Thursday, 29 August 2019

Don't trip on the eggshells.

It is back to school week, and Facebook is covered with shots of first day outfits and scholars. Posts are appearing from the mothers of kids who have launched, from kindergarten to college/university. At both these ends of the range, the youngest scholar leaves behind an empty space … either a half day with no children at home or a home with no children in residence. An empty nest. But not forgotten. You think and worry and hope – eggshells in the nest.

I have experienced both these vacancies. I still remember launching the YD both into junior kindergarten (she was determined to walk to the school BY HERSELF, Mommy) and driving away from her first-year university residence after she had almost literally shoved me into the car and sent me on my way. The similar launches of older siblings are not quite the same as those moments. The empty house echoes, what to do next becomes a decision rather than a response and you find yourself shopping, cooking and doing the other household chores differently, to name a few changes. And you wait. You wait for the door to slam, the phone to ring, the mailman’s thump (yes, remember snail mail), the in-box to ding. Sometimes the response is not good when it comes, but usually all the worrying you have done was to no purpose and the launch successful. And then you watch them soar, caught between pride and loneliness.

Both of the classic launches are a long way behind me and since then there have been more departures of adult children to jobs in different countries, on different continents, to a different (married, perhaps) life. In all cases, for me, I have been left with some echoes, lots of left -over packing material and, frequently, the contents of a frig, house plants too big to move, or winter gear (not needed in Africa). Once I was left with a house to sell. From time to time I have had a grandchild or dog and cat to mother while their real mothers did something else. And, always, they come back. Not to stay, except for a short time, but for long enough to tell stories of their adventures.

I am an old lady – watching the fledglings flap away happened long ago. But watching the next generation fly is very much with me. And the grandchild is a constant source of wonder and pride. Her wings are growing. Soon she will launch herself. I hope to be there to see it, as my parents and in-laws were there to watch our daughters and savour every moment, good and bad.

Yes, they may land with a thump on their beak the odd time, be forced down into thorny branches, be battered by storm and rain, take the wrong direction for a while. There is no such thing as a perfect life or even perfect safety. Mostly they will manage. Often they will overcome.

 So, mother of a freshman newly installed in a dorm with in-bed computer access, mother of a grade seven dressed in high style for her first day in middle-school, mother of a Grade 3 who got a fine teacher, mother of whomever, relax. You may have egg shells at present, but soon you will hear the whoosh of wings and the stories will start. And you will be proud of their grace and strength both when you welcome them and when they swoop off again.

I have certainly squeezed every nuance possible out of this metaphor. I can almost hear my mother telling me so. Eggshells are fine things on their own.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Meme lifted wholesale from Nance. Thank you!

Today, Mary G Is:

Wearing: a pair of trousers that she bought in Zimbabwe in 1992. "Where did you get those pants*?" queried the Grandkid yesterday (when I also had them on). When I told her, she said "I thought so." The look on her face was hilarious.

Reading: Rereading, in fact. Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series. If she does not get books five and six done soon, I will die without finding out the denouement. Cripes. First argument I have ever seen that makes living into extreme old age palatable.

Working On: Six months worth of backed up sorting, ironing and mending. I blame the knee surgery, but in truth it might have been piled up like that anyway.

Hearing:  Still procrastinating on making an appointment with a hearing aid provider.

Making For Dinner: Leftovers. We had Sunday dinner with the family on Saturday.  Pretty classy leftovers including jumbo shrimp and a fascinating Japanese cheesecake.

Thinking About: The YD who is working her tail off at her job. Not about to ease up anytime soon, either, as I understand it. However, she could take five minutes and send me an update email.

Planning: Spring cleaning. May get this done by Christmas.

* The pants are beige background with burnt umber patches and green animal outlines superimposed. And baggy. Very baggy.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Knee Capped

Here follows another of Mary's medical posts. If you are getting tired of them, imagine how I feel.

