Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 July 29, 2015

As you may recall, my beloved has a cell phone. In fact, he’s had it for about a year, now. I think the only thing he doesn’t do on it is talk. He may have had a couple of conversations to date, but mostly he’ll use it to keep up on the weather, and to text.

And in the last six months or so, he and I have gotten into the habit of texting each other a couple of times a day. Every work day, he is up and out of the house long before I am awake. And although he has for the last couple of years left me a cute little note most mornings, we look forward to these little missives back and forth each day. For me they’re mostly a source of comfort, support, and tangible evidence of our ongoing loving relationship.

Mostly, but not always.

A week ago yesterday was my birthday. I was kept busy—and gratefully so—most of the day thanking people for their birthday wishes to me, posted on my FaceBook page. I had decided that little writing would take place that day, but I do more than write every day. Most days I say I’m multi-tasking, which is alternating between writing and getting the housework done, and making supper. Now, you need to know that my poor beloved is working long hours right now—from 6:30 in the morning until 7:15 at night, not arriving home until 8 p.m. There is no way I am asking him to do any housework when he gets home. The only thing I do ask is that he waters the plants once a week and takes care of the garbage containers.

I tell you this so that you understand I am not a complete shrew.

But on my birthday last week, I had a slight mishap and I dropped my very favorite coffee mug, one that had been my favorite for several years. There are two cups in the house that I use for coffee and call my own, but this was my favorite. The following is a transcript of the text conversation between my husband and myself that followed. Only the grammar has been changed—and it was his idea that I share this with y’all.

Me: Okay day is now officially fubar. I just broke my favorite coffee cup.
David: You should go lie down. Then later we will have a funeral for favorite cup.
Me: It’s already in the garbage. Please don’t mock me. I cried!
David: Maybe we’ll find a sister cup at favorite cup dollar store. Which one did you break?
Me: The black one with white polka dots. Dollar Store? Duh. No! Sears, maybe. Or Mary Maxim’s. It has to be a bone china cup.
David: NOT THE BLACK ONE!!!! (yes, friends, he typed that in caps with 4 exclamation marks). Ooooohhhhh. Is the ugly other one ok? You could look on Amazon, they have everything.
Me: You’re still mocking me.
David: Xoxoxo!!!!!!
Me: Kisses and hugs aren’t going to get you out of the big dung hole you’ve dug yourself.
David: Ahhh, but I love you and I gave you flowers. I know we will find a new cup together and then it will be special.

He went back to work and I went back to my computer. You know how they say that women have to have the last word? It’s true. Here’s the text I sent him about a half hour later.

Me: You were right! They have lots of fine bone china mugs on Amazon. Thank you for buying me the pretty white one with whimsical colorful horses on it. 1 mug, 44 dollars. Would have bought the set of two for 15 dollars....but you mocked me.

And while I may have the last word, my beloved often proves that he is a very smart man:

David: I hope the coffee you drink from it is most excellent.

But then, he does sometimes have a habit of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory:

David: See how much help I can be? Aren’t you glad? (I wasn’t sure if he meant glad it all came out well, or glad he’d mocked me. Likely the latter.)
Me: Look down at your feet. See the thin ice you’re standing on? It may be in stealth mode, but it is there.
David: I won’t even touch the new very expensive MUG. I don’t want to be held accountable for it being broken. (Meaning: he won’t get me my coffee in the evening. An empty promise because of course he will).
Me: Don’t worry. You can always buy me another...and another...and...well, you get the idea.
David: Did you name her yet?
Me: And yet, you mock me still. I am beginning to think that HE might get lonely. Perhaps I should get another right now.
David: Xxoo

Of course, I didn’t order an additional new one. Or perhaps I should amend that to say, I didn’t order an additional new one—yet. And lest you think this was a serious discourse, we each knew the other was laughing throughout—though I really did order that 44 dollar mug.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

 July 22, 2015

It may come as a shock to some of you, but in the past couple of weeks, I have been to see not one, but two movies at a movie theatre. I don’t know if this is the beginning of a new phase in my life, or if it was just a matter of propinquity. Even with these two new experiences in film-viewing, I can still count the number of movies I have gone to see in the last decade on the fingers of both hands.

