Monday, March 14, 2016

Just an average day in Victoria

Sunday March 13th

Maya snores gently, nestled into her blankie on the chair at my side, as I write from the warmth of our apartment. Yet another dull, dreary, drippy, winter day in Victoria is dramatically transformed as howling, blustery winds rage outside, pelting rain almost horizontally across the yard. Our winter weather has returned to its more natural pattern, a huge contrast to the warm and obscenely sunny ones of the previous 2 years. The ones that left us all paranoid. Oh, this can't be good (though it really feels good). We're gonna pay for this one. - we said to each other in grocery store line ups and cafés across town.

Last Thursday the sun woke me up and charged me with energy. I downed a quick brekkie, stuffed some bags and gloves into my backpack, and took off for a day of Forest Gumping.

Daffodils spring up everywhere, on rugged hillsides as well as open stretches of lawn in Beacon Hill Park. Groundskeepers carefully mow around the stands and signs are posted reminding us not to pick the daffodils so that others may enjoy them too.



Severe winter storms have prevented clean up efforts of the barge that broke away from the tug boat and came aground at the beach at the base of Cook Street and Dallas Road over a week ago. Fortunately the cargo is large pieces of debris from a ferry's construction site at the inner harbour. Though there is no toxic waste, some of the material, smashed by the pounding surf, has broken off and is being carried to shore by the waves.

Just a few yards away kite surfers take advantage of the turbulent conditions.



An anonymous writer, obviously a nature lover, leaves a message for all who come this way. Gratitude fills my heart. I smile with a deep sense of connection to someone I don't even know. Perhaps they view this place as I do; a delicate treasure.


I packed my gloves and bags to clear away the bits of litter, I'd noticed the other day, marring the underbrush of this freshly groomed area by these steps leading up from the beach. Looked like a small task initially but as I pulled at pieces poking out from vines and roots…


I unearth bags and bags of debris: a few beer bottles and cans, a jacket and sweatshirt totally saturated from the persistent rains, styrofoam sheets as well as the usual bits of plastic, bags, wrappers and convenience food packaging. The items were buried deeply, some stashed away in thick plastic bags. There are no traces of human excrement nor scent of urine. I assume they have been here a long time. Perhaps this site was abandoned in favour of accommodation at tent city, a temporary measure set up on the courthouse lawn to get homeless people off the streets and out of public parks.


I couldn't free up the huge sheet of plastic propped up against the concrete. A layer of roots and vines grown up between them would provide extra insulation and comfort. The jug was anchored to the ground by an endless vine.   


A brave man stops to talk to this crazy lady hauling out garbage. We talk of the plight of the homeless and attempts government and private organizations are making to provide shelter, food and clothing and help people gain skills to get back on track. The break down of family and the support it offers, a particularly North American problem, is the cause, he says. His parents are from Spain and Portugal and he visited their homeland often as a child. He tells me that you don't find this in Europe so much. Why do so many immigrants live together? Why do generations and extended family members share houses? Because they take care of each other, he says.


I walk through Beacon Hill park, taking time to lean against, and gain support from my "dreaming" tree. I glance across the pond and this lovely little heron, one of my sisters' favourite birds, calmly oversees the comings and goings of the other resident ducks, peacocks and turtles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

X-Files 4 of 4 - Night time spirits come alive

A part of me always knew I would play an integral role in the support for my parents during the last years of their lives. It was logical. I was their only unattached child, and a female to boot. I had no clear/successful career nor dependents. But, in my heart I knew the reason was far deeper than this. 

Perhaps that's why I fled to the west coast in my early twenties. There, free from my past, in my spiritual home, I met myself. I stretched my wings, had my flings, immersed myself in the study of yoga and lived a bohemian artist's life before a coincidental stroke of fate lured me back to Ontario.
(NOTE: I got married within a year of returning to Ontario but all the other conditions mentioned above applied, plus I lived near by.)

I was shocked to find that my years of dedicated yoga practice hadn't prepared me in any way shape or form to handle many of our parents' needs as their health and abilities declined, nor the waves of emotion that swamp a family doing their best to keep afloat. Yoga was my sanctuary, my home and safe place where I licked my wounds, dipped into source and filled myself up, celebrated life and expressed gratitude. But their journey made me confront myself and the question - what is the point of yoga if you can't take it off the mat and into the world. This is the stage of the yoga of the householder - it was bound to catch up with me sooner or later.