This time I had knee replacement surgery. For some years my right leg has been so twisted and the knee what my surgeon described as 'bone on bone' that I have been much restricted in taking to the bush. Last spring I signed up for knee surgery to see if I could not only get the knee fixed, but also help the spasms in my lower back brought on, in part, by my walking like a duck.

This spring I finally got on the list and trudged in to the hospital in late March to get my knew knee. {Sorry!) What they do is chop out the old one. put in a nice new metal three piece and sew you up again.

Then you get to stay over in the hospital a day while you get some weight-bearing back and limp off home, where you should have pre-equipped yourself with a walker, elastic support stockings and someone to look after you. You have a fine seam, in my case stapled shut, on your knee, considerable bruising, and the elastic stockings quickly cause all the top layer of skin from your ankle up to turn into confetti. Also, it hurts. (Please feel free to imagine the word "ouch" frequently interspersed in this post). Oh yes,you also have pages of exercises that you are supposed to do many times each day, including lying with your leg propped on four or five pillows.

In my case, my husband cooks, cleans and critiques with great skill. He had a knee replacement himself quite some time ago, but avers that he can't remember much about it. I have a reclining chair with electric controls, a good iPad and neighbours who bring bags of magazines. All set.

I quickly found that the walker was a [censored] pain to use. If I wanted to carry anything, I had to push it ahead of me with one hand. Not too useful. So I moved to a cane and that worked pretty well. It even allowed me to get organized enough to bring my poor husband his morning coffee in bed, provided I used a cup with a cover. The support stockings are a pain. They hurt going on, they hurt coming off and you have to wash the damn things out all the time. The exercise sheet was more than daunting. Like, owie. However, bags of frozen peas and flexible ice packs are very, very useful.

After two weeks you trek back to the hospital, (in our case over washed out gravel roads that bounce the knee around severely) and they get the staples out, check for infection and give you more pages of exercises. Note, if you are contemplating having this surgery, that three weeks of pain, and pain killers that don't work as well as you want them to, are standard. Plus, none of your trousers will fit over the bandages. Get a very soft track suit.

What I did not think about ahead of time, but should have, is that if it is your right knee, you are not allowed to drive for six (6!) weeks. So your someone to look after you has to drive you to all your physiotherapy appointments, doctors' appointments and anywhere else you need to go. Roads getting more and more washed out. [Insert ouch]

Did I mention cabin fever in there anywhere.

Anyway, I am now past the five week mark, have ditched the stockings and the cane except for walking outside, am cleared onto the exercise bike and am looking forward to getting my wheels back and getting on with my life. Or, perhaps, I should say getting back to my life. If it were not for my best coffee friend, I would probably be writing this from a locked ward.

And yesterday my therapist told me that I was walking straight all wrong, backwards in fact, and gave me another sheet of exercises. [Insert curse word of your choice].

Thursday, 20 December 2018

The Perfect Comeback.

I have a very bad habit of going over unfortunate events in my mind after they have happened. And I often find that the perfect response will occur to me long after the time to have made it has passed. As happened yesterday.

I have a car where the hatchback is moved up and down by a push button, rather than having to be lifted or lowered by hand. As I was opening it in the grocery store parking lot yesterday, an elderly and somewhat untidy man was walking by.

 "Wouldn't you like it if your husband had a button like that?" he said, jovially.

I was rendered speechless. There is nothing, NOTHING, about me that ought to render me vulnerable to even mild misogynist jokes. I am an old and somewhat untidy lady. wearing a shapeless coat and with short white hair. What is with the 'all women want sex' message to someone like me? I just stared at the poor idiot and he trotted on, chuckling.

About half way home (half an hour drive), it came to me. What I should have said.

"This  button also shuts it up. If you have a similar button, allow me to use it."

Oh well.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

The Trouble with Trees

 The trouble with trees is that they break off, fall over in a high wind or otherwise mess up your home or road or power line. Oh, and they shed huge quantities of leaves and crud in the fall, pollen in the spring and nasty bugs on webs in the summer. Their root systems head unerringly for your drains or lift your walkways. Wayward branches tap on your window in the middle of the night or fall off the tree onto your head. (This actually happened to me.) Tree trunks provide a home for various nasty creepy-crawlies and if there is decay, woodpeckers go after the bugs until your head pounds too. Why, she asked rhetorically, would anyone want a tree?

