What could be sweeter than a birthday. This is a picture taken when I went to afternoon tea with a friend for a belated birthday. That year I must have had 3 or 4 celebrations as there was a photo of flowers on the table, a big birthday card from a friend and my balloon release and a birthday cake at another friend’s house. It was fun but I’ve found in the past few years that I’m ok with having a quieter celebration.
When I was going through my photos it made me think of all the things that represent sweet. The first time my Mom held her granddaughter. Her first smile. Mom’s favourite photo at her 70th birthday party. That’s what makes looking at the photos tough sometimes because it’s when joy and sadness combine. Those sweet moments that are reminders of people I love and miss a lot. On Valentine’s Day that kind of seems appropriate.
Today is Shrove Tuesday or “pancake day” as it is affectionately called. I belong to a weight loss group on facebook and they are all wondering about having pancakes. The thing that kept popping up for me as I read down the posts was how it was a tradition. I would give anything to be able to share pancakes with my family. I have friends that have photos of their kids in their pajamas making pancakes.
When my sister and I were in a church group when were in our teen years and early twenties we helped every year with the pancake supper. It wasn’t what we deemed pancakes because it was from a mix (ours were always homemade). One year the youth leader wore cow tights and Janet teased him unmercifully. To be fair she wasn’t the only one. The leaders were the ones who manned the grill and we usually served or cleared the tables. He was complaining that he thought the hair on his arms was burning off so Janet teased him just pull some from the top (since he had long hair at the time). When he went to leave Janet said “I guess you have to be moooving along”. Corny but it makes me laugh.
When Janet was volunteering at the kidney foundation one of the workers was looking for a church close by to go to for pancakes. So Janet told him ours was close. Do they have ham or sausage. Oh if you want sausage you can go to this church. Someone teased her wait you are sending him to the competition and Janet said I don’t care.
Sunday was pancake day in our household. We would come down the stairs and Dad would ask are we having pancakes? When we went to the early service we changed it to Saturday morning since we didn’t have time. They were buttermilk pancakes. I don’t make them anymore because it makes a lot for one. I suppose I could make a batch and freeze them but I’ve always found that pancakes are better fresh.
In life I try to go by the 80/20 rule. For the most part I eat healthy but when I went out for lunch with my cousin I had dessert. It’s so pretty but it was good. It’s not about the food or the calories…it’s about spending time with special people. Making memories.
I get groceries delivered and keep a basic grocery list on my IPad of the basics that I get every week…milk, eggs, bread etc. Even though I think I’m fairly organized doing it this way there are still weeks where I will go to the cupboard the morning of and find something I’m almost out of. On Thursday I stopped into the grocery store but didn’t make out a list so I wandered around the store talking to myself trying to remember what I needed. Of course the couple of items turns into an entire bag. Going to my regular place I would probably be good without a list because I would just go down every aisle and once I saw it I would remember.
I have to write out a list if I go to Shoppers Drug Mart because each one is laid out a little differently. Plus it’s not usually stuff I use everyday.
My Mom would buy a notepad at the dollar store to write out her grocery list but because I’m just picking up a few things I just use the back of an envelope. My grandmother did that too.
I used to know my friends phone number off by heart but they don’t have a landline anymore. I had to put someone’s cellphone number in my list on my home phone so that I could recognize it when it came up on caller ID. The bell sales guy put my number in my cellphone under ME so that if someone asked for the number I could find it easily (after all you aren’t phoning yourself). When I was buying furniture I had to give my phone number to the sales person and I had to think for a minute what it was. On envelopes I was still writing my old address for a long time.
I am terrible with remembering passwords. Some are just numbers. Some are letters and numbers. My IPad and apple store, My PC, log into library, Amazon, Twinless Twins membership, my bloodwork lab (so I can get the results online), voice mail and online banking. I’m sure there are ones I’m forgetting too. Wow, no wonder I have a hard time remembering them all!
When I saw the word for today this is the first thing that came to mind. It makes me laugh every time (and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen it). The reason it’s funny is it’s so true. My friend and I actually did this when we went to Eldon House for tea. Since I arranged it I was going to pay. When the waitress came with the bill and asked is this one bill or separate we both answered at the same time. The waitress teased us that is how you know you are good friends you are arguing over the bill. I told her I hope we are still doing it when we are old ladies. When we first started going out for coffee together we would do a small gift exchange at Christmas. It was probably less than $10. There are years when I spend a little more if she has gone out of her way to help me or she has had a more trying year.
When I go out for coffee with my former neighbour we tend to alternate who pays. It’s not quite even because if we go out chances are she will help me run some errands. When Mom and I went on a cruise after my Dad died this neighbour checked on the house for us. Mom bought her a sarong as a thank you gift. Of course she is the type of person to say it isn’t necessary but for Mom it is. It’s a way to say thank you.