My parents' quirky personalities and way of looking at life was deeply challenging and heart warming. Their great sense of humour got us through a lot.

*        *        *

“Dad, don’t try and think so hard. Just go through the motions and I’ll double check it against the instructions on the bottles. You’ve been doing this without thinking for years, your body has a memory. It will know what to do. Arrange the bottles in the way they normally would be and start from there.” Sorting through b.i.d.’s and t.i.d.’s the before, during and after meal notations of prescription lingo on each container, together we walked our way through our task. Unable to offer any assistance, Mom stood aside. I briefly turned to check on her. A cloud passed over her face; helplessness shifting into sorrow. She knew this was yet one more task, falling out of his hands.
A few fact finding trips to his pharmacy and doctor’s office followed. Asking for, or demanding, access to his files didn't achieve the desired outcome. Only when I was reduced to pathetic pleading, were they surrendered to me.
Foolish me, I logically assumed some kind of summary list of all his medications would exist. Instead, my search yielded scraps of photocopies of prescription notes written in the virtually illegible, professional M.D. scrawl. The end result was the master list drawn by my own hand complete with descriptions and illustration, the one that I worked from tonight.
A week’s worth, twelve varieties of life sustaining pills and capsules of every colour and description get sorted into their appropriate compartments - breakfast, noon, dinner, bedtime pills; pills for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diuretics, heart and thyroid medications, laxatives ... the list seems endless.
“Eighty ... eighty-one …” the rocking has slowed down, his enthusiasm wains. He merely taps of the heel of his hand against the top of the chair now.
“Geeze Edie you’re getting heavy.”
“Well, I weigh the same as when we began,” she comments innocently.
“I know that. I’m the one exerting all the effort. I should be losing weight.” Pausing for a few minutes, he leans over bracing himself with hands on top of his thigh as he catches his breath.
Newly revived, he hits the chair with determination, “O.K., now where were we?”
“You’ve got me.”
“Geezus Christ. I’m counting on you.”
“Then you’re in trouble aren’t you,” she jokes. He looks at her silently grinning, with laughter in his eyes.
I look at my watch. More than five minutes have passed from when they started counting. “118,” I yell.
“What?” he shouts. Then quietly he asks Mom, “who’s that?”
“Nance. Nance is in the kitchen.” she replies.
“Oh, yes I forgot.” he taps his head. “Nanca!?” he exclaims with delight.
“Dad!?” I return in kind. “You’re at 118."
There's a pause.
He hasn't quite heard. “She says 118.” Mom informs him with authority.
“Well, O.K. then.” he slaps the chair again. His strength returned, he resumes the last few victorious pushes as they count together, “118 ... 119 ... 120 ...” adding a push of exclamation on the last number.
“Hallelujah!” he rejoices, throwing his arms up victoriously.
“Amen!” she adds with equal enthusiasm. 
“Now let’s get these other goddam drops in before my goddam arms fall off.”
By the time my mission is accomplished, all has been reduced to silence. I place the plastic medicine bottles back into the box which I return to its hiding place, leaving the docette in full view in its usual location on the counter.
Standing at the foot of the 3 stairs that rise into the family room, I smile as I gaze at the flickering images of my parents bathed in a faded cool blue set against a backdrop of darkness, momentarily resting their eyes. And I marvel at these strange nocturnal creatures who prefer to stay up all night with the owls rather than soar with the eagles in the morning. My eyes grow wide as I realize this is one more confirmation that I am indeed their progeny. Who knew? Who? That nighttime lifts their spirits so and makes them come alive. Two childlike, giggling creatures emerged from the depths of elderly bodies. And I can’t help chuckling. I resolve to return to the nest in the dark of night more often. God knows I need the lift.
I sneak out and in leaving turn on a trail of lights in order to illuminate their 2:30 a.m. bedtime migration.
            *          *          *
“Om ... Om ...” now subdued I turn down the volume on the tape deck and ease up the driveway and down the road as waves of chants carry me home on a freshly rain washed, starry night.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

