Things I want to like…but don’t

People say that you should write about what you know and obvs I’ve been doing that for the past five years. But just so you don’t think I’m some kind of one trick pony, today I’ve decided to write about something else I know. Gardening. Only because that’s what I have been doing lately. And what I know about gardening is, I don’t like it. Not even one little bit. Which might not be a problem where you come from. I get that. For 38 years I lived where the weather alone legitimized my dislike for the garden. I mean why spend countless hours and exorbitant amounts of money on plants that, in a good year, might actually blossom before the first snow? Who needs a tomato plant that yields, if you’re lucky, a whopping three tiny little fruits which, if you bother to take the time to calculate, end up costing in the vicinity of $40.00 a pound (that’s .453 kg for those of you who don’t know). At my old abode there were no expectations; you either gardened or you didn’t. But my new reality is different. My new found home, I’m afraid, is not garden optional. Which is why you might find me outside doing something I would like to like…but don’t.

The thing is, around here you won’t hear a passerby exclaim “Oh, what pretty flowers you have!”. No. Around here what you’re most likely to hear from the lovely couple with the matching Tilley hats (I can say that, I have one) is, “Oh, what lovely antirrhinum majus. If I were you dear, I would surround them with some hemerocallis just to bring out the colour” to which the only reasonable response is “thank you. Perhaps next year.” Because as you might have guessed, I don’t know one flower from the next, even when they go by their “real” names. This becomes painfully clear if you were ever to accompany me on my once a year trip to the local nursery where you are apt to hear me exclaim, “Oh look! Pretty blue ones. Let’s get those”. To which my husband, being the more practical one in this partnership, will invariably start asking some silly questions about sun or shade, height and width, wet or dry. That’s easy! “Who cares! They’re flowers. They’ll grow”. Although to tell you the truth, sometimes they don’t. So you see what I mean. 

It’s not that I don’t want to like gardening. Sometimes I dream about  living out in the country on an acreage where I can stroll through fields of wildflowers nestled beside rows of carefully cultivated, meticulously trimmed roses and tulips and chrysanthemums and other things that look pretty. I can imagine myself becoming self-sufficient as I literally reap the fruits of my labour, bringing in baskets of pears and apples that can be made into wonderful home-baked pies and served to top off a dinner filled with only the freshest of vegetables picked moments before being set down on the table. Perhaps a goat or two whose milk will be crafted into an exoctic variety of feta cheese and added to the fresh from the garden salad, a staple at each and every evening meal. At which point this dream of mine takes a quick left as I get rudely awakened by the two rather miserable, and I must say very itchy, bites that have put me in this ™Benadryl stupor for the past two days, reminding me of just one of the many reasons that I don’t like gardening. Even though I really would like to.

When I think more about this I realize that it’s not just gardening that I want to like but don’t. There are other things too. Like flying. I mean who doesn’t want to like soaring through the air to some fascinating destination in this wonderful and wide world of ours? I sure do. But I don’t. Put me in the belly of that flying machine and watch me turn into one big bundle of nerves as I consider everything, and I mean everything, no matter how improbable, that could go wrong during the time I am trapped in that cylindrical metal tube which, for some reason beyond my comprehension, can stay suspended 40,000 feet above the earth for extended periods of time. I want to like it but I just don’t. 

I’d also love to like living in an historical heritage house with a big comfy porch. One where you open the heavy, wooden door to reveal a stately, hand-carved staircase; where the walls hold the secrets of another time. Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book on the cozy window seat, close enough to the wood burning fireplace that you can hear the gentle crackle of the flames? Yeah, I want to like it, but I don’t. Mostly because I lived in an old house and know all about broken furnaces, leaky pipes and the everyday occurrences that invariably cost you almost the exact amount of money you were saving to take that flight to some fascinating destination in this world of ours.

While I’m still here there’s something else I suppose I have to admit. I’d like to like writing this blog all of the time, but sometimes I don’t. Which I suppose is ok. Because one thing I can tell you for sure. I always like writing the blog better than I like gardening.

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It’s About Time!

