Monday, September 30, 2013

I win!

Did you know that Weight Watchers gives you little stickers or magnets when you reach milestones for weight loss? Well, they used to anyway.

And I was ridiculously proud of that 10% ribbon. I stuck it on my cubicle wall and hoped people would notice because, dayumm!, I was proud of that. It took hard work (and forgoing of Tiramisu) and had results that might not have been perceptible to those who worked with me, so a little sticker/magnet was great.

Isn't that the way with life? We just want a little recognition for our efforts.

Well, let me tell you, folks, I done been RECOGNIZED! A friend (whom I've only met once and with whom I've never really had a long conversation, so maybe "friend" is stretching it, but I feel like, if we lived in the same province, we would be besties) has nominated me for a pair of blogger awards.


Bronwyn, the witty, irreverent author of I, MayB, nominated me, and I am honoured.

However, she had the audacity to attach strings to this momentous award: I have to (a) post 11 things about myself and (b) nominate three other bloggers. It's sort of like a chain-mail disguised as an honor. (Do you remember those things?)

But I'm still tickled, so here I go: 11 Things You Didn't Know about Me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lamentations of Wynn Anne

Empathetic kitty waved her tail in my face
while I lay prostrate with neck pain.
Aching joints and arbitrary pain
Beat me down to bed again,
Clinging to pillow and
Downy coverlet.
Eager for relief I reach for
Futile pills and unguents. They
Guarantee naught but prolonged days.

Hark, Lord!
I call to thee!
Jesus, lift me from this place!
Kneel beside my weakened form and
Lift me with your gentle arms.

Migraines wrack my pounding brain,
Nausea slams me back again.
Over and over and over -- the same.
Pulsing lights and empty hours spent
Questioning the whys and hows of
Redemption and of peace.

Sleep is sweet, while it lasts, until
Tomorrow comes with mounting bills.
Undone by stress and marching time, and
Vomit flung at importune times.
Weary am I,
X-hausted [Seriously? Ed.] by these
Years. I last, but rather would have rest, my
Zest for life eroded by this dolor.

Well. That sure was a miserable bit of poetry! I must add a few notes.
  1. I am not depressed. I have struggled with this in the past, and will undoubtedly do so again, but I am not now (despite the tone of this post). I'm just frustrated and am indulging in a little visit to "Pity City."
  2. My body has been dragging me through the sloughs of misery: anxiety attacks, worsening migraines, and various joint ailments have plagued me these past few weeks. Not to mention the diabetes that is my constant companion now.
  3. The verse above is a rather sloppy acrostic of the Roman alphabet. (My poet friends will cringe while reading, no doubt.) I chose the title of this post before I started writing it. In doing "research," I learned that the Book of Lamentations in the Bible is written (mostly) in acrostic form, using the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to begin each line. I thought it gave a nice structure to this post.
Despite my lamentations, I have woken this morning (mostly) pain-free, without nausea or flashing lights.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Garden Variety Bouquet

I've been quietly enjoying freshly cut flowers from our garden this summer. In previous summers, I've hesitated to cut flowers for fear that there would be nothing beautiful left in the garden. But this summer I discovered that if I clipped off a stem or two, the plant would burst forth with renewed vigour in a couple of weeks.

For the first weekend of fall, we had this on our dining room table.

This was the third summer since we moved in. Not one of those plants was in the yard when we moved here. You can see:
  • periwinkle (foliage draping down, it flowers in the spring)
  • sage (the velvety, grey-green foliage)
  • white roses
  • miniature pink roses (mostly in bud in this view, but you'll see more in the other pictures)
  • pink-cream hydrangea
  • ferns
  • euonymous (the variegated green-and-white foliage)

That pink-and-cream hydrangea is actually our second attempt to grow a hydrangea.

We've had a couple of challenges with our  gardens:
  1. Most of the garden areas are full shade, though we do have a large section that gets full sun. That's where I've planted the herbs. It's such a hot spot that even the parsley survived last winter! I finally got wise and planted ferns in the deepest shade - they LOVE it!
  2. The soil is exceedingly poor: sandy with hardly any organic material. We've been building it up with mulch and rich soil, but I think I'm going to layer on some serious sheep manure this fall.
I am sad to see summer go, I've so enjoyed our back yard. I think I will dry some of these hydrangeas to get me through the grey days of winter.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Excuse me, waiter?

On a recent date night, Steve and I were led to our table by a hostess wearing a T-shirt that bore this message on the back.

"If you can read this, it means I'm serving another customer."
I recreated the shirt at Zazzle, but that is exactly what the shirt said.

Now, while I understand that waiters may feel harried if guests at one table interrupt them while they are serving another table, but I have to say, the only times I've ever done such a thing were when I could not otherwise get the waiter's attention.