X-Files…part 3 of 4 - Giddy Up

Sweeping me into the room he shines his flashlight on my mother, illuminated by the beams emanating from the T.V., which has been on since T.V. was invented. She’s stretched out on one of the many lazy boys populating theatre number one and I’m forced to do a double take. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her recline on one before. She's a dedicated "sinkie". I even wonder if the woman sleeps, as she eats standing up.
Mom waves and greets me with a cheery “Hi.” Without more being said, Dad motions me to sit.  Like some kind of anthropologist I've been granted the privilege to observe this, at least to me, bizarre, unknown and never before witnessed, nightly ritual. 
He shines the light on the clock over the stairs, the only way you can see it in this den of a room. Dad, like many of his peers, can no longer read the digital watch he still wears, nor can he hear its alarm buzzing at precisely designated times of the day for purposes long forgotten.
“So I guess we’re ready to do this,” he asks.
“Ready.” She confirms.
Ready, I wonder. I suspend my breath and watch.
Flashlight in one hand; bottle in the other. He's barely able to control the constant shaking of his hands. Yet, miraculously for a brief moment they are steady, just long enough for him to get one exact, gently placed drop to find its mark on Mom’s eye. And then I exhale, relieved for him that he can still do this small task for her.
“So that’s it for the first set of drops.”  Dad explains to me. “Now we have to wait for two minutes before we can put the other batch in.”


I begin to set the alarm on my watch but Dad motions that it isn’t necessary. He perches on the arm of the couch behind her lazy boy and begins to push down on the top of her chair, setting her in motion. Each rock becomes increasingly far ranging. She bravely clutches the arms of her mount to keep from being bucked off.

“One, two, three, ...” they count every push.
“This is how we do it” they say in unison, counting off the seconds since neither of them can see his watch.
“I’m hoping I’ll be able to rock her to sleep.” They both break out into fits of laughter as the rocking and the counting continue.
“Fifteen ... sixteen ...”

Speechless, I leave them to it, laughing and rocking as I go to tend to the medications. I close the kitchen door silently behind me, make my way over to the counter across the room and turn on the little lamp.
“Twenty ... twenty-one ...”
 I clamber up onto the counter to reach into the cupboard, to the back of the top shelf, where the medicine bottles are hidden. As I pull out the stash, I recall the day when such precautions became necessary and this ritual passed on to me. A dreaded sound, the ring of a phone in the early hours of the morning, was my awakening alarm. I stumbled into the den to intercept the call intuiting that I'd hear Dad's voice on the other end.

“Nance, could you come over?”
“Dad is everything O.K.?” suddenly I’m wide awake.
“Yes, but, but I um, can’t remember which medications I have to take.” his words betray astonishment and shame, for he has been responsible for sorting out his medications from the day he took his first insulin injection some 25 years ago.
“You’ve taken your insulin, right?”

“Yes, yes that’s not the problem.”
 I’m relieved that it’s not some kind of blood sugar fog, but puzzled by this new turn of events.
“It’s the damn pills. I have to take so many of them… I just can’t remember.”
I arrive to find him mulling over the unopened pill bottles laying in disarray on this very counter.
“Forty/fifty ... forty-one/forty-four ...”
“Edie, come on now it’s forty-one,” he chuckles. The creaks from the chair having gotten progressively weaker have stopped.
“No, it’s forty-four.”
“You made a mistake back there at forty,” he’s laughing not sure if she’s putting him on or not. “Now lets start again, forty-four.”
“Well then we should start at fifty because we’ve been talking.” She, the voice of reason, states.
“Come on Edie co-operate with me,” he pleads.
They resume, “forty/fifty-three ...”
A silent pause.
God they crack me up! I chuckle and shake my head and can take no more of this petty bickering. “Fifty- three” I yell out.
“What?” Dad shouts back.
“Fifty-three, start at fifty-three.”

“Fifty-three ... fifty-four ...” they’ve been jump-started back on track and the chair’s a rockin’.
And, I had to jump start his memory back then…

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

X-Files…part 2 of 4

I was raised in the modest 2 story house (where Life at 139 takes place) from the time I was just 3 years  old until I left home, for the final time in '86. Unlike most of my generation, I was a rebound boarder periodically returning to live in my parental home, for a year or so, every now and again.
Yes, I really did this to my poor parents.
 I hope they enjoyed my company as much as I did theirs - not being sarcastic either. 
Mom remained in the home for four more years after our Dad's death. An incident one cold and bitter night in 2006 convinced us that, short of having one of her five children with her 24/7 (which she absolutely did not want) it was no longer safe for her to stay there. But, that is a story for another time.

