June 16th – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks now. Although we are still in the midst of the Pandemic, it pales in comparison to the new events in today’s world.

I didn’t know when I wrote my last post, about keeping my own morale up with painting, and trying sourdough baking, and playing ukulele, that the next day I’d be watching the horrific video of  George Lloyd being held to the ground by a knee to his neck while he pleaded for his life and struggled to breathe.

The lingering sadness that I’d been feeling during the COVID-19 crisis suddenly meant nothing. My heart broke.

Now, several weeks later, I struggle with many emotions. At times tears still stop my voice from talking about it, and blur my eyes when I try to keep up with the news, trying to understand, looking for hope for a new world.

There just are no words. My mind races from one thing to another. I think of friends and relatives that I haven’t been in touch with for too long and friends that I lost touch with years ago. I think of my deceased parents and am thankful that they are not alive to see all that has changed the world so much in the last six months. Much of it they wouldn’t understand. It was not the way they were raised.

It’s strange how, no matter what I’m doing, little snippets of memories from my past, from my childhood to senior years, drift through my mind. Sometimes I wish there was more that I could remember, to connect the dots, to improve my understanding.

I sign petitions. I don’t know what else to do.

One ray of sunshine during the past few weeks was watching the little blue robin eggs hatch into little babies, and eventually seeing them leave the nest. All but one made it.

BabyRobins

I miss looking out the window to see how they are doing.

Of course, I haven’t forgotten about the pandemic completely. Some days I’m comfortable going out to do the shopping and having some social distancing interaction with friends; other days I’m quite content to stay indoors baking or reading, with no desire to go even to a store to buy more groceries. Today has been one of those days. Tomorrow I’ll have to push myself out the door.

May 24th – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Another month is quickly slipping by. It’s been a better month for sure. Mothers’ day brought great comfort, with phone calls or chats with all of my children, and gifts from my step-children left at the door, with a distancing visit.

The box of paints, brushes and a canvas were meant to prompt me to try something new. I took that challenge and found an online Paint Workshop that was suggested. I didn’t join it live because the time wasn’t convenient, but I did it on my own time the next day. It turned out that was good, because I struggled at first with mixing enough paint to do big sections, in different shades of blue, but I persevered. Unlike using watercolours (which I’d tried many years ago) my mistakes could be painted over and corrected. Well, most of them, until I ran out of the very important white paint required for mixing. Then I had to improvise. The two-hour class took me most of the day to finish this one painting. But, in the end I felt  good to have completed it, and it didn’t look too bad for an amateur. I enjoyed the challenge and hope to get some more canvas to try another one, sometime.

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Another gift was a jar of sourdough starter. It brought back memories of the delicious and light sourdough muffins that I used to make. The recipe made big batches and, because the starter had to be divided up with some to feed a new starter and the rest to be used in baking, once a week (actually it seems to me it was more often) my freezer was full of frozen muffins of a variety of flavours. My son told me years later how he used to often sneak down to the freezer to grab one or two and eat them frozen. I didn’t even notice the missing ones. I had to wait a week until it was time to feed the starter before I could use some of it, but I kept those muffins in mind.

I had several days when baking was my outlet, creating another (better) lemon meringue pie and chocolate/peanut butter squares one day.

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Another day I recruited Jim to help me make a big batch of perogies, one of my favourite quick from the freezer meals, but that I’d never made myself before. They were a lot of work, and took a long time, but we worked well together.

 

When the day came to feed the sourdough I was having a major pain day, which usually causes some brain fade. That day was no exception. For one thing, the new way of measuring ingredients is by weight instead of volume. Fortunately we have a scale that we used for weighing packages when doing product shipping for our online businesses, but I had to learn the trick for adding multiply ingredients. Then I put the water in before the flour, which made mixing more difficult. I doubted that it was going to work, but the next day I saw that it had.

I made a batch of muffins, not the recipe I used to use. Seems I didn’t keep it, never expecting to be doing volume or sourdough baking again. They might have turned out good if I hadn’t been trying to do something else in the kitchen while they were baking. I somehow tuned out the sound of the timer and they got way over baked. Not burned, but rather dry. Disappointing.

