Category Archives: Towntales

And so…or waiting waiting waiting


We seem to be stuck in a holding pattern- stuck in a growing pandemic, stuck with the defeated US president clinging to power, even stuck in autumn- we’ve had warm weather here in Ontario and, though lovely, I can’t help but feel like winter is waiting on the edge, ready to spring.

It all reminds me of a time we were in the Everglades watching a nature scene take place before us. A frog was catching insects. A snake was watching the frog, ready to spring. An egret was watching the snake, preparing an attack, and behind the egret we could see the watchful eyes of an alligator, looking for dinner.

In one instant, the frog leapt for a big, the snake leapt for the frog, the egret pounced on the snake, and slurp, the food chain played out. Fortunately for the egret, the alligator was just that bit too slow, and missed taking his place at the top.

So here I am feeling a bit like that egret. Or is it the frog? Waiting for winter to leap and release the Covid virus again, all while knowing there’s a democratic confrontation awaiting in the wings to gobble the whole disaster up.

It’s unsettling.

Will the alligator be able to take the whole mass down? Or will we have a narrow escape as the egret did and fly away with a full tummy and the will to fight another day?

Or will everything leap forward and manage to continue unabated- winter, Covid, democracy-undoing…

In trying to remain optimistic, but I can feel the tension like the sound of a violin A string, scraping along the bow.

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay


“Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
Watchin’ the ships roll in
Then I watch ’em roll away again..”

Ah, Otis. Such an apt description of my last weeks here in paradise (aka Nova Scotia). It has been perishingly hot and humid and I’ve been forced to sit, beached carp-like, gasping for breath as my MS and the humidity do their little dance.

And then, mid-August, the cool nights arrived, the decreasing dampness. It happens every year and it is always a surprising gift – people start to walk about again, there are some twinkling eyes above the inevitable masks, the mackerel are running and the dock is filled with men casting their hooks into the sea. Sometimes they even catch things…and I fall in love with the place again.How to Get to Dartmouth from Downtown Halifax – Discover Halifax

It’s been an odder time here, of course, what with the constant refrain “stay home, stay home”, mixed with the hymn of “get out and shop local” buzzing in my ears. I am overdue for a voyage across the harbour on my sweet ferry to see one of my favourite art galleries (Argyle Fine Art), but the whole idea seems so daunting after months of hiding out at home it requires loin-girding of an unusual degree.Argyle Fine Art | Downtown Halifax

So I sit on my balcony with its wonderful view of harbour happenings and the occasional street crime (this IS Dartmouth, after all) and watch the tide roll in and out and in.

My motivation isn’t helped by the fact that 90% of my belongings are packed. Including most of my clothing. I have, of course, chosen the things to leave out unwisely. Getting dressed to go out to do the “shop local” part of my inner dialogue is usually a melee of shirt and dress-tossing, trying to adapt to the changing weather – a shift of 15 degrees Celsius is common these days – and somehow I have hidden all the things that go together.

From muumuu to Miu Miu: Turning thrift-store rejects into cute ...My friends are kindly silent about my selections, bless them.

No matter. Tomorrow the junk company comes by to en-lighten (unnecessarily hyphenation added in honour of LD) me of a great many things (they say they will donate much of it and I am grateful, if slightly skeptical, but at this point, I just do not want to know). Today’s task is to complete the junk assembly into a digestible chunk. After that, I’m down to the last lingering few things…

And back to:

“I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time..”

I suppose there are worse ways to spend the next few days…

 

Waiting for the Tsunami, or Stay the F at home, already!


I know, staying at home (potentially with fighting children or that spouse you were barely tolerating at the best of times) is gruelling. I know. I have an eternally shedding/hair balling cat and you haven’t lived until you are woken up six nights out of seven with that horrible retching noise, followed by a bloom of vomit smell.

(I know. I’ve brushed him, fed him oils, tried to make him run around. But I digress…)

The thing is, we don’t have it that bad, we people at home. Think of where you could be. Like a prisoner in a long term care home, for example. Because that makes me quiver with terror and nightmares.

It’s bad enough being limited by physical disabilities and living with that trapped feeling, but imagine being physically limited, such that you could not be taken anywhere else because you need professionals to care for you, and watching as your home-mates start to fall with Covid-19…

Terrifying.

