Friday, 31 May 2013

A Friday Bonus...Where Ever Did I Put It?

           

            There is nothing more frustrating, and depressing, than being unable to locate an item that I'm sure is in the house somewhere. Losing your keys, which people often complain about, is a minor issue on the down slide of memory loss, for they will be found wherever you left them when you last came in the door. Simple, think what you were doing and what you were wearing and...behold...the lost keys are lost no more, found in the pocket of the jacket worn to the grocery store.
            People like me, those with more of their life behind them than ahead, worry about memory loss.  There's the safety issue; like leaving the stove on...a major fire hazard and thank goodness for those mandatory smoke alarms; running water in the tub then getting waylaid with a phone call and   wondering why the hall carpet is so wet. We've all had experiences like that. 
            I've found one system that works for me...the list. The problem is you have to remember where your list is, and if it's for shopping, you have to remember to take it with you. I have a metal door and I put a fridge magnet right above the door lock. When I start a list I post it on the door, and add to it as necessary. Sometimes the list is for things I need to give to one of the kids, or to take to their place. It's right in my face when I'm ready to leave so I have no excuse for forgetting anything.                                                                                
            I also use the magnets for the purpose for which they were intended, to collect junk on my refrigerator door. I have phone numbers, recent ones as I forget, and yet I remember the one from my teens when I lived in Toronto. I wonder who might have that number now; maybe I should call it, just for fun and see. Sorry, I digress, good thing I don't have the tub running. Also on my fridge are the to do items, calls I need to make, pictures of possible hair styles for my next cut, a possible new d├ęcor for the bedroom, a recipe I want to try. You know…the important stuff.
            I just took a moment to look up a word in the dictionary. Refrigerator. I had spelled it refrigerator, and used the term fridge, for short. It didn't look right, hence the dictionary. Now here's a question, why is fridge, which is short for refrigerator, spelled with a 'd' and refrigerator is not? See how easy it is for the mind to be led astray. Maybe I have ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I go along with the attention deficit but believe me, I just got up from my afternoon nap and there's nothing hyperactive about me.
            Last month I lost something and I was frustrated no end in my search, only to come up empty handed. Being of a creative mind I love to get books and magazines from the library, my way of stimulating those creative juices. I have a routine for when I go to the library, a book bag that is used for nothing but the library, with a large side pocket. In that side pocket I keep my library card and the printout of what books I have taken out. At home the bag sits by my chair in the living room and the books stay in the bag.
            When I took my load of books and magazines back to the library one day last month I was missing a magazine. No way... this can't happen, I have a system. It had to be the library's fault. They, obviously, and rightly so, thought it was my fault. They allowed me to renew the magazine, giving me the opportunity to find it and return it without a fine. They only allowed me to do this once and then I had to face up to the fact that my no-fail system, failed. A magazine that was six months old and cost
about $3.50 new, cost me eight dollars to replace. 
            I took it on the chin, not only does my memory fail me at times but so did my beat-the memory-loss system. So I paid the fine, but the frustration never went away. I live in a one bedroom apartment and even though I have it crammed full of books, magazines and craft supplies there are only so many places the magazine could hide. I pretended to do some spring cleaning and looked in places I hadn't seen  in awhile, but only after all the more likely hiding spots were ruled out. No magazine.
            There was only one conclusion to make. If I didn't have the magazine, and the library didn't have the magazine, then I must have given it to someone to read. There must have been something in that magazine worthy of the risk of my forgetting who I gave it to. I have come to rely on the memory of others but that's not always reliable either.
            Maybe there was an article to do with parenting and I loaned it to my daughter. She was very definite, when questioned, that I had not given her the magazine. I basically knew this was true because if the article is good, I usually photocopy it for her so she can read it at her leisure and would have it to refer back to. I know how busy she is with a full time job and three kids and leisure time is not something she has a lot of.
            My other thought, was there an article that would interest my friend and neighbour? She does have leisure time and likes to read so I would be more likely to give her the magazine. My friend has a few years on me and understands the memory issues we face. She didn't deny I might have given her the magazine, but she was very definite that she didn't have it. Her place is one bedroom bigger than mine and she did a search of likely places and came up empty.
            For the last month I have been more cautious when I bring books home, check the printout to make sure I have everything, and always double check with the librarian that all items have been returned.     
            Today, almost one month to the day that I paid the fine, the magazine was found. My neighbour, that very same neighbour who had denied having the magazine, brought it back to me. It had gotten lost in a pile of magazines and papers and overlooked in her search. I'll take it back to the library tomorrow and get my money back as they told me to keep the receipt in case I found it.
            I am vindicated, my system did not fail me...my neighbour's system may need a bit of work, but my system held. This has been a small victory in the battle of shrinking brain cells and memory lapses.  It's too bad the magnet and memo on the door don't work for everything, like when I boiled the pot dry the other night.
           I'll have to think of some new system for that, and when I do I'll share it with my friend.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Lending Library


