How Do We Get From Here to There?

It's always sad to hear of friends' marriage melt-downs. It should be beyond the power to shock; this is a modern world but it is, nonetheless shocking. They seemed so normal, so loving to each other, so attuned to each other's lives, supportive of each other's careers....etc. etc.
I'm old enough to remember Ann Landers' breakup. Jules had left her a note at the breakfast table. Basically it said: Dear Ann, found someone, gotta go. The guru of failing marriages had, herself, failed.
We start out so optimistic; so naïve and happy.
This is not the place to get all statistic-y; we all know them. But how is it that some of us are married forEVER? What is it about our relationships that is different? I know that we are not better, kinder, saintlier. If we're not, why do we deserve to be luckier?
My sister and I have long discussions; on one thing we are agreed. 'Love' is a ridiculously overworked, misused and misunderstood word. 'Loving someone to bits' is not the same thing as having 'love'. Being in love is an emotional state. Loving someone is an attitude. Love is a working term; it means all the things the Biblical verse says and that is not easy. However, as much as I have to suck up all my true-loves flaws, so does he suck mine up.
There are days when I am so weary of compromise that I think we're all whores....trading this for that. Is it worth it? Then there are the exciting moments when I glimpse this man from a new angle and my breath catches  in my throat and my legs go wobbly. The fact that we don't give up compromising is 'love', the other is 'in love'.
Do we give up on our marriages because we expect too much? Do we expect to be euphoric all the time? Is it misleading advertising?
Should a new spouse go about in fear of her/his marriage? When is it safe to bask in some security? Are we idiots to feel safe?
Luck, luck, luck. And stubbornness. Maybe.


If It Happened to Us.......

The Olympics are over; the fife and drum, the razzle and the dazzle, the furs and limos have moved on. For a moment the adrenalin is on pause; the recipients of shiny objects are 'basking in glory' and marketers everywhere are determining the long term value of their new commodities.
How can you tell I'm not a big fan? Medal winners make enormous amounts of money selling endorsements, hockey players make enormous amounts of money anyway, approximately one third of $50 billion (NO ONE can count that high in their lifetime) has been siphoned off in questionable fees? and still everyone went home happy.
There's the rub. Not everyone went home. The people of Russia have to pick up the tab and pick up they will....for a long, long time. Somehow, going in to the Olympics, the paying never seems as long as the coming out. Fifteen, twenty years down the road a lot of people will be sincerely pissed. Much like Ontarians with Hydro's debt reduction, or the good folk of Montreal and Expo. What about the Vancouverites? Well, there's a fair bit of money in that lovely city, you may say, but there is a fair bit of hardship in the parts of the province as well.
Not everyone went home. A certain little village has been all but destroyed. For the building of a shiny new highway and a glistening train, the people now have no local water supply. A middle aged man has lost his fig trees and can no longer sleep at night because of the noise. In Beijing, thousands were displaced so the city would look good.
But that's OK. As long as we are away from all of this, it's OK. Let other people suck up the sacrifices for the glitz that disguises itself as 'Games'.
How would you like to be in a bulldozer's path? How would you like to lose your water, your yard, your home? Please, please use your imaginations. About war most of us can do nothing, but about ego stroking, greed fueling, czar building......come on.


The Deep Magic

When I was a young mom, spring meant new runners, new splash outfits, new jeans...in short, a lot of unwanted and sometimes, hardship causing expense. It was not a time for deep reflection and there was no time for meditation. Just a lot of kids and sheddy dog and cat creatures with all the turmoil that goes along with that sort of life.
This is not a complaint; for the most part it was a good life - I liked my kids and they still like me. It was, however, a very busy life, and that may not be such a good thing. If you keep it up forever.
The last few years I've begun to notice the rhythms around me. It takes a few moments out of my day. It means I stop what I'm doing and look or listen. Sometimes I run to the door; other times I just need to look out of the window.
We live under a flight path of sorts, not sure what it's called and the geese don't care. They just ARE and have been for how long?

Northern Cardinal

This little guy sits on the top of the tallest tree in the neighbourhood announcing spring; his family has been doing this for years.
I find the goose migration absolutely moving, the cardinal perfectly charming. To think that this has been going on for millennia, that it will continue without any of us now alive on the whole planet is simply awesome. That is what awesome means....to be in awe of.
Perhaps it takes maturity to notice the deep rhythms, the immutable laws, the Lion's 'Deep Magic'. Perhaps it is a grandparently duty to point these things out to our grandchildren as it is their parents who are now leading the busy, busy lives.
Stop, look, listen is not only for intersections.


How Good are They Really?

I was at the beauty salon today, getting beautified and waiting for inspiration! (LOL)  I did walk out with two thoughts.

