Untitled — something I’m working on

© KLarson 2019

Maybe that’s what happens, she thought. As we get older, the longer we’re together, the more we find to dislike about one another.

She was busy, or rather, she was trying to be. There really wasn’t that much to do. Now that they’d down-sized. She snorted inwardly at that — “down-sizing” — the new in thing to do when you retired. All of their friends had done it — some all the way to Mexico, Belize or the Caymans. Those were the truly successful down-sizers. Everyone else, she and Dan included, had simply traded down and stayed local.

The reasons were numerous and all legitimate. Lower living expenses, no stairs (so much easier on the joints), less cleaning, minimal yard work, no snow shoveling, zero maintenance and close proximity to shopping, transit and hospitals.  It all sounded so reasonable and smart, so mature and well-considered.

The truth was that it was boring. Dull and boring. Of course, it hadn’t been, not at first. When they had first started considering the idea of selling the house it had been exciting. A new start. Purging 40 plus years of accumulated stuff to make way for new stuff.

It was only when she got to the boxes of old school reports, handmade cards and favourite books and items of clothes she’d saved for each of the kids that it hit her. They were ridding themselves of their life. The one they’d worked at building for over 40 years together.

But she couldn’t say anything.

Because down-sizing had been her idea. Dan had resisted from the beginning, and he’d had plenty of good arguments for staying in their house — their home — not least among them the history that their place embodied.

It had taken a lot of persuasion, arguments, enlisting the help of friends and family, even the kids, to get him on board. When he finally agreed that it made sense to move into something smaller, something they could just lock the door on and walk away from when they wanted to travel for more than 2 weeks at a time, something situated right next door to a golf course, well, there was no turning back then.

Be careful what you wish for, her mother had always said.

.   .   .

Dan came through the door on cue at 5:30. She forced herself to smile.

“Supper in five,” she said, as she reached to take their plates out of the cupboard.

” ‘kay. I’m just going to jump in the shower,” He hung his keys on the hook by the door, dropped the day’s mail on the hall table and headed to their room with barely a glance in her direction.

When he came down nearly 20 minutes later she was finishing the last few bites on her plate.

“You didn’t wait?” Dan looked at her coldly.

“I told you in five,” she said, picking up her wine glass.

“Yeah, I guess you did.” He lifted the cover off the plate she’d made up for him. “What is this?” He sounded slightly disgusted at the sight of the food on his plate.

“It’s spaghetti squash with vegan chili. And gluten-free corn bread.” She took a sip of wine to hide the smirk forming on her lips. Dan scowled, grunted and continued to stare disdainfully at his plate.

Inwardly, Leslie was daring him to make a remark. The whole time she’d been preparing the meal she’d been anticipating his reaction. She knew he’d hate it. Dan was a meat and potatoes man. Had been his whole life. Once upon a time he’d been open to trying something new or different, but since turning 60 he’d made it clear that his days of adventurous eating were over.

So, every so often she treated him to something special. Like tonight.

“Can you get me a beer?” he said looking at her with thinly disguised anger.

“Excuse me?” she said with raise brows.

“Please. For Christ’s sake. Get me a beer.”

“Love to,” she answered cheerily.

Leslie stayed at the table, nursing her wine the whole while he ate. When he was done, he looked up at her and with a smile, said, “That wasn’t half bad. Tasty.”

Leslie tipped her wine glass at him. “Thanks.”

They’d cleaned up the dinner dishes and tidied the kitchen. Aside from a few questions and answers about each others day they barely spoke. She was heading into the bedroom to brush her teeth when when saw him pick up his phone. Tight-lipped she listened as she heard him order two pounds of wings from Jerry’s around the corner.

“Yeah, buffalo and some honey garlic. Twenty minutes? No problem.” As he hung up he looked at her and smiled.

.   .   .

 

Day 78 — hey! It’s William Shatner’s birthday

Someone posted that little fact on FB this morning. The man is 87 today.  Happy birthday Mr. Shatner!

Thinking of him brings back some great memories. It’s not just about Star Trek – it’s about a time and the places I was in, and how those times shaped me.