            “Didn't your mother teach you sharing?”  That is what my husband, god rest his soul, used to ask me whenever I had something he wanted, usually in the food or drink category. I guess she did, because I don't mind sharing.           
            Like the library, it's all about sharing. I love to read, and since I could never afford to purchase or to store the quantity of books I read, I don't mind sharing books with other like minded patrons. But my gawd people, what are you doing while you're reading?
            The other day, while reading a library book, I found a large dark brown coloured stain, mirrored on two pages like a dirty ink blot, a wannabe Rorschach test. Four pages later there were a few more brown smudges, followed by some grease stains and then the book read clean. You, the reader, were eating a chocolate dip donut weren't you?  At least that's what I'm telling myself as I don't want to consider some of the other possibilities.
            I understand, I live alone and often read while I eat a meal or have a snack. But if I can't manage the food and the book, I set the book aside so as to not soil it's pages. Obviously some of the other library card holders are not as conscientious.
            I finished that chocolate stained book and started another...another mystery. Maybe that library patron who likes to eat and read has the same taste in books. This book has orange stains, Cheezies would be my guess. Now, come on, everybody knows if you eat Cheezies your fingers get stained with orange dust. If you're going to eat and read at least make an effort to keep your hands clean.
            This has all been very alarming and is taking away from my pleasure in reading, especially when the next book had green stains, not stains really but little green blobs. Ooh, nasty, makes me
want to wash my hands, and the book.
            This is all so disconcerting. Where is the respect, people?
            I read with clean hands, OK, maybe sometimes too clean. I like nothing better than to share my Calgon moment with a good book. Turning pages gets difficult with a wet hand, so I might leave damp marks on the pages. No stains, just water marks, maybe a slight thickening of the paper...except for that one time I dropped the book in the hot water...it was never the same.
            Since I'm so aware of food stains, (I feel better thinking they're food stains), I've come to notice something else. Little circles drawn around some of the page numbers. What is this?  I looked the page over and it was just part of the story, nothing so outstanding as to be marked. It wasn't like marking the pages with 'explicit sexual content' like some teenagers have been known to do. If the circles were in place of a bookmark the reader was not reading very long at any given time.
            And initials, have you seen those initials in the front of the book? So the reader will know he or she has read the book, in case the synopsis on the back didn't ring any bells. I understand that, I've read a synopsis and, thinking it sounded like a good story, signed the book out only to remember it had been a good story...when I read it the first time. When you read an average of three or more books a week it's hard to remember them all. That's why I keep a list, by author, in a little notebook. If we all were to put our initials in the front of the book we'd need to have stickers that would cover them over, like the library did when they hand stamped due dates on each book.
            The other day I was reading a James Patterson novel, from the Women's Murder Club series.  Someone had deemed themselves an editor. Now, we've all found the odd typo in a book and been tempted to correct it, to correct a mistake in typing, not to change the wording. This was entirely different. This was striking a line through the words as written and substituting other words. It occurred a number of times and I realized it was for all the same words. Things like “...had gotten sick...” was
changed to 'had become sick', “...had already gotten to the school...” changed to 'already arrived at school..'. That reader must have been an English teacher or something. It had looked OK to me, perhaps casual English, as opposed to formal English. If it was wrong, how did it not get corrected in the editing process? Made me curious, so I looked it up in a book of grammar, and the reader was right, as far as proper use of the language is concerned.
            I've just finished another book and this one was snack free and pencil free. There were no notations, no initials and no stains. Picking up the next book off the to-be-read pile of books by my chair I leaf through the pages looking for signs of misuse and abuse. I want to get it out in the open, to not let it be a distraction while I'm reading the story. This book is pristine, and it's two years old, what a marvel.
            Ah ha, this book contains a gift, in the form of a bookmark. Now I understand, the bookmark is a shopping list, for the grocery store. Which reminds me, it's dinner time and my lasagna is ready. A glass of wine, some Italian pasta, what could be better as I sit down to read a Lisa Scottoline novel about an Italian lawyer from Philadelphia. I promise to be neat.