Oh well, the sun came out the next day and the temperature climbed.

We had a few ukulele players over to our lawn to play some tunes one day, keeping our distance and staying no more than an hour. We limited the invitation to only five of us in total. It was a welcome change.

One Friday evening we ordered take out Fish and Chips from one of our local restaurants, a restaurant that had been closed completely for two months and just recently started doing order-ahead take outs. We invited another couple who lives in the building to join us at the twelve-foot table in the Common Room, each of us with our own orders, using our own plates and utensils, sitting at opposite ends of the table. It was nice to chat and get caught up, something we hadn’t been able to do since we’d been gone for six months.

I bought vegetable seeds and planted one of the three planter boxes that our Condo Board acquired so we could have a little community garden.

I’ve gotten used to grocery shopping. It seems to be the new normal for me now. More people are wearing masks, and so far there has been no news of CORONA-19 outbreaks in our small tri-town community. I have to admit that that might not necessarily be a good thing, only because it becomes too easy to forget that we still have to be diligent with our social distancing and mask wearing. I was shocked when, one day after I was introduced to the woman who agreed to rent us parking space for the motorhome, without thinking I reached out to shake her hand — and she reciprocated! That weighed on my mind for a long time. I sanitized my hands as soon as I got back into the car; I hoped that she did too. I didn’t sleep well that night, after that incident and after hearing the latest COVID case statistics. The curve was rising, or at least no longer falling in many places in Canada and around the world. I had another major pain day.

We sat in our car by a nearby beach and watched and listened to the peacefulness.

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This morning I woke up feeling optimistic and planning things I wanted to accomplish. It was to be another sunny day. But the first thing I saw when I opened my iPad was a message from someone who cares, warning me that “take out” food is dangerous unless we’d cooked it again at home for ten minutes at at  least 80 degrees. He’d seen Jim’s Facebook post about our sharing with neighbours. Then I opened a news app and saw huge crowds of people on beaches enjoying Memorial Day  in the US, and I thought “they are never going to get out of this virus if they continue like this.” When I opened an app with Canadian news I saw the same thing happening in a park in Toronto! There goes my optimism and respect for my fellow human beings.

At least the sun is still shining, today.

And the flowers are blooming in the beds.

And a mother robin has decided to build her nest in a corner of the building, on the ledge of our bedroom window! How beautiful is that?

PLEASE STAY SAFE! AND KEEP YOUR LOVED ONES SAFE TOO!

May 9th – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


The weather has been crazy; spring can’t decide if it’s going to stay or not. It’s as confused as we are.

Snow on the deck, May 8, 2020

Snow on the deck, May 8, 2020

 

I’ve been having trouble working through this lately. Maybe because I haven’t set any goals to complete projects, but that’s because the projects I have now are my own and they don’t have any urgency. There is always tomorrow, right? The calendar is blank. I’ve heard others make the same observation.

Calendar

 

Each day I wake up feeling a lingering sadness, even if I have something in mind that I might do that day. Today, I realized that, after nearly three months of avoiding close contact with people, then avoiding them altogether during self-quarantining on our way home from Arizona, and then continuing upon our return, and then becoming so conscious of the danger of not constantly washing my hands, or sanitizing them when out (wearing my mask) to do grocery shopping, this has become the new normal. As much as I long to sit down at a table with friends and family, to return to playing pickleball and ukulele in a group, I have trouble imagining being able to do those things again, without fear.

I’m one of the fortunate ones. I get to stay home where it’s safe. I don’t need to worry about losing my job or not being able to pay my bills if I don’t want to go to work in one of the dangerous environment out there, without adequate protection. I don’t need to feel obligated to risk my life to help save the lives of those who have been hit with the virus, although I shed many tears for those who are brave enough to do it.

And I do feel guilty about being so privileged. This is my new normal. Who knows if it will ever change?

