When? he asked. When does middle age end and old age begin?

"When" he asked, " when does middle age end and old age begin?"

It took awhile to recover from his question.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Remaining relevant

The original goal of this blog was to document and share the journey into old age. I fail miserably at it. I know I have crested and am gaining momentum but for the most part,so far, my days go on and I am oblivious to where I am on the pathway... until I am not. Then I plan to share but it seems so trivial or it doesn't seem trivial at all and I am frightened and like a child if I say it, it is true. So I don't

I was reading old XUP postings- gawww I miss THAT jeune fille! and thought of linking to several of her posts but stummbled across this, which brought tears to my eyes but also joy to my heart.

Days with my Father

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hurdman Station

17 minutes to wait.
Weak November sun trying to warm the morning
Mother Parker's coffee,the temperature just right.
Single honey sesame snaps,a package all to myself.
Not the worst way to start the day.

Crosswalk Concert

Urbanears to the right of me,
Harmonica to the left,
Hear I am, stuck in the music again!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crosswalk tales

Stuck in the middle of you
ipod to the left of me
ipod to the right
here I am stuck in the middle of you!

Bob Dylan - Stuck In The Middle With You lyrics

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I know you meant well

and I appreciated being able to sit on the crowded bus, truly I did, so please forgive me as I offer this suggestion.

Next time offer your seat by saying
" May I offer you my seat?"

I will say, "why thank you, yes."

It could also be possible for me to say "How kind of you to offer but, thank you- I prefer to stand." Or perhaps "How kind of you to offer but, I am getting off at the next stop."

Unfortunately you said to me "Do you need my seat?" And yes, yes I did.

Monday, June 14, 2010


As wide as two seats, there was little gap between he and his wife on the four seat bench. As we had boarded he had been chatting up the bus driver but now had turned to watch the embarking passengers.

A comely young woman got on, tall and lithe, in slim jeans and a long coat, her doe eyes peeked out from behind a niqab. His head turned from her as a couple of colour got on. Her head dress elaborate folds of colourful fabric the same as her elegant dress; he in a grey business suit with an embroidered damask cap upon his head.

Next an impassive Asian man.

"Passports" he said loudly, "Passports."

The Asian man appeared not to understand and made his way towards the back.

Several people jostled through, groceries were stowed and back packs adjusted. People settled here and there. He appraised them all.

The bus began to pull away and abruptly stopped. The driver opened the door and lowered the bus with a w-oo-sh. A tiny lady got on.

"Passport" he crowed.

A younger woman stood up,
" NO!" she announced firmly! and shook her finger at him.
" Aunt-ie! my seat" she said kindly and then glowered down at him.

The tiny lady took the offered seat and as the bus pulled away they began a conversation in a language I couldn't undertand.

Do the Math

Over heard on the bus March 24th~

" I didn't want to tell him when there were people in the store, like I didn't want to tell him and then have to work. He was in the back and I walked up to him and he said-
'You're gonna quit, aren't you?'
so I told him. That was the easiest it's ever been. I didn't have to work with him all pissed and stuff. Seriously that was the easiest!"

"Have you quit lots?"

" Yeah, and usually they get all pissed"

" How long did you work there?"

" Eight months, like eight months!"

"That's pretty long..."

" Yeah it's a long time, like I started the middle of September. That's a long time to work some place"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Welcome Sounds


Welcome Sounds
Squirrels bounding on the rooftop at day break,
water running
running to the swollen river.
Crows cawing.
Gulls are calling
hackers hacking, piles of dirty snow
a snowblower running dry.
tap tap
tap tap
a flicker looking down and sees the clear spring sky

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge

I have no desire to venture beyond the hedge today.
The sticky gate is blocked by four feet of tired dirty snow.
The coquette, Spring, plays with my winter weary heart.
Drizzle drips from the sky.
Diamond drips from linden branches and bird song beckons,
I resist. My boots are leaking.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Pink Cammo

Pink cammo
There it lay, discarded or dropped, at the side of the path. A scarf, a pink cammo scarf, in the dirty receding winter snow waiting perhaps for Spring?

Is there a nefarious plan afoot to secret tiny girls in rose bushes; sweet spring babies in the apple blossoms?

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Shift worker morning

Shift worker morning;day off.

