This Day In History …

Or more accurately, today we make history! October 17, 2018, recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada. Wherever you stand on the issue, I’m just pointing out the fact. And then I’m saying that I think this is an appropriate move in the right direction. But that’s all I’m saying (On that subject. For now!)

Today is also one year since we lost Gord Downie, a Canadian treasure. Not just an amazing talent, but a truly remarkable human who took every opportunity to throw his full weight behind issues of social justice that he believed in. He brought considerable attention to the travesty of residential schools in Canada. We need to make right with the survivors of that horror, we need to take a very close look and see how something this awful could come about, and then we need to make sure that something like this can never happen again to anyone in our great country.  Because I think we can be a truly great country if we commit ourselves to being great for each and every citizen. That’s my opinion and this is my blog, so I get to spout it. You can disagree with me (or agree!) in the comments. But let’s be polite – this is Canada, after all!

(I have a great Tragically Hip story of my own, but I wrote it and lost it … I’ll rewrite as a post some time!)

Less earth moving, but still important to me on this day, we gave SweetEsther a good and thorough scrub and once-over, winterized and parked her for the winter. As we scrubbed away the bug guts, wildfire ash, and tar splatters of the summer, we talked about what we could do over the winter. And the consensus is that we need to work hard now on the house renos, get those finished early enough so we can spend the spring getting the Westy pimped out for Summer 2019. We have parts waiting for installation, and plans to work on the lighting, upholstery and replace tables, engine rebuild (hopefully!) But all of that will have to wait until the snow falls and subsequently melts … until then, we plan and dream. And reno. And explore life in a small northern town. All part of the adventure!

Washing SE
SweetEsther gets a final scrub of the season. We’re already plotting what upgrades we want to do before hitting the road next spring!

#SweetEsther

Happy Thanksgiving

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The view from my kitchen window.

Here in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October. I like that. Because we are North-ish, and if we waited until the end of November as the US does, most of us would be in winter mode already, under snow – the harvest would be long past and no beautiful fall foliage. Plus, it’s good to have a whole 7 weeks between turkey day and the Christmas feast (I need that recovery time!)

We just enjoyed a fantastic turkey dinner with two of my sisters and their families. Held some babies, chatted and laughed with nieces & nephews, sister’s & brothers-in-law. Stopped for a quick visit with Mom, then home to light the pellet stove, pour a glass of wine and cuddle up with my sweet husband to watch a little SNL and “Anne”  before bed.

It’s all good. And no matter how much I have whined recently, I am so very aware of how much I have to be thankful for: this adventure with Randy (both the SweetEsther-trek this summer and our move up North); this time with my mother; spending Thanksgiving with my sisters again after so many years … I’m even thankful for the people I miss because they are far away from me since the move, the times we did spend together are now precious memories. The list goes on and on in my head, but I won’t bore you with it … You’re welcome.

Tomorrow I will get up and get back to work and there will be very real frustrations and I will undoubtedly whine some more because, let’s face it, that’s sort of what I do. But I am aware of these wonderful gifts in my life, and though I don’t deserve them any more than anyone else, still they have come to me! I  have much to be grateful for and though I know I don’t say it often enough, I am indeed very thankful.

#SweetEsther

What are you feeling thankful for? (Assuming that you are!) I’d love to hear about it … (scroll down to leave a comment.)

Just Roll With It

Tonight Randy & I went to spend some time with my 87 year old mother at the care home where she lives. It was just after dinner when we arrived, many of the residents were still straggling at the tables, but Mom was in her room, sitting in her rocking chair. . . frantically chowing down on a huge bag of caramel popcorn that was also strewn in a trail from the door. . .

As we entered the room, she held up her hand and said, “I don’t want to get you involved in this!” The scene was almost funny.

Almost.