Thank goodness for all the beautiful, and funny, video clips that are shared through the internet! They help to lift my spirits.

I’d love to hear from people around the world. How are you working through COVID-19?

Journaling Through COVID-19 – May 1st


Wow, I can’t believe it’s May 1st. I thought that I’d be writing and posting more frequently as I intended to Journal Through COVID-19, but although I’ve done nearly daily entries in my personal, hand-written journal, I’ve managed to find several projects to keep me busy with self-imposed deadlines, so my blogging got pushed to the back burner.

What have I been doing? Well, I first decided to try making a couple of face masks for Jim and me to use when we began venturing out to the grocery store and post office.

Jim's mask with ukulele chords on it!

Jim, of course, wanted one with ukulele chords on it!

Then I heard about a number of people making cotton face masks as requested by the local hospitals to be used for non-medical staff and patients being discharged. In exchange for some elastic that I had on hand and was no longer available in any stores that were open, a friend left me some of her extra fabric so I could make some too. I made twelve of them.

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But I was a little slow to the dance. By the time I had them finished, the hospitals declared they had received enough of them. They were now requiring some made with their own specific pattern, and special fabric that they would supply.

One hospital, however, wanted cotton surgical caps and clothing bags made, as well as crochet “mask buddies” – five inch pieces with buttons on each end that the elastic of the masks could be fastened to, relieving the pressure on the tops of the ears after a long day of wear. I had no fabric left, but I had plenty of yarn.  I started making the mask buddies. I was short of buttons, but a shout out to people in my community produced an abundance. I delivered the first batch of twenty-one within a few days. Yesterday, I dropped off another batch of 30.

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I gave a few of the masks to friends before a notice on one of my Facebook pages brought interest from a friend who works at the local prison. She was happy to receive the eight that I had left, and I felt good that I could help her out.

In the meantime my Book Club has had a couple of online meetings, and I joined a meeting of a Writing Club, also online for now. It was great to make some connections with people, and get some feedback on some of my writing.

A week ago we ventured to Peterborough to stock up on supplies from Costco, so that I wouldn’t need to go into the small grocery stores so often. I know, it’s better to support local businesses, especially during these hard times, but I was finding it just too stressful to safely navigate the narrow aisles while following the direction arrows and waiting my turn to enter. I always forgot or couldn’t find something I needed and was too anxious to have to go back through the maze again.

I was nervous about going to Costco too. I’d seen stories on the internet about the  long lines of people, many of whom gave no respect to social distancing, so I had no idea just what to expect.  We were fortunate to arrive at a time when there wasn’t much of a line. The carts were outside, and a fellow was spraying them all down, presumably with disinfectant, as they were returned, so we knew that the one we took was safe. Both of us were permitted to go in together. We put on our masks and were able to navigate the wide aisles quickly, giving anyone we encountered plenty of room. We were able to backtrack to find some things that were no longer where they were when we left in the fall.

The downside was the price of things, but I just got what I needed and left behind those items that I thought I could manage without for now, and ignored the cost. What else can you do when you don’t have much choice? The bill was far higher than I’d ever spent on food in one trip. But then, it’s been a very long time since I’ve had to make three meals a day, every day, for forty plus days in a row and counting! The extra help added to our Canada Pension cheque will make up the difference.

And the cost of gas is lower than it’s been in years too!

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We didn’t need to worry about bags, because Costco never has supplied them. We put everything back into the cart and transferred them to our own bags when we got to the car.

On the way home, we stopped at a local chicken farm that has a small store, where we bought chicken and fresh frozen vegetables. Except for some fresh produce that we’ll have to replenish soon, we are good for a few weeks.

I’ve not only been doing more cooking than I’ve done in years; I’ve also been baking more. I dug out an old cookbook that used to be my stand-by many years ago and I started creating some of my old favourites, and some new.

Lemon Pie

Made with a graham cracker crust because I didn’t have ingredients to make a crust! Used a lemon brought from Arizona tree.

Banana Bread made in Coffee mugs

Banana Bread made in coffee mugs, in fifteen minutes from start to eating! I added chocolate!

