Friday, 29 June 2018

June Memories

Hey, my people. It's a long post today. Some of it is ground I've covered before, and some is new. Thank you to Terry, from Treey's Blog, for providing food for thought that led me to write more about my dad.

It's been three years since my father died. Those of you who have been reading for awhile will know that he had a stroke eight years before his death which resulted in paralysis in his left arm and leg. He left home to go to the hospital because he didn't feel well, and he never went home again. He did walk again, but just once: the day after his stroke his paralysis went away temporarily (possibly caused by movement of the blood clot in his brain), but then it came back, and he was in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Because June is the month of my father's birth, stroke, and death, as well as Father's Day, I was already thinking about him over the past few weeks, but a post by Terry, titled Being without legs, sent me even deeper into the memory vault. Terry is currently in much the same situation my dad was -- due to a stroke, he has lost the use of his legs and his right arm, and in addition he has lost the ability to talk to make himself understood. He knows first hand what it's like.

I know only second hand, or maybe sixth hand, or even less, but before my father's stroke I didn't know anything at all. I thought wheelchairs were reasonably comfortable. They're not, for the record. Even with a special cushion designed to relieve the pressure from hours of sitting in one position, Dad was often in pain and sometimes developed pressure sores.

I also never thought about how a person would get from the bed to a wheelchair and back, or from a toilet/bathtub/examining table/optometrist's chair to and from the wheelchair. The answer in some cases is to use a mechanical lift. In other cases, humans with strong backs must do the transfer. In still other cases, a person is simply and completely barred from doing things able-bodied people take for granted.

Dad spent the eight years following his stroke wishing desperately that he could walk, and trying to get out of that wheelchair. He was consumed with getting back on his own two feet. He asked, and then begged, for crutches. A walker. Two strong people to lean on. Physio to teach him how to walk again. Assistance in sitting upright on the side of the bed so he could try to stand. We couldn't oblige with any of those things because it would have put him and his care workers in physical peril. On a couple of occasions, when left alone, his attempts to get upright caused him to slide from the wheelchair or tip it over while still in it. Luckily he never broke any bones, or his head.

It was very hard for him to be trapped in that wheelchair. It was also hard to have to watch him suffer, because suffer he truly did. Along with the pain from constant pressure on his bottom, he had pre-existing back problems (degenerated discs) which got worse from sitting all the time. But I think that he found the mental and emotional pain from loss of mobility even worse than the physical pain. He had always been an active person and in a matter of hours he lost the ability to do all the things that made his life enjoyable to that point -- gardening, puttering around the yard, cooking, walking in the woods, driving to meet friends for coffee -- and instead was reduced to watching TV, listening to the radio, and playing bingo and other "kids' games," as he called them, in the nursing home.

That is what drove me to visit him as much as I could, which was almost every day. With an ill child at home, four cats (who could not be together due to personality problems), household duties, and part-time work, plus a half hour of travel time and an hour to visit, some days I didn't know how I could keep going. But every time I entered his room, and he gave me his cheery "Hel-lo, dear!" somehow the tiredness lifted and I left after our visit with our conversation and our "Love you's" echoing in my head.

I'm so grateful for that time together. We talked about everything -- family and family history, politics, what was in the news, his memories of his life, social problems, our views on just about everything. We laughed together, and, when his favourite younger brother died after a brief, unexpected illness, we cried together. I fiercely wish he hadn't had that stroke and lost such a huge part of his life, but the silver lining was that we became so close. I was able to support him through various other health challenges, as well as at the end of his life, which was something his lady friend found it difficult to do. If I hadn't been so involved with his daily care, I know I would have found it very hard to manage those times. Instead, I had learned what would help to make him more comfortable, what his medications and issues were so that I could explain them to new medical personnel, and how to talk to him naturally during scary and uncomfortable situations instead of wondering and fumbling over what to say.

Very near the end of his life, my father told me that he had gotten up and walked to the bathroom and back on his own. He was so happy about that. I was happy for him, too, even though I knew it was either a dream or a hallucination. It was wonderful to see him smile and relax, knowing that he had walked once more.

