Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Person of Integrity I am

So the person of integrity that I am, (with my inbred and inborn ethics of honesty and morality), could procrastinate no longer. So, I finally took out the purchases I made for Christmas and spread them on the bed. No, the grand-kids are not likely to cost and calculate and count their gifts, but still the person of integrity I am, knows that the value of the gifts they each receive must seem fair and equal.

My gifts versus my brother’s gifts didn’t always do so when I was a kid. And the person of integrity I am, remains to this very day hurt and offended by it. I remember like it was yesterday – him, my brother that is, with his gleaming toy saxophone, tooting around the house. And me, on the other hand, silently trying to cope with feelings of painful disparity when I discovered my gift was a pair of long and heavy fleece bloomers. (Not that I didn’t seriously need them.)

So with that remembrance in mind, and of course, being the person of integrity I am, I arranged and rearranged books and toys for my own kith and kin until all seemed equalized and in one accord.

Now when shopping becomes a frustrated business, when my limbs tire, and bones ache from the cold, I do what I have always done. I give up in a way, and then just fill the blank spaces on my list with my favorite things – those chocolates that I love, those caramels that make me drool, or decadent butter cookies that go so nicely with a cup of tea.

And so now, while I’m wrapping gifts, there in front of me in the center of the table are the caramels I so very much adore, that I had bought to fill one last small space on my list. And while I’m wrapping other stuff, I’m wondering if the receiver of those will value and appreciate them the way I do. And while I’m wrapping other stuff, I’m wondering why that box of caramels has no clear wrap on it, but maybe it never did to start with. And then the person of integrity that I am takes a closer look and sees the box is actually open. The closure, nothing more than a circular spot of glue, has separated.

Well, I suppose that’s good. I will be able to take a peek to see how many are in there. Sometimes things like that are a bloody shame when you open a large box and come face to face with ten or less, chintzy little morsels. Then the person of integrity that I am decides I should taste one – you know, to see if they are fresh, soft, and chewy as they should be.

They are perfect but now it looks like there are not really as many in that box as I would have liked there to be. And how can I re-close that box so that it will not look tampered with? The person of integrity I am knows full well, very well, that one cannot give a gift that is incomplete, open, or anything less than new, fresh, and sterling.

So the person of integrity fights with conscience and propriety in the matter until it seems nothing else will lighten my concerns and give me that little boost of endorphins I need to rise above the confusion except one more caramel. So while I search for a glue stick to re-close the box, I eat another.

That’s okay because the person of integrity I am knows I did not eat it because I fell into temptation. I am too much a person of integrity for that to ever happen. The whole business is nothing more than facing a practical matter in a practical way.

Now the person of integrity that I am reviews the checks and balances of my equalization list and realizes that it is falling into disarray. I review value (i.e. costs) of each child’s gifts. I review collective numbers of each child’s gifts. I review joy or amusement equivalencies of each child’s gifts. And because those two caramels I ate were so exceptionally good, giving them to one, and not all, will cause disparity similar to the disparity between a golden saxophone and a pair of bloomers. And so the person of integrity that I am, chokes them down. It is the only way to avoid inequality and disparity.

Now I’m looking at those boxes of chocolates. I wonder if they are fresh? Are any discolored? They could be – it happens sometimes. I wonder if the person of integrity that I am would be doing the right thing to give someone chocolates that might be discolored?

Somehow, I don’t think so.

And now, being the person of integrity that I am, I want to wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! With equal warmth, equal sincerity, equal emphasis, and equal amusement and joy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Possessed or Dispossessed?

Are the elderly possessed or dispossessed? Beats me. I have no idea. But Hub was one, (or perhaps the other), about a month ago when he put skids under an old decrepit wooden granary, and hauled it from the neighbor’s field into our yard.

And once it was there, the debate was endless about what it was going to be used for. But that didn’t delay Hub from immediately rain-proofing the thing with metal roofing.

And that didn’t stall the building of interior walls and a ceiling. Nor the installation of two lovely windows in the walls and one long narrow window in the door. But still, we had no idea what we would use it for.

And perhaps that is why he chose to do all he could do without cost. So rather than buy paint, he pulled all the partially full cans of old paint from the basement and mixed them up and painted the thing. Outside walls white, inside walls, what Youngest Daughter claims is very much ‘in’ at the moment—‘trendy green’.

And still, through all this, the debate continued about what the ‘new shed’ was for. Meanwhile Hub installed electrical wiring and completely insulated the walls and ceiling.

It was beginning to take on the appearance of a colonial cabin, but still no one was clear what the purpose was.

Now I have never been one to support useless work. And often, in my mind, that is what this whole effort seemed to be. But I did support it, though it had no mandate or goal that I could understand. I had to support it because while the puppies lounged in happy contentment in the new ‘shed’, Hub worked away amongst them whistling and singing like a happy lark. Day after day he puttered away.