I thought we’d be putting on weight, but to our surprise, we’ve both lost those extra pounds we’d put on while eating too large portions in restaurants or at pot luck parties, or the chips that come with every sandwich in the restaurants, while in Arizona!

Last weekend Jim’s daughter asked if I could make a few surgical caps for her daughter’s nursing team at the hospital. She brought me some fabric and I found a bit more. I completed and delivered four to her yesterday. I still have two more cut and ready to put together.

Now I’m anxious to get back to writing, reading and perhaps add some more photographs to my stock portfolio.

It’s amazing how much you can find to do, if you just turn off the depressing news and get creative.

Hope you are all staying well and finding positive ways to get through this crisis.

April 6, 2020 – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic 


I began a much longer post yesterday, a walk down memory lane, my trip to Europe in 1972. But it was a much bigger project than I’d realized, because I had nothing of the trip computerized. I needed to scan photos and post cards and read through the Itinerary to jog my memory. I’m still working on it, but for now I thought I’d share my experiences and emotions from this morning.

I woke up with a feeling of dread. When I looked at my iPad to get a synopsis of what the latest news was, I couldn’t contain my tears. It all was awful. What broke me most were the articles about how manufacturers of the medical equipment that all countries need so desperately, are inflating the prices to 700, or 800 or 900 percent above the normal price, making it so difficult for hospitals and the smaller health care centres such as Long Term Care Homes, to get them, And then there are the stories of people praying on the elderly by offering to buy groceries and then absconding with the money; or offering to clean their homes with them out of them, and stealing from them. What has happened to humanity?

I dried my tears and went to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Although I wasn’t really hungry, I knew I had to eat. The fridge was nearly empty. I made toast from the last two pieces of bread, and made coffee. One thing we do still have is plenty of grapefruit, so I cut up one of those. I knew I had to go shopping.

Jim thought I should just order it again, but I wanted to be brave and not let the paranoia I was feeling control my life. I also didn’t feel it was fair to put extra burden on the stores and volunteers that are generously delivering for free. Despite my age, I’m healthy. I have a good immune system. And I wanted to keep it that way with some fresh air and exercise. So I made my list and gathered my little wagon and reusable shopping bags. I had a mask I’d made from a kerchief, and disposable gloves and hand sanitizer in my pockets. I didn’t take my phone to avoid it being exposed to anything. I took only the one card that I needed to pay for my purchases. I didn’t expect Jim to go into the store with me. He wore his gloves and went into the Post Office to pick up our mail and then waited outside for me.

When I got to the store, the parking lot was full and I almost turned back. Then I realized that many of the cars parked there were probably the ones that had usually been parked beside the old Community Centre next door. Whether they belonged to tenants somewhere, or the owners of the few businesses that were open, I don’t know, but the Community Centre had recently been torn down and Contractors were working within high fencing, cleaning up the remnants.

I took my mask and gloves out of my pockets and put them on before walking up the ramp to the store entrance. A staff member came to the door and told me that I couldn’t take my wagon or bags in with me.

wagon

I hesitated, disappointed. I felt that there was far less chance of there being any virus on my own cart and bags that had been with us in our own space for three weeks, than there was with the store carts and bags. But I couldn’t argue, under the circumstances. I took the cart and made sure she’d wiped the handle.

By now I could feel myself quivering. There weren’t very many people in the store. Some shoppers wore masks and most of them were very conscious about keeping a distance. Perhaps they were more concerned about me because of the heavy mask and gloves I was wearing. I got very warm and for a moment I thought I might faint, but removing my jacket helped. As I made my way around the store looking for the things on my list I was having trouble seeing clearly. I thought maybe my glasses were fogging up from my breathing through the mask. My quivering continued and I cursed in my head, thinking how terrible it is to be so fearful of doing grocery shopping.

At last I was finished, and through the checkout.

“Isn’t this fun?” I said to the cashier, who was one more time sanitizing the gloves she wore, behind a sheet of Plexiglas.

