Sorry, I Can’t Read This Stuff Anymore. . .

I was given yet another book on the perils of pesticides and decided I can’t read this stuff anymore.

I have become saturated with news of all the harmful things we are doing to our environment and ourselves and it is overwhelming.  I get it already.  We need less reports and more action.

If you spend all your time researching bad things through the media; watching documentaries, listening to commentaries, reading books, you are slowly going to lose your mind.

I once knew a man who could no longer sleep because he got in the habit of watching the late news and took all that stuff to bed with him.  Such negativity can kill you – it almost killed him.

I go in the grocery store and my heart gets extremely heavy when I observe the rows and rows of chemically laden foodstuff and products we put on and in our bodies and into our environment.  I near collapse at the realization this is repeated hundreds of thousands of times over in all the stores in all the cities of the world.


I can’t handle all this.

Here is what I do know.  Pick one or two things you can DO something about and do it.  Be aware of other things, okay, but take ACTION on something.  Choose your battles.

Action does not have to be grand.  My elderly Mother was overwhelmed by all the charities vying for her support, until she took this advice.  She selected 2 charities and donated to them exclusively each month, and let go of all the others.  You cannot solve all the worlds problems.  Choose what matters most to you and take action.

If we each do a little, a lot gets done.

There are countless ways of taking action other than monetary to alleviate suffering.  Even just being nice once in a while.  A smile.  A compliment.  Holding a door.  Listening.

Or you can be more proactive; stop buying chemically laden products and supporting these industries that destroy your body and environment.  Read the labels.  I remember when flour was flour and cocoa, cocoa – not any more!

Action (oh how I hate to use this next word) trumps everything.

Doing a little will lighten your heart and the woes of the world. There are millions of us on this planet.  Imagine what could be accomplished if each one of us did something about one thing of our choosing, in any small way, all the time.  All the way from a favour to changing government policy.  Stop absorbing bad news and do something.

By the way – there is an equal, if not more amount of good news in this world, and a hefty dose of that each day will help you to take action to get rid of the bad.


I recently read an article about not giving your 2 week notice when you leave a company.  It was even suggested it is okay to bail, that is, just leave.  That being fired didn’t require a notice so why should leaving?  I beg to differ.  There is a huge difference between being terminated and a planned departure.

Obviously this person has never experienced a ‘bail’.

I was working part time and caring for an elderly Mother when the full time employee cheerily announced at noon “Don’t be surprised if I don’t come back after lunch.”

All of a sudden at 1 p.m. I became a full time employee, doing 2 persons jobs.  She intended to hurt our employer, but our boss was GLAD she left.  She hurt me plenty however.

Not only did I now have extra work and hours at the same part time rate, but I had to do all the required paperwork for a termination, plus I had the task of finding a replacement for her; preparing and placing an ad, screening resumes, interviewing prospects, and training them, all the while doing 2 jobs.  I found a person, trained them, it didn’t work out and I had to go through the whole process again!

I will NEVER forget this persons name and face.

Is this how you want to be remembered?

It is just common courtesy to give notice.  Even if you are mad at the boss and want to run out!  Looking for another job while employed and leaving the current one without notice is murder in the first degree.  Your fellow employees will narrow their eyes at the mention of your name.  They will think you sneaky, untrustworthy, mean, irresponsible and at the least, lacking good manners. Which means, you are a shit. You saddle them with extra work that they may not even know how to do.  And for months, you were planning to do this to them all along.  Thanks a lot!

If you’re mad at the boss, take the afternoon off and cool down.  If you still want to leave, give notice!  That way you’ll still have friends.  Friends that might one day end up in a position to hire you for a job you covet.  And guess what will happen when they see your name.

This is the old, don’t burn your bridges lecture that Mom and Dad gave you.

Take heed.  It is true.  Don’t bail.  Ever.

The Gift

I dusted off the case and opened it; the 3 sections of silver flute glistened from the backdrop of black velvet.  Ah.  At last.  I assemble the instrument and anticipate the moment beautiful sounds fill my ears.

For 8 long weeks I could not play the flute.  To do so resulted in coughing up my lungs for an hour.  I suffered a bad virus which incapacitated me in many ways beyond flute playing.  But it was the flute playing I missed the most.

Playing an instrument is therapeutic.  Even to play it badly, which is frequently my norm, is still relaxing.  I relied on it to dissipate frustrating days and to mellow my working mind to an evening of peaceful reflection.

