SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS

Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The sky is grey and snow is coming down. I’ve forgotten how grey and dreary November can be. The snow is welcome. It will brighten up the landscape. I am remembering another scene – of snow falling on the cedars. They were really spruce trees but they’re close enough. The phrase had caught and stuck in my head after seeing the movie. The cedars/spruce are gone. I’m missing them today. It’s nostalgia for those trees and what has past.

The trees are gone and Sheba also. I’m remembering and missing her today. She loved nosing and messing around and under the spruce trees winter or summer. She didn’t mind the snow or cold. We were out almost every day in all kinds of weather. We were as regular and dependable as the mailman.

The snow is still falling but not on the cedars. It is a good day for tapping out the memories. It is a good day for eating spicy pumpkin chili, drinking hot chocolate and curling up with a good book. Maybe later I can coax myself downstairs and finish shortening my new snow pants. Maybe tomorrow will be a good day for cross-country skiing.

IF I TELL IT

November the 10th and day 10 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. No snow but it must have rained overnight. The ground is wet and the sky is grey. It would be a good day for California dreaming. Winter is on the way. What story can I tell today. I’m hoping like the farmer in Field of Dreams, that if I tell it people will read it.

I had dreams of writing even in grade school. I have memories of huddling with a couple of friends at recess to start a story. I bet we gave our teachers a smile and maybe a chuckle or two. Nothing much came out of these gab sessions. How productive or creative can kids get in 15-20 minutes? I know that it’s ample enough time for them to get into trouble. But I was never that kind of a child. I was rather boring. I never got into trouble. I got ran over by a boy on a bike once. I was in my Brownie uniform going to a meeting. My face got smashed into the dirt. I got a lip full of gravel. Still, I worried about getting into trouble.

In grade 8 the principal overheard me talking with another student about not having to study. We were walking back into the school from recess. We were still on our own time. He came to my class and called me out to talk. The other kids in the class thought he was going to praise me or something. They thought I was his pet. Instead he gave me supreme shit. Something like ‘Don’t you dare be a bad influence. Now get back inside!’ I was crushed and shocked for I was sort of his pet. It was rather harsh.

Looking back now, I think maybe it was around the time his wife was sick. She had cancer and died but I don’t know the time frame. But I was still a tender child. I must have gotten over it because I babysat his young daughter on evenings when he had meetings. Then he taught me how to dance for my grade 12 graduation. He was always proper with me. After high school when I was in Saskatoon going to university, he called our house. I answered the phone. I thought he would want to talk to my father eventually but no. He invited me out for supper.

We went to the Marigold on Third Avenue. They had a delicous barbecue chicken. He asked me if I wanted a drink. I ordered a margarita. I don’t know what we talked about. I do remember he told me I should be careful about drinking when I am out with a man. I already thought it a bit improper that he asked me out. But he was my teacher and principal from Maidstone. His advice gave me great pause. But we were in public and nothing improper happened. I am the original Miss Innocent but I have good instincts. I have heard stories that he like young blond girls. Well! I am not blond at all but I was young and supple.



DAY 10 UBC – DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE

Dedicated to the One I Love

It’s Saturday, the day my fur baby left for doggy heaven. We miss her but life goes on as the saying goes. It is true. It does. For everything that happens, the world still spins on its axis as it rotates around the sun. And we are all going along with it. Saturday is still my favourite day even though she is no longer here with me physically. My memories of her are warm and sweet.

I will have none of the bitter sweet stuff. I am careful of my thoughts and what I feed my brain. Loss and the end of things can be/are painful but it is the natural order of things. There is a beginning, middle and an ending to all living things. The challenge lies within our finiteness. We don’t have forever. Time is precious like water. I don’t want it to drain/waste away. This is one of those AHA moments I’ve encountered in this Ultimate Blog Challenge.

I’m learning when to turn off the tap. There’s no point in bashing my head against the wall on things I can’t change. I’ve only hurt myself. It is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Things are not complicated but we make it so. I am having fun and learning as well in this round of the Challenge. Sometimes it is challenging, trying finding the time to write every day and read others and comment as well. But I also find it motivating. I just do the best I can. We are all different. I admire those who does it so well. I try to return visits when I can.

As you can see, I AM finding my way around this new WordPress thing. In the end it turns out the same. I was stuck on the classic version. I hung on with tooth and nail – till they took it away. I was forced into changing. The change is good for my brain’s neuroplasticity. I was hanging onto Sheba hard, too. I couldn’t hang on forever. I have my sweet memories without the bitter part. She was the most pretty and happy girl. I love her.

PATIENCE AND STICK-WITH-IT-NESS

So here is the thing. Life is full of distractions. My attention span is getting shorter and shorter. I often don’t follow up on my plans and practices. It’s part of my humanness. But here I am, showing up again. This must be part of the practice. I’ve given up on perfection. It’s hard to maintain. It is not possible. There is a flaw in me, everybody and everything else. It is part of the universal struggle. Life and nature happens. That is the law. There is no blame.

