Valentine’s Days – Fiftyish

The Car Guy and I recently celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary. If you count this Valentine’s Day, and the ones before we were married, we have participated in Valentine’s Day observations more than 50 times! But 50 is a such a nice round number to talk about, so here are my thoughts about this epic number.

50 is the atomic number of Tin. Tradition says the 50th Wedding Anniversary is all about Gold, but science would suggest tin is more appropriate. Why? Because the most common use of tin is in the production of solder, which is a somewhat liquid metal that holds pieces of metal together. Likewise, 50 years of marriage means something held it together and what better symbol of that than good old tin!

On his 50th wedding anniversary, Henry Ford was asked his formula for a successful married life. He replied that it was the same formula that made his automobile successful: “Stick to one model.”
– Henry Ford –

50 years is – 18,250 days, 438,000 hours or 26,280,000 minutes – an adequate amount of time for us to move into and out of 19 homes in 4 different countries. Equally important to The Car Guy, it was time enough to own 27 cars/trucks that motored into and out of his Garages. (He sincerely regrets selling a few of those vehicles…)

50 is the percent of genetic overlap of a parent and offspring.  In our case, that overlap produced 3 wonderful children!

50/50 is often thought of as being the ultimate in equal partnership.  Fortunately, our definition of equal is quite flexible. If The Car Guy had been required to change 50 percent of the diapers or clean 50 percent of the toilets; if I had been responsible for doing half of the oil changes in vehicles or fix the leaky toilet valve 50 percent of the time – well, I don’t know if the marriage would have survived…

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.
– Author Unknown –

Looking ahead, our next Anniversary is the 51st. Did you know the Atomic Number 51 is assigned to Antimony? I don’t think Antimony is what is typically thought of as something you give as gifts for this occasion, but I’ll look into that next year.

In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day to The Car Guy, to my family, all my friends, and everyone who visits my blog!

My 52 Friends Plan for Retirement

We lived overseas (UK and the Middle East) for 5 1/2 years. When  it was time to return home to Canada, we were entering a new phase of life – we were retirees! It was a leap of faith. We could only guess whether our new economic situation was going to be adequate in a country we hadn’t lived in for a while!

We had made quite a few friends as expats, so before we moved home I came up with a cunning plan. If in fact there was going to be more month than money, we could sponge off visit our friends, on a rotating schedule. If I could find 52 friends who would each host us for one week, we didn’t really even have to have a home. I called it my 52 Friends Plan.

The roll out of my plan took place at our Overseas Going Away Party. We invited lots of people. Many of them were going to be retiring to places we thought we might like to visit. When they arrived at the party, I handed them a flyer I had printed up. It read as follows:

The Canadian Visitors Plan
You can avoid Surprise visits from retired Canadians by applying for Membership to The Canadian Visitors Plan. Once your application has been processed, you will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your Canadian Guests will only stay with you for one predetermined week each year.

ToonadayAre Canadians Hard to Look After?
Canadians are a hardy and adaptable bunch, with relatively few special needs. We’ll send you a short list of ideas about how to make them feel comfortable in your home, along with suggested menu plans and wine pairings. We then encourage you to correspond with your Foster Canadian prior to their first visit. This will guide you in selecting a good list of sights to send them off to, so they won’t be in your home and bothering you during the day.

Is This Like an Exchange Program?
No, you are under no obligation to visit your Canadian in their home environment. But after your Canadian’s first visit at your home, your Canadian will undoubtedly encourage you to come and visit them (assuming they are not really homeless…) You will want to ascertain just what part of Canada your Canadian lives in, and what kind of accommodation they can offer you before you accept such an invitation. And while it is totally untrue that you have seen all of Canada just because you went to Toronto on business, there are many parts of Canada that you might not want to visit if your Canadian invites you to come in February.

The Selection Process
We will select a suitable Canadian, based on the preferences you indicate when you fill out your application form. Once we have assigned you your Canadian, we will send you an 4X6 glossy to hang on your fridge. But, if you are eager to start your friendship with a Canadian today, we can assign you this lovely couple… (Then I inserted our name, address, phone number and e-mail address.)

52 Weeks in a year – 52 Friends. It just made so much sense to me. Unfortunately no one took my 52 Friends Plan seriously. Not a single person signed up.

Within a month of arriving home, we received a request for accommodation from one of those expat friends. They stayed with us for two weeks – and we were but one of several people they were staying with as they hopscotched around the country. They were living my cunning plan. Excellent! My good idea worked – just not the way I thought it would.

What great ideas have you had that didn’t work out the way you planned?

