Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 26, 2016

The temperature has dropped and the rain is falling, autumn at it’s best—or worst. We have a walnut tree at the corner of our front porch. Each year, as soon as the walnuts have formed, the tree’s leaves turn yellow and begin to fall. That walnut is the last tree to get its leaves in the spring, and the first to lose them. We’ve already had them raked up once. Unfortunately, this is an exercise that needs to be repeated several times before the snow flies.

The danger for me at this time of year comes when wet leaves on wet wooden steps stand between me and where I have to go. Rubber tip of cane + pressure on same + wet wood and leaves = fall—and not the seasonal kind. That’s the single reason I don’t venture out much—well, that and the fact I can’t leave our dog alone. His separation anxiety is so great now, that neither my beloved nor I want to put him through it. So, if I can take him to my daughter’s place first, I can go out. I do that when I have appointments I must attend. But the general result is, those are the only times I leave the house. I don’t even consider hopping out on a whim to shop or go to lunch. It never crosses my mind to do so. I think my evolution to hermit is nearly complete.

I’m getting older and I no longer really want to traipse all over hell and back. I don’t need to shop beyond the weekly grocery order, and I have food here I can make for pennies on the dollar, so why would I go out to lunch? Of course, there are times when, if the girls are available, we’ll do just that. But they’re both so busy now. Our daughter only has Monday, and every other weekend off. Her days are long, beginning (through the week) when she takes her daddy to work, leaving her house at 5 am to do so, and sometimes not ending her day until 8 or 9 at night. Because she sees clients in the community, her appointments tend to be scattered. If she gets an hour or more break in the day, she’ll often come here to nap (because it’s quieter here). Our Sonja works two jobs as a nurse. The occasions when she is available, for small bits of time in the morning, she comes here and I make her breakfast. We talk, and catch up, and I think those are the only times anyone ‘takes care’ of her by feeding her and just listening. I enjoy those occasions, immensely.

I can’t believe October is nearly done! I’m aware of each day, of course, but they move far too fast for this old woman. In my inner self, I feel as if I’m still 30, still able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The result of this self-deception is that each day I think I’m going to get a lot more accomplished than I actually do.

It appears as if my beloved is going to get some more practice at being retired, as there may be a temporary shut-down at his job. That’s not an occasion for panic for us the way it would have been in years past. Because we are older, and have been through tough times before, we know how to tighten our belts and make do with less. It’s a blessing that we don’t have to worry about mortgage payments or car payments. We’re very lucky in that regard. We don’t really go out very much, so staying home, keeping busy here, isn’t a hardship for us.

That said, sometimes, tempers wear a little thin when we’re too long in each other’s company, exclusively. So you can be certain I’ll be getting one of the girls to grab “grandpa” at least once a week to either go out for breakfast, or work on something at their homes that needs doing.

Life is a series of compromises, of finding your balance as events occur. The key to getting along, at least in my opinion, is to just roll with the punches when they come, and to understand that nothing is written in stone.

It really is the truth that things don’t come to stay—they come to pass.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 19, 2016

When I sit down to begin these essays, I never know what I’m going to write about. I do know, however, which topics I’m not going to write about. The top item on that list is politics.

 Since y’all know I have an opinion about almost everything, you can surmise I also have a political opinion. It’s not my place, however, to share that with you. First, although I can argue that it does matter to Canada, and Canadians, what the American government does, since our two countries are so intertwined, I believe it is rude for me to say yea or nay with regard to either of your candidates for President.

I also, for the most part, don’t talk about religion. I believe a person’s faith is a personal thing, and that everyone has free will and the right to choose their own beliefs. Now here, at least, however, you may have gathered from some of my comments, and references over the past several years, that I’m a Christian. I’m pleased to have you know that—that’s me. I’ll also tell you I have never thumped a Bible in my life.

Since you know my faith, it’s time for me to confess to you that when I do sit down to write these essays, I take a few moments to pray, to meditate and yes, to await instructions. This past week and a half, especially, I’ve needed that prayer and meditation because something had been eating at me for several days—since Friday October 8th, in fact. Something had been on my mind, day and night, interfering with my ability to focus, and with my desire to “get on with it.” So this week my pre-essay crafting time was especially poignant for me. So I sat down, quieted my mind, opened my heart, and waited.

Instructions were received, so I knew what I had to write—but this one is going to be difficult.