I am struggling these August days. Mornings are darker and cooler. I miss the light and warmth of those summer days when the sun rises by 5:00 am. Then, my sunroom was bathed in bright light and warmth. I was infused with its warmth and brightness. My unease is a response, a signal that autumn is on the heels of summer. No need to worry or panic. It is my nature’s response to the shortening of the days and lengthening of the nights. I’ve been this way forever and a day.

It is time for me to accept and come to terms with this part of me. I have. I’m doing so much better after having Sheba in my life. Her physical leaving was difficult but it is nature’s cycle of life and death. Nothing can change that. And so I grieve and miss her. Some days more than others. Then the grief changes. It grows softer and I’m left with those tender precious memory of her spirit and our time together. I sift through the lessons learned and strength gained.

I raised her from scratch at 2 months old – with just one book from the library and a largest dog crate from PetSmart. Boy, it was a tough go for quite awhile. I expected a puppy to have breakfast and walk together with. I did have that but it took years instead of days. There were so many days that I would moan and groan. There were many days that I almost gave up. Her beauty and brain were her saving grace.

She was so pretty. She would shake a paw and then the other paw. She could crawl and roll over in no time. But she did jumped alot and was scared of everything. I knew nothing of dogs. I knew nothing of  a Border Collie Lab mix. Sheba was that EverReady Bunny. We did alot of walking. We went to off leash parks. We got into trouble here and there. I lost 20 pounds with all that exercise.  In the end, she and I were a perfect pair, soul mates. She taught me the rewards of patience and stick-with-it-ness.

I’ve come full circle. I am dogless, Sheba-less. I’m not quite the same though. I am stronger and more accepting of how things are. I am more accepting of how I am. I cannot force myself or others to be other than what we are. But I can change the way I think and see. I can choose to see my glass half full instead of half empty. I can accept my vulnerabilities and work with them instead of fighting against my natural tendencies. It’s sticking with me now. I now longer run away from my shadow self.

 

 

SHEBA IS OK. I AM OK

I’ve been having more frequent moments of missing Sheba the last couple of days. It has been acute today. I haven’t gotten around to storing her bowls yet, but I did bag up her Kong bed yesterday. It did make me feel better in moments. Other times it gave me such an acute longing and missing her. Fourteen years is hard to erase and process.

Though both we and Sheba knew that our time together was coming to end it is still very difficult. Towards the last couple of months of her life, Sheba stopped sleeping in the bedroom with us. She retreated to the livingroom or the sunroom. Perhaps she was preparing us. So my tears come. My tears flow this morning as I biked down the alleys we used to walk. I see that the squash grower has planted potatoes this year instead. Memories, images and tears come as I pedal.

I tell myself I have to do something else beside cry. So I practice riding with just one hand on the handlebar, then the other. I’m not good enough yet to use one hand on and to signal with the other. I can manage a quick scratch of my nose. I practice looking behind me for traffic. I want to get enough confidence to ride down busier streets. I still have goals. I’m still interested in improving my skills of living.

I took a little break from my sadness. I worked in the front yard. I put myself in every corner, reclaiming every inch of it. I am not letting the neighbour bully and throw her weight on my property. I wonder what kind of person would plant little trees on a neighbour’s property, right along my raised garden bed. I wonder what kind of person would have the Weedman spray pesticide right along that bed of vegetables. I’m wondering but not expecting any answers. Living next to this person has deepened my sadness in these times.

Now it is almost 8 o’clock in the evening. I love sitting out here and watch the sun playing shadows on the garage wall. In other times, Sheba would be laying here beside my feet. She is ok. I don’t have to worry about her now. I’m ok. We’ve had our time together. I am no longer angry with the neighbour. However, I am a little afraid of her venom and malice. I do not care about the row of little evergreens beside the raised bed. They have nowhere to grow but over her driveway. .

 

WEREN’T WE BEAUTIFUL

I am having a bit of a struggle this morning just with the thought of being in ‘locked down’. My daily life activities have not really changed all that much. I do miss not being able to go to the library, swimming Saturday mornings and our Monday, Wednesday and Friday exercise class at the YWCA. The thought of not being able to get closer than 6 feet of another living human being (other than the ones you’re living with) makes me feel claustrophobic and breathless. It’s much like the time I accidentally locked myself in the car. I was in a  panic then. Even Sheba was taking up too much of my air. I had to roll the window down and stick my head out.

I had a talk with myself just a little while ago, put a load in the laundry, made myself a cup of tea and here I am with the poem of the day. The words are beautiful,  bringing to mind of different days and different times. I know the wisdom of being in the NOW. But it is also in our nature to look back as well as ahead. We are a sum of our total experiences. Our body registers pleasure moments as well as those frightful ones that come back to haunt us long after they are gone. It’s healing to recall those golden times evoked by photographs and poetry. I can close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, feel the breeze in my hair. I feel the vitality of my youth and the presence of my cousin next to me.