A few weeks after Dad died, I had a dream. I am not a religious or spiritual or mystical person; I like facts and base my life around them. I find it nearly impossible to entertain the idea of any kind of afterlife, but my dream gave me a great deal of comfort in spite of that, and made me hope that maybe, just maybe, there are things that exist in spite of my arrogant skepticism, things beyond facts. In my dream, I was standing at the open door of a community hall. Inside, I could see many of the people from our home village sitting around chatting and enjoying themselves. Then my father drove up on a motorcycle. I was so glad to see him -- because in my dream I was aware he had already died -- and I went to help him, to ask where his wheelchair was. Before I got the words out, he had hopped off and walked past me, as if he didn't see me standing there, and entered the hall. He was walking just fine. Then he started to walk faster, then run, and finally I saw who he was running toward. It was his mother. He ran into her welcoming arms and they hugged each other tightly while the people in the hall clapped and cheered.

I was so happy for him in my dream. Dad and his mother were very much alike, and very close. He missed her after she passed away. He had ten brothers and sisters, and was one of the "middle" children. His older siblings left home one by one but the little ones were still being born, so for a number of years he was the oldest child at home and he helped my grandmother with the kids and the housework. Knowing how much he loved her made me happy in my dream that they were finally reunited.

Who knows? Maybe they were. Or maybe it was just my subconscious creating a happy ending. All I know for sure is that the dream gave me a sense of peace I hadn't had until then.

I still miss having my dad in my life. And I think part of the heartache is because of the way in which he spent his last years.

But I'm thankful for the time we had together, the closeness we forged, and the lessons I learned.

Love you, Dad. Rest easy.


My father's preferred form of footwear.  (Photo: Pixabay)





*****   

Thanks for reading, my friends.

I'll be back on Monday with a poem about "people that we know."

Wishing you a weekend full of good memories and peace.


Monday, 25 June 2018

Poetry Monday: Vacation Days

It's Poetry Monday, and the theme is "vacation days."

Join Diane, Delores and me in our poetry adventure . . . read a poem, write a poem, leave a poem on any of our blogs or on your own -- just be sure and let us know how to find you by leaving a comment with your blog address.

*****

My working life is far from onerous compared to that of most people. My working hours are flexible and part-time. The schedule that works best for me and for my employer is to work part of every weekday, as opposed to working a couple of days and having a couple of days off. Working part of every day provides me with a predictable daily structure (very important for a procrastinator!) and also provides my employer with daily feedback on what work has been completed. So the daily grind, although shorter than it is for many folks, is still daily. However, the work ebbs and flows, and I look forward to slack times, because that's when I take my vacation days.

Whenever those days are approaching, I wait with great anticipation for "time off" to start, but when it finally does, I seem to spend a lot of it thinking about the passage of time and how many days have gone by and how many are left to enjoy. This poem feels kind of dark at the end -- but so does a vacation that's about to wind down!

*****

Tick Tock

In many ways
Vacation days
Are just the same
As other days

We have to wash
We have to eat
We have to brush
We have to sleep

The vital point
That separates
The holidays
From working days

Is not the sand
And not the sun
And not the place
And not the pace

Oh no my friend
It's not the fun
It's not "To Do's"
That must get done

It's just that voice
Inside our heads
The one that beats
The one that thrums

The one that counts
Like beads on wire
How many days
How many hours

How much freedom
Still in store
Until vacation
Is no more





*****



Do you have that voice counting down the time whenever you have "time off"? I don't think you need to be in a paid job to experience this effect. I used to be a stay-at-home mom and still went through this whenever I had slow days that I knew would be followed by busy times.

Or maybe it's an introvert thing? Slow days usually mean more time to myself, which keeps me on an even keel. Busy days wear me out. Sometimes I wish I could be an extrovert for a day and see what it feels like!

Update:  Next week's theme is "people that we know" . . .


Friday, 22 June 2018

Tardy On Friday

The week has gotten away from me.

Work has ramped up again. Add in a visit to our daughter and her family yesterday (a ninety minute drive each way) and I was a tired old granny by the evening.




(Photo: icanhas.cheezburgers.com)



I'll be back on Monday with a "vacation days" poem ... I hope :)



Monday, 18 June 2018

Poetry Monday: Garden Gnome

It's Poetry Monday, and the theme is "garden gnome."

