Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Book of Common Commiserations – No. 1

My newest writing effort is a book of commiserations. I will only know how many I have as we proceed. I call them ‘Commiserations’ because they are laments of common, rather than uncommon situations, that I share in order for others to feel their own common laments are shared and understood.

I can’t believe how numb men are. Numb, I said, not dumb. Hub cannot feel a mosquito on his neck or a stroking touch on his back or arm. Not too surprising because when he comes in from the shop he often looks as if he has been physically assaulted. Deep cuts on his hands, sizable abrasions on his arms and extensive bruises on his legs. I examine the damage and worry about infections. “These wounds need to be treated and bandaged,” I say.

“What wounds?” is his response. He usually doesn’t even know he has any.

But this morning he is in a real flurry.

He yelled for the wife, the needle, the light, the tweezers, the gauze, and the alcohol, than twisted his hand 340 degrees around so the small shaft of sunlight coming through the window shone directly on the inside of his pinky finger. No it was not that he imbedded a 3” screw into his hand – he had a sliver. With those rough, I won’t say work-worn, but generic work-worn hands, I could not believe he could even feel it. With my new bi-focals, I still couldn’t see it. I could have zeroed in on a small red pimple of infection but there was none.

Still the pain, oh God, the pain – must have been akin to child labour. One hand on the table in the shaft of sunlight and the other gripping the chair with white knuckles and feet braced so firmly on the floor, he occasionally levitated. He tried to remain still, while his torso writhed in agony and his breath came in fast sharp pants. He tried to be brave as I rotated the needle over, as in above, the ‘injury’ and waited for him to calm a bit.

A couple delicate picks of the needle, and there it was. The relief on his face surpassed even that of seedy individuals I sometimes see standing amidst an ever-fading, while enlarging, yellow bloom of water in the public swimming pool. (And I was so certain nothing could surpass that look of relief).

We of course had to disinfect Hub’s bloodless, microscopic wound seven times and sympathetically suggest that he might want to take it easy for a day or two.

Oh, and the sliver. You must see the sliver. Here it is…right here (at the tip of the arrow, but for God's sake, stand back! I don't want it to poke ye in the ey!!) --->

Of course now we understand, don’t we – how brave and courageous Hub is!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fresh-Cut Flowers in the Hall

I remember how difficult it was, when I was a child, to avoid picking all those flowers, spread at my feet, there for the picking—lovely, delicate, easy to grasp, hand-height for a little one, and as a result softly brushing my fingertips, and so easy to uproot (if the stem did not easily give way). I found it hard to ignore a thing so fragrant, so colorful, and so delightful.

So yes, I am the guilty one. I picked way more tame flowers than I ever should have. My mother thought it was an incurable obsession with me. She thought I was a flower-picking-addict.

But with so many reprimands, reminders, and a bit more maturity, I finally quit ripping up other’s flowers. In fact, somewhere along the way, I came to view cutting domestic flowers as a sin of damnation. And so, with that awareness finally soundly instilled within my mind, flowers were left in the garden. The only few that made their way into my house were the broken off, or over-weighted, or the lying on the ground, or those sure to suffer an early death by an untimely frost. Occasionally wild flowers, and of course, in addition to that, those ‘few’ bouquets that came from a flower shop for a special occasion or to sooth a particularly vicious attack of PMS.

But now, more recently, I’ve come to realize that flowers have a sharing purpose that mimics the sharing joys of steadfast friends. As a child, summer visits with friends, were always accompanied by a leisurely stroll in the garden. This was the entertainment…the sharing…the happening…the event of the visit. It was assumed, and I guess forever it has been, that the purpose of flowers is to allow the gardener or grower to ultimately partake of the beauty, fragrance, color, and exquisite form of the flowers with others, in a shared setting. What other good reason to plant and maintain a flower garden?

For those who grow them, for those who tend them, can there be a greater compliment than the visitor who says, “After tea, may we take a walk in your garden?”

I remember those strolls in gardens with my parents and their friends when I was a child. The fragrance, and the most pleasant of conversations. Almost as if the verbal exchanges were set to a rule like some other rather humorous rules we had. ‘No singing at the table, no laughing in the kitchen’, and when visitors came ‘no gawking out the window’.