Now I’m soothed and smoothed, sipping another cup of tea. I’m no longer breathless and panicky. I can still feel the warmth of those sunny golden days and the presence of my cousin on this earth, knowing she is an angel in heaven.

Were’t We Beautiful

growing into ourselves
earnest and funny we were
angels of some kind, smiling visitors
the light we lived in was gorgeous
we looked up and into the camera
the ordinary things we did with our hands
or how we turned and walked
or looked back we lifted the child
spooned food into his mouth
the camera held it, stayed it
there we are in our lives as if
we had all time
as if we would stand in that room
and wear that shirt those glasses
as if that light
without end
would shine on us
and from us.

– Marjorie Saiser

 

 

A PERSON OF INTEREST

 

Day 29 of January and the Ultimate Blog Challenge. My cold is not better but it is not worse. I am a bit pissed that I’ve come down with it. I was pleased with myself that I’ve come through a year and a half without one. I was hoping for a 2 year run. I am ever a challenger.

I am staying put again.I’m dropping everything today – the exercise class, my class on Buddhism. No need for me to catch every train pulling out of the station. A part of me is protesting that I shouldn’t be so lazy but it’s only a wee part. The rebel in me says heck with it all. So I’m sitting here, still in my pajamas, tapping out my coughs and sniffles. Oh yes, I stuck my toque on, too. It calms my hair down. I’m looking very much like the tulips, disheveled and falling apart.

I’ve been knocking back my tea. A hot drink is good for soothing the throat and loosening congestion. I’m onto a decaf now. I used to drink coffee all day and night, too when I was working. Having given that up, my body does not like it now, even early in the day. I’m happy with its wisdom. I don’t need to feel the jolt any more. I am jittery enough already and want more mellow. I know the Buddha advocates living in present time. Don’t hang on to the past. There is no past, but I’ve been sifting through memories in old photographs.

Cruising memory lane is not living in the past. I’m doing my archeological dig, the history of me. We study history, don’t we? They still make movies about WWII and the haulocaust. We have museums of art and antifacts. We are the sum total of where and what we have been and through. I used to feel I have no present, therefore, no future. Looking back, I see that I am a person. I had a past and a life. I had people. I did things. My pictures stare back at me. I look like a person of interest. And I am.

Not that I relish having this cold, but I appreciate this interruption. I can sit back/out of my daily routine. It gives me pause to look back down the track of where I have driven my train this month. What have I learned from my tapping on the keyboard? Was I woodpecker in my previous life? What I know for sure is, it is my spiritual practice, my daily prayer. I feel better for being here.

BUSES,TRAINS AND PLANES

Saturday, January 25th, Chinese New Year. Not much for those in China to celebrate. The Coronavirus having claimed 41 lives. The skies are grey here. I am doing as best as I can. It’s not life as usual. We cannot really use that phrase anymore. There’s no more as usual. It has to be better. I’m trying to do better but when I try too hard, I get stuck and spin my wheels. I’m spinning and kicking up a bunch of dust and debris. I’m trying to find my words to get me out of here. What I need is a bus, train or a plane.

I have very faint memories of leaving our village in Taishan, China with my mother many years ago.  There was my mother, me, No. 2 Pau(my grandfather’s sister-in-law) and her 2 grandchildren travelling with us to Hong Kong. To help, my grandfather’s youngest brother travelled with us by bus as far as the big city of Guangzhou. He had made the trip before. But my mother said he was not much help at all. She had to steer us – 3 kids and an elder woman.

What is vivid in my memory all these years later was seeing my first electric bulb in the hotel room. It dangled from the ceiling so bright when my mother finally woke me the next morning. I can remember sitting on our duffle bags at the station. I had strict instructions to stay put and take care of Ah Pau while the rest of them went in line to buy tickets. It was for the train that took us to Hong Kong. I had no memory of it at all. I thought we had caught a boat. My mother corrected my memory years later. I was only 6. How much could I remember?

But I do remember there was no one at the other end to meet us. There was a mixed up. We were all afluttered. What to do? My mother had an address. We got a taxi. As we were getting into it, Ah Pau said to the driver not to take us astray. She had heard all the horror stories of what could happen in cities. My mother tried to shush her. It was fine. He took us to the right address. Of course he tried to rip my mother off with the fare. But our friend’s wife flew out of her house and gave him whatever.

Not long after, my father and his cousin showed up. They had gone to the wrong station. It was the first time that I knew my father. I was 2 years old when he left our village for Canada. So we lived happily ever after in Hong Kong. My sister was conceived and born. My father and his cousin flew back to Canada. My sister was almost 2 when we flew to Canada to join our father.