The first occasion happened a week ago Saturday, with my husband. I decided I really didn’t want to make anything for supper that night—I’d been putting in a lot of hours writing, and I was tired. Being the only cook in the house, if I don’t cook it, it doesn’t get cooked. We had some gift cards from Christmas for our favorite steak house, so hubby and I decided to go out to eat. And then, quite unexpectedly, we turned the event into a date night.

You should probably know that for the most part, we don’t do “date night”. It’s a phenomenon of marriage that came into being at a time when it wasn’t necessarily possible for us to choose a regular night of the week to go out. Sure, once in a while we would give the kids their favorite Saturday supper—hot dogs on the grill—and would then grill a couple of steaks for us after they were in bed. So I guess that was a kind of a date night. But with three kids, and our focus on them, financially, there really was nothing much left over for us. And that was fine. Since we are creatures of habit, date night is one habit we never formed. I honestly don’t know if we ever will.

But this particular Saturday night we did have a date night. Instead of dinner and a movie, however, it was a movie and dinner. We get tired earlier than we used to. The idea of going to the two o’clock in the afternoon show and then having a slightly early dinner appealed to us both.

We saw Pixar’s Inside Out. It was a pretty good movie and boy was I glad we didn’t opt for the 3D version. With all those colors and shapes and the way the characters moved through the “memories”, I might have come out with a headache if I’d seen it in 3D. Not to mention, of course, that there weren’t all that many people in our chosen theater—they had two different showings of the movie—and not any small children at all.

At the restaurant, we indulged in surf and turf (for me) and a huge New Yorker (for David) and at this particular steak house we each almost always select the twice baked potato as our side dish. We didn’t bother with appetizers, but I did succumb to temptation and had their crème Brule for dessert. Our date ended with our returning home in time for the evening news. Perfect, for us.

Then, just a couple days after that outing, I took my daughter to see the new Magic Mike movie because it was her birthday. Yes, I’d seen the first one, but at home when it came on the movie network. This film was funny in places. I liked the music and the dancing, and the plot—well, such as it was. And I may be sixty-one, but there’s nothing wrong with looking at buff men in thongs.

I don’t really think this going to the multi-plex in the next town is necessarily going to become a new trend for me, but it’s nice that since I’ve been put on a new medication, that I can count on being able to go places more often. There aren’t too many new releases coming up from filmmakers that I want to go see—I guard my time as carefully as I can. I want to avoid as much as possible having an experience and regretting the time spent, time that can never be retrieved.

My husband is a true lover of the cinema and with our daughter will go most Mondays in the winter time, and see anything from a comedy to a science fiction doomsday thriller, to an action-packed car-chase extravaganza. He freely admits that some of the movies he’s seen over the years have been stinkers, and he doesn’t mind that overmuch.

I guess I’m just a little too picky. When the kids were small, and before this demanding career of mine, we would rent movies every weekend, and that’s how we’d spend Friday and Saturday nights, at home with the kids sometimes watching two movies in a single night!

These days, unless I’m treating someone else, a movie really has to draw me in order for me to invest my time in watching it, whether out or at home on pay-per-view. In recent memory, the two I went to see that come to mind are Lincoln, and The King’s Speech. Both were exceptional movies, and I was glad that I had gone to see them.

Otherwise, I’d really rather be reading a book. Or better yet, writing one.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

 July 15, 2015

Yesterday my beloved and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. We were married on a Friday evening in 1972. The ceremony was at 7 in the evening, and took place in the city of Hamilton. We had a two night honeymoon at the Holiday Inn in Brantford.

At the time, I was one week to the day shy of my 18th birthday (my mother had to sign her consent on the marriage licence application), and David was a much older man of 19. No one—including us—really thought it would last, and not just because I was four months pregnant at the time.

Of all our friends who attended our wedding all those years ago, I believe only one couple is still together, and that is just plain sad. If you’re thinking that people don’t know how to stick things out any more, I think you’d be thinking right.

 Folks have often asked us what the secret is to staying married for so long. So I thought I would take this opportunity to pass along our answer to that question.

