CHANGE OF PACE

January 19, day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’ve missed day 17 and 18. That’s how the days have crumbled. Sometimes I can’t do everything. Sometimes I don’t want to do everything. A change is as good as a rest. I hope it can bring me a fresh outlook and some good ideas. I was feeling a bit staid and tired but not overwhelmed. Truth to be told, I am not enjoying writing and the Challenge as much these days. Perhaps I am challenged out.

So I cut myself some slack and gave myself some time away from the keyboard. Why not, eh? I have no business or service to promote. I write for pleasure and therapy. If it is no longer either one, a rest is needed. I am hard pressed to find time to sit and read these days. It was pure pleasure not to worry about writing a post these last couple of days. It wasn’t easy at first because there’s this voice saying I should live up to my commitment. But my fatigue and the book Beach Blonde spoke louder. Now the book is read and I am feeling so much better and rested.

We are back in the deep freeze for the next couple of days. It’s another reason for my well being. I am brighter with more pep and vinegar on cold sunny days. Strange but true. Maybe I got used to very frigid temperatures from having had a very high energy Lab Border Collie mix. We went out to the dog park in all kinds of weather. We were more regular than the mailman. I no longer have her to run with in the snow. Cross country skiing is now my substitute.

I don’t like to miss any days. Today is no exception. Even with an extreme cold weather warning, I was out in the park. I warmed up doing 2 laps in the South Park where I am more comfortable. Then I moved over to the North Park with those troublesome slopes. Today I did good. Being so cold the tracks were not fast. I had lots of control downing the slopes. No skyrocketing into space was possible. No falling and splatting. No hugging the snow. I am getting over my fear and getting my confidence back. The exercise was invigorating. It did me and my disposition a world of good.

MORNING CONVERSATIONS

Another morning, another second cup of tea. It’s warmer both in and out of the greenhouse. I’m very hopeful my tomatoes will thrive and bear fruit by June. I’m not exactly thriving. Another slow morning. I think I am a bit under the weather. I will give myself a break today and stay off the ski trails. They are not their best anyways. It has just been an outing to stretch my legs the last two days. Even the Wildwood Golf Course was a bust. I had a few almost oops! But the fresh air, open space and the sky was worth the effort. It was a little country inside the city.

I’m happy to find my way back to the keyboard. These morning conversations are helping me to start the day. They’re a help for my mental health. I can mutter away and not bother any ears except the ones that want the bothering. I can get things off my chest, brain storm and start a creative process. They also help me by keeping track of things, a journal of gardening, cooking and whatever I have been doing. They’re kin to Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages. I like to use whatever tools I find to make life easier and more fulfilling. I love learning.

I’m learning it works to talk myself through difficult tasks. I ask myself what is it that makes it hard. Then I ask myself to describe and do each step. I try not to label myself lazy anymore, that it is just my brain thing. Thus, my laundry is folded and most of it put away. I still have those idiosyncrasies where I can’t put everything away or quite finish a job. I can work on that. I’ve fed Oscar, my sourdough starter, readying for starting some dough this afternoon. I’ve been trying for the last couple of days but haven’t muster enough energy. Today is the day.

My brother has just texted me telling me that our parents got their first Covid vaccines. Everything was very organized. It’s a huge relief. The sun is up and shining right on the greenhouse roof. It is -5℃ outside and 1.8℃ in the greenhouse. I’m looking forward to a great day.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…

February 26th, day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Our administrator suggests the topic of a day in the life of..YOU! He makes it sound exciting and since it is what I do anyways, I will carry on. It is my genre. My life does not seem exciting to me. I am bored though I am interested in many things. Can this be possible. This last stretch of February is for the birds. I’ve said this of other months also.

Today is March 1, 2021. As you can see I have bombed out of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I could not stretch myself to the finish line. I gave in to binging on Netflix. It was on a good series, Shetland. I fell in love with the characters, the Shetland Islands, Scotland and the stories of Ann Cleeve. I was hooked and could not help myself. Every day, after lunch and after my afternoon cross country ski, I would plop myself in front of my iMac with a cup of tea and a slice of Swedish thin bread. It was my matinee hour. It was ALL very addicting.