Oh, what a mash of words! But they’ve told a story. Buses, trains and planes have been in my life. They’ve taken me to a few places in life. So much for this day – number 25 for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. To be continued tomorrow. Hoping for smoother words.

AN UNLOADER’S REGRET

Sometimes I feel foolish being here, day after day. But it is the need of conversation and  a friend that I return. It is true that I am my own best friend. Who has walked in my shoes and see my exact point of view? I feel it is foolish to tell another, “I understand. I get it. I know where you are. Been there. Done that.” We each have our own unique experiences and way of seeing the world. We couldn’t possibly understand another’s. All I can do is accept another’s when they tell me. Believe and don’t try to change or contradict. That is my motto.

It is here that I get to talk without interruption or correction. No one will say, Who’s THEY?  No one will tell me I’m making assumptions. Before I go on and forget, I can tell you now who THEY are. They are our human tribe. I hope no one will demand who the THEY are from me any more. In my space, I can speak without judgement. No one will tell me that I say outloud what others would think only. It’s good I’ve unleashed my dark twin. I am getting a load off my mind.

Speaking of loads, it is quite difficult to rid them. Attachments have deep holds even though they serve no purpose. I felt so elated after doing my tax return this morning. It was a heavy load off my mind. In the process, I found that I’m not totally dizzy, ditzy and disorganized. I felt it was a good time to unload more of my outdated nursing texts and journals into the recycle bin. I gathered all the hard covered Nursing Skills manual. They were in excellent condition. I don’t think I’ve ever actually read one. Regret coursed through my body. I put them back on the shelf. Then I gathered them up again and ran outside. Into the bin they went. My logical self had asked: Of what purpose do they serve on the shelf for another 30 years?

My book shelves are getting thinned and dusted. I am sure I will experience more regret as I rid more of what is not needed anymore. It is not the books or objects that I am attached to. It is the memories they invoke. The regret over choices made, things not done, etc. There is only one path we can go down at any one time. Too bad we can’t straddle them all. Maybe hanging onto stuff is the straddle.  I’m afraid of letting go. It is really being stuck and unable to go forward.

The feelings of regret and pining over choices not made are human. They are short lived like the ones of a buyer’s regret. I remember I’ve said  “My God, what have I done!” over many purchases. All that evorporated with the enjoyment of the piano, house renovations, my Bernina sewing machine. I’m making real progress now, however slow it may be. An inch, a book, a square a day can add up to quite a bit in a year. I have alot of books but not 365 – I think.

 

 

COME SATURDAYS

Saturdays have always been my favourite day of the week as far back as I can remember. One of my chores was to dust  on Saturday. The sun lit up the dust on top of the chest of drawers that my father somehow had made. I can’t remember what other chores I had to do that day. I remember helping with the dishes and bringing in coal for the pot belly stove. When my mother was in the hospital having my brother, my grandmother came for a few days. My mother gave me a list of chores which included doing the laundry. We didn’t have a machine so it was by hand.

I think I always associate Saturdays with that sunlit dust. I can still see that beam of sunshine coming through the bedroom window in that little house behind the cafe. Of course not all Saturdays are sunny but they are in my mind’s eye. That little house with the coal shed is also there. Funny how some images stay with you after so many years.

Today was not sunny either but my Saturday sunshine is in me. It’s been a mellow yellow day. So happy that I could get myself to the pool though it was dark as night at 8 am. The University Bridge was lit up in bright Christmas lights of green and red. I wished I could have taken a photo but I was in moving traffic. I was alone and driving. I had not only a lane but the whole pool to myself. Just me, a brand new life guard and no loud music. It was heavenly. I could relax and pretend I was a mermaid. No worry of sharks on my tail. I splashed at my own speed to my heart’s content. I had planned to do a short swim but given that much freedom, I stayed the whole hour. Wouldn’t you?

I stopped in and visited with my mother on my walk with Sheba in the afternoon. Sheba was content to be outside. She preferred the snow rather the blanket I brought for her. I let her be. Kids and dogs. They have minds of their own. My mother was not as chirper as could be. She had her heating pad draped across her shoulders for her aches and pain. Some days are like that. That’s how it is.

She’s excited all three of her orchids are going to bloom. She told me how she saved her goldfish. It was constipated and in distress. What could she do? What do we do for our constipation? Vegetables! Fish eat plants. She chopped up a bit of lettuce for it and cut back the pellet food. It made all the difference.  I showed her a picture of my new sewing machine. She was impressed by its size and that it’s computerized. I was surprised to learn that hers had embroidery and other accessories. It is older than my old Kenmore and it is OLD. So many memories when we visit. My mother is a very good conversationist and story teller.

The day has turned into evening. Supper and dishes are done. Saturdays have always been kind to me. Feeling mellow and content.