I need to further preface this essay by telling you I’m not writing this for sympathy. At this point in my life’s journey, I don’t need the sympathy of other people; I have my faith. In truth, I’d really rather not write this essay at all. But I have been convicted by the Spirit to give my testimony. When that happens—and this isn’t the first time it has—I really have no choice but to do what I’m told to do.

My father died when I was eight and a half years old. I cannot, to this day, adequately convey to you the degree to which that singular event rocked my world. I do recall that only a few short months later, my mother “threw her back out” and had to, for several days, lay flat on the sofa in the living room, and needed help to get up.

I recall tearfully asking my big brother if Mommy was going to die, too.

I tell you all this, to let you know a little about the emotional state I was in beginning from the time I was eight and a half, onward. There was no such thing as counseling for kids in those days—at least there wasn’t for me. I felt alone, abandoned, insecure, the youngest of three. My brother was eighteen and a half, and my sister was fourteen and a half when our daddy died. My mother worked full time as a nurse, and had to work shifts—either days (seven to three) or afternoons (three to eleven).

I didn’t know at the time that my sister “ran wild”. I’d had no idea she’d been doing so even before my father passed. All I knew was my daddy had died, and life just wasn’t the same.

The first time I was raped I was nine years old. My mother was on the afternoon shift, my brother was out with his friends, and my sister, nearly sixteen years old at the time, received two male callers—one she took upstairs with her, and one she left downstairs with me.

These were grown men, not teenaged boys, and this was something that occurred several times for the next year or so.

I won’t give you any details, except this one: when my rapist was finished, he told me, “don’t you tell anyone. If you tell your mom, she won’t believe you. She will hate you, and send you away. They will lock you up.” That also became the threat, in subsequent times, with subsequent attackers, beforehand.

I guess you could say I was raped, and terrorized repeatedly.

That terrorizing is something that I believe all sexual abuse victims know very well—that most women, even those who haven’t been abused feel the echoes of in their souls—and something not even the most sympathetic, enlightened and well-meaning male will ever fully comprehend. In those days they called rape “a fate worse than death.”

That terrorizing—by others, and by tradition—is the reason why most women do not report sexual abuse. Situation normal in our society is still to blame the woman, the victim, or to simply not believe her.

It took me years to get help; if you need help, please, contact a mental health professional in your area, someone with whom you can feel comfortable enough with to get that help. I know how hard it is to reach out, but please, be brave and do so. And to comfort you, let me tell you what else I know, without a doubt, and without equivocation.

Only the most moronic of morons would ever suggest that a woman or women would open herself/themselves up to such scrutiny as she/they do when stepping forward and giving an account of sexual abuse, for the purpose of, and I think I have this quote right, “I’d don’t know, maybe because they want to become famous or something”.

And only the most ignorant and narcissistic misogynist would judge the validity of a sexual abuse clam by referencing whether or not the woman was “pretty enough” to violate.

Because we know better, all of us, we really do.

Sexual abuse, and rape, these are not at all about sex. It’s violence and it’s about power, control, and ego. And it’s a way for truly inadequate, pathetic, maladjusted and yes, evil men to make themselves feel powerful.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 12, 2016

This past Monday was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. It’s a holiday we’ve always celebrated, at least during my lifetime. I believe I’ve mentioned before, that as a child in grades one through three, we always created pictures using the images of Pilgrims and Indians and pumpkins and that first Thanksgiving feast of lore, celebrating the first harvest in the New World.

It wasn’t until I became much older, that I realized the concept of the holiday we celebrated was in fact American. This didn’t bother me, of course. There are more similarities between Canadians and Americans than a lot of people truly realize.

That said, the way our two countries came into being is vastly different, and that difference is ingrained in our innate and distinctive ‘national’ characters.

The United States came into being as the result of the melding of Continental Congresses and armed rebellion—the War of Independence in 1776. Canada came into being as the result of the melding of Confederation Conferences, and an act of British Parliament—The British North America Act of 1867—nearly a hundred years later.

Those national births, so different one from the other, go a long way toward explaining the major difference between our two peoples: Americans hold as a sacred right, that right to bear arms; Canadians don’t have that ingrained in their DNA. Arms are not a national symbol to us, as they played no part in the foundation of our country.