Because you know, without a doubt, that if you get this thing, it’s going to take you out, in a nasty brutish way. I hear it makes you feel like someone is standing on your chest and pulling your arms. I hear breathing becomes painful, wretched, impossible.

And to add to the wonder of the infection, you must also add the total isolation you will be in as you slowly, painfully leave this world. Alone.

Not that I ever wanted an audience for my last moments. Though I’ve been present at other’s ends and felt my presence was a comfort, so I might change my mind about that. But having no option for company as I gasp out my last few agonized breaths is a scary proposition. Options are good.

As are the options to get care. As a 60+ year old with multiple pre-existing conditions, I am probably not high priority for those scarce ventilators. But even I am higher on the list than many of my chums and definitely anyone in a care home. Those guys will just have to be let go.

And then there’s the life of the trapped health care workers. I remember from pandemic planning long ago that the only health care professions who were REQUIRED to show up to look after sick people were nurses. It’s a condition of our licensure, something about not abandoning patients. Lots of docs and other professions take their job equally seriously, but nurses are the only college required to be there, inhaling viruses and struggling through their own fatigue and overwhelming despair.

Bravo to them, to first responders (also tasked with being there, by god, no matter what) and all those who step up to the front as they can.

And yet, you healthy folks, you are still looking for loopholes, talking about sewing masks so you can go out in public as you will, sneaking into “speakeasies” in the UK, getting together with friends and family, “because it’s just us and I have to see the grandkids.”

Not needed

Shame, shame on those of you who selfishly insist on living life as normally as possible, going for recreational shopping, taking the kids for play dates, meeting friends for drinks. You may not realize this, but you are likely committing murder.

This is the time to actually get your head out of your own arse and look after the rest of the society. Do without for a bit. It won’t kill you to not meet up, especially with all the technology available. Stay away from the parks. Don’t play with power tools. (You won’t get that sawed off arm looked after)(or, more likely, you will, while someone’s grandfather dies in the bed next over.)

So, stop it. Know that you are increasing people’s risk. Know that people will die if you don’t. Some will die regardless, but the next time you head out to merrily break the rules, imagine yourself at the end of a hallway in a care home, as the virus creeps down the corridor towards you, as your former dining mates become absent, as the staff change over to new, uninfected people. As they tuck you into bed and you lie, alone, trying not to inhale the air or call for help or panic, trapped as you are in a bed as helpless as a turtle on its back, unable even to fully turn your head. As death walks down the hall on soft-tread feet, opening the door to your room, slowly, slowly, inevitably…

“Five minutes more…?” Or how whining like a three-year-old won’t help us stop the coronavirus.


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Back in the day before my freedom 50 plan took over and MS threw me out of the workforce, I used to be a nurse, epidemiologist, and health care manager. Many many years of study piled those degrees on me, and I still try to keep up to date.

I say all this because what I am going to say next might offend some, but I am coming from this background.

Stay the fecking well home!!!

Let’s stop this endless “Oh, I can still see my grandkids from across town”, or “there’s nothing wrong with taking the kids to play in the playground”, or “I just need to run into the mall for a few things.” I keep hearing and seeing this. One chipper lass even got on a plane KNOWING she was infected. Wow. That’s thoughtlessness to the max.

I see gatherings of people where social distancing isn’t happening, as have we all.

Please, just stop it. Stay home as much as possible. If you MUST go out for groceries, pick one family member to go alone. No dawdling. In and out and when you get home, wash your hands for a long long time.

Because this is the virus, seeing us refusing to take social distancing/isolation seriously:

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I know it’s tempting to try to slip in just one more trip, one more little infraction, like the kid who keeps pushing their parent to let them watch just a bit more TV, play just one more game. I feel house-bound, too, am bored of my own company, keep looking through my cupboards for snacks and treats that I’ve already chewed my way through, leaving only the healthy stuff that needs some preparation…

5e5ff9d8fee23d6516720658But I was part of the pandemic planning some time ago post-SARS, and really, we have no idea how bad this could be. Imagine hospitals overflowing, doctors having to decide who lives or dies, funeral homes backed up so far the corpses have to be put in rinks until they can be dealt with. Imagine everyone who maintains out electricity, the internet, and cellphones becoming ill. Imagine there’s no groceries, see if you can…

What will we do then?

