Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May 15, 2019

The Ashbury’s finally did something that has been a long time in the anticipation stage. There are arguments to be made on both sides of this issue as to why this hasn’t happened before now. But I’m one of those people who believes that things happen when they’re meant to, if you don’t insist on being the kind of person who has to have everything now.

Therefore, I’m pleased to share with you that finally, everything has come together just so, and I can confirm that the order has been placed, for the long awaited mobility scooters.

Anyone who’s met me at any of the various conventions I’ve attended for the last decade can attest to the fact that I rent a scooter whenever I have to attend one of these events. The gatherings are usually held at very large hotels or convention centers, and my arthritis simply won’t allow me to walk those long distances. In fact, I always get wheelchair assistance in the airport whenever I fly. That’s a necessity, because a lot of airports are facilities that go on for miles – or at least that’s how it seems.

Mr. Ashbury’s one and only experience on a scooter was gained a few years back when we took our most recent trip to Las Vegas. He loved it! In fact, on departure day, he got a little teary-eyed when it came time to say good-bye to Scotty the scooter.

We decided a couple of weeks ago, when we came back from the bookkeeper with our completed tax forms that this was the year we had to purchase our scooters. Mr. Ashbury took on the task of looking for the best options, and I think he hit a home run.

The scooters we’ve chosen are called “portable scooters”. When assembled, they weigh 92 pounds, and are rated for people who weigh up to 300 pounds, so good for both of us. They have a range of about 12 miles, and their top speed is 5 miles an hour. The major selling point? These scooters can be disassembled, so that you can put them in the car and go somewhere with them. And they should both fit in our Buick—one in the trunk and one in the back seat.

This also takes care of that horrendous problem: how to we get those suckers into the house? That was the major factor preventing us from buying them. If we’d ordered those large scooters like the ones I’d been used to using, we would have had to build an out-building to house them in.

When you enter my house through the front door, it’s after climbing several steps onto our narrow concrete porch—a porch not wide enough, if you used a ramp to get up there, to manoeuvre one of those scooters inside. The back door has a drop of about a foot or so—open door, step down.

Now all that is no longer a problem to be solved. In the winter, when they will only be used if the roads are clear or if we’re heading to a mall, they can be stored right here in my office—there’s room for them here. Although Mr. Ashbury thinks except for the batteries, they can be stored in the car. We’ll see which of us wins that argument.

The best thing about having scooters, however, is that Mr. Ashbury will finally have his freedom back. One thing I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned is that my husband no longer drives. Ever.

Before the COPD made physical exercise too much for him, he’d often take a Saturday and walk to our “downtown” area. He’d go down to get his haircut, and then pick one of the several restaurants to have breakfast. Sometimes he’d wander the main street in town to see who had what, with a stop at the real estate office to peruse the listings. He used to walk to the far end of town, a walk of about three miles from here.

He’d get an urge to roam and decide he wanted to go down to the building center store, or to the Canadian Tire store, which are in the north end. Now he’ll be able to do all those things whenever he gets the urge to do so, on his own, easily.

I’m not much of one for wanting to do that, and that even works out as a bonus, too. If he thinks he’s going to be gone a sufficient amount of time for those miles to add up, he can take the battery pack from my scooter with him. Since we bought the same make of scooter, the parts are interchangeable.

We placed the order last Wednesday, right after I posted the previous essay. The company called us a half hour later, to verify that we wanted two of these items, and hadn’t made a mistake. And then they called to announce they’d be in by the end of the week—next week at the latest.

We got a call yesterday about nine a.m. It was the delivery driver announcing he was on the way. My husband made quite the sight, pacing, looking out the door, waiting, waiting.

And then they arrived…and I left David in his happy place, as he prepared to unpack and “assemble” them himself. He's looking forward to taking Mr. Tuffy for a ride.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May 8, 2019

Ah, pansies! Have I mentioned how much I love pansies? Well, I do. I love them because they always look so darn happy. The way their varied colors are arranged, when you look at them, it almost appears they have faces, and those faces are smiling.

