Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Bear Who Putters Alone

Standard

As I get older, I’m still looking for connections. I want it all to have meant something, if you know what I mean.

I look at women-my-age around me. They’re all doing Drum Circles, or Yoga, or Belly-Dancing, or even freakin’ Hula-Hooping. They are creating art, painting, writing, sculpting. They want to be crones; elders; Wise Women. And perhaps they are. Some of them just look a bit silly to me, though. Not all, just – some. And hey, if you’re doing any of those things because you just happen to like doing them, more power to you.

I know other women who swear by gardening, or baking – the real hands-on, back-to-the-earth stuff. Nurturing, wholesome, caring people. Food-is-love people, people who are growing beautiful things and providing healthy sustenance. And hey, that’s great too, if it feeds your spirit, go for it.

The problem is, I think I’m okay. I feel empowered all by myself. I raised two kids by myself. I’ve always supported myself. I try to look after my body (although I often stumble, I do keep getting back on that horse). I have all kinds of interests, but I tend to flit from thing to thing. I know a little tiny bit about an awful lot of things, really. I like cooking, when I feel like it. Generally when I’m hungry. I also like hands-on, crafty stuff, but I’m not a Mistress of Fibre by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t belong to a Guild. I don’t give lessons. I don’t go to seminars. I like to play the guitar, and sing a little bit, but usually just for the benefit of the cat. I’m not very good (and I’m not being modest, I’m just not very good). I like painting, too, but just little cartoony stuff that makes me laugh, mostly.

What my interests tend have in common with each other, though, is that they are largely solitary pursuits. I don’t take classes at the gym, I train alone. I don’t sing in a choir, I sing in a Hyundai, mostly. Sometimes I go to a knitting group, but mostly not.

And yet, I believe. I believe in a universal consciousness. I believe in power of the nurturing feminine. I believe in UFOs, Sasquatch and other dimensions. I wonder if I would feel more connected if I found the right group of women to connect with. But really, I think the women I would most connect with are women like me, who are mostly just happy to putter alone.

THREE Cats in the Yard? Life Used to Be So Hard…

Standard

So, we are preparing to combine households. Lots of work going on at both ends, for two middle-aged folks who are used to living on their own. Lots of emotional stuff, too. Boy #2 was down for a visit a couple of weeks ago, and we cleaned out his hobbit hole to make a mancave. That was a ton of work. I thought I’d have to replace the carpet, but I rented a steam cleaner instead, and it came up just fine. Bought sheets on clearance and stapled them to the joists to make a ceiling – not perfect, but it covers the pipes and ducts and looks okay. So, the room is clean, has lots of storage, and will make a very nice mancave indeed.

Also cleaned out the closet and dresser in my tiny spare room, which is now a Gentleman’s Dressing Room. That’s what I’m calling it, anyway. I have waaaaaay too many clothes to share a closet. Plus, our differing work schedules will probably make us both glad that there’s a separate dressing space.

Lots of sorting, organizing, sifting and packing, is going on at his end too.

So, it’s all good, right? All going according to plan, two people in love, joyously planning to spend their lives together, and all that, right?

Well, yeah. Totally true.

No, the problem herein lies with the smaller folk involved. Not children, either. Bite your tongue. All our respective children are grown and gone.

It’s the cats.

My readers know that I have two elderly kitties, Miss Martha Muffin, aka Muffy, and of course, the Amazing Grace. When I say elderly, I’m not kidding – they’re 17. They have always been indoor cats, were spayed as kittens, and generally enjoy good health. Like most siblings, they don’t have much use for each other, but manage to coexist in a somewhat grumpy state of truce. Each has her favourite hangout around the place, and although they occasionally take a swat and a spit at each other, it’s all pretty fine and mellow and laid-back.

My sweet darlin’ man has a cat too, a gorgeous big male tabby named Yoda. He’s about twelve by Den’s best reckoning, although no one knows for sure. He was de-clawed when Den got him, second-hand from a co-worker whose son developed allergies. He has his back claws, though, and good teeth. He’s also neutered, and is a strictly indoor cat.

So, you’d figure, after a little hissing and spitting and jockeying for supremacy, that eventually we could all just settle in, right? I mean the cats, not Den and me. We rarely spit. My girls are older, and quite small, but there’s two of them, and they have all their claws. Yoda’s a big guy, but he’s really mellow. No reason whatsoever that we can’t all just get along, right? My prediction is that tiny Miss Grace will rule the roost as usual, Yoda will hide under the couch for a few weeks, and Muffy will view the whole thing with her own brand of exasperated disdain.

No, here’s the issue. Like many neutered male cats, Yo has a tendency towards urinary tract crystals, so he has to eat a pH balanced food to keep them at bay. Also, he does not free-feed. He gets fed a set amount of dry food at set times. Otherwise, he has a habit of gorging and barfing.