There was always a certain sense of innocence, hope and belief in the inherent goodness of people/life that the Star Trek movies featuring Captain Kirk embodied. I loved that he was so much bigger than life, that his character was so incredibly over-the-top, it was like watching a manic boy scout save the world. You knew that it was all going to work out, the good guys would survive – the only casualty would be the hapless, nameless ensign in the red suit who got chosen for the away team at the last moment.

Entertainment is so different these days. Our heroes are always flawed (realistic), characters we love are constantly being killed (viewer investment) and the outcome is never guaranteed (spinoffs).

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy movies and television as they are now.  I’m just saying it’s different.

And  when I think of those lost times I feel my whole being smile. It was an event to go stand in line for a movie with your friends and family. Entertaining each other, talking, laughing and joking. Begging the staff to let you in so you could go to the bathroom. Rushing to get the best seats. Hurrying to get popcorn so that you didn’t miss any of the trailers or the short before the actual movie.  When the movie finally started you were READY. You were invested.

That doesn’t happen anymore. We pre-purchase tickets for all the big releases. Sometimes our seats are already pre-chosen. We meet moments before the movie theatre doors open, get our popcorn, file into an already dark theatre, sit in our seats and barely say a word to one another. We check our phones to avoid watching commercials and barely pay attention to the trailers because we’ve already seen them on television. There is no such thing as a short anymore, which puzzles me because they are always a category at the Oscars. Who gets to see them?

Going to the movies is just business now. I find myself leaving the theatre feeling empty no matter how good the film was. It’s just something to do. You can say you saw it. But there’s no connection. So sad.

I’m sitting here this morning, writing this while I listen to a Bruce Springsteen music station. It’s my way-back machine. I guess I’m just feeling nostalgic and a little bit yearny today. Wishing for simpler times, simpler pleasures, and, as Bruce sings – a little of that Human Touch.

Day 61

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The tree that had the light – unfortunately my skills couldn’t capture it – but it was there!

I’m a lucky grandma. I get to spend a week with my grandbabies. Their parents are off for a little R&R.

So I’m spending these few days getting to know them all just a little better. They’re growing up so fast and becoming such interesting people. I love how their personalities just shine through; they’re not babies anymore. It’s great having real conversations with them and  getting small glimpses of the adults they’ll one day become.

Of course, realizing that they’re getting older reminds me that I am, too. Sigh. I don’t have the energy I did when they were small and when it’s bedtime for them, its bedtime for me.

I like that I get this mini opportunity to grand-parent. The joy of preparing meals for them and sitting down together to eat and talk and laugh. Asking them how school was and did they learn anything interesting. The answer is the same one their father gave me: no. Just doing small things for them that I hope will make them smile. It’s such a joy.

I have always been very conscious of time. The limit of it, the way it is expended in each and every heartbeat and I’ve tried as hard as I can to make sure the time I’ve been given is not wasted.

Lately, and I know this has a lot to do with my father’s passing and my impending 60th birthday, I’ve been doing a lot of wondering about how I’ve spent my time.

When I look back I see the mistakes I made, and I truly regret them. But then, I look at my grandchildren and I see how everything I’ve done has led to them. And for that I have no regret.

The sun is shining today, making the frost in the trees sparkle. At breakfast, my grandsons were talking about it. The youngest told his brother “look at that tree, the top is like a light,” with the wonder only an eight-year old can have.  His brother, who is two years older, scoffed and replied, not unkindly, “it’s not a light, it’s just the sun shining on the frost.” The youngest took a bite of cereal and then very calmly and firmly said, “It’s light. And it’s sparkly.”

I’m so glad I was there to hear them. It’s always the small things.

Day 54 – and I’m feeling like I’ve cheated

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When I set out on this endeavour my goal was to write about purging every day for 100 days. I haven’t met that goal, and now I’m past the midway point.

So, how do I address this?  Do I make excuses, recount the partial successes,  or simply say: such is life?

To be honest, I’m happy with what I have accomplished. I’ve got myself back into a habit of writing and because of that am actually considering getting back into other forms of writing. (I haven’t started – but I’m doing some serious thinking.)

The original point of my little project was to see what I could purge from my life that was weighing me down and holding me back. Clogging the arteries, so to speak.

