My Zero to Sixty is a little slow

slow slug snail shell

Photo by Chris Peeters on Pexels.com

 

41.  Dealing BlackJack at Klondike Days. I had to attend dealer’s school for two weeks prior to KDays. It was fun, nerve-wracking and a little scary. During one of my shifts some guy got mad because he didn’t like the way the cards were coming — yelled at me, swore at me, threatened me — coolest thing ever happened — the Pit Boss jumped in right away (like they said they would) temporarily closed my table, removed me and had the guy thrown out. I decided dealing cards was not a career I would pursue.

42.  Living in a tiny pre-war house with Tim before and after we got married. This house was seriously small! It had a dirt basement and an oil furnace/heater thing in the basement that was supposed to keep us warm in the winter. It didn’t do a very good job. Because we were young, we spent a lot of time in bed, keeping ourselves warm. We shared this house with two cats and a dog. They entertained themselves while we were at work by knocking things off shelves, and Brandy, the dog, would get the belt to my house coat and pull the cats around the house with it. Even better was its location — right next to the train tracks, Edmonton municipal airport, 118th avenue and Kingsway Mall. But, boy, was it cheap!

43.  Being there for my parents when they needed help. My dad was diagnosed with cancer; my mom fractured her leg. They needed someone to stay with them for a while to help out. I am so glad I was able to do that for them. It gave us a chance to get to know one another again, and I was able to spend precious time with my father before he passed away.

44.  Singing with my sisters. We haven’t done it in a long time, but when my sisters and I were younger we loved to get together and serenade whoever happened to be around. We did this at our parents’ anniversary parties, in restaurants, at weddings, even in my living room. None of us are very good on our own, but can we harmonize!

45.  Hiking the Sulphur Skyline trail in Jasper — twice. The views are spectacular.

46.  Learning calligraphy. I love the ornate, yet simple beauty of calligraphy. It is something I mean to take up again.

47.  Writing poetry. I never thought I could, or that I could write good poems. Then I took part in a month-long poem a day challenge and discovered that I could. Do both. Now I write poetry when the moment seizes me. I’ve never had any published, but there’s still time.

48.  Taking English riding lessons. They were a birthday gift from a friend. I learned everything from the ground up — saddling, caring for the horse, horse etiquette and the basics of movement. It was a fun 8 weeks.

49.  Teaching myself how to bake bread. Who doesn’t love fresh, homemade bread? I remember our mom making it and coming home to the smell of fresh bread, it being still warm from the oven and biting into a fresh, warm bun slathered in peanut butter and honey. I had to learn how to do that.

50.  Starting a home-based writing business. I mainly did resumes, but also letters and other forms of correspondence. I helped a lot of people get jobs and that felt really good.

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and. . . I’m 60

birthday-cake-cake-birthday-cupcakes-40183.jpeg

Life has a way of showing you just what you need to see exactly when you need to see it.

I celebrated my 60th birthday yesterday. The day started out like any other — we woke up, we said good morning to one another, and we talked about what we were going to do. With the understanding, of course, that somewhere in those plans was a birthday dinner with family and friends.

My assumption was that it would be our son and his family, maybe my brother and his wife, perhaps one of my other brothers who live a few hours away and a few friends.

When we set out for town in the morning, to get breakfast and run errands, I was feeling emotional — I wanted more than anything not to be having this birthday. What was the big deal, anyway? Sixty, it’s just a number, and I’ve never liked having a big fuss made over me. Why couldn’t we just have a bbq on the deck, open some beer and wine and call it done?

All I can say is thank God I didn’t get my way.

Tim took me to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. The one in downtown Edmonton. We’ve been going there once or twice a year for over 40 years. Crazy. I had expected to see the group I mentioned earlier and I wasn’t surprised when I saw them sitting there. And suddenly, I was happy. Because, this, I realized, was something they were happy to be doing for me.

Then, they surprised me after all. As I was turning around to grab Tim my mother walked up to me and gave me a big hug. Beside her were two of my sisters. I couldn’t believe it. They flew in to help me celebrate this milestone that I’d been treating like a millstone. A little later, after having been fooled into thinking no one else was coming, my youngest sister and my niece from Lloydminster arrived. More tears of joy and gratitude.

It was a wonderful celebration and I can’t explain how absolutely wonderful and special it made me feel. In the big course of things, a birthday really is just another day. It will pass, and then there will be another day. BUT, what yesterday showed me about birthdays is this: it’s not just about you and how you feel about it, it’s about all the people who make you who you are and how they feel about you. It’s about letting them show you their love and being able to show them in return, just how grateful and blessed you are that they are in your life.

