Music – the universal language

I love music and keep my radio on all day. In fact, if I had to give up one of my electronic devices, it’d be my television set. (there’s nothing worth watching anyway) And I love a very broad range of music styles, Calypso, Reggae, Country, Rock, Pop, and even some Classical (not Jazz though, never Jazz,,,and no bagpipes,,,,ghastly noise) I am neutral on most artists because every artist is likely to have at least one song I like, and I do have my favourites. I love Nana Mouskouri – hers is a very unique style, an operatic voice set to a combination pop/classical/European folk music, with a substantial Greek band behind her. I admire her range and respect her knowledge of several languages, in all of which, she sings fluently.

I like KD Lang. Her crystal clear voice and throaty after-tones, tell you without a doubt that she is feeling every note of her music. When she sings, she is ‘The Girl from Ipanema’, and I’ve yet to hear any one singer or group sing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ like she does. Some songs are just meant for one artist. Elvis and ‘Can’t help falling in love’, Bing Crosby and ‘White Christmas’, many have tried their version of these songs but there’s nothing quite like the original. (so give it up already and find your own songs instead of coasting on the coattails of another’s success)

I admire the multi-talented female artists like Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton but you can only listen to one or two songs before you’ve had enough because of their high pitched voices….after a while it starts to sound too much like shrieking. (I think mid pitched voices are the easiest on the ears, alto or the male baritone) And while Sarah McLachlan and Diana Kroll have lovely voices, I can’t appreciate eithers genre. Diana Krolls’ ‘Bluesy’ style always takes me to a smokey saloon where a hard looking woman is sobbing into her cups, and Sarah McLachlans’ style is exceedingly somber (does she ever sing anything upbeat?) I’ve dubbed hers ‘music to slit your wrists by’.

And I know I’m alone in saying this but I honestly think Roy Orbison and Vince Gill strain when they sing. It’s like the song has been set in a key that’s just slightly out of range of their ability.

I like Keith Urban, Cat Stevens, and John Fogarty but I also harbor a secret love of the older performers like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, or the more eclectic Don Ho and Trini Lopez….they’re just fun. And I’m not beyond enjoying an evening of Austrian folk music or Italian love songs.

I love a good vocal group but I can’t appreciate those that are repetitive in their style,,,like ‘The Beachboys’. Every song sounds like the last, monotonous and predictable, and very dated. Love the Eagles, Little Big Town, Simon and Garfunkel, most Blue Grass groups, and if you play me Latin or Spanish guitar music I’ll follow you anywhere, love those strings.

I guess what I love most about music is its’ ability to take me away. There’s no thought needed, no effort, just close my eyes and float with the melodies. Ok, every now and then I belt out a tune myself but I live on a remote property so there’s no risk of embarrassing myself,,,,although I have on occasion scattered a flock of crows or startled a deer into bolting. (guess they’re not music lovers?) And I can have nothing in common with another except that we both like a certain song or artist and boom, we’re friends. Music has the ability to calm the sole, entertain the mind, and ignite even the most unlikely relationships. It really is the universal language (let it speak to you)

Even as I write this my radio plays in the background and I have to stop periodically to sing along. (Funny, a woman just passed by walking her dog and when I started to sing he started howling….which proves music speaks to all life forms, yes?) Thank heaven for musicians, vocalists and radio transmission….I couldn’t imagine my life without them. (Gotta go croon me a little ditty!)

Music the universal language

Keep a level head

The Covid virus forced all of us to adopt new practices with respect to hygiene and social distancing to ensure we minimize the spread. At the height of the pandemic most resorted to wearing facial masks for even the simplest outing, you just couldn’t be too careful.  Now, despite the fact that this virus is currently under control in our province many businesses still, understandably, require the use of facial masks and very detailed screening; dental offices, hair salons, etc, where close facial contact is unavoidable, and this makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the blatant fearmongering of those who clearly don’t know when to employ a sense of reason.

