Lately. . .

by Kathy Larson

Lately I’ve been feeling the pull of the past; I get these odd tugs at my memory and for fleeting seconds I go back in time and my heart offers up fragments of bits and pieces of the many versions of me that I’ve been as I’ve struggled to become this woman, this person, this identity.

Snapshots of my childhood flit across my inner vision — fields of grain and candy red poppies swaying in the heat of summer; a feeling that if I could float across them, be borne away on dry, whispering oceans of delicate beauty my life would be . . .

Just the other day the breeze through my bedroom window brought with it a smell of damp earth and of dust heavy with the warmth of the sun and as I lay there, in my bed, contemplating the reasons for rising that day I relived another morning from many years past of sheets twisted around legs and drowsy smiles and an inkling of what might come and in that moment I lived such delirious happiness that when I thought upon it now, all grey haired, crows feet and papery skin I marvelled at how far I had come and smiled, because regret is such a silly waste of time.

Mine is a poor memory, details have not been carefully curated and there are times when I’ve struggled to believe that my life has even been half of what I imagine it was, but where my mind fails my heart triumphs. One line from a song heard when I was sixteen can cause it to beat erratically and once more I am that young girl so sure yet unsure in my elephant-leg bell bottoms, platform shoes and pink plaid smock top striding down the dusty small town street of my youth wishing I was anywhere but there. A blue mustang pulls up, I hop in, Aerosmith blasts from an 8-track player, tires squeal, there is no better moment than the one I am in right now.

In reliving these moments past, these still-lifes, these clips and snap-shots of my life story I have come to recognize the finiteness of every hour that I have left and, consequently, I have wasted many of them thinking about all the mistakes I’ve made, the wrongs I’ve committed, the people I’ve hurt, the chances I didn’t take, the fears and prejudices I’ve allowed myself to be subject to, and then, in turn, I have used some of those hours to remind myself of the love I’ve given and been given, of the kindnesses I’ve shown and been shown, of the sacrifices I’ve made and of those made for me, of the successes I’ve enjoyed, and of the life I’ve lived, and though every hour may seem shorter than the one before I need only remember: these are my hours. And the heart will remember.

Advertisement

Coronavirus, Where is Spring? and Keeping Motivated

April 6, 2020

by Kathy Larson

It is snowing. Again. I am so tired of snow. Of winter. I want Spring to come. To see trees budding, grass growing and flowers peeking out from cool earth. This has been a long, cold season, made that much worse by this coronavirus that has gripped the world.

For the past few weeks I, like millions of others, have been glued to the news, following the ever-climbing numbers associated with this virus. Numbers of infected, of tested, of deaths. Numbers of unemployed, of businesses closed, of personal debt predictions. Numbers related to health care — those who are working to help others, those who are helping others who have themselves become infected, and the constant call for masks, respirators and other ppe.

Watching and listening to this news became an obsession. I felt that if I wasn’t paying attention 24-7 then I might miss something critically important. In doing my part by staying home and only leaving the house when absolutely necessary (and for a daily walk to get some fresh air) I had come to think that staying tuned to the news ALL THE TIME was my obligation and responsibility.

I see now that this was an unhealthy, though understandable, reaction to the crisis our country, and the world is facing. So, yesterday, I took the day off. I didn’t watch the news even once. We made some phone calls, placed a couple of video calls just to check in with family, and then I turned it all off for the day.

Instead of drowning in bad news and despairing numbers I soaked in a bath of epsom salts and lavender scented bubbles. I treated myself to a lovely refreshing coconut face mask, gave myself a mini-manicure and then immersed myself in feel-good music in a room all by myself. I allowed myself to think of other things and not feel guilty about ignoring the pandemic. When I emerged from my happy little bubble a couple of hours later I felt much, much better.

The hardest thing about this period of mandatory isolation is staying motivated. Though I have all this time on my hands I can’t seem to do much with it. I try, I really do, but more often than not, I fail to accomplish much of anything.

You’d think I’d have written a novel by now, with all this uninterrupted time. But how can I write anything when I’m glued to the television and my brain is preoccupied by thoughts of impending doom and the coming apocalypse?

I could have crocheted a couple of afghans in this surfeit of spare time, but all I have to show is a couple of produce bags and a rather large shopping tote. They’ll come in handy once the ban on plastic bags is reinstated — if it’s reinstated.

There is a roll of wallpaper I bought over a month ago sitting on top of the cupboard I bought it for that stares forlornly at me every time I walk by. Yeah, yeah, I see you, I answer silently each time, I’ll get around to you, just give me time.

Maybe. This week. We’ll see.

I know this much: the television is staying off this week. At least until the evening news.

It’s Time

by Kathy Larson

March 30, 2020

The struggle continues. COVID-19 rages on, and the world is – except for Brazil – on lockdown.

Trump and Bolsonaro, best buds. Bolsonaro is an unchecked dictator, whereas, thank God and any other deities you can think of, Trump is a wannabe dictator who is in check.