And, in the garden, a rule as well – ‘no ill-speaking or gossiping allowed’. A rule never given voice, as the others were, but still always given respect.

It was as if, through some magical aura in the garden, even the tartest of individuals skirted their normally chronic desire to gossip or be critical of others. Here it was as sacrilegious to gossip or put people down as speaking out loud during church. And there was no vulgarity. Here conversation clung like sticky burrs to a graceful protocol. (Not always the case when Hub and I plant potatoes together, but we’re talking flowers here).

But now, what I’m finding more and more, is that fewer visitors respond with enthusiasm to an invitation to walk in the garden. A large number of superficial concerns come into play – some real, some imagined. They might step in doggie-do with their new designer shoes on the way there. Spiders might parachute down onto their stylized tuffets. Insects might attack exposed skin and leave unsightly welts. Allergies might be provoked. Burrs might cling to their slacks.

And unfortunately, there is no way, in these conditions, to resurrect the enthusiasm that once was so potent in garden ramblers. No way to conquer the foreboding. And so, without a garden stroll, my flowers are not being shared. And without that, those same flowers have little purpose – like a friendship without a friend.
Or a special happening with no place for the event.

So I’ve returned to plucking flowers – from my own garden, that is. Without conscience, I cut them when they bud, before they bud, unmindful of their private progress. Yes, I do. I chop them off and put fresh-cut flowers in the hall. They blush at each passerby and sweep them with a dusting of delicate fragrance, without the dreaded garden walk-about.

And so, yes, I have fresh-cut flowers in the hall and as warped as it may sound, since I put them there, I swear coffee and dinner conversations are more gracious. The topics are more pleasant; the mood of visitors lighter. And troubles and vexations, perched on lips, fully meant-to-be-told, are discounted and dismissed.

It’s the kind of thing that happens during garden strolls…or when there are fresh-cut flowers in the hall.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


For the next few weeks I have houseguests from Australia and so with sightseeing, visiting, cooking, eating, socializing, etc, I will not have the luxury of blog time. But hang in there, I will get back to you very soon.

This update is to let you know all is well with me and Hub though silence may reign. In the meantime, if your looking for us, you'll probably find us in Hub's cabin having "bickies and tea".

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three Ha's

It is a silly little thing, hardly worth discussing, but still I want to discuss it.

So this is the theory and it has to do with the meanings of ha, or ha-ha, or ha-ha-ha.

A one-syllable ‘ha’. What does it mean? I hear Hub say it a lot. He says it when he is working on a problem and in the process something positive is accomplished or discovered. ‘Ha’ is a good thing.

Now think about ha-ha. Another positive meaning—something amusing.

But ha-ha-ha. Do you remember hearing that in conversation? If you do, did you notice the negative meaning? That three ha’s usually signify a kind of sneering contempt?

And of course, remember when you heard ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Magically that lengthier repetition gives ‘ha’ a positive meaning of total hilarity.

So now that is the theory. The negativity of three ha’s is something I came upon recently in a book. I believe it was in “The Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens. (Don’t quote me on that though, because I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and was unable to relocate the page for reference.)

But going back to our original conversation, I have to say that when I think about my own experiences, I recall many times in conversations with friends, if a joke fell flat, the response from the audience to the joke-teller was invariably three evenly spaced ha’s. And other times, when a joke was very funny, the audience complemented the teller with four or more ha’s. So as silly as the theory is, I think it is true.

And so now, if the theory is true, why does the exact same syllable render such conflicting meaning dependent on the number of repetitions? Those three ha’s seed and expand an aggravation within similar to the aggravation of listening to a musical performance punctuated by errors.

And so, with this new enlightenment, I begin to wonder if one shouldn’t be mindful of syllabic rhythm when composing a love sonnet, or a poem honoring the beauty of nature? They say the magic in poetry is the coupling of the words with a hypnotizing rhythm and that might be more important than even the content of the text. So in light of the theory expressed in the foregoing paragraphs, it might be well to stay away from three-gaited syllabic lines or meters.

