Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a really pleasant weekend. Here’s a re-post about why it’s nice to be getting older. I’m trying to wrap my mind around these new “block” templates that WordPress wants me to use. So far the blocks aren’t an improvement, but as I catch on, I’m sure things will run more smoothly.
Take care, stay well, wash your hands. ~ Lori
“Do I look wrinkly?” I asked my husband the other morning while preparing for work.
“A little,” he answered.
I was referring to my unpressed cotton shirt. He was referring to my skin. I frowned and then we laughed.
Listen to me read this classic post:
It’s true now that every morning the lines etched in my face overnight by the fabric of the pillowcase are slower to disappear. The deep parentheses around my mouth make it look like an aside (or something like that). And when I smile, my eyes still sparkle, but they also crinkle up.
That’s life. If we’re lucky to live long enough, we wrinkle up a bit. Occasionally, though, I do catch myself feeling sad about this most natural inevitability. Then I remember…
I remember the boy I knew who was killed in a car accident when we were in high school. He’ll never have the chance to get wrinkly, and the people who love him will never have the opportunity to see him change and grow and mature.
I remember the young girl, who, in despair, took her own life. There will be no crow’s feet for her, no crinkly, smiling eyes.
I remember my own mother, dying slowly when she was younger than I am now. No wrinkles for her, either. Instead, her body broke down in more significant and painful ways, robbing her of the chance to feel a touch of melancholy at growing older.
Out of respect for those who died before they could wrinkle, I’ll try today to open my heart a little wider and embrace those wrinkles, those changes, and my own healthy, natural aging process. C
Being given the opportunity to see time alter and reshape me can be a gift, an unexpected sweetness that arrives with the passing of years. It all depends on how I see my wrinkles.
Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago, the spring after I quit my teaching job. What a beautiful spring it was! My whole world opened up. Gone was the insomnia and the heart palpitations. Here was opportunity and freedom! This feeling and the life surrounding me made me remember the first time I fell in love.
I hope you’re all doing well. Take care and enjoy what’s left of this beautiful month of May! ~ Lori
No wonder I first fell in love in May!
Walking down a village sidewalk yesterday, I breathed in deeply the sweet air and remembered falling in love that first time. The sky was a cloudless blue above me and against this background huge purple lilac flowers bloomed, apple trees blossomed, and so did mountain ash trees. The perfumed air was full of birdsong and frog calls. Warmly and lightly, the breeze touched my face and the earth felt solid under each step I took. If you’re going to fall in love, May is a good month to do it.
Hear me read this post:
The scented air and the soft breeze, the sounds of the birds and the bees, all reminded me of a day long ago and of a boy wearing a plaid shirt and riding a red horse. He had freckles across his nose, dark hair, and bright blue eyes. I’d seen him around, but not like this. Suddenly, I really saw him.
The Church Picnic
It was easy to fall in love at that church picnic because of everything around me and in me coming to life that Sunday in May. It was the easiest, most natural thing in the world.
At this time of year, everything is calling out to each other. “Hey, I’m alive! Are you alive? Let’s make more life!”
Flowers and trees bloom to attract the attention of the butterflies and the bees. Robins and sparrows and mourning doves all sing their seduction songs. Frogs croak and insects hum and all for the same reason. “Time is short and May is wonderful! Let’s make more life!”
Young people are all dressed up and dancing and drinking intoxicating nectar. They might think they’re doing something completely different than the birds and the bees and the frogs and the trees. They aren’t. Those young bodies are propelled by exactly the same seductive forces. “Life is short and we are young!” And so they draw one another closer and continue life’s dance.
Savouring the Season
When I was differently employed than I am now, I missed much of May. Like the students who sat in their unyielding desks and wondered about the world outside the classroom windows, I wondered too. A bird’s shadow would flit past the windows or poplar fuzz would drift lazily by and we’d all turn to see what was happening out there where life was.
How we kept May at bay, I don’t know. She pressed at the windows and knocked on our classroom door. “Let me in! I’m alive! Are you?” We are, but we’re trying to keep a lid on it…
May is the time in this corner of the world when everything has finally thawed out and every living creature is seeking a mate with whom to continue and affirm life. I couldn’t help but fall in love. I was far too young to find a mate, but May was the perfect time to dip my toe in the inviting waters of love.
