Who Knows

How different this new life is, compared to what I thought it would be at this point in my life, compared to what it was last spring. I thought I was in a relatively happy, even if financially restricted, retirement, living in a place I find pleasant, living with someone who I loved and who loved me. Although our circumstances were decidedly modest, I felt the important things in life were covered. Was it a dream? It was a nice dream, if it was a dream. Maybe it was real though, real with an unexpected expiration date. Of course, everything alive has an expiration date. This particular one was not the one written on the package, it came much earlier.

The holding pattern with Attila is, well, it is holding. For the most part the time passes pleasantly. The future is unknown, uncertain, unpredictable. The grieving process is ongoing, which is only natural, but I now have short periods of significant respite from the pain. The one true thing is still the one true thing, I am living with a man who does not want to be in a married relationship with me. There is no question that we care for one another. Other truths have not emerged. In time they probably will, it is a matter of letting things take their natural course. Patience is a necessity. This situation uses up most of my stores of patience.

The weekend was cold! It is cold out there this morning too. I found no place I wanted to go alone this past weekend. Attila says he is too worn out from the daily grind of his job to want to go out, except on very rare occasions, except to shop for food at bargain prices. He loves to eat, he loves to shop for the food he eats. I usually do this with him, as it is an opportunity to walk around in the store for half an hour or more, exercise, and limited social contact. Since I don’t eat much, and can’t eat most of the food in the stores, it isn’t an activity that inspires any joy. Other activities will have to be ones I attend by myself. I am working on that.

I filled the weekend with my projects, and with the baking of bread and muffins. On Saturday night Attila and I made a homemade pizza, and watched a movie, which is always a treat. Less and less often do we eat the same foods, at the same time. Surprisingly, this has led to a significant reduction in domestic tension. My dietary restrictions are difficult for me to bear with good grace, but I have no choice. Attila has a choice, and he has made it.

The world is full of hints of spring! Every day I find all kinds of bugs in the house. Asian beetles, house flies, wasps, Western Conifer Seed Bugs, they enter around the living room window, and other locations, and I find them all over the house. I don’t believe in escorting insects to the out of doors, if they have entered my home, they are unwelcome invaders, and they are quickly dispatched and disposed of. This is a spring ritual here at Mist Cottage. At the country house it was a completely different array of insects that made spring weather interesting.

The snow is gone, although a few small patches remain in shaded areas of the remaining bush behind the house. The imminent destruction of those trees is nigh, by next March there will be a hive of rental units where there were once tall and majestic trees.

My second crochet blanket is coming along slowly. I have been enjoying working a few rows on it, during the day. The rhythm of the hook and yarn is comforting, grounding, and totally within my control. It feels good to have control over something.

The book Kristin Lavransdatter is another source of enjoyment. I like to read books slowly, coming back to them over and over again, sitting down to have a cup of tea with them. Almost like having a chat with a friend. Although, admittedly, they aren’t good listeners.

At my last Tai Chi class, it was suggested to me that Tai Chi “wasn’t for me”.

The beginners lesson had gone well for me, as far as I was concerned. There was a move taught that involved the turning of the foot, in a way that looked like it would hurt my knee. I didn’t do that move, but stopped and resumed when the action returned to the doable. That odd turn of the foot can be accommodated eventually, but the move will need to be carefully orchestrated to avoid injury. I have the first five moves comfortably learned. The beginners class has moved way beyond those first five moves, and I have not progressed with the class. This doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I follow along with whatever is being taught in the beginners class, knowing that any practise is good, even if I don’t remember any of what has been taught. What I do has no effect on anyone else, the classes proceed at the prescribed pace, the other people in the class proceed at the prescribed pace, I proceed at my pace.

Apparently the issue is when the whole group, including the beginners, gathers to do the routine, when it becomes glaringly obvious I have not learned more than five moves. I imitate, sometimes successfully, what I see around me, and when I cannot, or the moves seem beyond my knee, I just stop and watch until something familiar comes up, then I start again. This works well for me.

During the last Tai Chi lesson I attended, during the whole group session, I became tired, after an hour and half on my feet, doing things that I found challenging, and decided to wait it out in the wings. I moved to the side of the gym and stood quietly and contentedly watching the others. One woman looked over at me, she seemed concerned, she seemed upset, I smiled and nodded that I was OK. The leader came across the gym to talk with me, I explained that I was a slow learner, and watching was helpful; she seemed content with that, made her way back across the gym, and carried on with the group. However, another older woman, so far it has been older women who target me, came over to give “advice” at the end of the session. She suggested to me that Tai Chi was not for me.

