Did I mention that I saw a comet one late afternoon? Yeah, it was pretty cool. Still daylight, and this big blot of star goes splashing across the northwest corner of sky down toward the ground as I walked toward home.
Wait, is it normal to see something like this when it’s not dark out? I forgot to ask around and see if anyone else saw it or knows what it might have been.
I was pretty awed. To me, these things are the universe saying “Hi there, kid.”
It’s another gorgeous day out there. There’s a bit of mint in the air: a girl would profit from gloves, and a scarf for the neck and a hat for the ears are required for a wussy such as myself. I’ve yet to take my medicine walk, which’ll have to be soon as it’s getting too dark to be out on the road after six o’clock. The dogs are waiting though. At least that’s what I think little TacoBell wanted when he was pawing at me as I sat here at the desk.
Pet, Sadie has invited us to supper with her family and her new beau, MrWonderful, on Saturday night. I’d like to meet him but don’t know whether I’ll be up for anything after a full day of learning songs and singing. They’ll be in the city long enough for brunch on Sunday if we’d rather do that, and as you may know I am considering not attending the workshop on that last day. It’s a morning of last-minute rehearsal, figuring out the lineup and how we’ll get on and off the stage, etc., and then the concert in the afternoon. If there is a strong enough alto section this time, I won’t feel my presence is necessary, which would suit me fine as I would rather avoid the concert anyway, and all the wasted time fucking with the lineup, entrance, etc.
I just wanna sing, man, and to hell with all this other crap (including audiences). I want to learn a few songs on the piano that I can sing and that everybody knows, so we can have singalongs in my house. That’s my idea of fun. And think of the orchestra we can have, with all my instruments? Accordion, harmonica, bass guitar, hand drum … la la la la la!
I feel like such a spoiled brat when I refuse to do performances after learning something. But why should I? Why do I have to dance in the ice carnival after taking figure skating lessons all winter? Do I owe somebody something? Why do I have to compete in music festivals if I take piano lessons? Screw that, I don’t need no piece of paper from the city hall ….
And I don’t have to be in the public concert on Sunday. I pays me money for the workshop, for heaven’s sake. I don’t owe anyone anything.
Oh, here’s something that could turn out to be uncanny. When we left Calgary we met our BigBoy for breakfast in a restaurant outside the city. At a table across from us were four people, one of whom reminded me of the photo of MrWonderful that Sadie has shown me. It’s a poor photo, tiny and just a side-view of his face, but I thought “That looks like him!” and kept one eye on the man the whole time, wondering if it could possibly be … he doesn’t live there but down by the US border … but he covers lots of miles for his business … so today I was asking Sadie and it turns out his sister lives in the town where we had breakfast and has blond hair like the woman at his table and MrWonderful owns a maroon-coloured shirt and looks 10 years younger than he actually is. Could it be that the world is so small? Yes of course. Still I’ll be amazed if it turns out to have been him.
Sadie and I spoke on the phone this morning. She is so in love she is repeating herself. “He is so amazing!”
I’m glad she is enjoying this. “I’m moving,” she said.
But not putting her house up for sale yet, which I think is wise, though her reasons for thinking so are not the same as mine. She wants to complete some renovations in order to get full market value for the house. I think she is pulling up her stakes a little early in the dating game, and if she still has her house to go back to for a while, it can’t hurt.
Maybe I should go look after her house for her?
Then again, maybe not. It’s never a good time:
Fella got home from the city last night; he’d gone with his mom and sister to take his dad in for assessment and testing because his mind hasn’t been all there for about a year. They got a diagnosis, finally: vascular dementia. Scans show big hunks of his brain are shrunken and, though there are things that can be done to improve his cognition, it will probably continue to deteriorate. Fella said, “We all cried.”
I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. We’ve known he wasn’t right, but couldn’t find out why or what to do about it. Now he’ll get some homecare help and so on, so that’s good. But it’s still a shock and I think Fella is reeling.
Fella ignored the “honey-do” list, and found seasonal work to do on the farm as usual during the day, and didn’t make time to do even one thing I’d asked. By the way, these aren’t big or time-consuming things, most of them. There are some that would only take a half-hour, and that he is the only one who can do, like locate a pair of my old half-circle end tables (they need refinishing, but I’m not asking him to do that!) that he stuffed into a shed on his parents’ farm some years ago. There are 10 places he could have put them, and they are not all buildings that are easy to get into. For me, who has no idea where to start looking.
