It’s Day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m here to talk about having fun. I’m not sure what kind of conversation we will have. I’m a serious type and not into fun at all, at least not the type most people think of. On top of that, I’m as cranky as can be at the moment. But if we were to have ‘coffee’ together, it would help. That’s the kind of fun I like to have. I’m not into gregarinous, belly laughing, cheer leading type of fun. I don’t like participating in team sports. I hate pickle ball. I could go for bowling but not the competitive team kind of thing. See, I’m no fun at all.

I enjoy solitary pursuits, competing only with myself. What do I mean? Well, I took up swimming at a late age. It was on a list of things I want to do along with riding a bike. I have no natural skills for either. I took Red Cross swimming lessons as a very matured adult. It took me a whole summer to learn to float. I have mastered it, then the front crawl, then swimming one pool length along the edge so that I can grab on at any moment. Now I can swim 20 lengths in an hour. Learning a skill is ‘fun’ to me. Mastering the bicycle was no easy task either. I’m still not at home in the saddle but I’ve ridden up and down some steep streets in Lake Havasu the year we spent a winter month in Arizona. I huffed and puffed on the way up and screamed all the way down. I was proud of myself none the less. I would ride more if there was less traffic. Traffic in my hood is no fun.

I’m feeling more mellow now. The coffee and tapping are helping. Writing agrees with me. It is fun. I love putting words and pictures together. I don’t know which comes first. Maybe both at once. They’re competing with each other. It works for me. Obviously I love having ‘coffee’ and this time together. And I dislike everything about Covid, especially not being together physically for our coffee. I miss my Saturday morning swims and breakfast at A&W afterwards. Everything changes. The good times will come again.

once a week big breakfast


It is day 2 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I better seize the momentum of this newness to get going. I was going to reward myself after writing this post, but I failed the delayed gratification test. I already had my bowl of frozen maple walnut yogurt. It’s hot and I’m sweaty from freezing peas, doing the lunch dishes and watering part of the garden with the grey water. It’s a bit of a chore but well worth my effort. I didn’t realize how much grey water we let go down the drain until I started collecting it. I collect mostly just from washing lunch dishes. It can get labour intensive. I don’t have enough energy and stamina to do more. I have to be prudent with my resources.

Morning seem to be my most energetic self this summer. I try not to squander it away by being slothful and grumpy. I got myself off to an early start by booking an 8 am swim. Life is easier with commitments. Without, I am lost and adrift in the sea of freedom. Today I am rewarded with the pool all to myself. My grumpiness and frown are smoothed away in the water of the pool. There’s no worry of being too slow and having my toes grabbed from behind. I luxuriated in the peace and aloneness of just me and the life guard.

I love these mornings when I can get off to a good start. I can have them every day. It’s really up to me to make it happen. I had time to reflect on how as I swam up and down the lengths of the pool. I can choose to do the things I love, think the thoughts that build me up, spend time with positive people and those who are truly friends. I do have choices and control of many things that affect my well being. Now that I am more cognizant I can do better. I know I am not as grumpy as I used to be. I must be heading in the right direction.

The time after my morning swim is also perfect for heading to our community garden to weed, harvest and water. I am cooled and relaxed, ready to withstand the summer heat. And mornings are generally a bit cooler. It is wonderful to see all the greens of our efforts in the bright summer sun. It is not work but therapy for a gardener’s soul. Since it is a community garden I am happy and honoured to help another gardener water her plot. To be of service to another also adds to my well being. In return she has given me seedlings and apple sauce. Relationships is about reciprocity. Here are some of our happy plots.


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.



I’m experiencing restless brain syndrome today. My monkey mind is taking me here and there, nowhere that is restful. That, too, is best to accept and not try frantically to rid of. Trying to escape would only creates more frantic. I have a headache and a pain in my left jaw from clenching and crunching. I’ve taken a Tylenol. I’m trying to relax everything. My rhythmic tapping on the keyboard is soothing me. I do my 4-7-8 breathing exercise.