I asked David to dictate to me his answer to that question, and this is what he had to say: You need to respect each other’s ideas and opinions, even though they might not be your own; find the topics you are both most passionate about and try very hard not to argue over them. Respect, encourage and support the other person’s dream. That is very important. Time away from each other, if not taken to the extreme, is a necessary thing—don’t live in each other’s back pockets. Above all, you have to trust and respect the person you’re married to. If you do all these things there’s no reason not to have a long and stable marriage. If you have that stable platform, you can find happiness together—happiness is after all, a choice.

The only piece of advice I could add to what David said would be to not tell each other what to do—and to remember, it’s not about getting your own way all the time, or even most of the time. It’s about getting along.

Like everything, having a long lasting marriage is a choice. Yes, you both have to make that choice. David and I did that a long time ago. We talk to each other a lot, and that, also in my opinion is key. You have to have a relationship between you from the beginning. It can’t all be about the kids because the kids grow up and move on. You have to have something between you that keeps you together.

David’s first word when I asked him what advice he would give to others was ‘respect’. He and I are in accordance with that being the most important word when it comes to describing how to make a marriage that will last. No, the first word isn’t love. Think about it for a moment. If you’re young you may not realize this but love evolves over time. It starts out exciting; then it sometimes becomes a “rote” word you say, especially if you’re going through a rough patch. When times are tough, love, being an emotion, is swayed by your other emotions—you’re tired of always trying to make 50 dollars do the work of 150, tired of the kids fighting, tired of your spouse being in a bad mood because he or she is exhausted. Stress stresses us, and plays hell with our emotions, especially love.

But respect? That doesn’t change. Respect is what you sometimes have to hang onto when the love is in the midst of one of its many metamorphoses. If you respect you partner, then you never talk against them to anyone else, not even in jest; you might not like the snappy mood he or she is in, but if you respect them, you leave them be, acknowledging they have a right to feel snappish from time to time.

If you respect you partner, and your marriage, then you behave in a loving way, even when the idea of loving him or her is a hard pill to swallow and yes—sometimes, it is exactly that.

They said it wouldn’t last, and yet it has. It’s lasted, because we were determined to make it last. We’re at 43 years and counting. And that is an accomplishment we’re both very proud of.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

 July 8, 2015

Every day my e-mail inbox is inundated with little bits of minutia, and I have no one to blame but myself. I get not one, but two daily horoscopes; a reminder for a daily contest called “Trip Trivia”; a “daily joke” e-mail; and a little missive entitled “Your Inspirational Daily Quote”.

I used to save everything but I don’t do that anymore. The horoscopes are often in direct conflict one with the other, which leads me to understand that sometimes, I get another “Cancer’s” horoscope and not my own. In fact one of these two (and always the same one) will have several paragraphs and often the second paragraph will hold the exact opposite advice from the first.

The daily joke sometimes isn’t funny at all, and it’s not because it might be “politically incorrect”. I can rise above that. I don’t believe that a laugh is indicative of any deep seated spiritual or societal malaise; it’s indicative only of the possession of a sense of humor. I think laughing is as instinctive to us humans as breathing (unless of course we’ve been guilted out of it). Laughter is the best medicine, and the lack of it these days can explain a lot of what is wrong with our society.

The “Trip Trivia” is just a diversion. I no longer think I’ll win one of those weekly trips for my beloved. And, since they have a running total of the correct answers I’ve scored, I just try to answer the damn quiz every day, learn what I can from it, and leave it at that.

Yes, I do have some hoarder tendencies and not just online. But these days the only thing I save from my many different trivial e-mails is the one that contains the daily quote.

Sometimes those quotes are inspirational, indeed. Comforting, too, because often they resonate with what I believe. Monday’s quote is a prime example of this. It read: “Life will always be, to a large extent, what we ourselves make it.” This quote is attributed to a man named Samuel Smiles.

Mr. Smiles was a Scottish author born in 1812 who lived to the ripe old age of 91. Author and activist, I would say he held many opinions and wrote many wise words that would apply to us, today. He was not only a man of conscience; he was a man ahead of his time. If you have the chance and a bit of time on your hands, you might look him up.

Life will always be, to a large extent, what we ourselves make it. You’ve heard those or like words before and not just from me. That wise old fellow, anonymous, is attributed to having said, “life is 5% what happens to me, and 95% what I do about it.”

