My Poppy

It’s Veteran’s Day. It’s also my dad’s birthday. He’s not been with us to celebrate for seven years now. It’s not a birthday you easily forget.

My dad had a myriad of health problems throughout his life. One, in particular, was his eyesight in his later years.

At this time, he was around 80 years old and had to have medical and eye tests done to keep driving.

At his eye appointment, the doctor said there was a strange dark mass behind his eye and he recommended my father to a specialist.

Even hearing this news caused me a great deal of worry. It’s not something anyone needs to hear, let alone live with.

I remember when the date of the specialist’s appointment arrived. I was worried sick all day. I had to wait several hours before calling him due to the time change.

When I finally called, my dad, in a very grave voice said, ‘I have some really bad news’. Seriously? My blood froze and I stopped breathing. For those few seconds, I imagined all of ‘worst case scenarios’ coming true.

What is it, Dad? I was almost too frightened to hear the answer.

‘He took my driver’s license away’

It took me a second or two, then I  laughed a bit out of sheer relief.

‘He’s a bastard’! he screamed down the phone.

It’s all about perspective. Cancer might have been bad news but losing the license was a loss of his freedom and independence. He lived in an apartment building with other seniors and he was reigning ‘cool guy with a car’.

I suggested perhaps if he was to have eye treatments that driving wasn’t likely the best idea but he wasn’t hearing any of it.

He ended up having laser treatments and did get his license back for a few more years. I often think about that, the ways we reacted to the same situation.

In the words of Louie Prima, ‘Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

 

My parents on their way to a movie date.  Enjoying themselves.

 

Mom and Dad

 

 

Simple Pleasures

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This is one of my favourite views. I’m home, on my porch with wine. It gives me so much pleasure to be able to sit on my balcony and just relax. It’s noisy, busy, beautiful, mine.

Sitting here, sipping wine as the sun goes down and the city comes alive. I can’t really afford wine right now but things are inexpensive, so I treated myself. Just because I needed a night on the porch.

Today, everything has been shit, but I’m making today to be everything fucking amazing.

 

Love

Time and Weather

There he goes, Father Time, marching along. He goes quickly if you don’t pay attention.

I breezed through my anniversary of moving to the Dominican and my second year home-aversary for my Chancie, so I thought I better do a blog for both sites.

I started a writing job online almost three months ago now. While I like it, it’s mostly easy and actually rather boring. Which is perfect. But I have been neglecting my own writing.

June 10th marked Chancie’s second year living with us. I can’t imagine him not being here, although Jango doesn’t always agree.

Chancie, dreaming of fishes

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The 16th of June marked my fourth year since arriving here. So many miles between my old life I never expected.

Jango, enjoying a bask.

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There were wine and tuna for both occasions. I don’t partake in the tuna, they do not care for wine.

I’ve actually lost several friends, but on consideration, I don’t blame them. I understand what it’s like to be envious.

After the first few months, I tried to be very conscious of not being a brat about it all. It doesn’t seem to matter. Like, if I posted something today about the heat, which was 38 heat index by 10:30, people jump down my throat about it.

“Well, you moved there, you can’t complain”. The same people freak out at me in the winter, when they post things about how cold it is, for some reason that’s okay. If I counter with a picture of my January, which is hot, then I’m boasting or rubbing their noses in it.

I can’t say, ‘well, you decided to live there’ because then I’m an asshole. So I just shut up. I had a really rough few months here, and for some reason living in ‘paradise’ has no downside. Even when you can’t work, can’t buy food, can’t get your power turned back on and don’t know anyone.

For some reason, I stopped mattering.

I’m really happy I’m here and am okay with the culling of the herd. I guess I didn’t need them after all.

Fuck them. I have a job now that I’m really happy with it.

The cats are both well, thank you for asking.

Till next time.

I’ve included some pictures for you.

This was my walk today for cat supplies. Mango season!