Cheering for Life
We’re all cheering for life. That’s why we love babies and sunshine and kittens and puppies. It’s why we enjoy springtime and why we enjoy love, and it’s why we love May. Of all the twelve months, May is the one cheering loudest for life and of all the months, it’s the perfect time to fall in love.
Here’s an article I wrote last summer. Since then my husband and I have each lost a dear auntie and uncle. The auntie in the story below has turned 90, though, and is still chugging along! Time passes quickly. It’s hard to imagine that there might not be another tomorrow to spend with the people we love, but that might be the case. Spend your time now.
Take care, dear readers, and have a good, healthy week ahead. ~ Lori
My message here today is simple: visit your old folks while you still can. Time is tricky and days all run together so closely resembling one another and moving us ever forward. Before we know it, time has passed and so have the people we love.
Why would I use a dating service? I’m 89!
Last Monday, we had the best visit with my husband’s auntie. She told us that a credit card company contacted her because some suspicious purchases had been made on her credit account.
“What kind of suspicious purchases?” she asked the company representative.
“Well, there are several charges for a dating service.”
My husband’s auntie shook her head and told us, “That was the best laugh I’d had in a long time! A dating service. I’m 89 years old. What do I want with a dating service?”
Her outrage at the idea of her needing a dating service was so fun! Auntie has been a widow now for decades and enjoys independence in her own home that she shares with a huge, orange cat. The credit card company refunded all her money, had her cut up her old card, and sent her a new one. All’s well that ends well.
She knew we were coming to visit so she’d made ginger snap cookies, cheese biscuits, and fresh coffee for us. There were also fresh pickles from cucumbers right out of her garden to sample. They were crunchy and made my lips pucker. We brought a jar of them home. When we were done eating, we toured her garden and she talked about the strength she’d built up in her arms this seasoning by watering her garden pots using buckets of rain water.
She told us, “I use my mother’s wagon to haul those water buckets. She watered her garden the same way when she got old.” My husband’s auntie’s eyes filled with tears. It just goes to show that no matter how old we get, we all miss our mothers when they’re gone.
I have a passion for recording stories.
It’s one of my favourite things, visiting with the older people in my life. I’m a lover of stories and old folks often have great stories to tell. I do know some older folk who don’t care to talk about the past. They live in the now and prefer not to reminisce. That’s just fine, too, but I really like the old stories. That’s why I’m passionate about helping people to get those colourful memories recorded before the colourful storytellers are gone.
Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to right than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.
~ Marcus Aurelius
If you’d like to record your family history in its entirety or to simply write down some of those good old stories, please get in touch. I can help with everything from writing to editing to publishing. It would be my pleasure.
One of my favourite spring sounds is a chorus of frogs greeting one another and encouraging the production and fertilization of frog eggs. These guys were singing up a storm in the little slough just north of town last evening. (It breaks my heart when brush and wetlands are plowed over and drained to create more farmland. I’ve got to toughen up if I’m going to live around here. Heck, I’ve got to toughen up if I’m going to live anywhere.)
This morning I had my first really good visit with George, my neighbour’s cat who disappeared last year and then unexpectedly returned months later, starving and full of buckshot. I’m so glad he’s back! We missed each other. Having him around saves me from needing to get a cat of my own!
See how charming he is?
It’s such a beautiful sunny and still day here! I had a quick editing assignment to do, and now I should go sweep out the dusty garage. Before I do, though, here are some more photos. A neighbour lady here in town paints these rocks and leaves them along the road north of town for walkers, runners, and bikers to find as they trek along. I took these the other evening, the same time as I captured the frogs’ song.
I hope you’re having a very pleasant day wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Take care of yourself and of each other during these very strange days. ~ Lori (and George)
Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
Lately, I’ve been dreaming about cats. The other night I dreamt that a half-grown grey cat brought a small mouse into the garage where I was working. The cat set the dead mouse down a couple metres from me (physically distancing herself) and began picking away delicately at the rodent. Soon after, another cat, older and also grey but with prominent orange stripes, carried in a larger rodent, placed in on the concrete floor near the other cat and started to feast.
I recall feeling flattered in my dream that the cats trusted me enough – a total stranger – to eat their lunch right in front of me. In fact, both cats behaved as if I wasn’t even there. I was very pleased but, at the same time, a bit grossed out because the consuming of the dead rodents was pretty graphic. In my dream, I planned how I would keep these cats without having to bring them into the house to live with me.
