left with this colossal mess….stuff like that.  Pretty sure it’s annoying, and not a particularly healthy state of mind to be in for long stretches of time.  Especially considering I’m seventy, not a hundred and ten.

It no doubt comes from a lifetime of worrying about every possible disastrous outcome to even ordinary situations and scenarios.  Unusual ones just raise my anxiety level further.   I like to be ridiculously prepared for everything.  Not a fan of surprises, even if they’re pleasant.  I truly try to live in the moment, breathe deeply, let things go, calm my mind, count my blessings, be grateful for everything I have.  Most of the time I’m really good at that.

But I’m always working on limiting those doom and gloom moments.  One of the biggest reasons for neglecting my writing so much in the last three years or so – people died.  Every time I felt like sitting down to say some profound thing or other, someone much too young to leave this world did just that.  And I was struck dumb and numb, contemplating my own mortality and how fragile we all are, no matter where we are in our lives.  My wonderful father-in-law died in October.  He was 97.  We had a lovely visit with him a couple of weeks prior, and to me it felt like he was just kind of done with it all. Not sad or unhappy, just tired.  So his passing wasn’t unexpected.  Sad of course and he is missed, but I think he had a good life all in all.  It’s the untimely ones that leave me stunned.  They’re the tragedies.  And OMG you just never know!

See how easy that is?  We could all die tomorrow!

Also I have a lot of time on my hands to read the news.  I don’t recommend it actually.  A huge percentage of it is bad and less than truthful.  Misleading and hateful rhetoric is all the rage.  It’s hard not to get sucked in by it all.  But I’m not a fighter.  Passive aggressive for sure, but not a screamer fixing to bash your brains in.  Love and kindness always win in the end, don’t they?  We’re all doomed to hell if they don’t.

And that’s my pep talk for today!  Hope you found it enlightening.  Not totally surprised if you didn’t.  Be kind either way.

Sharing My World 81

filename-1

Baby sister and me at picnic grounds, random uncle in background, and some very cool cars.

Share Your World – May 28, 2018

If you were to pack a basket for a picnic lunch, what would be in your basket?

I have the fondest memories of our Sunday family picnics in a little park beside the beach in Port Elgin.  There were always various aunts and uncles and cousins from my dad’s side of the family, the heady scent of cedar in the hot sun, and picnic tables that the men would round up until there were enough to seat everyone.  There were paper table cloths and paper plates, plastic cups and cutlery, wasps, ants, screeching sea gulls, and so much food we always ended up having to decide who would take what home with them.  Because how boring to take what you brought and how fun to exchange things.  And fight over Aunt Marie’s brownies topped with melted marshmallows and chocolate icing.  Well, maybe that never happened because I can’t imagine there being any of those left.

Something that did happen every picnic day without fail was having the adults warn their children that swimming was absolutely forbidden until two hours after eating. Because to do so meant you would probably get cramps and die.  And the adults would have their after meal chat time seriously reduced too. That bit would be equally tragic.

I do not remember ever having much to do with the picnic food prep, which likely explains my picnic nostalgia.  White bread sandwiches cut in little triangles and jello salads and potato salads and desserts all just magically appeared.  And there was always Freshie.  That’s a Canadian thing from the 1950’s and beyond, an add-your-own-sugar drink mix, in kid flavours called orange, yellow, purple and red.  Purple was the best.

IMG_3303

At this point in my life I have a hard time figuring out what the point of a picnic is when it’s just so much easier to stay home where there is less pollen and fewer bugs.  But if I was forced at gun point to pack for one, I’d fill the basket with potato salad and plastic forks.  And hope somebody else remembers to bring the Freshie.

On a vacation what do you require in any place that you sleep?

A decent mattress, clean sheets, air conditioning, a great shower, towels larger than postage stamps and internet access.  As far as I know there are none of these things in a tent.  Oh, and lots of body lotion.  Some places are very chintzy with the body lotion.  I bring my own, but still, you know, free stuff.

If you were to buy a new house/apartment what are the top three items on your wish list?