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It’s Not You, It’s Me

 

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It’s been really windy here, windy enough to break a couple of favourite planters on my balcony. I was rather sad to see them break, one I’d had for almost 20 years, like old friends.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

We’ve said, we’ve heard it, it’s cliche and trite but it’s true.

People come into our lives and leave our lives and sometimes it’s painful and sometimes it’s a relief and sometimes we barely notice and sometimes the loss and hole they leave is insurmountable. That’s life. It’s not them. It’s us.

I’ve taken notice of such things, I am someone who likes to try, I keep in touch, sometimes to the point of down right annoyance and verging on stalker. So when people leave me, I notice.

I remember people leaving my life when I left my home, town, bigger losses when I applied for college and moved to a larger city, farther away.

Big losses happened when I quit smoking, which I didn’t expect but completely understood. It was needed and welcome. People seemed to feel like I’d let them down. It’s an odd thing, to go from smoker to non-smoker and I assume the same drinkers and drug users, once the user buddy is gone, the user needs to find more of the same, likewise, for the new non-user.
Moving out of province to Vancouver was another break, harder to keep in touch, new experiences, new adventures, new people come in and leave again.
Toronto, same. Shifting, incoming. Outgoing. Keep moving, keep shifting, keep spinning. I was there for seventeen years, barely a notch on the belt for it, a small handful of friends. But it’s fine. It’s not you, it’s me.
When Jango and I moved to The Dominican, there was another big shift. It started before I left. I mentioned to a few people that I was leaving and no one really had anything nice to say to me about it. Their response was usually, oh, wow, good for you… But. But this is why I don’t like it.
There’s this weird feeling that comes over people, they somehow need to take it away from you, make it unappealing. So I stopped telling people.
I told a few more, later, same results. One of my ‘friends’ asked me about the facebook invite she got for my going away party. ‘Is that still on?’ She screamed. Incredulous is the best way to describe her response. As if it couldn’t be happening because I wasn’t fucking banging on about it everyday, doing some asshole countdown on my Facebook.

As I approach my fourth Christmas here, this past year has seen the numbers drop. Someone in the early part of the year just stopped talking to me. They are in Canada and I was just beginning this shit year I’m in but I guess they need to be the saddest person in the friendship.

Then within a few weeks, two people, I felt, had been less than kind to me. They handled a situation that I felt could have been better. One of them just removed me from their life. Blocked, like I no longer exist. maybe I don’t. It’s not them, it’s me.

Then it happened again, this time when I mentioned the situation could have been handled better, they basically told me their pain was bigger than mine, and then imposed conditions on the friendship. But, really, they had been there all along. As long as I don’t cross the line, we can be friends. They get to decide that. They are the more important one, they are in charge and decided if the relationship can remain or dissolve.

I don’t agree to that. I was never asked. So, no. I don’t agree to your friendship conditions. It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s been a shit year for me, and this time of year isn’t helping. I’m severely at a loss how to move forward and get out of this. I’ve reached out and asked for help, but people just say no. I don’t really blame them, why should they. I got myself into it, I can just bloody well get myself out of it.

But no one follows up. No one asks me if it worked out, or if I’m okay.

No. It hasn’t and No. I’m not.

I think about killing myself. A lot. And not in a ‘woe is me, goodbye cruel world’ kind of way. Just as a realistic, viable way to get out of the mess I’m in.

I’m rather level headed about it, quite resigned to it all. I’ve had a good life, lots of adventure, I’ve loved and been loved, had my heart broken, saw Elton John and Rod Stewart in the same summer! It’s been a good life.

I even think about how, how to do it. Sometimes eight or ten times a day.

That’s what makes me cry. Because who the fuck lives like that? It’s really hard.

But I don’t really want to die, not the physical, finality of it all, I just want out of my mess.

I want to kill the self you no longer like, I guess I don’t like her anymore, either.