I pictured installing a cat door in the walk-through door that opens onto our patio and I imagined an electric heater of some type to keep my feline friends warm in winter weather. I worried that the heater might start a fire. Always thinking ahead, even when I’m asleep.
Our housecat died almost exactly six years ago now. Here’s some solid advice: if you don’t want a cat for sixteen years, don’t volunteer to bottle feed newborn kittens for the local SPCA. How do you feed a helpless creature for weeks, waking up at 3:00 a.m. to heat tiny bottles of milk-replacement formula, and then give that kitten back? You don’t. That’s how we got Otis.
We miss her presence still, that funny little cat. She was neurotic in the most entertaining way. Otis also made a mess, especially during the last few years, vomiting everywhere and suffering from what seemed like a steady stream of diarrhea. So now you understand why we’re not in a big rush to invite another animal to live inside with us.
Remember George? The neighbour’s cat that went missing last year and then showed up months later, buck-shot and starving? We saw George the other day trying to hoist his now-rotund body over our back garden gate. We were so happy to see him out and about.
When he first returned home after his ordeal, his owner told me that George ate all the food in his dish and then tried to eat the plastic cat food dish. While he was away on his adventure, George’s owners were offered a pair of kittens. They missed George, assumed dead, and missed having cats around. So they adopted the kittens a few weeks before George rammed his head repeatedly into the locked cat door of his former home.
The other day, we drove into our alley and pressed the automatic garage door opener button. Just then, we saw two startled cats, young and matching, leap into the air from in front of the magically-opening door, and dash with their bellies nearly flat against the ground and their tails straight out, across the alley and back to George’s house. The kittens must’ve been enjoying the sunshine reflecting off the white garage door onto the concrete pad in front of it. Cats are funny.
George and I hope that you have a very pleasant weekend. Thanks for reading our caturday post. ~ Lori
Amid all this time and space the COVID-19 pandemic has given me, I decided that I want more mental and physical room in which to move around. I want to clean out some of the old stuff and clear a space where creativity can flourish and where a new version of my future can begin to form.
I can’t move forward as I’d like, dragging my heavy, dusty past behind me. It’s time to let it go.
At mid-life, if we’re fortunate enough to live that long, we come upon a fork in the road. It’s there we pause and choose to hold on to our past tightly or choose to release it. I’ve seen folks choose one or the other to varying degrees. From what I’ve seen, the people who are able to let go are happier and freer. To me, happiness and freedom are appealing. I understand this is not the case for everyone.
The trouble with living into our fifties and beyond is that we’ve accumulated a lot of shit along the way. What untidy and disheveled mental attics and crawl spaces we own! We’ve even stored up the physical junk, those bags and boxes, jars and totes, jammed with tokens of our past lives, lives that are gone. There’s nothing much there that anyone will want after we die and yet we hold on.
We can choose to keep all of it, caressing each carton, each memory as we revisit our journey thus far. For some, the journey may have been pleasant. Perhaps you recall a grassy roadway and gentle sunshine on your shoulders. My looking-back path is not smooth. It’s covered with roots of regret that trip me up and sharp stones of memories that cut, reopening the wounds of the past.
I guess you can call it a choice, my decision to let go of the past that follows me, slowing my steps and weighing on my heart. But it’s not really a choice anymore; it’s a necessary surgery, this removal of those malignant cells. I have to shed them or they’ll keep growing until they kill me. I’m sure of this because I’ve seen it happen. Some holder-on-ers haven’t physically died yet, but big chunks of them are poisoned and they are determined to share that poison.
I’ve met some folks who, when presented with the option of happiness and freedom, say, “I have the right to remember. I have the right to be angry.” They’re correct, of course. Everybody has the right to feel pain, to self-inflict it over and over again. You have the right to sit outside at a future barbecue, and in a shady corner of the yard, stab yourself repeatedly in the thigh with a large meat fork.
Someone might pull their lawn chair into the shade alongside yours and suggest, “You know, you don’t have to keep torturing yourself. Put that fork down. Come play Frisbee with us, if you can still walk, that is.”
You don’t stab her with your precious meat fork. That’s a special pain reserved for you. But you knew this do-gooder would try to convince you to have a pleasant time and you’re ready for her. You’ve been sharpening your words for weeks before this get together in anticipation of this moment. You verbally jab at the one inviting you to join in the fun. You’ve perfected a particularly humiliating memory to prick her with. And you’ll remind her and everyone else at the party about her shame, about her pain. Why should you suffer alone when there’s so much sorrow and anger to go around?