Funny you should ask because I have been watching design challenges and home purchasing shows and small home documentaries.  It is completely bizarre to me how much space some people think they need.  One woman wanted an extra room just to store her shoes.  Think about why you need such a ridiculous amount of storage space and then get rid of half your crap.  Plus, seriously, if you are one person with four bathrooms, what is going on in that little head of yours?  And more importantly, who is keeping them all clean while you’re out working your ass off to pay your mortgage?

Top three items on my list:  two bedrooms, big shower, no stairs.  The rest of the list?   Kitchen with stools and a counter you can eat at, open to living area, a little patio or balcony, no grass to cut.  A den or office area would be a nice bonus for books and art paraphernalia but if that stuff can fit in the bedrooms, even better.  Something small and easy to keep clean.  If I want to entertain I will rent a hall.  Or take you out to a restaurant.  If you get really drunk and can’t drive home, you can sleep on my floor.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?

Last summer it would often take me a couple of days to cut the grass, doing the back one day and the front the next.  I’ve done it twice now, front and back easily in a morning, no problem. So I guess those 15 minute senior workouts are doing their magic.  I also found a video that takes you on a mile long walk (1.609 km in Canada) without leaving your home.  So, great for rainy, heavy pollen, or crazy hot days. The ‘walk’ incorporates side to side and back and forth steps, arm and knee raises, kicks, twists, and generally a lot of antics that if you did them out and about in your neighbourhood would draw a lot of attention to yourself.

After all these hot days, last night we had our first real thunder-storm of the season. It was short but lovely.  There’s something about the delightful smell of a rain storm that always makes me smile.   That, plus the fact that if you had a picnic planned you’d have to call it off and eat at your kitchen counter instead.

share-your-world2

Sharing My World 79

IMG_2133

Share Your World – April 23, 2018

If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

Sick.  And very fat.  Assuming I go with my first choice which is chocolate lava cake with real whipped cream.  And the only reason I thought of that is because I saw an Instant Pot recipe for it on Facebook, source of all indispensable information.  Good thing I don’t have a cake pan insert.  Phew.

I also want to say coffee, but that’s not exactly a nutritious staple either, so my final answer is soup.  You can have a mad variety with that one.  I’ve always said I could live quite happily on soup alone forever.  Not sure if it’s true, but it’s a fun thing to say.

List at least five movies or books that cheer you up.

It’s a rare thing for me to watch the same movie twice, but I did it with Bridesmaids.  Twice in a movie theatre and at least twice on Netflix after that.  If that one doesn’t make you laugh out loud more than once then I’m thinking you might need more help than a movie can give you to cheer yourself up.

I also can’t think of any book I’ve picked up to re-read in an attempt to improve my mood.  So I guess I’ll take a fail on this question.

Something I do like to watch though is multiple seasons of tv shows, because that’s like a book or movie that never freaking ends and can keep me up until ungodly hours in the interests of finding out what the heck god forsaken thing happens next.  And although I profess to prefer comedies, I watch a LOT of crime shows.  They’re not all that cheery normally, unless they’re badly done and then they’re hilarious and obviously listed in the wrong category.

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?

Not much.  So little in fact,  I would not be surprised if the mouse rather quickly passed out from boredom, or left altogether in search of a more stimulating environment.    W watches stuff on his computer.  I watch stuff on my IPad.  We yawn a lot.  We go to bed.  For a bit of excitement we might discuss the weather if it’s being its normal shitty self.  But that just puts us in a bad mood so mostly we skip it. Or he goes on and on about it and I don’t listen.  Yeah that sounds more like it.  Important to get this boring shit right.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

There was a question a week or two ago – Been anywhere recently for the first time? – and I’m going to answer it now because I actually did leave my house for an extended period of time.  We are talking hours.  Holy.   Imagine living here for so many years without ever visiting these two places –

Muttart Conservatory and the Art Gallery of Alberta.  I greatly appreciate Son and Daughter-in-law and grandkids who took me to see these places because they were both lovely.  Kind of makes me wonder what else there is that I haven’t been paying attention to in this city.

Then of course there’s my new books which I’ve mentioned already, pictured above.  I had to scrounge up a bedside lamp to start reading ( in bed, my favourite place to read), having forgotten that real books don’t light up in the dark.

