shopping in virus times

 

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I’ve been away for awhile – life as usual – for awhile.  But now…..now nothing is as usual.

I’m working from home and fortunate to be doing so while so many have no work to go to right now. However; the work from home set up is not without some stressors.

It became evident quickly that my fancy-dandy Mac wouldn’t work with the system I needed and unless I quickly became a computer tech I was out of luck.  So……. I went shopping for a PC laptop.  I had to have it; I had exactly 4.5 days to learn a new job, with some 30 hours of online training (I know, do the math – it didn’t fit) learn a new program and get to work and my employer was not providing equipment. Crisis times call for crisis measures and I want to do my part.

Dashing into the empty city I found the computer places closed and with only a drug store that has a reputable computer department open.  I went in to awkwardly stand across the room from the sales guy and explain what I need.  He came up with the great idea of hey! how about a refurbished Lenovo? It will handle your requirements and not cost you an arm and a leg.  Well, $500 of an arm and a leg.

I took it. Rushed home to get on-line and try to catch up.  I yanked the “refurbished” tape off and “unboxed” my new to me Lenovo.  I opened the laptop and WTF! there were crumbs in the keyboard!  Someone’s sandwich leftovers refurbished….. In order to enter the Windows 10 code I needed to turn the laptop over to read the number.  Two keys fell off in the process and the code wouldn’t enter. I tried to get the keys to fit back on as I hurriedly tried to connect to the training I was missing.  Just trying to make it work for the day.  Just get through it. After charging the battery up fully, I unplugged the laptop and carried it into the other room with the message battery low – plug me in now or lose everything.

So long story shortened; I took it back. Got my money back.  Went to the computer store that was now open and bought a new PC for substantially more $. I won’t tell you I handled the stress ok, because I didn’t.  I cried. The pressure from work was huge.

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On my way home I stopped at Walmart to grab a cable to connect to my extra monitor.  The store has made considerable effort to manage shopping with huge red arrows on the floor directing traffic through the aisles and distances marked off at cash registers.

Are people blind or just plain don’t give a damn “it’s not meant for me mentality”? As I follow the red arrows up the aisle, they come from THE WRONG DIRECTION and walk right up as if social distancing was a concept beyond their grasp.

I found some help in the tech department with a close-talker young lady.  As I kept backing up and moving off to the side, I can excuse her for being too young to remember Seinfeld and the “close-talker” episode, but social distancing? Hmmmmm.

We dance around as I show her a picture of the connection I need and she shows me a cable and says “you need the female connection”.   I show her the picture again and say, “no I’m thinking I need one with the poking out ends to go in” and she says “Oh! I get it the male; the poking out thing!” Ah, yes.  Sadly they had none in stock.

Any shopping in virus times compels us to take a saunter down the toilet paper aisle.  Empty of toilet paper, but a couple boxes of scratchy looking tissues that we all have in the cupboard (just in case) and a lot of paper towels.  Maybe the populace has discovered that paper towels and septic systems are not a good match.

Tired of the whole frustrating shopping experience from laptops to cables to toilet paper,  and major stressed from work requirements, I turned around at the end of the aisle and there in front of me was a whole cooler of Haagen-Dazs!  Talk about strategic end of aisle placement!!

Well played, Walmart.  I bought it.

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goat whiskers and things my mother never told me

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I have a birthday this week.  Birthdays remind us of aging of course, and with this comes some questions I have for my mother.  Like, why didn’t you tell me?

As I sat across from a colleague at a business meeting a few years ago I was mesmerized by a freaky inch and a half long hair on her chin  waving in the gently blowing HVAC breeze in the little room.  My mind wandered from the budget variance agenda to wonder how she lived with that? Like does she blow dry it? Condition it? Does she not have tweezers?

Goat whiskers, my Mom called them. But she didn’t tell me they grace us all as we age.  She didn’t tell me that tweezers will be your new best friend in a few years.

