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

A community’s heartbreak

It seems you can’t turn on the radio or TV without hearing about the global pandemic. The Covid 19 virus does not discriminate, attacking all age groups and having a particularly hard impact on the sick and elderly, but it doesn’t stop there. Perfectly healthy able bodied young people are succumbing to this unpredictable illness. The economy is tanking, people are social distancing, not by choice but out of necessity, and it seems life couldn’t get any worse. Or could it?

Last weekend the small community of Portapique Nova Scotia experienced horrors so unimaginable it made Covid 19 almost bearable, and much as we’ve needed to hear something ‘new’ in our broadcasts, no one could ever have wanted to hear this.

A 51 year old man went on a shooting rampage killing almost two dozen people and terrorizing an entire city. He targeted those he knew and gunned down those he randomly encountered during his reign of terror, killing perfect strangers, just because. He even shot two dogs – it seems no living creature was out of range of his gunfire.

Little has been revealed about this man other than to say he was a successful businessman and a ‘nice guy’. So what makes a supposedly ‘nice guy’ shoot innocent people in a fit of rage? Little has been said about his personal life, the people he was close to, if there were any he was close to. Was this something that had been brewing over time, or did he just snap? The fact that he had what looked like an RCMP vehicle and somehow garnered an RCMP uniform suggests this was planned, and in the absence of any access to this fellows psyche, we may never know what his motivation was. All we do know is that it was pure evil.

Whatever his struggles were they were clearly deranged and extreme, and normally I would feel only compassion and support for one struggling with mental illness but it’s hard to muster up any sympathy for someone who randomly, senselessly, murders another. If you have insurmountable issues that you feel you cannot overcome, by any means, then go ahead and do what you have to,,,,,to yourself. Don’t take down a community of innocent people.

The terror inflicted, the lives lost, and the families scarred by this will change the face of this small community forever. We may never know what motivated this heinous crime. The gunman was killed by police during his capture so his explanation, whatever it could be, will never be heard, and maybe that’s a good thing. I can’t imagine wanting to witness the inner workings of such a deranged mind – it’s even beyond the stuff horror movies are made of.

As the residents of Portapique grieve their loss and struggle to make sense of these events, the rest of the country grieves with them because every community is ‘ours’. These are our people and this happened in our backyard. Covid 19 might be the global threat that brings us to our knees, but like any world catastrophe, we will survive it, and we may even be able to rationalize it in time. This is our war and we fight it together. A mass shooting, on the other hand, brought about by an evil mind, is the bigger monster and the bigger threat, because it shatters the very foundation on which decent society is built.

Words cannot describe the pain we all feel for our fellow Nova Scotian’s as we mourn the loss of their loved ones and struggle to heal a country’s broken heart.

Broken heart

 

 

 

The puppy who captured the heart of a community

I love people, and I love animals. I’m especially a dog lover, but ALL creatures are sacred to me (except spiders)

Yesterday I, and a number of others, experienced the ‘experience’ of a lifetime, when it came to ‘ pet love ‘. My daughter, who is almost 7 months pregnant, has a puppy. A beautiful little (ok, not so little) Vizsla, named Ben, He’s lovely. Big floppy ears, and the most amazing green eyes. Typical of a puppy, he’s clumsy and awkward, and has a way of always being under foot.

Well this 8 month old puppy, Ben, had a seizure 2 days ago and in their attempt to get him in the car to rush to a Veterinarian he panicked and suddenly bolted. He literally jumped out of the car and ran into the woods. The kids were frantic. They live in a community surrounded by forest and they only moved here 10 months ago. They know,,,, well,,,,no one,,,except the odd person who saw them walking a dog.

I was chopping vegetables for a chutney (totally irrelevant) when my husband got the call,,,,,a hysterical call,, from our daughter. Ben was gone and they needed help. She also posted an SOS on her and her communitys’ Facebook page. Now I am not on Facebook or Instagram, never was, never will be, because I don’t feel the need to be that connected, but in this case Facebook proved to be a lifeline for little Ben.