The only thing I don’t like about pansies has nothing at all to do with the flower itself and everything to do with the business from whence we purchase them. As you undoubtedly know, pansies are an annual flower. Apparently, according to the people running the greenhouse where I buy mine, they are a very short-life expectancy bloom, only good for early spring and then, bam! They’re gone.

The problem really isn’t the company, that is to say, the greenhouse where I buy my pansies, but it’s our geographic location, and Mother Nature herself. You see, I live in the “golden horseshoe” area of Southern Ontario. And early spring, quite often, features really chilly temperatures and almost omnipresent frost. So, according to the whole “pansies are good for early spring only” mantra, early spring can be defined, hereabouts, as about a week or three (at most) sometime in or between April and May.

We went shopping for our pansies, finally, on Friday, May 3. Let’s just say the selection was…wanting.

The plan each year is to fill our three window boxes, which we hang from the railing of our porch, with my beloved pansies. We had intended to get out to the greenhouse a couple of weeks before we did, but there were a few really cold days, and that can make my actually going someplace problematic. Plus, it was tax time, and I had some other errands that absolutely had to be done, and the next thing I knew, it was May 3.

So, when we arrived at the greenhouse, we saw they had an eight-shelf storage unit and another display with four shelves, this one two-sided, both with pansies, but that was it. We walked all the way inside until we found some staff to ask, just in case. But no, those on sale out front were all there was, and there wouldn’t be any more.

Because, of course, pansies, as we all know, are a springtime only flower. Except, I somehow manage to keep them blooming for the entire growing season, right up until the fall, but that’s just me.

This really was our last chance, if we wanted pansies this year, to get them. We hadn’t looked too carefully when we first spotted that “30% off” sign above the displays. But now, faced with the sure and certain knowledge that it was now or never; go big or go home; do or die…. we looked. And as we moved the pots, most of them round or square shaped, most of them of disparate sizes, colors and configurations, we found something interesting.

Usually, we’d buy a flat or two of pansies, those flats filled with boxes that held four plants each. We’d also buy some good soil, and then we’d spend a few hours on our porch, with the window boxes, getting each one ready, and then gently and lovingly transplanting those pansies into their new homes. We’d often buy a few different plants, too, so that we’d have an arrangement in each box that bordered on the artistic.

Yes, I’m an artist—with words. I’m not a visual artist, so I’ll leave it up to you, my friends, to decide just how artistic these boxes looked. Oh, what’s that you say? Perhaps Mr. Ashbury has a nice artistic flair? Oh, he does, be assured. His particular style is called junkyard chic.

But I digress.

So we stood back, after having a good look at all the available pansies to be purchased. We’d set out three selections separated from the rest, moved everything else a little bit back, and considered.

I looked at Mr. Ashbury and he looked at me. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asked. The beauty of having been married for nearly 47 years, now, is that shared thought thingy happens with us on a regular basis. On nearly every given occasion the answer to that question is yes.

This day was no different. “I am,” I acknowledged. And neither one of us particularly cared about the cost. We spent about twenty dollars more than usual, with the thirty percent off, and that was fine.

We bought our selection of three. We came home, lifted the 24-inch window boxes from their “hangers”, and set in their place these three, 16-inch oval planters….and called the whole thing done. 


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May 1, 2019

I’ve always had this “process”, which is instrumental not only in the work I produce, but how I’ve come to perceive the world around me. It’s how I reason things, eventually. Well, perhaps I should say that hopefully, it’s eventually.

My process sort of goes like this: I have a concept, an idea, that I want to investigate, that I want to set out for consideration, that I want to solve. In the case of the books I write, this would be a combination of the moral or theme of the tale, and the plot, the steps, by which that moral or theme is introduced in the telling of the tale, and then achieved/resolved by the end of the story.

In the case of my perceptions of the world around me…. well, that’s like the well-coined Face Book comment on relationship status. Yup, it’s complicated.

 We all look at the world around us and those of us who are civic minded, those of us who want to do something to make a difference, or even just understand what’s happening in the world around us, spot situations, or injustices that we feel need attention. We might contribute dollars, volunteer time, or add something in the search for a solution that might be considered working to make a difference in our world.

