Monday, August 07, 2023

My Life is Like a Matinee

These days, getting ready for almost any activity involves some time-consuming preparation at night, and in the morning.  That leaves me with only the afternoon and a little of the early evening to get into any mischief, or to do any necessary but boring chores.  

I'm in my eighth decade now and am still learning to cope with my new status. It's not easy because there are hardly any precedents in my family. No role models, unless I count my former husband but he's English and from the carry-on-come-what may generation. I can't count him and besides that, I relate more to the carry-on while complaining generation.  

Preparing for sleep includes several more steps that it did when I was a sprightly young thing.  I need to set up the coffee maker and make sure there is both water and ground coffee in the appliance. Hot water in the morning just doesn't have the same nearly gonzo effect as coffee. And if I forget to add the water the smell of hot metal on glass isn't delightful. 

All the things I might need in the night have to sit on top of the dresser by my bed. Did I mention drugs? Well, aspirin and acetaminophen have a home there. My cell phone goes up there too just in case, along with water in a sippy cup I try not to knock over. Most importantly, whatever book or magazine I'm reading must be handy and my heating pad needs to warm up the spot where my always-cold feet go. Yes, even if it is ninety degrees Fahrenheit, my nest must be warm. I read until my eyes begin to close. At that point I get up and visit the bathroom once more; then I return to bed and turn the bedside light out.

Naturally, I begin to worry about the state of the world and whether I turned the computer off and what I need to do the next day. After all what is the dark for, except thinking of what one puts off thinking about during the day. Never mind though,  the morning will arrive soon enough. Sometimes it arrives at three a.m. 

Normally, I wake between six and seven a.m.,  partly because I have to pee and partly because various parts of my body have decided to complain. I  sit on the side of the bed and slowly retrieve my slippers and put them on. Yes,  even if it is ninety degrees Fahrenheit, I need them.. The kitchen floor is non-slip but can be cold. I take no chances. I turn on the coffee machine and proceed to the living room to open the curtains and turn on the computer. 

 I fetch my mug of coffee and begin my day by checking my email. Then I check the news sites, my local TV station news, the CBC news and then the Guardian news. after that, I look on Facebook to see if any of my friends have posted there.  I now know that the world continues to be in an unholy mess. It's therefore time for me to do The Guardian crossword and the Globe and Mail crossword. That reassures me that some parts of me, and the world still function. I do some more internet browsing.

Suddenly, it's 10:30 a.m. and I'm still in my pyjamas. If I'm going to get anything done, I need to shower and dress. Showering means having my walker on hand and being extremely careful entering and exiting the tub. Unfortunately my bones are older than the rest of me. They aged without my permission, and I am not best pleased.  My skin didn't ask my permission to get as dry as the Sahara dessert either. So, my next task involves slathering it with a vitamin E cream. I have no idea if it is helping but it does increase the amount of laundry I have. Once I'm dressed I check my email accounts again and respond to any that need answers, then it's time for lunch.

After that, it's prime time for me - between one p.m. and four p.m. I might be at my peak performance time. I could work on my current project, or I could do some cleaning, or I could contact friends, or I could continue reading.  But, oh the couch looks alluring and it may be time for a nap before supper. Not every day needs a matinee performance.

Til the next adventure.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

 Aging Gratefully During a Pandemic


I do not age gracefully. Even as a youngster I wasn’t physically graceful. I am; however, grateful for some of my circumstances during the COVID 19 pandemic.  I live alone so I’m accustomed to enjoying my own company, although sometimes do I get on my own nerves. When I was tired after my third COVID 19 vaccination, I went to bed without setting up my coffee maker. The next morning, after I managed to make coffee while in my pre-caffeinated state, I decided to be thankful that the machine is only moderately difficult to fill and only a few grains of coffee landed on the kitchen floor.

            Eating is one of my favourite occupations. I miss dining in restaurants with friends, even though we didn’t meet very often. I’ve become best buddies with my refrigerator and its small freezer compartment. Sometimes, I just open the door to see if by some miracle there’s anything new inside. At last, I understand why my grandsons would open the family’s fridge door and stand gazing at its contents. I’m truly grateful form my fridge and for enough money to fill it.

I’m thankful also for refrigerated grocery delivery trucks.  These days, I order my food stuffs online and have them delivered. Of course, that requires making a list ahead of time. It also requires knowing where I put the list, or failing that, starting a second list.  I can get some non-grocery items from the same source and that helps too, if I remember what I need.