A friend was grocery shopping earlier this week and while browsing the shelves of food, a woman behind her sneezed. She did so in her sleeve and she was a good 10 feet behind. My friend says she was startled, not by the sneeze, but by the reaction of another woman ahead of her. The woman literally jumped back and pressed her back up against the shelves, as though lining up for a firing squad, a look of panic on her face. Do you think this reaction is just a tad over the top? What did she think would happen,,,,that the impact of the sneeze would blow her head off? For God’s sake, people sneeze, and we are at the height of allergy season. Could it be this panic-stricken victim is a prime candidate for curbside pick-up or home delivery?

Another friend said she inadvertently went down the ‘wrong way’ in the grocery aisle and was the recipient of several dirty looks. You know, this whole roadmap maze thing in grocery stores is new to all of us, and she’s not the first to ‘take a wrong turn’. I’ve done that myself and I hardly think it fair to condemn those of us who are still getting used to all the new rules.

I can’t help but think people are over-reacting. Yes, we need to be careful. We need to adopt new routines for contact and cleanliness, but we also need to be realistic. I’m puzzled by the lone driver who’s wearing a mask. He’s the only one in the vehicle and all the windows are closed. What’s he protecting himself from?

And I’m stunned every time I see someone out walking, alone or with a pet, and they’re wearing a face mask. There’s not a living sole in sight,,,why would they need a mask? Surely they can’t think that inhaling fresh air outdoors is lethal, and if they do, they’re beyond paranoid and shouldn’t be venturing out at all. What is wrong with these people? Have they no common sense?

Medical experts have made it clear face masks will not prevent you from getting the virus, they will simply protect others from your germs, whatever they are, i.e. if you aren’t sick you’ve nothing to spread to another. The donning of a face mask is recommended in many public places but is not mandatory. I have not been ill so I am not likely to spread anything to anyone else, so at the moment, I do not feel the need to wear a mask. That said, I always carry one with me so that should I find myself in a situation that requires one, I’ll be ready. I will not wear a mask when walking alone outdoors, and I certainly won’t wear one when driving alone in my car. That just doesn’t make sense for me but I will respect another’s choice in these situations because while it may be puzzling, it hurts no one. It’s just odd.

What I will not accept is the ridiculous over-reactions of those who make it their mission to target the rest of us in society who exercise a little common sense. We are being careful. We are mindful of others and committed to distancing, and should this dreadful virus spike again we will all exercise extreme measures as warranted but we will also act with a rational mind and a level head. Get real already.

The ‘second wave’ of this virus is predicted to hit in the fall, in line with regular flu season, and given that the symptoms are similar, I can’t imagine how these fear mongers will react then. (They’ve probably already ordered their cosmonaut suit.) I pray the predictions for fall are wrong. And I pray every day that a vaccine is developed, but until such time I will continue to practice caution in my daily routines to ensure I protect myself and others, however, I will also keep a level head because panicking will only lead to irrational behaviour and we already have enough of that in society without the pandemic.

Panic

The Finger of Blame

On a recent news broadcast our Prime Minister was seen kneeling with other protestors at a rally for anti-racism, and while this was clearly intended to be an act of solidarity, support, and compassion, it was instead criticized because he wasn’t social distancing. Had he not attended the rally he would’ve been blamed for lacking compassion (you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t) and I was disappointed that the opposition chose such a sensitive situation to call him out. Surely there are more relevant political issues to challenge? But call him out they did.

Several weeks ago we experienced a mass murder. It was horrific and many lives were senselessly lost, many families destroyed forever. The investigation is ongoing and the public are updated as to status and findings. Amid these updates come the accusatory comments from various groups blaming everyone from the police to rescue workers, to Canada’s emergency alert system for not advising the public sooner. The reality is that nothing like this has every happened here before and no one could’ve fathomed that it would. We can only help heal those who’ve suffered and work to establish a routine that will ensure this won’t happen again, i.e. pointing the finger of blame after the fact, is easy. It’s also counter-productive and serves no purpose.

Why then are we so quick to point the finger of blame? Does it somehow absolve us of any perceived guilt, or are we looking to make another accept responsibility? Sometimes things just happen and the constructive response should be to learn from it and move on. Maybe it’s human nature, and if so, what a shame, because the energy we spend pointing fingers could be better utilized working on solutions.