There is always farm work to do, and that is a whole other issue because when Mom died six years ago he told me he had a five-year plan to get out of farming, which we agreed he should do. He has a very busy full-time business already, and the farming fills his evenings and weekends, and he doesn’t need the headaches. Alas, not only is he still farming, he has decided to continue. I don’t like it? It impacts our lives in a negative way? Too bad for me.
Anyhoo, I worked about six hours yesterday, did some free proofreading for a psychic medium in the area who has set up a webpage, took my walk (lovely sunny afternoon; saw a fox cross the road outside our yard, then come back out of the ditch and walk toward us unseeing till quite late; hope my photo turns out, probably won’t though), drove my son back to town for the week, made supper and did the dishes, and sat with Fella to watch the last few minutes of Call Me Fitz, a program I haven’t warmed to, and then Boardwalk Empire, because I love the period costume and settings, and Steve Buscemi. Before getting up to come into the office and put in another working hour afterward, I asked him if he’d managed to cross one task off the list this weekend. He scoffed.
I said, “That’s too bad, because I have asked you nicely to either do or help me with these few small things for the past 10 years, and I have patiently and respectfully waited for you to do them in your own time and you never have, so unless I am the biggest pushover in the world, it is time things change. Since you won’t, I will. It likely won’t be pleasant for either of us.”
His response, sneering, voice raised, accusatory: “Why don’t you take care of the lagoon then? What the hell do you do? You don’t even cook; tonight was the first time in ages.” And so on, as if I do nothing, or what I do isn’t much, while every step he takes is a great laborious stride. It’s also a lie. I make supper virtually every night. I also bake the bread he eats every day, and make the big batches of granola he eats bowlfuls of several times a day. But this time I didn’t let him blind me with all this smoke and mirrors.
My reply: “I suppose when you were growing up, yelling and getting angry was how you got your way. It’s not going to work with me.” (With appreciation to Josephine, who said this exact same thing to her husband, who shares some of my spouse’s abusive methods of communication.)
That was the end of it; we didn’t speak again for the rest of the evening, or this morning, when I stayed in bed till he left. But I slept in the office here; there is a single bed behind me. My little dog kept me company on top of the blankets, and it was a perfectly comfortable night. And here I will stay.
I will of course continue to make supper for both of us, as I have to eat good meals, and I’m not going to make only enough for one when I am cooking anyway. But I am not going to be considerate of him any longer in ways that take me out of my way. I won’t cook meat, for instance, unless I’m craving it myself; if there are other convenient options I usually leave it off my plate anyway if I’m only cooking for myself or, say, at a buffet. It’s for him that I’ve been cooking roasts and steaks and ribs and hamburger, because he loves meat and believes he “needs” it. I’m a vegetarian wanna-be, but all too moderate about it.
I will no longer cook potatoes when I’d rather have pasta or rice, although he complains loud and long and publicly because potatoes are not prepared as frequently as he would like. He loves them, and believes he “needs” them.
I won’t do his laundry any more.
I won’t make another batch of salsa. It’s not me that eats it with every meal.
Oh, I’ll do the general laundry: the towels we both use, for instance. I’ll still sweep all the floors (our house has no carpet except for the indoor-outdoor in the large porch, which has to be swept because we’ve no vacuum), do all the dishes and kitchen cleaning, take the recycling to the depot, do the grocery shopping, feed our dogs and barn cats, and so on. I still live here and will do what needs to be done. But do things that till now I have done specifically to please and support Fella? Nope. He calls this my “work to rule” routine.
Oh, he will retaliate. There will be verbal accusations and beratings. There will be threats that he isn’t going to take care of the lagoon then, how would I like that. Then he’ll mope. Then he’ll get sick. Then he’ll start talking about selling the house, and he’ll ask if I’ve found a new place to live yet, as “this isn’t working,” and he’s right, it isn’t, and it’s “his” place so I’m the one who has to move, he’ll insist.
I’m off to the city on Thursday for a gospel workshop till Sunday, and maybe I’ll come back. As long as my computer is here, and my little dog, I sort of have to.
Only a few minutes while waiting for #1Son to brush his teeth and get out to the vehicle. It’s while he’s getting his shoes on that I’ll get my own teeth brushed and wash my face, then grab the laundry and we’ll head for town. Well, one-third of the laundry. One of the things I dislike about doing laundry away from home is lugging the stuff to a vehicle, into the laundromat, and back to the vehicle, then into the house again. I’ve decided I’ll only take one hamper when I go so that it’s only one trip (with laundry; that’s not counting the trips between house and vehicle with groceries and drinking-water jugs and recycling).