My husband and I literally dropped everything, jumped into the car, and drove to her neighbourhood. Cruising the area, we stopped every person we saw walking to ask if they’d seen a loose dog and every single one advised that they too were on the hunt. They’d seen the call for help on Facebook and, it seems, so had many many others. People were walking their own dogs up and down the street hoping to lure Ben in. Kids were on bikes riding the streets and calling his name. More than a dozen locals were cruising the streets in their vehicles, and a number had set up a slow moving convoy on the highway just behind the homes in case Ben ran into traffic. A group of residents who had recreational vehicles coordinated to ride through the wooded areas and a local pilot offered to send up a drone to try to find him.

Sightings were reported and all would rush to that locale but Ben remained at large. My daughter consulted with Bens’ Veterinarian who advised he was likely disoriented from the seizure but it was promising that he was conscious and mobile. The search was into its’ seventh hour, dusk was only a couple of hours away, and there had been no sightings for at least 2 hours. Hope was waning and all feared he would not be found before nightfall. Temperatures were dropping below freezing, and the woods are home to any number of animals, coyotes, in particular, are a concern. An innocent puppy wouldn’t last long in these conditions.

As my daughter and I prepared to cruise the streets again the call came in. A young boy was searching on his ATV and found Ben quite far in the woods. We would not have found him on foot, he’d gone that far. He couldn’t bring him back on the vehicle so he radioed his father who gave us the location and all able bodies headed into the woods, my 7 month pregnant daughter jogging ahead of everyone (I was sure she was going to bring on labour!) Ben was freezing so the young boy took his own coat off and wrapped it around Ben while he waited.

After about 35 minutes the group emerged from the woods with Ben in tow. His paws were bleeding, likely from running blindly through rough terrain, but he appeared otherwise no worse for the wear. A crowd had gathered on the street because after an entire day of searching people needed to make sure it was him, and not for the first time that day I was humbled at the kindness of these strangers.

The community of Waverley, Nova Scotia, is truly amazing. A fellow resident was in need and everyone came out, full force, to help. In a time when social distancing is mandatory, due to the Covid pandemic, all maintained necessary protocols, but the restrictions did not stop them from helping. The collective sigh of relief when Ben was found rippled through the whole neighbourhood and we all slept better that night knowing this innocent puppy was safe.

Now Ben will still have some challenges, namely finding out why he had a seizure in the first place, but knowing he is in the safety of a loving community brings some measure of comfort. We cannot begin to thank all those wonderful strangers who so selflessly gave their time, vehicles, and efforts to the search. In a world where most keep to themselves we all feel a renewed sense of appreciation for the kindness of strangers.

To the wonderful community of Waverley Nova Scotia and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Ben (2)

The Monarchy

When I was a child I remember every morning at school we said the morning prayer and then sang ‘God Save our Queen”. As a child I didn’t really understand why it mattered and before I was old enough to figure it out the protocol changed.’ God Save the Queen’ was replaced with  ‘O Canada’ and life went on.

Throughout my youth I watched news coverage of royal addresses, royal visits abroad, and it was fascinating to see these larger than life (or so I thought) people, navigating life as ‘Royals’. Gold carriages, sparkling jewels, and beautiful gowns; the stuff fairy tales are made of. I was in awe of these special people. Then I grew up, and saw reality. These were just normal people who’d been unfortunate enough to be born into royalty.

There was a time when the power of the monarchy was influential. They had a ‘say’ on matters of politics, and a direct impact on society. They were admired and respected. The Queen of England could appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister, any minister actually. And she alone had the power to dissolve Parliament, or declare war on any other country. That is no longer the case today. In fact, the role of the monarch holds very little power today, especially in Canada, and the Queens’ powers for the most part, are ceremonial. (guess that’s why we stopped singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in school?)

And it’s a lucky thing her responsibilities have been relieved in that regard because her days are filled enough with internal family shenanigans. Raised in an ice castle and shielded from real people and the real world how can we expect this monarchy to understand our lives? And yet they find themselves struggling with real life hardships; marital woes, infidelity, negative publicity. (How common of them!)