 

Saying Goodbye to The Fisherman

I recently read the book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory” by Caitlin Doughty. It is a witty and thought provoking look at the history of caring for the dead and how the process has been sanitized by today’s funeral industry. The author explains the process of cremation in some detail – all very fascinating if you are interested in options to the ‘casket in the ground’ type of burial.

The Car Guy’s dad, The Fisherman, passed away in October 2017. The Fisherman was cremated. It was a good choice because a number of events, including the weather, made it preferable for us to hold a burial service the following June.

As the date for interment approached, our family discussed what kind of special box or urn we would use for the ashes. We decided that a wine bottle in a wood presentation box would be an excellent choice because The Fisherman had made his own wine for decades.

The Car Guy filled one wine bottle with ashes for the cemetery. With the remaining ashes, he filled several half bottles and three spice size jars.

A half bottle now sits on a shelf in The Car Guys Garage, a place where father and son had worked every Wednesday for many years building and fixing things, including  a Yellow Challenger T/A, a Corvette, and a Fargo half ton.

The spice jars were perfect for the ‘road trips’ where his ashes were scattered – at the farm where he was raised and two of his favourite fishing places.

As for the Cemetery Interment, we knew it was going to be a ‘do it yourself’ project because the cemetery was a very  rural, ‘old school’ sort of place that let you do that sort of thing. We also knew the ground was rock hard. But we didn’t need a very wide hole, so a post hold digger was the logical tool to use.

The Fisherman’s Daughter conducted the service, a lunch was served at a country hall, and a two day Family Reunion was held at a rural retreat – all were the perfect way to say good-bye to The Fisherman.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.
-Doug Larson –

Lest We Forget

Calgary’s Field of Crosses

Each year, from November 1 to 11, over 3400 Memorial Crosses are placed in a park along Calgary’s Memorial Drive. Each cross represents a soldier from Southern Alberta who died in active duty during Conflicts and Peacekeeping Missions from 1899 to the Present.

Calgary Alberta
Field of Crosses, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary Alberta

Vine, Henry W

The Car Guy and I walked the length of the park to reach our destination at the east end of the Field – the marker of Henry William Vine, my grandfather’s brother.

World War One

Henry William signed his Attestation Papers for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in September 1915. He was 17 years and 1 month old, and likely lied about his age in order to enlist. The family story is that a woman handed him the white feather of cowardice, and that is what compelled him to join.

Henry’s unit, the 49th Bn, arrived in France on March 26, 1916. Henry reported to base slightly wounded in June, 1916 but remained at duty. He was wounded again on September 15, 1916, apparently a gun shot wound to the right elbow. His third encounter with the enemy was his last. He was reported missing after action at The Somme, and presumed dead on October 4, 1916. His body was never found, making him one of just over 11,000 Canadian soldiers with no known grave.

The Battles of the Somme were launched by the British. On July 1, 1916, in daylight, 100,000 inexperienced, over burdened, inadequately supported men climbed out of their trenches and advanced shoulder to shoulder, one behind the other, across the cratered waste of “No Man’s Land”. 57,470 British soldiers were killed, wounded or reported missing on that first day.

In late August 1916, the Canadians moved to the Somme where they took over a section of the front directly in front of the village of Courcelette. By autumn, rains had turned the battlefield into a bog and the offensive came to a halt. The line had moved forward only 10 kilometers.

A completely accurate table of World War One losses may never be compiled, but it is estimated that 8,500,000 soldiers died as a result of wounds and/or disease. It has also been estimated that 13 million civilian deaths were attributable to the war.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McRae, December 8, 1915
Doctor serving with the Canadian Artillery

Not a Sweet Tooth – a Chocolate Tooth

quip cardI started my Not Fueled by Chocolate Diet and Exercise program in April of this year. Six months into the project – I’ve come to the realization that it is going to take a lot longer than six months to achieve my goal! That means I still can’t have a stash of dark chocolate in the house.

Why?  I am  1/3 a Chocoholic. That is to say, on the few occasions I have had access to a dark chocolate bar,  I am Chocoholic Signal 1 – not particularly good at limiting my intake to, lets say, a square a day. Fortunately,  I am not Chocoholic Signal 2 – having intense cravings and Chocoholic Signal 3 – eating it despite the consequences!

No, I am not inclined to nibble a mere 70 calorie chunk and be content. It takes a full 200 chocolate calories (or more) to satisfy my palate.  I’d have to add another 3 miles of walking a day to make that calorie neutral. That isn’t going to happen, which brings me back to where I started – I can’t have chocolate in the house.

But I’m down 6 to 8 pounds on average (can someone tell me how a woman’s weight can fluctuate by several pounds from one day to the next!) and some of my clothes are visibly too big – that’s the progress that keeps me going. There is no grand secret to my success. It comes down to changing a few habits.