Also, I’ve separated out the bath and hand towels, facecloths, and dishtowels. That’s one full load. Fella can take them to his brother’s, where quite often he doesn’t get back to them before someone wants to use the machine and ends up transferring or folding them. It’s just my underwear that I don’t want other people handling, so I won’t let him take my laundry there. I’m private that way. Don’t make me get graphic in order to explain why. Suffice it to say that women’s vaginas are constantly cleaning themselves. That oughtta give you a good enough picture. Oh ok, that was probably all the graphic suggestion you’ll ever need.
And there’s another pile of dirty clothes on the floor in our closet that can wait till next Friday. Most of those are Fella’s workclothes and he has lots, enough to get by till next weekend.
There’s a farmers’ market in town but only for another 45 minutes. I’d love to get there in time to pick up an apple pie or some kind of treat for tonight, when our friends Jack & Dianne are coming over. I also mean to get home in time to work a couple hours this afternoon at my paying job, now that I’ve taken on a new task.
So best move my ass!
Lorna, I think there IS a “likes” button! At least, it says so when I look at the bottom of the page as I write it. After I “publish” it isn’t there. Go figure. I hate this shit sometimes: being dumb. Feh. On my other blog I managed to turn some titles into direct links, and now I want to do it again, and do you think I can remember how I did it or figure out how?
It’s 1:45 and I’ve worked two hours already. I’ve also talked on the phone to my mom’s best friend for a good half-hour, and written a couple emails that weren’t brief, and put my mom’s old mottoware pottery dishes, unpacked last night, on display in two places (the top of the fridge and the top of the china cabinet), and gone out to feed the dog and cats and take a short stroll to the road and around the yard.
Don’t laugh, but I really do skip and sing like a little girl in pure delight sometimes when I’m out there and this is the real reason why I eschew next-door neighbours and am glad it’s unlikely anyone is driving past a spot where they can see into the yard.
We’ve a house concert to go to in town at 7:30 and must pick The Eldest up at 7 to come along. My sister is coming here or meeting us there, as she’s had to make a last-minute trip two hours north of here to pick up a desperately needed (apparently) part for her husband’s farm machinery. Usually late on Friday afternoons I spend some time at the laundromat and get groceries and do other errands before picking the lad up and coming home for the weekend, but today it would pack in too much, especially if I hope to work another two hours this afternoon. I also need to go for my medicine walk (maybe I’ll bike today), would like to do the dishes, figure out what to eat for supper and get some prep done, and have time to gussy up a little before we have to leave.
Why do I feel under such pressure when it comes to getting things done? I work half-time for god’s sake! Am I unrealistic about how long things take? Maybe that’s it. Because I don’t think I’m particularly ambitious, piling too much on my plate. Am I?
And so, I’ve made that “honey-do” list for Fella, and tacked it to the front of the fridge. I’ve said I’d like him to complete or at least start one task each weekend, and that if he gives me notice by Thursday night, I’ll make sure I’m available to help.
Most of these aren’t sizable tasks. Some of them would take him only a few minutes. But I don’t know how to do them, or do them right, and he does. And I’ve been waiting for him to do some or most of them for years. He’s always been too busy or too tired or too disinterested. There is always an excuse why something else is more important.
“Hmph,” is his response. “Then I’m going to make a list for you!”
“You do that,” I say. “Just remember, you must also be available to help me, just as I will be to help you.” I win either way.
Today we are having lagoon problems again and he’s been on the phone trying to figure out how much septic tanks cost and how to keep the lagoon working till we get one in, and so on. Maybe I should be the one taking care of that, he says, when I ask if he knows yet what he’s doing on the weekend. My reply, said with a smile: “Sure! As soon as you start doing dishes.”
I will be surprised if he actually tackles anything from the honey-do list this weekend, because there is always, always, always something else that must be done instead, but I stop myself from thinking about what the consequences will be if he doesn’t, because I need to put my focus on what I want, not what I don’t want. I need to expect to be satisfied, difficult as that is after 10 years of coming last on the list. If he doesn’t cooperate, that’s when I’ll worry about making a change in my own pattern … the pattern where I do things for him that he doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate, like cooking meat, preparing suppers, doing his laundry along with mine, and so on.
The foot’s gone down, but it could mean war. Cross your fingers for me.
In the middle of my working day I log in to this blog to see if anyone has commented, because I have it set up so that they need my approval before they appear on the site. My blog isn’t a forum for spammers or assholes, and this is the only way I know of to keep them out.
Still I’m always a little let down when there are no comments. I might even welcome one from an asshole! Heh.