             
           
           

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

On Social Networking


            I'm not a very social person. I was going to say sociable, but I think there's a big difference between being social, and being sociable. I like alone time and the pursuit of quiet activity; painting, knitting, reading and writing. See, not very social. I'm not a joiner and prefer small social gatherings to large crowds. But I am sociable. I talk to strangers when waiting in line, and always stop for a chat with the neighbours.
            Not being a very social person, I have a hard time getting into this social networking thing. 
            Recently I was invited to be a friend on Facebook. I've managed to progress from 'techno-peasant' to 'middling middle class' in my computer skills. It was amazing, it was like a banner waved across the sky announcing my arrival, and I got a few shocked responses, in welcome.
            Deciding to play, I looked up the names of people I'd known, people I was sorry to have lost contact with. I had to sort through lists and lists of people with the same name, but with pictures and bio information, I was finally able to find an old friend. Funny, she's in that same 'middling middle class' and we prefer to communicate by E-mail. 
            With the written word you don't see facial expressions, you don't hear tone of voice and you don't know the mood of the writer. It's too easy to react to something you've read, and write back, without thinking first.           
            So, I got to wondering, why is so much of our communication by written word, or texted short forms?  When did talking to real people go out of style? It seems that with E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and texting, real conversations with real people don't happen as often anymore. Why does this happen?  Is it because everyone is so busy and it's easier to tweet or text a short message than to get caught up in a lengthy conversation?
             I know, for busy people, the way to survive their hectic lives is to multitask. Fortunately, I've moved beyond that busy time of kids, work and the terrible, never ending demands on my time and attention. I'm fortunate to be retired and have, if I'm so inclined, the time to spend in social pursuits.
            In spite of having 'free' time I find that most of my communication is done by E-mail. When I turn on my computer in the morning I look forward to seeing what messages await me. I get about fifteen to twenty E-mails a day, but instead of making me feel happy, I'm enervated, feeling a bit sad and lonely.
            The problem is that the E-mails are the same almost every day; newsletters from Quilting Daily, Beading Daily, Hooked on Crochet, Fine Cooking and such, you get the picture. I'm in creative overload with this daily influx of ideas. I've saved more designs and patterns than I could ever make in two lifetimes. Sometimes it seems this bombardment of inspirational E-mails has served to stifle my creativity, rather than inspire it.
            Day after day I peruse the E-mails and am able to delete these messages with no further sense of loss...for the project that will never be. I scan the list, seeking any message or note from a living, breathing soul, rather than an automatic message. Is that why social networks are so popular? You don't get the same influx of junk mail; you get responses from real people...friends. What a concept.
            And now I’m blogging. I was curious, and the first to admit, I didn’t know much about it when I began. What was I going to write about and who was going to care enough to read what I posted? The A-Z Challenge was perfectly timed to give me the boost I needed.
And now, I’m addicted to the Blogger Dashboard.
It brings back all sorts of memories from my youth when I had pen pals from all over the world. At one time three of us wrote to each other, from Canada, Germany and Mexico, and wore coins from each country on a chain. I loved the international aspect of it all; how I could have a friend I would never meet, living so far away, in a country I would most likely never visit.
When I check the stats on my blog, I am blown away to see the countries represented in my viewing audience. I can’t help but wonder; who are you, where do you live, what is your family like? It really is a small world when I can write about something and someone on the other side of the world can read it.  
It’s a kid in the candy store kind of feeling, if you know what I mean. Where my health issues may have made my personal world much smaller, the computer and my blog have blown it wide open.
My sincere thanks, to those who have become followers, and to those who come to visit. I enjoy this kind of writing, the creative essay. As much as I love crafting a tale of pure fiction, I like having these ‘conversations’, having the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings and welcome any comments in return.
It truly is a small world.  