Could I live in the goldfishy-bowl existence of celebrities' lives? No. So, that was thought Number One.
Thought Number Two took a little more thinking, which is what I'm supposed to do, right?  It occurs to me that perhaps it isn't the skill so much as the amount of attention paid to the patron that really matters. The hairdresser who listens is valuable. The hairdresser who listens is more easily forgiven for cutting too much or scorching your ear than the one who chatters with her friend or worse yet, chatters about him/herself.
Is that true for everyone who touches us? I do mean physically.

The doctor, the dentist...anyone who handles any part of our bodies. Seeing that most of us aren't dentists, how do we determine 'good' or 'bad'? Most of us aren't diagnosticians either, so how do we know FOR A FACT that our doctor is
 'good' or 'bad'? Maybe, he/she just has a terrible bedside manner. Or, scarier, maybe he/she knows crap and could charm cobras!
It's easy to tell with accountants; either the tax man cometh or he doesn't. Same with a lawyer; it's either in jail or out.
Cashiers? Some may be fast and efficient, but don't you just hate it when a super-dooper young pair, barely legal to work, are having the time of their lives around your stuff and never even looking at you? Whose money is it, anyway? "Mine, mine," you want to shout, and maybe, be just a little bit graceless.
Skill vs. stroking.  Thinking about it makes me realize that I can be on the stroking side; not crabby to crabby service workers, smile at grumps, bite my tongue at the checkout and make nice to my true-love even when I don't want to!!!


How Many Baskets.......

I consider myself happily married. Yes, I do. I also consider myself very married which, I must confess, leads occasionally to a misleading degree of complacency. Take baskets, for example. My true-love mentioned he is desirous of one. This is a basket.
Full of goodies type basket

I have several other types in my "What kind of basket can my true-love bring me today?" mind.

Book storing basket

Well mannered and obedient pet holding basket
Alas and alack! This is not what my true-love meant at all! He wanted an inbasket. "An inbasket?" I cried. "Whatever for?"
"For in things." he said.
I was disbelieving. "You don't have anything to put into an inbasket. You don't print out your e-bills."
He got snarly. "Once, just once, I forgot."
"So the inbasket will help you remember." I confess I scoffed. I am a good scoffer. I put feeling and tone into my scoffing. It is not unrecognizable. At which point he yelled.
"Why can't you just say yes? Why do you always have to be in control?"
Why do people ask dumb questions ? "Uh, that's what controlling people do; they like to be in control."
My poor true-love. I promise to practise. "Yes dear, buy as many baskets as you like." By God, that first part is hard to say.


I have a Hero!

Now that all the sappiness of Valentine's Day is behind us I can tell you about my hero (really heroine but it just doesn't sound catchy as a title!). Here was a woman who knew how to love. She had 3 husbands, no divorces, just sad, sad deaths, but kept right on living and loving.
Cecile at 22
 This is my godmother; she was first widowed in her early 40's. Heart disease.  Then she met a man. He was still married so they lived in sin for awhile. Tut, tut! The Catholic Church AND the Anglican Church refused to marry them after the man's divorce became final. You would think that the churches would be all happy that a pair of middle-aged people had found love and happiness again and wanted to "make it right". You see, they were both old enough (and she was Catholic enough) that they really did feel they were indeed living "in sin". Hurrah for the United Church which blessed them and sent them on their way.
Poor Godmother...they were hardly married at all when he died.
Very sad but undaunted, she took up the business of living alone again. This time she took a lover! Naughty, naughty. But the lover proved to be a good, good idea. Because of the lover, she took Spanish lessons. Because of the lover, she went on cruises.  Because of the lover, she didn't become dried up and crusty. She was a vibrant, alive woman .....and then she met a man.
The man had been widowed for 3 weeks when he proposed. She laughed and sent him away. But not for long, just 6 months or so, and then at the age of 70  they married. Hurrah for love!
So, they were together for 20 years. One husband had built her a house, the second left her a great deal of money and the third helped her spend it. In the nicest possible way, of course. They travelled the world.
It took me the longest time to understand what I so admire. She was not always nice; in fact, in her old age she was selfish and manipulative. She was the kind of old lady who yelled insults in restaurants because she was so deaf she'd forgotten how to whisper. At the store, she piled strawberries onto her pint basket and sailed through the checkout even though everyone knew she had 2 pints worth! She was so ambivalent about children. She was childless but had mothered her second husband's. One day, she was so sad that she didn't have any and the next, so happy because all kids did was break your heart! Godmother, godmother....you didn't rest on your laurels and that is what I so admire. You just kept on going and doing. Forward looking, that's what you were. My hero. 


How is a Raven like a Writing Desk....

