Archive for the ‘Musings and Mom’ Category

1948 Mom Dad

Mom and Dad.  Wedding day 1948.

Mother’s Day. It’s a day of reflection and remembrance for pretty well everybody. Hard to ignore this day. It’s not like International Day of Peace or a Civic Holiday. Mother’s Day really means something.

I grew up in an era where there was a clear delineation between breadwinners and homemakers. Dad was the money guy. He provided food, clothing and a roof over our heads. That was just a given. Dad worked a job. Mom on the other hand was the person charged with taking care of the kids. My childhood memories of home, are largely crowded by Mom’s presence. Dad was away a lot, working at his job. Mom on the other hand was omnipresent. She was the food supply. She bought your clothes. She organized your social activity. Any permissions required, would have to be directed her way. I don’t specifically recall the expression “Ask your mother”, a phrase that is so cliché but true. In our house, I always asked Mom.  Mom had the answers.

My mother was a strict disciplinarian. She believed in structure and schedules. That produced many moments of conflict between us, especially in my teenage years. A child of Eastern European parents growing up in the 60’s in a society of free love and exploration, often ran afoul of rules and policies. And in my house those parameters were set by a woman who grew up in a totally different culture. In retrospect I completely understand how she was thinking. Those are the reflections that age brings to us all. But in the moment, in those 60’s, it was all too easy to smirk and roll my eyes at the seeming injustice of it all. Yeah, my butt felt the strap of leather on more than one occasion. And now I understand that Mom’s use of what is now seen as extreme and hurtful punishment was very much an expression of her frustration as well. She always did what she thought was best, but that choice was influenced by the hard experiences she suffered in the war years. There was no grey area when it came to doing what Mom said.  No room for negotiation.  It’s not even something I feel a need to forgive. Mom just did what she thought was best. There was never any malice in her actions. What Mother ever does anything with such intention?! Mom’s are forever protecting and helping their children grow.

So I shall always make sure I do an annual pilgrimage to Mom’s grave site where I can refresh her flowers and keep her posted on what’s happening in the physical world. I look forward to our next chat Mom. I don’t think about you every day, since you gave me the strength and courage to be my own man. But I always do think about how effective and good a mother you were. Happy Mother’s Day.


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Day 40

As I enjoy a cold beverage following yet another mini job, it strikes me how owning a house is a continuous loop of tasks. There is always something that requires one’s attention. And when you attach some acreage to that house, it magnifies the ongoing activity in which you are constantly engaged. Or rather, choose to be engaged. That’s not a good thing. It’s not bad. It simply is. Living in a house comes with a lifestyle that requires attention. You cannot escape to bars and restaurants on any regular basis. Nor do you wish to if you thoroughly enjoy the home ownership life. It is what it is. So even in this pandemic time, my life has not significantly changed. If anything, I’m spending more time on home projects than ever before. And having ample time for those projects.

Today I had a crew of spray foam installers come to seal up the joist pockets in the basement of the guest house. That is the space where the bottom of the floor above you (since you are in the basement) meets the top of the concrete foundation. The theory being, and it is proven of course, you eliminate any drafts. No cold air coming in, no warm air escaping. It’s a job I’ve been postponing for years, but now that I have such a wealth of time, it was easy to schedule this job in with the other smaller jobs I’ve been doing on my own. Thanks to my neighbour for getting his done last year. Seeing the great job the contractor did, was a reminder that I should also do this home ownership task.

Aside from these big jobs, this pandemic time has opened ample opportunity to create make work jobs. I spent a couple hours making solar light sleeves for my dock posts. There were no time constraints. I made sure the little boxes would fit perfectly over top of the posts. And at night, when the last super moon of the year was rising over Lake Consecon, I had lots of time to sit and watch the dancing reflections of my lights and the moon light, both glittering on the water. Very satisfying.

During this pandemic time, the tasks impart a calm to your existence. They give a structure. Little time to go stir crazy, since there is always another mini project tomorrow. Should you choose to do it. Therein lies another benefit of home ownership. Unless it is a critical issue, like pipes bursting and water gushing into your basement, you can always put off those mini jobs for another day. For a time when you are up for it. Or feel like it. Or have the time for it. Eventually they do get done. I must say though, even with this sense of calm, I’m finding the job jar is emptying quite fast.