I mean, truthfully, wouldn’t we all be a little chagrined, if door bells went ding-dong-ding, and clocks went tick, tock, tick? My beeper alarm clock goes beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep and God help me, let’s not even go there.

I don’t know enough about musical bars, beats, and measures to analyze the syllabic beats, but I wonder if pleasant or disagreeable melodies are tied to this same theory? If the theory is correct, then perhaps the triple lilt is the flaw that splays emotions all over the back fence when seduction is what we had in mind.

So maybe it would be well for us to pay attention to the beat cause it might be sounds in our environment that layer distress in our minds. Maybe it’s not situations in our day-to-day lives. Maybe the real cause of our distress is syllabic triplets in the beat. I’m just saying.

And so, now in conclusion, I have given this a lot of thought in the past few days. And then just when I decided to dismiss it all, an eight-year-old from next door asked me if I wanted to play “knock, knock, knock”.

I immediately felt that flash of edginess that three ha’s engender and without thinking snapped, “I know whose there. Someone who can’t count!”

The thing I still remain unsure of is whether the aggravation is an uneven lilt or a three-legged lilt.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy & Content

We just can’t come to a solid conclusion about what ‘happy and content’ is, can we? We look for it in other lives, adjacent to our own. We look for it within, and look for it without. We probably even Google it. And still don’t know what the real answer is.

But as for me, I’ve lived enough years I should be able to find, somewhere in my past, a day ruled by happiness and contentment in all forms, facets, designs, and configurations.

And so I say to myself, ‘It must have been the day when I was no more than nine or ten years old, when amidst all the faded and worn apparel in my clothes cupboard, my friend from the city loaned me her very best dress for the day. A lacy navy and white dress with a stiff airy crinoline that billowed out from my waist like a large cloud.’

And it just so happens, that was the same day I was sporting a new flattering haircut that made my hair shine and glisten without split ends. A magical trim that made my hair fall into place exactly how I wanted it to.

And that was the same day, with a distinctive and emerging confidence inspired by the beautiful dress, that I excelled beyond all my classmates in scholastic endeavors.

And that was the same day when my mother handed me those new red shoes from the Eaton’s catalogue (that took forever to come), that I’m sure were of the best leather because they never pinched or rubbed or felt too hot or too cold.

And that was the same day, when that little guy who I thought was so cute, finally noticed me. That was the day he hid in the playground behind trees, and tossed pine-cones at me shyly and discretely, and in a most gentle way, to get my attention.

So now, let me see, if that is true happiness and contentment, how do I fare if I reconstruct that day now?

A beautiful navy and white dress is still guaranteed to make me feel good. Maybe a more mature and sober style, but, still beautiful. Beautiful because I favor those colors best and they are colors that make me happy.

And a glossy mane of shining hair, behaving and settling into a flattering look, yes, that would be really good too. Particularly because my hair is now rather dry, dull, and colorless.

And to impress a group with some highly rated intelligence – coming from what I swear is an ‘Alzheimic’ mind, — that would be good too. Especially, if such intelligence, could somehow get splashed onto this blog.

And really comfortable shoes that make my tired old feet want to run and skip rather than bumble along – that would be a happy thing. And with a navy and white dress – red, of course!

And now, before this final bit of reconstruction, let me make it very clear that I am not flirtatious. And I will not allow you to accuse me of the indignity of flirtation at my age. But still, you know, to make the reconstruction complete I will need to have some old fellow, with remnants of the good-looker he once was, discretely tossing pine cones at me from shadowed recesses in the park to attract my attention. That would be good too. I might belong to Hub, but still it would be nice to know my navy dress, my red shoes, my shiny hair, and my expressions of intellect are appreciated.

Gee, I think I nailed it… the ‘happy and content’ thing. Cause no matter how I look at it, seems that is about as close as I can hope to come to that which might be still attainable in present time and space.

And for anyone, who Googled ‘happy and content’ and as a result fell into this trap…. Sorry, there’s no world cruise here… No grand riches… No great fame. Just some simple reminiscing and fanciful reconstruction, of a special time that served up a generous portion of H & C.

Watch out! Better duck or get your red shoes on and run with fluffy skirts billowing. Cause here comes another pine-cone!