I should add that, not only was the stairway (mentioned in the story that follows) dark; the stairs leading to the upper floor were slippery as ice. A few non-Thackers who butt-slid from the top of the landing to the bottom of the flight in one fell swoop.…more than once, can attest to that. A bi-weekly ritual of Mom's was to wax the wood floors until they shone with a blinding light. Only when the landing became too crowded with boxes, full of their fledged childrens' items, did the stairway get omitted, yet the treads still retained their smooth, slick surface.

Mom was old school. Rubbing polish into the wood on hands and knees was the way it was done followed by a once or twice over with the floor polisher. When it came time to clear out the family home no fewer than 3 floor polishers were unearthed; all in various stages of disrepair. By the time the first one finally died new flooring material had made such appliances obsolete. Dad, ever the proud hunter/gatherer that he was, scoured the neighbourhoods on dump days for replacements. Most lasted for a few months before kicking off. When he finally gave up the hunt, Mom just dragged the lightest (still about 20 pound) relic back and forth over the dining room floor and hallway.

Back to X-Files part 2 of a 4 part story…

*        *        *

So begrudgingly, twenty bass driven minutes later, and paradoxically calmer I arrive unannounced on a cold and dark night. There I am on Mom and Dad’s doorstep, standing in the rain, waiting for them to respond to the sound of my fist banging on the aluminum base of their screen door. I fear this noise will wake up the neighbours gently tucked into their beds, but not my folks probably dozing in front of the T.V. in “theatre number one” a.k.a. the family room. Except for the blue haze that emanates from the front window it is pitch black inside.
Just last year my husband installed an overhead light above the stair well leading up to the second floor bedrooms. He comes from good lighting stock. His father, also a contractor, instilled in Rod from a tender age, the appreciation of abundant illumination.
“How did you manage to go up the stairs without light all those years?” he asks.
I think, what an odd question. “We counted the stairs and the steps to our beds.” Duh, didn’t everyone. In hearing myself I begin to think, maybe this was a little odd. My mother didn’t like overhead lighting of any kind - though I don’t know why, so all the wiring was capped and tiny bedside table lamps complete with cellophane wrapped shades were placed in the farthest corners of each room. God forbid anything got moved in the space in between the two locations. I think it was her way of forcing us to keep our bedrooms neat - put your things away or else break your necks.

The pride Rod felt in solving what he had deemed the “lighting problem”was obvious as we all stood at the base of the stair watching him demonstrate with a flourish how with the flick of a switch the light fourteen feet above us would be activated. And their reactions! Well, you would have thought he had invented light itself, they were so in awe. Of course we all knew that he would be the only person who would ever use it, but we didn’t tell him this. Didn’t want to spoil his moment.
                 I bang out again our family code  - knock   knock …knock-knock,  knock … knock   knock then shout, “Mom, Dad, it’s me Nance” then peer through the scalloped window, the kind that allows you to see only ghostly images on the brightest of days, and I see a scene straight out of the X-Files. The beam of a flash light jumps and stumbles along the walls of the living room.
“I’m coming, I’m coming. Chris’ sake. Give me a chance will ya. Keep your pants on”  The beam cuts wildly out of control through the darkness. “Shit! Goddam it all to hell. Who put that there?” 
I’m shivering pretty uncontrollably by now as he the clicks and jiggles the handle wrestling  with the door he’s confronted on a daily basis for nearly 50 years. “Jesus Murphy ...” a choppy stream of swear words accompanies his efforts. When he finally succeeds, I’m met with a piercing beam of light aimed straight at my eyeballs. We’re stalemated there for a some seconds, silence coming from his end of the beam as I bob and weave my head out of the line of fire.
“Dad. Hi its me, Nance.” I put my hand in front of my face averting my eyes, but it is no use so I give up, drop my arms down by my sides and just stand there squinting.
With beam still fixed on my face, he peers closer; shivering I wait. “Nance?... it’s you ... Hi. Hi. What are you doing standing out in the rain? You’re drenched. Come in. Come in.” He waves me inside, beam gesturing wildly, creating a strobe effect in my brain.
Once my eyes adjust to the dark I ask, “Dad, why is it so dark in here?”
“It is?”