“I’ve had about enough of it,” she said and I agreed. “Thank you,”  we both replied.

I took off my disposable gloves and handed them to the girl at the door, who said she’d dispose of them. She was wearing gloves too. I was glad to see that the wagon was still where I left it. I breathed a sigh of relief. When I walked out into the sunshine, I reached for my sunglasses and realized I’d had them on all the time! No wonder I was having trouble seeing!

I found Jim next door watching the construction crew, of course. We walked home enjoying the sunshine.

At home I put my mask into the bathroom sink to wash. I carefully handled the groceries and bags,  putting them all away, always aware of what I was touching and wondering who else had touched them. I washed my hands many times.Oh crap! Did I remember to disinfect the counter where they sat? Nothing I used to make lunch touched that side. Is it too late?

Now we have enough food to last us for another couple of weeks. Who knows what things will be like when we need more?

I have no idea how the people who have been dealing with this daily as they do their jobs to provide health care and other essential services, have not lost their sanity. I weep some more for them.

Quick Summary of Our First Two Months at Mesa Regal, 2019/20


When we arrived in Mesa Regal on October 23rd we had a few things to take care of, mostly mundane like catching up with laundry, getting the levelling jacks down, figuring out what was wrong with the furnace and putting the awning out and the gazebo up.

The day we first put the awning out, we noticed that it was beginning to crack and wear.

“We’ll probably need to get a new one this year,” Jim commented. “I’ll just put some tape on it for now, when we get back.” We were on our way to stock up on groceries.

While we were gone, a micro burst of wind passed through our park and upon our return we found all but a few inches of the awning fabric had torn from the frame and was hanging on the ground!

Awning down

Awning down

Jim had already been to the Parts Department of Worldwide RV, which is located just at the entrance to our park, for parts for the furnace. On his next trip to pick up an ordered part, he asked about the price of a new awning.

“$1200 to $1500.” Not what we were hoping for!

“Do you care about the colour?” the staffer asked.

“No,” said Jim.

“Well I have one that’s been in stock for a few years because no one liked the colour,” she said. “You can have it for $100. You’ll have to check with the Installation Department for costs.”

The next day I went back with him to look at it. I didn’t figure the colour could be too outrageous, but thought I should just make sure. It looked fine – neutral colours. But upon checking, we discovered that that particular one was two inches too long for our frame. However, they did have another one that she gave us for a really good price and it was just the right size. We went to Installations and were told that it would take three hours to install at the rate of $130 per hour!

Jim got on the internet to find out what it took to install it ourselves. It didn’t look so difficult and we had two younger neighbours who were quite willing to help, so after we got the motorhome professionally washed, the four of us spent about an hour total, including figuring out the best way to complete the operation, putting it up. It was perfect and only cost the price of providing our helpers and their spouses with a home cooked meal (not that they wanted anything).

In the meantime, Jim gave up on fixing the furnace himself and called in a professional. He was frustrated to learn that if he’d taken out just two more screws, he would have seen the problem and been able to complete the task himself! Oh well.

By the time we got all of those tasks taken care of, and finished setting up the patio, I was deeply involved in Pickleball. I’m doing my second, and final, year on the Club Board as Vice-President and Webmaster of the website. We have a big annual three-day Tournament in December which raises enough funds to insure that we can provide court time and many programs to our members without a membership fee. But it is a lot of work for those that are willing to volunteer. I could find no one available to help with photography, so I spent seven hour days running from court to court to capture some of the action and waiting for the end results to take pictures of the winners. It was fun, but exhausting! Poor WiFi reception from our motorhome didn’t help. I had to take my computer to the Computer Lab to plug in directly to the internet on many days.

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Some Mixed Doubles Pickleball Action

December has been a much easier, more relaxing month. We’ve had time to take in a couple of movies on some of the many rainy days that flooded our pickleball courts and meant sending out mass emails when help was needed to clean them after the water was pumped out.

We found more time to visit with friends and play pickleball and ukulele.