I kickstarted my Not Fueled by Chocolate program by reading the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It is an excellent book to read if you want to change something in your life, but you don’t seem to have the willpower to make the change ‘stick‘!

Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine… This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future: THE HABIT LOOP… This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.
― Charles Duhigg, The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business

What habit have you changed or what habit would you like to change?

Where is Your Codex Vitae?

Is Codex Vitae a technical term for a part of your body or does it sound like a disease?  To answer that, I’m going to start you with Twitter, drag you through YouTube, and deposit you in a Book.

Twitter – What do you Seek?

Twitter receives a lot of criticism, but like everything else on the internet, the value is there if you take the time to look around. Think of Twitter as an almost endless series of doors. You open one door and if you don’t find anything of value, you can close it – but you might find another door there that is of more value to you.   It is through this exploration of doors that I have found a growing movement of people who don’t identify with ‘tribes’. They are open to listening to others they may not agree with. They have discussions and share ideas. Many of these people can be found at the Intellectual Dark Web Site.

It’s the great agony and the ecstasy of the Internet today. I think we have more great stuff to read than we ever have before, but of course the downside of that is we have more great stuff to read than we’ve ever had before.
– Robin Sloan –

What do You Want to Seek?

The QuipperyThe Intellectual Dark Web is populated by a number of individuals who have been vilified by those who identify with a ‘different tribe’. One of the more controversial figures in recent years is the Canadian author, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto – Dr. Jordan Peterson. A lengthy but extremely interesting summary of his thoughts is presented in this video: Dr. Oz interviews Dr. Jordan Peterson.

Dr. Peterson has written several books, does podcasts, and lectures about the value of having an aim in life. He has become the self-help guru for many young people who find they are unprepared for the realities of an adult world. What is ironic, to me, is that this same sense of ‘aimlessness’ sometimes happens to older people when they retire. Free time isn’t so free feeling if you’ve got a lot of it, and you don’t know what to do with it.

OK, now write for 20 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This isn’t a composition exercise. You get to have what you want three to five years down the road. What does your life look like, hypothetically? Write it out. That’s the first part. The second part of the exercise — now you’ve got your thing to aim at. You think, “well, now I’m motivated, because I got my thing to aim at.” It’s like, “you’re not as motivated as you could be, because you don’t yet have your thing to run away from. If you really want to be motivated, you want to be going somewhere, and you want to be NOT going somewhere else.”
– Jordan Peterson in a discussion with Lewis Howes

Once You Have Found It

Last stop is a book. I just finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. This book is, to me, the ultimate intersection of old-world handwork, Old Knowledge, books, digital technology, fantasy and a Codex Vitae (which is the capture of all you’ve learned throughout your life – Jordan Peterson’s ‘what does your life look like’.)

In the book, and in real life, a Codex is a printed book. ‘Mr. Penumbra’s’  fictional character, Griffo Gerritszoon, was the real life Francesco Griffo who was born in 1450. The book’s character Aldus Manutius  was a real life printer and publisher. Aldus commissioned Griffo to cut the first slanted italic type. Aldus also invented pocket editions of books with soft covers and normalized the use of punctuation. The books fictional fifteenth-century font called Gerritszoon is perhaps the font we call Garamond – Claude Garamond worked with Aldus Manutius and Francesco Griffo.

By the end of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore I had the answer to why, or what, ties me to blogging. This is my Codex Vitae – and I can only keep writing new chapters if  I am learning from all people, not just the ones that share my bias. I can only keep writing if I keep aiming for better and moving away from the person I don’t want to become.

How have you preserved a record of your life? Scrapbook? Calendars? Photo Album? Blog? Journal?

Canadian Thanksgiving

Fall grass with a molten gold filter

Canadian Thanksgiving is today (the second Monday in October).  It is a celebration of thanks for a good harvest – and it occurs earlier in the fall than American Thanksgiving because Canada’s climate is colder and our harvests end earlier. At least, our farmers hope they end earlier, but the early snow we’ve had here in Alberta has delayed harvest somewhat.

Fall grass with a cartoon filter

We’ve had our family Thanksgiving feasts already. On Saturday we hosted a Thanksgiving lunch. The featured ‘guest’ was a fairly large ham. Though we bagged up a lot of ham and sent it home with the family, we still have a lot of ham left over.

Eternity is a ham and two people.
– Dorothy Parker –

Grass with a scratchy line drawing filter

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to the daughter’s house for a Turkey Dinner. Son-in-law got a little carried away in the selection of the size of the turkey. This caused them to own a bird that just barely fit into the appliance that cooked it. There was also lots of mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry jelly, several salads, three kinds of desserts. Delicious. They bagged up a lot of turkey and sent it home with the family. They still have a lot of turkey left over. Another kind of eternity.