Going out to a real store is a major adventure and I don’t do it often. In fact, by the time all this is over, entire neighbourhoods may have changed before I see them again. And, I have no idea what has happened at the local shopping malls. I haven’t been to one in two years. There may be new stores, or fewer stores, or zombies might be roaming the corridors. I’d be grateful not to see them.

Staying inside so much has led me to modified voyeurism. From my windows, I see the corner where the school bus stops to pick up local children. I notice how many of them are waiting in the morning. One day, the youngest one with the pink boots is missing. I wonder if the child is okay. When she appears the next day, I’m happy to see her grubbing in the snow bank.

Because I am inside so much, I’m often online, probably too often. On the one hand, I’ve learned more about many frivolous things.  For example, I now know what women wore under their dresses in the Victorian era. On the other hand, I’ve learned a bit more about Canadian and world history. That’s a bonus, I think.

When I’m free to wander places at will, I’m not sure how far I’ll go. Due to the pandemic, I’ve come to truly appreciate my home as my haven and I’m grateful to be in it.  I hope all your homes are safe places.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Making of Waves - Stories from the Magic Filing Cabinet.

Many writers save all the versions of their work and the feedback on it that they receive from various sources such as critique groups, writers in residence, friends, and sometimes beta readers. I store printed copies of some  work in a small filing cabinet next to my desktop computer. In there, it's out of sight but perhaps not out of my mind. 

When the pandemic continued and we headed toward the second year of staying put, life  slowed down for me. I still miss my Viking and my involvement with the Rockway Entertainers chorus but  there was time to do more than to write the occasional haiku and On-The-Buses note for my Facebook page.  If I could find the energy, the objectivity and the stamina I might be able to put some of my short stories together as a collection. I chose eleven from my filing cabinet stash.

 I hadn't reread the stories in a long time. I had always found it difficult to accept criticism of my writing, especially when it was blunt. However, when I began to rewrite them, I was less hampered by previous impressions and critiques, and more able to refine them.  Two dear friends, Lori Hahnel and Dee Miller helped me with editing and proofreading.

I chose to self-publish the stories partly because of the time factor. Small presses can take eons to decide on whether to publish a writer's work. They have a hard time surviving in these Amazon dominant days. 

After some research I chose the publishing division of M & T Printing, a local company. You can find Waves in the fiction section.


Monday, November 23, 2020

                                                     Blog Revival Time

It's been an age since I posted here. Of course lots has happened to all of us. The only writing I did was posting comments, On the Bus pieces, musings and haikus on Facebook. However, this autumn, the short stories that lived in my filing cabinet finally shouted loud enough that I had to take them out, and rework them.

Thanks to the help of friends they will be ready to publish early in the new year. I will write more about the collection when the launch is closer. In the meantime, I hope everyone stays safe and well. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

I'm Not a Pillar or a Cornerstone. Maybe I'm a Small Brick

When my dear partner died, I vowed not to rush into anything new until I felt ready. Lately, I've been considering what my future options might be now that I am alone, again. It's not that I lack choices. I have many, perhaps too many. There are writing projects waiting. My apartment could use some redecorating. The sheet music files our choir uses need my attention. There are a lot of 'volunteer opportunities' available for someone like me - an older woman who is not currently a care-giver, is spouse-less, and has no dependent relatives. I am a VIP (visitor in the parish) for members of the church I attend, but I hesitate to add more 'opportunities'.

I suspect I'm not designed to be a pillar of the church, or a pillar or cornerstone in the community. I know and respect the people who are. I don't know what they are made of, but it is something above and beyond my mortal capacity. A lot of pillars are women. Women who care for dying family members at home never get mentioned; but they are family cornerstones. Women who make 300 pies and sandwiches routinely for church or community events and who turn out week after week to do the work that keeps churches and charities running are pillars. Women who chair committees in their spare time between caring for aging parents, and ferrying teens and adult children without cars to appointments are cornerstones.

The girls of my generation, the baby-buster generation born slightly before and during World War II, had as role models the young women and mothers  who cared for family and community. They worked, if they needed to, or wanted to; and, if they were married, if their husbands agreed to it. In addition, they volunteered for many of the duties that keep society working as a matter of course. Also, because there was no other option, they looked after aged family members who needed care at home.  A number of these role models are still around, or have left us very recently.  Were they made of stronger material? Probably not. They did what they were sure they had to do. However;  it worries me when a pillar falls ill, or dies.