Join Diane, Delores and me as we tackle this theme! Feel free to leave your own poem at any of our blogs. Or, if you wish to post it on your own blog, please leave us a comment to let us know where to find you.

*****

No preamble this week! Dive right in :)


*****


O Garden Gnome

O pointy-hatted garden gnome
It's terribly sad you cannot roam
You're out in all inclement weather
Because your legs are stuck together


Unfortunately, the snow is so deep you can't actually SEE his legs.


(Photo: Pixabay)
*****

That's it for this week! Uncharacteristically short, I know, but then -- so are gnomes 😄


Do YOU have a garden gnome? Do you have any garden ornaments? Do tell!


Update:  Next week's theme is "vacation days" . . .




Friday, 15 June 2018

Wobbly Twins

In the grey dawn of early morning on Thursday, we noticed three visitors to our back yard: a pair of fawns and their mama. They were in a private corner next to the neighbour's solid high fence, under the low hanging branches of the trees near our compost pile.

We wondered if they had perhaps arrived as one visitor only -- a pregnant mama. I've seen newborn colts and a newborn giraffe (by giraffe cam), and I know how quickly they are able to get up and stagger around.

These babies were wobbly, still, on their impossibly long and skinny stilt-legs, and when they laid down they curled into equally impossibly small bundles of brown, dotted with white spots.

Two of nature's miracles.

No pictures because I didn't want to disturb them or their mother.

But each one looked much like this:


(Photo: Pixabay)




After about a half hour, mama and babies started moving slowly away through the trees, and when I dared to sneak a peek later in the day, they were gone. Despite our town's ban on feeding deer, I set out a small container of bird seed and another with pieces of carrot and apple. Let the local officials fine me if they wish . . . I remember how it felt to be a new mother.

The temperature today was an unseasonably cold 9C (48F) all day long, with rain drizzling down, broken only by a brief roll of thunder and a massive downpour in mid-afternoon.

I couldn't help but think of those babies all day. And all evening.

I hope they survive the cold, inhospitable elements.

And I hope they come back.

*****

Hope your weekend brings you a couple of nice surprises :)

I'll return on Poetry Monday, with the theme "Garden Gnome" . . . I'm looking forward to this one!

*****

Tell me something wonderful you've seen lately. I'm all ears, kind of like the fawn above, only more figuratively and less literally :)







Monday, 11 June 2018

Poetry Monday: Positivity

It's Poetry Monday!

Join Diane, Delores and me as we explore this week's theme, "positivity." You are welcome to leave a poem in the comments section of any of our blogs, or, if you'd prefer, post it on your blog and leave a comment to tell us where to find you. It's free and fun, and sometimes frustrating and futile; our poems don't necessarily have rhyme schemes or fit a pattern, but they're ours! Also, we work our little brains to mush creating them, so we get kind of attached to them.

And -- we're off!

*****

Well, no, we're not off yet; we need the Donkey Preamble.

My brain is still hurting from writing last week's overly long poem. Sometimes the critical lines of a poem pop into my head fully formed and I only have to expand on those. Other times, nothing comes to mind except the "angle" on the theme that I wish to use. Either way, I try to visualize the overall direction of the poem and work toward it. Sometimes it feels like driving a large boat using only my mind. The boat keeps wanting to go one direction and I want it to go another direction. The words and the rhythm are like currents that can either help the process or interfere with it. Often I delete whole verses that I really, really like because they are taking the story in the wrong direction. I probably need to do it oftener, but I'm afraid I'd give up writing altogether if I had to change more than I already do.

All that just to say that this week's offering is going to be short and sweet. Short, anyway.

*****

Positivity

It's easy to be positive when all is going well,
But oh! so much more tricky when the world is going to heck in a handbasket.

*****

What, you thought it was going to rhyme?? Feel free to substitute whatever you need to, in order to make it sound more pleasing to your ear :)



Quick, kitty! Get out of that basket before it's too late!


Have a good week, people!


Update: Next week's theme is "Garden Gnome" . . .





Friday, 8 June 2018

Greening Up Despite The Frost

I haven't gotten out for a walk for more than a week -- it's been busy here and quite rainy some days as well. But I have a few pictures taken prior to that; they show that our spring is steadily advancing.

