Sheba and I have just got back from our walk. It is the night before Halloween. I can tell you that we are not in love with the occasion. We are not fond of coffin lids opening and closing, bloody severed limbs hanging from trees and yards full of gravestones and skeletons. We find it all gruesome, especially late in the afternoon on a cloudy day. Sheba was vocal in her opinions, bringing the homeowners to their windows. I pretended to admonish her. I can do without trick or treaters ringing the doorbells, upsetting Sheba.

I’m sounding like an old sour bag. I admit it. I am old and humourless. Generally our types are quite responsible – to a fault. I tried very hard to do right by Sheba by taking her to puppy classes. We took one at PetSmart in the beginning. I was clueless about what to look for in a class or trainer. But we were in the right age group class. Most of the puppies were lap dogs except for the Bernese Mountain dog and Sheba. The Bernese was so big and calm that once it sat, it sat. Sheba was the only shit disturber. She was a barker and a squirmer. I had my hands and arms full of her.

We attracted alot of attention from the trainer, of course. She took Sheba from me and said, “It pains me to watch you”. I thought it wasn’t very nice at all. Most of the time, she uses the calm obedient ones to demonstrate. She said she could get any puppy to walk without pulling. But she wouldn’t take Sheba. That is until my classmates started chanting: Take Sheba! Take Sheba! They could see that I was really struggling with her. She had to take Sheba then. By the time she was done, her face was all red and sweaty. It made me smile a very big smile.

We did finished all the classes but both of us were traumatized by the experience. Sheba threw up in the car home one evening. Another evening she bolted into the store for our class. She pulled so hard, she choked on the collar and pooped right in the middle of the store. I was almost in tears. It was another classmate that came to my aid. She was a dog breeder. She was in the class so her puppy could get so socialization. I found her more helpful than the trainer. Clearly she was not the right one for us. I could not subject myself to take another class ever after.

We’ve been muddling along on our own for all these years. She is not perfectly trained or obedient. But she does not go on furniture at home or at the sitter’s. Except when she was puppy, she does not chew or destroy anything. She’ll go after any food left on the floor but she does not surf tables. She is perfectly house trained. She can sit, shake a paw and crawl. That’s pretty good, don’t you think? It’s good enough for me.


It’s another gorgeous Sunday morning. Our alarm (Sheba) went off just before 6 am. She seldom malfunctions. But she does occasionally. Even though she can hear me peel a banana in a different room, she never heard the thieves that crept right up to the bedroom window one night. She was sleeping on the job. Nothing/nobody is foolproof. Not even Sheba.

An early alarm has its benefits. We’re up at the crack of dawn. I do enjoy the silence before the world wakes. I have time to sip and enjoy my cuppa with an empty head and mind. We’re all fed and done our business. I’ve paid the bills, vacuumed the floor and cleared off some of the stuff on the dining room table. It continues to be life’s catch-all. I can always blame Sheba. She’s a good excuse for many of my failures in housekeeping.

She was a squirming bundle of energy for sure at 2 months. We did not breakfast together like I dreamed of. I despaired constantly for the first months if not years. I talked about how hard it was having Sheba to everyone, including a store clerk. I thought of taking her to SPCA. When she heard that, she offered to take her when I get that desperate. But Sheba was so pretty and smart, her saving graces.

But I did some things right. She was perfectly house trained by the book. She can sit so prettily. She can shake a paw and then the other paw perfectly. She melted my heart. I took her out to ‘potty ‘every hour for I can’t remember how long. She could do down the deck stairs but no way climb up. I had to carry her. I felt almost crippled doing the stairs so many times. Then one day, a truck thundered down the back alley and up the stairs she ran. Trained!

Enough for today. We have to go for our walk now.



Having a dog is like a job creation project. It is a LOT of work. By the time she’s fed, watered, walked and played with, there’s the clean up to do. She sheds more hair daily than what I have on my head. There’s clumps wherever she’s traversed. By this time of the day, I’m bushed. Done. My mind is mostly empty or full of buzzing bees. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. What would I do without my fur baby, Sheba?