The gift this Christmas was opening that box.  My neighbours probably were not so pleased.  I found it difficult to play at first and I’d forgotten some notes and fingerings. Slowly it all started to come back and by today I am at least where I was 8 weeks ago.  It is hard to advance much with just 25 minutes practice a day – but I am respectful of fellow tenants and limit my joy.  Otherwise, I’d probably be hours at it.

During the hiatus I satisfied myself watching You Tube flute instructional videos.  There are hundreds but I have my favorite and I was delighted to watch a lot of those.  I also watched videos comparing all manner of flutes from student to 3 times my annual salary and had my ears heightened to the differences in tone quality (and hence my budget considerations for a flute purchase just increased).

I look at my student rental and determine to make it sound like it is 20K.  Admittedly, I have difficultly making it sound as it should.  No matter, in my mind I hear hypnotic melodies, sometimes even symphonies.

I am enamored with music in much the same way as I once was with mathematics.  They are elegant languages, representations of things we cannot adequately put into words.  The symbols allow us to replicate complicated ideas, to interpret them in our own style, embellish them, expand on them.  I delight in the design and patterns formed by symbols and digits across a page.  There are ground rules, but from there you can soar.  From there is birthed art!

I sometimes regret not having studied music in my youth, but perhaps it would have gone the same route as mathematics.  Two things conspired to make me abandon that subject; women didn’t do math in the 1960’s and they made math so boring.   Thus I was highly discouraged to continue but this was not such a hardship, as the way they taught math made it exceedingly mind deadening.  I was curious and creative and that does not fit rote and memorization.  I found this to be a bit true when I took music lessons, and I got a little discouraged by that.  I am not well suited to sit and shut up and just memorize.  I want to make it mine!  I want to take it places!

I put my flute away and face another week of work, very grateful that I have had these few days to rest and do the things I love.  My cat takes one last swat at the metronome and all is quiet.


Something to Say

Once my Mother suggested I write a newsletter and I replied “But what would I write about? to which she shot back “Since when did you lack for something to say?”.

She was right of course.

But I come to today’s writing and find I don’t have anything I want to say.

I have the reassurance however that no one reads my blog, so why worry?  Except, I love to write, no wait, it is beyond that, I have to write.

It is a compelling force that never lets me alone.  I write about anything and everything all the time, or the same thing over and over.

It took me months to shred all the angst filled journals I used to fill with ink, and I have filing cabinets overflowing with stories I’ve written in long hand.  Yes, I write everything in longhand, just like my Dad.  And just like him I have my favourite utensils; his was a mechanical pencil on foolscap, mine a black pen on ruled paper pad, affixed to a clipboard uncomfortably balanced on my lap.

I do not enjoy the ease of typing on a computer, which I totally do not understand since I love typing on my typewriter.

As a youngster I typed out my imaginations on a gigantic Underwood, it was magic with its long stemmed jamming keys.  It would be fabulous to have that back!  I evolved to portables and then electric, until they stopped making typewriters.  I found my stories sounded different when done on a typewriter.  Pen in hand became my preferred choice when computers arrived.  I write them out, then put them on my laptop.  However, I must confess, last year I purchased an electric Smith Corona for $15 at a Thrift Shop and have been happily pounding out a story ever since!

So why write a blog?  Indeed, especially one like this with no point?  Well, it is something I’ve wanted to do since my Underwood days.  Have my own column in a magazine.  I had a lot of topics to discuss then.  But today I’m not so opinionated.  Now I have my own spot in the internet universe.  I have little idea why such a thing is so compelling, and I’d prefer not to understand actually.

I started off with something in mind, and that was my retirement but I see this blog is evolving, and leading me somewhere.  I don’t much care where.  I suppose once I am at my where someone will read it.

It is not important.  What seems to matter is I delight in doing something that is totally my own once a week.

Maybe next week I’ll have something to say.

Charities that Bite

I am very disappointed with one of my favourite charities.

At this time of year I am bombarded with mail from many worthwhile charities.  I have donated to several in the past, but as my income shrinks I have to be more selective of who receives my funds.

I have always been miffed by the huge amount of address labels, blank cards, note paper, cheap pens and the like that are sent to me to solicit my donation.  I am offered junk which has nothing to do with the cause hoping to entice and reward me for my money.  I don’t want this stuff.  Your reason for being is enough.  Do you do good in the world?  The money actually goes to where it is needed?  That is good enough.