It might not get that bad, but if you look at the example of Italy, you can see there is a possibility. Our only hope is to stay home and try to slow the infection rate. Because right now, we can’t stop Corvid-19 from rolling through us all. We need to provide time, to ease the hospitals, to give time for a vaccine to be developed, to organize a vaccine deployment.

Yes, businesses will have a horrible time. The stock market will swing down, and the possibility of a depression is real. But those who encourage an early return to normalcy to save business are short-sighted. They assume that people will remain healthy enough to support or work at these businesses.

(TBH, if a few billionaires were really concerned about things, they could probably support businesses with some of their excess money, keep them standing until the situation normalizes.)

Pretending that we can just slip by and play hard and fast with exposure just isn’t on. Stay home and stop whining. Or, as my mum used to say, it’ll “give you something to whine about.”

Please? Asking for a friend. Well, many many friends.

PS: I know so many are doing what they should, and bravo. It isn’t easy changing your entire life pattern. And I feel for all the small businesses who are losing ground. I try and help where I can, and you should, too. Get stuff delivered or for pick-up from your favorite stores. Pressure the government to support businesses and people at risk. We can get by this.

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Please, keep safe.

We now return you to our normally writing oriented blog.

 

 

A rabbit in every pot and a saint on every corner- or why Malta was so confusing


99AEDA4F-9342-4307-A0D5-B85E0B056E3BI’ve just been lucky enough to take a trip to Malta, land of my grandfather’s birth and burying place of other in-law relatives. It’s not an easy place to get to, but my heart has wanted to go there for years. It’s the fabulous history. Millenia of history. Footprints of travellers from centuries back. The sense of struggle and growth and religious wars. Cool stuff.

Kind son and his lovely partner arranged to take me and led me through hundreds of streets and pathways. I can’t thank them enough. It was a fabulous experience.

It’s an interesting spot. There ARE saints on every building corner. No one seems to notice them. The buildings in Valletta and Birgu are astonishingly attractive, their golden limestone sides glowing in the sun. They are also largely vacant.

Apparently Valletta has been on the downturn for some time- the buildings were wrecks until it was declared a UNESCO international treasure in 2018- lifting the tourism industry and helping with renovations. Some of the four-story buildings have coffee shops and unbelievably tiny shops in them. There are virtually no grocery stores. There ARE pharmacies. And balconies.

And tourists, even in this dead mid-winter time.D0C10A16-99A1-43D3-B532-292AF2EDC7E2

Culturally, it’s an odd place, too- people seem to come and be swept away. Prehistoric temples abound- but the people from that time mysteriously died out. The Phoenicians arrived and created art…but left. Muslims conquered through (and have been wiped off the history), and then the Knights of St John essentially built the Valletta seen today, and as far as I can tell, nothing much has happened since then. It’s all been about maintenance.

The knights were very ornamental – to the right you can see the interior of St. John’s co-cathedral, decorated on every flat surface. Even the floor is ornate, covered with decorative memorial slabs. It’s spectacular.

6C17B68D-72CF-4A2D-86C7-0D2C8007F6F2Earthquakes have shaken the place- half of the former capital of Mdina was shaken to the ground- original buildings are medieval style, rebuilding is Baroque. To the right, you can see the line along a wall where the medieval crumbled away, the right side rebuilt in the Baroque era. (They rebuilt it almost exactly the same, but with Baroque fancies.) Much of Malta seems to be repairing things to be exactly as they were.

The Maltese people have lived through invasions, the Inquisition (which apparently involved the ‘overstretching of muscles’ only and was MUCH gentler than the Spanish Inquisition), the blockades of the world wars and starvation thereof. They perch on an island made of limestone, with a thin coating of soil. Somehow they farm.

So, they’ve had a challenging time.

Now, they are having a harder one. Hidden behind the fronts of the tall houses are the Uber-rich, the 0.001%. Apartments are over 2,000,000 euros for a tiny cold space. The only real offices downtown are wealth management and investment companies. The rich hide in the tax haven, rarely seen. Do they contribute? Every museum collection and painting is labelled with the name of its sponsor, going right back to the dawn of history. Do the Uber-rich willingly pay for sewer and electrical systems when their names cannot be attached?