My Mom said that if you slept in your underpants you would grow funny.  I am not sure if that’s ‘Ha Ha funny” or “weird funny”.  I may have dodged that bullet.  Just sayin’.

I was introduced to face cream and moisturizer at an early age. Many, many thanks for that Mom. I remember overhearing (or eavesdropping as us kids so often did) my parents talking about a friend of ours “she needs to wear a turtleneck or hide at Thanksgiving”.  A comment I thought uproariously funny at the time. Not so much now.

Elbows, for some reason were super important. It seemed that potential husbands would flee with horror at the sight of elbows peeking out like bearded dragons from the 3/4 sleeves of the peter pan collared blouses we wore.

Maybe it’s not fair to say my Mom never told me.  After all, we all age and change and morph into versions of ourselves we may not be ready for.  The grace is in accepting that it will happen, and fight to preserve what we can  or wish to. The grace is in staying healthy; taking control of what we can. The grace is in being happy with the here and now.

And as my friend says ” carry a pair of tweezers on your key chain”.

shaking it off

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Those things, you know…the things that you have to shake off. Do they bother me? Those things? Of course they do but there’s no one at the edge the lake with a big fluffy towel so I’d better learn to shake it off.

I went in to get a colour correction.  That’s fancy talk for fix the gold streaks in my hair that look like streaks of “oh no…..not a good look”.  I went to a new stylist because I wanted a change; came out with hair so blonde it looks like doll hair. A cross between yellow yarn Raggedy Ann hair and bombshell Barbie synthetic hair.  A friend of mine said “I wouldn’t have done that” when she saw me.  Well, I did it and actually kind of like rocking the blonde again for a change. Doll hair and all.

My friend said to me ” don’t you worry about your brain tumor?” Interesting question which I suppose requires more than a yes or no answer. Well yes, I worry about it just before it’s time for the next MRI to check what it’s doing.  Besides making me deaf, that is.  Yes, I worry about that.  Do I worry about it otherwise? Not so much. The hearing aids work and I get by. For now.

Standing across the counter from the cell phone lady, I explain that I need a new phone and want to review options and all that stuff with the phone plan thing. Because there was background noise and she was talking down at her computer I couldn’t hear her so I moved around the end of the counter and said “I am pretty deaf and need to stand closer to hear you”. Great. She spent the next five minutes explaining my plan to me by YELLING at me very slowly. People in the store were all watching her yell at me as I backed up around the front of the counter.  I wanted to yell back “I’M NOT THAT DEAF”,  but she was trying so hard I didn’t have the heart to.

This is the time of year that no matter how long I’ve lived away from there, I get homesick for Oregon.  On my way to work early in the morning the air might feel like Oregon, or it might smell like Oregon. A tiny pang of homesick. It’s not always practical to pack up and chase homesickness so I buy Rainier cherries. Well, we called them Queen Ann, but whatever you call them, they taste like Oregon. Shaking it off.

These things that bother  – I can usually shake them off and find some joy and even a smile in doing it. Even if sometimes that wet dog smell lingers…..

 

 

 

 

reflections in the bridal shop window

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Walking to work every day I pass by the bridal shop on the way to and from my office.  I stop and check when the dresses in the window change and I wonder if they’ve gone off to walk down the aisle or to the marked down section in the back of the store.

I took a picture one day with the intention of writing a bit of a bitchy blog post about it.  As bitchy as I am when I talk about my wedding dress. Bitchy to say all these years later that I made my own wedding dress and had no one; no mother to care. So, that’s what this post was supposed to be.

But it’s not.

You see, a couple of days ago as I hurried up the block on my way to the parkade after work , I saw a lady stopped on the sidewalk looking in the window at the dresses.  Something about the lady and how she was looking in the window slowed my march along the sidewalk and I stopped beside her.

We stood side by side quietly looking at wedding dresses. Me, fresh from work with the dress, details like fancy nails and lipstick, briefcase and designer purse, and the lady slightly stooped over in a faded looking beige sweater, short bowl-cut shaped grey hair with a few soft whiskers on her chin.