I loathe the long letters that complete these packages, not only for the waste of paper, but they start to sound like needy, whiny relatives who don’t work but expect me to support them.

I support a local organization that sends me email newsletters occasionally during the year showing me where my money is going.  X number of dollars spent on this.  No pie charts, no gloss.  No whining about costs, inflation, no complaints or pleading.  This is what we did with your money.  Here’s what we need for what in the future. Yay.

The charity that irked me however is a favourite of mine, that set up an office in my country because I presume we are donating lots of money to them.  They sent me a letter in which they apologize for delays in their mailings, offer me the token junk, and then proceed to blame our government for their problems.  They are very upset because our government investigated them, found they are not obeying our tax laws and now demand they comply.  Imagine that.

Because they did not bother to research our laws in the first place, or worse, chose to ignore them, they are now mad it is costing them money and time to follow our rules.  And they want me to pay for it!

We are a generous nation, this is well known.  But I am incensed with organizations who love our money and complain bitterly about our laws.  Laws that protect our citizens, our way of life, values and livelihood.    They make little effort to learn of us and then condemn us for enforcing our laws.  If you are going to disrespect what we have worked so hard for, I take offense at that.  Not to mention it cost us taxpayers lots of money to investigate you and make sure your business complies with our regulations, and continues to do so.

I did write this organization a brief letter, but who knows who will read it.  I hate to complain about charities, I have never done so in my life.  They serve valuable and necessary functions and I support that.  Just don’t bite the hand that feeds you.  Only my cat is allowed to do that.

Your Calling

I was asked recently “How do you receive your calling?”, to which I glibly replied that God no longer calls, He texts.

It has some truth to it.

I think it is very rare that a person has an a-ha moment.  I always wanted one.  The fire of God just hits me and POW I know who I want to be and what I should be doing.  The truth however is a lot less dramatic.  I walked around with my mouth half open, looking pretty stupid and not having much direction at all.  I did a lot of hoping, wishing and praying.  Only to find that the a-ha has been right in my face all along.  I should have seen it too – I am very nearsighted!

Since most of us have no clue what a true version of ourselves is, we need to let God work that out.  And when it is you are likely to remark “I knew that!”, and maybe feel a little stupid afterwards.  Sometimes your calling doesn’t exist yet in the world, and you have to wait for it to appear.  Maybe you are already living it and don’t realize it.  You are tired of it and want something new.  Or maybe you simply can’t believe it, or think it should be something else, something better.  Perhaps others tell you what it should be.  Many times, a calling is not a grand affair, but it has a great impact on the world, perhaps many years later in the future.  A calling is not what you think it is.  But it all works for God.

My life story is not an arrow, it is a convoluted, messed up, child’s crayon squiggles across a ripped up, yellowing piece of construction paper.  That is my journey.  Step forward.  Steps backward.  Lessons learned and most forgot.  There is no point A and point B.  I’ve been all over the map.

For me, my whole miserable adult life was a journey back to childhood.  I knew who I was then.  I just forgot and had to make a 40+ year trip to get back there.  Sound familiar?

But this trip is not about years or age.  It is about mind.  The constant renewing of my mind.  There is no “Hello, this is God, do this”.  I have had an ongoing dialogue of which God knows the direction of, the things to be addressed and how long it will take, taking into account how stubborn I am.  No doubt I delayed the process by being a mule at times.  Shutting myself off to new ideas and experiences, just plain getting tired of it, clinging to the past, living for the future, and having my own ideas (UGH!).

Life is an ever present unfolding, an evolution, a constant movement of things in and out.  All these things offer delights; a lesson, a message, an emotion, an experience.  They are all gifts to be embraced and enjoyed.  Some will teach, some will reach, and others are just for fun.  God uses all of it to bring you to your highest self, and that just might be full circle back to where you started.

It is my wish this Christmas that you embrace your life and live it fully.  Allow God to guide you in your journey to your highest self.  Guidance and messages can appear anywhere.  Keep your eyes and ears and heart open.  Your calling is coming by text.  It says “Let joy be your reason”.  Follow joy in all your decisions and you’ll start to get on track.

One Cat Apartment

One cat apartment is more a statement about who rules the dwelling as opposed to how many cats can abide there.

Be prepared for a complete makeover of your life, possessions and habits when you decide to become a one cat apartment dweller.

