Life Map

 

wall

My power went out today. Not an unusual thing here at all. It goes out all the time, some sort of conservation thing, I think. As a rule it’s only about a half an hour, hour, then back. Today was five hours. Seriously. It’s like having no arms.

After the first hour I finally got the broom out, pushed a few things around, tried to wash my dishes, but by then the water was gone. We have reserve tanks for the building, but after everyone using it, it’s gone. Saturday morning, everyone is home.

I eventually ended up head first in my bedroom closet. It’s mostly storage, piled up, crap I don’t know what to do with as yet. Excess. Thankfully, I’ve been watching ‘Hoarders’, so I’m in the mood to shift stuff.

Every apartment I’ve had here is solid concrete. Was, floors, the lot. I assume it’s due to the extreme humidity and the regular earthquakes. But I’ve never been able to hang my pictures. My last place had a few nails and I did hang two of my mother’s paintings up, it’s amazing what familiar things can do to you. It’s so comforting.

This apartment has a bit of wood. The kitchen cupboards are wood and the back wall of it is the wall for the main room. Termites are a massive problem here as well, so concrete it is! I have termites here,  but a bit of Windex seems to slow them down.

In my closet hoard was a suitcase full of artwork from a dear friend of mine. I have a lot of it and have always hung it up. I haven’t been able to here, until today.

How marvelous to see it all! The memories, the history, the beauty of it all. I hammered in a few nails, the rest I had to tape up. We’ll see how that goes, the humidity may knock them down. What’s really cool about a lot of the pieces is they are Mail Art. He makes postcards and sends them to friends, other artists, and other mail artists. It was always very exciting to receive a very colourful piece of art amongst the phone bills and pizza flyers.

But also very cool was as I applied the tape to the back of the post cards, I would see the address it was sent to. It was quite interesting to be reminded of all these places I lived, mostly Toronto, and all the memories it brought back. My first one, the Elvis Building, is dated ‘Christmas, 1988’.

elvis

What a wonderful treat, to revisit the past. To see these lovely pieces, hanging them up, it’s well over due. There are a few I don’t even know which end is up but it really doesn’t matter. My friend Theo’s work, my old address’, touching them, seeing them, arranging them, all of it. Like visiting an old friend.

Which,really, I was. He can’t send them here so I am hoping for a delivery in person.

Hanging Up!

phone

 

 

 

Had it happen? Someone blocked you off their Facebook page? Maybe you had to block some twat who was being a, well, twat? It’s my generation’s answer to slamming down the phone. Fuck, that was always so satisfying!

About a month ago, a good friend of mine blocked me. She’s relatively new to Facebook, well, internet, really, so like all of us Olds, she has a lot of pent up anger to vent. Oh, the discovery of disagreeing with someone who is miles, countries away, getting all angry and shit and then just losing it and calling them a stupid cunt or something! Woof! That’s good.

 

So, about a month ago, she was on Facebook, shitting all over stuff she had no business shitting on. It’s about 5 am here, so about 1 am for her in Alberta. She went on to one of my friend’s page and starting in, and I called her on it. I wasn’t nice, but not as mean as I could have been. I was just fed up. I can do that. We’re friends.

We’ve been friends for a long time. A. Long. Time. We started hanging out when I turned Bar Age, which was 18 in Alberta. I turned 18 in 1979. That’s right, my Lovelies. I’ve been hammered for almost 40 years.

But she blocked me. How disposable we are, with a click of a button we cease to exist.  In my days of slamming down the phone, or having one slammed in my ear, we all lived in the same town and it was almost impossible to avoid each other. We had all the same friends.  We have fallen out before. Many time, actually. I assume she’ll come around. Maybe not.

Perhaps it’s all just run it’s course. I hope not. I haven’t lived in the same town as her since about 1986 but we always kept in touch. Always. maybe she’ll think fondly of me. Maybe she has enough friends already.

In this disposable society, I hope I’m at least recyclable.

I Didn’t Ask.

When I initially decided to move to The Dominican Republic, I didn’t really tell anyone. Moving wasn’t new for me or my friends and family but I didn’t start telling people right away.