I was enjoying the whole thing until that point. But really, what is it with these Tai Chi gals of a certain age, why are their knickers getting into such a twist over a little bit of unobtrusive variance. I go to Tai Chi to be active, relax, and learn. It is not an olympic sport, and it is advertised as offering health benefits. They sure aren’t meeting that goal in the realm of mental health!!! It is not something I feel I have to pick up at all costs, or on a particular schedule. It certainly isn’t very relaxing, feeling all this pressure to learn in a certain way, and perform to certain standards on schedule. It is only a few individuals applying all the pressure, but they seem relentless in their quest. It only takes one rotten apple, as they say.

The pressure to conform seems ever present in “clubs”. There are types of conformity that bring pleasure, psychic comfort, safety, and a whole variety of other positive social benefits. There are also types of conformity that hobble, reduce, impede, and generally interfere with the natural flow of human social interactions. My Tai Chi class embodies both, an interesting mix. Perhaps over time, the busy little Tai Chi “social engineers” who plague me will cease to register with me, even as an annoyance.

Well, my first forays into the wide world have not been unmitigated successes. I am batting 0. What I have gained through these explorations is an increased confidence in getting out there on my own. I am also getting used to being out of my comfort zone. Back to the drawing board, as they say. The spring should bring a whole new array of opportunities, so who knows what lies ahead.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 19 March 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -9.2°C
Dew point: -20.6°C
Humidity: 39%
Wind: N 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km


“On October 20, 1949 the Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson published the tale. This is the earliest instance located by QI:

Groucho Marx’s letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

On October 13, 1951 the only son of Groucho, Arthur Marx, published a version of the anecdote in Collier’s Magazine. This is the earliest variant by a close family member with intimate knowledge of Groucho. Over the years Arthur Marx recounted different narratives of this episode, and some will be presented further below. In 1951 he said that Groucho joined the Friars Club at the insistence of friends, but he did not participate. So Groucho sent in a letter of resignation:

In the next mail, he received a letter from the club’s president, wanting to know why he had resigned. My father promptly wrote back, “Because I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!”…
Source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/04/18/groucho-resigns/


I am feeling rather flat these days, not unhappy, just flat. The uncertainty of the future is very wearing, but there is nothing to be done about it at present. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, I keep telling myself.

Today the sun shone! I had to run errands today, so off I went, and it was beautiful out there! The snow, the new snow that we received in the last few days, is melting, melting, melting. Apparently there is cold weather on the way this weekend, hopefully it will be the last of the seriously cold weather!

Today was also bill paying day, and doing some spring cleaning on the computers, they are quite a mess! Soon the weather will be nice and I won’t feel much like doing anything on the computer.

Last weekend when we did the grocery shopping, I spied some very nice looking avocados, but they were very, very green. Today they are ripe, perfect! Tonight’s dinner consists of Guacamole and corn chips for Attila, and Guacamole and low sodium crackers for me. I love Guacamole. I make it by mashing the avocado, then adding salsa to the desired consistency and taste, it is oh so simple and oh so good. The next meal I cook will probably be next Monday, I am so looking forward to trying out Bex’s dish!

There are a few jobs that need doing before the big window installation. The red pine flooring still hasn’t been moved out of the basement, Attila wanted to wait for warmer weather, as it was decided it would come out through a window. Since the window installation isn’t expected until April, there is still a large window of time within which to accomplish this.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EDT Thursday 15 March 2018
Condition: Light Snowshower
Pressure: 100.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.6C
Dew point: -7.4C
Humidity: 48%
Wind: WNW 15 gust 27 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.”
Jane Austen
1775 – 1817

Tryin’ It Out

A weekday, my turn to cook!

So, today I rummaged through the cupboard and found part of a package of rice/quinoa pasta. I cooked it according to the package directions. That was a start. What next? I found a tin of low-sodium, low-cholesterol cream of mushroom soup, hanging around in the cupboard. I also rummaged up a can of flaked tuna, preserved in water. At the back of a bottom cupboard I dragged out the slow cooker. The pasta was drained and added, the cans were opened and added. Feeling lazy, I added garlic granules, dehydrated onion flakes, lemon juice, and a little bit of brown sugar. When it was all mixed together, on went the lid, and tonight I’ll find out how it turns out. The worst that can happen is that Attila hates it, and will only eat it for one meal, which would mean I would be eating the leftovers myself. This is a possibility I keep in mind when I am making up recipes.

Attila does not like deviation from “traditional” recipes. He would not consider today’s offering as a Tuna Noodle Casserole. I will rename the effort, calling it Quinoa Casserole, hopefully eliminating the expectations that the title Tuna Noodle Casserole evokes.

Attila eats at least two meals every evening. He eats about five times more than I do, sometimes more. If he doesn’t consume that much food, he begins to lose weight. Eating my meagre rations, if I eat even a little bit more, I gain weight. If I eat a lot less, my weight is maintained. If I eat less than would sustain health, I lose a little bit of weight, very slowly. My BMI is not what is should be, so I try to eat as little as possible and still maintain health… it is tricky, and I’ve been unsuccessful in losing the stubborn 15-20 pounds that really need to come off. I think I would appreciate this metabolic efficiency during a famine, but it isn’t doing me any favours under present conditions.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 14 March 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -0.4°C
Dew point: -1.8°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: NW 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 2 km


“No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar.”
Donald Foster

The Young Man And The White Laundry Basket

When just don’t know what to do with myself, I write.