The dandelions have mostly gone to seed by now.

Finches are supposed to love dandelion seeds, but I haven't noticed the finches in our yard eating any. Maybe that's because our finch feeder is still open for business. I would like to wean all the birds off the feeders very shortly because the finch virus that was rampant last year has already started in some parts of the province. But our nights have been so cold (there was a heavy frost Thursday night), I feel sorry for the birds. They aren't used to temperatures this cold this time of year. The next week is forecast to be warmer, though.

Things are looking very green now:

Green trees against blue sky. When you were growing up, were you ever told that green and blue clothing should not be worn together? I was. I think that was in Home Economics class. Now it's one of my favourite combinations. Mother Nature knows what she's doing.


The edge of the riverside trail where I walk, sprinkled with tiny blue forget-me-nots.


Wild strawberry plants in blossom. When I was a kid, there was a field of wild strawberries near our house. We could pick enough of the tiny berries to make strawberry shortcake for our family of four. They are very fragile and require careful handling. We always removed the hulls of the berries as we picked, to avoid having to touch them again before washing. It was heavenly to crouch in the tall grass amidst the strawberry perfume.


Wild apple tree blossoms


And finally, the moon on the rise:

It's not green, but I like it anyway.

* * * * *

What's happening in your corner of the world?

Stay tuned for Poetry Monday, with the theme "positivity" . . .

Hope you have a nice weekend :)

Monday, 4 June 2018

Poetry Monday: Trees

It's Poetry Monday!

Join Diane, Delores and me as we offer our thoughts on this week's topic, "trees." Are you interested in joining us? If so, leave a poem in the comments, or post on your own blog and leave a comment to tell us how to find you. You don't need to use the suggested topic; a poem of any kind is welcome. As you will see in a moment, my poem is only tangentially related to trees.

* * * * *

I've been having some trouble with bird identification, as you may have noticed from my previous post.

As pointed out by Red (who blogs at Hiawatha House and is an advanced-skills birder), even the same bird can look different depending on its age, the time of year, and whether it's a male or a female. I think you must need to have a prodigious memory to be able to store all that in your head for every bird you are likely to see in your area. Maybe that's why they make field guides. You think?

Anyway. I started wondering whether birds would have the same trouble identifying people. It has been documented that crows can distinguish among individuals and even teach their offspring which people have treated them poorly or well, even when their offspring have not previously been in contact with those people. That's amazing, isn't it?

But surely there must be a whole other segment of the bird population that can't tell us apart: birds that think all short people must be children, all greyhaired people look alike, and all colourful dressers must be males (because Hello, in the bird world that's how things are).

I picture the conversation in the trees going something like this. I hope I've got the quotation marks and quotes-within-quotes properly done; it's been close to half a century since I studied this stuff.

*****

Tree Talk

Henry and his Henrietta live up in a tree,
On a branch in a nest with their baby birdies three,
Looking at the Two-Leggers upon the ground below,
Making idle conversation. This is how it goes:

"Look, Riette," says Henry, "at the little person there,
"Is that a baby human, the roundish one with light brown hair?"
Henrietta squints her eyes and tips her head a bit.
"D'you mean the one with grey streaks or the one having the fit?"

"I mean the one that's shrieking and making all the noise,
"And running up and down the yard and playing with those toys."
Riette says, "Oh, you mean the one that's smaller than the others?
I think that it's a youngster, though it could be a grandmother."

She says, "I just don't know, dear; it's so very hard to tell
"The differences 'tween mom and tot and grandma . . .(sigh) . . . oh, well . . ."
But Henry's a persistent guy and wants to sort it out.
"I've heard that babies wear short pants and often have a pout,

"But all those people on the ground are in short pants today,
"And all of them have scrunched-up little faces. Oh, I say!
"I wish they would be still and let me have a real good look!"
Henrietta sighs again, and reaches for a book.

It's called "The People Watchers Guide"; a glossy new edition;
It's full of people pictures and quick tips on recognition.
If birds are having trouble it will help them recognize
People in their neighbourhood by habits, clothes, and size.