And yet, Canadians joined their American neighbors to fight in the same wars since the twentieth century, and on the same side in those wars. Canadians were automatically at war on the same day as Great Britain in the first Great War; Canadians hit the beach on D-Day during the second Great War. Canadians have served in Korea, Viet Nam (in that case, volunteering to serve in the US armed forces in order to do so), have been stationed in Kandahar and our Navy participated in Desert Storm.

Yes, by the numbers, our losses have been less than those of our neighbors to the south, but our Military is so very much smaller, that proportionately, our losses were actually greater.

When we give thanks at this time of year, it’s for the same basic things as our American friends. We’re grateful to live in a nation that is mostly peaceful. We’re grateful to be raising our families in societies that value democracy and the rule of law, and individual rights. We’re grateful for these blessings, and the opportunity to pursue our dreams, and to make our own way in the world.

We’re good neighbors, and good friends. We have each others backs, and are ready to help, when help is needed. Our Thanksgiving is always in October, I would suggest, because this is harvest time for us north of the 49th. We even have our own version of black Friday—but we get two of those: our own, and the one the day after the American Thanksgiving, too.

We really do have more in common than that which makes us different. Going forward, I know that we will remain good friends, good neighbors, and staunch allies.

To my Canadian readers, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October 5, 2016

Well, it certainly is autumn, at least in my neck of the woods.

The last few days have been chilly and wet—all right, comparatively chilly at around fifty to 60 degrees. The rain really is a blessing, even if the combination of cool and damp plays hell with my arthritis. My beloved has also been feeling the affects of “uncle Arthur” in recent times. He came in the door from work the other day, and I knew he was suffering. Friends, I have to tell you, this getting older is not for the faint of heart.

This year as winter approaches, I feel a particular urge to prepare to hunker down, and I’m not sure where that urge is coming from. There is so much uncertainty in the world, so many people afraid of so many things—a real sense that something bad is just around the corner. It almost seems as if this pessimism has become an infection, infiltrating our water and spreading into our air, a contamination that is quickly becoming a global pandemic. Such an almost palpable thing is this sense of impending doom, that it seems as if in the last couple of months, we’ve slipped back a few big paces on the societal-evolutionary scale.

There is a part of me that wants to run out into the woods, find a deep cave or dig a deep hole, and hibernate for the next few months. Or maybe I can settle for crawling into bed, pulling the blankets over my head, and sticking my thumb in my mouth. Why, oh why was I in such a darn rush to grow up, when I was a kid? I never knew just how good I had it. If only I could go back to the good old days…but of course I can’t. There is no going back to the good old days for anyone, and there are no do-overs in the real world.

It just goes to show you that no matter how deeply a person believes in maintaining optimism, the pull of the dark and the dank and the dangerous is very real, and very strong. Even the faithful feel the tug of fear, depression, and surrender. The difference, of course, lies not in what one may feel at any give moment, but in the choices one makes in the face of such emotions.

It is really hard to keep the faith and believe that everything will work out the way it’s meant to be when all the news is so darned dismal. Most of my energy is being used in this very endeavor—keeping the faith, and believing.

I decided to pull in a little, and instead of focusing on the big picture which, at the moment, seems to have gone “off station” a bit, I’m focusing instead on the little things.

First, and always, I count my blessings. Yes, you may hear strains of Bing Crosby singing that song from the movie, White Christmas—and by the way, do I ever miss musicals! But counting my blessings is important because it puts me in the only frame of mind that will see me through the tough times ahead. That attitude is gratitude, and if I fill myself up with being grateful for all the many blessings I have, there’s not much room left for negative thoughts to grow.

I have a roof over my head, and in case any of y’all think I live in one of those fancy houses, think again. Mine needs a lot of work, fortunately most of it cosmetic. Seriously, my living room ceiling looks like it wants to come down, but it’s looked that way since 2006. Some things are getting done, little by little, but as I said, we have a roof. We have four walls, and a working furnace, clean water coming out of the tap, and this house, such as it is, is mortgage free.

We have food in the cupboard and the freezer, and our bills are paid each month. There’s nothing “rich” about the way we live, except for our attitudes of gratitude.

So I am going to hunker down. I’m going to appreciate the heat that comforts me, the water that quenches my thirst, the food that sates my hunger—and the fellowship I find both live and online, a connection to others that if we let it, can sustain us all through the darkest of times.