We’ve been together for 12 years now. She’s the happiest, liveliest and friendliest dog I know. She runs up to everybody, grinning and wagging her tail. She expects a fuss or at least a pat on the head. She is mystied when it doesn’t happen. But, oh well, she just runs up to the next person we meet. She fits my bill of needs perfectly. I needed someone to cheer me and get me out walking daily. And she does all that.

She was 2 months old when I brought her home in my sister’s cat crate. She was that small. She had big paws so I knew she would get much bigger. I invested in the biggest dog crate I could find. I took out a dog training book from the library. That was my sum total of preparation. I thought we would have breakfast together and live happily ever after. I was so wrong! It’s a long story. The next segment will come another day.


When the conversation stops, it’s difficult to get it going again. That’s what I’m experiencing – here and in other places. I’ll see if I can get it going again. This stretch of October days has been sunny and warm. My energy and spirit have benefited. I’m doing more and complaining less. Hallelujah!

Having said that, I am feeling overcast by the news. Not watching or listening doesn’t make the bad stuff go away. It’s better to be informed than hiding my head in the sand. That way, I can make better decisions. It is not easy, though, to be in the here and now – watching the migrant caravan trying to gain entry into a better life, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the political scene and Donald Trump in the United States. None of it is uplighting. It is what is happening.

There seems to be so many things wrong in our world. It seems so wrong that so many people are living in abject poverty while the wealthiest one perfect of the world’s population owns more than half of the world’s wealth. It seems so wrong to build a wall to keep out the poorest and most suffering from having a chance to better their lives. It seems that we live such hippocritcal lives. While the world condemns Saudi Arabia on its human rights, the U.S., Canada and the UK  still have arms deals with the country. Will they continue?

This is not the conversation I want to start but how could I not? I come from a country whose human rights record is questionable. I have my own personal memory bank of my native country’s violence. I remember the sound of a firing squad in my childhood. You cannot speak out against Chairman Mao. You cannot breathe a negative word to a wrong person. My mother had to be a witness to such an event. She kept her eyes on the ground, she said. The victim was a teacher who spoke out of turn.

My eyes tear at the memory now. Then, I was but a child with no understanding. It’s distressing that not much has  really changed. But maybe it has. With the technology and communications today, we are aware of what is happening everywhere. It is not ‘over there’ anymore. It is here, right in our livingrooms. There is nowhere to hide anymore.

Conversations are difficult to start and maintain. The flow takes practice, practice and endless cups of tea. Solutions and relationships can be the outcome in the course of sipping tea and exchange of words and ideas. It does take effort and courage or foolishness. It could be the latter for me. I cannot live in silence of non response and proper ettiquette. I often speak without wisdom.


Another beautiful sunny October day. It was a little frosty in the morning. Refreshing and a good waker upper. I got off to my Saturday morning swim. I had to fight and struggle with my natural inclination. I had all kinds of reasons not to go. My sinuses seemed to be acting up. Would the chlorine be a good thing? Gee, I have an embroidery class at 10 am. Can I possibly do one thing right after another? They were not good reasons.

My sinuses were fine. It was just the-right- out-of-bed thing in the morning. They cleared soon enough. Saturday morning was not a busy time at the pool. I’m the lone swimmer for the first while. It’s such a beautiful feeling to be the first one to slip into the water and glide. My swim ends at 9. I have an hour to shower, dress and get to The Sewing Machine Store. It was perfect timing. I was so happy that I had done both. The morning swim was a delicious start to the day. The embroidery class was excellent. I’m almost ready to tackle using my embroidery module soon.

I have to remember the good feeling for next Saturday. I go through this every week. I have no problem with motivation when the event is days off. But the night before, my resolves starts to sag and my nesting feelings kick in. ‘I want to stay home’ starts to sing in my head. I’m pathetic. I never want to grab the tiger by the tail. Mostly I do things because I know they are good for me. That’s why and how I do everything – it’s good for me. And they are.

I cannot trust my natural inclinations to do the right things. I tend to vegetate, take the comfort and not necessarily the high road. I have to work at things. I need those shoulds and musts on my list of things to do. I need them to get off the couch.