I’ve done a fair bit of that, and it’s been mainly the metaphysical sort. I’m feeling better – stronger, more confident, content in my own skin – for the first time in a long, long time.

Oh, there are days when I need to remind myself to tend my own garden, to leave others’ alone; days when I have to work at being happy and remind myself I’m not responsible for someone else’s happiness; and there have been days that I’ve struggled to get through simply because no matter what I did it wasn’t going to be enough.  That day.

But I knew that there would be a tomorrow and that tomorrow could be good. If I wanted it to be.

I always wanted it to be.

I count that as A HUGE success of this little undertaking.

I’ve also rid myself and our home of some very unnecessary clutter. Doing this in two places hasn’t been easy, or even (sometimes) very noticeable, but the feeling of just letting things go has been very empowering.

The significant other and I have VERY different ideas about what should be purged and what shouldn’t, and that’s something else I’ve learned along the way – how to be flexible without compromising.

As we move ever closer to Spring and that sense of the world renewing itself I feel myself being pulled to do more, to start accomplishing, to work harder at attaining my goals. I have to remind myself – Spring is just a season. It will pass. Don’t get caught up in the rush of it.

I need to maintain my balance, keep going one day at a time. Spring will move towards Summer as it always does, then Fall will return to remind me that Winter is on its way.

100 days out of 365. I can do that.

Day 41 of The Purge

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Confession: I don’t think I should say this blog is about purging anymore. Although.  .  .

Tim and I talked about purging yesterday. It didn’t go well. More in a bit.

The last four days were what I consider ‘good’ days. The weather was decent; I got some great walks in (Tim even came with me once).

We took some dance lessons on Friday night. Learned the two-step, which I pretty much knew how to do, but they taught us how to twirl and do the cuddle. We need more practice, but we had fun and met some nice people.

Saturday was an incredibly lazy day. The most I did was make this weight watchers loaded cauliflower bake. We visited with some friends in the evening and I wanted to give this recipe a try. It was actually very good. Lo-carb and (fairly) lo-cal. The important thing is it had cheese and bacon in it.

Sunday, I spent the morning on the phone.  Easy to do when you have seven siblings. Then Tim and I indulged ourselves and went to Cora’s for brunch.

I never used to be a Cora’s fan, but I tell you, I sure am now.

After our leisurely brunch – where the subject of purging raised its ugly head – we went for a long walk in the cold, but very sunny afternoon. Lovely.

So now about the purging.

And it occurs to me that I have discovered another way that I am actively purging, but I’ll get to that after this.

While we were waiting for our meals at Cora’s we began discussing the future. As in three years from now when Tim retires again.

One of our main plans is to have our house completely retirement ready. All repairs and reno’s done so that we don’t have to spend our time, energy and limited income on doing them when we have nothing but time on our hands.

To do that we have to really clean house. Tim and I have VERY different ideas about what that means.

I would like to get one of those rent-a-dumpsters and just go to town.

Tim is all for saving every thing. He considers all the stuff we’ve accumulated over 39 years together as’ history’.

You see the problem.

The more we (I) talked the more agitated he got. Finally, it got to the point where he told me he wasn’t going to talk about it anymore. Which annoyed the crap out of me. So I asked him what could we talk about. Nothing, he said. So, what, we’re just going to sit here staring at one another? I asked. I guess, he said.

So that’s what I did. I made my eyes as big as I could and I stared right at him. He was studiously ignoring me, but he finally had to look in my direction. The second his eyes caught mine he started to laugh. You’re such a jerk, he said.

After that we had a great time. However, I wisely left the subject of purging alone.

Now, the way in which I am actively doing some purging is while I’m walking. I get so tired of seeing garbage on the street and walkways and I always complain about it.  Last week I decided to stop complaining. Instead, I pick it up.

Fort McMurray is a wonderful town for having an abundance of garbage cans and receptacles on its streets. And for the most part its citizens are very good about using them. Still, there is always some garbage littering the ground. Generally, it’s plastic stuff. Stuff that won’t break down or biodegrade.

It’s such an easy thing to do to bend down and pick it up and carry it the few feet to the next garbage can.