I wrote a blog post titled “sometimes a kindness can’t be paid back” because there are so many people in my life who have helped me at difficult times in my life. My friend who I stayed with in Vancouver. My neighbour. My friend who helped me move. The many friends who let me rant or cry when I needed to. The people who just listened and never tried to “fix” it. True friends don’t keep a balance sheet. A gift is just a token…the true gift is friendship.
Yesterday my Uncle was mentioning on facebook that he is getting his stuff organized for planning a trip in the summer and he checked to see if his passport is up to date. I sat reading his status and thought oh shoot when I worked out the dates in my head mine expired last year. I checked it this morning and I was right. Thankfully it’s less than a year so I can still renew by mail. There is a camera store in the mall that I frequent where one can get passport photos. The passport office is in the mall too but it would probably just be as easy to mail as it’s a pretty busy place.
I also have to renew my health card this year too. That one I remembered that it came up this year and I’m pretty sure they send you a letter to remind you.
I’m debating getting an Ontario ID card which I can use for voting. Currently I use my passport but I also have to bring a piece of mail to show my address. I usually use a bank statement or something from the government so it’s “official”. It’s a little more work/paper but I didn’t want to spend the extra money on another card. When Janet and I volunteered in a campaign office for a Federal election 12 years ago we would have people call in to ask what they could use for ID if they didn’t have a drivers license. We would turn it over to the higher up people because we didn’t know. There is a list but there are still people who don’t have a health card with their picture on it so it’s very limiting. It’s probably why they came out with the ID card for people that don’t have a drivers license. I don’t remember exactly when it came out (maybe 5 years ago?)
Once a year I also have to renew my library card. Thankfully it’s easy to remember because it’s supposed to be around my birthday but it’s the producing of enough ID that is a challenge. When I would go to my local library I just produced a piece of mail and that was enough because they knew me but unfortunately other libraries are a real stickler. I don’t understand why we need ID to renew a library card??!!
Oh yes AND I stopped to get a few groceries yesterday and I could have changed over my Shoppers Optimum card (since I went to a store that is associated with the PC label) and it was in my other purse. Yet another card. I should have got a basket but I didn’t think I needed that much and I ended up balancing the stuff in my arms. I know it’s just standard for them to ask if I need a bag but if it’s obvious I’m not carrying one then yes I need one!! Mom and I both had crossbody purses to free up hands so when I came back to my building yesterday I had to dig in my good purse for my key and balance my mail and grocery bag.
There are things that I do to “simplify” my life. I have groceries delivered. I buy clothes online. I take a cab. I keep enough cash in my wallet for emergencies. I put all my appointments on my Ipad. I control the things that I can.
It’s always interesting seeing my city through someone else’s eyes. When I moved to my apartment the first time my friend came to pick me up she said it’s nice that even though you are downtown it’s still quiet.
Today I went out for lunch with my cousin. We went to the place that I usually take people because of my dietary restrictions I’m limited to restaurants I can go to. Plus the great thing about this restaurant is it is quiet. There was only one other couple in entire restaurant. Since I have been many times I don’t notice the architectural details that someone else would. It used to be a mansion that they turned into a hotel, restaurant and now spa. Why do I love this place? Because it’s special. You aren’t just a customer but their guest. I was telling my cousin about going there for my birthday which must have been the year after Janet died. We got a flyer in the mail for a lobster event. I told Dad that he didn’t need to I would be happy with just a quiet dinner at home but he was insistent. He was so proud. The funny store was the hydro went out so because we got there early we were the only ones in the restaurant that got to finish their meal.
My cousin dropped me off at the grocery store and it was different driving around the neighbourhood. Since the first time I’ve moved it felt comfortable. It’s just so full of memories. I no longer use that bank but the receptionist was so helpful after Janet died. She cried with me when she found out. It wasn’t awkward when I went in after I moved because she was so happy for me. My local library. The gift shop where I have found many unique gifts for friends. We drove past my regular Saturday morning stop in the spring. I love going to the market. It’s not just food it’s the place where I got a balloon for my birthday, flowers on many occasions and of course lots of coffee.
I’ve always lived within walking distance of the things that I need on a daily basis…a grocery store, a pharmacy, a library and a bank. I’m within walking distance of really cool shops.
Of course I can’t end this post without saying I’m really glad living in an apartment that I don’t have to shovel!!
Yesterday I watched the episode of THIS IS US that aired after the Super Bowl while I was waiting for the Bell technician (which is a very long story). I started watching the show during the episode that was a tribute to Randall’s biological father. I could relate to the part when they all went for a walk and he put on his father’s hat. During the episode he came in contact with many people that his father touched in his life. It hit home for me because it was something I noticed after my parents died that it was the little things that people noticed. Since my Dad gardened he was always outside and my neighbours missed him.