And gardening. Oh my goodness! The amount of gardening that is ongoing now is mind blowing. It seems everybody is so enjoying manicuring and cultivating their vision of a garden. Whether it is a rock garden or a perennial masterpiece. Or an elevated terrace with ornate statues and fountains. We are all enjoying our gardens. And urgency again is not a driver. We approach our gardening with a Zen like calmness. A sense of purpose but one with no haste. I know I shall transplant this hosta somewhere, not sure where. So I stroll around. Muse a little. Reflect on various locations and the image of a hosta in full leaf. Picture what it might unfold to in this location. Or that one. Find a couple spots in the front. One shall grace our last cat Delilah’s grave site and the other in the corner of that flower bed. Gardening. May we continue enjoying and cultivating our verdant paradises long after pandemic time is over.

Hydro. Now there is something that has dropped from the budget calculator. I’m thoroughly enjoying turning on every light in a room. It’s a feng shui thing to have at least 5 points of light in every room. And I’m burning all of them now that our benevolent electricity providers have decreed that off-peak rates will apply at all times. That was a nice move. Thank you Hydro One.

So I sit and think about how the concept of home ownership has morphed in this pandemic time. How pleasant it is to have time and energy to pick away at projects that enhance my life. No need to get anxious. There is always something that should get done. But not today. No need to rush. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.

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Day 39

5:44 am. Temp hovering around zero. I should just cut and paste the weather report from previous days!

The pic shows my make work project from yesterday. I made a couple of solar light boxes to fit over top of the dock posts. Looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself! And I can remove them to place in other locations when I get bored of seeing them there. Plus it was a good excuse to use the table saw! had to rip a board in half. running out of lumber. Will need a trip to the lumber yard soon.

Split a hosta and moved it to a couple new locations. The more you get into gardening the more you enjoy it! If you are fortunate enough to have a yard, you’ll appreciate that. Especially now.

This news item from CBC, the guy deserves a medal for this move!

Brian Corcoran got a job at a long-term care home to be closer to his mom. Brian Corcoran’s mom is quadrapalegic and has multiple sclerosis. She lives alone in a corner unit of a Toronto long-term care (LTC) facility. Brian can point to the third-floor unit where his mom is staying — but he isn’t allowed to visit her. When COVID-19 restrictions barred visitors from entering the facility under normal circumstances, Brian could only imagine the effect that isolation would have on the residents inside the facility — especially his mom. “It’s very tough for them mentally to be confined to their room all day and to not have the interaction they’re used to,” says Brian.

Brian came up with a plan. Eschewing his normal work as a television producer, he got a job at his mom’s LTC facility as a unit care aide. The best part? He never told his mom. He surprised her during the routine meal service. “Surprising my mother was a real highlight,” beams Brian.

Every day when he gets to work, Brian gets a temperature check, follows containment protocols and dons protective gear before helping out with the residents. He does all the usual work a unit care aide does, including helping set up Facetime calls for residents to virtually visit with family members during isolation. “There’s times when you gotta roll up your sleeves and see what you can do to pitch in,” he says. “I am a small cog in a large machine that’s already doing an admirable job despite how stressful it is.”

And I’ll leave you with that snippet of good news. Happy pandemic y’all!

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Day 21

With almost 1/3 of the world’s cases and 1/3 of the world’s deaths and new cases mounting at over 30,000 per day I ask “How can the United States be talking about re-opening their economy and loosening pandemic restrictions???” Stock market short sellers are taking their most aggressive position in years,betting against the market. What madness is this? Soon Canada will have to place troops on our side of the border to ensure nobody from the USA tries to enter. Unbelievable.

8:07 am. Plus 5C. High winds continuing. A Sunday in the County. Did you catch that World at home concert last night? A star studded lineup of stay at home musicians, all organized by Lady Gaga in support of health care and other essential service workers. It was OK, but certainly hard to get one’s head around the fact that this could be the future of entertainment. Charlie Watts air drumming. Elton John playing piano on his driveway. Shawn Mendez looking like he was in his mother’s Scarborough basement. A noble effort which only served to emphasize how much our world has and is changing.