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
– Author Unknown –

Tonight The Car Guy and I will dine on left-over ham and turkey. Tomorrow – maybe a casserole with ham or turkey. The next day, maybe split pea soup made from the ham bone. The next day – anything that doesn’t involve a bird or a pig.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians! Happy Columbus Day (or Indigenous People’s Day), Americans!

Dark Days

It comes with no warning. Days of being sad. Energy tank on empty.

Dark, dreary, heavy days.

Overwhelmed. Too much, too many.

I’ve been down this road many times before. It always passes. It is seasonal or hormonal or just being sad.

It isn’t depression, but it is a gift that helps me to understand those who battle real depression.

If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.
– Stephen Fry –

I wanted to write down exactly what I felt but somehow the paper stayed empty and I could not have described it any better.
– WTM –

Ghost – Looking for Puppy Faces

Puppy Faces Today – our Daughter and her Husband got a dog!

A puppy face – the Grand-dog – right after a bath: “Where is the treat you promised me if I went along with the foolishness of a bath?”
The grand-dog – finally dry and back outside: “My price for not digging in the garden again is… double treats!”

Puppy Faces Before the Dog Came Along:

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
– Winnie the Pooh (by A.A. Milne) –

Six years ago I wrote a post called A Perfect Storm – The Motorcycle Accident. It was the story of the day (Friday, July 13!) that The Car Guy and the Harley abruptly parted company – both landing in a farmer’s field, both with considerable damage.

I reread that post yesterday. I also reread all the comments left on posts then and after the event – words of encouragement, concern and prayers for a speedy recovery! Thanks again, from the bottom of my Canadian heart, to all these kind bloggers who reached out to me during those dark days:

The Cvillean
Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings
Virginia Views
Before Morning Breaks
Joys of Creating
The Other Side of 55
Mark Armstrong Illustration
Coming East
composerinthegarden
Year-Struck
From the Drawing Board
Fear No Weebles
Bless Your Hippie Heart
k8edid
The Sandwich Lady
I Need a Play Date
Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge
Caryn Caldwell

Some of these writers are still blogging! Some have ‘ceased blogging operations’ and moved on.  The ‘ceased’ bloggers – some left a farewell message; some just packed up (I envision it as happening on a dark and stormy night) and disappeared, leaving us all to wonder what they moved on to, or if they are actually ‘deceased’!

Now, for the update on The Car Guy.  There were certainly some interesting and amusing moments during his recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). For  the first few months,  he was unable to retain memories, but more spectacularly – sometimes he saw people that the rest of us couldn’t see!

One afternoon he woke up after a nap in the Guest Room at the Cabin and announced there were puppy faces on the ceiling over the bed. This was a new hallucination. He insisted I come and look. We stretched out on the bed and looked up at the wood paneled ceiling.

“See – there.” He pointed at the wood grain knots and swirls. “Two eyes and a nose. And over there. Two eyes, a nose and ears. And another one over there!”

Relief – yes, I could see puppy faces in the knots and swirls too! Then – I thought about all the people who had slept in that bed, but had never mentioned seeing puppy faces! It takes a certain freedom of thought, I guess, to see things like that.

I think of those puppy faces when I read the news.  Much of Mainstream Media (MMM) has the single goal of telling you what you should think. Often their message is biased and designed to create fear. They want you to only see what they see in their knots and swirls.

Fortunately, there are many  Not Really Mainstream Media (NRMMM) sources of positive messages that encourage the grand diversity of human thought. They encourage you to look beyond the knots and swirls for the other messages.

I try to start my day with positive sites like these: Thoughts of Dog,  Human Progress, Mike Rowe and Regie’s Blog.

Where do you go to get a balanced spin on the news?

Upside to Absent-mindedness

For some reason there is a malfunction, some disconnect, between my imaginary hello and, well, my actual hello… Just know this: if you have ever passed me in the hall and I appeared to ignore you, it actually wasn’t like that at all…
– Stuart McLean, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks –

An imaginary hello. Yes, that describes the greeting I sometimes don’t give.

It’s caused (they say) by a condition called absent-mindedness (also spelled  absentmindedness or absent mindedness.) Often, I don’t even know that I’m being absent-minded. On other occasions, it is quite apparent: I search for my glasses and find them on the top of my head or I walk into a room but forget what I came there to do.

I don’t think it is something to be stressed about. On the whole, my memory usually runs fairly smoothly and  I’m fairly adept at focusing when I need to. I see the shift into absent-mindedness as something that sets me free to think in abstract or creative ways – (that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

What was your most interesting absent-minded experience?