Groggy morning, woolly muffy morning no need to tumble down the stairs. I awake on the chesterfield, a dim ribbon of morning light from under the window blind ignites my bleary eyes. Rambling into the kitchen I see the residue of his morning pot of coffee still in the carafe at the back of the stove. I touch the glass side and feel the residual heat. I nuke it, add cream and return to my nest of covers. Savoring the aroma and heat I see the remnants of the sunrise as I swim forward into the day.

I consider my mental to do list. No time to linger. People close by; hands on my hair, my body; a bath is in order. Still cupping the coffee I drift towards the bathroom and while I wait I put the warm mug against my sinus and watch the tub slowly fill. "God , my shoulder hurts "I think as I tentatively begin to bend, twist and flex.

High on caffeine and restorative bathwater I dry quickly and pull on clothes-new clothes. The exhilaration of simple indulgences after a long period of unemployment lifts me from my fog. In spite of the weather outside, I rummage though the bottom of the closet for my favourite boots. I rifle through his drawer for wool work socks to make the footwear work.

At the bus shelter a young women with a rainbow hat waits. I notice her mitts are rainbow too. "Have you been here long?” I ask. “Not long but I expect the next bus soon” she says. She is my first conscious connection of the day. Her youth, her mittens, the wonderful whimsical messenger bag draped across her young frame make me warm to her and we talk. I talk, she talks. I notice the volume of traffic and then she tells me of a detour down this street in front of us, of an accident a fatal accident a few blocks away over night, of a barricaded crime scene. My ebullience gone I consider for the first time being late for my appointment. Sobered, I apologize for being so chatty as the bus pulls up.

I pass up a number of single seats and make my way to towards the back, up one step to a double seat. Seconds later, she slips in beside me and our conversation resumes.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Teach of Sell

Teach or Sell

Teach or sell,
when well done, they are so similar; the same really.

You use your power to convince someone, who didn't know they wanted to, to do something, they didn't know they wanted to do.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; The Characters I have known

The Characters I have known
Patty-Jo was from Florida and Buzz from Georgia. Mr. and Mrs. Buzz Wright, seriously, or maybe not.
Patty-Jo had long since stopped being Patty-Jo and had become Ashley, Ashley Wright, Mrs. Buzz Wright. This was a long time ago, long-before the current crop of Ashley's were even twinkles. The Wright's were my neighbours then, when we all lived on the wrong side of the tracks.
My street was a dead end. It ended dead away at an un-scalable chain link fence. ‘S-T-O-P, you aren't passing and if you doubt it the blackberry canes will get you before the barbed wire or the trains do!’
The Wright's street, the same-although no blackberry canes grew at the end, and the J of my back alley emptied onto their street leaving them a down hill exit from their street which they, and other neighbours, used to jump start cars in need of new batteries, starters and other optional accessories.

Ashley, slender and blonde wore long skirts and gauzy blouses. She spoke with a quiet soft airy voice. NaivelyI, big horse of a girl, found it romantic and an appealing part of her southern charm. Ashley told of an idyllic childhood, her father a professional ball player and her mother the house wife, and of her one brother-Jack. She talked of hot afternoons curled up in a porch swing with Archie comics and icy sodas and of warm evenings bike riding through orchards and down country roads, in the cool mist of the tractors as the chemicals lingered over the orchards and roadways. Ashley had severe asthma.

I'm not sure why we saw so much of one and others, but I suppose she was lonely being in a new country and isolated in our little ghetto, and I was there newly married and under employed. Ashley had a little boy, which was how she came to be Mrs. Buzz Wright. Her son Zachary, had been called “Do-Dah” since the day he came home from the hospital. Ashley, Buzzy, and Do-dah, the not so traditional nuclear family.

Ashley said she had been afraid Buzz would send her away when she told him of her pregnancy. He had said, she couldn't be his “old lady” any longer, because a baby needed married parents, and so they had married. She had wore a lace dress, and he buckskin. A framed photos sat on the mantel of their yellow Victorian three story framehome. Ashley loved pale yellow and Buzz gave her a pale yellow Studebaker with a chrome continental kit as a wedding present. It arrived from California a few weeks after they arrived on the street behind mine.

How could I not notice?

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Hear Hear

Little Pictures Have Big Ears
If Alligator Pie had been written when I was a little kid, it would have been my favourite book.

“Tickle your tum in To-ronto”
Toronto; exotic, and far away. In “the east,” like Red China with all the little children wishing they had more rice in their bowls

Calgary – you have to admit it’s a pretty cool word, if you say it just right.