So, dear restaurant manager, if your staff find that being interrupted by guests is a big problem, why not teach them how to handle the problem courteously, rather than printing up passive-aggressive T-shirts that imply, "Please shut up. I'm busy ignoring you."

Here is my suggestion:Make eye contact with the other guests and say, "I'll be right with you." Smile. Make sure you do stop by the other table.

See? Not that hard, is it?

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Recently, I plopped myself down on my bed to read for a while. I was just getting comfy when a small snort made me realize I was not alone.
Elly, all curled up.
To show you how well she was hidden, here is a (poorly shot) video. (I didn't have it on auto-focus.)

And just for good measure, here's another picture.
"Please settle down," she seems to say.
 So now you can rest assured that, though we love Scooter, Elly is still my favorite kitty.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fiction Friday: Methuselah: Renewal

For other posts in the series, visit the Methuselah page on this blog. 

Source: Wikipedia
"All right there, Agnes? Come on. Open your eyes. That's a good girl."

Agnes was annoyed. The last thing she wanted to do was open her eyes (or be spoken to as if she were a toddler or a puppy!). Her head felt like it weighed 50 kilos, the breath in her chest felt heavy. She just wanted to go on sleeping and dreaming forever. She rolled onto her side, away from the persistent voice.

"Unh-uh, Agnes," the voice was less cajoling now, more insistent. "Come now. Open your eyes!"

Agnes reluctantly did as she had been ordered. She took in the sterile room with two banks of hospital beds, each bed occupied by a youthful woman. Ah, yes. The implantation of her ova.

"There you are!" the nurse rewarded her with a little praise. "Would you like some water?"

A short while later, the doctor came by to let her know that all had gone smoothly. Forty unripe ova had been implanted in her ovaries. Her hormone cycles would allow them to ripen naturally. If she had not conceived within six months of actively trying, however, she could come in for an infertility review. She was warned not to leave it longer than six months.

Before she knew it, she was still tired but had returned to her room in the renewal recovery unit. She made herself a cup of tea and put the last of her mother's rugelach onto a pretty china plate. Then she sat in front of the monitor and called her mother.

After the call, Agnes finished her snack, picking up the last crumbs of the sweet pastry with a moistened fingertip. Then she changed into pyjamas and moved to the bed. She picked up her browserpad and checked into her various accounts. Not much happening. A few wishes for a quick recuperation, a couple of friends asking about her retirement plans. Then she saw a spam message in her junk folder. She was about to wink it into the delete folder when something made her open it instead.
"I'm sorry.
Glen. She didn't recognize the sender's name, but the profile page showed that the account had only been active for three days and no one else she knew would sign a message "Punkin."

She was royally pissed off. What nerve! Disappear and send a cowardly apology? Was the pet name supposed to soften the blow? Jackass! "Where the hell are you?" she replied. She started drafting a longer message, but then reconsidered and decided to simply send the question. She kept the longer e-mail as a draft. 

Sleep was the last thing on her mind now, so she stayed online, surfing inanities, commenting on various updates and news items. She searched potential retirement locales, but hit an impasse when she remembered that she wasn't sure whether to look for a solitary destination or a match-making destination. If Glen was only temporarily absent, she would go somewhere alone. Maybe. Right now, she was so angry at his betrayal that she wasn't sure how she felt about the relationship anymore.

But if he was definitely out of the picture, she would have to begin the search for a suitable mate. Either way, time was not on her side.

Her mother had tried to console her that arranged marriages weren't evil. There was something to be said for having a disinterested professional screen potential partners. And it certainly simplified things if she knew that all the men she met had already received their reproductive permits. But it felt oddly mercenary: fertile young woman seeks partner for 20-year commitment in exchange for progeny. She supposed that was the ancient equation, after all, but she couldn't help feeling like she was selling out, cheapening herself.

* * *

Friday, September 13, 2013

Methusalah, Chapter 1, Part 5

Apricot Rugelach (from The Rugelach Man)
By the third week of recuperation Agnes began to feel better. Her tissues healed, her gums stopped bleeding. The beneficial effects of the injection began to appear. The doctor reduced her anti-rejection medications. Her reflection showed taut skin, no wrinkles. Along with the appetite effects of the immunosuppression, her metabolism went into overdrive and she lost weight. She felt lithe and energetic.

She moved to the first floor, where she was finally allowed to receive visitors.

Pulling a pale blue silk button-up blouse from her closet, she pulled it on and then grabbed a pair of silk pyjama-style slacks from the drawer. She was still feeling unwell enough that she wanted to wear something gentle. She stepped to the mirror and said, "Shirt. Fit. Loose." The weave in the fabric loosened so that it swung loosely from her shoulders, just grazing her breasts. "Sleeves. Billowy." And the sleeves loosened around her arms, coming to a close around her small wrists.

