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Posts Tagged ‘Reflections’

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Day five of my Manitoba adventure began early as usual. After getting myself organized for the day I greeted the usual faces seated around the breakfast table in the kitchen. Omelets were on the menu, and like in a fine dining establishment I was asked to choose from the ingredients on the table and a delicious personal omelet was delivered to my plate by our chef de cuisine, Chris. I liked sitting in the kitchen with my new friends. The children were always a welcome addition to the table, bubbling over with enthusiasm for the day ahead and filled with youthful exuberance for the world around them. Even if I still was in the process of waking up, I enjoyed seeing their fresh little faces across from me over another great meal.

Bob J., Ray and I were once again on our own. That day, I was told, we were going to be working with the animals, which was perhaps my favorite facet of farm life. Yay. Ray, always a fount of information, filled me in on our schedule for the afternoon. Apparently several times a year they “drag” the pastures to redistribute the manure. Oh boy. Poop again. They wait until the pasture patties are dry to do this. Ewwwww. Truly I cannot think of a subject more unwelcome to my stomach than excrement but certainly if you raise animals you are going to have waste. Having visited the pig pens with Eva and Dawn and unfortunately finding it necessary to inhale once I’d exhaled, I am here to tell you there was no shortage of animal waste in a farm environment and what there is beyond fragrant.  They don’t call odiferous people pigs for nothing. Whew. Cows aren’t much better I’m afraid. I can remember driving across Kansas turning the corner on one dairy farm after another and wondering if the incredibly strong ammonia stench would ever leave my nostrils. The human body, as amazing as it is in how it processes our intake, certainly could use an adjustment on how it is scented when recycled. I’m thinking lavender or camelia might have been a better fragrance choice. I’m just saying.

Bob J. suggested I wear old clothes, and in particular old high boots. This did not bode well for my day. Sigh.

As I have said there was all variety of critters roaming about the farm compound in addition to the herds in the field. Chickens wandered freely about the yard chucking and pecking at the ground, there were half a dozen goats who made their home there, and probably ten pigs and a litter of piglets in the large pen beyond the barn. When we toured the piggies quarters, Chris mentioned as Eva and Dawn get older they will most likely become active in the local 4-H program. Each girl will raise a pig to be shown at the county fair and then auctioned off to the highest bidder for meat. I wouldn’t make a good farmer. Already I had become attached to several cows and a piglet. Most probably I would become vegetarian if I had to sacrifice one of them for Sunday dinner.

Knowing how to tend to these creatures takes years of training, knowledge handed down older generation to younger over countless decades. There are vaccinations that have to be given, births to be overseen, proper feeding guidelines, as well as weather and sickness to be taken into consideration. The vet came while I was there, a woman perhaps in her mid thirties. Watching her work with confidence with the larger animals was inspiring. The animals seem to almost sense this person is there on their behalf. Always I have admired veterinarians. Unlike physicians tending to humans, vets have to versed in a wide variety of skeletal structures and a myriad of species nuances. I might do well with dogs and cats but the first time someone brought me a boa constrictor with a head cold or a tarantula with a hang nail I’d be outta there. Also, the likelihood of a human patient biting you is probably minimal, but vets must face unhappy patients with both claws and sharp teeth every day. I’ve seen Boo, the Queen of Cats, in action. To say she resists a visit to the vet is to put it mildly. I have to nearly go on a reconnaissance mission to get her in the cage. Funny thing though once I get her into the office the staff seems to be competent enough to keep her calm. She sits there quietly as though that was her usual behavior while they probe and poke at her. Cats, go figure.

Ray also told me you have to be aware how many cows are grazing on your land. Too many can be harmful to the land itself. There are a lot of pitfalls to farming apparently. Luxurious crops could be taken down by extreme weather, drought, insects, and many other variables. I found it all both fascinating and perplexing at the same time. My grandmother grew up on a farm and this experience definitely gave me more understanding of what her life might have looked like as a girl. Often when I was small she commented on how women today were “spoiled”. She said in her time there were no cake mixes, prepared meals, frozen dinners. Women back in the day were in the kitchen cooking their meals from scratch with no help from Betty Crocker.

I’m sure she would have been both pleased and surprised to find me working the farm in Manitoba. On morning five of my visit Bob J. and Ray were going to ride out to the pasture in the tractor. My job would be to follow them on the three wheeler carrying the water cooler, lunch, and some tools. Let me reiterate once again it took me three times to get my driver’s license and years to perfect my driving skills. Not only have I never ridden on a three wheeler but most certainly I’ve never driven one. As a kid I dabbled in boys with motorcycles but never actually drove one myself. The only time I was ever even alone on a bike was when I was in high school. A boy I knew had a Triumph 750. I was expressly forbidden to ride on the back of this machine so naturally that was where I was to be found. Hank, the owner of the bike, stepped off to go into a convenience store. He instructed me to straddle the bike and stand firmly on both feet until he returned. Check. Two minutes after he entered the store I leaned slightly to the right and the rest was history. Thankfully, once again I escaped maiming or certain death but his bike wasn’t quite so lucky. That was the beginning and the end of the motorcycle period of my life story. Not wanting to appear to Bob J. and Ray to be a sissy, in particular after my antics of the previous day when I had fallen through the bush and flown down the side of the hillside. So, the three wheeler it was, the three wheeler it would be. My instructions were simple. “Stay on the dirt road do not drive anywhere near the edge of the road. Do not, repeat do not, put your legs near the wheels while the vehicle is moving. Avoid deep ruts at all costs.” Um, “help”.