We’re not all given to serve the same cause, of course, because there are so many causes to go around. I do believe that it’s best to find a cause that speaks to you with the greatest amount urgency, that moves your heart until you can’t do anything but help.

One complication for me is that I have always been and will likely remain an optimist. Ah, but not just any kind of optimist I am; no, I happen to be a naïve optimist. Considering the number of challenges and losses I’ve suffered, that shouldn’t be possible, but hey, here I am.

 So, when I see stuff happening that should never be allowed to happen in the first place yet not only is happening but continues to happen…well, my naïvely optimistic inner woman cries out in anguish and yes, supplication.

Me: God, can you please lend a hand and do something about this?

God: Of course I can, my child. But I gave humankind free will. And humankind must therefore freely choose to act before I can work through them.

I sort of get it, of course I do. Without the freedom to choose between being a part of the problem or a part of the solution, from where comes reward or salvation? Humanity is not a club of princelings laying around on pillows, waiting to be served up a platter of fairness and bounty by God.

God is not some cosmic bellhop to wait on us, no concierge to smooth our path. He is God, the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Perfect Creator of the universe!

If we, in this life, are too lazy to roll up our sleeves and pitch in, then we truly reap what we sow, and deserve nothing more than what we have. We have to be willing to move, to do, to think, to opine, to walk the walk—even if we can’t actually physically walk.

You see, I think for a big part of my life, my perception of the situation has been skewed. It’s off, it’s wrong, and that is why I’ve been by turns frustrated and depressed when the world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket (whatever that is).

But as I get older, I begin to understand the situation a bit better. I understand that it truly is not what happens to me, but how I deal with it that matters the most in this world. I understand that I am not an island, however much that does sometimes appeal to me. I actually have a mission in this life, a purpose on this earth, and that is really why I am here in the first place. Not to be coddled or comforted, although if I work at my mission, and work at fulfilling my purpose, I certainly will be Divinely comforted.

In fact, I have had it all backwards all these years. So let me try that supplication again, this time, as it should be. As it truly is.

God: Can you please step up and do something about this?

Me: Yes, thank you, Lord, for letting me help. I’m on it.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April 24, 2019

This last Wednesday in April, in this (still in my mind) brand new year of 2019 finds me wondering why time is going so darn fast these days. It’s very annoying. I no sooner get a good start on my day, and bam! It’s time for my afternoon rest. Not sleep, but rest.

I can’t help but recall just yesterday, when I was a child, that time absolutely crept along, so slow, it lagged behind a snail. And I have to wonder if there is a way to change my perception of the speed of the passing of the days. Really, is there anything to be done about this blight on humanity?

The only occasion anymore upon which the passage of time still feels slow to me occurs during those few nights when I have trouble falling asleep. That doesn’t happen much anymore, unless I’ve just returned to my bed after a trip to the bathroom and having gotten out of bed my mind begins working at hyper speed. The clock tells me I still have at least four hours to go until I should get up….and then that time drags out, as I lay awake, waiting for my mind to shut up so it can go back to the Land of Nod.

Before my heart attack in 2002, I used to get by with a lot less sleep than the suggested average of eight hours a night. It was not unusual for me to have no more than four to six hours a night for several nights running. And then came the heart trouble, and the triple by-pass surgery, and I began to sleep a lot more. I needed to sleep a lot more, and if I didn’t get at least 8 hours a night, I would have to have a nap in the afternoon.

I don’t quite know how or why it happened, but in the last two or three years, I’ve returned to the old ways. Just now as I was composing this, I checked my Fitbit which records such information. It’s been a month since I had as much as 7 hours sleep. That generally only happens now—getting 7 or 8 hours—if I’m fighting off a cold or am otherwise a bit under the weather.

My most usual amount of time spent sleeping is anywhere between five and a half and six and a half hours. I might doze in my recliner for a half hour or so in the afternoon, but I don’t go to bed for a nap midday. I haven’t done that for a long time. The recliner is perfect because the whole purpose of my rest time is to get my arthritic legs up.