I enjoyed a sauna yesterday after a long walk down Zufelt. The gravel road ends and a tractor path follows into the swamp. Too much water and muck to go too far into the swamp but it is a privileged treat to have this option right in my back yard. No need to dodge other human beings or think about maintaining social distance. It’s so much more pleasurable to be able to walk and let the mind wander. No need to focus on staying away from that person up ahead. There is no person up ahead. Just me and my thoughts. Listen to birds calling. Wind rustling in the branches. Ducks announcing my presence to their buddies as I saunter near their ponds. Century old farm tools abandoned in the bush, trees growing up through the rusted metal frame. Communing with some spirit greater than me. Very lucky.

I picked some fresh daffodils for the house. Their fragrance and beauty adds a touch of Spring to the interior. Bringing life inside. Life untainted by the pandemic. This scourge that has so upended life. But as much as it has changed our society, I really question if this change will be lasting. Do we as a species have the moral and ethical framework to accept that we must go forward with a changed…. everything? Did the last pandemic of 1920 change the world? Did the world learn anything from WW I? What really changed following WW II? Did any of these monumental events make us more compassionate? I suppose if everybody does just a little bit to modify their life, then hope beckons. It will be a constant effort to ensure your neighbor’s life is better every day. To accept that those annual trips to the Caribbean may not be necessary. To realize that never ending growth in GDP may not be what is needed as a measure of our completeness, our satisfaction. To acknowledge that there is enough food in my pantry and there is no need to buy more. To donate time and money to food charities. To churches. To those in need. It will be a brave new world. Literally and figuratively. Let’s hope we are all up to the challenge.

That’s my dog Blue. Died 7 years ago. Still miss him.

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Day 8

6:18am. Writing on day 9 actually, I did not make any diary entries yesterday. Sunday was a beautiful day. I got 4 hours of gardening and general spring chores in. More raking and yanking of dead and dry growth. I power washed all the patio stones. Now that’s when you understand you have time on your hands! Who washes patio stones? ! I must say though, once that job was done it felt tremendous to look at clean concrete again. No lichens, no moss, no dirt. Since I had got to that point I thought might as well wash the lawn furniture as well. And so I did. Getting ready for summer. But by noon I was toast. Enjoyed a good soak in the hot tub. And then spent the rest of the day lounging, sitting outside, looking out to the lake, ruminating, generally enjoying a wonderfully lazy Sunday.

Today’s latest stats. 1,277,962 cases world wide. 69,555 dead. The USA has more than ¼ of world’s cases, sitting at 337,646 at time of writing. Up here in the great white north we are at 15,940 cases but the spike in new cases yesterday was 2,800. Of course that could simply be a reflection of much more widespread testing as well. The pundits are saying that we are beginning to see a flattening of the curve. But this week shall be a watershed moment, we will possibly peak the curve. ‘Flatten the curve’. A new expression that is understood by all humanity. Gotta flatten the curve. Let’s work on flattening the curve. The curve is starting to look good. It is acquiring living characteristics?!

The latest issue of Wired magazine has some very disturbing interviews with health professionals in NYC. Those poor folk are burning out fast. Stacking bodies in refrigerated trailers because the morgues are filled to capacity. Working without PPE. Field hospitals, literally in fields, being built and readying for a flood of Covid-19 victims. This is going to be a very depressing week if you spend too much time watching the news. TV’s off everybody! I’m going to watch a half hour of news each day. No mas.

My food supply is still robust. Since I have not started the car for 8 days now, I don’t see it will be a problem making it through another week without rolling the wheels. Might start it and move it out of the garage just to do some work in there, but no need to go shopping anywhere. I found a can of corn that expired in 2017. You think there is maybe too much in the larder? This social distancing and quarantining is a great opportunity to thin out the stuff in your home. 2017!! I admit that is ridiculous. Note to self. Make sure you rotate the canned goods in future and keep an eye on expiry dates.

I never did get my canoe into the water. This week I shall do so. Promise. Some early morning paddles. Looking out the window, the lake is a reflecting sheet. Not a ripple in the water. But no exercise today. Body is feeling battered. All that gardening does take physical effort! Lots of fresh new growth coming up quickly though. Tulips. Daffodils. Crocuses. Tiger lilies. And multitude of other plants whose names I know not.

Back to the garage. Today shall be switch over day. Move the snow blower out of the garage and into the mini-barn. Bring the lawn tractor out and prepare it for action. It’ll need an oil change, tires inflated. Hopefully nothing else. Mini-barn. Odd, but I’ve never felt comfortable calling that building a barn. It’s too big for a shack or shed but not big enough to warrant barn. It somehow feels insulting to area farmers to call my little outbuilding a barn!