So I”m thinking that you’re thinking at this point I have abandoned the blog. I’m quite sure that you remember it’s the time of year I have to either “put up” or “shut up” and I’m thinking that you’re thinking I finally decided to save my 24 bucks for something more important. More rewarding. Something that requires a little less work. Like going to a movie. These days I’m pretty sure you can still munch on a large popcorn while watching a newly released flick at your local cinema for somewhere in the vicinity of 24 bucks. Although you’ll probably have to bring your own beverage. Anyway, if that’s what you’re thinking I’m afraid I have to tell you that, like it or not, you’re wrong. I haven’t abandoned the blog. I just haven’t been writing it. There’s a difference.

What I have decided to abandon however, is time. Not time in and of itself. I mean that would be entirely different. And, at least in my mind, not something I look forward to. No. What I’ve decided to abandon is the concept of time. And you should know this is not a spur of the moment thing. I have actually spent quite a bit of time over the past few months thinking about time. Which is not surprising because, quite frankly, trying to understand this rather elusive construct takes, well as you can imagine, a great deal of time. Now I know what’s going through that mind of yours. You’re wondering why a shallow person such as myself would spend so much time thinking about time. Well the truth of it is, time has a rather significant impact on all of our lives, mine included. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that, given my current state of affairs, what with being recently retired and all, that I would spend at least some of this free time (is anything really free these days?) thinking about this most perplexing of ideas.

Let’s face it, this whole time thing can be very confusing. Think about it. You’ve got 10 minutes to do something. How long is that? Well it really depends on what you are doing, doesn’t it. You might be slugging your way through an exam, trying to finish the, as always, unreasonable number of questions that have been posed to you. At some point you look up and realize you have half an exam to complete and only 10 minutes left to impart all of your wisdom. It’s happened to me and I can tell you that 10 minutes goes by pretty darn fast. But here’s the thing. Now you’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on your way to a really important meeting. You have 10 minutes to get there (which isn’t much time) and all you can think of is this is the longest 10 minutes you have ever spent in your car. This particular 10 minutes seems like an eternity. See what I mean? It’s confusing.

Or how about when you go on vacation. You know there are only a few weeks before you leave but somehow they seem to move at a snail’s pace. One day takes longer than the next. You know that plane ride to paradise is just around the corner but the corner doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. And then it finally happens. You get to your destination. The one you were looking forward to for so, so long. The one that you scrimped and saved every penny for over the past year. The one that in the blink of an eye, is over. I mean it seemed like just yesterday you got on that plane to leave and now, here you find yourself already on the way home. Where did the time go? How is it that those same three weeks that took so long to get through before you left, seem to fly by when you’re having fun? I ask you. How can the same unit of measure seem to be so entirely different depending on what it is you are doing?

As if all of this is not mixed up enough, we (as in humans) decide to walk right in and mix things up even more. Which is why twice in every year we change our time. First we lose an hour of sleep, then we gain an hour. That’s of course if you are in fact, asleep. If you’re like me, you’re usually totally awake during this artificial manipulation of time and you find yourself wondering if you really do need more than 24 hours a day to get things done. I can answer that for you. Probably not.

Now you can see how, through all of this thinking, I have come to the rather obvious conclusion that time, in and of itself, is simply a frivolous human construct that places artificial constraints around what we do and when we do it. So no, I haven’t abandoned the blog. And I am quite confident that I will be back, if for no other reason than to get my monies worth for yet another year. I’m afraid however, I just can’t tell you when that might be.

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Not a Winner

Remember that contest I entered? Well I didn’t win. Not even an honourable mention. But I’m ok with that. Mostly because now I can post it here.


An Open Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Mr. Starbucks,

I’m not one to complain. It’s just my nature to let things slide, forgive and forget, look the other way. When, of course, there is another way to look. Truth is, I’m an easy-going kind of gal who just needs a grande, nonfat, no foam, extra hot, one shot (perhaps with a  pump of vanilla) latte each day right around 2:00 pm to stay that way. I don’t even grimace when waiting in line to plunk down the 4 bucks and change for my afternoon indulgence. And all I have ever asked in return from you is a comfy chair on which I can rest my larger than I ever remember, middle-aged, or so, behind. Which brings me to the reason for this letter. Mr. Starbucks, what exactly were you thinking?