We blame our municipal government for delays in traffic due to construction, but if they didn’t repair the roads we’d blame them for damage to our vehicles caused by pot holes.

We blame factories for polluting our air, yet we buy every available gadget they manufacture because it makes our lives easier so if they were to stop manufacturing we’d blame them for taking away our gagets.

For that matter, we blame society for traffic and heavy volumes but you’d be hard pressed to find a home anywhere that doesn’t boast a minimum of 2 to 3 cars in their driveway.

We blame our education system for failing to provide necessary tutelage to our children when they can’t keep up with the curriculum, yet we forgo spending that time with them as parents because it’s more important that they go to hockey practice or dance class. And we blame our teachers for not giving the much needed individual attention to our children but if we hire more teachers to give them that better teacher/student ratio it’d raise our taxes and we’d blame the government for that.

Maybe we’re just a society of complainers, after all it’s easier to point the finger of blame than it is to do something about it.

At the end of the day we are all responsible for what goes on in this world, so maybe it’s time we stood up and took responsibility. I, for one, have been blaming the Covid virus for my weight gain. Isolation meant every day was spent planning the next meal (and eating it) and because we could go nowhere every day was Friday, so you celebrated with a couple of glasses of wine. (This regimen does not make for a lithe body) I see now there’s no one to blame but me for this (although I did search for a scapegoat) so I am accepting blame and doing something about it. I still spend my days planning my next meal but I’ve incorporated more veggies, less starch, AND I’ve switched to vodka (it’s lower in calories)

Small steps……taking the blame instead of giving it, isn’t easy.

Blame

Midlife, and everything leading up to it

Infancy to childhood, Mid-life to Menopause….why did the fun stop? We’re born with a clean slate – an innocent and impressionable young mind and from the moment we enter this world we start gathering information and developing ideas. A bright future awaits us all and life is good.

In our childhood every new experience is exciting and fresh. We exist only to play because this is how we learn. Eating is optional, experimental, and is needed only to sustain us through play. We have boundless energy and a vivid imagination, and life is fun.

In our youth we seek adventure, test our wings (and our parents), and are up for pretty much anything. We experiment with alcohol, junk food and a racy lifestyle because our bodies can take it, for now. ….and we’re still having fun.

Then, before you know it, we come upon our adult years and ‘boom’ responsibility hits us right between the eyes. Kids, mortgages, careers, aging parents; the whole nine yards, but that’s ok cause we’re still of sound mind and able body (and by now we have the means to maintain a fully stocked bar) Junk food now gives us heartburn but we still maintain a steady eating regimen of pizza and cocktail nuts – we just wash them down with beer and wine (cause it’s cheap and abundant). We have friends we can commiserate with, jobs we can immerse ourselves in, and hobbies to distract us. We’re thirty-something, invincible and life is still fun. Who knew it would end there?

We all have that birthday that hit us harder than any other. The turning point where we had to grudgingly acknowledge that we are, finally, middle aged and no longer societies ‘leading’ demographic. No longer will we set the trend – that torch has been passed (not willingly) to those 10 years younger than us (and they now refer to us as Maam and Sir)

What used to be natural highlights in a woman’s hair (I swear to God they were natural….at some point) are now defiant streaks of grey so we revamp our household budget to include monthly visits to have our roots covered. For me that ‘birthday of change’ was 35. I don’t know why, but turning 35 was a turning point in my life. I got rid of most of my clothes, invested in a complete wardrobe of denim, and sported sunglasses that my husband said made me look like Onassis (Aristotle, not Christina) I thought I was really happenin’,,,,turns out I was just really loosin’ it, and this was just the beginning. The forties awaited.

