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?

When Do You ‘Put Your Affairs in Order’?

The Quippery

Unless your Doctor has given you notice that your ‘Best Before Date’ is rapidly closing in on your ‘Expiry Date’, you might not have thought about the most important thing you can do for yourself now AND leave for your loved ones when you depart this world.

This important thing costs no more than a sheet or two of paper, but it is priceless. It is a List of All the Things you know now – but might not remember later. It is a list of things the Executor of your Estate won’t know until they have rifled through your desk, file cabinet and all sorts of places obvious and obscure – so that they can wrap up your estate and deliver it to your rightful heirs.

Think about this: Do you keep your documents in obvious locations like your desk, file cabinet or a shoe box under the bed? Does your family know you also stash important papers in a fake cabbage (or lettuce) in the fridge, a former box for fish cakes in the deep freeze, a secret cubby hole, a hidden safe, behind a trap door, or in a plastic case under a paving stone in the garden?

The QuipperyOur Experience: The Car Guy’s Dad passed on to the Great Fishing Hole of the Beyond a few months ago – without making The List.  The Car Guy is the Executor of this relatively simple Estate and fortunately he knew that the Original of the Will was in a safety deposit box – but he didn’t know which Bank owned the box nor where the keys were kept. That was just the beginning of what The Car Guy didn’t know.

Fortunately, The Car Guys Dad kept just about everything in a desk and file cabinet (and a Safety Deposit Box that the Bank won’t release the contents of until some unknown date in the future). It  took weeks to sort through all the documents, make a list of  possible assets and trace accounts back to their source to see if they were still active. Multiple layers of Government, Banks and Financial Institutions had to be contacted. Each of them required a large number of detailed and correctly filled out forms.

The whole process is like doing a Jigsaw Puzzle, except you don’t know how many pieces there are and you don’t have the box lid to see what the picture is going to look like. This experience has been the incentive for us to make our List of Things our Executor will need to know. It has been a good motivational exercise that has encouraged us to reassess what we are responsible for, and what we can get rid of. If you are similarly motivated, here are some things for you to consider, roughly in order of when your Executor will need the information:

The Basics: Full Name (‘Fishin’ Fred isn’t going to be good enough); Birth Date and Place (somewhere ‘down East’ before the crash of the stock market’) is just a bit vague; Location of all government issued documents and the ID numbers.

Burial or funeral instructions – that aren’t in your will.

The Family: Names and Contact numbers for all Immediate Family; Parent’s full names, where they were born; Spouse – Full name and location of the original marriage certificate.

Government, Career, Financial Information: List Company Names, Policy or Account Numbers, and Contacts for: Employment, Pensions or benefit plans; Health and Insurance plans; Government Insurance and benefits; Income tax documents; Bank and Credit Cards; Investments.

Real Estate: Properties you own; Loans and Mortgages; Utility companies you have accounts with. If the deceased owned property in another country, the transfer of the deed could be difficult to do, and possibly costly.

Affiliations: Groups, associations, memberships, newspapers, magazines and all those things that will have to be redirected or cancelled.

Online: Internet accounts and passwords.

Final Tax Return: Keep previous income tax returns for the number of years your government suggests is advisable. A list of all sources of income and deductions will be needed. Also keep a list of items that will be subject to Capital Gains, such as property. Itemize when these items were purchased and or disposed of. Retiree’s should also list when they retired.

Wrap it Up: list all the places where you keep documents and valuables. Explain what is in those places. Summarize  your assets and liabilities.

That is it! It will take some time to gather this information, but it will be as valuable to you now as it will be to your family when you pass on!

Have you been Executor of an Estate? Do you have a secret hiding places? Have you made a List?

 

Christmas Spirit Can’t Come too Early this Year

The World of Commerce starts promoting Christmas earlier and earlier each year, it seems. In Canada and the United States, the ‘Great Pumpkin’ products can be in one shopping aisle and ‘Jolly Old Saint Nick’ can be in the next. Personally, I don’t like the crass materialism of the season, and I really feel sorry for the Sales Associates in the stores. Imagine having to listen to the same Christmas music for almost 2 months!