The last week has been filled with Christmas Parties and one Celebration of Life for one of our residents.

Playing Ukulele Christmas

A few of our Ukulele Class Members Performing on Stage at Thursday Morning Coffee and Donuts

Next week, I’ll have a much more interesting post. We are taking a bus tour to Laughlin for Christmas with an exciting side trip.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, or Best of the Holiday Season, whichever you prefer!

Why I Don’t Like Flying Anymore


I don’t think I’m the only one who finds air travel to be more stressful than it used to be. Although some things are much simpler now if you are technology savvy, like purchasing your ticket online, checking in using an App and having your Boarding Pass sent to your smart phone or tablet, the rules as to what you can and can’t take in your carry-on bag seem to differ at each airport, and with different passengers. I find myself holding my breath as I go through inspection, wondering if there will be something I’ve missed that could raise an alarm.

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but Kelowna International Airport, the one I fly into and sometimes out of when I go to visit Kaslo, has been the only one where I feel like I’m being targeted. In the past ten or twelve years that I’ve been making that trip I’ve been chosen for a pat-down twice. That didn’t bother me much. But this last trip really raised my heart rate.

For all these years I’ve been aware of the size limit on any types of liquids that we can transport in our carry-on bags, and I’ve complied. I remember seeing staff offering us plastic bags for such liquids, but I didn’t know that they were mandatory. I understood that the liquids had to be seen through the scanner, but I had mine all carefully labelled and placed in the plastic enclosures of the travel/cosmetic bag and I was never questioned. Usually I’ve had the bag rolled up, inside my carry-on, and no one ever asked to see it; but this time, because my carry-on was a little too deep on my last trip and was difficult to fit into the plane’s overhead bins, I laid the bag out flat across everything else inside. I also had another small bag with clear plastic inside pouches, into which I placed all the little items that I usually put into the bigger pocket of that bag.Was that the difference?

Cosmetic Bag

Cosmetic Bag

 

When I went through Security in Toronto, the scanner found something they weren’t sure about it and my case was opened. The inspector looked through my travel/cosmetic bag and found, in the larger, non-plastic pocket, my tube of Facial Cleanser. This was the one item that I’d forgotten to check for the size. It was an ounce too large. The Inspector was nice about it. She determined that it wasn’t quite full and allowed me to take it this time, but warned me that I wouldn’t be allowed to take it in my carry-on again. “You can take it in your checked baggage though.” I thanked her and said “I don’t have any checked baggage.” No mention was made of any of the other little bottles and tubes that were in the bag.

So when I was getting ready for my return trip, out of Kelowna, I went to a dollar store and bought a few little plastic jars. I squeezed all of my Facial Cleanser into two of them, and labelled them. Then I notice that a tube of hand cream (which I think I’d had in my “personal” bag before) was also a little too large, so I squeezed what remained of it into the third jar.

I checked the website and surmised that the reason for the plastic bags (which they don’t offer unsolicited anymore) was so that any bottles and tubes could be seen with the scanner. OK.  I spread my travel/cosmetic bag out in the top of my carry-on again, this time with the inside showing and I thought I’d be good.

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At security my carry-on was immediately pulled aside as soon as it went through the scanner. I thought that maybe it couldn’t recognize the pottery tumbler that my daughter had given me, wrapped up in a pair of shorts.

Pottery Tumbler

Pottery Tumbler

“No,” the Inspector said. “There’s something liquid.”

She pulled out my travel kit and, interestingly, opened the pocket where the too-large tube had been when I left Toronto. It wasn’t there of course, but she told me that all my “liquids” had to be put into the little plastic bag that she provided.

“Obviously they aren’t all going to fit, so you have two options. You can go back out and check this bag (for $25) or pick out what you want to keep and I’ll pack what I can into the bag.”