I hopped on the beast trying to look poised and confident. Bob J. got the machine running for me and explained the shifting situation. Sigh. Inside I had a feeling this was going to make yesterday’s freefall look mild in comparison. Gamely I inched forward. The snail creeping down the path next me was beating me by a mile. Bob J. and Ray were putting a lot of real estate between us as I chugged along at about 1/4 mile an hour. Finally they stopped and Bob J. jogged back to where I was to check on me. Explaining they had hoped to get to the field sometime before sunset, I was instructed to pick up the pace a bit. Okie. The avoiding the ruts portion of the instruction didn’t make it easy going. Since it was a dirt road there were both rocks and ruts at nearly every juncture. Once again my spine was inching up towards my brain. Bob stuck his hand out the tractor to indicate he was going to stop. I did the same lowering my foot to the ground before coming to a complete stop. Don’t try this at home. Doing specifically what I’d been told not to do my leg hit the back wheel taking off the top layer of skin on my calf. Oh-oh. At first I thought I’d just be quiet about it but since it was beginning to look as if I might need a tourniquet I thought I’d better turn myself in. Thankfully working with heavy machinery regularly they kept a fully equipped first aid kit on board for such occasions. Bob J.’s eyes if rolled any higher towards the heavens would have disappeared inside his head. Sorry.

Once I was doctored to they began the “dragging” procedure which was basically accomplished by a piece of equipment attached to the back of the tractor and, yes, dragged along behind it. Well named, yes? Most of the afternoon was spent tending to one pasture after another. Half the time I rode in the tractor with one or the other of the men and the rest of the time I was on the dreaded three wheeler with instructions once again to try and keep myself out of the ICU. Kay.

That evening after a delicious meal of the fresh fish Bob J., Bob P. and I had provided for the table, we sat outside in the lawn chairs until way beyond the time the sun had gone down for the day.  A fire pit had been filled with wood and a lovely crackling fire burned inside the circle. The girls, allowed to stay up a bit late, were dancing in the flickering light. In the tall grass fireflies made what I was told was a very unusual showing making it a very magical evening.

Sleep, I have to say, came easily during those days. You worked hard, you played hard, then you slept hard. Wish I could put the sleeping hard part into action these days. Particularly since the pandemic my dream state is filled with vivid weird dreams and interrupted nights.

Day six on the downhill slope of my trip comes next. See you then. Stay safe.

 

 

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My groceries were delivered Friday. This is an event I’m beginning to dread. From now on I’m not checking the substitutions box. Got four packages of frozen broccoli, four different boxes of ice cream, and a carton of White Castle burgers in lieu of the meat I ordered. Are White Castles even a member of any of the four food groups? My guess is no.  Hmmmm. Trying to understand the logic of this but it still escapes me. By the time I washed everything, threw away all the bags and gloves, put the rest in the shed, and decontaminated and sanitized the house, I found I had lost interest in food entirely but liquor was beginning to sound pretty good. Sigh.

I did make masks last week, and the good times just keep on coming. They turned out really cute actually. The only fabric I had that was flannel had frogs on it so I’ll be somewhat of a trend setter. Ribbet. Can’t believe I’m now seeing ads for designer masks. Really? People will hop on board for anything in the midst of disaster I swear. According to an article I read yesterday Americans have been ripped off in the millions on virus scams. That particular aspect of humanity always makes my heart sad. The “hit em while they’re down” mentality. Wonder what makes people able to live with themselves after taking advantage of someone already suffering. Never get that.

Have to say I am getting so much done. I didn’t want to do most of it which is why it hadn’t been done up until now, but since my calendar is looking a bit bleak at moment doing something certainly trumps doing nothing at all, at least for me. I’m not a good sitter. Even while watching a movie, unless it is totally riveting, I usually have something else on my lap I’m working on like knitting or I succumb to the annoying habit of hopping up and down to fetch something from the kitchen, or if all else fails I simply doze off in place.

Easter Sunday has come and gone. I put out a few of my favorite bunnies around the house to make me feel a bit festive. Yesterday was spent talking to friends. The aroma of the pot roast and root vegetables we had for dinner still lingers in the air and in spite of all that seems wrong in the world something feels kind of right if only for the moment.

Missed seeing our littlest clan member gathering eggs and enjoying his chocolates but life is what it is. Acceptance has been a big part of my world for the past few years particularly with Rick passing. This pandemic is no exception. Along with accepting the reality of the virus, I can also accept I am cozy and safe for the moment. I can accept that the sun is shining brightly outside my window, and I’m about to go for a long walk in my beautiful neighborhood. I will be thankful for that. I got on Zoom yesterday for a family hello. Not my favorite way to communicate. Why is it everyone looks so odd on the screen, or maybe it’s just that I do?  At one point my cheeks looked like I was storing nuts for winter and a little while later I noticed my chin had begun to look like it extended beyond my navel. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? I need one of those APPS that has twenty-seven filters and adds bunny ears and a fake nose for effect.