Why would anyone not want a tree. They provide shade. They adorn landscapes with brilliant colours in the fall. The wind makes music soughing through the branches. Draped with snow, dotted with tiny spring buds or naked against a pewter sky, trees are always beautiful.

When we built our forever house in the woods, we chose a site on slanted ground at the edge of an old orchard.  When it was a working orchard, there was a rail fence surrounding these trees and after the orchard was abandoned in about 1905, young deciduous and evergreen trees grew up around the fence. Bears, raccoons and other hungry wildlife destroyed most of the apple trees over time, but one still remains and, when we built, we left a line of the volunteer trees on the south-west side of the house.

One, especially, an oak sapling, became a favourite as it grew from a single whip into a shapely shade tree. There were also both red and sugar maples, a birch and one majestic pine.
The oak sapling can be seen in front of the back end
of the floor joist I am carrying.

Grown into a shapely oak.

The full line of trees, sugar maple on the left, oak busily growing, red maples.

The pine, the birch and the oak are still with us, but all of the maples are now down. First the sugar maple died, probably from having its roots, clinging to shallow soil above bedrock, pounded during the building process. Two more red maples followed it into firewood, leaving a great growing space for the oak and remaining red maple. But, in a wind storm this summer, a large branch of the red maple broke and fell onto the roof. And it was determined that the tree must be cut down to prevent the rest of it from destroying the living room’s big glass windows.

JG invited a neighbour to help and they put a cable around the tree, tied to the tractor, so that the tree would, they hoped, fall exactly between the oak and the birch, damaging neither. This worked pretty well although we did lose a couple of branches off the oak. The tree was cut up, the log hauled away to become firewood (we heat with a wood furnace) and the debris raked and taken away. And there is now a big gap in our shade line.

The gap is not entirely bad. We had been so surrounded by trees that the sunset and night sky were barely visible and now I can see both coloured cloud at sunset and stars at night. JG put up a rattan blind to give my favourite porch chair afternoon shade. And the oak has room to grow into a mighty tree.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Not a baby any more.

The obigatory spring posts used to start out "I am in the city babysitting the grandkid" but I can't start that way any more. Yep, in the city. Replacing the parents while they fly off to a conference in Europe. Sitting by while the almost 15 yr old does her homework, practices her music, looks after the menagerie and packs her own lunch. Doesn't get much more peaceful than this. She even gets herself up in the morning and prefers to walk to school. Mind you, between music practice, sports and her job (!), I do not see much of her.

I did clean up the kitchen a bit this morning, but her mother has thoughtfully left a whole list of precooked meals and a menu of what gets used on which night, and so I am not cooking much. Not to mention that the YD has stocked her sister's freezer with lasagna. And is booked to drive Miss G to  her track practice. I am left with nothing to do but chat with the cat. And enjoy a glorious spring day, not at our place where the black flies are rampant but on city streets where there are few to none.

Booking coffee dates with friends. Shopping. Sitting out on the patio with a new book. (Not sure yet if I like it or not.) Eh baby, you have come a long way and I have landed in clover.

Looking after her used to be a lot more work. Mr frog had to be towed back to the top of the hill and so did she.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A not so daily diary ...

Some while ago

I am once more a ten-fingered typist! Had carpal tunnel surgery on Thursday and already the feeling has returned to my index finger. The thumb is still numb, so the spacing might be a bit off. Also, the hand is purple and blue and quite awful looking. But it works.

We are having cold gray March weather. The month came in like a lamb, blue sky, mild temperatures, revealing lots of mud and wet leaves and newly freed small burrs for the YD’s madly rolling dog. Even the cat enjoyed the weather on the screen porch until I forgot to let her back in. The sliding door to the screen porch is now covered with paw marks and needs a good cleaning with Windex. Not sure the wrist is up for that.