I’m not sure what my sleep patterns have to do with my perception of the passage of time, except I suspect that I might not be sleeping as much as I should because the darn world just will not slow down. I think my subconscious is afraid I’m going to miss something important.

Time does seem to go faster the older I get. Maybe that perception is based on the very real fact that the older I get, the less time I have ahead of me. It’s certainly a more precious commodity now than it ever used to be.

You’ve heard that saying, “life, when you consider the alternative, isn’t that bad”? Well, I have been thinking a great deal about the perception of the speed of time and I may be coming to the conclusion that time rushing past isn’t such a bad thing, either, when you consider the alternative. Not the end of time, but time slowing to a monotonous crawl.

I keep busy. Not all the things I do are of equal importance. Some are vital—that would include writing and keeping in touch with my readers, and time spent with family. Some are less so—I do enjoy playing different games or watching videos on line. I’m grateful I can do both. I’m very grateful that I have a computer, and that I know how to use it, a little. I can look up almost any fact, and I do learn a fair bit in any given day. I don’t know how to correct things that might go wrong with it, but that’s what the Geek Squad is for.

I’m fully aware that there are people my age, and some older, who aren’t able to keep themselves busy. There are people who are lonely or are what we used to refer to as being “shut in”, who have little to do to pass the time and aren’t able to get out and about on their own. For them, perhaps time doesn’t speed past. Perhaps for them, it crawls.

Given the choice between one or the other isn’t my preference. I’d prefer that time passed at a moderate, comfortable rate. And perhaps, in this, I’ve finally hit upon a possible solution.

I would have told you yesterday that I do appreciate each day, each sunrise, and each moment for the gift it is.

Maybe all I really need to do is smell a few more flowers—or cups of coffee.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April 17, 2019

My daughter has a clear memory, and I won’t dispute it because it is, after all, her memory. I’m just confused by it. She insists that when she was growing up, I was adamant that one simply did not use a light colored purse, or wear white, until after Easter. Apparently, I made this point to her on several occasions.

That is not a memory I share—at least the part about my being adamant, almost to the point of “pounding it into her head” (her words, not mine). Now, the ‘no white until after Easter’ was indeed one of the fashion rules when I was growing up. Along with having to have a brand new, pretty outfit to wear to church on Easter Sunday. I can recall the first purse I ever owned was in fact part of an Easter outfit when I was about five or six—a white plastic purse that gleamed so bright you needed sunglasses. The outfit also boasted a scratchy coat and socks, and shoes I was not to scuff, no, not one little bit. Even as a child, I couldn’t understand what all that had to do with God. I couldn’t imagine He cared if I wore a brand-new prissy outfit or if my white shoes were scuffed, or not.

Fortunately, fashion is an ever-changing concept. I might indeed change my purse after this weekend, but only because the new black one I bought in Texas is a fair bit larger than I’m used to. And yes, I have a beige purse hanging in my closet because, while I no longer proselytize about the necessity of changing purses (if ever I did), I still somewhat practice the custom. I’ll likely change my purse sometime before summer.

Times change and fashions change, but apparently I do not, overly much.

My hair is very long now. Longer than it’s ever been in my life. My long hair is not a fashion statement, it is a testament to the fact that I don’t apparently seem to have any rats’ butts left, and thus can’t give any to anyone for anything. I just can’t be bothered going and getting a few inches lopped off my hair. I don’t like short hair, because I can’t make it neat. Bedhead, which I get every morning when I have short hair, has only one cure, and that’s water. Who wants a wet head every morning? Not me. I like my hair long enough so that I am able to put up without a thousand hair strands sticking out. My hair is well past that standard, now. Every morning I take about thirty seconds and use a scrunchy and a clip to put my hair up. It looks neat, nothing sticking out ala Albert Einstein, and that’s all I care about.

Despite the fact it’s now fashionable to wear colors and shades that are quite bright and in my opinion clash, I don’t do so. I’m sorry, but yes, my brain synapses that are connected into the part of my brain that denotes the concept of “eye-bleeding sights” have been completely formed, they’re solid, and you will never see me wearing orange and red together; nor pink and red; nor blue and green, which, according to an old saw, “should never be seen except, of course, in the washing machine”.

