Home Alone

When I was a little girl, my brother and I would spend endless hours reading and discussing encyclopedias. Warm summer afternoons spent in a stuffy upstairs room, minds abuzz with all the wonders of the world. Those were happy hours, whiled away with my eldest brother, a year younger than myself.

I think of them now because I just had a similarly delightful experience.

At yoga class two weeks ago I mentioned that I once worked as a computer support person at several universities. One of the women in my class approached me to ask if I knew anything about Macs. Indeed I do. She then inquired if would be interested in exchanging skills, my computer expertise for her massage expertise. It sounded good to me, so I gave her my phone number and forgot about it.

At yoga class last week she asked me if I received her phone call. I hadn’t, and we figured out that the number she had for me was incorrect. She asked me ’round on Friday last to help her with her email, which she needed to setup on a newer Mac computer that had been given to her. I gladly accepted the invitation.

When I arrived at her place on Saturday we had a pleasant chat, then settled into resolving her computer issues. I installed software, setup the firewall (yikes, no firewall!), and configured an account for her on the computer, with all the programs and logins she regularly uses. We also resolved login issues that had been plaguing her. I enjoyed it. For me it is comparable to knitting, it keeps my mind busy as knitting keeps one’s hands busy; it is very relaxing.

She has a wonderful light filled studio, where I had a totally relaxing head and neck massage.

Then we started chatting about our various interests, and proceeded to the living room where she produced a great store of reference books. We spent hours pouring over the books, and chatting about the contents. Then a friend of hers arrived, took off her coat and boots, and joined us. The three of us spent a few more hours pouring over the books, chatting, and laughing; there was a lot of laughing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

It has been many, many winters since I have had such an experience, more than eleven years. My winters have been spent in total isolation, but for the occasional presence of the ever-busy Attila. How very pleasant the company of others can be! Today, thinking about Friday’s visit, I fell into pleasant memories, of time spent with my brother, and encyclopedias. Knowledge for its own sake is such an adventure, such a joy.

When I looked out the window at 6:00 a.m. this morning, it was snowing. It snowed all day, and it is snowing still. I planned on getting out there with my snow shovel after breakfast, but once again the neighbour across the street got to our driveway first with his snowblower. I don’t know where to begin to thank him for such kindness and consideration, really I don’t!

It was snowing hard at the country house today. Attila plans to stay home, and so will leave the snow shovelling until tomorrow night, rather than do the job twice. The snowblower is well used this winter.

The surgeon’s office called, and an appointment is scheduled at his clinic for next week. I checked the parking situation online, and was dismayed to find that Tank is too high for the parking garage clearances. The garage parking is inexpensive, has no time limitations, and is perfect for visiting day patients. I can not park there, and this is a big problem. Alternative parking is further away, and has a two hour limit, which I doubt would work for a visit to a clinic. I have never visited a doctor and only spent two hours in the building! Wait times are long, and people are advised to bring food with them to snack on while they wait.

Feeling a bit panicky, I sent a message to Terra outlining the issue and asking if she was free on the morning of my appointment. Terra assured me that something could be arranged, not to worry. So I will just have to have faith!

Diesel and I are having a quiet Saturday. I have been taking advantage of the few days of free access at ancestry.uk, and have managed to view and make copies of many documents related to my ancestors in England.

Diesel is feeling more relaxed now, after his stressful day yesterday. I was gone for the day, working on the computer and visiting with the woman from my yoga class. Diesel was home alone. When I got back he was nowhere to be seen. After a little while he appeared, and was extremely clingy. He was unsettled. I realized then that he has lived his whole life with other cats in the house, and then there were dogs as well. He had never been “home alone” before, and it was a new and scary experience for him. I made a point of sitting where he could sleep on my lap for the rest of the evening. Today he seems to have recovered his laid back, casual demeanour. I think he will find his next “home alone” experience less stressful, because he has concrete experience that there will be a good outcome.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Little House in the City:
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT
A mixed bag of snow, ice pellets, and freezing drizzle for Southern Ontario this weekend.
-10°C (14F)
Date: 4:00 PM EST Saturday 7 February 2015
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: -10.3°C
Dewpoint: -13.6°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: NE 21 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -18 (-0.4F)