I think the biggest challenge of being a Royal has to be the monarchys’ control of their personal lives. Protocol dictates every aspect of their lives; how they dress, what and where they eat, who they marry, even the naming of their children. And if that isn’t enough they have to endure the constant and complete invasion of their privacy. Small wonder Harry and Megan seek to leave the Royal life behind. Seems even the Royals don’t see themselves as necessary to the British public any more. (And who wouldn’t crave ‘normal’ and strive to break out of this cocoon?)

Charles loves Camilla, he always did, but she wasn’t good enough for ‘Royal Standards’, so he was forced to marry sweet innocent and pure, Diana…and it destroyed both their lives. So much for royal protocol.  At the end of the day Charles got to be with Camilla, where he should’ve been all along. And Diana found her escape, sadly, in a tragic death. It’s a miracle those two sons aren’t more screwed up than they are, then again, who knows how they really are. So much is covered up to protect the precious royal image.

Over the decades the public has been granted a closer look at the Royals and we are all surprised and relieved, to find they’re every bit as normal as we are. They speak out and rebel, they fight for their right to live their life (some of them) their way. They have marital issues, and they have character flaws (oh no!) And over time their effect on society and political circles has waned, and rightly so. They are after all, just figureheads. Expensive figureheads. And one has to wonder if the value of the monarchy is worth the cost. No longer do they wield political influence. In fact, other than providing the public with soap opera-like entertainment, they have little positive impact on society (and I know there are countless royal-watchers out there who would challenge me on this) British taxpayers support the royal family through a “sovereign grant” and the costs have never been higher than they are now. Are they really worth it? (Where’s the bang for your buck?)

At the end of the day I feel really sorry for those born into these lives of servitude, because that’s all they are; servants, pawns in a game of thrones. On the upside, they have a beautiful home, wardrobe, and an endless supply of money. On the downside, they have a monotonous trail of ribbon cutting ceremonies, library dedications, and boring state functions to attend in the name of ‘duty’. Surely there are days when they’d like to take the kids to McDonald’s or a movie without a team of Paparazzi hiding in the shadows, snapping photos. And I suspect there are days they’d like nothing better than to saunter down to their local variety store in torn jeans, messy hair and no make-up, to buy a bag of potato chips, but they can’t. Because protocol dictates that they dress conservatively and hide in the midst of their security entourage.

The onerous tasks of ‘Royal duty’ take a heavy toll on the lives of otherwise normal people, and their financial burden on society is unfair and unnecessary. I wouldn’t wish the burden of royalty on anyone because the financial perks simply don’t make it worth while. Plus the crown is really heavy…..that’s why I gave it up.

Monarchy

Do as I say

My friend and I were walking, chatting about nothing and everything, inevitably ending up on the subject of our children. We both have adult children, gainfully employed, self-sufficient, and independent of us financially, but you wouldn’t know it if you heard us talk. We worry about their health, their jobs, their partners, everything we shouldn’t have to worry about, and yet we do. Because once you’re a mother you never stop worrying.

It’s not that our children bring us these worries. We just ‘see’ them from a distance. We see them making mistakes that could be avoided, the very mistakes we made when we were young – does experience count for nothing? Apparently not, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned and both agree upon, it’s that our children won’t listen. Clearly they have to hit the same brick walls we did to get it right. What a painful and unnecessary exercise!

And if you try to offer your unsolicited opinion, you’re met with ‘the hand’, because they’re going to do it their way regardless. It doesn’t help either, to tell them that we made these mistakes in our young adult lives and simply want to help them avoid the same pitfalls, because the response will invariably be, “I’m not you”, and that is the perfect segway for us to play the Do as I say, not as I do, card. (assuming they’ll listen, which they won’t)

As a child you are warned not to touch something or there will be consequences, an injury perhaps, or the something will get broken or damaged, but you had to learn for yourself, so you touched it. And the predicted outcome happened (you should’ve listened to mother….) but you’re a child, and that’s how you learn.