My girls have a big ol’ feeder. They too eat dry food, whenever they feel like it. They’re grazers. Back in the dark financial times, they used to eat whatever was on sale cheap. As some of you may recall, though, we had a health scare with ol’ Grace about a year ago, and it was determined that she cannot digest corn well. No problem. We get her a rice or potato based dry food, which Muffy eats too. Muffy doesn’t care. Is there food? Is there water? Is there a place to poop? Can I lie on the footstool in the sun? That’s pretty much all she needs.

Do you see the problem here?

So, we’re now on a search for a pH balanced, corn-free food. Not as easy a task as it sounds, because quite simply, they can’t get into each others’ food, or someone is going to get very sick. Feeding them separately sounds good, but is probably not 100% foolproof.

We went out to Paulmac’s yesterday to look into it. Actually, it seems like there may be several good alternatives. I lean away from anything salmon-based. I’ve dealt with Grace’s Spectacular Salmon Poops. It’s not pleasant. So, we went away with some little sample bags, and were advised to e-mail Dr. David Summers, who dispenses veterinary advice on the Pet Valu site, and apparently is very knowledgeable about cat nutrition in particular.

I sent him out a letter yesterday. Hopefully we’ll hear back from him shortly.

For all the complications of combining two second-time-around, middle-aged, highly sensitive, slightly introverted people into one household, this particular conundrum may prove to be the most complicated of all.

So, wish all five of us luck, would you?

Namaste, cats!

Mother’s Day

Standard

Mother’s Day has come and gone, and as usual, I have conflicting feelings about the whole thing. Not with respect to my own children; they were lovely as usual, and I felt very much honoured and appreciated by them.

No, my conflict, as usual, centres around my relationship with my own mother.

My mother was not-like-the-other-mothers, somehow. My mum (never “mom”) had an accent. My mum was from away, and was very much isolated when we were growing up – her only family in Canada was a sister and her family, who lived in Sault Ste. Marie – we only ever saw them once or twice a year. My mum was tiny, when we were small, and smartly fashionable. She sewed her own clothes, mostly, and mine as well. She taught me sewing, knitting and embroidery, skills I still use today, and although I have no daughter of my own to pass them on to, my older son has taken to using her table loom to create beautiful works of art. I like this connection, this passing-down. To her, though, they weren’t “arts”, they were just things every woman knew, or should have known, how to do. They were simply life skills. My brother tells a story of how he was amazed that she whipped up a pair of mittens for him on a longish train ride, “just like that”.

I often think of my mother when I knit. There was a large gap of time between my childhood/adolescence and my adult life when I didn’t knit, being too busy making a living and raising kids. I rediscovered it when my kids became teenagers, and didn’t require so much constant attention. It is calming, and connecting. I have taken it a little further, the yarn thing, and also spin my own yarn, which is meditative. I wish mum was here so I could give her some.

I remember the amazing things she made for me, the many clothes, the hats and mitts and scarves. The woman knit me TOE SOCKS, for pete’s sake, which I only now fully appreciate. She made both sewn and knitted clothes for my barbie dolls, intricate, tiny works of love, some of which I have saved, all of which tug at my heart.

And yet, and yet…

There were certainly periods when we were at odds, things said that cannot be unsaid, wounds that never heal. Things that have scarred me for life, but lessons learned that no one else could have taught, to be sure. She died at 63, which is, of course, too young. My friends are now nursing their aging mothers, worrying about homes and nursing care, and I feel somewhat bereft.

Every now and then, I still want to call her, when one of her grandchildren has said or done something clever or otherwise remarkable, to share triumphs, or just to ask advice. Best advice ever? “Mum, I’m making sleepers for the baby and I can’t get the hang of welt pockets. How do I do this?”

“What on earth does a baby have to put in his pockets anyway? Leave them off.”

Sound, practical advice. Mum was hard to impress, and we had a tumultuous relationship to be sure. But she always knew what to do.

Miss you still.

Namaste.

A La Mode

Standard

I tell ya, if there’s one thing I love, it’s clothes. Especially since there’s far more variety for me to choose from now. Clothes for “plus size” women suck. They are generally expensive, poorly made, and lack funk. This industry needs an overhaul, big time. But, that’s not what this blog is about.

I don’t have a fashion blog, because, well…not everyone thinks I’m fashionable. I am, however, unique. If you want a fashion blog, there’s lots out there – my friend and colleague Michelle has a great one for young professional women at caniwearthattowork.wordpress.com. I also like “Already Pretty”, and “Princess Nebraska”. It’s a genre, there’s lots out there for every possible taste.

What I like is a challenge.