In the end, we can’t make the decision to release the past for anyone but ourselves. It’s true that you really can’t help anyone but yourself. Part of self-care is learning to avoid those who want to inflict their pain on you, to fill your head with their baggage. You might have to let them go, as well.
In this time of physical distancing and an uncertain future (isn’t the future always uncertain, though?), I’ve had more space in which to work on letting go of both my mental and material clutter. It is hard work and I know I won’t do it perfectly. But I am grateful for the opportunity. I’ve got the time to tackle this job.
I’ll try to focus more on what’s happening in the present moment and review the past less. It’s over. It’s gone. It’s dead. But I’m still alive and able to breathe the sweet fresh air of this new day. I can’t take away anyone else’s pain, but I can release my own and who knows what kind of a difference that might make to me and to the world. Let’s see.
Take care and thanks for reading. Be well and be safe. ~ Lori
Here’s a re-post of a family history story I wrote a few Easters back now. A lot has changed since then but a lot has stayed the same, too. Take care and thanks for reading. – Lori
My grandma didn’t like living on the farm. Well, not most of the time. I don’t know exactly why this was. It might have had to do with her glamourous sisters and one sister in particular.
My great aunt Esther trained to be a nurse in Edmonton and then moved to California. Once there, and being a beauty, she landed a couple minor roles in the movies. Meanwhile, my grandma described to me working as a janitor in the local one-room schoolhouse and later in life, milking cows on the farm as the animals swished their “poopy” tails in her face.
Hear me read this post:
I can imagine how she sometimes felt about her life comparing it to the excitement of Hollywood. But everything that glitters isn’t gold. Grandma would have reminded me that cow poop doesn’t glitter. I would’ve liked to tell her that her life lived simply was equally as valuable as a Hollywood life, just different.
Grandma loved cut flowers in crystal vases, paved sidewalks, pressed linen tablecloths, and elegant clothing.
My grandma did not like gross things. That’s why I was really surprised when she shared the following story with me.
It would have been about this time of year, late March or maybe a bit on into April. Grandpa’s Hereford cows were calving, and this kept my grandparents busy day and night. One morning, Grandma headed out to the barnyard to find Grandpa. On her way across the yard to the barn, she saw the body of a newborn calf stretched out in the weak early-morning light.
As Grandpa emerged from the barn, he nodded at the lifeless calf and said, “Born last night. Didn’t make it.”
She wasn’t particularly an animal lover, my grandma. They never had pet cats or dogs. Grandpa loved horses, but they were his interest, not hers. I don’t know what compelled her to do what she did – and to spend so much precious time doing it.
For some reason, my grandma wasn’t convinced that the calf was beyond hope. She fetched a tattered woolen blanket, laid it over the red and white form of the calf, and slowly, methodically, she began massaging its limbs and its body.
My grandpa had work to do. “Leave it alone, Emma. It’s dead,” he told her impatiently and headed off to do his next task. But she didn’t leave it alone, that goo-encrusted calf.
“I dragged it right into the sunshine where it was warmer, and I kept rubbing and rubbing that calf with that old blanket.” I remember her chuckling here and shaking her head in disbelief. “And you know, after a couple hours, that calf kicked and snorted and stood up. Clifford couldn’t believe it!”
My favourite stories are the ones that show a totally different aspect to the people I’ve loved and thought I knew. Even if the stories aren’t sweet, I like to delve into the complexity of people. I like to move beyond the pretty and into the messy. That’s where it gets interesting.
I wonder to this day why on earth my grandma, who didn’t like getting dirty or bloody or sweaty, would’ve rubbed that calf for two hours on her knees out in the chilly barnyard. All she told me about it was, “I thought if I didn’t give up and just kept on rubbing, that calf would come to life.”
Apparently, she was right.
I was just thinking about how it doesn’t feel much like Easter. When I woke up this morning, some dry snowflakes were drifting down from the lead-grey sky, and that felt about right.
It’s been a mixed time in my life. I myself, this being, am just fine. I’m healthy, occupied enough, and enjoying my at-home activities. In my larger life, though, folks have been ill and dying around me. Not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mind you. Their illnesses and passing merely coincide with the world’s other difficulties. And so I’m a bit heavyhearted right now. But, on the other hand, I’m so grateful to be well and to be able to give my love and support to those whose suffering is much more close-up than mine.