“Patience” and “Fortitude”, the “Library Lion” statues, in the snowstorm of Dec. 1948 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Public_Library

It’s a beautiful day with a nice cooling breeze. I’m trying to enjoy the good and bad of our weather. They are both beautiful, each in their own ways. They keep me on my toes, awake to my senses and my surroundings. They remind me not to fret about things I have no control of. Be like the willow. Bend with the wind so I will not snap. I’m also reminded to be strong like a mountain, sitting firmly through all the seasons. I think of Patience and Fortitude, the two marble lions at the entrance of the New York Public Library. They’re qualities I would like to have.


My mind is still not at rest, not allowing me to settle in a calm state. Sheba is of the same ilk. She is staring and whining/panting at me. We are each influenced by each other’s energy. I have to ignore her. She has been fed, watered and personal needs taken care of. There’s nothing to be done. There always have been days like these, to tolerate and weather as best as I can.

Saturdays are my favourite days and it was a beautiful sunny summer morning with a cool breeze. It was easy getting out the door to do my Saturday morning swim. I swam 26 lengths last week. It felt easy and effortless but no two Saturdays and two swims are the same. I was tired and I didn’t get my lane next to the edge of the pool. Someone beat me to it. Funny how that one little thing can throw me off. But it did, having to deal with a rope on each side. I worry about crashing into them. Then I obsess about my technique doing the backstroke. It made for not an optimum relaxing swim. Still it was my best. I didn’t best the week’s before 26 lengths. But I got in 24.

We are now in the heat of the afternoon – 31 degrees Celsius. Sheba has settled on the cool of the hardwood floor. I was a no show Thursday for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I struggle Friday and today here. I am trying to put my best foot forward though my fingers are somewhat stiff and achy. I wonder why the heat affects the joints that way.

I am still keen in completing the month even though I feel tired and sluggish. These periods where I stutter and stumble are not bad. I think they are necessary rest periods. I need to slow down so I can see and evaluate the distance I’ve come. What have I accomplished? What have I learned? I’ll see if I can answer those questions tomorrow.




December 20, 2018  11:13 am

Time has a tricky way of sneaking away on me when I’m not careful. It’s not a bad thing if I’m sidetracked by something useful. I was – looking up my nephew’s YouTube video of how to cook a delicious turkey in a short time.

3:30 pm

Where did the day go? I am tired and there’s Sheba to walk yet.  The day is good. Got lots done even though I was sidetracked by YouTube. First it was the turkey. Then there was Bernina sewing videos but they’re good and useful. I have a few minutes here to breathe and tap. The chocolate chip cookies are done. We’re waiting for the doggy biscuits to come out of the oven. Maybe another 15 minutes or so.

December 22, 2018  11:09 am

Sheba and I have been on a walk or two since I’ve been here. When I leave, it is difficult to come back unless I make a point of it. So here I am, cleaned, relaxed and warmed by my morning swim. Wanting to get there was not an easy, natural thing. The morning was dark and uninviting. I headed out with reluctance and trepidations. But I had the memory of the peaceful blue of the pool, the ropes of the lanes buoying gently in the warm soothing water. I felt the aches of my stiff unyieldy body. I could see myself wading in and gliding off in its warmth.

It was no surprise that I was the only one there this morning. I felt good that I showed up. The lifeguard was a lanky youth, his first day on the job, he said. I hoped I gave him a sense of purpose. He wasn’t guarding just an empty pool. I was a potential someone to be rescued. I used to feel uncomfortable to be the only swimmer, that I was taking up someone’s time. Now I enjoy the idea that the pool was just for me.

Murky thoughts crept into my mind as I went up and down the lanes. I was there working out while the rest of the world was busy with their lives, family, friends making ready for all the happiness of Christmas. Thoughts of being a loser floated in as I blew bubbles in the water and raising my face to take a breath. Never mind that I’ve never enjoyed all the frenzies of shopping for perfect gifts and all the obligations of being loudly happy and comfortable in the traditions not of my culture.

8:00 pm

It is the evening of the day and I’m feeling its melancholia. I tell myself it’s a fake mood like fake news. It’s not real. It’s my brain malfunctioning. It’s not my fault. It is the time of the day when my body is winding down to ready for bedtime. Goodnight to one and all. Tomorrow is a new day.