Don’t get me wrong. I was excited to learn that you were embarking on a revamp of my neighborhood haunt. It was going to take a month. So what? Who’s Mother hasn’t told them good things come to those who wait? Besides, that month gave me more time to dream. Soon enough I’ll be nestled in a brand new overstuffed, cocoon-like, leather chair, adjacent to a cozy, glowing fireplace, whiling away the afternoon sipping on that perfectly made latte, reading the latest offering of my favourite author, sharing philosophical banter with one of my many Starbucks’ friends. Perhaps a short snooze if the time is right.

It’s hard for me to explain the feeling of anticipation as I watched the brown paper that had covered the windows for what seemed like an eternity (you really should revisit your definition of “coming soon”) slowly peeled off to reveal the fruits of your labourers. Stepping over the threshold, my eyes quickly traveled from one corner of the room to another, and then yet another. Wait. There’s no fireplace. No comfy chairs. Hardly any chairs at all. As you can imagine, I was overcome with dismay. This renovation is for someone else. Someone, I suspect, with a much tighter behind than mine; one that has no trouble settling into the miniature wooden structure I’m supposed to believe is a bar stool. Someone whose body is still supple enough to duck under the long, sterile looking table to plug in an electronic device that becomes her conversational partner for the remainder of the afternoon. Someone who is definitely not me.

I get it Mr. S. Time does not stand still. There’s a younger generation primed and ready to fill my chair. But just for the meantime, while I’m still around, would it kill you to make that chair just a little more comfy?

Your friend,

Wendy C.

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Pets are People Too

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since walking past the young woman wearing a Tee emblazoned with “Pets are People Too” as she made her way with her loyal companion to our neighbourhood dog beach. Named as such, I suppose, because its a place where you can let your dog frolic without the constraints of a leash and where no sane person without a dog would dare to venture.  As I pondered this sentiment of hers (I assume that’s why she donned that particular Tee) I came to the only conclusion that I could. Actually they are not. Pets are not people too.

Now before you get your knickers in a knot, you need to remember that I have shared my home with cats (there have been 3) for the past 38 (yes, I counted) years. And I love, and have loved them dearly. I know from experience that we pet owners, cherish our pets. They become important members of the family. We pamper them, cuddle them, talk to them and give them our hearts. But I can honestly say that at no time over what has been a very long time, have I ever mistaken one of them for a person.

This might surprise you but as a shallow person I don’t come to conclusions lightly. Actually, I like to look at things from all sides mostly in the hope of never having to commit to one or the other. So when I started to think about pets being people I spent some considerable time pondering whether or not this could actually be true. The more I thought about it the more examples I came up with to disprove this theory. Think about it.

First things first. If pets were people at some point in their lives, hopefully sooner than later, they would figure out that it is rather inappropriate to “do their business”, so to speak, wherever and whenever they choose. Even the most resistant of children come to grips with going to the toilet before they reach, I’ll be generous here as some less demanding parents are, their 4th birthday. With pets however, we seem quite content to pick up after them ad infinitum. We don’t hesitate to load up our pockets with plastic bags each time we leave the house or start the day off, sieve in hand, over the litter box cleaning out the produce of the previous day. If pets were people, it seems to me that we wouldn’t be picking up their poop for the rest of their lives.

This too. If pets were people they certainly would not tolerate having us dress them up in silly outfits. Have you ever tried to put a hat on a baby? You put it on, they take it off. You put it on again, they take it off again. One more try. You put it on, with more authority this time. They start screaming and throw it on the floor. You pick it up and put it back in the closet. But not pets. Your pet (well let’s be realistic, this doesn’t apply to all pets) will not only let you dress them in a Halloween costume of your choice, they will also let you take a pic and post the goofy look on Facebook for all your friends to comment. Just try that with one of your kids and see what happens. If pets were people you’d be out that night trick or treating on your own.

And finally. If pets were people, dimes to dollars they wouldn’t be quite as loyal, compassionate, forgiving and non-judgemental as we all know they are. Let’s face it. When was the last time your pet looked at you as if to say “where did you find those 10 pounds?” Or chastised you for not having dinner on the table precisely at 6:30 pm? Who lays at the end of your bed all day long while you sniff and blow and moan and groan with that flu bug you didn’t get a shot for simply because they know it makes you feel just a little bit better to have them there? Who can you tell all of your secrets to and be 100 percent confident that they will never tell anyone else? And who’s there to greet you each and every time you walk through your front door no matter how long you’ve been away? I’ll tell you who. Your pet. Well unless it’s a hamster, a rabbit, some sort of reptile, a bird or a fish in which case greeting you at the door probably isn’t such a good idea. Can you say the same for the people in your house? That’s what I thought.