I’m a senior, living on a basic Government Pension that wouldn’t pay my basic living expenses if I had to do it alone, but I do try to pay for my personal expenses, including an annual trip to see my family. My budget is limited. I shop around and plan my trip upon seat-sales. Since extra charges have been added for baggage, early seat selection and anything to eat other than crackers, chips or cookies, I avoid those to save money. I’d already forgotten to bring the packed lunch my friend had prepared for me,  so I knew it was going to cost me $10.00 to buy a sandwich on the plane. I wasn’t about to dish out another $25 to check my bag.

I picked out the items that were of the most value and she put them into the bag. Then she filled it up with all of the little sample tubes of things that I really didn’t care about, including a nearly empty tube of toothpaste. I had to give up a bottle of body lotion, the hand lotion that I’d carefully squeezed into the small jar, and nothing else of any significance. I realized later that one bottle left behind was already empty and I could have kept it for another time!

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It was a good thing that I gotten to the airport very early. I wasn’t happy.

I was even more annoyed when my seat companions on the plane arrived. As soon as she sat down, the woman pulled a little cosmetic bag from her over-sized purse and took out a tube of sanitizer to wipe down their trays. The bag was crammed with all sorts of makeup items. Why was SHE allowed to carry them on without being in a plastic bag?

I wonder, do I have a record now? Can I expect this every time I fly from now on? Does it have anything to do with my last name – Lawless? Ha, ha.

When they came by to ask if we wanted anything to eat, I had to ask what the options were and the plane was so noisy, I couldn’t hear the response. She seemed annoyed.

“It’s listed in the menu.”

“I don’t have a menu.” The woman next to me looked and she didn’t have one either. She told the hostess that I couldn’t hear her.

“Fiesta chicken wrap..”

“I’ll take that.”

By that time I was so flustered that I handed her a debit card instead of a credit card. She handed it back. Once everyone was served she came back and handed me a menu. “I know you don’t need it now for a meal, but maybe you might want a snack or something later.” Thanks.

 

Setting Goals


Today I’m beginning a blogging course through WordPress Blogging University with the purpose of increasing my audience and posting more regularly. My first assignment is to Set Three Goals. Here they are:

  1. Establish a new weekly theme and publish on the given day until the end of 2018, minimum. Memoir Mondays
  2. Publish at least one more post a week for the next six months.
  3. Spend one hour each week visiting my follower’s blogs, reading, and commenting from today until the end of June.

Let’s Start a Productive Conversation


Before we can have a productive conversation, we have to acknowledge that both talking and listening to understand are necessary.

Today I’m doing some mind traveling.  I have a need to write about something that causes pain to my heart, and my body.

Each day, I log onto Facebook knowing that my feed is going to be loaded down with the troubling stories of things going on in the world. Someone told me that they just have happy postings on their feed, things that lift them up. It’s true. I could change my settings, block posts from news outlets and people who repost such things. I could at the very least stop reading the comments. Would that make my heart lighter and my body less tense? For me, the answer is no.

So today I’m speaking out from my heart. I’m not going to tell people they are wrong, or make accusations, or call anyone names, or call for rioting. I’m just going to explain my sadness, frustration and incredulity, and maybe offer a step toward solving at least one problem.

There are many, many things happening around the world that cause these feelings – floods, hurricanes, fires, threats of war. But the most incredible thing in the news this past week is not about these disasters or what can be done to prevent more and what can be done to help all those suffering. No. What is making the biggest headlines, and causing the biggest division among people is an event that took place a year ago. This is the one that I’m going to address now.

A black football player chose to protest the most recent (at the time)unwarranted treatment/death of some other black men, with no consequences to the perpetrators, by quietly kneeling during the opening ceremonies of the football game. Did he choose that moment because he wanted to be noticed? Yes! Did he do it to show disrespect toward the soldiers that fought for his right to free speech; to show that he hated his country? No! My understanding is that he did it in the hope of starting a conversation about the racial discrimination that was putting constant fear into the lives of his fellow man, conversation that could bring people together with a better understanding of each other. His choice of time and venue was to get the attention of many. It did. But instead of the conversation he’d hoped for, it became a conversation about patriotism, the national flag and anthem, ego and hate. This week it was brought into the foreground again in a political speech.