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.



Today the sun plays hide and seek behind the clouds. The wind is sighing heavily through the spruce trees. I am spooked by the shadowing and heavy sighs. My skin crawls. I have to do. I can’t just sit and think. Questions, all kinds of whys and how comes would creep in and invade my head and infest my mind. Yesterday, I thought about makingupdating my will and last testament. I thought about who/what causes to leave all my stuff to, whether they are worthy or not. Then I started thinking about relationships. What is and what is not. I make myself stop.

It’s better to do than to think. I took my tea out to my workstation on the deck. It was still coolish but the sun was out. The wind can’t find its way through the screen. I was warm and snug in my sanctuary. The index cards, brushes and paint were waiting for me to make a start. After the first stroke, I was away, absorbed in the process. Gone were the questions, the uncertainties and anxiety attached to them.

So what do you think of my little pouty Geisha? She kind of reminds me of my groupy self when I was little. I had those puffed out cheeks and down turned lips. Funny how I always paint myself. Perhaps it’s my alter ego wanting to come through. She’s trapped all these years and screaming to come out. Now she has an avenue through my art.

This is much better than letting the anxiety getting the better of me. Yes, I feel its creepy, crawling fingers on my skin, its stirring in my heart. I know its ways. I’m soothing and smoothing it down with my brushes and paint. I’m turning its energy in the creative rather than the destructive direction. True, Miss Pouty is not perfect. She is rather sweet though, slanted eyes and all.

I never like doing anything. If I didn’t know any better, I would rather curl up like a cat in the sun. I could easily not do anything but purr and sleep. I know that’s is not a good thing to do all the time. So I packed up my gym bag and headed out for the pool. It was wonderful. I had it all to myself. I can splash to my heart’s content. I can make a fool of myself. No one to witness except the lifeguard. What a good opportunity to practice my backstroke. I can relax with no one breathing down my back. Up the lane I front crawled. Down the lane I backstroked. I did well. I talked myself into 15 minutes, then 30 and at 45 minutes, it was good enough. It was excellent. It was better to do than to sit and brood.


After a hot day yesterday, it is cool, cloudy and raining. Nothing remains the same. It’s good to remember that. Fear not, if you are between a rock and a hard place. That hard place will shift if ever slightly. There is room to maneuver and breathe. I’m developing navigation skills. I’m not a homing pigeon yet but my sense of direction is better. Maybe it is that I’m taking the time to think first of where I am going before dashing off helter skelter. I think I’m going to let go of that panic in me. It is time and it is no fun any longer. Not that it ever was.

So here I am, tap, tapping in my space in the dusk of early evening. I’m drinking hot water, the drink of Chinese people and mature women like me. It’s a drink I never tire of and it’s good for me. I’ve been listening to Carolyn Myss’ lecture on The Power of Your Words. I never tire of listening to her wisdom. Wisdom comes ever so slowly, even slower than a dripping tap. It will take a long time to fill my bucket. Could be the bucket has a hole in it.

Time has a way of speeding when you want it to stay. Now it is almost bedtime. I hope sleep time will come easy. I do need a good night of it to shed the day’s wear and tear.  I do so like to start each day with a blank page, no left over from the day before. I’m looking forward to the morning, to slipping into the warm of the pool and swim back and forth the length of my own lane. No thoughts, no plans, no worries.


Here I am, tap. tapping from the library. I was balancing my laptop on my knees for awhile. Luckily, a cubicle opened up and now I have my own private space and desk. No further need for balancing acts. My knees are not at all reliable as with many of my aging body parts. I must not take things for granted. I must take care of myself. No one else will. It’s not their responsibility.

I finally got back to swimming after many long weeks. The sun comes up early. It’s daylight by 5:30. Why not get moving? Why lounge till noon, not that I ever do. I’ve already had my breakfast. I pack my gym bag and I’m off. It’s 8:30. It will give me plenty of time to get there and change. With luck maybe I will have a lane to myself.