As an adult, however, you should be beyond that. Didn’t the mistakes of your childhood teach you to heed the advice of those with experience? (namely, your mother) Ignoring valuable advice (especially from your mother…ask your father, he’ll confirm this) often means you are destined to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation (us), and we want better for you.

But you don’t always listen, and when you’re stinging from the hurt of hitting that brick wall, it’s all we can do to keep from saying “I told you that would happen, you should’ve listened”. But maybe that’s the lesson.

Maybe the impact of the hit is what sends the message home. They say much of the learning that occurs during childhood is acquired through observation and imitation and I’d venture to say that as young parents we’re probably so busy raising kids and working we don’t notice the image we’re portraying. I know my parents tried to tell me how to live, and I didn’t listen, convinced I’d navigate the mistakes a little better. But I didn’t. I made them anyway and that’s how I learned.

So my friend and I walk on, changing the subject because we both know this one’ll never be resolved to our satisfaction. Our children will do what they please with or without our guidance, so we resign ourselves to waiting quietly in the shadows until they need us to comfort their souls and bandage their booboo’s.

You know, this’d be a lot easier if they’d simply do as I say and not as I do!

Do as I say

Keeping perspective

I was cleaning out a closet that hadn’t been touched in years and I came across an old newspaper. Curious, I opened it up to see what would’ve been so relevant years ago that prompted my husband to keep it (he’s the hoarder, not me) I looked through the headlines searching for something of significance (ok, actually, I was just looking for the crossword puzzle) and came upon the obituaries. I’m always curious to read about how the loved ones sum up the lives of those who pass so I stopped to scan the write ups. It’s difficult to read about those who die young, leaving too much behind that is unfinished but I have to acknowledge that we all have our path to walk, and for some that includes an early exit from this world.

I was impressed by one obituary that filled nearly half the page. (that ain’t cheap) I was particularly struck by the phrase, “The family are grief stricken by the sudden passing of ‘Jane Doe’,  at the age of 96” , and went on to list her surviving family, often referencing their  ‘tragic loss’. Wow, really?  ‘Suddenly’,,,, at 96?  Exactly how long did they think she should live? I get that these are written from emotion, but let’s get some perspective here.  If one manages to survive 96 years on this planet, that in itself is an accomplishment and I would think they’d focus on the celebration of her existence rather than the ‘tragic loss’.  And how ‘sudden’ could a death be at 96? (she’s had 95  years to get ready) The obituary said she’d been a resident of the same nursing home for the past 22 years(Bet that was how she’d planned to play out her life, frittering away in a nursing home) She’d probably prayed for death for the last 10.

Now I’m not discounting the family’s need to sing her praises to the world one last time, but this particular write up focused more on the ‘tragic loss’ to our world.  Maybe I’m too pragmatic to be objective on this subject but let’s gain some perspective here.  Anyone who makes it to 96 is ripe and ready for the taking. That’s why our bodies deplete folks. It’s check out time.

You want to make the world weep, tell me about the 36 year old man who succumbed to cancer leaving a young family behind. Or the 11 year old boy who’d drowned. Even the 64 year old who’d dropped dead from a heart attack 2 weeks after retiring. Now that’s a ‘tragic loss’ because these individuals still had so much to bring to this world!  But a 96 year old who’s been frittering away in a nursing home for the past 22 years, surely she was ready to go? (what could she possibly cling to here that would make her want to stay?) There’s nothing sudden or unexpected there. That she lived a full life for close to 100 years is a gift, one that should be celebrated, not mourned.

I suppose at the end of the day it’s unreasonable for me to expect people to ‘keep their perspective’ when it comes to the death of a loved one because emotion factors in so greatly. I’ll tell you one thing though, I’m going to have a chat with my kids cause if I live to be into my nineties I will have done everything I planned in my life. And whatever I didn’t accomplish in my time here couldn’t have mattered enough or I would’ve done it. Keep my obituary short and sweet, don’t dwell on the ‘worlds’ loss’, (i.e. no mushy stuff) and make sure I have my teeth in for the visitation.

from the blog www.stuckincustoms.com

From something very bad comes something very good

With the Covid 19 virus spreading globally all are asked to stay home and avoid public gatherings. Fortunately the weather has been clear so we can at least get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Yesterday was such a day and I took advantage by taking a nice long walk through my neighbourhood.