I lived in my hometown of Bentley, Alberta for eighteen years, then Red Deer, Alberta for another seven, Calgary, ten, Vancouver, close to three, Toronto made it to seventeen. But the few people I did mention it to never chose to support me, but rather to dissuade me. So, I stopped telling people.

I wanted to just slip away, tell people via Facebook once I’d settled. I did start to tell a few people a little closer to the date but the same thing happened. People seem happy on the surface but they say mean things. If they are jealous, I understand that. Say that. Say, “Fuck you, Bish! (Bish from SNL) I understand being jealous. That is an emotion I’m very close friends with. People would question my safety. Why? Because they spent a week in an all-inclusive resort five years ago. Seriously?

So. I stopped telling people. It wasn’t until my friend Hugh sent me a message he would be in my ‘hood in Toronto painting a restaurant and invited me down to chat. I walked down to the pub and we hung out for a few hours and I confessed to him that I was leaving and that my birthday was coming up that the cat got out of the bag. He insisted on a party, said he would plan it whether I was going to show up or help him, it was going.

We did a Facebook event and sent out invites. One of my friends we invited, who, P.S., isn’t my friend any longer, asked me what the invite was for. I told her I was moving to the Dominican. I had told her some months prior and her response was completely incredulous. “Is that still on?” she shriek. Yes. She shriek. Her face was all puckered up, too. I replied it was and why would she assume it wasn’t. Just because I don’t have the need to broadcast every sandwich I eat, every cat hair I find in it or the colour it was the next time we met doesn’t mean my life isn’t moving forward.

The advise started. What I should and should do. Always with the questions. I had never actually been here before I moved here so I didn’t really have a lot of answers. The only certain answer I had was the cat was coming with me. Otherwise my best response was, “Is that what you did when you moved there?”.

Now my chats ore on Skype. I chat to a few people regularly and as nice as it is, I can’t just chat. Why do people always feel they need to solve your life’s day to day? I like to vent sometimes. We all do. Just let us. Just let us vent and complain and tsk or nod or shake your head or a few there there’s and a ‘Bastard’ thrown in is all we want.

But stop telling me how to solve shit you know nothing about. I live here. You don’t. Enjoy your own unique situation, solve your own bullshit before sticking your oar in to mine.

We’re just talking.  I didn’t ask.

bad-advice

 

Sweet Gees

Sweet Peas

 

Edith Bunker came home with flowered sheets and Archie bleated out, “If I want to wake up covered in flowers, it’s when I’m dead”, or something similar. My father thought this was very funny, chuckled and gave my mom a glance, ‘wouldn’t know about that, hey Gladys?’ then back to the show. It’s the equivalent for anyone else barking out a laugh and yelling, ‘I feel ya, Brother’.

My mother loved flowers. Loved them. Not only was her garden a proper cornucopia of flowers, all blooming at different times, all varieties of colour but the scents as well.  I loved it out there. It’s a place I often am reminded of, standing in the garden eating peas right off the vine or new carrots out of the ground with just a few swipes across my pant leg to remove the fresh dirt. The smells and sights of the flowers; it was like that little garden patch was its own oasis, where magic happened.

When she was in her last days of life, she was very proactive and went through her things to donate or give to friends. One day I was there helping her and she pulled out a blouse from the closet, looked at it and then hung it back up.

“I just can’t bring myself to part with anything that has flowers on it.”

After she passed, I found flowers everywhere. Sheets, clothes, tee towels, writing paper. Everywhere. All types. I doubt she own many solids at all.

I’ve always been a balcony gardener and now that I’m settling in the new apartment, I decided to get some blooming plants on the go. My friend who was recently here for Christmas brought me cat grass and I actually found soil in one of the grocery stores the other week, so grass planted, I thought about my seeds package.

I have a collection of seeds I’ve gathered over the years, still have a few little bundles with my mother’s handwriting on them, one of them, a bundle of sweet peas. I love them. Love them. She did, too. The delicate heads, the heady aroma, I was thrilled to find them.

I put about eight seeds in water to see if they would sprout and sure enough, I noticed yesterday they all had cracks in them and were likely going to bust a move. I got a pot ready and was very excited about the smell of these sweet peas, the memories they would evoke.