And Dad, I know you were there, too. I had a dream last night that I was lost and in trouble. You helped me out, helped me find my way to safety. Everywhere I looked were dimes, bright, shiny and new dimes. They were pouring down from the sky and as I gathered them up I felt you smiling down on me. I love you. I miss you. Thank you for our family.

A poem for today

I’m supposed to be working on a short story submission, but I got looking through my old poetry. I really like this one. Blackie was such a good dog. And I still miss her.

 

Blackie

©Kathy Larson

 

She was our first, and only, family dog.

We got her from the SPCA,

A little ball of black and tan fur.

Our son, for whom the puppy

Would be a companion and also

‘life lessons,’ named her:

Blackie Bear Rosa, a mouthful, for sure,

But he couldn’t settle on just one,

So we laughed and said why not?

Within days she became just ‘Blackie’;

It was the name her ears perked up to.

This puppy, who would eat with her

Back legs waving in the air made us laugh,

Made us glad to buy chew toys and treats

And special dog blankets and an old fashioned

Wind-up clock that we wrapped inside a baby

Blanket to keep her quiet and comforted at night.

While she was little she held our son’s attention,

But as with most ‘family’ pets, she soon became

Mine.

And I loved her, utterly and completely.

She was my companion on the days waiting

For the school bus to bring our boy back,

She took me on long, soul-searching walks,

Walked me out of depression, walked me out of

Walking out.

For fifteen years she was part of us and when

We had to take her in and put her to sleep

Part of me went with her.  I cried for weeks after.

Walking in the door expecting the pit-pat, pit pat

Of her coming to greet me, or waking in the night,

Sensing her still there, at the side of my bed,

Dropping my hand down to touch emptiness.

All that remained was a lighter spot on the carpet

Where her rug had lain for all those years.

In time, the pain lessened, but not the loss.

Now, I remember her as a dear friend,

Visit her in photo albums, and, on occasion,

When we’re all together, say, “Do you remember when. . .?”

 

Day 76 — It seems I’m falling behind

It seems I’m falling behind in my goals. But perception isn’t always accurate.

Despite the longer gaps in my blog posts I have been quite busy working on my goals. Purging is continuing in all its forms and I am feeling lighter, clearer and more in control every day. My daily walks continue and my body and mind are definitely the better for that.

I spent the first two weeks of March back in my home near Edmonton. The first week, I watched my grandchildren while their parents went on a holiday. I had a great time and it was the perfect way to start off a new month. I love great beginnings!

The second week involved taking care of business at home. Vehicle check-up, personal check-up — the joy of having to find a new doctor — sigh. Then there was chores at home — the house needed a good cleaning prior to company arriving. Window frames needed painting, a shower head needed fixing, and electrical switches needed replacing — thank you Landon!

During that second week I was struggling. Struggling with the enormity of repairs and maintenance our house needs, struggling with feelings of self-doubt, struggling with anxiety over all the things I cannot control. When I get like that it can be very difficult to remain positive and to see that there is a way out from all the dark thoughts, the overwhelming need to BE IN CONTROL. Lucky for me I had my grandpuppy Hades to walk every day and, later in the week, we were expecting company.

Walking Hades got me out into the fresh air and allowed me to escape my internal drama for an hour or so. And because I could turn it off for that little while it made returning to it easier to cope with. Slowly, I was able to tell myself that I was doing fine, that everything would be fine, that my house was fine — you get the idea.

By the time our company arrived — Tim’s brother and his wife — relatives we consider good friends, I was, not to be facetious, in control. My house was spotless. The dangerous electrical switches had been replaced, my vehicle was given the thumbs-up, the shower worked properly and my window frames were painted. I could relax. Kind of.

Because, of course, you want everything to be perfect when you have guests. Not that I needed to worry — our guests are incredibly easy to get along with and so much fun to be around that we always have a great time. Spending a few days with them got me to let go and just enjoy our time together.

Something that was said to me a long time ago when I was a girl of about 13 or 14 by a friend of my mother’s came back to me during that second week. I had been complaining  to her about how messy our house was and about how I hated always having to be cleaning up. Why, I remember asking this person, couldn’t my mother keep a clean house (sorry Mom) and how embarrassing it was to me when people came to visit. My Mom’s friend, whom I had been babysitting for, said: Kathy, people don’t come to visit your mother’s house; they come to visit your mother.

Since then, I have, of course, heard that same adage repeated in many different ways and forms. And I’ve always thought how true it was, while in the back of my mind a little voice whispered: yes, but not your house. Your house will be neat and tidy and people will come and visit and be SO IMPRESSED. 