For a while, I thought Christ died at Calgary on the green hill far away without a city wall. I didn't see a city wall when I was there, but then at Sunday school they told me about Calvary.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; OAK

Walter reminded me of a tree, an ancient oak tree.
He was a solidly built man, silent and observant. He seldom had much to say and yet he was always there on the periphery of the group, usually silent, and watching. When he did speak it had value.
I once told him that reminded me of an oak- strong, silent, and enduring. It was the wrong thing to say. Never tell an amputee he reminds you of a tree.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Ladder to Success

Ladder to success

Part of being successful is figuring out what you want.

It seems straight forward when you put it that way. I am from a generation who was not brought up to think about success or to plan for it. I was taught it was my duty to be a good wife and mother, to be a good citizen and a contributing member of my community. I was certain that I wanted to have a loving lasting relationship and I am fortunate to have found someone I could grow with, who was similarly committed. A community of two.

Over time, the constituency of my community has changed. My community has been my birth family, and then my school and my friends which became our friends. As a pre-teen, I imagined my community to be my church but this was not, for me, a long time community. As a parent the community of my children became my community.

So once the need to belong to a particular community has been removed where does that leave me? Alone with myself and my own family. Here I have success but as my children move on what is it I need and what is it I want?

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; A Good Year

A Good Year
I had coffee with a lost friend today. We recently reconnected and it was the first time we a chance to sit down together to cover the last seven years. She told me she had declared 2006 a 'Good Year' because she hadn't lost any body parts.
Ain't cancer a bitch?

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Morning crows

I was up before dawn today and as I sat in the window and watched the sky lighten I saw the crows, again. There were waves and waves of them and they flew very low again today, perhaps because of the wind and low clouds. I am fascinated.
I have made inquires. My neighbour says they spend their nights in the trees outside of the hospital complex north east of here which makes seems to sense from the direction of their dusk migration. She says it is very disconcerting to leave the hospital after dark. The trees seem alive with shadows and the crow s movements and the undertones of their voices. I want to go on a field trip.
I have heard a report of them congregated in trees south of here during the day. The good hunting I imagine to be the draw. The ground has been cleared and there is road construction in the area.

Another sighting places many crows at dusk, between here and the hospital, beside a semi deserted tennis court on the edge of a green belt. Overflow perhaps.
I love the word rookery, apparently it applies to European crows. The American crow is said to be secretive in its nesting habits. Not these. Research is required.

Ancient History; Beyond the Hedge; Fear

When I was a kid I was afraid of heights, very afraid.
We had a little footbridge over a dry ditch. I couldn't cross it.
When I rode in a car I laid down on the floor of the back seat as we drove over high bridges.

Fear has a colour.
It is grey, a frightening green tinged grey.

Fear has a feeling. When seated it is a flash of fire in the thighs above and beside the knees. The energy dissipates in a flash that circles the belly and leaves it aching.
My fear of heights has re-awakened. My belly hurts.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Morning Vision

Morning Vision

I floated upward from sleep and parted the clouds of my slumber. Feet planted on the smooth chilly bedside floor, I tested and rose to a wavering stand. Before me, the window was curtained fast. I reached out and parted the curtains.

The dawn sky was the colour of a flamingo's dreams. The crows, reversing their sunset migration, were arising from their secret places. A torrent of crows winged forth to the early morning skies. Their flight plan had them start low and then rise rapidly, directly over my house. It was as if I could reach out and touch their iridescent undercarriages.

I crouched down and sank back onto the bed. I closed my eyes to remember. Forever.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge; Gallant


My hero
I was first to the bus stop. In time to see the butt end of the bus fading away. I closed my umbrella and stepped into the empty shelter. Moments later Cynthia stepped into the shelter after peering up the road into the headlights and drizzle.

"We missed it" I said as she removed her plastic rain hat and smoothed her hair. I moved over indicating the bench but she shook her head.

Nadia rounded the corner and nodded to me as she reached to hug her neighbour. I faded away into the drizzle and headlights as they talked about Nadia's twin teens and Cynthia's trip home, to the Caribbean.

A man with a heavy leather brief case peeked into the shelter from under a plaid golf umbrella. We began to rearrange ourselves but he shook his head and reaching inside placed his brief case on the floor away from the puddles. As the sky lightened he stood outside, shifting his weight from foot to foot. I wondered about his choice of foot wear for such a wet morning. His shoes were a woven leather and seemed out of synch with his conservative business clothing.