The friend with the conditions said they were in mourning. Well, I’m in mourning, too. The woman who was. She was your friend and you no longer want her and that’s hard for me to take.

It’s not you, it’s me.

So, death to the old, shedding the old bullshit and friends, such as they were.

So, thank you to the ones who love me for me, without conditions. And thank you to those who don’t.

It’s not you, it’s me.

You’re fucking right it’s me.

 

Renewal

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These little sprigs of greenery all propped up and protected show up all over the place. I love them. Not the greenery so much as the loving and thorough effort. In the area I first lived when I moved here, there was a little triangle of grass, not really a park or parkette, but just a grassy bit that separates the streets.  I would often see these kind of beginnings and then they might be gone.

Sometime I go past one that has been knocked over or removed. Not sure if its wanton destruction or it just wasn’t making it. I just find them to be achingly beautiful in their simplicity. The effort, the sticks and rocks. Renewal.

I’ve been feeling the need for renewal lately. It started several months ago, back with the move. I think it’s important to keep moving ahead, keep peeling off layers. Several months ago I was chatting online with my friend. he was housebound and we had been chatting a fair amount, but when he talked, I listened. When it was my turn to talk, I could see two things: Him drift off to another computer screen and me disappear.

I wasn’t really upset with him, just the act. The truth is, no one is talking to me because they don’t want to ‘hear it’. I wrote the same thing some time ago, about how my friends were avoiding talking to me because they compare their lives to mine. That’s a mistake.

I posted some pictures of a walk I took the there day through a glorious park not far from me. It’s one of those forest escapes in the city that are so soul-saving. I did a ‘selfie’ and posted it and one of my friends said she envied me. I thought that was nice, because I see her posts and think the same. But we shouldn’t wish our lives away.

 

But here’s something we should do.

 

Renewal.

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Kathy’s Desk

Going back about 500 years when I lived in Calgary, I was at my friend Brad’s place, (you’ve met her, she comes for hols) we were just hanging out and having tea and a chat. He was talking about a social gathering he had been at recently and he mentioned that someone we both knew had been there with his new boyfriend. I asked what the new boyfriend was like and Brad replied, “Maybe  a bit of S and P to taste, she’s a bit bland.”  We had a good chuckle over this and carried on chatting but what happened was, that phrase got planted in my brain.

It comes to me , mostly without realizing it. When I myself use the S n P, to taste, I hear him saying it. When someone is boring the tits right off me, same.

So, going back another 500 years past that day, back to when I was in Grade One, yes, I remember, my friend Kathy, (her real name) sat across the aisle and one up from me, she was a front row kid. The worst. Brats. Ever. I could see in to her desk, and although neat, it was full of paper. I clearly remember one day her sliding her books in to the desk, old fashion type, and even though the books slid in easily, they were on top of a ton of paper.

So the bottom layer of her desk was all these papers she had never gotten rid of; Very Important Papers, like coloured ducks and some nonsense about Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. It had been in this state for some time, and for some reason it was really cool to me. This layer of trash with plenty of room for the other stuff on top, stuff like books about Dick and Jane and their dog Spot and sandwiches in paper bags.

Mrs. Rogers, our teacher, called her on it one day. Mrs. Rogers, if you will, picture Godzilla with a tartan dress and maybe some glass pearls. Horrid Hound From Hell! She made me go to the from of the class once to throw away my gum and then SPANKED ME in front of everyone, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. So she made Kathy take down her mountain of papers, important or not and toss them.

Kathy’s Desk is also a yardstick in my life. Like if I can’t get through the crowd in the grocery store, or the cards in my game of solitaire are all built up and I can’t get the ones I need out, sometimes just a cluttered mind, it has been Kathy’s Desk.

I moved here to the Dominican Republic with the gentle guidance of my friend, Will. He died Sunday.

I don’t know how to process it yet.

It’s all Kathy’s Desk.

 

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William, easing in to his day.

Life Map

 

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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’.

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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.