The rest of the island seems to rely on tourism only for support, and tourism is a fickle thing…and it doesn’t pay enough for people to live in the places they show to tourists.

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Church seems scandalized

 

Music isn’t as present as I would have thought. We wandered over a large part of the main island and heard only top of the charts from the 1980s – except for in one very funky coffee bar down near the waterfront. In one extremely posh restaurant, we ate our dinner to a selection of bad covers of North American 80s tunes. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard YMCA sung as a ballad. Or “Killing me Softly” as an upbeat tune. It

100B945A-DECE-43BB-B39A-68EED03D0E66broke my heart a bit, local music being one of the things I like best about travel.

Instead I listened to the language, a marvellous river of Maltese, English, Arabic, Italian, all swirling around, mingling even in the same sentence. It was fascinating, and loud.

Art in Valletta seems focused on the past, even in the new art gallery, Muza. As with

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Antonio Sciortino’s flowing sculptures

much of Valletta, the new museum was built within the framework of a baroque building. This is charming, and makes every museum visit interesting on many levels, but it means little conveniences like elevators, accessible washrooms, etc. are missing.

Of course, there is so much art – temples inscribed in the many years BC, decorated pots and crypts and walls and floors and sculptures on every corner by city by-law. Saints are hung by every house door.

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sculptor unknown

The new artists seem to choose ancient subjects – religious paintings are prevalent. Sculptures, though new, reflect ancient events. The most recent images seem to be of the terror of WW2 (well, except the mandatory prime ministerial statues. One wonders what they will do with the latest PM, escorted in shame from the country).

Of course, they know what sells. It is a tourist destination, after all, and people come to see the saints on every corner, enjoy the buttery sun on the beaches and the buildings, taste the rabbit that is on every menu. (It’s good!) But it has the air of a country frozen solidly in time. It’s beautiful, but, like the women climbing through the cobblestone streets in stiletto heels, Malta seems to be teetering on the edge.

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Now is the Summer of our Discontent


Made impossible torment by this fog of humidity

And all the clouds upon the horizon looming

Lessen not the damp through lightning or storming

Now our brows are laced with gobs of sweat

Our pale-white arms hidden from the sun as we search for coolth

And fierce horns presage the coming of ships

Shrouded in fog – moistness made solid…

Okay, is it just me or would all of you out there like to wrap the climate change skeptics images-33in their bespoke suits and dangle them over the bayou of Louisiana without access to a/c? Or worse still – place them in the scorching hot cities of Europe – Paris, wreathed by concrete; Edinburgh, utterly unprepared for heat; London, on the tube surrounded by anxiety-sweating people suffering in polyester; Rome, in tourist season…again without any access to ice or shade or air conditioning…Or even Toronto. You know the perfect place.

 

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Ideal shape for humid weather

I am melting melting melting, except not really because in order to melt one would require the ability to liquefy of which I can only dream. My cozy fat wrap seems a teensy bit dysfunctional at present.

 

It has set my MS off, so I am tripping over dust particles and dancing like a drunken soccer fan, looking for a fight like the same. I have fallen, not wisely, but too well, spraining my hand and denting a rib and generally mashing myself up. It’s not getting better, the hand or the MS or anything, and likely won’t until the mind-clearing breezes of fall. FML, as the word-impaired sorts say.

 

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My parents didn’t believe in orthodonture until child #3

 

Truth be told, I have no right to complain. Life is overall good, and I am blessed with a loving son who has kindly arranged for house cleaning so I can spare my hand for more important things, like making blueberry sorbet or embroidering ridiculously small things. Or brushing my hair and chaining it back so that I don’t frighten young children…

 

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After not doing a THING in the heat…

 

Today is their first cleaning day, and I only know this because the coordinator called me at ten last night to check if I was going to let the workers in. At the time, I was laying gasping on my chaise courte (in truth a meridienne)  like a beached cod, waving a plastic bag at myself for the breeze (and to keep the cat from eating it).  I looked around myself.

As anyone who has had official house cleaners knows, it ain’t so much the dirt as the clutter that fells us, though I am eternally grateful to said son for the help in scrubbing detail (not possible for me at present) (and truth be told, the idea of tumbling into my tub head first like Father William lacks a certain charm anytime, least of all in my current wounded state) (But I parenth).