All that binging has made me feel very terrible because there was no possible end to it. That is until I came to the end of Season 3. That’s it. No more seasons of Shetland on Netflix Canada anyways. Now I’m in front of my keyboard with just a cup of tea, trying to tap away the angst of my withdrawal. I’ve still kept up with the100dayproject. I’m still sewing a logcabin quilt square a day. I have 30 squares now. I have also finished my cross stitch of Jesus I started many years ago. My fingers weren’t idle while watching Shetland. They were busy weaving in and out of those little squares. I can feel good about that.

I am happy, too, that I’ve kept up with the daily cross country skiing. Exercise and the great outdoors are good addictions. Otherwise, I don’t know what shape my head would be in. We went out to the Wildwood Golf Course this afternoon. I set my timer for a 20 minute ski out and then 20 minutes to get back. Having a set time gave me a sense of security that I can make it back to the parking lot.

I’m glad that I can wrap up the end of February and the Ultimate Blog Challenge with a final post, even if I’m a day late. I hate leaving things unfinished. It’s as if I don’t care and have given up. It is always good to care and give a damn. Things can get better. They can’t if we don’t care.

I’M WORKING ON IT

Life is such that when you think you’ve got a good thing, it disappears. Having found the flow of things doesn’t mean you have command of it. When that happens, I have to do the hard work. I had to work hard to build my log cabin quilt squares this morning. Perhaps I was too smug. I tried to build 2 squares at the same time. I thought it would save time. The opposite happened. I made mistakes. I had to rip and take apart. Multitasking does not work. It does not create flow. Think again as this article points out.

It is 3 in the afternoon. It is -14℃ outside. In the greenhouse, 38℃. There are 146 new cases of #COVIDSK. We have just returned from our afternoon ski in the park. For change of scenery, we did the North Park which is across the street from the South Park. It is a little more challenging with little dips and rises in the landscape. Today I was not working on speed but on conquering my fear. I have gone down the 3 little slopes now a few times without falling. Still, my heart goes pitter patter standing atop of each. My mind gets so analytical, trying to picture the how(s). Bend my knees and ankles. Tuck my poles under my arms. Don’t hold them in front of me but behind me. Don’t stand up too fast.

It’s a success story. I did 2 rounds around the park. Went down the 3 slopes twice upright. I even gave myself a tiny push to start the glide. I dread each time I approach the slopes though. Going down was uncomfortable but exhilarating at the same time. I won’t be daring greatly any time soon but I’m working on it. I’m also working on my paper clutter. It’s almost tax return time. My head is such a mess. I have such an aversion to opening the mail. I don’t try to understand it. I’m making a goal of opening them each day again. Perhaps I should put a sign on my computer to remind me. I have opened my mail today. It’s a T5 for my tax return. I am acting promptly – for the moment. Now I just have to add up those moments.

THE HEART OF ME

It’s February 8, 2021. Almost 5:30. Yet the sun is still present in the livingroom. It will vanish in a minute or two but I love this almost perfect beautiful golden moment. Everything, including myself, is in alignment from head to toe. I am so happy we went out for our ski, despite the frigid temperature. The sun was brilliant. It is the kind of weather that agrees with me the most. I feel energized, without my aches and pains. The snow was the best, too. It didn’t stick to the bottom of my skis and I felt the glide. The mask was perfect keeping my lungs from the cold air. I didn’t have to taste the wool of a scarf.

Chinese New Year will arrive on February 12. It is the year of the ox. I don’t know what it means. I take it that we all must be strong, like the ox, and do our best to keep safe and do the utmost not to spread the Coronavirus. We must, like good citizens of the earth, do our part to help regreen the planet. This is my hope for this year of the ox. February is also heart month. The heart needs exercise as much as the rest of our body.

I like to stretch my heart muscles by being kinder, more loving and understanding of others. I know that sometimes I think I am all of those things. I know I over estimate and give myself too much credit. It is hard to take myself out of me and look at things and others dispassionately, without prejudice and preconceived ideas. It is a good thing to remember. I would like to spend time to observe and explore how I can change and be more heartful through this Ultimate Blog Challenge.

HOW TO DO ANYTHING BETTER

It’s Day 5 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Today I am going to focus on how I can do anything and everything better by giving some thoughts to organizing. Nothing is too insignificant to consider. And some things are too big to ignore. They are like the elephant in the room that no one mentions. I am sick and tire of feeling overwhelmed. That’s a plus for me. I do reach a saturation point of enough is enough. I see what is happening. Opportunity is not looking for me. I have to look, find its door and knock loudly on it.

