cardboard box forts and things I’ll never know

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The summer before I started first grade was marked by moving to a new house on Woodlawn Avenue that came with a barn and a field that adjoined the property of a new elementary school being built. My school. King School.

My older brother, me and a loosely formed gaggle gang of neighbourhood kids spent August swimming, riding our bikes around and spying on the construction workers finishing up the school.  Our recon missions weren’t un-noticed and as the workers unpacked desks and furniture  they chatted with us and let us drag the large cardboard boxes across the school yard to the field behind my house.

Each of us got own box and working like a team of ants we wrestled them into place in the field.  From there we each decorated our cardboard box forts as our own drawing in crayon and cutting out windows as we set up our little village. KEEP OUT! signs on the forts of the older kids, and colourful scribbles on the rest.

The big kids, those 8 year olds, got the prime fort placements away from the spiders’ nests and dips in the field and soon social networks were established within the fort village.  I had to share my fort with my 4-year-old sister who most times was more of a pest than a compatriot. When one of the big boys invited us into his fort and asked her to lift up her shirt and he would let us stay, she started to pull up her t-shirt and I said “no” and we ran away not sure of what was wrong but feeling like something was.

Steve, the next door neighbour kid who came with the story that he was in an accident when he was little and had to wear a tight belt around his middle or his “guts and gizzards would fall down and he would die”.  Something I’ll never know.

The kid who lived catty corner to us who was from Pakistan and gave me a little brass camel that I still have.  How did he end up in Oregon City with his family from so far away? Something I’ll never know.

The old  man two houses away who never trimmed his hedge giving the yard the ominous look we needed to spin stories about him being scary.  Every Halloween he dressed up in a floppy green rubber Godzilla suit and became over six feet of stumbling lizard terrifying us all. He also gave out the best candy. What did he do when he wasn’t Godzilla?  Something I’ll never know.

I started first grade without first going to kindergarten.  My brother went to kindergarten.  Why didn’t I? My parents never told me and it’s something I’ll never know now.

The answers and explanations to many childhood memories disintegrate into time like the cardboard box forts becoming soggy, folding in on themselves and tearing apart with the fall rains. Who cleaned up our cardboard box forts after we left our village in the field and stepped into the school year? Something I’ll never know.

 

 

I found out you’re dead

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An entry on a WTF social media site raged against the circumstance of an elderly gentleman being taken advantage of by a building contractor.  Run of the mill for this site but in this case I know the gentleman.   Continue reading

wild strawberries today

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The wild strawberries are ripe.  Little splashes of red winking at us as Jasmine and I wandered on our walk today.

I used to pick wild strawberries and make jam.  It took hours to pick enough  to make even a few jars of jam and it was a labour of love for Mark who appreciated the effort and loved the jam. There was time.  Time to spend long afternoons picking wild strawberries, saskatoons, blueberries and after a hike up to the abandoned mine on the mountainside, prized huckleberries.

There was time.  In Hazelton we had two television stations…..on a good day.  Letters and updates – contact with friends and family came by way of letters in Box 84, South Hazelton. If we were home to answer the phone we did and if we weren’t home the phone just rang and rang. There were no voicemail messages, no robo calls, no text messages. Term papers were typed on a manual typewriter. There were no ear buds keeping us plugged in and it was just the quiet;  the sounds of the river, the birds and the occasional bear crashing through the woods in search of the same berries I was after.

Now my  phone is in my pocket on my walks and listen to CNN on my bluetooth hearing aids as I walk .  I snap pics of Jasmine just to text to Mark as he is at work.  I watch television shows chosen from hundreds of channels and movies on demand. Work follows me home with laptops and cell phones and doesn’t end with an 8 hour day.

Today my heart hurts because someone I knew only from television and books took his life.  We’ve become interconnected with strangers in intimate ways sharing dreams and sorrow in ways I never could have imagined all those years ago.

Today I am a bit scared at being called back for a second more intense MRI with all that can mean again in ways I never could have imagined all those years ago.

Today I feel frustration, helplessness and anger watching the shit-show the selfish, spoiled child running the USA is spreading around our world in ways I never could have imagined all those years ago.

I’m not saying it used to be a better place all those years ago, but there was time to pick wild strawberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

from the passenger side window

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I feel like I’ve spent the past five weeks looking out the passenger side window at the world.  I’m not used to having to ask for help or what’s worse, needing help. And I’ve had to call up my Mother’s words “Susie, be gracious” rather than growl at the helpfulness of those around me.

The great thing about a broken leg is that it heals.  The not so great thing is that it takes time, crutches, walking boot casts and learning to navigate……not so great.  As I say to people who sympathetically look at me “it’s just not as much fun as it looks”.

My first week back at work (which in hindsight was at least a week too early) I hobbled out on my crutches with my armpits on fire – because well…… using crutches was a new experience for more than my legs – to my car parked conveniently in front of my office. My car parked in what had turned into a melted, then frozen, then melted  and frozen again lumpy mess of snow/slush/ice four feet wide and curb deep. Not to discount my terror of falling on the ice yet again since that’s how I ended up in this situation,  I was ready to cry until one of my colleagues basically lurch-carried me across the moat and tucked me in the driver’s seat of my car. (It’s the left leg – so I can drive 🙂

Every day until a week ago when I got off my crutches my colleagues escorted me out. Even when I said “nah, I’m ok”. The same colleagues who grabbed my coffee and carried it to my desk.  “Susie, be gracious.”

And shopping? My Daughter-ish person shopped for me and found me an awesome backpack since I discovered a dangling purse was more of a hazard than a convenience. Mark has been doing the grocery shopping and I’m liking the variety and sometimes surprises I find in the fridge. It sounds weird, but it’s hard to give up the control of being the one who buys the food but it’s been the good part of the whole experience.  I did have to tell him “no more Pecan pie since my fitness level consists of lurching around from place to place which I don’t think burns Pecan pie calories very well.

All in all, it’s been a real struggle and makes me more than thankful for usual good health.  I’ve been bored not able to do much and while I’m at work, it’s really very hard – which I won’t admit – because my leg hurts.

Mostly I feel like I’ve been looking out at the world, not able to do much in it and missing inspiration. Mostly it’s been a time of trying my patience with so much.  Mostly it’s been a time of gratefulness for the amazing support of family and friends even when I get a little growly.

And being grateful is good. There’s some inspiration for me.

 

 

 

empathy……we miss you

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The spiteful mean man with his fingers tweeting out vicious vindictive comments to make himself feel bigger and better.

The rush to vilify those of “the other side” regardless of circumstances while excusing the in-excusable.

Those wearing the badge of empath while cruelly hurting people who supported and loved them.

Empathy, we miss you.  We have become numb and desensitized. Continue reading

Thanksgiving, PTSD and kindness

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This weekend is Thanksgiving for us here in Canada.  It sort of sneaks up on us with still warm days leaning into fall.  We hang onto our (not politically correct anymore) Indian Summers with rays of late afternoon sun blinking through golden leaves as we pause and give thanks for the bounty of our lives. Continue reading