My body sighed as I slid into the warmth of the whirlpool. The aqua fitness class was still in progress. I can enjoy the whirlpool jets and watch the group finish their workout. Next time, I will come earlier and participate in the class for the last 20 -30 minutes before my lane swim. I am sure it will help keep me supple, mellow and maybe sweeter. Every little bit helps. I am feeling a little stale with my aerobics class and need something new. I need invigorating.

The swim was divine. I almost had a lane to myself. More people came so I had to share with another woman. She was very kind and considerate. She told me I could keep my lane and she would share with the gentleman. That was after witnessing me swimming almost over top of him. I was doing my backstroke and couldn’t see behind me. He was slower than I thought. I was faster than I realized. I felt this kick with the legs on my back. I did a quick flip over to my stomach to maneuver out of his way. Then I flip back and carried on with my backstroke. I was not brave enough to flip before but necessity pushed my button. I’m not a good nor confident swimmer. I did this in the deep end. Bravo for me!

I’m learning not to panic when I’m way over my head in everything. I’m letting go of the fear. I’m learning to untangle myself when I run into the ropes. There’s always someone watching for my safety. I need not to be in a wild panic. Panic can drown me. Calmness is my life saver. I have time to breathe in and out, lift one arm up and over my head. Then I can do the same with the other, smoothly and rhythmically if possible. At the same time my legs are trying to do the flutter kick from the hips and with toes pointed. I’m always afraid at first – that I will sink. I start kicking ferociously. I don’t get very far or fast. I get nowhere except dizzy.

So I’ve learned to stop all that. I’ve learned to be still. I’m surprised that I don’t sink but remain afloat. I take a slow breath and slowly swing my arms overhead, one at a time. It can be done. I can be slow. I feel myself pulling forward. I add my kicks, trying to remember to do it from my hips and to point my toes. I’m taking this lesson learned and apply it to whatever over the head situation I find myself in. Stop thrashing/fretting. Be still. Breathe in and out. Swing one arm. Then the other. Kick from the hips. Point my toes. I’m pulling towards shore. No life raft needed.



Beginnings and re-starts are hard. I had a week’s hiatus from my exercise class between Christmas and New Year. After New Year, I made it two weeks. It’s good to take a break, I tell myself. Saturdays are my swim day. Well, I couldn’t make myself go yesterday. Today was almost the same. My rationale was I might as well start things back on Monday. I’m familiar with that slippery slope. It could prove too slippery to get back up. I bit the bullet, enticing myself with lunch at the mall after the swim. The fabric store there is having a sale. Everything 50% off. That worked. I’ve scaled the slope. I’m back in the groove. The swim boosted my mood and soothed the aches and pains.

I have to keep these things in mind. It’s easy to stop but difficult to pick up again. I’m like an addict falling off the wagon. I’ve swam and gone to the aerobic class long enough now that I have the ‘feel good’ memory in my body. Even with that, I still needed that extra oomph to get going again. As long my engine can still chug-a-lug, it’s wise to keep the  momentum of carrying out the challenges I’ve set out for January as best I could.

It does make my days full. There are times when I do yearn for more time doing nothing. It’s such a paradox because I find that I can’t just sit, doing nothing. Maybe it’s a good sign just to yearn for nothing times.  It shows that I am not bored. I could do some creative brainstorming to see what I want and what works best for me. I am conducting an informal study of doing one thing at a time, not multi-tasking. By informal, I mean just with myself. I’m not charting data or anything like that. I’m noting how that affects my moods and how I function. Perhaps I should keep notes.

I have found that by breaking up a task into smaller parts makes it easier to do. No brainer, eh?  I apply it to writing here. Everything is easier once I make a start. If I get stuck, I get up and do something else like vacuuming the kitchen. I do the same with painting. I would prep a canvas with gesso and let it dry. I go and do some other thing. I come back and do the grounding. And so on and on. Amazing things happen. My post gets written. A painting gets painted. Sometimes it takes a week or so. Hey, it’s a work of art. I give it more time. The best – the house gets cleaned more often. Dog hair gets under my skin.