At first when they got to the part of how Jack died I did feel it was kind of anti-climactic because of so much lead up to it but it was beautifully portrayed by the family. I was softly crying at the part when Kevin phones his Mom and she tells him about his father sending her a sign every year. I have received many signs from Janet and my Mom and like in the tv show this is their way of telling me there are still with me. She cooks a lasagna to honour him which is something I do for birthdays. I could totally relate to Kate when she was watching the video and she told her partner that if she wanted to take one day out of the year and wallow in her pain to just let her. I had friends that would tell me sometimes you just need to go there. He hadn’t experienced what she had so he didn’t understand.
Good writing makes every character relatable and this episode did that.
1. Drama. After my Dad died I let go of a lot of friends because of this. There was a time when I thought there must be something wrong with me for 1 attracting these people, 2 permitting it for so long and 3 unfriending these individuals. There is something freeing about grief though. I know that sounds weird but for me it made me see things more clearly. Maybe it was because I only had time for people who were real. I came to realize that it wasn’t quantity of friends but the quality of the friends that I chose to have around me.
2. Myself to be devalued because I’m a woman. I grew up in a family where men were the boss solely because they were men. It’s something I came across often dealing with my mother’s estate. I learned to speak up. I know it’s not going to change overnight but if I spoke up at least they would realize what they were doing (hopefully).
3. Myself to be labelled. Going to church Mom and I were both labelled by how Janet died. It was ignorant because how would they feel if that was them?
4. Boundaries to be crossed. This is something I’m working through and I’m still determining how to go about it.
These were hard things to do because people didn’t know what to make of the “new” me. I had to learn to be strong. I had to learn to advocate for myself because I’m it. It took me a long time to realize I’m worth it.
Recently I wrote about having hydro meters installed in the building and the power would be out intermittently. I didn’t know what to do with myself because I write my blog first thing in the morning. Of course I could write it out by hand but I had to wait until after 1 in order to type it out and post. My friend told me blogging is what you do.
Growing up there we definitely had a routine. Monday’s were usually laundry day and Thursday was grocery shopping day. I don’t know how I got started on Tuesday but my guy noticed I seemed to order on that day so he scheduled me for that day. In the spring I can offset my groceries but fresh produce at the Farmers Market. I miss it so much in the wintertime because it’s part of my routine. I go every Saturday, unless it’s raining or really hot. I will leave home at 9am and by the time I’m finished it’s around 10 and I sit outside with my morning coffee. I usually buy a tart or something for lunch.
When I had to fast for bloodwork Mom and I would go for breakfast afterwards. Depending on the day we would go to Harry’s or Cora’s. Harry’s was our go to place because that’s where my grandparents went every Saturday. I went once after bloodwork but it wasn’t the same eating by myself.
I have gone for lunch by myself and that is a little easier. Breakfast is such a social thing and it’s a place where people meet friends. It’s probably why I’ve changed to Starbucks because it’s not as social as Tim’s.
On the weekend I watch programs that are on during the week at the same time as something else I watch. I’ve started watching This is Us and it’s on tonight after the Super Bowl. One of the woman on Entertainment Tonight Canada aptly named it THIS IS US CRYING. Yeah that would be me nearly every episode. And when they give you a warning that you will need Kleenex you know you are in for a doozy. The funny thing was I didn’t get it at first the fact it went back and forth in time. That would have driven my Mom nuts. My friend and I were talking about Bull on the way home from coffee and she mentioned about the guy that’s going through for a lawyer. I missed the first 5 minutes because I was in the kitchen getting a snack and she told me I missed an important part.
There is comfort in a routine. It’s why my Mom always looked forward to September and getting back to church groups. Routines are comfortable.
What an appropriate word for today after my conversation last night. I phoned a friend of my Mom’s last night since I hadn’t been talking to her since Christmas. We started discussing the stuff in the news regarding politics. She then got into a rant on the fact that we have to be careful voting for certain individuals because we don’t want them to take over. My mother used to worry about going out for coffee with her for fear that someone who is Muslim would overhear her. I told her I don’t believe in tarring everyone with the same brush and she told me I was naïve. The thing that puzzles me is how can someone who professes to be Christian hate another human being. We are supposed to love our neighbour. That hatred filters down to other members of your family.
My mother went to dinner with my Dad’s siblings and my Dad’s eldest brother said “they” should go back to where they came from. 4 out of the 6 siblings have spouses that are the children of immigrants (Mom having a daughter-in-law). Mom sat there thinking are they not included? But she didn’t speak up and when I was in the same situation I didn’t either. We each make the decision is it worth it because we aren’t going to change their mind.
I think we should have diversity in politics. A friend took her son to city hall to watch a council meeting and he leaned over and asked “where are the brown people”. Out of all the people on council we have 2 that are brown.
There have been times in my life where I have been very angry. I remember a woman at the bereavement support group telling me to find an outlet for it because it had to be let out. Anger eats away at you. Not to mention it gives you restless sleep and indigestion. I’m so thankful that love is more powerful than hate. I’m thankful for friends that are teaching their kids to make a difference, to love everyone.
That’s the type of world I want my nieces to grow up. And if that makes me naïve I’m ok with that!