Friday, 17 May 2013

Any Beatles Fans Out There?

Though Wednesdays are my usual day to post, I decided to throw something fun in for Friday.

If you're of a certain age, you'll remember the first time the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show, and all of the furor when the British band hit the North American scene.

I've always been my brother's number two fan [I give his wife number one status] and find his latest project an unbelievable challenge.

I just wanted to share it with everyone.

Depicted in the picture are clues to fifty of the Beatles' songs. How many can you find?


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Rules of Bathroom Etiquette


            I wonder, when Emily Post first penned her rules of etiquette, if she would ever have imagined a society that needed specific rules or guidelines for proper behaviour in the bathroom. Going to the bathroom should be a private and personal act but with so much of our day spent away from home the 'call to nature' must be answered using more public facilities.
            Public washrooms are usually designated male or female. Female washrooms tend to have multiple stalls with multiple sinks and usually a large mirrored area. That unknown territory that is the men's room has fewer stalls, fewer sinks, less mirror and a wall of urinals.
            The number one rule, for workplace bathroom etiquette, is 'No Business in the Bathroom'. No talking to anyone in the stall, no passing of files to be perused, no conducting of any business. The next few rules are basic whether you are at home or at work; flush, cover up your stink, wash your hands, tidy up and don't take your time as someone else might be waiting to use the facilities.
            Now all of that seems like common sense, or common courtesy, regardless of the setting. I like that rule of no business, while doing your business. Can't you just picture it?  A co-worker chasing you into the bathroom with a file, passing it under the stall door and asking you to initial the form, approve the changes or whatever.
            There should be the same such rules at home.  How many mothers are never allowed those few minutes of privacy behind the closed bathroom door? Mom, where's my red shoe? Mom, can I have a cookie? Hon, when is dinner going to be ready?
            What I find interesting, as it's outside my bathroom experience, is the complicated set of rules for Men’s Room Etiquette. Many men may be unaware of the intricate set of rules for their bathroom behavior, and many have suffered the consequences of not following these rules. 
            The first and second rules are part of the same behaviour. Men should maintain the space of one urinal, or one stall when relieving themselves. There's a Sims on You Tube giving all possible scenarios for proper urinal selection. If a man is the lone occupant in the washroom he should select a urinal on the far end. The next man to enter should select the urinal farthest from the first man. It gets complicated when the urinals all are put to use. In the eventuality that a man finds himself standing shoulder to shoulder with another man, holding his own and looking at the wall, there are very important rules to keep him out of trouble.
            First and foremost, do not talk, anything you might have to say can wait until you're at the sinks or better, outside the bathroom. Do not have any eye contact what so ever; basically do not acknowledge the other's presence. And most important, do not, under any circumstances, let your gaze wander, never look at another member's member. 
            This is not the time or place for male posturing, leave the male ego outside the door and never get into any kind of competition. None of that, my thing's bigger than your thing...kind of thing. Because male restrooms have become a site for lewd and illegal activity, any behaviour that does not conform to the rules could be open to interpretation, or misinterpretation.
            Women have suffered from penis envy, as relates to going to the bathroom, for…well...forever.  Any women who has been group hiking in the woods or out on a frozen lake in a one piece snowmobile suit has wished she could relieve herself without having to strip and squat.                                         
            This may be the origin of the unwritten rule that women must go the bathroom in pairs, you need a buddy to watch your back. In social settings women tend to go to the bathroom for reasons other than bodily functions. It provides an opportunity for sharing titillating tidbits of gossip, for refreshing makeup and for that all important girl bonding.
            Men don't migrate to the washroom in pairs for that would be a definite 'no-no' in the men's bathroom etiquette list of rules, as previously mentioned. In no way should men appear to be heading to the bathroom together.
            As society has changed, the rules of bathroom etiquette also had to change. With the increasing number of parents raising their children alone, and the increasing number of lewd acts taking place in public bathrooms there had to be a solution that could meet the needs of all. Well, not the needs of those creeps waiting to commit lewd and lascivious acts on the unsuspecting public, but the needs of the single parent. 
            I remember being in restaurants when my son was small and having to take him into the ladies room with me. This was not a big deal as we would be in a stall and have privacy. When he got older, and refused to go in the women's washroom, I sent him to the men's room alone, while I waited near the door and counted the minutes until he came out OK. My ex-husband had a more difficult time with our daughter as it really wasn't proper for him to take her into the men's room. 
            The introduction of the Family Washroom was a blessing for parents, single or not. Parents, who had to tend to the needs of a child, could do so safely and away from the general public. Having a child of the opposite sex to their own, a child who whined, “I have to go pee” is no longer the dreaded ordeal that it had been previously.
            All rules aside, I'm sure Emily Post would agree, when it comes to going to the bathroom, go in, do your business, get out, and don't forget to wash your hands.