Country House:
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT
Over Central and Eastern Ontario, snow today, tonight, and Sunday.
-8°C (17.6F)
Date: 4:17 PM EST Saturday 7 February 2015
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -7.6°C
Dewpoint: -9.1°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: NNE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -10 (14F)

Quote

“A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.”
Gian Vincenzo Gravina
1664 – 1718

My Brothers

Today I am remembering a project that I worked on with my two youngest brothers; I am the eldest of six. We were involved with digging a trench and installing a drainage pipe for an ancient septic system. None of us had ever tackled such an “aged” project before. We all had our own unique technical knowledge, gained from other projects we had been involved with over the years. We all had some transferable skills to offer the project.

What struck me most was my brothers’ mode of interaction. We listened to each other respectfully, considering each concept presented. What a pleasure, a deep pleasure, it was to interact with these two men as a member of a team. It is not often males have the personal confidence to allow egalitarian female participation. I think our parents did something very right by us.

Older people have a lot of something that is really, really important to the human species. Experience. There are different kinds of experience. One can, for instance, gain experience through experimentation; experience that is isolated in time and space. The experience that older people have though, is a richer kind of experience, because it is cumulative, based on generations of experimentation and practice. This kind of experience is invaluable. This kind of experience cannot be gained in a classroom, it has to be developed “in situ”, over generations.

My Grandparents were the source of all wisdom in the world where I grew up. I adored them. I admired them. I respected them. I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could manage. Luckily, through the 1970s, I lived within driving distance of their home. I visited them several times a week, and always came away feeling enriched. I had a close and loving relationship with my Grandmother, who never spoke a harsh word about anyone, and tolerated no “nonsense”. Our time was spent being together; I helped with whatever my Grandmother was doing. We spent time together, in her world.

When my Grandmother passed away it shook my world. I continued to visit my Grandfather several times a week, spending time, helping with whatever he was doing at the time, in his world.

I still long for the company of my Grandparents, always will I suppose.

I learned a lot from my Grandparents, things I could never have discovered through my own experiences or education. It wasn’t just how to bake bread, or how to keep a fire in a wood stove. There is much to life (and survival) beyond the physical. I learned that love and respect are vital to peace of mind and healthy living.

Through my many years I have built on the cumulative experience that was shared, mixing in bits and bobs from my formal “education”, BA, Hon BA, MA, PhD, and marrying it to that cumulative experience whenever I could.

It has been heartbreaking to watch information become a cheap commodity on the internet. To find that self-proclaimed experts abound, and that the difference between self-promotion and knowledge is not recognized by a lot of people.

“Respect your elders” has come to have very little meaning in today’s world. That is the basis for social breakdown, when humans cease to recognize the value of cumulative experiential knowledge, passed down through connected generations; it is the DIVIDE AND CONQUER of the information age.

For example, in Nunavut people are primarily dependent on imported foods, and have lost the ability to sustain life on local resources. Their survival skills are all but lost to them. A whole history of cumulative experience exterminated in one generation.

The Changing Food Economy in Nunavut: Will Country Food Stores Secure Nunavut’s Food Supply?

Nunavut Food Protest: Inuit Organize Widespread Protest Over Hunger And Food Costs

When young people gain knowledge, support, and experience from older people it has to work both ways, benefits must be available to all parties involved in an equitable exchange. “Mining” older people’s knowledge, resources, and experience without reciprocity degrades the quality of the exchange, inhibits flexibility and balance.

I suspect that if you are reading my journal, you have already considered all of these points, and more. Thanks for listening!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dewpoint: -1.7°C
Humidity: 95 %
Wind: NW 5 km/h

Quote

“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.”
Marshall McLuhan
1911 – 1980