I do have a lot of time to follow the news, though, until it heals a bit more.

I even had time to watch some videos of the gowns worn to the Oscars, the ones that the punditistas deemed worthy of notice. The skirts slit from the floor to above the waist were a bit much. But Jane Fonda, at age 80, pulled it off. And looked lovely. Although it was quite clear that she had been sewn into both her dress and her face.

Meow. Someone should shut me out onto the screen porch.

At some point I popped some stitches in my incision and it looks like hell. Oh well. I now have sensation back in two fingers and am probably managing 25 wpm on the keyboard. Whoopie.


After a few days of continual slow snow, the weather has now cleared and it is sunny and cold. The first day of spring should not be a fine winter day.  I slogged to the back of the field to feed the deer and the walking was quite nasty. It looks good, though. Lots better than mud. We have one robin and I heard geese a few days ago. Plus, I am told the trumpeter swans are here early.  Climate change, it could be argued. My first intimation of changing climate did in fact come from birds. The mourning doves that had been summer residents only started overwintering some years ago now. I would trade them all, though, for even the density of monarch butterflies that my grandkid found searching for caterpillars only a few years ago. We had hardly any this year.

It is probably a truism to everyone else, but I can be a slow thinker. This afternoon I was mourning the latest series of mass shootings and it occurred to me that I could not recall one mass shooting, whether in a school or elsewhere, where the shooter was a girl or woman. And it is not that women are not gun enthusiasts. Around here a lot of daughters and wives shoot with their families, although I do not know many solo women hunters. My own daughter joined first army cadets and then the militia as a girl and young woman and is completely competent with long guns. It is not just boys who know how to shoot. So, what are we doing right with our girl children that we are not doing with the boys. Boys such as the poor sap who shot his sister over a board game. What???

Edited to add. As of today we have a woman shooter. Am I a jinx?

Anyway, someone is raising wonderful kids who are out protesting the lack of gun regulation in the US. Good for them. May they succeed.

Easter Monday

We have just passed through a cold and soggy, but sunny, Easter weekend, and have freezing rain forecast for tomorrow. Our elder daughter was born on April 4th, and I still, after half a century plus, remember vividly how annoyed I was with the changeable April weather. I wanted to put the little, um, darling into her buggy and wheel her around the streets so that she would sleep. Some days I could do this but other days brought sleet, cold rain and similar inconveniences. And I would be trapped inside with Miss Sleepless wonder. The same thing happened with HER daughter whom I was called to look after when she couldn’t go to daycare. Wheeling her in the stroller brought instant cooperation and a fine nap. Bad weather, thick winter snow and other impediments made Grama into a wet rag by supper time and the return of her doting parents.

I am just back from six days of grandkid supervision in the city, with a whole pile of new books, new clothes (plus limp plastic credit cards) and a great appreciation for houses with bathrooms on every floor. The ED’s house is an infill on a very small lot in the older part of the city and is, essentially, a series of staircases with rooms off them. Lots of bathrooms, but none on the main floor. I huffed up and down a lot of stairs. And I did not see all that much of Miss G who is in two bands, takes several additional lessons a week on her instrument, trains for track three times a week, seems to have piles of homework and is tasked by her parents with all of the pet care while they are away. She likes to keep active, she says. Especially stressing is a huge salt water tank full of expensive tropical fish and even more expensive corals; it requires additions of this and that, pump supervision and feeding the fish exotic treats. Plus, the temperature has to be exact. One night she whipped open some windows to cool off the tank and also cooled off her grandmother quite a bit.

In fact, I have been chilled for quite a few days, the cold feet kind of chill, not the Zen one. We heat with wood, using a forced air furnace when it is really cold and wood stoves in transition weather. JG has decided it is now transition weather and is running the downstairs stove. With a fan to move warm air up. This is perfect on sunny days as we have big southwest windows upstairs and the living areas are nice and warm. Not so good on cloudy and windy days although it is cozy on the stair landing between the floors. Tomorrow we are forecast snain and wind. I will don wool socks and long underwear.

Ah, life in the bush.