    
                 
                

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Riders and Their Rides

            Now that spring has arrived the motorcyclists are back on the road. A dedicated rider, my brother has been anxiously waiting for the time that he could hit the open roads again. That sudden snowstorm last month was not a welcome sight. I think he's been counting the days since he put his bike away last fall.





The following is a personal essay, an observation from my travels.

Riders and Their Rides
            There are bikers, and there are bikers. Now that spring has arrived, and any threat of snow is gone, the two wheeled travelers are out in full force. Bikers are a breed unto themselves. They are solitary creatures despite the fact they may ride in groups or in gangs. Isolated and alone, they are as varied in size, shape and appearance as their rides.
            As I drove out of town, the sun shining bright, the temperature rising to that of a welcome spring day, I came upon a group of bikers traveling east. My first thought was to be cautious, to give them a wide berth, to respect their right of way and let them set the speed. I slowed and kept my distance, hanging back and only moved beyond them when it was safe to do so.
            For those few minutes the bikers were all I thought about. Hard bodies, strong legs all muscled and toned, pumping, pumping, in constant motion, and so nicely clad in black spandex. A ha...not what you were expecting eh? Like I said, there are bikers, and there are bikers, or maybe I should say there are bikers and there are cyclists. As I passed the lead cyclist I couldn't help but admire his dedication, his fitness and...oh yeah...his nice butt. Oh, to be young again, but no harm in looking.
            There's another breed of biker out on the roads again, bikers who favour black leather over black spandex. Bikers who sit back into their ride, at one with their machine. Whether a biker or a cyclist, the rider has a very one to one relationship with his ride. Riding is a personal thing, there has to be trust, faith and a confidence that, no matter what, when the rider makes a move, takes a direction, his ride will respond exactly as is expected. For any biker, it's the rider and his ride against the world, give me my space and let me ride, let me feel the rush of being alive and free.
            It's a modern day cowboy thing...a man and his horse...a man and his bike...moving as one entity, isolated and yet exposed. Where the cowboy had his cowboy hat and a bandana, to protect his head and face from the elements, the biker has his helmet. Denim has survived the test of time, as has leather, for being strong and protective. Bikers are just like cowboys, each with their own brand of horsepower.
            Where did all these thoughts about bikers come from? Only moments ago I was admiring the physical...abilities, yes, let's go with abilities, of a group of cyclists and now I'm thinking of cowboys as I slowly make my way along the drive-thru to the take out window for coffee.
            The roar of an engine draws my attention to the parking lot a few feet beyond the take out menu. Ah, yes, black leather chaps. That's where the cowboy thoughts came from. There's definitely a reason why chaps have endured through the ages as a clothing necessity. All that leather, providing protection to the riders legs and hips yet leaving other regions...unrestrained. It's OK ladies, you can't help but look. It's just like guys and cleavage; your eyes are drawn to it. The trick is to take quick glances, not to stare or you'll be deemed rude, among other things. Chaps are like the push-up bra, designed to expose and enhance very personal parts of the anatomy. Well, maybe they were designed for protection, the expose and enhancement is just a design plus.
            There goes the biker, off with the roar of his engine and there's my coffee. I think I'll go home, put my feet up and relax. Maybe I'll watch a little afternoon television, no soap operas though, I think I've had all the prurient thoughts I need for today. Maybe a little HGTV, some DIY, some Holmes on Homes. That man sure does make a statement, not many men can make overalls look eye appealing. 
            I may be old but I ain't dead yet, and like I said, no harm in looking.