And so another day of musings is done. See y’all tomorrow.

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Some snippets of brilliant writing from “The Assassins” by Joyce Carol Oates.

When there is no meaning to events, we are surly, dissatisfied, deathly.
When there is too much meaning, we are terrified.

Truth is my only subject. Truth. The exposure of hypocrisy – vaporous idealism.

Had drunk two bottles of wine. Should have felt sleepier, happier. Drained, instead. Tired, depressed, unreasonably lonely.

The complexities of adulthood – the revelations no one could have predicted.

Joyce Carol Oates is a difficult read. Her writing style is disjointed. There are few complete sentences. It is very much like a stream of consciousness that ends up on the page. But, if you are disciplined enough to focus and stay with her story, you will find numerous examples of exceptional thought such as those I have listed. Enjoy!

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Engage with people who make you happy. Interact with those who listen and give reasoned responses to your opinions. Run with the crowd that pushes you to explore your limits. Seek out those who reinforce your moral and ethical point of view, assuming that you have already arrived at a well balanced and internally satisfying place.

Review articles and watch programming that gives a balanced view. Don’t avoid contrarian writing but ensure it is not the only viewpoint you see. You grow by testing your assumptions. Does it make you reflect and ponder your choice?

Spend time in places that encourage positive interaction. Frequent establishments with staff who understand the importance of great customer service. Would you return again? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found a good place.

If the hours fit into your schedule, then you’ve found a good time. Be open to modifying your rhythms but if radical change makes you unhappy then it’s not worth it. Places and people who have reliable and consistent operating times are people and places worth cultivating.

Does your action enhance your life or the lives of those around you? Does a point of view make you think further on a topic? Have you made time for more leisure activity as a result of your decision? Are you more fulfilled because of what you did or said? Does your activity avoid hurting others? If the answer is yes, then you’ve found your why.

Can I do this without compromising time and life and wallets of others? Do I have to travel excessive distance? Does it hurt me physically? Emotionally? Can I reuse whatever I need to purchase?

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I was scrolling thru my writing posts from ten years ago, when Ma and Pa were still alive. I came across the following pointers from Alzheimer’s Playbook for caregivers. Seems like good advice for living for all of us! The complete book should still be available thru http://www.alzheimersplaybook.com if you are in a situation of caregiving for a friend/family.

– get away from the house
– go out for a walk
– meet friends for lunch
– go to a prayer meeting
– listen to music
– work in your garden
– read a book
– take a nap
– keep your sense of humor
– take one day at a time
– pat yourself on the back for the good job you are doing
– get enough rest and eat right
– make time for the things you like to do
– talk about how you feel with others
– listen to your friends

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More thoughts on change and the importance of living in the moment …. Raymond Carver, from the Paris Review Interviews Vol III

I can’t change anything now. I can’t afford to regret. That life is simply gone now, and I can’t regret its passing. I have to live in the present. The life back then is gone just as surely – it’s as remote to me as if it had happened to somebody I read about in a nineteenth-century novel. I don’t spend more than five minutes a month in the past. The past really is a foreign country, and they do do things differently there. Things happen. I really do feel I’ve had two different lives.

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I attended a Christian Christmas service this evening. In The County. And it was wonderful. Reverend Steve restored some calm and comfort in my life. The service touched all the right chords. The Reverend did not preach. He shared; his wisdom and insight about the inter relationship of faith. And community. Our Lord. Christianity. I daresay the time I spent in the warm confines of this church was sufficient to restore my faith. In humanity. In community. In all those things the Reverend touched upon. And like a Christmas miracle, toward the end of the service a lovely lady named Mary Elizabeth Parsons received a proposal of marriage from her partner! What a heart warming and noble gesture this was. I can’t imagine the gentleman was free from anxiety throughout the entire evening, having to hold off his public declaration of love for so long. But he must also have felt the calming and welcoming words of the Reverend and the Christmas story as retold in their own words by a flock of talented children. These kids felt no embarrassment at all in public speaking, a true testament to the relaxed and engaged environment this Church exudes. A solo piano performance by one of the youth. A masterful medley of Christmas melodies by the Church organist, interwoven with jazzy riffs. And of course, a candle lit Silent Night. I feel very fortunate to have partaken of this gathering of community. Merry Christmas to all and may the coming year bring you calm and comfort.

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