As always and as with most humans, I’m learning that I can feel a whole bunch of emotions at once and that these feelings can range from glowingly positive to downright negative. And I can experience them nearly simultaneously. Still, I don’t mind experiencing how I feel. I just wish sometimes the emotions would settle down a bit, be a little steadier. But wouldn’t we all?
My Twitter friend Donna shared these images the other day and I’ve been wildly re-sharing because nothing puts a global pandemic in perspective better than humour does!
Well, folks, that’s about all I’ve got to say about that. Please take care, and if you’re celebrating within your religious tradition these weekend, enjoy. It will be different, I know, with physical distancing in place, but this obstacle can perhaps make your joy and connectedness feel more special because, this year, it’s hard won.
Wishing you all the best,
Hi there! Welcome to my post about nothing in particular. I posted a new blog yesterday and I wanted to mention some of these things there, but they just didn’t fit. So here I am, putting those bits and pieces together, a jumble of fun in the midst of chaos.
In the time before social distancing…
A New Book to Read
A couple years ago, I glanced out the large window in my front door and thought I saw something hanging there from the knob. I opened it up and there was a book in a bag along with a note: “Doing some house cleaning, found this and thought of you.” Yes, I am a fan of cemeteries and of history. Some would also say I’m uncomfortably comfortable with the idea of death and dying. So this book was a good pick for me.
Just this morning I started reading Remember Me As You Pass By and it drew me right in. Here’s the kind of stuff I love. The author, Nancy Millar, begins the introduction to the book with this epitaph from a cemetery not too far from where I live:
Remember me as you pass by
So as you are, so once was I.
As I am now so soon you’ll be,
Prepare for death and eternity.
~ On the grave marker of William Henry Erichson, 1859-1927, in the Gadsby, AB Cemetery
The last paper book I read was Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories. Since then I read her gothic novel Wise Blood in digital form. I’m looking forward to touring with Nancy Millar some prairies graveyards and discovering her insights into the lives revealed there, the stories etched into granite.
Language Learning: A Humbling Experience
You can’t stay arrogant for long when attempting to learn a bit of a new language. While in Mazatlán, we were out for a lovely dinner on Cerritos Beach. I must have been feeling particularly elegant that night because in my best Spanish I inadvertently ordered a mug (taza) of the restaurant’s finest white wine. The word to use when ordering wine is copa, unless of course you’ve had a mug-of-wine-kind of day, and arguably we’ve all had some of those lately.
Sometimes it’s best not to understand what folks are saying. I was out for a morning walk on the beautiful beach. As I passed a family, a young boy scooted out in front of me to catch up with his parents. His mom told him in Spanish, “Watch out for that gringo” which I took to mean as, “Don’t crash into the nice white lady.” But the thing is, I’m a gringa because I’m a woman. The Spanish language is unrelentingly specific about the gender of its words. If I’d been braver, I would have pointed out my gender to the mom but alas, I was not, and that funny moment has passed me by.
My Backyard Is My World
And I’d better get used to this fact. This spring I was looking forward to packing a picnic cooler of delicious drinks and snacks and exploring nearby parks and historical sites with my husband. We even hoped to be away so much on these short excursions that we had decided not to plant a garden. We thought, “We won’t be around to weed and water, so what’s the point?” Now the point might be our survival in the post-Apocalyptic world. (I’m exaggerating. For now, I hope.) Oh, how circumstances have changed!
I might not be able to tour the parks and enjoy a sandwich in a public space, but I can still photograph the birds that come to my backyard feeder. Here’s a cute little dark-eyed junco, freezing his feathers off this early April.
I’ve Got Time to Write
Obviously as this is my second post in two days. Recently I did some editing work for a client so it would seem that others are also finding time to write. Here’s what Alynne had to say about working with me:
“Working with Lori was a wonderful experience. She was fast, affordable and professional. She offered great feedback and with her expertise the story magically came together. She understood the audience we were trying to reach! I hope to work with her again in the near future. Thank you Lori!”
How nice is that? If you’ve got a memoir idea or family history you’d like to tackle, now’s a good time to do it. It’s not like you’re going anywhere. And I’ve got time to help you as an editor or as a writer or as both. Just ask.
Well folks, that’s about all I’ve got to say today about pretty much nothing. Keep safe and healthy, and have that mug of wine if you need to take the edge off. Take care! ~ Lori