Hope your world is also filled with wondrously magical things worth sharing. Oh, did I say “also”?  Okay I did, so I must have meant to, right?  Right.  More equally thrilling stuff to come I have no doubt.  Even though you might.

share-your-world2

Sharing My World 78

IMG_3143

There were no new world sharing questions this week.  Normally this would not be a big deal for me since I am generally clueless about stuff like what day of the week it is at the best of times, and it could be construed as surprising that I even noticed.  But I did.  And consequently I’ve had some remorse about my silence.  I needed my question-answering fix for the week.

So I searched the internet for some random questions that didn’t hurt my brain.  I hope my answers won’t hurt yours too much.

Are you the person now you thought you’d be when you were little?

When I was little I never once imagined myself as anyone’s grandma, that’s for sure.

Now that the grandma thing is happening I realize that all grandmas have a finite number of stories to tell and they just keep on telling them because what the hell else do they have to do?  So if you’ve heard this one before, too bad.  I’m old and I don’t care.

When a teacher asked us to paint a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, I imagined myself as a brilliant and beautiful blonde singer on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Sadly in real life I had extreme stage fright, a less than stellar singing voice, and what I considered totally the wrong face for blonde hair.  “Brilliant” and  “beautiful” on their own alas turned out to be insufficient traits for this particular ambition.  Plus Ed died before I could get my shit together.

I guess none of it was meant to be.  But the childhood friends who laughed at me when I shared this dream will forever live in my memory as little jerks.  I knew myself it was not realistic, but could you not have humoured me for five minutes?

Have you ever had your heart-broken?  Have you ever broken someone else’s heart?

Heartbreak is such a subjective thing.  Little things break your heart when you’re little, like when your brother pulls the head off your doll and demands money from you for revealing its current whereabouts.  It’s all about loss, and the losses get progressively bigger and more serious as you grow up.  You lose a good friend, you break up with a boyfriend, you have to abandon an unrealistic dream.  But wait, life has way more heartbreaking stuff to throw at you. A lover moves on and leaves you grieving for what might have been, opportunities disappear, a grandparent dies.  Then you lose your parents and a sibling and you wonder what you were so upset about before those things happened.  And then you wonder how much more breaking your heart can actually take.  Or if it will eventually get so hard and calloused that it just rolls with the punches, because you know those hard knocks aren’t going to stop.

If I’ve caused a broken heart I am truly sorry.  But I believe,  because I can’t think of a specific instance off the top of my head of ever doing it deliberately to anyone,  that maybe it hasn’t happened a lot.  Huh. Well, no doubt there’s still time.

When you think of home, what comes to mind?

After W and I first got married we both thought of where we grew up as home.  As in ‘let’s go home for Christmas.’  It took a long time for us to refer to wherever the two of us currently lived together as our REAL home.  Having kids helped with that because it was their home.  Is that weird or normal?  I seem to ask myself that question a lot and rarely know the answer and probably won’t believe yours anyway, so just ignore that bit.

Now I think you just take home with you wherever you go.  It’s a feeling, more than a place. A sense of peace and love and being safe from harm.  It can be as big as a country or as small as a backyard.  And the people who have broken my heart by leaving were simply on their way home.  I need to suck it up and be thankful I got to walk beside them and share so many small parts of their journey.

Name one of your greatest strengths, and one of your greatest weaknesses.

Adaptation is a big strength.  Because everything changes.  Everything!   Might as well get used to it.

Worry is my most crippling weakness, not to mention a royal pain.  Sometimes when something I’ve been fretting about finally happens it’s a colossal relief because then I can just move on and adapt to it.  And yeah, that one is definitely weird.

What did life teach you yesterday?

It taught me that many people who want to cut sugar out of their diets still want to pretend they are eating things that contain sugar.  They post sugarless, wheatless, grain free, gluten-free, dairy free, diabetic friendly recipes for brownies and cookies and cheesecake and bread.  Why don’t you weirdos just stop eating cupcakes and chocolate mousse and bogus donut shaped things that no one in their right mind can be fooled into believing are bagels?  It won’t kill you to cut desserts out of your diet and just eat a completely un-messed with banana or something.