As you can see I have put quite a lot of thought into this and steadfastly stand by my claim that pets are not really people at all. And you know what? I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

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You Can Dress for It…So What!

Not so long ago I found myself in my old hometown for a short visit. Since I come and go relatively frequently I wasn’t really anticipating any surprises. Sure, the big city always seems to get a little bigger over time, but then so do I. And I have come to understand that getting ensnared in the ever expanding “rush hour” (which seems to be a rather gross misnomer given that it encompasses most of the hours of the day) is simply a new (for me) reality. Besides, most of what I do while in town is visit family and nothing can ever surprise me on that front. As you can tell, I’m pretty much prepared for anything. Except maybe the ice cold blast of air that confronted me as I stepped out of YYZ. When the heck did Toronto get “this” cold?

Now you and I both know I’m no stranger to the cold. Let’s recall that I’m the one who spent 38 years in the “Gateway to the North”, where temps were known to hover around -30 (that’s celsius) for weeks at a time. Metric or Imperial, that’s cold. Without getting too graphic, at -30 every feature associated with your face freezes pretty much as soon as you step outside. Those tears of regret you shed as you try to remember why you ever came here in the first place, will quickly form icicles on your cheeks. If you are foolish enough to think your fitness still matters, you will arrive home from your morning run very much resembling what I can only imagine the abominable snowman would looks like if the abominable snowman actually exists. Believe me, I know cold. And yet there are people who insist on living in a state of denial by proclaiming to those of us who “came from away” that it might be cold but (are you ready for it?) “you can dress for it”. Sure you can. But so what!

Let me explain. For those of you who are less familiar with northern climes perhaps I should describe what it means to dress for the cold. First you put on your “base layer” which is simply a fancy word for the long-johns your Mother always wanted you to wear and you never did. Now the layering really begins. You see, in most cases while it’s cold outside it’s warm and toasty inside so whatever you decide to put on to stave off the cold will have to come off shortly after reaching your destination. So some combination of shirts, light sweaters, and, of course, heavy sweaters will be in order. You can decide how to shed these as you thaw. Optimally your pants will have some kind of lining and be large enough to fit over that base layer of yours. People say the camera adds 10 pounds. Well just imagine what this outfit will do. Nevermind. It’s -30. YOu’ll get your figure back in the Spring.

Now you’re ready for the outside layer. You’re going to need a rather substantial down coat with a decent hood. These days that should set you back about a grand. Whatever you do give a pass to that little number with the fur. trim It might be warm but those icy stares you’ll get will pierce your very soul. It goes without saying that you’ll want a pair of sheepskin boots, preferably one or two sizes larger than your regular shoes as they will need to accommodate those extra thick, woollen socks someone bought you when you mentioned you were moving “up north”. If you’re really lucky, once you manage to get those on,  you’ll still be able to walk

You probably think you’re done, but you’re not. Attention must now be paid to your head. I know. You bought that coat with the hood but it’s not going to be enough. A hat is a must, preferably one that covers the ears. Forget about the couple hundred dollars you just spent on your “do”. That went by the wayside the moment you picked up that toque with the lovely pom pom on top.  For your hands, mittens work better than gloves although once on there will be very little you can do without taking them off again. Finally, you’re gonna need a scarf. This one’s a little tricky. The problem is, to keep you warm it will have to be long enough to cover as much of your face as possible. But here’s the problem. When the warm air from your mouth and nose meets the frigid air in which you are walking, it’s going to freeze. So get ready. At some point in your journey your lovely, long, warm, scarf is going to turn into what is essentially a block of ice. It’s not pretty but there’s really nothing you can do other than grin (if you still can) and bear it.

Ok. So now you’re dressed for “it”. You walk outside and, whoa! You’re still cold. Of course you are. It’s 30 effing degrees below zero! (My little bro’ taught me that). What did you think would happen? So here’s some unsolicited advice from a shallow gal who knows. Do what I say. Take all the money you were going to spend on that little outfit of yours and hightail it down to your favourite beach town. Because you know what? You can dress for that too. 

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