I can’t say it was just me. My husband hit mid life too, and while he didn’t radically change his wardrobe he did try his hand with a brush on dye for his beard, until he endured such a serious skin rash he had to stop. (What was once the distinctive ‘salt and peppering’ in a man’s hair was now either a bald spot or a more solid greyish-white, neither of which is youthful —- see, woman aren’t the only ones that succumb to vanity) He did however indulge with his passion for golf, investing in countless clubs; big ones, little ones, long, short – he had to buy new bags to house them all (we had no less than 11 golf bags in our basement…..and only 1 golfer in the house)

Throughout our forties we both noted a little slowing of our metabolism (ok, we put on a few pounds) and our clothes somehow didn’t look quite as sharp as they once did. Trendy fashion was now being replaced by elastic waistbands and sensible shoes, (who knew denim was so stiff…what was I thinking?) but eventually we accepted our progression to middle age, and just as we did, ‘boom’ – the fifties,,,, and this one packed a punch!

I hit menopause, or rather,,,, it,,,, hit,,,me. I spent the next several years battling the bulge, plucking unwanted hair out of various parts of my face, and swabbing down my sweat-soaked body. (I’m just a big puddle in sneakers) And like any rational middle-aged woman, I lashed out at a world that dared to be so unjust, raged against a God that would sentence any female to this hell (because 36 years of menstruation wasn’t punishment enough?) so I basically bitched (because if women didn’t bitch we’d explode) If I have to go through this, I’m not goin’ quietly, or alone!

And fortunately I didn’t have to…God gave me a husband to abuse. While I struggled with ‘the change’, my husband was going through a ‘change’ of the male kind. He invested in a wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts, bought a nice straw, rimmed hat, and traded in the family sedan for a ‘big ole Buick’, aka, a Geezermobile. (every Geezer has one eventually) We’ve gotten the 11 golf bags down to 7 (it’s a work in progess) and his snack of choice is now any kind of dip (cause nuts now hurt his teeth) washed down with a rye and ginger (his medicine of choice) I suppose I should be grateful. I have friends whose husband’s impulsively bought an expensive sports car when they hit mid life (because when he no longer turns the heads of young women he needs a car to do it). Others take up with a younger woman (but they’d better have money cause there a price for that arm candy) and if they go so far as to leave their families and settle down with their Barbie Doll, eventually she’s going to want to ‘nest’ and that puts them right back in the humdrum life they just left behind…..only now they’re 30 years older…. not so fun anymore.

I’d be lying if I said the Sixties don’t scare me. I am cautious. On the other hand the fifties were such hell, how much worse could it be? I will acknowledge one thing though,,,,,every decade, every change, and every challenge, humbled me. It made me more reflective, more tolerant, more appreciative of everything I learned along the way (although I would’ve preferred the Coles-notes version of menopause) What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, and smarter, and better. I wonder, if we could be born with the knowledge we die with, would we have changed anything in our path of life? Maybe,,,,,,,,,, but would it have been as much fun,,,,cause isn’t that what life is all about?

woman exercise walking

Housework – man vs woman

The days are getting longer and the sunlight seems brighter, illuminating the filmy mess on my windows and heralding the arrival of spring. Winter leaves a mess inside and outside a home; a mess most men ignore. I look out the window and see a garden that needs tending, broken branches to collect, and a garage jam packed with lawn furniture waiting to be pulled out and hosed off. My husband looks out that same window and sees the arrival of golf season.

How can men be so oblivious to housework? They seem to notice when it’s dirty but they rarely ask how it gets cleaned or who it gets cleaned by, clearly preferring not to know. Most recently my husband commented on how dusty the house felt; said he could feel it when he breathed, then he looked at me expectantly, so I replied, “then why don’t you dust it?” (my breathing’s ok) He dropped the subject.

Later on I suggested we have our air ducts cleaned and he agreed. It hadn’t been done in years and this was a good project for him (after all, he brought up the dusty subject)….I had to remind him, several times, this was to be HIS project. (bet he was sorry he mentioned it at all) Now to his credit, he did shop around, got some quotes and called a local duct company to book a cleaning and once it was done he noted how much better the air quality felt. The only thing I noticed was the mess left at every duct opening, (funny he didn’t notice that) the mess I had to clean.

Like most women, I have a cleaning routine, and standards. I like my kitchen and bathrooms fresh, if for no one else but me. Men don’t seem to be as concerned about the cleanliness of their homes (or maybe that’s just their ploy to ensure they don’t have to do it?) Dust can gather on furniture, floors could stick to their shoes and laundry can be done on a ‘need to wear basis only’, unless it’s their golfwear….that’s a priority.