085cf2013facbb3c3e02a2bbc017e5f7--alarm-clock-app-storeSo this morning, before all my %^*%$ “get up in a positive mood” alarms went off, screaming at me to ‘drink water’, ‘stretch’, ‘be grateful’, I was dashing about in a polka-like rendition of the IKEA ad ‘The People are Coming” 

As a side comment, who on earth has a kitchen that organized? Well, I do know of one person, but she is a superhero and we can’t all be like her, can we?(CV, you know I mean you…)

Also, note to self: delete said programs and alarms. They are just depressing you in this heat. New goal: breathe without falling over.

So I spin about, trying not to use sprained hand and failing, throwing things in drawers, which, unlike in the IKEA ad, I have very few of so it is likely I shall find the things again. Possibly. I have ordered tracking devices.

images-32Meanwhile, Bendicks, my cat, decides this, yes this, is the time to show how truly gobshite-y he can be – eating all plastic items, thrusting his head into cupboards and extracting feminine supplies on which to chew, pushing things off counters, standing just in front of me so I can step on him and he can look wounded, vanishing who knows where….

Hmm. It’s quiet. Too quiet…just a mo…

<extracts long partially chewed piece of plastic from cat’s intestine>

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Yep. Summer. Be kind to one another. Hide your plastic bags.

Reunite the separated immigrant families!!! Oh, and while you are out? Impeach Trump and jail all his cronies, will ya?

 

It’s Evening. . .


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Of a foggy foggy day, filled with grey skies so low and looming that one could easily slip away in them, vanish like the ferry as it skims to and fro. The fog has finally cleared and the reflection of the lights on the water seems oddly bright. Even the ferry lights seem shinier than usual, against the fog-calmed sea.

Brain-Fog-Clouds-in-Xray-headI’ve been feeling foggy, myself. Lots going on, various family and non-family tragedies and worries, enough to keep my brain spinning unproductively in the mist. Toss in another school shooting, more horribleness about the fascist-leaning land to the south, and the fog deepens. A good friend of mine writes satire and humour about the Trump government – I’ve told him I can’t read it anymore. I used to keep track of the lies and foolishness through twitter and news sites; I can’t anymore.

Of course, this is what the “they” want. Numbness vs. outrage, passive acceptance. Our own Canadian government clothes platitudes in tight pants and expects us to not see their real plans. Meanwhile, the oligarchs plan and plot and gradually little bits of our life and our planet are teased away from us.

powerpuff-girls-key-art-smallBack when I was younger and full of piss and vinegar, I used to take this on (that’s me on the right, a rare thing). I wrote letters, went to protests, was active in party politics. I’d love to do that again, but I realize I can’t – my brain doesn’t hold onto facts anymore (if it ever could) and my arguments slide away into inappropriate confessions and parries and thrusts with blunt weapons. I embarrass myself. It’s truly awful. As I get older I keep my mouth closed more and more…or regret speaking more and more!

So I pull the fog blanket over me and go play with my art, wander around my ‘hood, filled as it is with comfortable people who smile and greet me, distract myself with movies from more innocent times, drink a glass of wine.

I need to pass the torch on images-6to others whose brains can formulate arguments and make sense. They need to keep their noses to the grindstone, their foot on the pedal, to blow away the fog of fatigue. I can’t anymore.

 

 

But maybe that’s okay. The kids know much more than I ever did.

Jumping from here to there, or why I am still Anne of Green Gables in my heart


anne-of-green-gablesSometimes I wish I hadn’t read Anne of Green Gables. Not that I necessarily believe in her character, but I seem to be as restless as she is. My kids think it’s because I’m unhappy. I’m not unhappy. Clinically depressed, yes, but not unhappy! With good medication, I can laugh and create and live and sing and play my ukulele and loll in the sun and read and write and laugh and be silly.

People wonder why I move a lot, why my dating life is so … interesting, why I overcommit and then have to back out.  Why I try new things or toss myself into books, or travel when I can barely afford it. They, again, think that I am unhappy. I’m not. I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘unhappy’ – mad, sad, bored, I’ve been all of these, but I haven’t been unhappy, not ever. My approach for years has been if I don’t like something, I work to change it, whether in myself or in my neighbourhood. And why not? Even if sometimes it doesn’t work out, I can always try, can’t I?