So here I am, changing my routine a little. I am sitting at my keyboard in the morning sunshine. I am sipping my cuppa and tapping my little blogging heart away. I have all the makings of lunch prepped and ready. I’ve fed Oscar, my sourdough starter for the bread process this afternoon. The kitchen floor’s vacuumed whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. I’m making good use of time normally thoughtlessly wasted.

I did scrolled away a good amount of it upon getting up with my first cup of tea. My excuse was that I was just ‘easing into my day’. It didn’t do anything to help me have a positive outlook to know that racisim is well and alive in our city. Though I have chosen to live my life without it colouring my world, I have felt the sting of it in this Covid times. Things and people’s attitude appeared more crystal clear. Thinking and trying to understand all of this is a waste of my time and energy. It belongs to the file of the anti maskers, conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump supporters. I best move along to better things.

I, now, do have a better vision and understanding of myself. I fuss too much on things and people I cannot change. It is not that I have a grandiose impression of myself, but maybe I do. I do have this propencity for telling/expecting how people should behave. I am limited by my tunnel vision. I have only be able to see/feel from my side of the fence. It’s a waker upper. I’ve lived a limited sheltered life. I feel as if I haven’t been out in the world. It is still better to wake up late than never. I have to remember to save my advice and time for myself.

I am going to shake up the way I do things a bit. I know that they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Sheba taught me that you could. She was the best dog/teacher ever. I miss her but she is in a good place. She visited me in the guise of a fox on our moonlight ski in December. She was probably worried about my safety, taking up cross country skiing in my old age. It is never too late to change and/or to pursue something new. I am not pretty on skis and will never get to the Olympics. But I have made great progress – for me. I now can put my skis without a huge struggle. I know how to get up from falling. I can now fall without banging my head. I am starting to have a sense of the glide.

It’s almost 11 weeks since I’ve taken up the sport. Sometimes I am very disappointed with my progress when the guy whizzes by me effortlessly. He can do 3 rounds around the park to my one. I am quite happy when I am not comparing myself to others. I was ecstatic making it down a gentle slope without falling. I just have to think of the small victories and I feel pumped again. That’s the trick, I think to sticking with something. I have to spend the hours and make changes on how you do things to improve. Otherwise, I will be like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day , waking up to the same morning every day.

ONE SQUARE A DAY

It’s so difficult to come to the keyboard these days. It’s difficult to start a conversation. It’s equally hard to start the day. I’m trying hard not to let time slip away. The time on this earth is valuable. It is limited and it will never come again. I’m resolving not to let my thoughts and emotions get the best of me and render me useless. The show must go on. I start my day with those daily routines. Breakfast, taking my vitamins, getting out of my pjs, straightening a thing or two and feeding Oscar, my sourdough starter.

I wandered downstairs to look at my fabric stash. I’m thinking of joining the100dayproject. It starts on January 31st. I thought I would sew a square a day for a 100 days. I have already sewn a few squares together a couple of years ago, thinking I would make a colourful summery quilt. Here’s my chance to finish another abandoned project. It would give me a purpose, add to my daily routine. A square a day could keep the pyschiatrist away. It would also help to clear out my fabric stash.

It’s not that I lack things to do. I have a million and one interests/things to do. I lack emotional stamina to keep going. I fall into ruts and off the wagon often. I do need motivations, many cups of tea and those strong rah! rah! rah! from the sidelines to cheer me on to the finish line. My first 100dayproject in July/2016 helped me to realize doing art instead of just talking about it. Here’s the first and the 100th of that project.

I’m feeling super pumped now. It helps that I’ve just been out on the ski trails and breathing all that fresh air. I tried the ski trail at the Wildwood Golf Course the first time today. I did the 2.5 km perimeter loop. It’s just what I need to develop technique and confidence. It took some time to get back to the parking lot. I had no concept of how much being out there under grey skies. I quite enjoy the spaces when I was alone. I could practice without worrying about how ridiculous and clumsy I look or if I fall. I would have to had an audience when I couldn’t make it up a hill and slid backwards, eventually falling. But no despair but laughter on my part for now I am able glide downhill comfortably without much fear. I’ve left those weak knees and jelly legs behind.

I am so glad to have had this time together. It’s good to have this conversation. It makes me feel not so blue, that life has meaning and purpose. So I will let Carol Burnett take me out with her sign off song. And I will tug my earlobe for luck.