The fact that it doesn’t appear to be mandatory that women leave the house with their hair neatly groomed, smooth, and tidy-looking means hey, my “messy bun” original updo with a clip thrown in for good measure is just fine. I can’t tell you how relieved I am about that because, quite frankly I’m not. I really don’t care what others think. It’s what I think, at least when it comes to my appearance, that counts. I find it interesting that my inner curmudgeon, which has been emerging occasionally for some fresh air lately, doesn’t extend that same tenet to others. Sometimes, when I’m watching live television, I can be heard grumbling words to the effect of, “somebody ought to tell that woman about the modern inventions of combs, brushes and hairspray”.

The fact that I will think these things let alone say them out loud does not bode well for the kind of little old lady I may end up being when they have to put me in the home. I’m a bit concerned about that, because I really don’t want “miserable old bitch” to become a part of my name at that point. But I digress.

Springtime is unfolding, with a few fits and starts, but unfolding, nonetheless. We’ll soon be headed to the garden center to purchase our pansies, and indeed all the perennial flowers in my gardens are poking their little shoots up, checking to see if the coast is clear, or not.

Spring truly is my favorite season. It reminds me that life is a cycle, and that no matter how dismal the winter, or how discouraged we may become thanks to cold temperatures and ice, green shoots and tree buds will ever, in their own good time, appear.

The constancy of nature proves to us that in the end, there is something in existence much greater than ourselves. Knowing that, is, for me, a great comfort.

To those who observe it, I wish you a Happy Easter. To those who observe Passover, chag Pesach samech.

To everyone everywhere, may joy and laughter be familiar friends in the days and months to come. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April 10, 2019

This past week I overcame my intermittent tendency toward procrastination and performed a task that I’ve been meaning to do for the last month. I registered for my Canada Pension and Old Age security.

When I turn sixty-five, in July, I will have reached the “official” age of retirement in this country. Official, not mandatory. And as a person who reaches this age in July, I can look forward to my first monthly payment at the end of August.

 For the last dozen years, I have been earning money from writing. Every quarter, I’ve received my royalties from my publisher. Always on time, never late, and never wrong. Though my publisher, Siren-Bookstrand is considered “small press” there is certainly nothing at all small about the level of their professionalism, or their integrity. I have been blessed and highly favored.

I never have focused on the fact that I would someday receive a monthly amount based on all the years that I worked outside the home, contributing to the CPP (Canada Pension Plan). There were a few years when my children were small that I was a stay-at-home mom. But as they came to school age, I went to work. From roughly 1984 to 2002, I was gainfully employed, primarily in the field of accounting. I took some accreditation courses, though I never pursued a college or university degree. I’ve also contributed to the CPP these last several years, via my “self employed” royalty earnings.

Through my “working life” I took pride in doing the best job I could. More than once a colleague told me I treated my “job” as if it was a “career”. I’m reasonably certain I frustrated the poor woman by receiving the intended insult as a compliment. To me, that’s what it was. I couldn’t, at the time, see the point in not doing my best, in not working as hard or efficiently as possible. All these years later, I still can’t. I can look back on the positions I held and know I did my best and earned my salary.

While I enjoyed the various work through the years, I did have challenges getting along with coworkers from time to time. I’ve never been one to play games, or gossip. I could take a lot of B.S., too, without rocking any boats. However, I finally had to lodge a complaint with a company CEO about my supervisor, who believed it was quite acceptable for him to be rude and demeaning toward me—and in front of most of my coworkers.

The CEO, in his endearingly arrogant fashion, told me it might make my life easier if he fired the offending cad, but then he’d be out an accountant, wouldn’t he? I don’t think he was expecting my response. I didn’t want my supervisor fired; I didn’t want “compensation” for the mistreatment I suffered; I didn’t even want the cretin to be punished. When Mr. CEO asked me, then what I did want, my answer shocked him. I told him I just wanted the harassing behavior to end. Period.

The job I have now suits me better, not only because I’m doing what I love. It suits me because I no longer have any coworkers. I am my own boss, and in that regard, I have no complaints.