A pair of ballet flats and a few simple but dramatic accessories and she was ready to visit with her mother.

Mara had opted to be a fashion editor for this latest Sesqui. As a result, she was always well put together in that effortless way that some women have. A hair clip that pulled the hair back just so, an outfit that was probably just yanked from the cupboard but that somehow looked like it had been meant to be worn that way. But it was never fussy or aloof.

Agnes was sitting in the conservatory admiring the trees when she heard Mara.

"Mom!" she blurted out, "I'm going to have a baby." Agnes hadn't even decided - or at least she thought she hadn't, but suddenly, the decision was made. Just like that.

"Oh, Agnes! How wonderful! I'm so happy for you!" She handed Agnes the basket of Rugelach. "When?"

"Well," Agnes back-pedalled, "I'm not actually sure when. I mean, I've received my reproduction permit, but Glen doesn't have his yet, so it's complicated."

Agnes told her mother the amazingly short story while they nibbled on the pastries and sipped tea. Eventually, the conversation turned to Mara.

"So, Mom, aren't you due for a renewal soon?"

"Pot calling the kettle black, I'd say!"

"Yah, yah. But seriously. When? I want you to look like my sister again!"

Mara paused long enough that Agnes knew something was up. "I've actually decided not to do another renewal. It's just . . . I'm tired. Not physically so much. I know a renewal would fix that," she said. "But I'm soul-weary. I don't really know how to explain it."

It was not unheard of for people to decide that they didn't want to continue with renewals, that they wanted to allow themselves to age and - ultimately - to die. But it was not common either. Agnes had never known anyone to choose that path.

"Mom, if you're depressed, you know there's help. You're not alone."

"Oh, I know that. I'm not depressed. I'm just ready. I've done all the things I've ever really wanted to - and to the degree that I want to do them. Well, except for information technology, perhaps, and grandparenthood - an unexpected first! But really, at a certain point, I just think: I've had a good life. I've lived it to the fullest. I'm ready."

"Please, Mom. Doesn't my news change anything?"

Mara paused again. "I'm not sure I can now," she said. "I mean, I know I'm allowed to. I can. I just don't know if I want to. Honey, I've really thought about this. Some day you'll understand. My soul is tired.

"I'm sorry, Agnes," she continued. "My timing may seem dreadful. But to quote an old, old movie, 'I'm not dead yet!' I hadn't seriously considered being a grandmother, but now I can't think of a better way to spend this final Sesqui."


Glen was supposed to visit the next day, but he didn't show.

Over the following days she called him. She sent visi-messages. No reply. His social media account was inactive. His e-mail inbox was full (they each had their own accounts, of course, but they shared passwords with each other).

Increasingly desperate, she called his office: dead comm line. She contacted his best friend: he thought Glen had gone on a retreat somewhere. Then she checked his bank account: empty. It was as if he had disappeared off the face of the earth.

Then Marta called.

"Agnes, you look marvellous! It always amazes me what renewal can achieve," she quipped. (Gee, thanks, Agnes thought.) "Just wanted to check in and see how you were doing with your reproduction decision."

"I thought I had some time," Agnes stalled. She was still hoping to reach Glen.

"Well, yes, you do have some time. But we've received the report from Dr. Bundchen and I have to say, we were surprised." Marta read from something to the lower-right of her screen. "'Moderate damage to telomeres indicative of slightly impaired fertility.' That's pretty serious, Agnes.

"Agnes, I have to ask: do you want to have a child?"

Agnes nodded her head.

"Because you really can't delay this. I strongly encourage you to schedule your fertility procedures before you leave for your retirement. Your body won't be in this good condition for another fifty years," Marta picked no bones.

"Marta, do you know if Glen has received his results?"

"Unfortunately, Agnes, you know I can't answer that question without Glen's permission. I suggest you ask him."

"I can't find him," Agnes whispered.

"Then I would say you have your answer."


Sunday, September 8, 2013


I forgot to post this last weekend!

Scooter at the Arboretum
Ottawa has many, many places worth visiting. I've written several times about how much I enjoy my commute along the Ottawa River Parkway (recently renamed the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, but it'll always be the Ottawa River Parkway to me).

The Arboretum is another one of those unique spaces in Ottawa, part of the Experimental Farm. I had heard of it many times, but had never been there before this Labour Day Weekend. It's lovely.

We only meandered a small part of it, and the weather was mostly overcast, so it wasn't as spectacular as it might have been, but it was a nice little ramble nevertheless.

This duck was so still that Scooter did not even notice her.

It was end of summer, so many of the trees bore ripe fruit.

And the leaves were just starting to turn.

This was the hugest apple tree I've ever seen!

Oh, how I love willow trees. I just wish they weren't so hard on foundations.

I was fascinated by this tree, so I took a closer look.

It's a larch. Love those feathery branches.