The headlights of the bus became visable and I judged the severity of the rainfall against the inconvenience of having a dripping umbrella on a crowded bus and kept my umbrella closed. Nadia stepped out of the shelter. The gentleman put his umbrella over her head but she stepped out from under it. Undeterred, he turned to Cynthia who took his arm. He helped her up the single stair onto the bus. I stepped forward towards the but in the now pouring rain. He turned back for me, picking up his brief case as he did. We walked across the sidewalk together, under the shelter of his umbrella, and I mounted the bus ahead of him.

I felt the glow of my smile at his chivalry long after the raindrops had dried.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge;The Lonely Only

The Lonely Only

I spent a lot of my childhood alone, looking out the window, waiting. "Children are to be seen and not heard" was a frequently repeated theme of my early childhood. So as I waited quietly, I observed.

The best observation post the year I was five was behind the curtain looking out the dining room window. It was out of sight but not out of earshot and had a magical view of the neighbour's wonderful overgrown garden which was filled with holly trees, the friendly chirping of wet sparrows, joyous robins , and wandering cats.

Other years, other windows.

One window somewhere, some year, was home to many lady bird bugs. I remember their earthy odour and the warmth of the sunny window where they congregated .
My favourite white t-shirt was a Lady Bird brand t-shirt. I didn't get to wear it often enough for my liking and I can remember being helped into it one lucky morning. After surfacing from the confusion of armholes and neck hole I happily recited~

"Lady bird, lady bird fl-y away home, your house is on fire, and your children are alone."

"We don't leave children alone" my mother said.

Ancient History: Beyond the Hedge;Doesn't play well with others,

I attended a workshop on the weekend. We did an exercise where we circulated the room for two minutes without making intentional eye contact with the other participants, keeping our heads down, with no speaking or touching others.In the next part of the exercise we circled the room for two minutes and made what I will call furtive eye contact with the other participants, still with no speaking or touching anyoneand no smiles. Then we circled the room yet again, and tried to make a connection through eye contact and smiles. AND lastly, we did the same again but this time we could offer greetings, shake hands, hug, wink, although we weren't to actually stop and talk .

Now the whole thing was quite simple, and I predicted the results, at least to myself, in advance. What I wasn't prepared for was the intensity of emotion the exercise created in me!
The first situation felt ordinary to me. I glanced, I evaluated, I gathered evidence, I made suppositions. In the second instance where we looked furtively at people I felt very lonely, I felt like I was being judged and there was a real tension there for me.
When we evaluated these situations one of the participants likened it to being put in the corner as a child and said she found it more difficult than the first situation because there was no expectation of interaction but no peace from it’s absence either.

In the third situation, where we were allowed to make eye contact and smile, I was surprised to find how cheated I felt when I offered myself to others and they chose not to engage. Because this was a varied group from a wide range of situations there were those who did not feel safe or comfortable engaging with me. I felt like I put myself out there and they denied me something I wanted-obviously this was in a very subtle way and I might not have actually noticed it had it not been in the context of self examination and discussion. Interesting to me was the participant when I offered my observation who asked me, did I feel "cheated" because "I wanted something from them?" or did I feel "cheated" because "they didn't want to take what I was giving?" I didn't have a clear take on that. I am not sure I do now.

The last part of the exercise was the real revelation for me. I felt invigorated and very positive but ALSO I had had enough very quickly. I became satiated and wanted to move on.
Now perhaps that is because we had just spent all this time demonstrating what I had felt was a predictable result, or maybe it was a heads up to me. I have been told I can be brusque and other people are sometimes intimidated by me. I worked for a Mega American corporation for a time and we were subjected to the best modern HR has to offer, three times a year. Repeatedly during this performance evaluation process I was told my colleagues didn't know what to make of me - my answer was "that is their problem"-but, they knew they could rely on me. SIGH!

I am still evaluating what to take away from all of this,other than the obvious you feel better when you make a connection message. I think it may also indicate I need to be a bit more patient with others.

Do you think there is a t-shirt that says "Doesn't play well with others" out there?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the days are long

The days they are long but the years fly by- a beautiful and moving tribute!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What I have read this year

The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver *****
What the Body Remembers - Shauna Singh Baldwin*****
Break In - Dick Francis ***
Mrs Miracle- Debbie Mc Comber -*