My mother has Alzheimer’s and acute hearing loss, so from her perspective, she had been at the dinner table when one of the ‘waitresses’ had asked her a question that she couldn’t hear. She had said ‘pardon me?’ (completely normal to this point) but it just never got loud enough for Mom to understand, which is very embarrassing for her (very hard for her to hear in a large, crowded room.) That’s when it got crazy. Because in Mom’s recollection of events, someone was suddenly on her, reprimanding her like a child for  swearing and sending her to her room without her dinner! She was hungry. She was humiliated. She sat in her room swearing and horking down the afore mentioned huge bag of caramel popcorn.

Here’s the thing with my mother in her current stage of dementia, she swears. Like a sailor! It’s almost surreal sometimes. But here’s what I have observed about her swearing, it is always a defiant reaction to fear. Because she can’t remember. She can’t remember selling her house and choosing to live at The Manor. She can’t remember who’s dead and who’s still alive. Some days she can’t remember her own children. And in the midst of all that, she lives in a world of isolation because of her hearing loss and she can’t even pick up the phone to call someone when crap like this happens to her, she is utterly powerless. To use a word my mother has adopted recently, that’s just too fucking scary!

‘I’m sorry this is happening to you,’ is a phrase I have adopted from The Walking Dead. Rick Grimes says something like that to the bicycle zombie in the park in the first episode and I have always felt the impact of those simple empathetic words. Tonight it was Randy who said those words to Mom, because whatever did or didn’t go down in that dining room, this most certainly was happening to her and it was horrible, and there was nothing else to say without invalidating her experience or her feelings. Then I started humming an old Scottish hymn, as loudly as I could so she could hear me, and she calms a bit. “She’s singing?” Randy says. Her voice is very soft and I have to listen hard. “Yes, she’s singing.” – She’s singing all the German swear words she knows to the tune of According To Thy Gracious Word! – I nearly split a seam trying to hold in my laughter. I decided to go with what was working, so we sang hymns, and golden oldies, and pop songs; me singing the lyrics as I remembered them, Randy making up hilarious words of his own at times, and Mom singing happily in her alternate language of choice (or not choice. I don’t believe she has any conscious control over this anymore). We must have sounded insane, but whatever! She felt safe and the swear words slowly dissipated and she was just my sweet little mother again.

We had some coffee with too much cream, we worked on the puzzle, she asked about our house renos, even. Smiles. We left her with hugs and ‘love you’s, sitting contentedly in her rocking chair.

Some people may find all of this terribly offensive. Some people may judge. But me? I’m just very blessed to have been here, to share the scary and the ugly and the hilarious and the precious tonight. I’m just grateful that I was able to roll with it!

#SweetEsther

blessed be the tie that binds

Like Chocolate for Breakfast

Eating chocolate for breakfast may be one of the early signs of looming depression. Not clinically recognized, I’m sure, but I feel the anecdotal evidence would support my hypothesis. I didn’t technically have chocolate for breakfast, it was more like with breakfast, so I’m probably still OK.

Dragged myself out of bed at 6am this morning, after 4 solid hours of sleep (sarcasm) because lying there won’t result in more sleep, it just leaves my brain running wildly. Running brains are better spent on blogs where they can be contained within the parameters of a 300 word (give or take a few) post.

What I’m really doing here is stalling. Every day there are more things to do in this house than time or energy to do them. And none of them are ever the things I planned to do. Rarely are they the things I want to do. Yesterday I went out to the van to search for missing receipts and I was temporarily transported by the smell of an old Westy. It’s not a particularly pleasant smell, but I love it. I love it because it conjures thoughts of the ocean, of winding roads and open roads, of camping in the woods and hiking up to thundering waterfalls, of bird calls and new friends every day and dewy mornings and road-trip music …. it’s a smell that calls to my gypsy soul. I wanted to just jump in, start her up and go. Just go! Anywhere that SweetEsther could take me. Back to the ocean, or the mountains, or the desert.