I’m sorry but “bread” made with sixteen eggs and almond flour is not even remotely close to being bread-like.  Do you really need toast that smells like burnt eggs?  I know I can live without it.

I can also live without eating shortbread and butter tarts although I made them both for W because it’s Christmas and I didn’t want him moping around whining about missing them.  Believe me, no one wants that.  I did not attempt to make a pastry-less, raisin and nutless,  no brown sugar, no corn syrup, butter-substitute loaded tart although I’m sure someone in the world has tried it and will be posting the godforsaken recipe on Facebook shortly.  Do not fall for it.  Some things are meant to be coma inducing sugar bombs and we should just accept that and let them be.

Deep down, who are you really?

Well if all this didn’t give you at least a couple of clues and an ill- informed opinion, I don’t know what to say.

I’m pretty ordinary as humans go.  I guess deep down I’m my mothers daughter, least likely person to ever want to break your heart.  My mother did not laugh at my goal to become a famous singer, she simply told me the picture I drew was nice.

It’s not that hard to be kind. We should probably all try it more often.  And if you’re one of those people trying to make the things we eat healthy, I’m sorry I was snarky, and good for you.  My mom tried to make pie shells once with whole wheat flour.  They were disgusting, but we all knew her heart was in the right place.

Sharing My World 77

IMG_3186

Share Your World – December 4, 2017

What household chore do you absolutely hate doing?

I half-assed hate all of them.  Vacuuming (and sweeping and washing and polishing) floors is brutally hard on my back.  And even when it isn’t I will complain that it is.  Cleaning bathrooms is puke inducing.  Laundry is just an annoying pain in the ass.  I guess it’s ass day here at Breathing Space headquarters.  Sorry.

Okay, if I absolutely hate it, it’s probably something I never do, like washing walls or cleaning blinds.  It’s insane to ever do something you absolutely hate doing.  Nothing insane about me!  My daughter dusts my blinds.  It’s just one of the many reasons why I love her.

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

Right after I retired and really, ever since to some degree.  Except I’ve calmed down a tad lately and no longer wake up every morning screaming in my brain OMFG I DONT HAVE TO GO TO WORK TODAY OR TOMORROW OR ANY OTHER DAY EVER UNTIL I DIE!  And not even after that, as far as I know.  I guess going to work was a chore of which I was less than fond.  Not that my job was horrible, it’s just that being the boss of my own time is infinitely better.  I certainly roll my eyes a lot less.

I have passionately pursued my art and redecorating and decluttering since retiring.  Along with sleeping in.  That is a popular one.  Now I believe I’m in a transition phase, although I have no clear vision of where I’m transitioning to.  Hopefully it’s not permanent couch potato status.

How many times have you moved in the last ten years?

Zero.  We are stuck in a house bound rut.  I just counted on my fingers sixteen different places I’ve lived, but don’t quote me on that because my math skills are less than stellar.  Our next move, should we choose to get off our asses and make one, will be to something smaller with no stairs and minimal yard work.  Preferably self-cleaning.  My mother-in-law, in her nineties, still lives in the two-story, laundry-in-the-basement home W grew up in.  I don’t know whether I should call that amazing or just down-right dangerously nuts.  Well actually I do know, but I try to be polite and mind my own business most of the time.

I hope we both are smart enough to know when it’s time to down size and simplify and give up doing things like cleaning out eaves troughs and trimming trees and driving vehicles and operating machinery and going up and down stairs and cooking eight course gourmet meals.  (Already ditched that last one, if it’s possible to ditch something you’ve never actually done before in your life).

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

I love that my grandchildren are growing up and heading ever closer to adulthood and even though every one of them faces difficulties and issues and growing pains, it’s okay.  Because I’m not the one who has to deal with it.  Haha.  Yeah.  That IS a selfish bad grandma attitude despite the fact that of course I’m here if I’m ever asked for help or advice, but I’m also perfectly happy to stay out of it.  Our parents had confidence in us to deal with our kids without interference and I have the same confidence in mine.  So the inspiration for that little rant came from a weekend visit and conversations with my son and with my daughter-in-law.  Yes, kids, we talk about you when you’re not around, but you are in good hands.  Just don’t be assholes.