Josephine, my writing partner over at another blog, is talking about quitting (don’t blame her, as she writes virtually all the entries and I don’t respond to all of them, as she would like me to, because I don’t have time or, frankly, inclination to weigh in on every topic; btw this is the gal who disdains women who proclaim themselves feminists, but may never realize it, let alone admit it) because there is not enough feedback in the form of comments. I tell her that lack of comments aren’t a sign that she has no readers, but do understand her feeling that her voice is disappearing into a void, heard by no one. She wants her writing to be admired. She wants to be admired, noticed, period. Who doesn’t, I guess. I’m just recalling her irritation when she wasn’t asked to sing a solo part in a large choir performance, because a younger woman who sings professionally was asked instead; Josephine wants to strut her stuff and thinks she should’ve at least been asked, that surely her talent must’ve stood out enough to be appreciated.
Sadie started blogging a couple months ago and expects frequent comments from me, though she has not commented even once on my blog. I make a point of commenting as often as I can because all writers need the encouragement (except maybe you, Ms Kathy, because you’ve consistently got lots of feedback on your entries). Sadie is not unlike Josephine, who wonders why so few readers comment on her entries, but can hardly be bothered to comment on someone else’s page. Are people just blind to their own inconsistencies, or what? Do we all expect others to do for us what we are unwilling to do for others? Or is it just the babies of families who are this way (as both Josephine and Sadie happen to be)? We love ’em anyway, but sometimes we (the royal “we” here) do shake our heads.
Back to work. I’m adding hours to my regular schedule, and don’t know how on earth I’ll find them. Laidback as my life is, I’m busy enough and the days fly by. Of course it’s obvious to you that when I should be working, I’m blogging instead. So no wonder, right?
We arrived home last night, having left the Edmonton area around 9 in the morning.
Fella did almost all the driving, for the entire trip that started here in the countryside, went through the Rocky Mountains and back again, then north and finally home, ultimately traversing the three western provinces. I didn’t mind letting him drive; it left me free to read, although I didn’t do much of that.
We did try listening to a talking book, a mystery by Alexander McCall Smith, who wrote the Ladies’ Detective Agency book that has been made into a TV series. I had forgotten that I didn’t like that book much, either, but got a quick reminder why when we got to chapter 3 and still nothing had happened. Nada. I popped that CD out of the player and we listened to Alison Krauss and Robert Plant instead, and Roy Forbes, and the Black Crowes, and a classic rock station on the radio, when we could get it.
When I did read, it was a collection of Gloria Steinem’s essays: Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, and The Letters of Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jane and the Canterbury Tale, the most recent in the series starring Jane Austen as a sharp-eyed sleuth.
The trip out to BC and for the first couple days wasn’t very enjoyable. I’d been foolish enough to agree to transport an untrained puppy from one sister to the other, and regretted that before we’d been gone 12 hours… was so overwhelmed that by the first morning I was calling the airport to see if the pup could be shipped that way, and considered turning around and going back home. However, once we made it to our destination and handed the pup over to his new owners, I could relax — someone else could watch every moment to make sure the tiny furball didn’t piss or shit on our host’s carpet (causing me to gag when cleaning it up), or chew up the baseboards. I did fall in love with the little tyke though, and felt a pang when we left him behind.
Fella and I made it almost seven hours enclosed together in the cab of the truck, without bickering. Unfortunately, the second leg of the trip took nine hours. We spent the last two not speaking. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but I was deciding never to travel with him again because he always manages to piss me off so much. He had been protesting my “carefully planned itinerary” (which he’d previously approved) after realizing we would be spending two more nights with my family and friends than with his. I let it sit for a day or two, then told him that after 11 years together, his family and friends are my family and friends, and vice versa, so just smarten up.
Anyway, we’re home. I planned to spend today back at my usual schedule, but woke up with a migraine and ended up sleeping till 2:30 this afternoon instead. About the time Fella came home and climbed in beside me, and we had a fine, fine lie-down in the afternoon sunshine streaming through our bedroom window.
And that’s my plan. This blog is for writing straight into. No editing. No second-guessing. None of that. Just whatever comes out. Why, I might even repeat myself sometimes. I might bore you. So be it.
I was telling Inez about Fella’s twin cousins who criticized me for wearing Aunt Ada’s mink coat. These are the cousins he dislikes so much that he requested I stop telling people he is related to the one who writes human interest features for the local paper, to its great improvement. I’d always say “That’s Fella’s cousin!” Not anymore. I knew he had only contempt for them, but I didn’t realize it ran so deep that his relation to them embarrassed him.