These days when I drift off of late into daydreamland I keep picturing myself on a white sandy beach somewhere decidedly tropical. Closing my eyes I can luxuriate in the glorious feel of warm sand sifting through my toes mixed with the intoxicating smell of salt sea air. Calgon? Oh, I’m back. Being confined has reminded  me of how much I truly do miss the ocean. Definitely when freedom is again possible I am pointing my car west and finding a beach. Growing up on the eastern seaboard my soul calls to the the sea when I’m away from it too long like a lost child seeking it’s mother.  My grandmother’s house in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I spent my formative years, sat atop a hill overlooking the entrance to Halifax harbor. As a child I would sit on the ridge watching for hours as massive ships entered and left.  Cargo ships riding low in the water heavy with loads were my favorites. They would make their way slowly to the docks expertly guided by the tugs hugging their sides.  Living close to the sea you find it wears many faces. Some days the water dances with joy as nympths of light hop from wave to wave across the surface. Then on foggy nights when visibility was limited the sad song of the fog horns would lull me to sleep tucked snugly away in my bed on the second floor towards the back of the house. Looking back I can’t remember feeling anything but safe living in that house on the hill. Perhaps the security of those early years helped to make me strong for a life to be filled with twists and turns such I had yet to imagine?

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When around five years old my mother, a widow four years prior, began dating a rear admiral stationed aboard an aircraft carrier. One Sunday we were invited to tea on board ship. As usual I was imprisoned in shiny Mary Jane’s, a freshly pressed smocked dress, topped off with a little straw hat. Sigh. A tomboy from the tip of my grass stained toes to the top of my unruly curls, this, as you can imagine, was a fate worse than death. However, stepping on the deck of this massive conveyance is a memory well etched in mind. The surface seemed to extend to forever and infinity from my diminutive point of view. The rear admiral, “a tall drink of water” as my grandmother referred to him, guided us below deck to his quarters. What an experience. Tea was served by an officer assigned to see to such things and included the tea amenities as well as an assortment of finger sandwiches and a lovely variety of sweet tea cakes guaranteed to make a little girl’s heart smile. After that visit he had my vote to be my new daddy. Unfortunately I didn’t carry the majority in the house so mother moved on and I ended up with my first stepfather some three years later. We shan’t go there for now. Those stories are why I pay a therapist to listen to me.

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When left to my own thoughts my mind often goes off on journeys of it’s own. In search of a project I organized my drawers and shelves over the past week. Putting pictures in order and storing them to put in albums at another time brought up so many memories. Looking at my children’s fresh young faces standing before buildings now part of our history was a reminder, along with so many reminders lately, of how quickly life can change and how flexible we humans must be to keep up with the pace.

For some of us this pandemic has been a heavier hit than others. Certainly it has been an inconvenience for all of us and a financial burden for so many there is no denying that. I’m just saying some of us have carried more of the weight I believe. Doctors and nurses, for example, unable to return home to see their offspring for fear there might be a deadly hitchhiker riding on their skin or hidden in their clothing. People who have had to remain at a distance as their loved ones slipped away in a hospital they weren’t allowed to visit, then forced to mourn their passing alone or with a few family members at their sides. I’m finding myself feeling very thankful. It is not over yet.  Our planet has flexed it’s muscles and we who share it have felt the power of nature.  A wake up call? I am sure it is. I do hope we hear the message far beyond the time the immediate danger of becoming sick has passed. The L.A. basin is enjoying glorious blue skies for a change with the freeways not clogged with vehicles spewing toxins into the atmosphere. Though we humans may be suffering Mother Nature may, for the moment, be breathing a sweet sigh of relief for this brief reprieve.

I hope this finds you looking at the screen at familiar faces, or enjoying the smells emanating from your kitchens as well. Sending a virtual hug to all of you who are kind enough to stop by and read what I have written from time to time. Have a great day!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not sure what day of the self quarantine I’m on.  I do know I have begun to have conversations with myself. Last night I took both sides of an argument, and I have to say it got fairly heated. Also, I have noticed that though I’m still jumping in the shower every morning, my makeup drawer remains closed and my leggings and tee shirt drawer remains open. Serenading the cat while practicing dance moves on UTube is somewhat entertaining, at least to me. The cat, perched on her princess and the pea pillows has begun to look at me as if to say, “Woman, you need to get a hold of yourself, you really do and BTW this whole free spirit Isadora Duncan thing is not working for you.”

With extra time on my hands I am getting caught up on various projects around the house which is a plus. This morning I went on line and filled out my census questionnaire and put that to bed. Next I took the remaining three overripe bananas left on hand and made delicious banana muffins with cream cheese frosting. Unfortunately I may have to eat all twenty-four before Saturday as my small freezer has space for one frozen pea and possibly that would be tight.

The phone has taken on a life of it’s own. People are calling I haven’t heard from in a long time just to say hi. No sooner do I disconnect and begin to do something constructive and the darn thing rings again. What can you do? You can’t really say you weren’t home. Also, I appreciate people checking in with me so it doesn’t feel like the world is getting smaller.