But I did not come here today to write about the pandemic. No, today I came here to write about anything else but.

So, here it is: Candles.

I am reading an article from a December issue of Canadian Living magazine about candles. How they’re made, what makes a good candle, wax formulations, the scents and essences used, and the different types of wicks employed. Who knew a candle could be so complex?

In addition to the CL article I have also recently read a short piece in a Martha Stewart Living mag that touched briefly on the art of candles. Now, of course, this is Martha Stewart, so I was expecting a little bit of extravagance in relation to the candles represented.

But it was the CL article that blew my mind.

The cheapest candle mentioned in their article was $35. The most expensive was $150. In the MSL article they mentioned candles from Bath and Body Works (reasonably priced at around $22) and went up to a high of $110 (US $, I’m presuming).

I love candles. Always have. From the time I was a teenager and bought my first sand candle. Remember those? Wax was poured into sand moulds — some very intricate — and dyed in incredible colour combinations. They were funky and cool and nobody burned them.

Eventually, I had a big collection of them. Years later they would, sadly, wind up in the garbage. Why did I throw them out? Wax does not go bad, but, what did I know. All I recall is that they had become tacky and dusty with age and I did not want them around anymore.

Candles make a perfect gift, both to give and to receive. They are nice to tuck into a small hostess gift, or to give to someone you don’t know well, or, even better, to someone you do know extremely well. You can’t go wrong with a candle — it’s not like giving a bottle of red and then finding out that your recipient only drinks white, or doesn’t — gasp! — drink wine at all.

All the candles I’ve been given over the years (since the sad sand candles, that is) have met the match. I burn them and I delight in them. The soft flickering of a flame in a dim room, the delicate scent of lavender, and sandalwood, of bergamot and lime, can instill in me a sense of peace and calm like nothing else is able to.

That said, I would NEVER pay $150 for a candle! I don’t care if it is hand-poured, that the wax is derived from apricot kernels, or that the scent is made from sustainably harvested ingredients and lovingly distilled according to ages-old traditions. It’s a candle! It’s going to burn! Those scents are fleeting! And you’re still left with a cheap glass or porcelain container that you won’t know what the hell to do with but you can’t throw out because that would just be wrong.

A candle is one of the simplest things there is on this earth. It’s wax and a wick with maybe a little scent thrown in. Regardless of the price, they’re all going to burn when lit. I can’t imagine I’d feel very peaceful watching a $150 candle burn — that would be like watching money go up in smoke.

So, I’ll continue to buy Yankee brand candles, Bath and Body Works candles, and candles from The Body Shop when they are on sale. I’ll buy candles from small craft fairs, farmer’s markets, and local artisans quaint little shops. I’ll buy them as souvenirs, as gifts, and as odor-eliminators for my bathrooms. I will burn them on a cold winter night while bundled in a cozy blanket, or on a beautiful summer evening with soft breezes caressing my cooling skin as we enjoy a glass of wine on the deck.

As interesting and informative as the Canadian Living and Martha Stewart Living articles were, all I really learned is that there are people out there who are willing to pay ridiculous prices for something just so they can say they did.

Not me, though.

If you care to, please answer this question: Would you pay over $50 for a candle, and why?

March 6, 2020

Here I go again. . .

Something happened. I haven’t felt like writing for over 3 years. It feels like I’ve lost a piece of myself. But. . .I don’t have the determination to find it and get it back.

Lately, I’ve been trying to force myself into writing. I’ve entered a couple of free contests, I’ve done tons of ‘research’ and read a gazillion winning entries of said contests, but still, I haven’t felt that spark.

I miss the spark. I miss how excited I used to get at the prospect of finding time to write. To pigeon-holing that time just for me. Now, I’ve got all the time I could possibly want. I’m retired. And the last thing I ever do is make time for writing. Maybe it wasn’t the writing that excited me, after all, maybe it was the selfish pursuit of time I could claim as just my own.

Throughout my day I find myself thinking of things I could write about, things I’m passionate about. Rarely, though, do I have the tools with me necessary for writing when these thoughts occur. So, I think I’ll hold on to them until I’m at the computer or have a pen and paper, but by the time I get around to it those thoughts have gone. So, I do a crossword puzzle. Or crochet. Or make something to eat.

No spark.

I want to write. I love to write. Why can’t I want to love to write?

Maybe, writing here will help. I’ll see.

Fingers on keyboard, words on screen, match to flame. Spark.

Day 61

20180306_092625.jpg
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.

#57 – like the ketchup, it’s coming slowly

tomatoes-ketchup-sad-food-161025.jpeg

I’ve been home for a couple of days. I love being home. I’m sure I’ve said before how my home is my happy place.

It’s also a source of worry and anxiety at the moment. There are so many half-finished projects here – painting, windows, floors, deck, garage – the list goes on.

Whenever I walk through the doors after having been gone for a while I feel this immense sense of relief and release. Then, after a few hours I start feeling anxious and in need of doing something.