I said “they’re lovely, aren’t they?”  and she said “yes, they certainly are”.  For some reason I blurted out that I’d made my own dress and it wasn’t lovely like these and I told her I ended up throwing it out last year because I hated it so much.

The lady said “oh my dear, that’s sad”.  She said “I still have my dress after 56 years and still love it. It’s turning a bit yellow now, but still beautiful”.  With our faces bathed in the soft tulle, satin and lace reflection in the window I  said “and I can see you 56 years ago as the beautiful bride you were.”

I continued on my way warmed by her smile reflected in the bridal shop window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

only so many barks to give

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Molly comes out to bark at us every day as we walk by her house.  She roars off the porch with the determination of a much younger very much fiercer guard dog running along her fence line beside us as we meander down the hill.

I noticed lately that her bark is much quieter than it used to be; almost like the whispery voice of an old lady that we need to lean in close to in order to hear what she’s talking about.  And while Molly starts out with a big bark when she sees us, she only barks a few times quietly in conversation with us as we walk by.  It’s like she’s saving what she has to say; she only has so many barks to give so she makes them count. At least that’s my theory with Molly’s barks.

A little over a week ago it was my birthday.  I am between the age of “yay!!! it’s my birthday and I want everyone to know it” and the age where the server in a restaurant brought me a senior menu and explained in a loud voice (although she didn’t know of my deafness) that it was senior day and so forth……. BTW I ordered a steak from the regular menu.   Continue reading

that one friend

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Who’s to say where we find that one friend – in a new job orientation session, in an airplane, in a theatre sharing Ted X, in a dish drainer.

Pipy found her friend who doesn’t judge, doesn’t criticize, just listens in the dish drainer. While Pipy’s friend resembles her in almost every way, it isn’t a prerequisite or condition of finding that one friend.

Friendship is wondrous as it grows and evolves. That one friend what just”‘gets it” is a true rarity and an adventure to be brave enough to dive into head first. Watching Pipy and her friend as they talk, talk, talk sharing excitement, chirps and joys is how others see us interacting with our one friend.  The engagement is contagious and we can’t help but share in it, by backing away and watching Pipy chat with her friend or by having a stranger comment that watching the conversation is heartwarming.

The beauty of that one friend is in celebrating differences as well as shared vision. The daily chat of that one friend as a steady companion in shared situation, a shared “help you get through the day”, a shared “well done!” Priceless.

The beauty of that one friend is the resilience that allows the friendship to go on sabbatical and come back refreshed.  Tanya will inevitably empty the dish drainer and put that one friend away, but not to worry Pipy, the true friendship will show up again the next time you are together.

As always, thanks Tanya for sharing Pipy with me.

 

 

i’ll give you a daisy a day, dear

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Our walks give us a changing mural as plants step forward to flourish in their short moments in the summer sun.  We always look forward to the daisies dancing in the sunshine along side the fireweed and purple clover.  They are the smiles of the group.

Such is our delight in wandering in the untamed “country” as opposed to the city.  Sure they have beautiful flower beds carefully tended by city workers, but we prefer our hikes where we discover wild raspberries and the pretty golden fox that flirted with us today.

I’m reminded of my friend who appreciates the “wild” and lives nestled in some hundreds of acres of wilderness that he explores with sled dogs in the winter and llamas in the summer. On a visit to a gated retirement city where snowbirds from Canada flock to in the winter, he told me the community was so manicured that he was pretty sure the few wild rabbits around there were bathed and fluffed up to be picture perfect and not really so wild.

Delighting in the exotic-to-us fresh oranges picked from the tree, he verified that there is indeed a tipping point in how many fresh oranges a person should devour in the novelty of the moment.  Much like me with fresh pineapple in Maui.  That tipping point.

But back to our daisies. Summer in the north of Canada is magical. Not manicured. Not managed.  With a growing season measured in weeks and daylight staying around until well past bedtime urging plants to show their stuff, it’s just magic.