Well, guess what. I finally realized the actual truth of those words. No one cared that I had spent two days dusting, washing and scrubbing — they cared that they were there. With us. Laughing, visiting and living.

When I think back to those days when I was that snotty, opinionated girl I see that our house was not dirty — it was messy — how could it not be with ten people, a dog and two cats living in it? But it was always (almost) filled with laughter and fun. Just about any day after school we could come home and find my Mom sitting at the kitchen table having coffee or, occasionally, a golden Cadillac or a grasshopper with one of her friends while they played crib or double solitaire. My brother’s and sister’s friends came and went like our house was their own. My parents made them all feel welcome and comfortable.

We didn’t have a lot, but what we had they weren’t ashamed of.

Why, oh, why does it take so long to learn these simple lessons?

Purge 9 of 100

Nothing physical purged today.  All mental and emotional.

I rid myself of these three things today: sadness, lethargy and malaise.

I’ll start with lethargy and malaise. It was -24, windy and snowing today. I could have easily chosen to stay inside and not go for my walk today. A couple of weeks ago I probably would have done just that.

But today I set a goal of leaving the apartment after 2 pm (that’s when the mail is delivered) and I didn’t hesitate once when it came time to go. I bundled up and away we (Dad and I) went.

And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Sure, it was cold and the wind blowing in my face took my breath away once or twice, but honestly, it wasn’t bad. I talked to dad as I trudged through the drifting snow, glad I had him to keep me company. I walked up to the little shopping centre a few blocks from our building, completed my few errands and was home again by 3:30. A nice hot cup of tea and I was comfy, cozy and content.

Now for sadness. Despite feeling incrementally better these past couple of weeks I still find myself dealing with moments of incredible sadness. Writing this blog is helping with that, as are my daily walks and conversations with my father.

As I walked today I told dad that I wished I’d had it in me to talk to him the way I do now when he was alive. The wind was blowing really hard, so if he answered me, I didn’t hear him. Instead of feeling sad I actually felt a sense of joy.

There’s a story in our family of how my father once walked through a blizzard carrying my younger sister and I after his car got stuck in a snow drift. We lived out in the country and there was no traffic and no where for him to find shelter to wait out the storm. He knew we’d likely freeze if he didn’t get us home, so he bundled us up inside his big green army coat – one on his back, one in front and he set out in the direction of our home.

I wish I could remember that experience. I wish I could remember feeling his heart beating against mine as he struggled to get us to safety. I wish I could remember if he talked to us, told us stories to help us stay awake and calm. But, as with so much of my early life, I remember nothing. I know this story, and that he probably saved our lives only because my younger sister remembers and so did my dad and its been told numerous times.

I used to feel so sad because I couldn’t remember. And that there must be something wrong with me because I didn’t. Today, I felt that sadness and guilt lifted up and out of me on the blowing wind and swirling snow.

Thanks again dad.

100 Days — Day 2

I woke up this morning and wondered — will I keep up with my stated goal of purging for 100 days? I felt doubt trying to get in my way, but then I told myself doubt could only stop me if I let it.

I went out for the 1st of my 100 days of walks. It felt great. It was certainly a plus that the temperature had risen to -4 overnight. I smiled at birds flitting about in the sunshine, enjoyed the quiet streets, fresh air and saying good morning to the few people I happened to cross paths with.

I had a conversation with my father, who passed away on October 23rd. This is where day 2 of my purging comes in.

The one thing my father and I shared was a love of walking. We didn’t get to walk together much, but we did enjoy a few walks whenever he and my mother came to visit. I was always closest to him during those walks. Today, I felt him there with me again.

Dad and I were not as close as I wished we were. Ours was always a tumultuous relationship. I have always harboured guilt for not being a better daughter and anger for him not being a better father. Today, I let that go. I said I was sorry, and I hoped he could forgive me. I forgave him. And I told him that I hoped he knew I always loved him.

Being with him in the two and half months before he died was a hard thing. I watched my father who had always been such a powerful force in life wither away to nothing. But, even as his body wasted away and he lost his ability to communicate his eyes still held a look that was both fierce and passionate. I could tell how angry he was that cancer was robbing him of the ability to enjoy the thing he cherished most – life.

It’s such a sad thing to get to know your father, like the man he was, realise, finally, that he loved me — us — all more than he had the ability to say and then watch him draw his last breath as you struggle to say goodbye.

I miss my father, as I know all my family does. My heart aches for my mother, who was married to the love of her life for 60 years. But he left us much to be grateful and thankful for. And he gave us all the greatest gift he could – life, and love for it.