The first thing I noticed was the sound of childrens laughter. Behind me two young brothers pedaled on their bikes, chatting and giggling. A sure sign of spring, I mused, and I tried to recall the last time I heard the sound of children playing outside. It had been years, I realized.

As I walked on I passed a mother and her two teen aged daughters. I recognized them from a few doors down, and while I had seen one or the other on occasion, I had never seen them out together just taking a walk. They strolled along comfortably and I heard them talking and laughing. Clearly they, like me, just wanted to get out, and with stores, theatres and public gathering places closed, they had no choice but to find entertainment in each others company. It made me smile to see they were actually enjoying it. No phones, no tv, just good old fashioned conversation (with their parent no less!)

As I wound my way home I saw a neighbor out with her two young granddaughters. With day cares closed all were scrambling for child care so I presumed she was just helping out her children. The little ones were gathering sticks from the lawn and loading them into a wagon (clearly a make-work project aimed to tucker them out) while their Grandmother raked leaves. It was a sweet sight and I carried that warm feeling throughout the rest of my day, not giving it much more thought.

Later that night I found myself marveling at these sights all over again and it prompted me to consciously ask myself why. Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t seen children out ‘playing’ for a very long time. It seems over the years childrens activities changed from simple outdoor play to organized ‘play dates’ (usually indoors) and computer games. With tv, radio, and ipads occupied with news of the Coronavirus they were now forced to find entertainment in good old fashioned play. (Imagine that?) Teens no longer glued to their hand held devices were actually communicating with their families, happily. One family I know even pulled out their old board games and held a family games night. (when was the last time that happened?)

I know the Coronavirus is a serious threat but if it’s at all possible to glean something positive from it, it’s that it has forced families to spend time together. And in spending more time together we’re discovering that the simple things in life really are worth the effort. If it weren’t for the mandatory closures those teens probably wouldn’t have gone for a walk with their mother – they’d be in a mall or texting with friends. And those children playing outside would likely be indoors glued to the tv or a hand held game. Maybe one of the lessons we needed to learn in society is to make time for family. If stock markets can experience a ‘correction’, maybe society can too. Over the last 20-25 years we’ve drifted from spending quality time with our loved ones, choosing instead to isolate with our electronic friends.

Finding the road back to play, genuine play, is a good thing, in any situation. And while this frightening disease may well keep us in isolation with our families for months, it also means parents and children are home together all day, every day, giving us the rare opportunity to rekindle family time. (I believe it’s called. ‘making the best of a situation’)

My 90 year old father told me the deserted streets and mandatory confinement of this world event remind him of the 2nd world war. The only difference is today we can enjoy the company of our families safely in our own homes because the worst that can happen is that we die of boredom. (assuming we do not contract the virus…and we won’t if we all do our part and stay home)

Like everyone, I wish Covid 19 had never happened and my heart aches for those struggling with the loss a loved one to this awful disease. But for those who are only battling the isolation from public society, I urge you to take stock. We all have something to learn from this world event, and for many of us maybe that lesson is to return to family. I’m seeing the positive changes in families already. Could it be that from something so very bad, we’re finding something very good? I’d like to think so. I’m just sorry it took a global pandemic to put us on the path home.

Family time

 

Dreams

I awoke yesterday morning feeling unsettled. There was no reason for my agitated state, I just felt ‘off’, for lack of a better word; worried, scared, anxious, something. Over the course of the day I started recalling images and I realized I’d had dreams in the night that disturbed me, on a subconscious level. The images made no sense, some dredging up past memories, situations that I struggled with; situations I thought I had healed from. Apparently not.