How is a raven like a writing desk or better yet, how are Blaise Pascal, Ingrid and cedar waxwings connected?
Think of it as a triangle ▲ with Blaise Pascal on top. He was the amazing mathematician who invented the first digital calculator, opened new fields of study in atmospheric pressure, hydraulics, projective geometry, probability theory, invented Paris' transit system and a ton more as well as becoming a philosopher of note. Right now I'm reading  'Pensees'; it is hard work but worthwhile. It is full of little brain jerk-awakers; they may not make me rich but keep me on my mental toes.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

 On one of the other sides, there are cedar waxwings. They are cheery little birds which eat mainly berries, are very social and handsome . They are yellow and grey with little red markings on their wing tips. Their numbers are stable or even increasing due to the fruit trees homeowners are planting. Courting birds feed one another. A gang of them eat my ornamental crabapples nearly every day.

Mature cedar waxwing

Then there's me. On the last side of the triangle. (My hair colour which used to be Tacky Tucker blonde is now Waxwing Wannabe.)

M. Pascal theorizes that man is chronically unhappy because he/she lives either in the past, looking back to a perception of happiness or in the future, always planning on being happy and working toward that end. There is no happiness in the present because WE MISS IT. 
I love it because it's true! Busy, busy people even on vacation, always racing around on tours, shopping, dining and always, always connected somehow to something disruptive. There is hardly time to savour the moment.
This has been described variously as ecstasy, bliss, joy or just the moment.
At our age, we need to be way more conscious of this. Some of us don't have a lot of future in our future, and none of us have a guarantee that there will be any at all. Today, now is all we have.

So, M.Pascal has given me thought and I am his fan; the waxwings give me joy and I give them food; because of M. Pascal, I don't let the cats out when the birds are in my tree and the birds? Well, M.Pascal believed, so perhaps, wherever he is, the waxwings give him joy, too



Those Sneaky Symptoms

Aside from the obvious bits that are not as perky as they once were, the sneakiest thing to creep up on me in the last 2 years has been cold feet. I used to run around barefoot all year even dashing across the road, in the dead of winter, unsocked and unshod. I embraced cold feet. Really, snow is not that cold.  Hot feet make me fidgety. Imagine my shock when my pleasantly cold feet became painful. What? what? what?
Did I own socks? Ah yes, there they were in my discard bag, remnants of my work boot and factory days. Time to buy new ones. The first year, I wore them only on very cold days; now I wear them every day. This is also the first year that I have ever worn slippers. Not here, mind you, just on an unheated floor while visiting.
As in all things: when it becomes personal, it becomes interesting. Gluten intolerant? Let's google that. Bad dog? Let's google that. Socks? Hey, socks are research-able,too.
From Egypt, circa 500 AD but not true socks

This medieval hose was attached with ties to a garter belt-like thingy.
Sixteen hundred years ago there were no socks, just these long things called hose. Making hose involved lots of sewing as knitting hadn't been invented yet. So now we can segue into knitting which is incredibly modern. The first knitting guild was begun in 1527 in Paris. All knitters at that time were men! (Segue is such a cool word; two years ago, I didn't know what it meant then I saw it everywhere...segue, segue. I think words are stylish too, like midi skirts, here today and practically gone next year.)
Linen hose, tied around the legs

I am making a point, albeit in a roundabout fashion. Can you imagine figuring out knitting? Someone had the time to try and try again to loop yarn around a pair of sticks, over and over, sometimes in one direction and sometimes in the other. Talk about 10,000 hours. Maybe it was a group thing...a bunch of unemployed guys, high on mead, with their hose wrapped around their knees and freezing (because hose was separate, not joined like pants and the average person did NOT wear underwear), and they couldn't smoke because Sir Walter Raleigh hadn't been to America yet, so one of them started to fiddle around with his hose ties and a stick or two. "Hey, Gaston, I'll bet I can make more loops than you can between Nonce and Vespers." This theory can use some work of course but in the comic strip part of my mind, I am seeing it. In the dark part of my mind, I don't think  people have enough time to be truly creative. We just copy and copy again and tell ourselves that developing a video game is life-changing. I also think that I could dislike the dark part of my mind. Anyway.... 
Once knitting took off, socks became the things we wear today, except for the heels which were detachable, therefore, replaceable.  One of the small things taken so for granted but life improving, protecting us from frostbite, insect bites and foot injuries. And providing cuteness and cheer.          

One third of all this cheer is produced in a single city in China. 8 billion pairs a year!!!!!!
I now know more about socks than is necessary, so do you and if cold feet is all we have to complain about today, let us give thanks.       


Is My Nose Broadening?