What I find sad, frustrating and completely incredible is the number of people who choose to believe the politician’s reasoning rather than that of the football player. There are some who think that because a black man or woman has the “privilege” of earning a good salary, they forfeit their right to freedom. Some say they are  alright with the protest, but not the time or place. There are even those who declare that “there is no racism in the United States.”

To them I ask, “How many black people have you sat down with and asked to hear their stories? How many have you really listened to, with the objective to understand? How many times have you imagined yourself in their shoes?

I’m a privileged white person, living in a community where there is little cultural diversity, but I’ve listened to some of the history of a black man who was brought to Canada from Africa and adopted by my uncle, who recognized his potential and wanted to give him a chance at a better life. He was a teenager when he arrived. He’d had a good education while in Africa, with the help of my uncle, and despite the prejudice and poor treatment by some, he managed to get a University degree and become successful in his life. His younger adopted brother, who was only five years old, had a much harder time of it.

Quite recently, I’ve heard enough of the story of the only black family who lived in our community when my children were in school, to learn that despite them being an educated, well liked, upstanding family of the community, they too often experienced the discrimination of being suspect because of the colour of their skin. I was surprised.

These stories got me paying attention! Now when I read about the fears of black people, I understand, and my heart aches.

Sure there are many black people who have fought their way through life with violence and crime; who have joined gangs just to belong. But there are just as many, or more, white people in the same situation. They should be afraid of the law.

Then there are the black families who mind their own business, have jobs, take care of their families and friends, and yet live in fear for their lives every day. They know that at any time, for any reason, they could be stopped by the police because they look like someone (black/brown skin, dread locks) who just robbed a bank in the neighbourhood they are driving through, or because they supposedly have a light out on their car, or they are driving an expensive looking car, or a neighbour told the police that a crime suspect had gone into their house. And they know that no matter how they respond, they could end up dead.

How many law-abiding white people, living in the US or Canada, live with these same fears?

Let’s start the conversation right here, right now! Tell your story; explain your fears; ask questions; listen to understand; practice respect; share this post. This is the conversation that needs to go viral!

 

 

Retirement and Getting Lost in History


We’ve been home for a few weeks now, and, after getting caught up on household chores and reconnecting with friends and family, it was my intention to write one or two more blog posts to complete our latest journey.

But last week I’d decided to spend a day sorting through the huge box of photos and memorabilia to see if I could downsize a little more. In so doing, I came across a very old photo of some people that I’m sure could be the grandparents that I never knew. I scanned it, along with many others so that I could look at it more closely later.

Johnstons

Then, after I got into bed, I got thinking about it, and wondering who these people could be. I had some ideas, but needed to check out some dates on the Family Tree.  So, instead of getting to travel writing in the morning, I logged into Ancestry.ca and looked for clues to solve the mystery.  Most of my ideas were eliminated by date discrepancies, but while searching some people, I discovered other hints for other family members, and then I was gone.  To me, researching family history is like a big jigsaw puzzle. Once I find one piece, I can’t stop. I’m drawn to find more. Before I knew it, three hours had passed and I hadn’t even started to write! But I have no regrets. Genealogy is just another one of my passions. I actually created another blog about it a few years ago, but then posted only twice, and never made it known.

I took a break to make some lunch, and as I worked, I thought of the long To-do list that I always have running through my mind:

Write travel blog posts

Update/improve my website, monetize it perhaps

Write memoirs

Research family

Edit photos

Make photo books

Develop new blog: Unfolding Our Past

Then I asked myself, “Why do I put these burdens upon myself?” What difference will it make if I do none of them? I don’t expect to earn a living from any of them, because technically I’m retired. So why can’t I just relax and enjoyment retirement? But then, what does retirement mean? It should mean having the freedom to do whatever you want, right? For some, that might mean reading a book, watching TV, playing games or doing nothing at all, but for others, like me, it means having the time to pursue passions that keep the mind and body active, that give pleasure. That’s why I want to do these things, and more.

What does retirement mean to you? Do artists ever retire?