I am permitted to reside here of course because I provide  the means, the food and creature comforts.  I am rewarded for this with the cats rendition of love.

My black spotted cat dutifully wakes me at 4:30 a.m. no matter what my condition (that is irrelevant, everyday is a new day!) and makes sure he is my top, and only priority for the day (he will allow me my amusements when he chooses to nap).  Hmm, now that I think of it, it is a lot like being married.

He delights me with all his antics, quirks and character.  As my world of valued possessions is increasingly reduced to being tucked into drawers or at ceiling level, I am mesmerized by his boundless energy, enthusiasm and curiosity, or by his plain old bad mischievous behaviour.

He is certainly good for me, though I am frustrated by his persistence to do wrong (chew expensive art supplies, dig up plants, repeatedly relocating things on shelves to things on floors).  People comment I am a much nicer person in the possession of a cat.  In fact, many pushed me to get one after suffering me a year catless.  My Mother used to plead with me to go to the gym for the same reason.  Everyone benefited afterwards.

I must admit I had never heard the expression One Cat Apartment until I got my new cat.  My lease limits how many people can live with me but not pets, or what kind.  It doesn’t need to.  No matter what the size of my living space, one cat is enough.

Even now while writing this, little four foot is into forbidden places, knocking over stuff and squeezing into areas I could never reach into.  Creating havoc because I dare to ignore him.  He never tires of this, he delights in it.  It keeps me very humble and reminds me of what really matters in life.  Things are replaceable.  Sam (my cat) is not.

As Christmas comes and my house is devoid of decorations, for the same reason as when I hang my clothes on the rack to dry, within moments all is on the floor, I am forced to be content to have all that glitter within me, and shine from the inside out.  Little cat is only 6 months old.  Presently, everything is one big Christmas gift to Sam, to be unraveled, dispersed, played with and ultimately destroyed. The years will pass, cat will settle down and my concealed dormant Christmas tree will once again be released and brighten my room.  I am not overly bothered by this.  I am an enthusiastic little kid putting decorations up, and then procrastinating until July to put them away.

When he jumps up into my lap unexpectedly, looks up at me with bright golden eyes and purrs warmth and love into my heart, I know I have a forever blessing cradled in my arms.  This is the true meaning of every day of my life, not just Christmas; peace, love and joy.

I should wish for everyone to have a One Cat Apartment.

Magic Flute

B flat  B flat  C  B flat  E flat  C . . .

Hap-py Birth-day to me . . .

This year’s birthday I can play this tune for myself!

Long ago, my parents convinced me that I was not musically inclined.  This was to keep our house quiet. Like most children however, I longed to make noise, and any noise can be music. The flute was the instrument I most wanted to learn.

In the cult movie Harold and Maude, Maude introduces the young Harold to music (ahem, among other things) saying everyone should be able to make some music.  She chooses for him the instrument that most suits him, a banjo.  That little snippet from the movie stayed with me because I knew the flute was what I should play.  This desire never left me.

I had a bit of music education at school, but was never encouraged to pursue making sounds.  Music was kept at a distance.

My Mother took me to classical music concerts because she liked to be a Princess.  We’d dress up and shine in our box seats one Wednesday a month.  She did not want me to learn music, she disdained the music ‘snobs’ who knew everything about certain pieces, how and why they were written, how they should sound, what they meant.  “You should bring your own interpretation to it” she’d admonish me. “Just listen to it and let it take you where it will.”  I did derive a great deal of enjoyment from those evenings, and I got to hear some great musicians, including Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma.  Musicians had a gift, they were special ‘others’, born to make music.

Then, one day, just a year ago, a friend told me she was buying a piano.  She hadn’t played in years and missed it.  I casually remarked on my musical inability and how I always wanted to play the flute.  Well, she pulled out a piece of paper and in a matter of minutes taught me how to read basic music.  “Go get your flute” she smiled.

And I did.  A nice student rental.

I even took lessons, until my bank account couldn’t support that any more.

When a tune first appeared from my squeaks and squawks, I experienced magic.  Those little black orbs with sticks in them lifted off the page and danced!  No longer a passive listener, I became creator!  Mary Had a Little Lamb!  Ode to Joy!  Freres Jacques!

To be fair, I am not a good player.  I cannot play a lot of notes on one breath (slur), so I am limited to songs where I can go toot, toot, toot!  My octaves are up in the rafters.  None of this matters.  A year later, a few days before my birthday, I can play the song to myself.  A nice birthday gift.