I’m an author; a wordsmith. Words are so much more to me than the letters drawn together to form them. Words are power; they’re magic. They can embody within them the greatest truths of all times. They can uplift, and they can wound. They can be all things to all people, but at their core they are true power, a kind of might not matched by any modern weaponry.

I hope, if you don’t believe anything else I’ve ever said, that you believe that. Words, said over and over to yourself by yourself, can alter your perception of your reality—for good, or for ill. That is why you must never, ever ever trash talk yourself.

Crap happens to us in life. Crap happens to everybody at one time or another, in one form or another. That is unavoidable. So too, eventually, is death.

But until we breathe our last, we can control how we deal with the crap that happens to us. I don’t let mine take up center stage and trust me when I tell you I have been handed a ton of crap in my life. But it doesn’t define me, not one bit. I shove it to the side, wash my hands to remove the stench, and then get on with living, laughing and loving.

The power to do that comes directly from the positive words I tell myself every day.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! And to my American friends, Happy Fourth of July for this coming Saturday!

Today is a statutory holiday throughout this land of Canada—and this year, it’s smack dab in the middle of the week—so no long weekends for us this time. Though generally considered fairly conservative in our displays of patriotic devotion, we Canadians tend to celebrate our national holiday in much the same way as our neighbors to the south will be celebrating theirs in just a few days: with parades, picnics and pyrotechnics.

 On Canada Day, my thoughts always go back to the past, and my brother. When I was a kid we called July 1st Dominion Day, because this was, then, the Dominion of Canada. And when I was very young—I’m thinking four or five—I thought all the hoopla was because of my big brother.

You see, the day that is our nation’s birthday is also his—and he’d convinced me that all the parades were in his honor. Yes, I was very naïve (and some today would question my use of the past tense in this regard).

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you much about my brother. He is ten years and twenty days my senior. While my sister and I were never really that close, I grew up worshipping my brother.

Looking back, I really don’t know why that was so. He was a prankster, and some of the pranks he pulled on me were downright mean, by today’s standard. Hell, by today’s standards he’d likely have been charged with child abuse.

There was the time when he grumbled about nothing to eat in the house—and then spying me looking up at him, got this maniacal look on his face and declared that he would have a sister sandwich!

I laughed, of course. I was only five. I laughed when he took me by the arm and brought me over to the kitchen counter. I laughed when he put margarine on my wrist. I laughed when he followed that up with mustard, and salt, and pepper. I think I stopped laughing when he took a slice of bread and wrapped it around my wrist.

I know I screamed bloody murder as he raised my bread-wrapped wrist to his wide open mouth.

Then there was the time, as I accompanied him into the city to pick up our mother from work (I would have been about eight), that he told me he’d had enough of me and had come up with the perfect solution: he was going to take me to the blood bank and have me drained.

I laughed, because he was such a kidder. And I kept on laughing, right up until he didn’t follow the usual route to the hospital, where our mom worked as a registered nurse. I know I was a little curious when he pulled into a parking lot of a building I’d never seen before. But I could read the words, Canadian Red Cross just fine. And I was pretty clever for eight; I knew this is where people went to give....blood.

He turned off the car’s engine, got out, came around, opened my door, and grabbed me by the arm. “Come on, let’s go!”

I’ve always had really good timing. I screamed my head off just as our mother came out of the building.

Mother, God rest her, was not impressed with her first born.

Two major pranks that I never forgot that were just elaborate jokes. So by the time he fashioned that “noose” above my swing in the side yard under the willow tree, I was willing to let the whole joke play out. I think I was nine at the time.

This time, however, it was my mother, doing dishes in the kitchen and looking out the window, who screamed bloody murder. I had lost my footing on the swing and the noose actually worked. Of course, my brother came running. I don’t much recall what happened after that, but I do believe it was the last prank he ever pulled on me.

Our mother had a way of really impressing her displeasure upon us. It is entirely possible that my brother—even though he was likely about nineteen at the time—didn’t sit down for a week.

The good old days? I know y’all are likely shaking your heads but yes, they really were.

My brother turns seventy-one today, and despite the ups and downs and the inevitable disappointments of life, he’s never lost his sense of humor. And that really is not a bad thing at all.