Reading from the volume, Henrietta says, " 'The girls
"Paint their nails and faces and they wear their hair in curls.
"Their clothing is quite flashy and they like to scream a lot.
"They always wear the colour pink; they mince, they do not walk.

"And, as for boys, they are the ones who throw the sticks and stones
"And eat the worms' -- hey, just like us! -- 'and often break their bones.
"They're smelly and they cuss a lot and like to dress in blue;
"They grunt and fart and tease their sibs' -- that's what it says boys do." 

Riette continues reading from the Guide held in her wings,
" 'Now these are not definitive, they're only general things.
"In fact, in half of cases, the opposing facts are true:
"The boys are kind; the girls like worms; and both like Pale Ecru.

"And size can be a guide to age, but foolproof it is not;
"Some juveniles can get so tall, while others stay so squat.
"Behavior offers clues to age, but once again, we say,
"Adults can act like kids -- or it can go the other way.

"The thing you must remember when identifying folks:
"The things they have in common are: they don't hatch out from yolks;
"The parents do not sit upon them snug within a nest;
"And none of them have feathers or a beak or tail or crest.' "

Henrietta slowly shuts The People Watchers Guide;
She knows by Henry's vacant eyes her sweetie's brain is fried.
In fact she doesn't think she feels so awfully well herself.
She shakes her head and puts the book away upon the shelf.

The trio on the grass beneath are surely entertaining,
But trying to identify those specimens is draining.
Henry and Riette are happy just to watch the show.
Besides, it's nearly mealtime at the Bird Buffet below.

*****



Henry and Henrietta's brood: Meet Henny, Honey, and Heiney. Pretend they're being fed bird seed, okay? (Photo: Pixabay)





*****

Okay, that went a lot longer than I planned. Thank you for sticking around to the end. Sometimes you get trapped in the middle of a poem, you know? And the vines grow up around you as you're tromping around and before you know it you're stuck in there with no machete and only a bunch of words to get you out. Frankly, I feel lucky to have escaped at all!!


Update: The theme for next week is "positivity" . . .




Friday, 1 June 2018

Donkey Has More Visitors

People! It's another gripping post about the bird feeder!

Yes, I am still feeding the critters, both those with wings and those without.

The latest unexpected visitors included one of these . . .


He shovelled the seeds in his mouth with both hands. Er, paws. (Pixabay photo)



. . . and also included one of these . . .


Northern cardinal (Pixabay photo)



I was excited over both visitors but for different reasons.

The raccoon scared me a little, because he was right outside our back door, on the deck, so as to be in a prime position to access the feeder. Raccoons may look like cuddly teddy bears, but like any wild animal they have weapons and know how to use them. Not guns-and-knives weapons, just the tooth-and-claw kind.

And the cardinal astonished me because I had never seen one before except in cards or books. I didn't even realize we had them in Nova Scotia. In person ("in bird"?), he was more orange-red than the brilliant red I expected from pictures.

Another visitor to the feeder was not unexpected -- a large crow or raven. I didn't take careful note of his features so I was unable to distinguish which he was. In case you are like me and never knew the difference, the Audubon website has an excellent article here, including audio recordings of their calls. I think there are ravens around us based on the croaking calls I've been hearing this year. If this fellow comes back, I'm ready to I.D. him.

Speaking of crows and ravens, remember the large crow's nest I saw before the leaves came out? It was in a huge tree beside the walking trail I use. Well, there has been no further activity that I can see, which is disappointing and a little sad.

And in other bird news, I am struggling to find out whether our "blackbirds" are Brewer's blackbirds or grackles (thanks, Diane, for suggesting this possibility.) I find the bird identification websites unclear on this bird. Further research is needed!

Do birds ever remind you of something or someone else? The crow/raven we've had at the feeder is huge, shiny black, and menacing. Even though I like corvids, I think of him as a gangster, a member of The Mob. And our mourning doves are so quiet and shy, and, if disturbed, fly away with alarmed cooing and the rustling whistle of their feathers -- they remind me of old ladies fluttering around in a dither, saying "OH MY OH MY OH MY."

But that might just be me. What can you expect from a weird person who sees cracks in the pavement and thinks "peace signs" and "Kilroy"??


*****

How was your week? Are you looking forward to the weekend? I hope it's a good one for all of  you.