There you have it. It won’t save the world, but it’ll keep a little more waste out of the river and the trees and maybe it’ll save a bird or a fish.

Gotta love the urge to purge.

Purgey, purgey, purge. Day 37

 

I’ve been busy getting back into the swing of things. Thank God I’m no longer working! I’d be completely useless. That’s not to say I haven’t been busy – I have – it’s just that I seem to require frequent rests in between chores.

My purging right now is focused on health and diet. Tim and I are both seriously over-weight and out of shape. On Monday we both started restricting calories, eating healthier and doing some form of exercise every day. This has not been a painless process.

Going from what was a very high-fat diet to one low in fat, high in protein, fibre and vegetables has taken some serious adjusting.

Then there is the restriction of alcohol to be considered.  . .

Even before our cruise with the all-inclusive drink package that came with it (which we took full advantage of, let me tell you) we were in the habit of having at least two drinks/day.

We had convinced ourselves that a couple of drinks a day wouldn’t hurt us – they were,  in fact, actually good for us. They helped us relax, they provided us with time to connect at the end of Tim’s work day, and, because we needed to believe there was some good in drinking every day we bought into some ‘research’ that said consuming one to two alcoholic drinks per day was shown to have numerous health benefits.

If we were running a marathon every day, maybe. All it did was help make us fatter, lazier and less interested in being healthy.

We have not completely sworn off booze. Oh, no! We like it – a lot – and we especially like consuming it when we socialize. It’s just our approach to it has changed. We will reserve the pleasures of imbibing for those special occasions when we’re with family or friends.

And we will not needlessly or purposely create ‘special’ occasions.

Exercise has been a challenge, too. It requires us to get up quite a bit earlier than we’ve become accustomed to. We each have a half hour routine we do in the morning. It’s a good way to start the day – grunting and groaning, huffing and puffing – but we definitely have more energy and a more positive attitude when we’re done.

Trying to fit some form of exercise in to our evenings is more of a challenge. So far this week we’re 0 for 3. We’ve decided that swimming would be a good choice. It’s just getting our carcasses to the pool that’s the problem. This morning, because we both slept in and missed our workout, we’re definitely committed to going. Maybe. Hopefully.

I’m proud of us, for recognizing that our lifestyle was seriously unhealthy and for choosing to make changes. Change is never easy, and I find that the older I get the easier it is to convince myself that it’s unnecessary and pointless.

Following the death of my father this attitude became constant and predominant. What was the point, I asked myself. If life could be taken from someone as big, strong and gregarious as our father, someone who did not drink to excess, someone who either walled, biked or golfed every day, then why should I concern myself with having a few drinks or doing nothing more strenuous than taking a stroll around the block now and again?

And then I thought of what dad’s reaction would have been to me thinking like that. He wouldn’t have chastised, judged or reprimanded. He would have simply given me that look that said “come on, Kathy Marie, you know better than that.” And then he would have probably said, “let’s go for a walk”.

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Purge, the 16th

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Photo courtesy Google free images

I’m discovering that purging can take many forms.

Today’s purging involved finances. Tim and I are now at that stage in life when we want things to be super simple, and that includes our money (what little we have, ha).

The topic of money is such a volatile one. We all want it, we want LOTS of it, and we don’t want to have to worry about it. We have different ideas about money and what it can do for our lives. Some of us, like me, are savers, and some, like my husband are spenders.

Some clarification: I am a saver, but I am also a spender, but the way I choose to spend my money is much different from the way Tim chooses. Tim is a spender who likes the idea of saving – it just happens to clash with his wants, needs and desires. So, fundamentally, we have opposing views when it comes to what we should do with our money.

What I think money can do for me is: Provide me with a secure, comfortable, well-established and maintained home; take me on vacations to warm places every winter for two weeks or longer; allow me to indulge my grandchildren, son and daughter-in-law when I want to; give me the opportunity to plan trips with my family; provide a little for those less fortunate than we are. That’s not a complete list, but those are probably the most important things on it.