A slightly older woman friend, who is also a member of the baby-buster generation and who is very active in her church and community spoke to me recently about her desire to slow down and guilt she feels about that possibility. Who will do it, if I don't? That's the unasked question.  I don't have a glib answer.

Younger women today have a lot to do, and there are a zillion expectations placed on them. Have a fulfilling career!  Have a perfect family! Have a perfect life! Don't forget to look fabulous, always! No wonder being a pillar doesn't fit in. But,  maybe just doing one thing, adding one small brick and doing it consistently will be all that can be offered to the community and/or the church.  Maybe if enough of us do that one thing, and continue to do it the small bricks will keep the building standing.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

One August Afternoon in Kitchener - A Photo Essay

There is beauty in my neighbourhood in every season. These photos were all taken on August 5th, 2015, in the Civic Centre area of Kitchener, Ontario.

The Church of the Good Shepherd (Swedenborgian) is known locally for marrying many folk who
might not have the opportunity to wed in other churches.  This building was finished in 1935. The first Swedenborgian church in Kitchener, then known as Berlin, was built in 1833.
The Kitchener Fire Fighters' Memorial in Civic Centre Park. The internationally known sculptor is Timothy Schmaltz (
The Waterloo County Gaol  Garden is small but delightful and has a fountain. The stone walls are remnants of the original jail which was built in 1852.

Tall natural grasses in front of  the Region of Waterloo headquarters are part of the Naturescape Demonstarion Garden.

A flowered path along the side of St. Andrew's Presbyterian church leads to the contemplative space in the next photo
Tree-lined streets graceful homes,and shaded gardens.
The Hibner Park fountain is also a compass. It was built in 1939 and replaced an earlier fountain which had occupied the same site circa 1897.
Dogs, rabbits, a fox or two, and local people all enjoy this small semi-wild patch of land in the heart of the Civic Centre neighbourhood.
These photos help to explain my fondness for my adopted city. I've lived here for eleven years and hope to enjoy my surroundings for many more years.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts About Canadian Veterans - Why I'm Bothered

Be forewarned; this is a rant.

I haven't posted here in a long time. During my blogging break, my friend, The Bear, died. There was a fair bit to do after that, including sorting through more of his personal papers. He had been just a little too young to enlist in World War II, but his older brothers had both served in the Canadian forces. One was killed overseas and one returned. The Bear said his mother's grief for the lost one never abated. I was thinking about them again this morning, and about all our  Canadian Veterans*, especially after hearing the latest federal budget news.

Before I talk about my budget concerns, I'd like to say: I wish our military could only be used for peace-keeping. In an ideal world, we wouldn't need to have a military; but that is not the world we live in. Like many Canadians, I have military connections. My grandfather was a World War I Veteran, my former husband is a World War II Veteran. For many years, I  worked with  Veterans at Sunnybrook Medical Sciences Centre and later, I worked for them in various social service capacities.

I care.

When I see Veterans being patronized by the Minister of Veterans' Affairs Canada - I see red, and it's not the red of the maple leaf. And I turn red - with shame. We have enough money to keep all the Veterans' Affairs offices open - in fact, we have enough money to add more offices. It could be done, but it won't be done while the Harpercons are in office. Of course online services should be increased, but they are not accessible to all Veterans. Of course there should be more trained professionals to work with the men and women who suffer from severe physical and mental stress due to previous combat or peace-keeping traumas.  But, that is not enough support. A lump-sum payment based on what Veterans refer to as the "meat chart" for body part injuries is also not enough support. The long-term costs of caring are not always predictable. What happens when the lump sum is used up? Go ahead and guess. We have homeless Veterans. We have Veterans who commit suicide. We have dead Veterans whose families do not have enough money to bury them. The federal government has added some money to the Last Post fund to help the families of indigent dead Veterans (a needs test must be passed).  Gee, I'm proud. But - what about the living Veterans?

Don't the men and women who served in the Canadian Armed Forces deserve better services and lasting first-quality care? The only ethical answer to that question is - yes.

* I have capitalized Veterans throughout this piece as a mark of respect.