I came out to the balcony this morning to check on them and they were all gone. It’s been ridiculously windy here lately and I guess they all just took off.

It actually pleases me no end, the thought of my mother’s flowers landing in someone else’s yard, or flower pot or just back yard. Maybe one will catch by the side of the road I walk down everyday and I’ll still get to see it.

My mom passed away twenty years ago, but she’s still spreading the love and power of the flower .

 

 

Cat Box

When I moved to this apartment I’m in now I had to buy a fridge and stove. It’s actually standard here. I put my fate into the hands and connections of my friend who helped me find the place. He set me up with his friend who hooked me up with a used fridge and stove. If it’s sounding like a drug deal, it felt that way. We drove across the city, ‘buddy’ jumped in the back seat, took the cash, brought out the fridge. Then, we followed him for another twenty minutes for the stove. Yes. Both appliance came out of someone’s house.

The fridge died after about three weeks and it cost me $165 to replace the motor. Luckily one of my neighbours in my building does the sort of thing. My friend had initially told me both appliances had a year warranty but of course when the problems started, ‘he isn’t answering his phone’.  Okay, but if he doesn’t want to pay for it, just say that. Don’t say you can’t get ahold of him, then post pictures of you and him all hammered up on rum all over your Facebook page. Not cool. No longer my friend.

So, that was the fridge. The stove, besides coming with its own family of cockroaches, had been painted. Painted. I assume to look new but I wasn’t buying it to look like anything other than a stove. House paint, the door, the metal covering for the burners, the entire inside. I know. I have managed to burn off the paint on the top, what’s a bit of toxic fumes amoungst friends. But the inside is unusable.

Plus, everything is gas here and frankly, it scares me. The stove top I’ve mastered (almost) but the oven pilot light thing remains a nightmare. My last apartment had a beautiful stove but I was so afraid to light it. I would turn on the gas, light the pilot light and then just run.  It would never just catch. Rather, it would continue to fill with gas while the pilot burned and then a massive gas bomb. All the while, I’ve shooed the cats in to another room while I watch with one eye from safety around the corner. Not really worth a few roasted potatoes.

I had decided to get a toaster over, my friend and I were Skyping the other day and she had said she was considering the same thing. I started the pricing check.  There is a fabulous store not too far from here called ‘Mister Zapatos Departamentos’. It’s like an old Zeller’s or Kresgies, for those of you who know.When my friend was here to visit last week, we went in and he came out with a case full of gorgeous hair product, all for about ten dollars.

There were a few toaster ovens, microwave ovens and there was a convection over. Counter top type, on sale. I checked them all out, then carried on. Checked another store the next day, they have a crockpot, slow cooker I may go back for, but I digress, I went back today to get it. I walked down with my bundle buggy, determined to bring that bad boy home.

I went in, went up to it, smiled and said Hola to the guy who recognised me from the other day and pointed at said convection over and smiled and said, por favor. Pointing and showing people things is how I survive here. More on that later.

My lovely assistant, whose name tag read, Melvyn, and I was in no position to argue was more than happy to accommodate. He got it down, checked it all over and the went and got a long pole to poke the box on the top shelf. He got it down and started to pack up the oven , all the while other people kept coming up and asking for stuff. That happens all the time here, but more on that later.

He packed up the box and the whole while I was watching him, you might think I was thinking about all the delicious things I was now going to be able to make. Cakes, roasted vegetables, pizza, frozen goodies like samosa, but no. No. I stood there thinking, my cats will spin on their tails when they see the size of this box.

cat-box

Year New

Well. Here we are, then. Teetering on the brink of the old one, about to dive in to the next. It’s different for all of us, some looking forward to seeing the back of 2016, others may have had a good one and be sad to see it go. It’s been a proper bitch for the celebrity death toll, but it really only affects of superficially, doesn’t it?  We like their movies or music, but  it’s not really OUR loss, is it?

I’m pleased with this past one. Mostly near the end. My old landlord showed his true colours, greedy green, so it seems, but it meant a move to a better neighbourhood and way cheaper rent. When I say better, I mean for me. I lived in the ‘burbs before and hated it. All  my neighbours had maids and no one of those fuckers could be bothered to take out their own garbage. I mean, what?