Why are some dreams so vivid and what do they mean? And it seems it’s usually the unpleasant ones that are most vivid. You wake with a sense of dread, sometimes you can’t recall why; the dreams comes back to your conscious mind in snippets throughout the day forcing you to face….what? (I mean seriously, I already dealt with some of this stuff,,,,enough already! I’m ready to move on but my subconscious is telling me I can’t)

My mother used to have premonitions; dreams that foretold of a tragedy yet to occur, and to her credit I do recall at least a couple of occasions where her dreams were accurate. Her family have always resided on another continent. One night she dreamt her father was sitting at the end of her bed telling her not to cry, that all would be alright. The next day she got a call from her family advising her brother had passed suddenly at the age of 36. He had not been ill; there was no reason to expect him to die. In fact all her premonitions came in her dream state, and all were bad news. Can a dream deliver good news, ever? I can’t recall ever hearing about a lottery winner saying “I had a dream I won!”

I’ve had dreams where wild animals are involved, bears mostly, and no idea why. I live in an urban area, no bears for hundreds of miles. I’m not even in close proximity to a zoo. I’ve dreamt (most recently) of people and situations I’d like to leave in my past so it’s makes some sense that residual thoughts linger, but bears have played no role in my life, so what does it mean? On two occasions I dreamt of fire and when I woke I could’ve sworn I smelled fire, even rousing my husband once to check the house. (the 2nd time he told me I was nuts and went back to sleep but I wasn’t convinced and checked the house anyway. All was well but I’d rather be sure than end up a human shish kabob)

For years my husband had a recurring dream that he was walking down a long corridor and knew he was being followed. In his dream he turned and punched at the offender. Unfortunately, the dream was real enough that he actually punched me on 2 occasions. (There I was sound asleep, minding my own business, and bam, right in the chest! Needless to say I eventually convinced him that I could be scarier than his dream, and I was real. Not long after the dreams stopped, go figure)

The most disturbing dreams I’ve had involved demons of some sort; ghoulish creatures intent on terrorizing me. (I don’t watch horror movies, ever, of any kind. The last ‘scary’ movie I endured was 44 years ago and it haunted me for weeks) These dreams taught me something about my ‘fight or flight’ abilities,,,,I have none. I discovered when I am terrified, I become paralyzed and my first experience with this was when I was 12 years old. I attended a summer camp, one I’d been a part of since I was 4. There was a boys and girls side, each consisting of 6 small barracks that slept 8 apiece, and 1 large barrack that housed some 30-40 of the younger campers. The camp had been dwindling in numbers and this particular year there was only 3 of us placed in the smaller barracks in the woods. The rest were vacant. There had been a rash of trespassers from a nearby beach town causing some concern for the safety of the campers so we had counsellors on a 24 hour rotation walking the grounds at night.

On one such evening my roommate needed to use the washroom and since we had been told to go everywhere in pairs I went along, both of us in our pajamas. The washroom was about 100 feet from our barrack, all of which was surrounded by dense forest. Wandering back we heard the breaking of branches nearby and just as we approached the door of our cabin a leg stepped into view at the side. My roommate, Rita, immediately ran screaming towards the centre of camp leaving me just standing there, frozen on the spot. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move. Eventually some sense spurred me into action and I followed but I was still mute and moved like a zombie.

Since then I’ve had a few seriously disturbing dreams, dreams of evil, images of demons, not recognizable people, and in all cases I was roused from my sleep by my husband advising I was moaning and calling incoherently. These dreams, much to my dismay, were vivid. I recalled my inability to speak so clearly after wakening and it would haunt me for several days.

One of my children suffered from childhood migraines, nasty bouts of dizziness and vomiting that would last for days. After years of this she confided in me that she knew when a bout was coming because the same people came to her in her dreams advising so. Not sure what to make of this, I mentioned it to my pediatrician and was startled to hear him say he was not surprised. He said children are very open to ‘other realms’ and as a result can interpret spiritual contacts more readily. And YES, this was a highly educate man of science. He was the head of Pediatrics and Child Abuse for a major hospital, and his wife was a child psychologist. He consulted with her and she confirmed what my daughter was ‘seeing’ in her dreams was in fact real. She confirmed my daughters premonitions were legitimate and likened it to seeing auras.