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more… though I know that IS the noblest ambition… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

(Not sure how that blends with my dating life, but you can’t win them all…)

Like Anne, I refuse to settle. For much of my life, I had to accept things as they were allowed to me – everything from love to places to live, to time to read, to food. I was granted lots before I married, I was loved and spoiled, and people thought highly of me. I confess I got used to that, a bit.

Then I got married, and I learned to distrust words. And to write them. It’s easier to write fiction when you live it, I think.

Be that as it may, since I left, I have tried to do the things I feel are right for me and those around me. I volunteer where I can, I try to be creative, I try to help out.

But that doesn’t mean I need to put up with things that I don’t like. Heck, I’ve got MS, and arthritis, and depression – that’s enough to accept. I have a son who refuses to speak to me. That’s more than enough.

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So for the rest of my life, I change what I can and make the best of the rest.

Since I moved to paradise (aka Nova Scotia), things haven’t always been easy. I’ve been lonely at times, I’ve missed friends and family, but I know it’s where I’ve been meant to be. The sea, the air, the climate – they all make me feel whole. I’ve found a home here with a great community, good friends, meaningful volunteer work and craft.

But I’ve always wanted to be able to see the sea from where I live. If I dangle out of my current Juliet balcony, I can spot the sea to my left, but where I am moving this time I can see it out of my windows, I can sit on my balcony and sniff the salty air. Grow flowers and plants, step outside and see people. Because of my MS, some days I can’t get out of my apartment. A pleasant place is very important to me.

“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’ve found I love living downtown, walking to everything, sampling the stimulating environment that is downtown Dartmouth. Not so keen on inhaling diesel fumes every day or living just above an intersection.

So I am taking my not-unhappy self across the street to a new place. My Anne heart tells me you don’t have to be unhappy to want to upgrade or make a change. Life is an endless buffet of options. And don’t think I am ungrateful for the chance to make changes – I am, profoundly. I hope I won’t feel the need to move again, though every time I do, I hone myself into more of what I am. I feel like I am carving away the outer layers I’ve put on over the years, gradually getting closer to who I am, what I am.

“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” Anne of Green Gables

anne-green-gables-1920-770x470But hey, as I toss things from my old self, moving gets easier and easier! I may pick up and go to someplace else that calls to me at some point, and why not? I only have so many fit years left – maybe I’ll feel a need to move to Paris for a year, or Scotland, or Portland, NH. Who knows?

I’m excited. Weary from doing too much, but thrilled by what lies ahead.

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?” Anne of Green Gables

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On geese, and horrible people, and fear for the future


B3aAGO4CIAABRHL.jpg-largeI’m not ordinarily an anxious person. Life flows by and stuff happens and it bothers me, but I don’t usually have the sense of creeping dread that envelops me now.

It seems like human beings are losing their compass if indeed we ever had one.  Of course, there is the madness south of our Canadian border. The opening of a Pandora’s box of latent racism and sexism and general horribleness that is likely to get us into a war sooner than later. (question: is it okay to leave most of the government seats empty and run it like a dictatorship? Why hasn’t anyone stopped this?)

And, with the example of a badly out of control, ignorant and nasty president, suddenly the rest of the planet thinks they can let their ghouls out. It’s horrifying to see all the gains by women and people of colour and GLBTQ+ folks being eroded day by day.  And although there is resistance, it doesn’t seem to matter!

sullivans-pond-geeseHere where I live, the gangs are back. There are regular knifings and random attacks. That’s bad enough, but some jerk used his car to deliberately squash the geese who live peaceably in our local pond. Everyone loves the geese. We all pause and let them cross the road. It’s a big event when they come out of their winter home and waddle to the pond.

How does one explain to a kid about this jerk’s actions? Or the president’s actions? Or the needless shunning of one group of people by another?

How can we explain it to ourselves? How can we be rendered so powerless so quickly? Or was it an illusion of power all along?

I’m kind of a Pollyanna type. I like to see the good in everyone. It’s becoming harder and harder to spot it amongst the daily insults that I see being visited on people every day.