I look around and think – okay, let’s make a list. So, I do. And by the time I’m done I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t know where to start.

Part of the problem is knowing that I won’t be staying for very long. It’s so hard to accomplish anything when you can’t completely focus on the task you’ve chosen.

Because it’s never a situation of having only one thing to do, there’s all the other bits and pieces of life that have to be taken care of as well.

I’m beginning to worry that I’ll ever get anything done. I have great intentions and my desire to get things done is as strong as it ever was. The problem is I can’t seem to muster the requisite energy and the willpower.

I got home Wednesday around noon. After a bite of lunch and a small rest, I took stock. I’d had some vehicle troubles on the way home, so that was priority number one. Then it was heading out to the store for some staples. After that I unpacked, made a couple of calls and decided I’d better get the driveway shoveled. That was my day.

I came in from shoveling thinking I’d have supper and then get started on some other project, but after supper I was pooped. I watched television and drank tea until it was time for bed.

I’m sorry for boring you with such mundane details, but I’m trying to make sense of where my time goes and why I always have this feeling of having not done enough with it.

Yesterday, I got down to cleaning and purging – a task that I’m coming to believe is like living in hell. No matter how much you do there’s still more, and it never seems like you’re making a dent in any of it.

I focused on a bunch of small tasks yesterday – I cleaned out a few drawers, did a bigger grocery run, got my appointments made and posted a bunch of stuff I want to get rid of on buy and sell sites.

Then it was monitoring replies to my posts, getting soup ready for supper and working on finishing up a crochet project I’d  started. I wanted to start painting window frames, but.  .  . by 7 o’clock I was done.

More tv and a few games on my tablet before heading to bed and reading.

It doesn’t sound like much, does it? But I swear, I FELT busy, and I was too tired after supper to seriously think of doing anything more.

I know that much of this has to do with age – it’s a natural progression to slow down. But I’m also fighting with a sense of guilt for not having the kind of energy and enthusiasm I once had for fluffing up my nest.

I’ve got to figure this out.

 

Purge away – Day 8

pexels-photo-273026.jpeg

Because I’m up in Fort McMurray it’s a little hard for me to do any really meaningful or substantive purging. But I tried.

I got rid of last year’s calendars. And put up our new ones.

Last year’s calendars were full of birthdays, appointments, holidays and the usual stuff we write on calendars. I imagine yours are just like mine. I like to go back through them and see what we did over the previous 12 months before tossing them out. It’s a nice reminder of how we used our time.

The calendars we use these days are a lot different than the ones we used to have. We don’t just get the free ones anymore from the bank or the local Chinese food restaurant. (Though I do still take them. After all, they’re free!)

My DIL usually makes us one that features their family. That’s always my favorite.  This year I made my own calendar that has everyone’s birthdays, our holidays and other important dates pre-printed on it. Life is so much easier when I don’t have to try and remember everything.

Also this year, I made a calendar for my mom that has pictures from the last year of dad’s life.  Snapshots of some of the great moments of us all together one last time, some poignant shots of the two of them enjoying the little time they had left – decked out in their matching Maple Leaf’s pajamas, always a smile on their faces.

I like calendars. I like them not just for their practicality, but for the pictures,  as well – especially the ones of family. This year, the one from Lee’s Restaurant in Gibbons has pictures of animals on it. Who doesn’t like pictures of cute puppies and kittens, colorful birds and glittering fish?

The free calendar is a standard size with decent sized squares for jotting appointment times and birthday reminders in. The family calendar, however, is fantastic. It’s a big one, with lots of room for writing on it.  And seeing my grandkids’s smiling faces each day brings me immeasurable joy. Just no way to beat that combination of form and function.

I know this was a small act of purging today, and really, all I did was make room for replacements. But I figure not all purging has to be about making a permanent hole in the stuff we collect, sometimes it can be about opening up a little more space for possibilities.

 

July 30th

Day 212 — A better day weather wise.  Not hot, but at least warm.  I spent the morning doing — what else? — housework.  Then, in the afternoon I did this:

My Ford Edge -- all cleaned and shiny!
My Ford Edge — all cleaned and shiny!

 

It took me about 5 hours but that baby is nearly show-room clean!  Inside and out.  Although I enjoyed the process of cleaning it (I’m wierd like that) I have to say that I’ll never do it again.  It took much to much time and my back and shoulders were killing me when I was done.  Next time, I’m taking it in and paying the $100 to have it done.

So, yeah.  That was my Tuesday.

April 6th

Day 97 — A quiet day inside away from the snow.  In the evening I went on a ‘date’ with Landon.  The last time he and I did anything together, just the two of us, was probably before he moved out of home.  It was nice.  We had a bite to eat at Boston Pizza (love those bacon-wrapped steak skewers!) and then went to the Rush game.  First time watching a lacrosse game.  Loads of fun!  It’s a loud, rowdy crowd and a great sport to watch.  Will definitely do it again.  Spending time with my grown-up boy was a delight.  Hopefully, we don’t wait 20 years to do it again.