My husband and I have found our compromise. I do ‘most’ (ALL) of the indoor work, and he tends to the yard, but only after 18 holes of golf (that’s his compromise) Last week I spent a day cleaning floors and windows, a major undertaking, and once you start you can’t stop till the job is done. My husband returned home after his round and had lunch while reviewing his golf scores. Then he had to catch up on news in the markets (it’s very important he remain informed) after which he rested on his chaise (it’s been a busy morning) Eventually the noise of the vacuum cleaner disturbed his slumber enough that he had to get up (there’s just no getting any peace around here) and he headed outside to mow the lawn. (Yay!)

Satisfied I’d finally gotten him to do something around the house I tackled the closets. After about 15 minutes I noticed the lawn mower had stopped, so curious I stepped to the window to look outside and there he was lying in the hammock with his hat over his eyes, the lawn mower sitting in the middle of the lawn, mid stripe. (I would later learn that the sun was too hot at that particular time and he felt it prudent to cease all physical activity lest he succumb to heat stroke) I give up.

Maybe men have the right idea. Maybe women are too anal about cleanliness. Men seem to find more time for relaxation than we do and they don’t stress the untidiness of their home. I love the feeling of cooking in my freshly cleaned kitchen, or showering in my disinfected bathroom, and that motivates me to want to clean. Even my showering routines are thorough; washing my hair twice, applying conditioner, and scrubbing every inch of my body to get that tingly clean feeling. My husband can shower, shave, and dry his hair in under 10 minutes (so how thorough can he be?) and he’s good with it.

I guess at the end of the day we have to take responsibility for the standards we set for ourselves and accept that the expectation of these standards will dictate our workload. I will continue to clean, celebrating the results, and rewarding myself with a luxuriously long hot shower afterwards, and my husband will always be content to exert himself minimally (unless it’s on a golf course) then hose himself down in the garage.

I guess it all comes down to standards.

The winds of change

My husband was watching a stock channel on television, not something I typically tune into, but I happened to overhear an economist talking about the effects of the global pandemic on our future and it caught my attention. He was talking about the job market and said retailers have been looking for an opportunity to eliminate the simplest of jobs by automation, and while no business would wish a deadly virus on society, this pandemic has provided them with the very opportunity they needed. He went on to say that by the year 2022 we would not see any cashiers in stores, rather we’d be using self check outs and paying with cards, thereby eliminating cash. This startled me in many ways most importantly, how would so many in society make a living if even the most basic jobs are gone?

Over the last few months the Covid virus has abruptly swept across the globe not only claiming lives, but seriously changing our day to day lives and negatively impacting our economies. Many small businesses are closed for good and those corporations large enough to survive now see new ways to do business. Employees are working from home and managing. Many claim to be happier because they can structure their day to ensure work and family balance, and employers who now see their people can be productive working from home so no longer need large office space. (I wouldn’t want to be a commercial real estate holder right now)

We are distancing from friends and family and when we do have social contact we are re-evaluating how and how much. The changes caused by this pandemic are making us more selective of who we choose to be with, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps we should’ve been more selective all along. I’m seeing more and more families together, laughing, playing, even working together. My neighbourhood has never been so beautifully landscaped because while isolating at home families are making projects to clean up their properties.

Children are missing their schoolmates, no question, but they’re finding new fun with siblings and parents and the joy appears to be reciprocal. This is not a bad thing.

Couples are reconnecting because when we all work from home there’s no escaping each other so if the relationship was strained before this pandemic will make it or break it and that’s not a bad thing either because it forces us all to face our situations. If it was bad before, putting off the inevitable isn’t going to fix it.

The pandemic is also testing world leaders making it easy for all to see those who are strong and capable of leading their nations through a crisis and those who clearly aren’t. (I’ve never been prouder to live in Canada)

Every day brings a new normal, something new to get used to, like it or not, and while we were once so resistant to change, we now have come to accept that the winds of change are here to stay. Life will never go back to where it was, and that too may not be a bad thing.