Nope, no oranges to pick here, but enough daisies to “give you a daisy a day, dear and love you until the rivers run still and the four winds we know blow away”.

A Daisy a Day  – song by Ernest Tubb 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

broken things and the hummingbird

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As I moved the table to sweep behind it this morning, it fell apart.  The legs separated like they were too weary to stand and the side piece fell out.  I was upset and tried to put its legs back to where they belonged and get them to stay there so I could provide first aid and mend it.

Why was I so upset? After all, it’s kind of regular little table. My son recently bought a house that has two matching tables left in a pile of other discarded stuff in the garage.  I said to him “hey those match my table.  You should take them in and use them.”  He said “nah, I don’t really like them.

This little table was left in the first house we bought and with little to no money for extra furniture, I spent hours stripping the turquoise paint and sanding it to turn it into a useable table. It’s come along to every house and home with us for 30 years like an old friend.

It’s not a big deal; just something broken to be fixed.

A change of scene took me outside to water my flowers for some nurturing zen- in- the- flower- garden time.  I know that the hose connection leaks.  I’m reminded every time I drag the hose clear down to the road to reach the farthest hanging baskets as the hose spurts, gurgles and squirts water out of the joint.  And yes, I have tightened it and tightened it and tightened it complete with new washer in it.  I need a new hose, yup.

As I pull the hose and stretch to reach the hanging baskets, the leaky joint took direct aim at the front my  shirt and with a fountain now having graduated from a single squirt, it got me full on.

In the seconds as I looked down and grabbed the hose to yank it away, a tiny blue-green hummingbird darted in and hovered  six inches in front of me in the spray of water.  I stood still and didn’t move and watched the delicate tiny bird play.  It darted to the flowers and back several times returning to hover in the droplets of water. I stood there as background for hummingbird play until it darted off to whereever hummingbirds dart off to.

Heading back up to the house, dragging the hose and dripping wet I smiled.  It’s not always about what’s wrong; what’s broken.  Sometimes, it’s just about what’s right.

 

 

 

i’m here not gone

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Every once in a while we run into an urgency  in our lives that makes us stop the car and run out to deal with it. Somewhere between the first and second MRI was my moment to slow the car and pull over.

At first all you can think about is the urgency.  The “this is here and now and if I don’t deal with it I will explode” feeling. Overwhelming. That’s what it is.  And we’ve all been there; not one of us is exempt from it hitting us in varying degrees throughout our lives.

So pull over and stop for a few minutes and understand the dynamics of the situation.  My hearing is hurt because… or my life is changing because….or my life hasn’t really changed because….. so many variables to understand.  Stop and pull over.

We’re not defined by the moments we need to be held up but by how we climb back up the bank, get back in the car and continue the adventure. I’m back in the car and on my way.

By the way, this photo is of my Mom and sister – which yes, has provided my brother and I endless amounts of sibling glee over the years and I have to admit…..it still does. It seems we never really grow up.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that Wednesday feeling

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This happened:  It was a great day of co-presenting a couple sessions with a colleague.

This happened:  My friend had a snake in her office!! No, not a pet; a wild terrifying snake. Well, it was terrifying to her and it would have been a big NOPE for me. I would have  had to find a new place to work.

This happened: A co-worker shared a photo of her new baby goat that made everyone smile….lots.

It was a Wednesday feeling all day.

I must have a nap in the sunshine with an egg carton for a pillow.

for you, for Mother’s Day

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We all have people special to us; closer in some ways than if by blood with the family last name.  A couple of weeks ago I had a journey with my “daughter-ish” person who holds a dear place in my heart.

Perhaps being family is more than the signed registry and wedding ring.

Perhaps being family is more than supporting each other through raising a young man we are so proud of.

Perhaps being family is more than sharing the love of a little fat dog.

Perhaps being family is more than the obligatory Mother’s Day phone call.

Perhaps being family is sharing delight in finding the things that warm our hearts…..or our privates, as we wander through vintage shops together.

I am blessed.