Despite being on the verge of collecting my pension, I have no plans to stop writing. As long as people are willing to buy my books, I will write them. I really do believe this is what I was always meant to do. Could I have started earlier? I don’t know. I think things happen when they’re meant to.

My first novel was published when I was four months shy of my 53rd birthday, at a time when I could no longer work outside the home. That was in March of 2007. Once I’ve finished this essay, I’ll focus again on my current work-in-progress, which will be my 60th title for my publisher.

I consider myself very lucky. Yes, there have been true tragedies in my life, but here I am, able to earn my way doing what I love, what I was always destined to do. We’re not rich, my husband and I, not by any measure. Our house isn’t fancy, it’s quite plain, and I must confess, perhaps not as spotless as it could be. But we’re careful with our pennies, our needs and our wants are modest, and we remain grateful for our many blessings.

We enjoy our routines, and our days speed by.

I have more stories yet to tell, and more readers I hope to touch. I have friends and family, and still, at my age, a bit of a curiosity about life and a thirst for knowledge.

All and all, I believe that I am living a most splendid life.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

April 3, 2019

I’d like to know who it was that gave winter a standing ovation. As in all stage productions, you give the star a standing O, and the next thing you know, they’re back in front of you, with an encore performance.

The last time this happened, my husband blamed our daughter. She’d jumped the gun on spring, you see, and got her patio accessories in place. This time, however, she swears it wasn’t her fault. The canopy and sides for her gazebo are still in her basement. That’s one suspect down, and about a million to go.

We awoke on Sunday morning to find a couple of inches of accumulated pollen everywhere! It was one of those wet-snow productions, where the white sticks to every single tree limb and twig, no matter how thin. If I hadn’t had faith, that by the time I needed to post this essay that the kaka would be all gone, just a bad memory, I might have been truly disheartened.

My beloved got up on Sunday morning (a fair bit later, after I did) and trudged from the bedroom to the front hallway. We both have a habit of looking out the window of that front door first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I heard his sigh. I told him not to worry, it wouldn’t last.

He told me he knew that, but it was still depressing.

Of course, by the end of the day, Sunday, the sidewalks and the road were clear, and only a little snow remained on the grass and on my car. But yes, I could concede his point. That new dump of snow just when we were about to start April felt like a bit much. I had to remind myself that I cannot discount the possibility of snow in this part of the country until after the 24th of May. This morning, looking out the window, I see now white kaka on the ground. I’m not standing and cheering. Don’t want another encore performance.

A cheery sign of spring, as I was driving through town on Monday, was provided by one of the variety stores that always sells hanging baskets. They had a nice selection of pansies out. I love pansies. Their little faces look so happy. They’re always smiling. The ones I’ll get in a week or two from the nursery just on the outskirts of town will be hardy enough, I hope, to withstand a bit of chill. Plus, I plant them in window baskets that I then hang off my porch railing. They’ll be about five and a half feet off the ground, so hopefully they’ll fare well when we get more frost. I might be tempted to cover them lightly if there is a frost warning. If I wait until closer to the middle of the month to get my pansies, I shouldn’t need to worry about it. But of course, that’s not a given.

I’m not as eager this year as I usually am to get my fingers in the dirt and my flowers in the ground and box. I’ve sort of been fending off a cold for the last few weeks. Stuffed up on some days, but most days not. It just seems to take a lot more energy than usual for me to get things done.

I suppose I really need to try and get my ashes to bed earlier than I have been doing. A couple of nights in the last week, I was in bed just after eleven, and one night, just a bit before. And then I forget that I’m trying to do that and the next thing I know, it’s nearly midnight and I’m still at the keyboard.

I continue to be staggered be the crap weather my friends in the U.S. have been having to deal with. Honestly, it doesn’t seem as if you folks ever get a break. Here, the weather is downright idyllic in comparison.

So I’m going to clap only politely, no standing O, for the disappearance of latest little dump of snow. And I’m going to assume that we’ve seen the last of it. By the end of the week we should be basking in 60 degree temperatures.

The only problem with crossing my fingers at my age is there’s always a danger they’ll atrophy and stay that way.