This year, however, I’ve put up my small table top Christmas tree already. Every time I walk by it, I am cheered by the tiny white snowmen decorations that my daughter and I made over 18 years ago. At night the twinkly lights brighten that corner of the room. It is peaceful.

Christmas Tree with a crackly filter

I have several reasons for putting up this tree so early. First, it is a calming reminder that the final journey with a loved one is complete and they are now in a peaceful place.

Christmas Tree with Drawing filter

The tree is also a reminder that the greatest contribution I can give others right now is a smile. I painted smiles on all those little snowmen and their unfailing cheer is contagious! Mine should be too.

Christmas Tree with a liquefy filter

Even my friends on Facebook have been infected by the outrage and anger that is so prevalent in many parts of the world. Compromise, understanding and sharing don’t seem to be objectives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Christmas Season this year moved people into the spirit of goodwill and giving, and somehow, magically, they just got stuck there?!

Sad, Silent Coffee Machine

Eldest daughter and her family have been staying with us, on and off, for the past month.  This has not created any space continuum inconvenience to The Car Guy and I – The Red House is more than large enough (because it is the same house we raised a squabble of teens in). Two extra adults and two teenagers  – we left it to them to jostle for prime real estate to set up their internet command stations.

Our kitchen is spacious. It is more than capable of handling the extra cooks. The biggest difference was that the fridge filled and emptied on a daily, rather than weekly basis. Oh, and the dishwasher was often pressed into service twice a day.

But the workhorse, no, the single most essential appliance in the house, was the Coffee Machine. These people are fueled by liquid caffeine.

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion… From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink – for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.
– Honoré de Balzac, The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee –

Yesterday morning, The Car Guy and a very full Jeep transported the Daughter and her family to the airport to catch the first flight of many. They are starting a ten month, round the world adventure. (You can follow their journey at Daily Creatives.)

This morning it is eerily quiet and cold here at The Red House. The Coffee Machine hasn’t even been turned on, so after I photographed it I added the message I expect it would want to send to the coffee drinkers who have left it behind.

 coffee maker

The fridge door has only opened twice. The stack of dishes on the counter is hardly noticeable. The bathrooms are unoccupied – there is no water running. There are no voices chatting, no tap, tap, tap on multiple keyboards.

The weather has suddenly turned, and after months of dry heat, it is raining. Yesterday it was still summer. Today it is fall.

Missing the family, but life goes on…
Looking on the bright side, the Internet is a lot faster now that only two of us are connected…

 

Super Bowl Quiz – The Winning Answers

We were invited to a Super Bowl party. I knew it was going to be a good one when the hostess pointed me in the direction of a really well stocked snack counter. Then she handed me the first of the number of glasses of wine it takes to drink a half bottle or so. With my beverage in one hand, and a plate of munchies in the other, I commandeered a front row seat on the soft couches.

“Before the game starts,” said the hostess, “You are all going to take a Super Bowl Quiz. There is a prize for whoever gets the most right answers.”

She handed each of us a single page of questions, which I dutifully read. I only knew three answers. I had no idea about the rest. Not a clue. That wasn’t a surprise, since I didn’t even know which teams were playing in the game I was about to watch. (In my defense, I am Canadian, and the last time I really paid any attention to football was when Doug Flutie was quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders in the early 1990’s.)

So I filled in the answers I knew, and handed my page to The Car Guy.  His skill set is trivia, and he does follow American football. He filled in his question sheet first, then filled in the rest of my sheet with his second best answers.

At half time, the hostess put out more food (I have to get her recipe for pulled pork!) Then she announced the winner of the Quiz. The person who had the most right answers was ME! What a surprise!

You must be wondering how the ‘least likely to win’ quiz player stumbled into the end zone for a touchdown? Well, it was because I know Roman Numerals. Sample Question: How do you write the Roman Numeral for Super Bowl 48?  The Car Guy  knows Roman Numerals too, so my win ultimately came down to the fact that his second choice answers on my sheet were better than his first choice answers on his sheet.

The prize was a handy pair of glasses that made me look a cross between Groucho Marks and Hitler.  They look much better on Albertina Elf.