 

 

New world

 

 

Till Death do us part

Why do we choose the partners we do? And if we had the knowledge we have now, way back then, would we still make the same choice? (now there’s a loaded question)

I know a number of couples whose relationships are contentious at best, and you have to wonder not only why they’re still together, but what on earth could’ve brought them together in the first place. They have little to nothing in common and they fight openly and consistently, yet they are loyal to each other. Is it simply a matter of comfort and familiarity? (I guess it’s easier to stay with the devil you know)

I married for love (next time I’m going for money) and fortunately for me that worked out well. Now that’s not to say it’s been easy. The people we love can be a royal pain. We do, on occasion, get on each other’s nerves; irritating routines and annoying habits all take their toll on our patience and for some (ok, me) that fuse of tolerance is just a wee bit shorter (it’s really hard to be patient with someone who is almost always wrong) The simplest things become monumental.

My husband is a creature of habit, especially when it comes to eating. He loves his meat and potatoes and I’d venture to say he’s probably never eaten anything without his line-up of condiments. Now over the 38 years we’ve been married, I’ve become a pretty good cook  (largely out of necessity….he doesn’t cook and doesn’t want to, so it was learn to cook or starve) I take great pride in some of the meals I present to my family so when he plops a giant bottle of ketchup on the table before even tasting the food, I take issue with it. An expensive cut of meat that’s been expertly cooked differs little in flavor from boiled cardboard once you smother them in ketchup.

He disagrees, and since he rarely cooks himself I cut him little slack here. His entire culinary repertoire consists of mashed potatoes and homemade croutons, each of which he executes with such excruciating detail (and a HUGE mess) but neither of which requires any great skill, however, I always eat them without complaint and I do not ‘add’ any additional seasoning or condiments without trying them first.

Recently my daughter and her family were over for dinner and I was trying a new recipe I’d seen on a cooking show. It required a lot of last minute attention and because my daughter is a vegetarian I had to make 2 versions of the meal, doubling my last minute efforts. At the eleventh hour my darling decided he wanted Swiss Chalet Sauce with this meal (heaven knows why…I wasn’t serving chicken)  We have a powdered mix I’d stupidly purchased for him (he would occasionally drive to Swiss Chalet to buy just the sauce and it drove me crazy to see $1.79 go through our account so when I saw a powdered mix version of it I bought it…who knew it would come back to bite me?)

I had two pans on the go for some last minute frying I had to do and along comes my darling with a pot and his *^#$% sauce. After a few minutes one of my pans was ready to go much earlier than the other so puzzled I checked the temperatures and sure enough he’d moved my pan to another burner so he could make his sauce. Now I’m a reasonable woman but when you sabotage my meal for want of your 99 cent gravy I have a  problem with it but this time I decided to exercise some tolerance and laughed off this little idiosyncrasy. Would’ve worked too had he not plunked a big bottle of ketchup on the table. (can’t you just see the next days headlines “Wife beats husband to death with ketchup bottle”)

At the end of the day I suppose we all have our issues with those closest to us. It’s not easy living with another and unfortunately we don’t figure that out until it’s too late. (I have a number of friends who chose to remain single …..did they know something we didn’t?) On the other hand it’s probably those moments of frustration that force us to be more tolerant of others and, dare I say it, help us grow? Much as he can drive me crazy, I am more in sync with my partner than not, and I’m sure that’s in no small part to years of exposure. (That or he wore me down)  Who knew that those 5 words, “till death do us part’ uttered in our marriage vows, would have such a resounding impact (That said, if I see a bottle of ketchup come out next time I slave over a nice meal death is gonna come a lot sooner than he expected)

We are all different and how we coordinate to select our life partner is as unique as each of us. Besides, that’s not the hard part – riding it out in the tough times, is. We may be opposites, we might be completely mismatched, but acceptance is our life lesson here and at the end of the day it’s still about love, and that’s the real deal.

old-lady-with-rolling-pin

 

 

 

 

 

Ask a simple question

I was out with a friend recently and we were chatting about the weather patterns; how they were so erratic of late (who doesn’t talk about the weather?) I happened to ask if she’d noticed the full moon we had a few nights earlier because I recall it was so lovely. The night was clear and the moon was so bright it illuminated everything. I guess I was just so in awe of natures’ beauty I felt compelled to share it. (actually, I was just making small talk) Who knew it would open the flood gates? My friend is smart, well informed, and a great conversationalist, so I enjoy my banter with her but I was a little unprepared for her response.