My new place is very close to a main thoroughfare. It’s loud, busy, noisy with horns, people yelling, car alarms, music blaring, the honking or shouting from the fruit and veg vendors and I LOVE it!  Before my view was a parking lot, now I can see for miles… and miles and miles… (Little Who reference for those in the know) I can walk to the stuff I need, hang my knickers on my balcony to dry (absolute NO-NO at last place) and buy almost anything I need from my door step. There are about five or six colmados close to me and they will deliver anything. Well, they would if I knew how to ask for it.

My newest favorite thing is the public taxis. They travel up and down the same route all day. All the major and even minor streets have them and in any country these cars would not be deemed road worthy. I had taken them when I lived in Sosua to Puerto Plata but my ‘car mate’ (won’t call her friend) and I paid for the whole back seat, so twice as much. But for a long trip, it’s fine. Here, it’s perfect. The first time I took one, I handed the driver 50 pesos and was ridiculously delighted when he handed half of it back.

Here, it’s 25 pesos, which is about 70 cents Canadian, and you can go three blocks or three miles. I would have taken them in my old ‘hood, but they don’t go off the beaten track, just the main street, so it wasn’t really worth it as I still had another ten minute walk to get home. They stuff 2 in the front and 4 or 5 if they are small in the back. These are not big cars.

I love them. The cars are complete pieces of shit and it’s a wonder you make it there. I had my Brad friend here for a week and we took them several times. He loved them, too. These cars are everywhere, stop for you and drop you off absolutely anywhere. I find it so civilized. It’s the best way to travel here. We had a joke that the ride itself was 10 pesos and the rest was a gamble whether you would make it or not. There is often no inside of the doors, just the metal and a bit of coat hanger to keep the thing closed.

One day, we walked to the grocery store, had a wander through a department store, had a pizza, then bought pineapple off the truck. We hopped in a car, Brad got in front and when I jumped in the back, I was only slightly surprised to find no floor. I sat speed eagle with all our groceries on my lap while the woman and her daughter stared at us.

It’s great. My move has been great. Mostly, I feel like I finally live here. I had to buy a fridge and stove for this place, both of my other places were ‘furnished’. So, it’s all mine now. There is nothing fancy about the neighbourhood, except that it’s fabulous! There is a great flea market that sets up on Sundays but I walked past today, being two days before new year’s day and it was rocking. it’s like Goodwill is having a yard sale. Plus, I have the Caribbean ocean out my back door, a new language I’m still trying to learn and new people to meet.

The bonus, as well, in a way, is that I’m almost out of money. I can’t afford to leave even if I wanted to, I don’t, but now I have to survive, which is great and scary and exciting and what life should be. So, this year, my friends, ignore what your mother told you about getting in to stranger’s cars. Take a chance. Pay the 25 pesos, get in the car. You never know what you’ll find. Perhaps yourself.

 

ocean

Can’t Wait!

 

hawk006-2

 

 

Well, it’s a month away from Christmas. Are you excited? I’m excited because I get company. Visitors from a far away land, bringing me news of my long lost lifestyle and special Canadian treats like cat grass seeds and Cheesies. Mostly though, conversation and someone to drink with who is in the same room!

I’ve been noticing lately that people say, “I can’t wait!” a lot. I remember very clearly saying this to my mother as a child while she sat at the kitchen table reading, perhaps eating something sweet, I said, “I can’t wait!”. I don’t remember what it was about but it’s just something we say. “Well”, she said between chews of her caramel, “you’ll just have to.”.

I’m not going to lie, it really took the wind out of my sails. But of course we have to. It’s a silly thing to say, really. I can’t wait. If you are running late, for instance, and you are at the barber or there is a line up for the latte, you can say, ‘I can’t wait.’ If you have a bladder like mine, ‘you can’t wait.’.

Waiting for a holiday, waiting for company, waiting to move, we just have to wait. We can’t make time shift itself any faster but we say ‘I can’t wait’ as an expression of excitement of something coming up. It’s just that everything I hear it or read it I hear my mother saying in her matter-of-a-fact way that I simply have to. No argument, no debate, just have to.

But Christmas is coming and my friends are coming and I have to wait.