“Um,” gesturing to the flashlight in his hands, “yeah.” and then to the cloak of darkness around us.
“Oh ... OH” my question goes unanswered as he flicks some switches with slight distraction. And there is light - outside. The light over the front porch and then the lamppost at the end of the walkway now proudly shine. Without asking why I’m on his doorstep at 11:30 at night, it somehow seems perfectly normal to him, he motions me in to the living room after I’ve taken off my jacket and boots with the assistance of his somewhat shaky beam.
“Come on in” he says throwing his arms open with a warm expansiveness. “We’re just about to put your mother’s eye drops in.” With light still in hand he begins to sweep me in the direction of the living room.
I wince at the thought, “Dad, I can’t ...”
He stops in his tracks, “What? You don’t have time to visit your old Dad?”
I heave a sigh, “O.K. but only for a minute. I’ve got to put together your docette.”
“Nance you don’t have to do that.”
“If I don’t, who will?”
He pauses. His arms drop. Deflated he shakes his head, his lips purse and tears threaten as, I realize, inadvertently we’re caught short by the memory of the day the torch of this task passed into my hands.
“Look, Dad,” I say as I place my hand on his arm. “It’s O.K. Let’s go in and see Mom.” We nod in  silent conspiracy to proceed as if this conversation had never taken place…(TO BE CONTINUED)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

X-Files…part 1 of 4

Today my world is filled with thoughts of ageing, declining health and dying. Cheery, I know! But, it's odd how the universe arranges things through synchronicity.

BEING MORTAL - Medicine and What Matters in the End, the book by the wonderful medical writer, surgeon and lecturer Atul Gawande (think of a cross between Oliver Sacks and Malcolm Gladwell) stares up at me from my desk. Oddly, the sticker the library slapped on its cover says Health & Fitness. Even they don't know how to categorize a discussion on, what will come to most of us, facing the end of our life.

One of the first posts I read on FB today is from a dreamer friend who shared this THE BIG SLEEP on FB - check it out I'll wait…

And just now, somewhat in denial, I begin to write an e-mail to a 100 year old beloved former client turned friend. My fingers get heavy on the keys as I clear the lump in forming in my throat. She's probably died. The New Year's e-mail that I sent to her had bounced back; address no longer available. Despite her advanced years L was pretty skilled at the computer so…I check the obits and there it is; a loving and brief announcement, date of death Nov 14th.

E-mail to L; delete.

Looking for things to calm the restlessness building up within, I delete old, no longer needed files.
Delete.
Delete.
Delete.
… hoping that this will clear things out of my mind.

Short stories I wrote about my struggles with my parents' ageing and declining health pop up on the screen. I laugh at one titled X-FILES in honour of X-Files' Mulder and Skully's penchant for using flashlights during every investigation. "Turn on the damn lights!" I'd shout at the screen. But, to no avail. My mother like Mulder and Skully wasn't a fan of overhead lighting. We Thackers are all night people. Throughout my life, navigating my way to bed late at light was like being in a training school for the blind.

*    *    *
Perfect. Rod had adjusted the light just right. A crisp beam is cast on my side of the bed leaving him cocooned in darkness so that only soft early stage of sleep snores betray his presence.
Ah ... I softly exhale, gently settling down on the futon having tip toed across the room and slipped out of my jeans, miraculously without disturbing him; he’s such a light sleeper. Mindfully I catch a whiff of peppermint tea wafting into my nostrils as I blow on its steamy surface before a sip passes through barely parted lips. And just as thoughtfully I place it on a ceramic tile on the floor, beside the bed. A barely audible sigh of contentment escapes as I open my paperback Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das. I pause to allow a wave of gratitude wash over me for a day full of simple pleasures - car washed, treatments done, dinner shared with Mom and Dad, a beautiful sunny day …
“Shit, shit, shit. Goddamn it all to hell!” I slap my book shut and slam it down onto my thigh.
“What the ...?” Rod torques his upper body in my direction groggily shielding his eyes.
“Ah, damn it! I forgot to fill the fucking docette.”
“Language? Geeze it’s as if you’ve got Tourette’s or something.”
“Sorry. When I get pissed off ...  can’t help myself ... Dad does it too ... low tolerance for frustration ... some kind of conditioned response further habituated by ...”
“Do I really have to hear this now?” he interrupts.
Distractedly I grab my jeans off the floor. “Left it on the friggin’ counter. Must have gotten side tracked. Shit I’ll have to go over and fill it.” 
“Now?” he picks up the digital clock recording the time with blood red numbers and thrusts it into the light. “Nance, it’s 11 o’clock at night for Pete’s sake.”