Yesterday we had to go to the bank and make some decisions on the best way to ensure that we’re getting the biggest bang for our bucks as possible. In the past this could lead to some pretty heated arguments between Tim and I. But yesterday I made the conscious decision to not get upset just because Tim’s and my opinions don’t agree. I think he did, too, because it was actually pretty painless. And I think we made some pretty good decisions.

Or, maybe it’s just that we’re getting old(er) and realize that some things, like money, just aren’t worth fighting about.

Day 15 of The Purge

Today was `blue` Monday.  That day in January when people tend to feel more depressed, more blah, more blue, than any other day of the year.

I know I certainly did. I didn`t know it was blue Monday until the radio announcer mentioned it as I was driving on my way to see my doctor. I looked over at Tim and said `well, that explains a lot.` He didn`t say anything back.

I purged my blues by going to get my hair done this afternoon. I`ve been feeling kind of dragged out and just plain old-looking lately, and going to see Agnes, my hairdresser (I love that I can say that!) was the perfect remedy for my blues.

I`ve been seeing Agnes for over 20 years. I don`t know what I`ll do if she ever retires. Just go grey and get myself a bowl, I guess.

I was her only customer today and we spent the afternoon talking about our families, books, the fact that we`re getting older and fatter and not too happy about it, and a million other little things while she transformed me from frumpy and glum into stylish and cheery. The Cointreau she put in my tea might have helped just a little bit with the mood change!

If I ever have enough money to have indulgences – let alone satisfy them – I think the one thing I`d definitely splurge on would be a personal hairdresser. And I would hope that hairdresser could be Agnes.

Purge – Day 10 or, I’m one tenth of the way to making my goal!

20171209_204647.jpgWow.  Ten days. In a row. I haven’t written this much, or this steadily in a long, long time.

For my tenth day of purging, let’s just say I thought about it. If you consider housework – vacuuming, washing floors and dusting – purging, then that’s what I did today.

I did manage to get outside for a short walk. In the -28 degree weather. It was a SHORT walk. Fifteen minutes. But it counts. I figure I must burn twice as many calories walking when it’s this cold because of all the extra layers I put on and the speedy pace I set.

Tim came with me. He complained most of the time. “I thought this was supposed to be a short walk?” “My nose is frozen. I think I’ve got frostbite” “Where are you going!? That way is longer!” “I can’t feel my legs.”

Honestly.  I took him by the hand and told him we’d be okay.

I told dad that Tim was being a whiner. I’m sure he had a good chuckle. But I’m glad he came all the same. It was nice to hold his hand as we trudged through the dark and the cold.

Purge – Day 7

Today’s act of purging was to let go of anger. I don’t know why, but lately I’ve been experiencing random bouts of unexplainable anger.

Poor Tim. I’m usually taking it out on him. (Not that he doesn’t sometimes deserve it. Lol.)

We had to head back up to Fort Mac today. It’s only for a week, but leaving my home always makes me a little testy. I’ve been able to be home for about three weeks so leaving today was extra hard.

We didn’t leave at the time I had hoped to. That didn’t help. I had to kick Tim’s butt out of bed. That didn’t help. I had to start loading the car myself to get him away from the tv. That DEFINITELY didn’t help.

Once we were out the door I told him I’d drive the first leg. I thought if I just had something to focus on besides my anger I’d be ok. It helped. A little.

I think most of this anger comes from feeling like I have no control. Which puzzles me, because lately I’ve been taking all these steps towards regaining control. Purging is certainly helping.

The problem today, I think, is that I resented having to leave home, my grandkids, my comfort zone. I know there is so much more I need to take care of there, and now,  because we have to go to Ft. Mac, I won’t be able to get it done.

Sigh. And get over myself.

Because in a little over a week we are going on a two-week cruise of the Panama Canal.

So, once we got back to our home away from home and I got supper in the oven, I put on my boots and coat and hat and gloves and went for my walk. I told dad how angry I was feeling, how frustrated and upset I was. I heard him tell me that it was okay.

As I walked I kept talking, kept voicing everything I’d been feeling all day. Gradually I felt my shoulders loosening up, the knot in my stomach and chest letting go and my breathing become easier and slower.

As the afternoon darkened I felt calm for the first time all day. With a smile I turned and headed back to the apartment.