Beautiful sunny October and I’m feeling oh so fine! Coming from this elevated level, it’s hard even for me to believe that I can crash and burn. It’s all a part of living this human journey. Are you tired of hearing it, even if it’s true? I’m tired of saying it but it’s such a good line. How can I resist? I’m tap, tapping merrily along here. The words are bouncing off my fingertips. My endorphins are at a record high. I’m making use of them. Who knows. Tomorrow the clouds could crowd my horizons. I might not be able to elbow them out of my way. I’m making hay while the sun shines.

Taking advantage of my energy I rounded up Sheba for the dog park. She’s also in her best form for a 12 year old. She could still bounce up into the back of my Honda CRV with a little coaxing and a treat. Coming back was another matter. She looked up at the car and shook her head. I can’t do it, she told me. A treat couldn’t convince her. Maybe it was all the romping with the youngsters that did her in. I had to carry her up and in. Goes to show how strong I am. I’m sure she will sleep well tonight. Maybe we’ll get to sleep in tomorrow. She usually wakes up at 6 am, almost on the dot.

It’s good for me to show up here on my good days as well as bad days. It’s proof for me on bad days that I can feel awesome. I’m not down in the dumps, a wet blanket, raining on all the parades. I do miss one or two. Some days I even shine.




I didn’t wake up with a Yippee! on my lips this morning. Neither did I wake up with dread. Everything was copacetic. I was in that neutral state of the morning. I gave some thoughts on how I want to feel and how I want my day to go. My goal has always been the sentiments expressed in the poem Desiderata. I should read it every morning to keep heart.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.

It is difficult to go placidly amid the noise and haste now. There’s so many voices and distractions. Who to listen to? Which direction should I go? It must be difficult in all times since Max Ehrmannt wrote the poem in 1927, a time which we think now as much quieter and slower. Some day in the future, someone will think of this time as being slower and quieter, too.

Mornings before the world is fully awake are the best for me. I’m grounded in the quiet.  I’m  a blank page, a new canvas to be filled/painted with optimism, dreams, fantasies. In the mornings I am hopeful that I can make changes. They are possible in the newness of the day. As the day ticks along, I can feel my head fill with thoughts and imagined conversations. Most of them are not true but made up in my busy mind. By noon I am consumed by idle chitchat, paranoia and negative self talk in my head. They drain me. And they are not necessarily true.

Knowing this, I will dedicate mornings pursuing all those things that gladdens and opens my heart. I hope being engaged thus will shut up those negative self talk and paranoid thoughts. In time maybe I can rid them at will, no matter time of day.



It’s Monday, sunny and bright for most of the day. I should have taken advantage of the energy boost it gave me. But I didn’t exactly bust my ass. I had good intentions. They don’t mean squat if I didn’t follow through. I should not trash myself too badly because I did show up for the aerobics class this morning. Now I’m showing up here.

It’s almost the supper hour. The sun has set. There is a bit of wind but it was relatively pleasant walking Sheba. I was bundled up – too much. I was in a sweat when we got home. The back gate is locked for the evening. The recycle bin at the front curb. I’ve collected my summer sandals off the deck. They’re in a box. Haven’t figured out where to put the box yet. So I guess the sandals are still on the deck.

Pretty boring mutterings, eh? That’s how I’m feeling these days – blasé about life in general. Have you ever been in that condition? I have, many times. I guess it comes from having a short attention span and easily bored.  That’s my theory. I do get over them though this one is hanging on. There’s nothing to do but hang on, keep getting up, dressing up and showing  up. I know one morning I will wake up feeling ‘yippee!’

I get help wherever I can. Daisy Yellow (Tammy Garcia) provides lots of inspiration. She founded the annual Index-Card-a-Day Challenge of which I participates. Her post about dealing with creative blocks works for my life blocks. After all, life is a creative process and a work of art. I try to paint a little index card, cut/sew a quilt square or two, write in that one-inch picture frame that Anne Lamott talks about in her Bird by Bird. Now, I have a whole swack of index card art. Some awesome, some good and some just so so. I’m on my way to building a quilt. It’s slow going but I have a start. I try to come to this space daily. Sometimes I don’t make it. Sometimes I do. My self -talks help to unlock blocks. To date I have 1,004 blog posts.