I step into one pant leg and hop about trying to locate the other, knocking the scalding tea over “shee-ite” issues crisply through my clenched teeth as I lose my balance and my shoulder slams into the wall. “Ah! Goddamn it!”
Rod tisks and then forcefully sighs for my benefit as he disengages himself rolling back over into the darkness.
Mopping the tea up with a t-shirt grabbed from a chair,“If I don’t do it now, knowing my luck, Mom’ll call at some ungodly hour. And now I can’t sleep anyway because I’ll lay awake waiting for it like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Shoes. God damn it where are my shoes?”

“Nance, you’re spinning.”
“I can hear her now.”
“Ahem, ahem.” Rod clears his throat for my benefit.
“Well, you know how she is with the answering machine. Mom can’t even work a toaster oven. Remember last Christmas when we got them that little portable tape deck and she said to Dad, sitting there with the unwrapped package in his lap, ‘I hope it isn’t a micro-wave’?”
“I’ve got to get some sleep. Unlike some people, I have to get up early in the morning.”

“Where are my shoes?” As I crawl on hands and knees upturning everything in my path in search of the elusive quarry an all too familiar telephone call plays over in my head.  “Nance ... are you there? ... I ... ah ... can’t find your father’s medications for the day ... could you? ... um ... come over? ... ah ... well, O.K. ... bye ...” Her voice; shaky, apologetic, helpless.
Augh! God my gut’s turning now just thinking about it. Can’t be woken up like that yet again. It would take me days to stop swearing from the aggravation and guilt.
“Shoes are downstairs by the door." He muffles through the duvet. "In all our fourteen years together we’ve never brought them into the bedroom. Get - a - grip.”
“Oh, damn!” I stand with hands on hips in puzzlement. "Tsk, sigh." I proceed to stomp out of the room, “I’ll just have to grab whatever I can on my way out, I guess.”  
“Please, don’t slam the door.”
It slams shut seemingly of its own accord.
“Oops. Sorry.”
“Whatever,” I barely hear him sigh and mumble. There’s a faint click and the sliver of light escaping from under the door is extinguished behind me. Ahh, I relax, blessed darkness.
I proceed down the stairs barefoot with heavy heels.            
“Shit!” I grab at the railing to keep from breaking my neck as our cat scurries down the stairs. “Max get out of the way!”
            *           *          *
Gotta work the ya ya’s out. “Let’s see.” I say aloud as I rifle through the cassettes strewn beside me on the passenger seat.
Eternal Om too mellowColin James - nahEnya, Rolling Stones ... the Stones ...
Yup, Stones it is! I pop in the tape and crank up the volume.
“You can’t always get what you wa-a-a-nt. You ...” isn’ t that fuckin’ right! I nod in heartfelt  agreement. 
Flat and off key, I break into song wailing at the top of my lungs, "you just might find you get what you need…" And, in a Jumpin' Jack Flash this Honky Tonk woman and Mick are gunning it down the driveway…(TO BE CONTINUED).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

FLIPPY - a tribute

FLIPPY - a recent photo
It is with deep sadness that I announce the death of our beloved kitty, Flippy (? 2002 - Nov 7/15). After a brief, incurable illness, Flippy passed at home in sacred space with the compassionate assistance and guidance of Dr Lee of Capital Cat Hospital. Rod, Nance and kitty buddy Maya were all present to honour her passing.