 

100 days of purges

January 1, 2018 — Day 1

I purged the left over sticky toffee pudding that I made for Christmas dessert.

It was lovely. It was fattening. It was made with 1 and 1/2 pounds of butter, copious amounts of sugar and smothered with a sauce made from more butter, cream and sugar. I had made a huge pan of it because we were expecting 22 for dinner on Christmas Day at my brother’s house. Only 15 could make it, so there was a lot of leftover pudding. (I am baffled as to why this dish is called pudding, because it is not at all pudding-like. Unless it is drowned in delicious sauce.)

I’ve been having ‘a little piece’ every other day or so, because I didn’t want it to go to waste. Instead, it’s been going to my waist.

So, this morning when I was considering what to purge I immediately thought of my pudding. Before I could have time to rationalise my decision I picked up the plate, flipped open the garbage can and let all that artery-clogging goodness go. My husband hollered in horror — “I could have taken that to work!” He doesn’t need it, nor do his co-workers, any more than I do. I felt good about saving them/us.

From there I threw out the stale sugar cookies, a jar of dill pickles I’d made in 2014 and which had been languishing in the fridge since about 2015.

I also did some emotional purging. I wrote on Facebook about 2017.

It was a year of milestones. My father turned 80 in July. He and my mother celebrated their 60th anniversary on October 18th. My grandchildren flew for the first time to attend our family reunion — the last one my father would attend. He died in October of kidney cancer after being diagnosed in May. My seven siblings and I were all in the same place for the first time in many years. We settled stuff. We bonded in grief and heartache and sadness and anger. We realized the depth of our love for one another and how we owe so much to our parents.

That was day 1.

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

July 20th & 21st

Days 202 and 203 —  Yesterday — rainy and cool so decided to do more housecleaning.  Took on the main living room.  Got up close and personal with the upper windows and am looking at some re-caulking work and painting before winter.  Those window really need to be replaced, but. . .

Am continuing on my clean and purge routine.  It’s such a great feeling!  The wall unit in the living room where I keep just about everything under the sun was a big job.  I threw out a a TON of outdated manuals and junk that had accumulated over the past 23 years.  I can’t believe how much crap we stick in drawers!  I also packed away some things that just didn’t need to be collecting dust anymore.

When I got to the bottom cupboards I discovered the photo albums we used to put all our pictures in.  Looked through them quickly, got a little teary and though my intent had been to pack them up, I just couldn’t.  It’s wonderful to look back on all those pictures and see the young us.  Tim, fresh-faced with a look of eagerness and excitement in his eyes; Landon, so young with all those beautiful red curls he had as a baby and toddler — and always with a big, beautiful smile.  And, then, there’s the young me.  Looking, I thought, often far too serious, and much, much thinner.  I had smiles too, though, and it made my heart ache (just for a moment) for all those years gone.  I love my family.  I love that I have these pictures of us.  I now have a pile of pictures that need going through and placing in those albums.  Another rainy-day project.

Today was quiet.  Tim had to work and I just putzed about.  At noon I went and picked up my youngest grandson and had him come visit for the afternoon.  We worked in the yard and then I made us strawberry milkshakes.  After we played UNO and he beat me.  Four years old and already a card-shark!  I loved having that one-on-one time with him.  Doesn’t happen very often with any of them anymore.  I’m going to have to work on changing that.

I chose a new book.  It’s Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King.  A summer just isn’t a summer if I don’t get at least one SK book in.  He is my writing hero.  This book is a collection of short stories — novellas, really — and I just finished the first one.  1922 is a grim little story about being careful about what you wish for.  Vintage Stephen King.  I loved it,  though some parts were a little squeamish — but then, that’s why he’s the master.

And now, it’s off to bed.  Hope I don’t have nightmares.

June 28th – July 1st

Days 180 – 183 — These past four days were spent with our grandkids.  First weekend of summer — what a way to kick it off!  My youngest sister and her two youngun’s came and spent most of the weekend with us, too.  The joy of watching cousins play and get reacquainted.

We had a ton of fun — swimming at the outdoor pool, bbq’s, ice-cream, popsicles, staying up really late and then last night, fireworks to celebrate Canada Day.

Now, it’s time for Grandma to get the house cleaned up and start planning for my own time away.  I just absolutely love summer!

June 13th

Day 165 — Apparently, I was a little too optimistic about my recovery from this flu.  There was no return to work yesterday.  And not today, either.  I am continuing to feel better, though, so there is that.  I’ll be back on Monday — for sure.

Yesterday was my middle grandson’s birthday.  Timmy turned 6.  I amazed at how much he has grown and blossomed in the last year.  An incredible child — glad I could be there to share in his day.

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