So how do we make sense of our dreams? Are they messages from our subconscious advising of unfinished business, i.e. is there a situation we are not dealing with on a conscious level. Are they simply irrational fears manifesting themselves in a way to test our reaction, or maybe, force us to face them? Or are they some form of premonition, a foretelling that our intuition has tapped into, and for some (the lucky ones) they are able to interpret them for meaningful messages.

I read an article recently that said we dream on average 5 – 6 times per night and our deepest sleep, the “REM” state is the period during which we dream most vividly. It also went on to say the REM state is when we dream most illogically, often wakening in a frazzled state. (Whatever it is, I don’t like it.) Sigmund Freud theorized that undesirable memories could become suppressed in the mind. By allowing these memories to be reinstated via our dreams, we are forced to ‘face our demons’, aka, deal with it. (If that’s true I had some pretty shady characters in my past….and I’d like to leave them there, thanks!)

Apparently we all dream regularly and most dreams are what we would classify as ‘disturbing’, but most of us don’t recall any of them. It has been said that 5 minutes after the end of a dream, we have forgotten 50 percent of its content, 10 minutes later, we have forgotten 90 percent, and 95 percent of all dreams are forgotten entirely upon awakening, and I think that’s ok, cause if dreams are only going to deliver bad news why would we want to recall them?

Wishing you only sweet dreams…..or none at all.

Dreams

Radio

I love my radio. It’s on all day at my house, even when I go out because I don’t like to return to a quiet house. Quiet unnerves me, and I find the continuity of radio relaxes me, so while I would happily give up my television, my dishwasher, my first born even,,,,,I would never give up my radio.

That said, I do not appreciate all radio. Musical taste is different for all of us and fortunately the radio stations I listen to have a good mix of music choices. They have their theme hours; Country, Celtic, Instrumental, or spotlight on a specific artist. If I like that particular artist or genre, I listen. If I don’t, I move to my alternate station knowing after a while that ‘theme’ will be over and I can return to my happy place.

My favourite radio station is a local one run by volunteers, retirees mostly (cause who else could volunteer to work for nothing?) and because there’s no pressure on them to ‘perform’ or ‘excel’ in their job, they exude a very relaxed manner. They laugh, they joke, there’s a lively banter that’s light and inoffensive. I also appreciate that they have the good taste to avoid certain genres like Crap, (oops, sorry), ‘Rap’, or ‘Barber Shop Quartets’ (just gag me with a spoon)

Sadly that does mean we have to make room for other less inspiring themes like ‘The Symphonic Hour’, (I bet the Conductor uses his baton to periodically poke players to keep them awake, and I’m sure the Bassoon was invented solely to drown out snores from the audience) or, God help me, ‘Tribute to Bagpipes’ (Mother Jesus, just blow my head off….who on earth decided wheezing through a pipe into an old sack was music?) But, to be fair, taste is a personal thing, so I reluctantly concede to those, and there are many, who worship the sound of a bagpipe. I just don’t understand it, but I would listen to 12 hours of bagpipes (it would be cruel and unusual punishment, for sure) before I would succumb to even 30 minutes of ‘Talk Radio’…..this is my true torture.

People are talking to us at work (unless you work in a library), at home, at school, in the grocery store, everywhere,,,,we are besieged with noise all of our waking hours  Isn’t that enough? Don’t you just crave something easy on the ears when your day is finally yours?

My husband is a huge talk radio fan (but he’s a good provider and he vacuums weekly, so I decided to overlook this flaw in his character). In fact, it’s all he listens to so you can imagine long rides in the car together can be pretty painful. (could it be I’m not as interesting as I thought I was?) He says he wants to be informed when he turns on a radio, so he is especially fond of podcasts. (they’re kind of like documentaries without the visual,,,,or like trying to count your eyelashes )  I, on the other hand, don’t want to be educated, I want to be entertained. It’s not that I’m stupid or disinterested, I’m just tired. I’ve spent the better part of my 60 years listening and learning, enough already. I just want to relax. (Croon me a little ditty)

Now I realize I am a rapidly shrinking minority. Talk show formats are all the rage and music is, sadly, taking a back seat in the world of ‘audio’ entertainment. Unless there’s a suggestive video to accompany the music, people simply aren’t interested, and I just don’t understand why. Isn’t your brain tired of being talked at? Aren’t you tired of having to process what you hear? (it would be interesting to see a study done on these individuals to see if they have difficulty sleeping) If our inner brain could gain control of conscious action would it say “could you keep it down out there, I’m trying to sleep”.