The protagonist in a certain play laments that she's getting noticeably older. "My nose is broadening!", she cries out in despair.
Apparently, Florence Nightingale, in her 80's, was almost unrecognizable as the woman who had gone to the Crimea. 'Her nose had broadened' writes one of her biographers.
 Has mine? I quite liked my young nose, and still do. As a matter of fact, my mother's nose has thinned out a tiny bit and I would never have described my Father's as 'broad'. Not as aquiline as it used to be..... It is what it is, and if I really don't like it, there's always rhinoplasty. Graceful doesn't need to mean natural!
It's interesting how people's faces change. Some of us look so much better in middle age than childhood. It's also wonderful to see so many well-postured people. Terribly stooped and even 'hunch-backed' old people were such a common sight in my youth; that has all but disappeared. I fear though, that the next generation will be round shouldered. Too much time spent hunched over a desk or a devise! Straighten up, you young things; take a lesson from your grandparents and throw those shoulders back!
We need to read more, to become more aware of just how lucky most of us are to have been born in the now and not the then.
In 1850, you had to live with your nose.  


My Sister

My sister's birthday is today; she has grey hair under her Clairol. She is a grandmother.
Somehow that is just not possible.
There used to be a little girl with very long blonde braids living in my house.  She has been replaced by a tall, chic shorthaired woman.
As children we were never friends; our real connection began about 30 years ago and it is mainly by telephone that we maintain and strengthen our relationship. We live too far apart to be a part of each other's kitchens and back yards, so we can ignore our own maturing children and rapidly growing grandchildren if we want to. They are not always a part of the conversation.
We share an aging mother; we have just buried a very old father. We share some interests and are wildly aghast at some of the other things one of us enjoys. Dogs and poutine. Yes and no.
Winter walks and cats. No and yes.
The voice on the telephone is strong and youthful; will it always sound like this? Will my desire to have, always, a younger sister keep her 'forever young'?   Fear says that something will get us.  "Don't paint the devil on the wall." our mother says. We have good genes, we eat well, we neither smoke nor drink, we have good genes, we have good genes.....
Optimism say we will become two old ladies travelling to Santiago de Compostela and if that doesn't work, Winnipeg.
Happy birthday, dear sister, and truly many, many more.


Graceful but not Natural

Graceful is certainly not the same as natural. Otherwise, why would I be so happy to receive my Yves Rocher brochures?
Emulating older people, wanting to look older came to an abrupt end after the First World War, 1918.  Youth was so disillusioned with the behaviour of its parents that the parents were no longer the shining example of bygone years.
It was the first time in all of history that older women tried to look younger.
(Sometimes this has disastrous results; witness the mini skirt.)
I don't know that I really want to look younger...I just want to look not so much older! LOL That is truly getting my verbal knickers in a knot.
There is such a thing as age appropriate; yes, I agree. Teenager clothing on the middle aged body is just wrong but wearing ones wrinkles proudly? I'm not comfortable with that yet. Considering the amount of money spent on cosmetics by both sexes, most of us aren't.
This could be another theme: the sin of vanity. When does vanity stop being harmless and become sinful? Mothers sending their daughters for Botox? Is that a lesser sin or a greater one than parents contributing to teenage obesity? Are they perhaps equal?
We're going to go where politically correct people fear to tread and talk about sin on this blog. Not all the time of course; that would be boring.  But more often than never.


Define your terms

Gracious: polite, kind, pleasant, elegant in a way associated with the upper classes or wealth, showing God's grace.

Graceless: lacking grace, elegance or charm.

Thank you to the Oxford English Dictionary for this bit of wisdom.

Two things here....The OED has a web site all about dictionaries; the when  and who www.oed.com and it is surprisingly interestingly good reading. The other is that my dictionary was a freebie from The Folio Society www.foliosociety.com. The Folio Society is my second great love , after dishes, but I may have to give it up as it is not a cheap hobby!

I'm hoping that the graceless world is a product of fear mongers and movie producers and that I'm proven wrong on my "aging journey". In the end, I may have grown old gracefully in a grace-filled world.


I'm not waiting any longer!

I've decided to plunge in....not wait for any more 'Aha moments'. After all, I'm running out of time; what doesn't get done in the next few years is never going to get done. The retirement seminar co-ordinator just plunged right in, too. She gave no quarter, just told it like it is. "You people," she said, "Have far less time than you think." Let me just say that that was a defining moment for my husband. He went out and bought a motor home. I just sat there, still waiting to be moved by whatever spirit moved Grandma Moses.
I am a sixty something (it'll all come out one day, but on a need-to-know basis)
homemaker, in-my deep-soul writer of deep and profound literature but so undisciplined that I don't even scrapbook because it takes too long, and just a little bit regretful that it is so.
This is my attempt to reach out and perhaps? start a little dialogue about our pre-old people lives; how it will play out compared to our hopes and dreams; how it has played out so far.
We're 60+ now; our lives are stained and scarred; there are bad decisions and stupid moves behind us all. Have we learned anything? Will we be nicer than some old people we know? Are we as nice as we can be?