Sunny Sunday morning. It’s a welcome sight. I don’t mind that it’s -7 Celsius. I’m always surprised every year how dark October can be. Seems like summer just drops off a cliff and the sunrise at 6 am with it. I’m left grappling for my clothes in the dark of the morning. Seeing the sun bright and shiny before 9 is a balm to my spirit. As always, Sheba is near my feet, crowding my space.

I’ve been on a reading jag, not a bad thing on cloudy October days. It keeps my mind from wandering and dwelling in dark places. I’ve just finished The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It’s about post Vietnam War, PTSD, survival in Alaska and a love story. I found it hard to put down. It made me cry. I didn’t get much else done. It was a very appropriate and maybe helpful read. It tweaked something in my brain about winter, darkness and how to survive.

It was wet and oh so dreary yesterday. It felt a bit like being in Alaska. It was not an inviting day to be out and about. Waking up in the night for bathroom duties, my brain was working on excuses why I shouldn’t go swimming in the morning. I wondered how I made it to work for all those morning shifts at 7:30. I remembered those ‘phone in sick’ messages playing in my head. Though rarely, I did succumbed some mornings. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have to fear those checkup and sometimes threatening phone calls.

Despite my moans and groans and loud bitching, I get up, dress up and show up most mornings. So upon rising yesterday, I packed my gym bag with my swimming paraphenalia. I was good to go after breakfast at 7:45. I love that time of morning once out the door. The city is still quiet. Light traffic even on my busy street. I was the first one at the pool. It was beautiful to see the four empty lanes. The water was blue and ever so still. No worries about being too slow and people grabbing my toes from behind. That’s the feeling that pushed me to keep my Saturday morning date. I am capable of inspiring myself and being Wonder Woman. We all can do that for ourselves.

To keep up the momentum, we went art gallery hopping after lunch. Our first stop was at Boheme Gallery and Denyse Klette Art Studio for her Gnomes in the Neighbourhood Book Launch. Her colourful and whimsical art is just what I need on a wet cloudy day. And by luck we came across the Artists’ Workshop Exhibition Reception at Hues Gallery. It opened my eyes further about our very own local talents and small galleries. And the events were free with refreshments. I sorely miss the Mendal Art Gallery on Spadina Crescent. It was perfectly located by the river with good parking. It was easily accessible with ample free parking. Admission was also free to all. It was replaced by Remai Modern. I guess I’m not a fan. It is much bigger in the heart of downtown amid other businesses and paid parking and paid admission. I’m happy to discover other alternatives.



It’s a very dreary, dreary day. I’m not looking forward to taking Sheba out for her walk but I will. If I give in to my rathers, I am sure I will come apart like a house of cards. I was thinking how difficult everything is this morning on the way to my appointment with my gynecologist. Getting out the door to anywhere feels stressful. Having to be on time. Having to find parking. I circle and circle. Then I’m in the examining room. I’m staring up at the bright lights in the ceiling, trying not to fall off the slanting chair. Then I see all those glistening metal instruments sitting on the cart next to me. Hmmm.

It all turned out. I’m good till next year. The medical resident working with him asked me, Aren’t you happy? I replied, I’m happy. She laughed because my face doesn’t show it. She’s one of those really bright, cheery and beautiful women you would love to hate. You can’t because she is so darn nice. So I mumbled something about it being morning. There was no need to explain or expand. I couldn’t. It is what it is.

So here I am, trying to tap out a few words, trying to do something. I have to try even if I don’t feel like it. It took me the longest time to get the lunch dishes done. I moaned and groaned. Everything felt twice as bad when it shouldn’t at all. I cannot understand it. I don’t try. I just do. I got the Roomba going while I was doing the dishes. Sheba is dropping clumps of hair and tracking in dirt. They magnify in my mind’s eye when I’m feeling thus.

I’m not complaining, just talking myself into moving and doing. We’ve just come back from our walk in a light drizzle. We did it. We didn’t melt in the rain. Our paws our wiped clean and dry. Another walk. Another day. I wish I have something more profound to say but this is it.