A friend on Facebook put up a sobering reminder this morning which made this ordeal seem more palatable. She reminded those of us who were whining, oh okay I own it, about the confinement, Anne Frank and her family were in hiding in very cramped quarters for 761 days fearing discovery. Guess when you put it in perspective this is little sacrifice to be made on behalf of our health and that of our family, friends, and neighbors.

Today is my mom’s birthday. Originally we had planned a family gathering with all the trimmings but for now a card and an image of me singing happy birthday to her on the phone is what we will make do with. It is hard not to see her. Thursdays are our “hair and lunch days”. Ah well, I’m putting away the whine, out of cheese anyhow, and moving on.

Perhaps we should open up Swap Shops like marketplaces in medieval times where a goat might be traded for produce or pelts. Dark smoke filled places where a guy with too much toilet paper could meet to cut a deal with another guy sitting on a Costo size block of blue cheese (not literally, naturally, this would make it far less desirable). What a concept. I have a friend who would be in the catbird seat should this come to pass. He scored a five pound jar of peanut butter at Dollar General last week.

My creative juices seem to be stirring. It wouldn’t hurt me at all to have something stirring beyond my spoon in whatever it is I am currently stuffing in my mouth. Aside from cooking and eating I am rediscovering my love of sewing and drawing. After Rick passed away, hard to believe it will be two years in September, I really stopped doing all the things I’d always enjoyed. Truth was when he was sick there wasn’t much time for recreational activities. Had a therapist tell me once when humans are in what she referred to as “survival mode” there was no room for concentrating on external pleasures. For example if the only thing in your cupboard is half a bottle of mustard or you are about to be evicted your first thought might not be take out your watercolors and put brush to paper.  Not saying some people don’t, but perhaps it is safe to say this might not be the norm.

I’m glad to see the government is attempting to do something by way of a hand out (not handout but actual hand out) to American businesses and workers. Certainly many people in this country count on their next paycheck to keep up and without it it will not take long for the fabric of their lives to begin to fray.  It is heartening to hear of small businesses keeping their kitchens open to provide meals and the acts of kindness popping up in the news as the days pile one on top of the other.

Someday we will telling our grandchildren, perhaps too small now to understand, how this experience changed us back in 2020. Change us it will. Life altering situations such as this have a way of leaving a brand on you that though softened through time remains permanently etched on the windows of our souls.

Often I think how glad I am to be where I am today, the sum of all my yesterdays. Each experience good and bad combined to help make me stronger, more insightful, hopefully more tolerant, and undoubtedly wiser. As I’ve gotten older I occasionally miss my younger reflection in the mirror. However, every line in this face has a story behind it and will remain a part of me as long as I inhabit this body. Sometimes I look at famous faces and wonder why they feel the need to stretch and rework their features to such an extent. I could name quite a few that have had so much surgery done their original features are nearly undetectable. Perhaps it is society’s constant pursuit of youth that pushes us to hold onto it. Eighty year old power figures married to women half their age convincing themselves their trophy wives would still be standing next to them at the altar if they were flipping burgers at Micky D’s rather than running huge corporations padding massive bank accounts. Youth cannot be purchased no matter the price. It is a gift, if lucky, we are all given a chance to experience for a brief moment in a lifetime. Most of us, me included were far too clueless to appreciate being young when we actually were, and by the time we gained enough knowledge to have handled it well we were long beyond being considered youthful. An enigma of life for sure.

Today feels reflective to me, undoubtedly a side effect of too much time with me, myself and I. What an argumentative “B” myself can be by the way but don’t tell her I said so.

At any rate it is beginning to rain. I am off to do some sewing and dance with the cat. Talk later

 

 

 

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So tempting right now to feel sorry for myself. No one can deny this is a trying time in our world. I’m sure it will be talked about, analyzed, and revisited often by generations to follow. Yesterday the sadness at the loss of my personal freedom became real for the first time. I feared a pity party to be on the horizon. My way of dealing with a full on, no holds barred, over the top Susie Pity Party is to immerse myself in the spirit of it, blow up a few balloons (probably using real explosives), then calm down, eat a brownie and get over it. If you can’t get around a mood then hop in the middle of it, get it out of your system, and move on.

Lately the earth feels unsettled. At least it does to me. Oceans are rising, ice caps are melting, infighting is the name of the game in Washington and all over the U.S., and though the economy may have seen some improvement (up until now of course) the middle class has slowly been whittled down from a strong robust tree to a toothpick. Hard not to be a little pessimistic when looking at the big picture. Yet, in spite of the virus tormenting us at the moment, just beyond my spare room a cherry tree proudly displays it’s gorgeous array of vibrant pink blooms. Each time I pass the window, the boughs beckon me invitingly as if to say, “enjoy”. Somehow spring with it’s warming days and light breezes, no matter what else may be casting shadows, always brings with it a fresh breath of hope. The trees, bare and skeletal during the winter months, begin to bud and flower. Bulbs push stems up through the earth, calves litter the pastures as you drive along rural roads, and Easter, a time of rebirth and renewal appears on the calendar. Life seems not to be ignored, and a fresh new face is painted on the land.