I could cry about the driver and the geese. What made him/her do that? (though I am sure it was a man, somehow). And yet, that’s a small thing compared to the risk of war that will kill many more living things. Or the current wars that are already laying countries waste. Or the horrific treatment of refugees who have fled from starvation. Or the incredible death and destruction we are causing in our oceans and on land through selfishness and greed.

Honestly, I am not an end times gal. But what is going on now makes me almost wish it were the end times. It’s getting too heartbreaking to watch.

Fireworks


I’m feeling a little misty-eyed lately over my ratbag children. It’s the season of fireworks and where I’m living we’ve already had four nights of them, and another one tonight. It’s Natal Day weekend in Nova Scotia, an event celebrated with even more enthusiasm than Canada Day. This surprised me the first year I was here, but I’m getting used to it, dropping my central Canada snobbery.

But tonight I wandered across the street to the harbour, and was immediately swamped with kids all waving those hugely expensive light wand things (these ones use hearing aid batteries so will cause even more damage and expense as time goes on, but they were WAY COOL. Especially when rapidly swung around.) And it brought me back to all the times we’d driven to see fireworks with our kids, all the different places we’d seen fireworks at together, and well, it made me a bit nostalgic….

 

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This girl is nowhere near cold enough

The fireworks in Ottawa, in winter, on Spark Street. Freezing cold, as Ottawa is. The display for children was held in the dark evening so the little ones could a. get to bed early and b. not be run over in the later melee. Some of the fireworks didn’t explode immediately, and the kids, as one wave, raced towards the snow hill where they were placed. The parents, shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOO(N)” leaped after the kids and fortunately, no one was exploded. I nearly lost my sight though as little knee biters were all waving sparklers at the fullest extent of their arms…my eye height…

 

Then there were the fireworks when we lived in Kansas, on the Leavenworth Army Base.12502224-12502224 Those fireworks went on and on and on and ON. It was astonishing. HOURS passed. In between, there were bands and flag parades and a whole bunch of patriotic stuff we simply don’t do up here. I remember trying to make things sound exciting for the kids, who were actually bored at the lengthy display.

 

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Photo credit: Matthew Guy

The next year we were in Annapolis Royal, a tiny but very serious town (has a huge entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia, bigger than Toronto’s). We raced down to see the fireworks that had been funded through cans on store counters, a quarter at a time. They were over in five minutes if that – we almost missed them. I was expecting a holler of protest from the kids – they were still little and had seen the equivalent of the Canadian Armed Forces budget blown up the year before, but there wasn’t anything. My middle son, a thoughtful bloke, said, “It’s actually better this way, mommy – this way you can appreciate every single one!” The other two agreed. I think it helped that we had fallen in love with our new town.

 

But at every fireworks display, except the Annapolis Royal one, there was the dragging the kids early so we’d get good seats, the long traffic laden drive home, the calls for expensive light things. My ex and I used to argue about them – I thought we may as well get them, to make it more of an occasion; he ground his teeth at the expense.

It gladdened my heart to see how easy it was for most people to get down to the harbour to watch them here. It reinforced my feelings that living in the Maritimes is the equivalent of living in heaven, even including the fog as it rolled in, Clouds for angels to sit on…

I’ve been feeling a bit mawkish over the kids lately, too, as I am writing/editing/beating to death a young adult novel that has kids in their pre-teens in it. So I’ve been casting back for memories, language, relative surliness.

It WAS a surly time, filled with negotiations that rivaled the G-20 over even the desire to go for a walk. Sometimes the argument wasn’t worth it and I gave up and threw my hands in the air wildly. But most of the time, at that age, the kids were still up for an adventure.

It didn’t have to be a big adventure, either. It could be a simple walk down an old train track, or as complicated as a train drive to Montreal. They didn’t all like the same things. Or the same things as me. We all whined at times. But I was blessed to have curious children, and I am grateful, and I know that they will be alright.

Why? Because I sat through all those fireworks displays with them, and they found something different about each one and enjoyed them all.

It made me wish they were all here with me tonight, though we’d probably have watched the show from a patio, with beers in our hands. The two youngest would have spent the time arguing over some point in philosophy. They would both be right. And I’d, as always, be listening, my heart bursting with delight as the fireworks burst overhead.