Here are some examples of my brother's interpretation of
Riders and Their Rides.



You can see more at www.johnkerns.ca



Thursday, 2 May 2013

What Determines Who We Are?


I began this blog in March intending to write something I’d post every Wednesday. I was late when I began, and I’m late again this week. Funny, I managed to blog daily for the A-Z challenge, and never missed a day. But the newness of maintaining that schedule was daunting.
Last November, at the end of the NaNoWriMo challenge, I felt like I do today, like I just got my life back. So yesterday, I took the day off and scoffed at deadlines and enjoyed lunch out with a friend, a fellow writer, and came home more enthusiastic to get back to work.
When I began, I included a couple of daily Horoscopes, only because they seemed appropriate for what was happening at the time, but it made me think.
What are the certainties that determine who we are? Are we the sum of unpredictable circumstances from birth, molded by events and environment?
Are we in control of who we are? Can I change who I am, if change is what I want, what I need? Or is who I am today the person I was destined to be, living the life I was fated to live.
Chinese Astrology is based on the cycle of the moon. The years progress in cycles of twelve, with each year represented by an animal. Each animal, and its way of life, identify different types of people, which give insight into our nature and personality.
Given the date of my birth, I was born in the year of the Tiger.
The Tiger personality is said to be dynamic, impulsive, to live life to the fullest. They leap into projects without planning, their natural exuberance carries them to success unless boredom sets in and the task is not completed.
Tiger people do not like failure and have a need to be admired. If spirits fail, they require a patient ear to listen until they bounce back. I do not see myself as dynamic, living life to the fullest, but in all the rest I am typically a Tiger.
When I wrote my ‘Y’ blog in the a-z challenge, I realized how I bounce from project to project, often without planning. I find it difficult to go back and finish, once my enthusiasm wanes. I can blame, to some degree, the extreme fatigue that can come over me without warning, but to be honest, I was this way even before I got a chronic illness, so no excuses.
Under the Signs of the Zodiac I am a Pisces. Pisceans explore the world through emotions, feeling things deeply, absorbing the emotions of those around them. They are very impressionable and it can be difficult to sort out what they feel from what others feel, leading to ambivalence and indecision. They need time alone so they can detach from the emotions of people around them.
Pisces people gravitate to the arts. They have imagination and great creative resources. They refuse to be limited to anything that inhibits their freedom of expression.
Pisceans are moody. They feel the height of joy and the depths of despair. For them, love and romance are essential. Although they need companionship, they also crave solitude, essential to their well-being.
I am so much a child of the water sign of Pisces.
Also considered a factor in personality development is the order in which we are born into the family. A Middle Child is both an older child and a younger sibling. They may model their self after the older sibling or set out to be very different. They learn from watching, what is acceptable and how to get along.
As the older sibling, they learn to be a caretaker and a nurturer, to take responsibility and to be a leader. This builds self confidence and they will probably get along well with others.
Less pressured than the first born, The Middle Child is taken less seriously, is less over protected. They may feel left out, jealous, even angry, and need the help of the parents to cope with their feelings in order to grow up feeling loved and happy.
A  new sibling that takes up so much of the parents time and attention, the Middle Child feels left out, feels overlooked and unloved. They may try to draw attention to themselves and can become people pleasers to win affection.
The older sibling may gravitate to the younger sibling. The Middle Child again feels left out, less loved by this rejection. They become anxious, insecure, and develop low esteem. This hunger for attention may continue as an adult.
The Middle Child needs to build a positive identity. Feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, fear of success, may create a lifelong pattern of starting something but not persevering.
See, it’s not my fault I never follow through on a project. I was born at the wrong time, in the wrong order in the family.
Isn’t it strange that these three factors that describe personality could be so similar, and for me, so spot on. I was a nurturer, and well suited to my thirty year career in nursing. But away from work, I craved the time and solitude to create.
I always thought it was art that was my necessity in life, and it was until I got more involved in my writing. I see the world around me as inspiration to my creativity. I want to give it all of my attention, all of my energy, all of my feeling.
I have seen glimpses of that person I was destined to be. She’s a solitary creature, with depths of creativity not yet challenged. I think she had better get on with it, as time’s a wasting.