Maybe next year I can buy a flute.

Adjoining Walls

New neighbours moving in, muffled sounds coming through my living room wall.  The adjoining wall.  That unusually thin partition that both separates and joins me to my neighbours.  The common wall.  Possibly only a dry wall.

I’ve learned a few things about common walls.  Never put the head of your bed against one.  Either you’ll keep your neighbour awake with your snoring, or they will keep you awake with their lovemaking (or vice versa if you are fortunate).

Don’t put your stereo, TV, computer, gaming device or similar repetitive noise maker (a relative) against one.  You’d be amazed how far sound travels and how loud it is next door, above and below you.  I am startled by how many people who insist on doing this don’t know what headphones are.  It’d solve most of the problems, save the talkative relative.

There are hundreds of things to complain about whenever you share a dwelling with 400 other people, but noise tops the list.  It’s all those things happening on the other side of those adjoining walls.  Of course!

But right now I am the offender.  I have a very bad cold.  Very bad.  I spend the wee hours of the night with a dry hacking cough. I curl up on the sofa in the living room to spare my neighbours sleep, but at 2 a.m. probably everyone within 5 floors of me has heard I am sick.

I am currently blessed to be nestled between two very quiet neighbours.  But I dream of living somewhere where the adjoining walls are with nature.  The only form of pleasant annoyance would be birds, crickets and frogs singing, rain pattering, wind whooshing, maybe waves lapping.  Or perhaps, the sound of nothing at all, like I experienced in the desert.  And I won’t disturb anyone.

However, as I get older, and a bit deafer, I tend to get louder and my neighbours quieter, strange that.

Think I’ll go practice my flute now.

Don’t worry – it’s only for 25 minutes.

In the dining room.

It’s 2 p.m.

Mostly it’ll be a few toots, mixed with coughs.

All of you are at work.

Far from adjoining walls.

NOT on the Buses

Nasty day.  Not snowing yet, but that rain is near ice.  The bus is late, difficult to gauge by how much, they come when they feel like it, sometimes two arriving together, and then nothing for days.  My feet start to get cold.  A bus passes, too full to pick us up.  This is the daily attempt to commute to work.  Repeat the scenario on the way home, the wait so long, I could catch the next bus back to work.

Nothing can accelerate work place burn out faster than a lousy commute.  Perhaps the commute started the burn out in the first place.

Forget the advice to spice things up by going a different route.  I take the shortest, and only route available.  If there was another way, it would be infinitely longer – why would I want to do that?  Get up earlier and come home later?  Na.  And in the winter it is dark a.m. and p.m., not much change of scenery there.  Finding another route is as bad advice as standing on a bus without holding onto anything to improve your balance (yes this piece of wisdom is on the internet).  Advice doled out by people who never take the bus.  Ever.

It’s not the scenery that dulls the mind.  It is the waiting. Looking hopefully down empty roads and seeing no vehicles, of any kind, in sight.  Just blowing snow.  Or sheets of rain.  Or a nice sunset on the good days.

Once on a bus, packed in like sardines, our bulk is smashed to one side as bus takes corners on two wheels, and folded up like an accordion on sudden stops and starts.  And it stops at every. single. stop.  We get every. single. red light.

Eight a.m.  The driver sings at the top of his lungs all the way to work, in two languages.  A lot of tremolo, but not gravel down a tin chute, thank goodness. But at 8 a.m.?

Move closer to work?  Are you kidding me?!  The repercussions of that should be evident.

But busing beats walking. Walk?  I had to during bus strikes.  In January.  It took an hour and a half one way.  And I had it easy.  Some people had to walk hours and still put in a full day.  I near froze, got buried in a snow bank by a snow plow and generally believed my life would soon end.  Bicycle?  Dangerous. But brave souls do it. Koodoos to them for sure.  Plus they save a huge amount of money and get in shape.  Winter must be a blast to bicycle in.  I used to in the summer, but bike thefts are common.  So nice at the end of the day to find your only ride home is gone or worse, mangled.  No room in current office for safe stow away of bike.  I know, I have an excuse for everything.

Of course everyone has their own horror stories of taking the bus.  I could curl your hair with some of mine.

I am, of course, ranting.

I figured it out.  I have gone down the same road almost 6000 times during the past twelve years.

If I get to retire when I want, it means maybe only a thousand more trips.

I won’t miss it.