Occasionally the kids would come for a look and have a peek in the chicken house, bunkhouse, cabin, tea house, soup kitchen, whatever…? But when eldest daughter took a peek, she said she had just the thing for Hub’s project. A few days later she delivered a load of heavy rusty chunks of twisted iron and filthy porcelain on the back of a truck.

It was the remnants of a wood-burning stove but she was the first to admit that it would be more reasonable to haul it to the scrap yard than try and fix it. There were pieces missing from the firebox and every speck of iron was layered with rust. Some resourceful soul had pulled the copper liner out of the reservoir most likely to sell for cash. The rest of it was completely encased in debris of every description – cow manure, mud, soot, damp straw – you name it, it was there.

But Hub unloaded that crap in his granary and now he was busier than ever. From early morning to late at night he was out in his granary working away, working away. Most days he didn’t even come in for coffee or lunch. Most days I heard heavy pounding in the garage and saw the flash of his welder more often than I have ever seen it any time in the past.

But soon that ceased and I saw Hub take the old futon from the basement out to his granary and then a couple of nights ago, he insisted I must come for the evening. That the fire was lit, and the place quite comfortable.

I took some coffee, sliced homemade bread, and butter and away we went to the granary. Hub had a radio out there with Christmas Carols playing. The futon was folded up into a comfortable chesterfield (that’s where the puppies were dozing), and under the big window, he had a table and a few chairs. Furnishings were incomplete but it still looked cozy.

And what did we do out there?

We listened to Christmas carols on an old radio. And we sought the exact place for the teakettle on the stove where it would hum along. And we made toast right on the top of the stove, (which I love, have always loved – quick-singed toast that is hot but so soft in the middle), and found some kind of weird joy in the ambiance of it all.

There is still work to be done in the ‘tea house’, but the stove is finished and gives a coziness that is downright joyful.

The kids are truly anxious to come for tea and biscuits fresh from the oven of the old wood-burning stove. All my children are uniquely different, but even the really uptown of the three is anxious for that treat – although she insists I must make cheese biscuits, not just ordinary ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Solstice Seduction

Winter comes in his cunning way
With a gentle tread of
Consummating silence.

I dress for his arrival
Woolly vest, warm toque,
Layered chastity jeans.

I say, “No, No, No,!”—
but he will not listen

He wraps himself around me
Exhales his chilly breath,
Kisses me with icy tenderness,
Nuzzles me with frosted brow—
And it is too lovely.

“Oh solstice of Christmas Joy!
Come —
Entangle me in sweet coolness
And kiss me again.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do Me a Favor

Yes, I have always been opinionated. And throughout my lifetime some have disagreed with me because they truly felt I was wrong. Others disagreed because they felt they needed to in response to the irritation of my opinionated stubbornness.

The former is more preferred than the latter but either is okay as long as the quarrel is dignified.

But now I’ve noticed, these conversations seldom occur. Less and less I am running to dig out reference materials to prove a point. Discussions with family and friends that were once so animated, so important, have lost their edge.

No one seems to care any more how many digits are on a bumblebee’s foot or what the gestation period of a porcupine is. I thought the disinterest had simply gone the way of other less dignified subjects such as high-cholesterol diets, game hunting, and smoking.

But I was wrong. That is not the case. Arguments are muted because I am older. I am being given generous space to be as opinionated as I could ever want to. I think in seclusion they all whisper, ‘Let her think what she will. She’s too old to change her thinking now.’ Or maybe, ‘Don’t argue with her. You’ll drive up her blood pressure.’

What a bunch of crap?

False compliance irritates me something fierce. If I am going to cave to apoplexy, that will do it. I want the truth. I don’t care if it leads to an animated quarrel. I want you to prove your point, or, the opportunity (if I’m right), to prove mine. I don’t care if it’s something as ridiculous as how to cook whole grain porridge in a thermos overnight or how to tenderize horse-flesh.

Let’s discuss it. Bring it on.

There is nothing better to cure the sluggishness of this non-humanoid space I am trapped in. Nothing delivers me quicker and easier from the dull discouragement of aging than animated debate.

It’s a wonderful activity that has more power than Superman had in a closed fist in his best years. It causes my blood to warm and circulate at high speed. It pleasures body plasma and serums and pressures hemoglobin to all my extremities – removing that irritating numbness from my hands and feet. It accelerates my breathing and my intake of oxygen. Pinks up my cheeks. Plumps papery skin.

My eyes sharpen to every detail. My ears alert to every sound. My heart pumps with more strength. Neurological function improves. I’m even able to ignore bathroom breaks.

And my dull mind suddenly becomes active and pulsing—delighting like a joyful child in the analysis of your stupidity. And amongst all the too and fro’, I am adamantly determined not to tumble off the edge of the earth until I have proved my point.

So at my age, do me a favor. Piss me off. It’s good for my health!
And if you insist on compliance from me, I promise not to say, “I told you so!”