She said the moon is the brightest and largest object in our night skies despite the fact that the moons’ surface is actually dark. I thought to comment my surprise at this nugget of information but before I could she continued. She said the moon is the only ‘natural’ satellite to orbit our earth and is the fifth largest such satellite in our solar system. (who knew?….ok, who cared?)  She went on to say that the moon, which is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun, is actually slowly drifting away from us at a rate of some 4 cm per year. (I’d better make note of the next full moon and get my fill before she’s gone for good!)

Thinking to move the conversation on to other topics, I commented on the numerous potholes on our roads caused by the bitter winter temps and lamented about what would surely be an irritating drive in the spring with construction destined to be everywhere. She replied by saying how amazing the effects of the moon were, not just to our planet, but to us, the people. (ok, wow, we’re still on this) She went on to say how remarkable it was that the moons gravitational pull could literally move our oceans, then she stopped, and we enjoyed a comfortable silence for a few moments. (thank God that’s over….) I opened my mouth to suggest we stop for a coffee somewhere but she started speaking before I could get a word in.

She said a full moon has been attributed to strange human behaviour, and went on to describe the noted irrational behaviours documented throughout the years. (what is she, Wikipedia?)  She said the effects of the lunar pull on the human psyche have also been known to cause strange or insane behaviour, including suicide, sleepwalking and violence, (ok, I’m contemplating the latter right now girl!) then she looked pointedly at me to emphasize the importance of this message. (I asked a simple question… did you see the full moon, yes or no… how hard can it be?) She went on in great detail (I think anyway, I tuned her out at this point) about scientific research, something blah, blah, blah, and I found myself thinking maybe that moon wasn’t so pretty after all (who knew I’d have to pack a lunch to hear about it?) I fell silent deciding I was better off to just wait it out.

After she’d finally run out of steam she looked at me and said, “so, what’s new with you?” Stunned at finally getting an opportunity to speak, I found myself speechless and I just stared back blankly. I opened my mouth, said “not much”, and was about to return the same question, then thought better of it. I still have another 30 or so years of my life to live and I’d rather not live them in this scenario.

If ever you think you’re asking a simple question, think again.

Moon

 

 

 

I remember you

Today is Mother’s Day, and yesterday my own mother turned 90. A milestone birthday, coupled with a national holiday to honour mothers; so much to celebrate and yet I don’t know how.

My mother is in Long Term Care. She has no idea where she is, or who she is, and she has no recollection of her family. The global pandemic has locked down her facility so we cannot visit. She has no phone so we can’t call but that’s alright because Alzheimer’s has robbed her of her speech so she wouldn’t be able to communicate with us anyway. I thought to send flowers or a balloon bouquet, something to let her know she is not forgotten, despite the circumstances, but while I was able to find a service that would deliver, they could not guarantee the receiving institution would accept it. It seems that for my mother, this major event in her life will pass unnoticed,  so I will pay tribute in the only way I can… by recalling the many memories she fashioned because I still remember, even though she can’t.

I remember as a child crawling into your bed after being frightened by a nightmare. You’d hold me close until I was no longer afraid and at some point in the night return me to my own bed, only after I’d calmed.

I remember you always made my favourite comfort food, noodles and sour cream after I’d recovered from stomach flu (which I seemed to contract frequently)

I remember church every Sunday and coming home to the heavenly aroma of the pot roast you prepared before we left.

I remember the holidays, traditions you engraved in our hearts forever; traditions we still follow. You’d start preparation weeks in advance, baking and coordinating meals, shopping for gifts and staying up late to wrap and hide them, and you managed it all while working full time.

I remember how you loved music, often singing, and your radio was always on. I remember in particular your love of Sambas, memories of your native Brazil, and when we were young you and dad would pull out the old albums and dance after we’d gone to bed.