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In this spirit of spring I decided to pull the potting soil out of my shed along with my trowel and gloves and tackle the front yard potting project I’ve been putting off. While out in the back gathering what I needed, a little freckled face surrounded by a mass of unruly copper curls appeared over the fence. The girl, after politely inquiring as to who I was, responded in kind by informing me her name was Bridget. Her conversation, as unpredictable as her ringlets, moved from one subject to another as quickly as a drill sergeant marching down the line inspecting his platoon. Though never had I seen the tenants up until now, I was aware the house was recently occupied. Mom, I knew this only because Bridget was a fount of information, was seated on the back steps staring intently at the book on her lap. Looking up only when prompted by her daughter, she introduced herself maintaining an acceptable social distance, then returned to her book once the pleasantries were done. With mom otherwise engaged, Bridget continued shining her light directly on me firing questions in machine gun fashion one after another. I could still here her voice after I’d excused myself and disappeared beyond the fence towards the front of the house. During the exchange Miss Bridget told me about her two dogs, Pluto and Reggie. Reggie, looking to me to be a bull terrier mix, had already made my acquaintance some weeks back while I was sitting at the dining room table doing paperwork. Movement outside the window caught my eye. Looking up Reggie stood perched on the narrow ledge along the fence dividing the two houses. He checked me out for a moment then nimbly hopped down on the street side of the fence. Working his way to my front yard, after twenty minutes of sniffing, seemingly satisfied he’d located his sweet spot, he squatted and left a large introductory gift on my grass. “Thank you, Reggie”.

Like everyone else I’m feeling the walls close in a bit at my house with my time being spent just hanging out with Miss Boo. Not that she’s not good company mind you, she is, but I have to say she’s not much of  conversationalist. Yesterday I was sharing something interesting I’d read on the internet with her and the cat unabashedly turned her back on me and yawned. Even for a feline, she has attitude.

While I’m feeling a bit isolated, others may be suffering from too much togetherness. Little ones tiring of games and TV may be beginning to chafe at the bit to get out of the house and spend some of their excess energy. Parents, having their name called forty times before pouring their first cup of coffee, may be wishing they could have a moment’s peace before starting their day.  For me, I’m craving a little human companionship. The closet thing I’ve had to personal interaction in days was Miss Bridget of the fence and the Door Dash delivery guy who dropped dinner off on the porch and sprinted for his car.  I surely miss Rick during these times. Feels like the last couple of years I have been constantly doing battle. I’m ready to put down my sword and declare peace across the land. I’m tired. A little calm would be most welcome. When I find myself in a tight spot such as now it is helpful to remind myself of the people far less fortunate. Street people, for example, with no shelter to comfort them, no heat at the touch of a fingertip, and no one to comfort them if they are sick. Usually this is the kick in the behind I need to restart my engine. Today is no exception.

Miss Bridget arrived to remind me new life is a constant no matter what is going on around us. Planting the yard to show there is perpetual flux in the world we live in. The flower bed, nothing but soil and rocks at the moment, will be a riot of color in a few weeks teeming with life. Bees will be buzzing around the new blooms helping to pollinate a new another season of growth. Change isn’t an easy pill to swallow. We are faced at right now with total disruption of our routines and uncertainly in our future. This does not make for solid ground on which to plant our feet. However, we humans seem to show our best sides to the camera when times are tough. Stories of neighbor helping neighbor, brave first responders, generous donors, keep popping up on the news programs to boost our morale and remind us in the end we are all in this together.

Keep the faith, keep busy, get to know your neighbors (from a safe distance), lend a hand when and where you can, and ride out the storm safely. Have a productive day.

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Here we are perched on the lip of another election year waiting to be swallowed whole. The usual onslaught of mean spirited ads already populating prime time slots only promise to increase in ugliness as voting time draws near. Male against female, democrat versus republican, conservative swatting at liberal, and none of them playing well with others. Throw all this in the pot with the impeachment trial looming on the horizon and you have a really unappetizing stew.

It is idealistic at best to think we’re all going to get along. History tells us we do not get along with each other as a general rule. This began in prehistoric times with one tribe member bashing another over the head over a hunk of raw meat, and has expanded to entire nations going to the mat over land, resources, or religious division. Each faction believes theirs is the best way to do things, their needs the most critical, their skin color the most desirable, their method of operation the most efficient, etc. etc. Wars do not erupt because people are seeing eye to eye. It would be nice, however, to occasionally strike a harmonious note. Just for a change of pace.

Interestingly people seem to come together at their highest level when the situation is dire. In an emergency the issues of race, religion, political bent, or social status seems to disappear in the mist and in many cases people work together toward a united goal. Too bad we have to wait for disaster to find this common ground.

Last weekend I watched the movie Thirteen Weeks for the first time. The central plot revolves around the Cuban missile crisis. Too young at the time to realize how close we came to going to war with Russia, I do recall teachers putting us through bomb drills.  We would practice crouching under our desks with our hands over our heads. This apparently was to be our defense in the event a nuclear weapon was hurling towards us through space programed for our exact coordinates. Really? This would do what exactly? We wouldn’t see it coming? Several families in my town had bomb shelters built as an added precaution. These cement structures were fully stocked and ready to roll should an invasion become imminent. From what I understand fallout remains in the air at a toxic level for about two weeks so that seemed like a viable way to go or at least it did back in the day. Perhaps not having wars or setting off bombs might be a better solution, but those are just my thoughts on the subject. Sounds simplistic but in actual fact that would be the cure for the disease.