The day was sunny. That was nice. The day was above freezing. That was nice. All the snow is gone. That is nice.

It is bug season here at Mist Cottage. Bug season is a precursor of spring, which as it happens, arrives on Tuesday of this coming week. Not a moment too soon.

I took Friday as a “sick day”. I stayed in my pyjamas all day. I curled up in my chair, with my crocheted blanket wrapped around me. I read, I ate, I sipped tea, I gazed out the window at the trees and the sky, I dozed off. The computers remained unused and silent all day long. The telephones did not ring, nor did I call anyone. It was good to spend a day contemplating life, the universe, and everything. The funny part of it was, I assumed that because I dozed off and on, that I would have a difficult time sleeping on Friday night. Such was not the case. I retired at my usual time, and immediately fell into a restful sleep, awaking at 4:00 a.m., which now, with my altered sleep patterns, I consider sleeping in.

On Friday, during the day, I happened to be looking out the living room window, when I spied an unknown young man, he could have been a teenager, he might have been 25, I can’t tell anymore, walking up the street from the scarred land that is being cleared at the end of the street. He was carrying a white laundry basket. It contained unidentified items, none of which were fabric. I didn’t recognize him, which is still of some relevance, as this is still a short dead end street. By this time next year the street will be full of strangers, more than 50 new families in rental units, all the foot traffic and all the vehicles, needing this narrow little street to reach, or to leave, their homes.

Back to the young man with the laundry basket. I wonder where he came from, and where he was going. Did he have some sort of secret place in the woods, where he kept “stuff”, which he wanted to remove before the rest of the trees were felled? Was he crossing the chewed up land as a short cut, moving some sort of gear from one house to another? He does not live in this neighbourhood, I know that much.

The weekend has been quiet and uneventful. Uneventful is as good as it gets these days, and considering the state of the world, it behoves me to be grateful for finding myself in such a context, even if it isn’t what I would like it to be.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 11 March 2018
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.7°C
Dew point: -4.5°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: SSW 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -7
Visibility: 24 km


“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.”
Robert Lynd
1879 – 1949

Doing Its Thing

March is doing its thing. The morning light brought a vision of white, snow had fallen silently while I slept. More snow is predicted today, and again tomorrow. The blanket is thin, it will easily yield itself completely to a sunny day. There are sunny days ahead.

Today is International Women’s Day. Yay women. Yay men who value women as people. Yay the “us” that comes of all those sentient beings who get it.

My life continues to clunk along, here at Mist Cottage. I think it is clunking for Attila too. The holding pattern has settled into a comfortable state of everyday life. Surprisingly, Attila and I have introduced a few new shared activities into the mix, which we both enjoy, a pleasant development. For me, it is the internal adjustments necessary to cope with the changes, that offer the biggest challenge.

I am determined to continue to develop interests in the outside world. I am looking at courses to attend, and perhaps, as was suggested, I might volunteer somewhere. Really, the only activity that I’ve tried thus far, that I think will stick, is the Tai Chi. For now the Tai Chi is something I perceive as difficult, because the method of teaching doesn’t really suit the way I learn, not a good fit, and the expected pace of achievement is far beyond my capabilities. But even considering all of that, I think that eventually I will learn, and when that has taken place I will enjoy spending a few silent hours with the graceful and comforting movements, in the presence of others who are doing the same thing. That is what attracts me to Tai Chi, the silent sharing, people unified by a mere 108 movements, performed simultaneously. It is the closest human’s get to a murmur of starlings.

I often wonder what humans were up to before written history distorted, perhaps even invented, the past. Yes, we have scholars telling us about what happened, based on archeological evidence. But the degree of speculation in this kind of “science” is seldom acknowledged. How much of lived human life can be reduced to a pot shard, a skeleton, a pyramid… the conflation of human life experience to artifacts is not easily reconstituted into an understanding of lived experience, or reveal the complexity of human interactions. For instance, what will the plastic in the oceans say about us, if anyone in the distance future is here to take an interest?

Thoughts for a snowy March morning.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EST Thursday 8 March 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -0.7C
Dew point: -1.3C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: NW 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -2
Visibility: 13 km


“You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep. You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin. You deserve a lover who wants to dance with you, who goes to paradise every time he looks into your eyes and never gets tired of studying your expressions. You deserve a lover who listens when you sing, who supports you when you feel shame and respects your freedom; who flies with you and isn’t afraid to fall. You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.”
Frida Kahlo
1957 – 1954
Correction 1907 – 1954

Now wouldn’t that be lovely!