Did you watch Super Bowl LI too? What did you think of the commercials and half time show? Do you have a really easy crock pot pulled pork recipe?

He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

I’m helping my Dad downsize. He will probably be moving to smaller living quarters in the not too distant future. The ‘weeding’ process isn’t easy for him. He has a strong attachment to just about everything old in his apartment. His bonds to the distant past grow stronger, as the memories of the near past fade.

If he is willing to let me remove anything, it is only because he is very certain that a family member will take ownership of the item and treasure it as much as he does. Everything I have carted off so far is now safely stored in The Car Guys Garage, pending resettlement somewhere. The pile is fluid. Some of the things I put there last week must now go back to Dad’s place – a change of heart and mind.

As I was getting ready to haul another load down to my car yesterday, he suddenly said, “Take the chicken. I really don’t want that chicken.”

552-rooster-portugal-27

That surprised me. The chicken, (more accurately a Portuguese Good Luck Rooster, I suppose) sat in a place of prominence in his living room. I don’t know how he acquired it, but it was clear from the tone in his voice that he would be glad to see it go.

Since I know someone who might want the Rooster,  I put the bird on the handy catch-all ledge in my kitchen. A row of sharp knives is nearby – a rather appropriate reminder to the bird of the historical method of dispatching fowl, should the bird need to be kept in line.

As I look at all the ‘treasures’ that reside in my house, I think about which ones I would want to keep till ‘death us do part.’ What will be my ‘chicken’ when my children are carting some of my material memories out the door?

We all need some of the material things that provide continuity to our lives by always being there and always being the same.
– Andy Rooney –

Are you still in the accumulating stage of life, or have you started to downsize?

Christmas Greetings – 2015

The Car Guy is in the kitchen making S’More Pinwheels; the snow is gently falling; NORAD is already tracking Santa’s progress; we have no place we have to be until tomorrow morning – Life is Good.

I don’t mean to sound like a Grinch, but if we are going to be ‘entertained’ by Christmas Carols for almost a month, don’t you think they could play this one now and again?

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles or rhinoceroseses
I only like hippopotamuseses
And hippopotamuses like me too!
– Written by John Rox, sung by Gayla Peevey in 1953 –

To the member of our family who got my name in the Christmas draw – you didn’t ask me for a Christmas Wish List. Did you finally get me a hippo?

To my small group of faithful readers – and to the thousands of followers of this blog who might stumble onto this post by mistake – Have a very Merry Christmas!

Cautionary Tales – Falling off the Roof and Securing a Pumpkin

We had two ‘Be Careful!’ events at the Red House this week. The first was when The Car Guy went up on the roof to check the chimneys and see if the gutters needed cleaning. I was truly torn as to whether I would go up there too. I’m okay going up the ladder. The transition from ladder to roof is a bit scary. I’m okay walking around the roof, as long as I stay at the peak. The transition from roof to ladder… that is the really hard part.

But, I did it, and really enjoyed looking at the yard below.

The second ‘Be Careful’ event was the transportation of the Pumpkins. They had to get from our house to the Family Pumpkin Carving Party, a trip of half an hour. I’d already given the pumpkins a lobotomy and didn’t want them rolling around the back of the JEEP. I also didn’t want them to turn into projectiles if we had to stop suddenly!

The Car Guy decided this was the best way to carefully secure pumpkin noggins for the trip.

I’ll love you til the end of vine.
– Source: PumpkinNook –

There are three things that I’ve learned never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.
– Linus, ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ –

chicken day after HalloweenSome of the stores already have Christmas product on their shelves! This reminded me that when we took apart our Christmas tree last year, it never quite made it back into the storage closet. I wanted to clean up that area, but the tree was in the way. What to do – put it away, or just put it back up in the Living Room… can you guess what I did?!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge was Careful

Distractions – Three Hours Later I Found the Twist Ties

I just needed some long twist ties. I wanted to tidy up the cords that let the computer talk to the scanner. I thought I had seen the kind I wanted in The Car Guys’s office, so I went there and looked in the desk drawers. No twist ties, but I did find some circle drawing templates that would be happier if they lived nearer to my drawing desk. I needed a box to store the templates in, so I went downstairs to the box cupboard, and found the perfect container. Then I restacked the remaining boxes so that they would fit back into the cupboard.