IF WISHES WERE HORSES

The prompt today for Susannah Conway’s December Reflections is: on my wish list. It caused me pause for reflection. Have I ever wished for anything? None that I can remember for eons and eons. Oh yes, There was a time when I was young with hormones and desires. I think I yearned for romance but not with a house, picket fence and kids. It wasn’t that I didn’t want them. They just hadn’t enter my mind. Neither did I think about how to get the romance. I just wished and sighed. It took some time for me to realize that nothing comes out of just wishing and a-hoping.

As I’ve said before, I wasn’t born into the Christmas and Santa Claus story. I’ve never had a wishlist. I don’t have one now. It would be a good exercise for me to make a list of what I really, really want. It would be really, really tough. It was easier when I was a child. I wanted to ride a bicycle. I wanted to learn how to swim. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t then. Maybe it was because we were new immigrants and didn’t have enough money. But in high school my dad bought me a blue 1954 Ford. It had an automatic transmission. I was not a good driver. I kept flooding it. A bicycle would have given me more joy.

I guess I did put those 2 items on my adult wishlist. I’ve learned to ride a bike and how to swim. I am not excellent at them but now have a few bikes and bathing suits. Having a list isn’t all that important. Knowing myself is. I’m not interested in acquiring things as much as I want to acquire skills. Cross country skiing wasn’t on top of any list. They’ve been in my closet for 30 some years. I wasn’t really itching to bring them out. The guy brought them out into open. I said I would give them a try.

The snow fell and fell and the Covid-19 numbers climbed and climbed. Sunday’s Covid stats was pretty scary – 4 deaths and 415 new cases. Today’s – 1 death and 274 new cases. It’s best to stay out of the gym and into the park. Staying upright on those 2 sticks gave me a sense of purpose. Falling down is no humiliation. Getting up is a triumph. I feel like Rocky/Sylvester Stallone on skis. I’m not gliding smoothly along – yet. It is something to work toward. Having goals/wishlist is most desirable in maintaining mental health.

I’m happy to return to this space to tap out a few words, ideas and maybe some inspiration. It’s very grounding to put thoughts to words and to see them march across the screen. Nothing can happen in a vacuum. Action is needed. You need to rub 2 stones to create a spark which can light a fire.

SKIS AND PICKLES

SKIS AND PICKLES

Gosh, I’ve gone past my magic hour of 5 pm! I’m staring down 5:45. Good thing we are late diners. Supper won’t be ready for a while. So what should I talk about today? Our province’s new Covid cases for today is 236. It’s no small potatoes. It’s not that there’s nothing we can do about it. There are! We can wear our mask when we go out. We can avoid crowded and hot spots like bars. We don’t have to wait for the gov’t to close them down. We can choose to be responsible without a government order, can’t we? Some businesses have. All of us need to step up.

Enough ranting already, eh? Let’s get on with the show even though I don’t have much to show. The morning went, just like that. I did a bit of chopping and throwing things into the Instant Pot for lunch. I thought I would deal with my Jerusalem artichokes pickling down in the basement for awhile now. Then I would have a sit down with my cup of tea. As it turned out, it took longer than I thought. A lot longer. Isn’t that how it is always?

The pickles were in a bit of a pickle. It’s not a complete disaster, but I could have done better. It was my first time so I have to be easy on myself. I should have done a smaller batch. I should have used dried pepper flakes instead of a whole fresh chili pepper. The chili insides sort of melted into a white slime. It didn’t make the brine look delicious. Some of the sunchokes were a bit soft and mushy because they bobbed out of the brine. I took everything out and threw out the soft mushies. I discarded the brine and rinsed off the chokes. I put them back in a clean jar and filled it with a new 3% brine solution. I covered them with cabbage leaves. A teacup on top of that to weigh everything down. It was a bit of work leaving me not much time for sipping tea. Then it was lunch time.

My day seem so short, filled with messing around and cleaning up. But I did have a short ski up and down our back alley a few times. After many, many years, I’ve finally got out those long ago skis I got at the Ski Swap. I’ve only tried them out twice ever, if that. It was a bit of a challenge getting everything snapped on. I fell down immediately. Had a hell of a time getting up. So I just laid there and the guy finally had to pull me up. I got better with the second fall, though my foot came out of the boot. That made it easier. I felt pretty good after a few more times up and down the alley. I think we’ll try the park next time. I’m sure the falling downs will have softer landings.