Flip, our BBG (big beautiful girl), a rescue kitty from Burlington Animal Aid (now the Burlington Humane Society) retired in 2013 from her job as official greeter/ therapy assistant for my clients at my home practice in Burlington, ON. These responsibilities she herself elected to take on shortly after coming to live with us in Sept of 2003.

in "flippy" mode
The lovely, sedate, "Vatican" (the name they gave her due to the little streak of a few grey hairs on her forehead) that we met at the shelter immediately revealed herself to be a wild and crazy girl, defying gravity with her aerodynamic skills and sudden bursts of leaping (aka leaprosy). We renamed her Flippy and somewhere along the line the grey streak vanished and she grew into being a big beautiful pure white cat. She possessed a very expressive face and would smile often. Flip was the smartest cat we've ever known who loved to play fetch down the hallway, scale the kitty tree, cuddle with Maya and watch birds, squirrels. She was amazed at the sight of a deer in our backyard in Victoria.

Her buddy, Maya, was adopted on the same day as Flip and Flippy took her under her wing, teaching her cat skills which Maya lacked; most notably climbing. Maya, was a few weeks old when she came to the Oakville Humane Society with her litter mates but due to bias against black kitties, remained there for over a year, long after the others had been adopted. She was a "hider", a frightened and shy little smooshball who, we were told, would probably never take to people and probably spend her life hiding away from us. So, of course, we had to take her.

We were thrilled when Maya and Flip took an immediate liking to each other. Flip became Maya's kitty therapist of sorts and was instrumental in bringing Maya out of her shell and getting her trust. Maya returned the favour, comforting a very distressed Flippy when they arrived at our new home in Victoria, BC in 2013 after spending over a week in a kitty kennel and enduring airplane travel.
Flippy sleeps restfully when Maya joins her after their long journey.
Our buddy was always a loving presence from the most challenging times in our lives to the most joyous and for this I am deeply grateful.
THE GREETER
Flippy will always be deeply loved and remembered. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other in the dream space. I send her off with this Kundalini yoga, farewell blessing…

May the long time sun.
Shine upon you.
All love surround you.
And the pure light within you.
Guide your way on.

Thank you, thank you, thank you dearest Flippy for blessing us with your presence.

Monday, October 12, 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA BLOW OUT

…I hit the wall last week on social media thanks to a wonderful family gathering with the in-laws.

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I'm filled with warm, childhood memories of simpler times and Thanksgivings gone by at Mom and Dad's. Mom was not one known for her culinary skills. Her remark, "I'd rather we could take a pill," pretty much summed up her love affair with cooking. But she always rose to the occasion when it came to family celebrations, especially Thanksgiving, after all we had much to be thankful for.

Mom was always the last to come to the table, taking off her apron along the way. Despite her pleadings for us to start without her, we'd wait for her arrival with our plates piled high.

My Dad would ask the obligatory, "Does anyone want to say grace?"…

Giggles. "Grace" said the more irreverent family members.

Without missing a beat he would continue on, "For this, our daily bread, may we truly be thankful."

We'd linger at the table over our dessert of pumpkin pie and whipped cream not wanting to break the spell of calm, contented, satiation and Dad, the old "philosopher" would share what he was thankful for. "We have our health," he would say this even when his own health was failing, "and we have each other. No matter where you are, or what life presents you with, I hope you will always remember these times and be grateful."

I do and I am.

Thank you turkey; thank you "Dad's" dressing
So what does this have to do with my social media "fast"?

During my visit I observed how we, I include myself here, have become obsessed with our devices. In the last post, I wrote that they help me connect with family members and friends who are geographically far away. There is no doubt that, used within reason, they provide the desired link. But, they also take me out of the present moment and away from my own creative devices.

Anxiety ridden, dissatisfaction-fuelled, advertising worms its way insidiously into my life filling me with impossible desires. Petitions, all for very good causes, leave me feeling powerless despite the actions I take in real life to defend the ocean and its inhabitants. Requests for donations at every turn arouse a sense of hopelessness for the earth. If only money talks and has power then we truly are doomed.

Where does the time go while I'm swiping through FB, answering e-mails, texting while "taking time out" to chill and "watch" a program on TV? Spreading myself so thin divides me up into little pieces. I'm scattered, ramped up; wanting.…What?…Anything but what I already have, it seems.

Add that to the chaos that accompanies every family gathering: the unspoken expectations, good intentions, subconscious agendas, spontaneous change-ups, miscommunication, emotional triggers; a cold in incubation, and you get someone "undone" by life. Time to unplug.

A week later, more grounded, calm and creative I ask myself, "Do I want to jump back into the throng?"

May this time with your family find you unplugged, feeling grateful, and filled with memories to warm your heart.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!