After boxing up the drawing supplies, I continued the search for twist ties. There were 6 possible drawers in The Car Guy’s office where they could be. As I searched, I also spent some time resorting. Apparently there had been a bit of ‘dump and run’ going on.

One of the drawers contained The Car Guy’s pen collection, which reminded me that I had a box of pens in my multi purpose room that could be amalgamated with his pens. When I retrieved those pens, I also found my pen refills! I need a refill for my favourite Papermate Pen, but unfortunately the refills I have do not fit any pens I have.

I continued to search all the drawers in my room for twist ties. There had been some ‘dump and run’ happening there too, so I did some resorting. This resulted in many reassignments, primarily involving glue, rulers and scissors – which we have far more of than I had realized.

Still no twist ties, though. A general tidy up of my multi purpose room was now in full swing, and I found my stash of sewing machine needles and some feathers I want to use on a particular project.

I also found a few things that belong in the catch all drawer in the kitchen – which is where I found the long twist ties

And that is the story of why it took me three hours to tie up these cords…

I’m sure you have all had a similar experience – do share it with me!

Keep Out! Declarations of Personal Privacy

I’m at that age where the memories of my youth are not even remotely fresh, yet there is one that is still as vivid as if it happened yesterday. It was the day I got my very own bedroom. I vacated the room I shared with my sister and took all my worldly goods (which probably fit in a couple of 2 cube  boxes) and moved down the hall – to a room that was just mine.

At the time, I didn’t realize that my belongings were external place holders for my memories, relationships and travels in the bigger world. I didn’t understand that I was an introvert, and that I needed long stretches of alone time in order to recharge. I did know, however, that I had been given the right to close a door and by doing so, no one else would enter my space.

It was the same right to privacy that had always existed within the walls of my parent’s bedroom – a room that I only ever entered if invited to.

I was visiting one of my children a few years ago when my grandson first invoked his desire for privacy. He had his own bedroom already, but apparently it suddenly dawned on him that it wasn’t just a bedroom, it was his ‘boy cave’. He crayoned this request for privacy:

He added a few images to reinforce the perils that awaited anyone who crossed the threshold of his room!

At our house, the master bedroom and master bath room are ‘non-public’ spaces. The same goes for the contents of desk drawers,  jewellery boxes and filing cabinets! I’ve rarely had occasions where my right to privacy was invaded, but it has happened. It is always a good reminder for me that others do not understand my needs or share my concept of boundaries. In the future, I will be sure to put up a “KeEp ouT!” sign, scrawled in crayon and illustrated with a skull and crossbones…

The Car Guy and I also understand that couples need their own space too, so we each have lairs that we can retreat to.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness.
– Kahlil Gibran –

Perhaps this need for privacy increases as we try to live in a world where our privacy is so often invaded, and each day we inch closer to George Orwell’s Big Brother  world in the book “1984”. For example:

– The sites we go to on the internet can leave a digital bread crumb for those who want to follow the trail and then bombard us with advertising or try to highjack our identity.

– Our credit cards, loyalty cards, memberships, ID numbers, library cards, medical history and every other piece of information with our name on it is controlled by companies who may, or may not be able to protect the data, nor guarantee our privacy.

Surveillance cameras at intersections, toll booths, airports, bank machines and public spaces track our movements.

Facebook, an internet social media company, has the largest biometric database in the world — and it’s been formed by people voluntarily submitting pictures of themselves and their friends and family to Facebook and then identifying who the faces belong to.

-If you use a cell phone, your phone provider knows who you phoned, for how long, and where you were at the time. If your cell phone remains turned on, your cell phone provider could also be keeping track of your location, minute by minute. Your computer or other such device can also give out an approximate location when you are connected to the internet.

– Some vehicle GPS systems, such as the OnStar service offered by GM, can collect and store information such as speed and global position.

Google street view – I’m glad we have a row of tall trees screening our property…

The last bastion of privacy, then, is inside your home – or maybe the bathroom in your home, if you have children!

How does privacy work in your home? How strongly do you feel about it?