During a conversation with one of my Canadian cousins last week she mentioned she had been terrified the first time she ventured into the states. To their minds we are gun toting outlaws something like those who existed in the Wild West. According to her she thought everyone is the U.S. was “packing heat”, so to speak, with concealed weapons more common then sneezes in a flu ward. It is true, if indeed my facts are correct, U.S. citizens are the most armed of any nation in the world. Whether or not you are more likely to be “packing” might depend on any number of factors. Where you live perhaps, what you do, or even how comfortable your family unit is having weaponry on the premises.

For example, David, my ex-husband is from Texas. People hailing from those parts are not a group known for voting against the NRA. For many of them weapons are a way of life. Early on David was taught by the older members of his household to respect the guns in the house and how to safely use them. The man was Texan from the top of his Stetson hat down to the heels of his scuffed cowboy boots. That being said, his choice of transportation was naturally an old Ford pick-up. The failing work horse was his baby. They shared many a weekend with David lying on his back on the driveway or bending over under the hood trying to keep the car on the road. Forgive me, truck, not car. I was called to task frequently for referring to his vehicle as such. Apparently in Texas this could be a shooting offense. Physically it had also seen better days. The paint job had long faded from a bright factory yellow to a faded buttermilk with spots of rust peeking through here and there.  The window on the driver’s side door was missing replaced during rainy months with a 33 gallon trash bag to keep the driver dry. A gun rack hung in the back window next to a picture of the American flag and his rear bumper sported a sticker reading “Honk again I’m reloading”. Believe that says it all.

When he went on the night shift leaving me to fend for myself after dark, he suggested getting a pistol for my protection. I voted no. I did not grow up around weapons. Nova Scotia is well known for its hunting areas. Often during hunting season I would hear the distant sound of gunshots. Certainly I wasn’t harboring the assumption hunters chased down their prey then asked the animal politely to sacrifice themselves so they’d have something to hang over the mantel. However, no one in my circle had a gun or hunted so I had never seen a gun of any kind. Truth be known guns scare the bikini underwear off me and I never had any interest on being on either end of one of them.

My lack of enthusiasm having been registered and vetoed, he purchased a gun anyhow. Don’t ask me what type it was but semi-automatic handgun would be a safe description. You had to pull the “thing” back to “chamber” a bullet. Don’t ask me to name the thing, I didn’t want too much information in case an interrogation lurked in my future. The gun was too stiff for me to chamber the bullet so he concentrated on teaching me to aim and shoot it. After nearly taking out the wall in the garage and an unsuspecting neighbor’s cat the decision came about that he would load the gun, leave the safety on and show me how to remove same should an intruder be in the house. Great. I left it under the night table fully aware if I ever had use it most likely by the time I remembered how to remove the safety and aim it I would either be overrun by the intruder or most probably have shot myself in the foot.

One night about a month into my gun ownership I woke to hear a loud banging in the back yard. My dog was barking and madly scratching at the sliding glass door in the kitchen. Slowly I crept out of bed retrieving my weapon from under the night stand and made my way to the kitchen. Heart pounding at an amazing rate I took off the safety and flung the drapes back on the window. Flicking the light on I yelled, “I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it”. The light flooded the patio illuminating the culprit now clearly visible standing by the barbecue. A large possum had it’s head caught in the drip can (a tin can used for catching grease) and was frantically trying to smack it off by beating against the foot of the grill. Poor little guy. They’re already nearly blind as it is and having a No. 10 can of creamed corn covering his head surely wasn’t improving the situation. Gently placing the gun back in it’s hiding place I went out to see if I could help. Possums are not known for their sunny dispositions when it comes to interacting with humans. Before coming outside I pulled on David’s heavy industrial gloves which covered my arms to my elbows.  A lot of writhing and growling ensued before I was able to free him or her with the help of a long handled fork (my weapon of choice). After that I insisted the gun find another home and never saw it again. Not any worse off for it I assure you and the possum too. That possum was lucky that the inside of that corn can wasn’t the last thing he saw before I blew him and the precious barbecue into the atmospheric continuum undoubtedly shooting myself in the foot in the process.

I’m sure gun laws will be bounced around in this election year. I’m on the fence about this. I believe this can be a dangerous world and if someone with malignant intentions was threatening me or mine I like to think I could react in kind. However, I see absolutely no reason for hunters to be armed with automatic weapons to shoot a poor deer. The need for these high powered guns escapes me. Probably if I had to shoot anything I’d become a vegan. Easy to hide behind a plastic wrapper in Raley’s meat department. While living in Arkansas I saw David field dress a deer. No he was not picking out a nice billowy cotton sheath for the poor animal to wear, he was removing its entrails to keep the meat from spoiling. Warning this is not a procedure I suggest you observe if you are planning on eating meat or anything else really for the next couple of weeks. One of the younger men lost his lunch on his blue tick hound while watching and I thought seriously about joining him. As David would say, “Texas is hard on women and dogs”. He had great respect for the animal and though I am not fond of venison he made a lasagna using the meat that was actually delicious.