Of course, living in a Westfalia has it’s issues. Not unlike this house, it’s old, it smells weird, and it’s terribly small. Yet I long for my Westy time, I think of it with fondness. 20180928_075457Maybe some day I will get past the loneliness of this place, the exhaustion and hopelessness that this old house entails for me. Maybe someday I’ll walk into a grimey old house with a dirt cellar and I’ll breath it in and remember this place, this adventure with fondness. Maybe I’ll even long for it! One can hope.

But for now, I have my tea in my new favourite Salvation Army Store mug and I’m going to go light the pellet stove for the first time (because it’s wicked cold this morning!) and then I will carry on.

(I’m curious if anyone else ever has fond memories and warm feelings elicited by less-than-pleasant smells. Or is this just another anomaly of me? Feel free to share in the comments and make me feel less weird!)

#SweetEsther

 

…slow ride, take it easy…

Sept Hwy
My phone camera through the bug-splattered windshield can’t do the fall foliage justice, but the sky is just that big and deep! 

Sometime Tuesday morning, as the coffee is poured….

“Good morning.”

     ” ‘morning!”

“It’s a beautiful day…sunny…warm. Shame not to be out in it.”

     “Yep. But I guess it’s down to the cellar … still a lot of work down there.”

“Hm. And it really does need to be done. Of course, we need to replace the front doors before it gets too cold outside, too.”

     “We don’t even have doors yet! Are you saying we should go buy doors today instead?”

“No. Just sayin’… “

     “Cause I think you’re right, we probably should drive into Prince George for doors before SweetEsther goes into storage for the winter.”

“That’s a convincing argument, and it sounds right to me. But driving to PG twice in one week?”

     “But this time in the Westfalia!”

“But it’s not for fun. Not like playing hooky or anything.”

     “No, or course not! This is just to get doors, the responsible job to do today. And the van is the best way to bring them home.”

“Right. This is about being grownups and making the responsible choices with our reno time. For sure.”

     “For sure!”

Jump in van. Breath deeply of the old Westy smell. Feel the rumble as her 36-year-old 4-cyclinder engine clumsily comes to life once again. Turn up the tunes (hello FM 95.9 the GOAT!) and settle in for a long and peaceful drive through some of the most beautiful autumn vistas. Everything is better when we’re on SweetEsther-time!

 

Deer
This week we’ve seen a moose and five deer already. Still waiting for a bear sighting…I’m sure that will come!

 

#SweetEsther

Did I Actually Just Say-Do-Think That!

We live in a world where any stupid thing you do could end up as a meme on social media somewhere. I think about this often because I make a lot of embarrassing mistakes, do a lot of stupid brain-dead things. I’m just like that.

I’ve reached an age where I’ve finally learned (mostly) (ok, partly) to just let the embarrassing gaffes go and move on,  just grateful that no one was standing around at the time with a cell phone, a twitter account, and a mean streak! But it’s those mistakes that hurt people or do damage somehow, even potential damage, that haunt me. They keep me up at night. And I feel like I’ve had more than my usual amount of them recently. Not my best self lately, that’s for sure.

That’s when it’s good to go visit my mom. She’s at that stage of Alzheimer’s where you only have to wait 5 minutes, or less, and she’ll have forgotten the stupid thing you just said, did, were. Maybe I show up one day and she’s in a bad head space and I don’t handle it so well and I end up going home and having a bit of a cry. But the next time I show up, she has no memory of my blundering stupidity. She might be so thrilled to see me and for however long our visit lasts, I’m golden! Those days are precious.

Actually, all the days are precious, even the ‘bad’ ones. And I really am blessed to get to be here to share them with her.

Yes, maybe the best thing to do when I’m feeling stupid or embarrassed or like the biggest dumb-ass ever, is to spend some time with Mom. She has a real short memory and a really big heart and it can help me put things back in perspective, or at least give me a break from the self-flagellation. I’d like to be more like her (only, you know, while I can still remember what year it is and where I live!)