I remember how much you loved your trinkets. We hailed you “Queen of Clutter” because every table top, every counter, and every square inch of wall had something on it – you didn’t like vacant space.

I remember how you’d stay up late into the night sewing clothes for us, after working all day. We always had a new outfit for the holidays.

I remember when I suffered my first broken heart and you sat there and cried with me, not because I got dumped, but because you hated to see me hurting.

I remember how hard you worked to host my wedding and all the gatherings that led up to it. And again, you stayed up late at night for weeks, after working all day, to make my wedding dress.

I remember you took a week of vacation from your job to stay with me after the birth of each of my three children and I remember I cried when you left because I was so comforted to have you there.

I remember how much you loved marzipan and, your ultimate treat, marshmallows covered in toasted coconut, and I remember how hard you laughed when you watched The Beverley Hillbillies or All in the Family.

I remember how you rejoiced over the birth of each grandchild, welcoming every new arrival with a lovely handcrafted blanket, booties, and sweaters. And when the family expanded until we numbered into the twenties, you still hosted family dinners, even though you no longer had the stamina of youth. Somehow you always found the time and energy to bring us together and you took great pride in your family.

I wish I could take all the wonderful memories you gave me and package them into a beautiful present  but I fear there isn’t a box big enough or a bow grand enough to do it justice, so I give you the only gift I can, my memories. They number into the hundreds I’m sure, and I treasure each and every one not just on this special day, but every day of my life. You may not remember me, but I promise to always remember you.

Happy 90th birthday Mama, and Happy Mothers Day.

Balloons

Online shopping

Recently I went into an electronics store to buy a stand for my television. (We’d had it mounted on the wall but after redecorating decided to place it on a table). Unable to find what I was looking for I asked a salesman who replied they no longer stocked television stands in their stores, rather, customers had to order these items from their online website. That surprised me, although I guess it shouldn’t. Last summer I needed to buy a wedding gift. I drove to the store where they were registered, printed off their wedding list and wandered through the store to make my selection but everything they listed was ‘only available online’. Why do we have store fronts if nothing is available there? (aaaah, maybe that’s the point!)

Companies are looking to ditch their ‘bricks and mortar’ because of the cost…..no real estate to maintain. And no real estate means no sales people to pay. Now they can direct customers to their self-serve online shopping site, where we can do all the work ourselves. And if we do need to speak to a live body there’s an 800 number answered by someone in a third world country, who doesn’t speak English, but that’s ok, cause he hasn’t a clue about the products we’re inquiring about anyway.

I think mine is the last generation of those who legitimately like to shop in person. I need to touch it, see it, feel it, before I buy. I don’t care about your easy return policy. When I ‘touch it, see it, feel it’, I know whether I want it, so if I buy I won’t need to return it, making your easy return policy unnecessary. I don’t want an 800 number. I want a sales person, a living breathing one who looks me in the eye. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to find these things and I suspect that’ll only get worse.

Future generations will likely only shop online and since I am not a member of the future generation my opinion matters little.

I think the hardest part of all this for me is that I (and many of my peers) thoroughly enjoy shopping. It’s an event, an outing. It’s a social ritual and for those of us firmly committed to retail therapy, it’s a religious ritual. When I need to buy a gift I thrill at the exercise of selecting that special something after wandering various shops. I love getting my fellow shoppers opinion, and when we stop for lunch we review our purchases, celebrating our ‘finds’. At the end of the day we all go home tired and satisfied because we enjoyed our outing and did our part to support the economy. Going online to order merchandise isn’t quite the same. It’s a mechanical task and for me, it takes all the fun out of giving a gift.

It’s been 3 months since I went into that electronics store and I have not yet gone online and ordered my television stand. I refuse to. If you can’t stock basic items in your store I won’t shop there. And if it costs more for me to buy the same item at a local boutique than via your online portal, I will do it, because I am determined to support the ritual of shopping; the way it was meant to be.

Technology has already robbed us of so many simple niceties. Can’t we just enjoy some of these manual processes, if for no other reason than socialization? I think I’m fighting a losing battle here.

Online shopping