I’m running out of ways to incorporate the ass word in this revealing share, so I see no point in going on.  Plus I’ve taken the “sitting still” thing to its maximum limit for today.  Oh, who am I kidding.  There is no agreed upon limit for that.

share-your-world2

Sharing My World 70

 IMG_3062

It’s a coyote!  (Click photo for source)  This is a cousin of the one I saw running down our street on Sunday morning, all pointy eared and bushy tailed and NOT A DOG.  And still I ventured outside and walked around the neighbourhood.  What the hell, I’ve had a pretty good life.

Share Your World May 8, 2017

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

All of the above.  I wear shoes when I am getting ready to go out because I forget something in the house and have to go back in to get it and can’t be bothered to take my shoes off for what will probably be less than five minutes.  Then when I come back from wherever I’ve been I might again leave my shoes on because I forget to take them off.  Being forgetful makes life a lot less boring.  There’s always something new to deal with.

I wear socks when my feet are freezing.  I’ve noticed they are great dust and debris collectors.  When I take them off I wonder how there can continually be that much crap on my floors.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with my outside shoes because I always remove them at the door.  Don’t I?  I am not a big fan of my slippers because they make annoying clomping sounds but they are easier to slip into than gigantic thermal socks.

Barefoot has always been my preference, but the older I get the harder it is to pull that off, and even open toe footwear is getting to be an unwise choice.  Feet don’t get more beautiful with age.  They do get more interesting though.  My right foot has a bunion and both feet are developing claw toes.  My left big toe has an ugly thickening nail.  Mostly I cover them up so they won’t frighten small children.

What was your favorite food when you were a child?

Strangely enough it was a concoction my grandma used to make, consisting of cut yellow beans and small new potatoes in a buttery white sauce.  She made it for us on the rare occasion when mom wasn’t home to cook, so we considered it a real treat.  I have the best memories of how delicious it was and how fast a whole big pot full would disappear.  Tried making it myself as an adult but the results were disappointing.  Could be kids just have weird taste buds.

Are you a listener or a talker?

If we’re friends and visiting one on one I’ll probably talk your face off.  If you’re a talkative stranger in a supermarket check out apparently I have “sympathetic listener” tattooed on my forehead.  If it’s a big group I’m probably saying  very little.  Chances are I’m not listening either.

Favorite thing to (pick one): Photograph? Write? Or Cook?

Well I’ll just give you answers to all three because apparently I don’t understand what “pick one” means.  I like to photograph whatever catches my eye when I’m out walking, not because it necessarily makes for a great photo, but more to prove I was actually outside and away from my own property.

I like to write lists.  Must be my favourite thing to write based on sheer numbers of them started, scratched off, completed, lost, crumpled up, thrown away, stuffed into random pockets and bags.  They are everywhere.  They are supposed to keep me organized.  They are not very good at their job.

Soup is without a doubt my favourite thing to cook because it allows for freedom of expression.  You can toss any number of weird things in there and still have a wide margin for success.  W would not agree with that.  He suffers from chronic soup suspicion.  Yes, that is a real affliction.  He likes to know exactly what he is consuming and with my soups full knowledge is not always possible.  Or even preferable.

Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

My daughter has made some positive changes in her life and I’m grateful to her for inspiring me to make some too.  I haven’t been walking because of a painful knee and fear of making it worse, but on Saturday the two of us (well three of us if you count the dog) got out in the sunshine and took a long stroll.  Here’s the funny thing about that.  The longer I walked the better my knee felt.  So I guess my making-it-worse excuse is total crap.  Damn.

W just sent me a text from Ontario to say he made it to the island safe and sound.  He left early yesterday morning and I am on my own for who knows how long.  Could be a month, could be the whole summer.  So I am REALLY looking forward to the grass growing so that I can cut it.  Haha.  Threw that in there to see if you’re still paying attention.

Soup and walking.  That’s what I meant to say.  Hope I don’t die from all the excitement.  Although that would beat being eaten by a coyote I guess.

share-your-world2