One of my hopes, in becoming a dog owner, was that it would get me out walking more. So far, it's working. I don't walk with her every day, but I do walk more frequently than I have done since the kids were little.

(This isn't a tree, but it was such a perfect thistle specimen that I had to snap a picture.)

Today we're off to the Bruce Pit, an off-leash dog park. Scooter's very good about her "here!" command, so I don't anticipate any problems. In fact, there were plenty of dogs off-leash at the Arboretum, and she was very well behaved with them, so this should not be a problem. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fiction Friday: Methuselah: Moving Forward

Weeks later, Glen was still trying to track down his request. At first, assuming it had not gone through, he tried to submit a brand new one, but received an error message indicating that he had already submitted the maximum number of requests for this Sesqui. No one in the Department of Reproduction was able to track it down, however. Because he was of indeterminate status, his request for an appointment with his Genetic Counsellor was considered low priority. So he waited.

"Talk about a biological time bomb," Agnes tried to joke. While Glen recognized this attempt to lighten the situation, he was hardly feeling the mood. So he didn't even try.

"You know you have to do it, right?" Glen asked.

They went back and forth. She wanted him more than she wanted a baby. He didn't want to deprive her of the amazing gift of motherhood. She would wait for him; his request was sure to be granted. (The Baby Lottery was supposed to favour couples who were in long-standing relationships. Theirs, at fifty-two years, was certainly longstanding!)

The truth was that she suddenly wanted a baby like she had never wanted anything else in her life, suddenly. She was mystified at where this hunger came from. Was it a result of the relationship with Glen? Was it because she'd postponed her renewal? All those years, she'd watched her girlfriends cry when their Reproduction Requests were declined, and she'd scoffed at them. Get a life, she'd thought.

She'd never wanted to be a brood mare - and still didn't know how she felt about having her body taken over by an alien. If her application had been denied, she thought, she would have been fine with that. Sad, but not heartbroken. But to have this opportunity dangled before her - a baby!

In the end, it drove them apart. Each trying to be noble, each trying to do The Right Thing. (And how could one possibly know what was the right thing in a situation like this?)

They agreed that she should decide while she recuperated from the renewal.

As luck would have it, the renewal clinic had a cancellation that aligned with her schedule. So six days (six days!) after she submitted her Reproduction Request and her renewal request, Glen dropped her off at the hospital and kissed her goodbye.

Renewal involved sedation and injection of a biochemical directly into the pituitary gland. A period of immunotherapy followed, during which Agnes -- and the other patients at the hospital -- were all but bedridden. Because they were immunosuppressed, visitors were not allowed, so she communicated with Glen by video. She looked like death warmed over, and she knew it. Her hair fell out, her face was swollen. Her gums and nose bled.

"You wouldn't believe how smooth my legs are," she joked to Glen. "Smooth as a baby's bottom!" She wished she'd found a better simile.

But Glen smiled. "Wish I were there to massage them!"

"So do I! Oh, my god, they ache!"

And so their conversation continued, talking about her recuperation, the weather, world events. Anything but having a baby. It had become a no-go zone.

Her mother, Mara, called.

"Sweetie! How are you?" Mara asked as her visage filled Agnes' monitor.

"Oh, you know, Mom. Kind of wishing I didn't have to go through this again."

"I hear you." She chuckled. "But you look beautiful, even without your enviable blond mane. Have they improved the hospital food?"

"No! And you'd think that, after all these years, they could have figured out how to do that!" Agnes complained. "Is it really that difficult to serve fresh fruits and vegetables?"

"Well, if you want gastronomy, you'll have to look elsewhere. When do you move down to the recovery floor?"

"Don't know. Probably next week." Agnes wanted her mother to visit, but contrarily didn't want to have to ask her. She wanted her mother to offer. Ever a needy child, where her mother is concerned.

"Shall I visit?"

Agnes smiled. "I would love that. Can you bring some of your rugelach? A little homecooking would make up for the miserable fare here."

"I will certainly bring you some," Mara answered.

"And I think you should get your camera fixed," Agnes commented. "You're still looking all blurry and shadowy."

"Pah! Why should I pay those tech minions more money than they already get? I swear: in my next Sesqui I'm going to study information technology so I will be able to do all these things myself!"

"You show them, Mom."

They talked a little more about family and friends, work and leisure.

"Let me know when you're ready for visitors then, honey," Mara signed off. "I love you to the moon!"

"Love you to the stars, Mom," Agnes answered as the screen grew dim. "Mommy," she added after the call was completely disconnected.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Warrior Pose

This is not me.
But you didn't need me to tell you that, did you?

I just signed up for my FOURTH consecutive yoga course. I know! I'm as shocked as you are. Possibly even more shocked. (I do love my well-worn divot of my sofa.)

But I have to confess that, from almost the first lesson, I've been committed. Why?

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