See, I like clothes, but I don’t like PAYING a bunch of money for clothes. Love the thrift stores, for most things. I will, however, pay good money for new underwear, tights, and “staple” items like tank tops. I’m also a BIG proponent of hand-me-downs. Spread it around, give and receive, our bodies change over time, so pass it on. I raised my kids on hand-me-downs and thrifting too, and they turned out okay – although I had boys. Would this have worked on girls? Maybe very funky girls, I dunno. At any rate, I never had girls, so I don’t know. I’d like to hear your experiences in this regard, though.

Here’s a few of my personal rules, which I break constantly:

1. ONE incredible piece should stand on its own. OM patterned mustard-coloured harem pants do not need competition. Simple jewellery, plain top.

2. EITHER the top or bottom should be poofy, never both. Poofy pants require a fitted top. Leggings need a poofy top, preferably one that covers your butt.

3. I’m not a big fan of mixing different patterns. One pattern per outfit.

4. A vintage Levis jean jacket goes with everything. Period.

5. Put at least one incongruous element in a boring work outfit. Cowboy boots are fun…

6. EITHER cleavage or legs. Both is kinda slutty. Some occasions call for slutty, though. Go for it.

7. Show off what you’ve got. I have a 36 inch inseam. I like red hot green tights and a short skirt.

8. Don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t wear X because you’re too Y. I’m six feet tall. I happen to like heels. Also, I tend to be somewhat busty. I’ve never had any complaints.

9. Mix it up! Tuxedo jacket with peasant skirt. Sure. Channel your inner pre-Raphaelite cowgirl.

10. Wear whatever the hell you want. I still don’t wear navy blue, ever, because my mother told me when I was young that navy blue was a nice sensible colour for “big girls”, and that I couldn’t wear a bomber jacket (which was the ONLY style at the time) because my butt was too big. To this DAY I want an orange plaid bomber jacket. Just cuz.

Celebrate yourself! Express yourself! And be creative. If it doesn’t work today, you’re gonna get dressed again tomorrow anyway, right?

The Rant, As Promised

Standard

Okay, so here’s my ranty blog I promised yesterday, but failed to deliver as I got kinda busy in there somewhere.

Every weekday morning, I go to the gym before I go to work. I’m not the first one there, nor am I the first one the hit the changerooms.

It used to be, I’d go up and check to make sure the sauna was on before I worked out, as the cleaners had been turning it off to clean at night and forgetting to turn it back on. Few things are more disappointing than walking into a cold sauna. I mentioned it to the front desk staff, and it’s been addressed, so, YAY.

However, there is a plank platform about 3′ x 4′ that goes on the floor, which is tile and gets very HOT on bare feet, which they lean up on top of one of the benches when they clean the floor. Often, it gets left up there and is still there in the morning. On the upside, that floor is CLEAN.

Like I said, I’m never the first one in there in the morning. But Friday, I got kinda pissed. I came in, I could see some of the women had left their towels in there to warm while they showered, so I knew they had already been into the sauna. The floor platform was still leaned up against the bench. Just then, a couple of them came in and one said “Oh, good, Lynne’s here. Lynne, can you put that floor down for us?”

What the hell?

Well, it got slammed down good, believe me.

I feel the pain that men feel sometimes, I think, when I hear the “poor lil me, I’m just a weak lil girl” card played. It happened to me in an office once (not the office I’m in now). Something needs to be moved? Lynne’s big, she’ll do it. Something needs to be reached? Lynne’s tall, she’ll do it. It has ALWAYS pissed me off. I’m very self-sufficient, and I guess I have high expectations for others to be the same way. Also, I have pretty bad knees, a hip that’s wonky at times, and the back problems that often come with height, although working out has gone a long way to correcting them. You don’t know my story or my limitations.

But for God’s sake – IT’S A GYM, gurls. I refuse to believe that none of you are strong enough to put that floor down. You work out EVERY DAMN MORNING.

So – I never liked standing in the back row centre with the boys on picture day, when all you demure little “ladies” were sitting the front row, ankles crossed, hand in your laps. I don’t like carrying your bags, tying your shoes (yes, I had a supervisor get me to do that once, believe it or not), hauling boxes of paper around, or reaching the stuff that you can’t. Get a stepstool. If there’s nothing wrong with you, damn well do it yourself.

I have reached the point in my life where I’m getting awfully tired of looking after people who can look after themselves. I have no problem helping people who need it, it’s my job, but being treated like a draft animal because I’m taller than the average woman just PISSES ME OFF. I am no less feminine than you, so stop making me feel that way. In fact, I am far more woman than most of you.

I am tall. I am strong. I am very self-reliant. So should we all be, to the best of our abilities.

So, there’s my rant. Happy? I’m not. 😦