Perhaps my thought for today is to think before you react. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t make it any easier when we can’t work as a team. Reminds me of being in a row boat with eight people each trying to row in a different direction, highly frustrating and doesn’t get you closer to shore. Have a great one!

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Monday night, along with many other diehard 49er’s fans, I could be found seated in front of the TV, dinner before me, waiting to see my team make mulch out of the Seattle Seahawks. What a roller coaster of a game. After a valiant effort by our guys making for many heart accelerating moments, it culminated in an overtime win for the Seahawks. Our last chance at success went down in flames with an unfortunate kick by a rookie for whom, if his face was any indication, it came as far more of a disappointment than for any of the fans tuning in. I can only imagine the pressure he was under. Not speaking from experience I would guess you have to develop a hard shell as a major team player. What is the expression floating around, “from a hero to a zero in seconds”. Hopefully, he can dust this off and move forward without too much self flagellation. There are always going to bad days tossed in with the good. Happens to me every week. One day everything I touch is golden and the next morning, same person, same life, I start my day with my coffee pot having overflowed all over my kitchen counter. It’s a crap shoot, and sometimes you just get crap.

Sports are not really my bailiwick. Football and figure skating are the only two competitive events that can actually hold my interest. When going down the assembly line I was endowed with certain artistic gifts during my creation, but I seemed to have taken a jog off to the right after that totally missing the athletic ability department. Aside from being an avid swimmer and a passable tennis player I have never won a medal in my life except for one for winning a cake walk in fourth grade. For a chubby little girl this was not a stretch. Abysmal at most team sports, I was embued with the coordination of a newborn giraffe. In high school I took off half the skin on my face on the burlap mat in tumbling attempting to do a handspring, had my big toe smashed by an exceptionally large forward in basketball, and suffered both a broken nose and a concussion while participating in softball. Not one to ignore omens, I believe these were messages I needed to pay attention to. Wisely I was placed with a family who put more emphasis on academics than physical prowess allowing me the opportunity to flourish at something.

Because of this, I tended to steer clear of men who were overtly involved in sports. However, an exception or two was made over the years. In my late twenties I was engaged to a man who was an amazing water skier. He took me under his wing and after many, and I can’t emphasize the word many strongly enough, attempts at teaching me I actually got fairly good at it by the time we went our separate ways. The first time I ever skied with him and several members of his family he neglected to mention they had all come down the birth canal on a slalum ski, his cousin being the current national barefoot skiing champion at the time. So, I sat in the boat paralyzed watching each of them in turn glide and maneuver expertly over the glistening water, one without benefit of skis. When it was my turn to slip my feet into the rubber footholds I could only imagine the spectacle I was about to make of myself and I did not disappoint. Though I was a lightweight, getting me up out of the water was like trying to pull a hiker out of a bed of quicksand. It didn’t help that the first two times the boat lurched forward I forgot to stand up. Knees bent, the momentum of the boat dragged me along just beneath the surface. Afraid to release the rope, I remained submerged until the boat finally stopped after I’d consumed enough water to reduce the lake level by two feet. Nice.

My second husband was competitive to the bone. Any sport, any time was his motto. If two people were fighting on a street corner he’d stop to watch to see who win. His TV viewing pleasures ranged from sumo wrestling to curling. Though I’m Canadian, curling to my mind should be considered more of a household chore than an actual sporting event. Basically it’s competitive floor sweeping on ice. Some sports like curling I just can’t watch on TV along with baseball and tennis unless I need a nap. With a tennis match, aside from the endless annoying grunting as racquet meets ball, my neck gets a crick moving side to side after watching about ten minutes of competition.

My son, oddly enough, is very athletic. As a little boy he was an ace soccer player which carried through until he hit middle school when baseball caught his eye. He didn’t get his growth spurt until his junior year in high school, so even though he longed to be the star of the football field his lack of stature didn’t make him well suited for the game. Not one to take no for an answer he went out for the team in his sophomore year. By means of support my daughter and I were seated in the stands at his first game ready to cheer him on to victory. The team merged on the field and I can remember turning to my daughter and commenting on the player towards the back who appeared to be half the size of the others. After consulting the program for a moment she pointed out that player was my son. As a mother you want to go down on the field and whisk your child away before he is pulverized but the humiliation of such an act in high school would literally have been social suicide. Thankfully, he only played the fifth quarter and never got hurt.

I’m not particularly fond of the new rules in children’s athletics. Everybody gets a trophy no matter what the effort or skill level. I do believe all children should participate fully but don’t know if it’s a good life lesson to be rewarded for something you didn’t achieve. As an adult there is always going to be someone smarter, taller, prettier, more skilled or more successful than yourself. If you grow up feeling you are entitled to be promoted say, whether you’ve earned it or not, this could lead to some really difficult lessons later in life.