Maybe it’s simply a matter of application. When I’m being ‘spoken’ to I am very focused on listening, and that’s exhausting. Could it be that I need to listen less intently? (my husband tests this theory with me daily,,,maybe he’s on to something?) Maybe if they put these educational podcasts to music I’d find an interest. (or not, I hate thinking hard, it hurts)

Ok, new strategy!  The next time you start to ‘tell’ me something educational I’ll make an effort to listen but if I break in to a show tune when I’m weary don’t take it personally, and don’t take me for crazy. I’m just resting my brain.

Radio

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I was hosting a book club meeting this month and the host gets to choose the book for next month so I went to my local Chapters book store to scan the shelves for some new material. We’d already read a few books based around the 2nd world war so I was determined to find something different and this, I discovered, would be a challenge. There seems to be a lot of stories centered around the war. In fact, I was hard pressed to find one that wasn’t.

There’s mysteries, and horrors, of course, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine, so those were not a consideration. And there’s a huge section for romance but a review of those generally left me feeling like I’d wandered into a low budget soap opera. What I did find was that there’s a lot of crap that gets published. The story lines are weak and in many cases so was the writing style, and yet surprisingly, almost everything I touched claimed to have been on the New York Times best sellers list. Who are the judges of this esteemed list cause a number of these books really stunk!

Every romance is the same and the shelves are full of them. A poor helpless damsel gets assaulted by a wealthy land baron who’d just disembarked from a long voyage and after months at sea he’s feeling the ‘urge’ so he relieves himself on what he perceives is a local Doxie (some poor waif who wandered onto the docks by mistake) Halfway through the task he senses she was chaste and realizes not only is she not a Doxie, but she is quite enjoyable.  He decides to keep this prize and discoveries she cleans up pretty nice.  Now it’s amazing how in the turn of the century people bathed once a month and washed their clothes even more rarely but somehow this maiden always manages to smell like Hibiscus and a hint of lavender.  Her name too is always intriguing, Vixen, or Emerald, no Ruth or Blanche for our heroine. She always has flaming eyes and a heaving bosom that this knight can’t resist and they spend the rest of the novel in a love hate battle. He can’t stop thinking about her, she of him, blah, blah, blah, until eventually he begs her to be his Queen, saving her from a life of poverty and toil. The end, thank goodness, of a painful prose.

There’s always a biography. I like those. Some peoples lives are so very interesting. Unfortunately the majority of the biographies published aren’t. They embellish real life situations to make them more interesting and look for sensationalism because the reader wants to be shocked or surprised, right? Movin’ on.

History is out because it’s done to death. Everyone has a connection to someone who has had a real life experience during a major world event. We probably studied it in school already so why reread it with the drama of someone else’s family in it?

I steer clear of anything related to religion, psychology, or politics because they are too controversial, too intellectual, or to sleazy (in that order) for a casual book club, so it appears fiction is my only option.

I was surprised that I spent almost 2 hours scouring books, discarding most after reading the cover, and I have to say it again, because it so surprises me, there’s a lot of crap published.  Eventually I settled on a book about a young Japanese woman who falls in love with a sailor during the war, (you just can’t avoid the war themes) and the struggles they encounter just to build a life together. Devious family, prejudice, jealousy, and greed all contrive to make life difficult for the young lovers. Add a dash of mystery (to keep you intrigued), a sprinkle of historical fact (to make the choice legitimate) and a dollop of romance (to keep you interested)  and voila, you have a hit novel! Or so I hope. We’ll find out at my next book club meeting.

In the interim, if you’re looking for a good book forget the best sellers lists, you’re better off scanning the books people are reading on the bus or in the lunch room.

Read any good books