These two women were spoiled as children, apparently, and as a pair they would gang up on people, including their parents (my aunt recently said “I wouldn’t tell anyone he’s related to those girls! They’re mean to their dad!”), and always get their way. They ended up getting their parents’ land and machinery and now they’re farmers. Good for them, I say. I greet them with a welcoming smile when we meet, and they return it.
Fella’s mother had begun inviting these two to our gatherings of women with similar interests, which was formed for mutual support and conversation in a district where most people are quite conservative and the things we are interested in are considered too far out there, by most. We are open to meditation, spiritual healing, alternative treatments, and so on. Out here, that makes you “weird” so you don’t discuss these things with just anyone.
One cold night one of the twins asked if my coat was ranched mink, and I said I didn’t know, probably it was. It was a hand-me-down from a beloved great-aunt before she died, and although I would never increase the market demand for fur coats by purchasing one, I appreciated this one because I knew how long my great-aunt had saved to buy it for herself, how it was probably the only real luxury she ever had. I honour it, her generous gift to me, and the animals whose lives were taken in order to make it. Also, I don’t know of anything as warm and light as mink. I am extremely grateful for this coat in our winters.
“So, the end justifies the means, then?” I was asked.
Words were being put into my mouth and I didn’t like it. The other women present sort of gasped, feeling as I did that this was an unwarranted and rather impolite attack, and that the twins were bullying me a little.
I said, “I’m surprised that this sort of criticism is coming from you two, who make your living by selling animals to be slaughtered.”
“That’s different,” was the reply. “The cattle we raise are eaten. Only the fur of those minks was used.”
“Well,” said I, “the eating of meat is not a necessity for humans either, any more than the wearing of this beautiful coat is. Three-quarters of the earth’s population can’t afford meat, or won’t eat it.”
They dropped the subject, then.
When this old conversation was repeated to Inez, she said, “They’re brave. I wouldn’t want to take you on!”
Which surprised me. I thought, she’s “taken me on” many times!
But perhaps the twins do think twice, since then, about what they say to me. Who knows. I don’t think I’m formidable; I’m polite and try to be fair and reasonable.
How do weekends fly by so fast? I intended to put in a few hours working, and managed to do that for zero minutes. What was I doing with my time? Where did it go? Darned if I know. But it was sure nice to get up this morning after a leisurely sleep-in, pour myself a freshly brewed coffee, feel the upcoming pressures of a workday and be able to say to myself “But I’ve got all morning to enjoy before then!”
When I drove my eldest back to his group home late yesterday afternoon, in time for him to attend a fall supper being put on by the high school students in town, he told me, “Mom, I think I’d just like to come back home with you.” He repeated it. I said, “You can’t, you have to work tomorrow,” but it kind of breaks my heart to say it. Not that I want him to move home, which he’s lately been saying he’d prefer. As far as I know he’s still comfortable where he lives, and loves his job. I guess he’s just torn between two places, and … well, he has always adored his mom. What can I say. He was born on the Cancer cusp.
Pet, thanks so much for your offer to keep the little dog while we’re away. I really appreciate it. Fella’s aunt is going to come and stay at the house, so he’ll be well looked after. But if you’ll have us, maybe we’ll come in Thursday night and leave for Alberta in the morning, so you and I can still get a quick visit.
The thermostat read 68F when I crawled out of bed, so I cranked up the furnace. It’s cold out there today!
I came to the computer to go to the library website and order books; otherwise I’ve been attempting to break my habit of coming here with morning coffee and reading and writing for hours instead of cleaning the kitchen or going for a walk. Well … I still haven’t been to the library website, yet here I sit. Tsk. Longtime habits are hard to change.
I’ve been “laying down the law” with Fella, and he looks at me with slight shock, and doesn’t argue. I think he likes it. Too funny. Yesterday I was giving him hell for not doing a bunch of small jobs around our house, instead giving his evenings and weekends for free sometimes to other people who call at the last minute, desperate for his help. I said, “I am sick and tired of being last on the list, and next time it happens, I am going to be seriously pissed off. See this?” and I ran my hands over my newly in-shape body, which is looking pretty damn good in the mirror these days if I say so myself, “If you want any of this, you’d better get with the program.” Of course I’m grinning as I say it, as I’m not going to withhold sex for the wrong reasons, and those really would be wrong reasons. “I’m already feeling a lot of resentment over the kitchen cupboards still unfinished after two years, and I don’t want to hear any more of your excuses.”
Will this get me anywhere? I don’t know, but being tolerant and patient hasn’t either. I’m going to start behaving as most wives do: “Here’s your Honey-Do list, honey; get something on it crossed off this weekend.”
Of course, it wouldn’t go over well if he tried that with me!