As a kid I lived in Nova Scotia. Winters were cold there, sometimes brutal. When the first snow blanketed the land I waited impatiently for the all clear from my adults to pull on my snowsuit, mittens and hat and get outside sled or toboggan in hand. The frog pond, as we called it, in Point Pleasant Park would begin the process of freezing over, and once solid I was allowed to retrieve my ice skates hanging on the hook in the basement and spend the afternoon sailing across the ice with other kids from the neighborhood. Back then we did so many things without adult participation. In the summer, at the same pond, I would gather polywogs and float my sailboat. Makes me sad for kids today who will never know that kind of giddy freedom we were fortunate enough to have had as children.

Now that I am getting older sports aren’t an integral part of my life, other than walking which I do 45 minutes of religiously every day. Again, I am promising myself I will sign up at the local gym and begin asking more of my body. Somehow life, and my own lack of enthusiasm for organized exercise, keep getting in the way of me actually following through with this. Before the end of the year I need to make it happen or it will be sitting with the rest of my unresolved issues on my New Year’s resolutions list.

 

 

 

 

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Having lost Rick, my partner for twenty years to cancer last September, I am adjusting to being “single” once again. One of the first things I noticed when finding myself on my own was the sensation of “uncoupling”. Essentially, being single in a world originally designed for couples, (even the ark only offered accommodations for two). Being on one’s own offers up it’s unique set of challenges. Uncomfortable moments specifically reserved for the unattached. For example, walking into a nice restaurant to have a meal. Before your eyes have adjusted you are greeted by the hostess inquiring, “How many in your party”? Looking around you lean in towards her ear and whisper, “I am the party”. When it has been established no one is with you, nor anyone expected, you are guided to an available table almost always in the center of the room. Once seated, the bus staff swoops in to remove any extra place settings so guests at adjacent tables are fully aware you are bereft of partner and only to be pitied. Since it might be considered rude in nice surroundings to retrieve the book in your purse, you instead sit there memorizing the pattern on the tablecloth or examining your silverware for spots until something arrives on a plate you can devote your full attention to. I have friends, some single for many years, who do eat out regularly without feeling awkward. As you might have sensed, I am not there yet.

Another difficult situation for me is a party populated solely by couples. When you arrive to discover yourself the only “one”, the hosts toss you about like a hot potato at a barbecue. People just don’t know what to do with you. Tables are often set up for pairs so you end up being part of a threesome who would really prefer to be a twosome, or an extra chair is added at the head of the table so it is patently obvious no one has accompanied you. Worse, if you strike up a conversation with someone’s husband you could be considered poaching on their territory. The last barbecue I went to where I was the only one among twos I ended up having a stimulating  conversation about the state of our union with the schnauzer lying by the fireplace who also appeared to have shown up for the evening stag. Sigh.

Couples suddenly seem to emerge from every nook and cranny. You see them cuddling in the theater, taking turns tossing things in the grocery cart at the market, and walking along chatting and laughing everywhere you go. Friends and family begin to ask what you are doing to encourage a new relationship in your life. Please, let me grieve the old one first.  I am sure at some point I may welcome someone new into my life, but I am not ready for romance at this stage of the game. I have, however, picked up some tips along the way for ladies who are actively searching for a mate. Go to the grocery store around dinner time. Secure a place in the line forming around the hot food kiosks. Single men seem to gravitate in this area like ants around a sugar cube. I have to admit I have found myself there on more than one occasion, not casting my line but rather filling one of the boxes with something to take home for dinner. While standing there you might toss about a couple of compelling opening lines like, “my fried chicken certainly puts this to shame”, or “thank God my parents sent me to culinary school”.

Another testosterone filled event, at least in our town, is held the local K-Mart parking lot on Saturday mornings. From 8 to 11 the shopping center is bustling with men washing down bear claws with steaming cups of coffee while showing off souped up muscle cars from their salad days. They huddle together avidly discussing the pros and cons of this engine or that piston brand, kicking tires and admiring one another’s sparkling engines. So if you’re single and looking ladies, it wouldn’t hurt to bone up on manifolds and cam belts and take a walk over and wander around looking fascinated should such an event be happening near you.

Cooking for one has far less allure than preparing a meal for two or more. Again, packaging is done with couples or families in mind. Costco becomes a less attractive shopping venue. What am I going to do with a five pound chub of Jarlsberg? By the time I’ve celebrated the half way mark and consumed cheese on everything from corn flakes to banana pudding the other half looks like a science experiment. Also, having downsized my living quarters, I don’t have enough freezer space to store large packages of food.

Eating alone at home also takes a bit of getting used to. When you dine with someone you exchange your day with them, or talk about what’s going on in the world (at the moment a topic more likely to give you indigestion) but when you are left to your own devices it is often the TV anchorman for company or sorting through that pile of unopened mail you’ve been systematically avoiding.

On the plus side, being on my own allows me to eat what I want to when I want to. Should I choose to have Lucky Charms with bananas with a side of cookies and cream topped with chocolate syrup at three in the afternoon and call it dinner, so be it. When Rick and I shared meals, dinner was an event. Exceptions were Sunday’s during football season where KFC catered our meals, or on super busy days when a burger or tacos from a local fast food restaurant might suffice, but most nights something healthy and appealing appeared on our plates.

So, there are things to learn and take from every life situation, at least this has been true in my lifetime. The path you are on does not always continue in the direction it originally was headed. Change is part of being and you either adapt or end up frustrated and unhappy, neither a state of being I find I enjoy.

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