It’s the little things

Release
Yesterday morning I was coming back from taking a bag of garbage out to the bin. I noticed that there were furnace filters in the bin so when I heard my super calling my name I knew it must be that time again. It reminded me of my Dad warning us when he was going to change the storm windows.
After my Dad died changing the furnace filter was a job I didn’t like doing. It’s not difficult it’s just the task of going to Home Depot to buy one and having to write down the dimensions so I had the right one. My Dad would buy 2 so he had one ahead. I wasn’t sure how often you were supposed to change it so I did it in the spring and fall. You are supposed to check the smoke alarm batteries too but they only got changed when the battery beeped to tell you it was dying. And they never went out at the same time. Inevitably it would be a couple months later. Thankfully that is an item you can usually get at the grocery store.
This would be the time of year where I would have to winterize the lawn mower and put the cover on the A/C. There is a sense of accomplishment in crossing off the items of the list but it is nice not to have to do any of those things anymore. I will have to bring my patio cushions in pretty soon but I am happy that I got a lot of use out of them. It’s nice to be able to have the windows open in the fall.
Yesterday I happened upon a segment on one of the news channels about home ownership. They always talk about the financial aspect of it and how it’s an asset but they never talk about the cost of maintenance, snow shovelling and getting someone to check on the house when you are away. When Mom and I went on a cruise over Christmas it was the first time we had ever had to have someone check on the house. Mom phoned to cancel our newspaper and unfortunately it didn’t go through. Our neighbour brought it into the house. Having to set timers for the lights so it looks like someone is home.
After my Dad died there were a couple of major items that we had to replace…a washer and dryer and a laundry tub. We used companies that my Dad had used and thankfully the whole process went smoothly. But it was weird having the responsibility. I have had a couple minor things that needed fixing since I’ve been here…kitchen faucet and new flapper. One day my a/c wasn’t working and the guy came the same day. That would never happen in a house I would have had to wait until after the holiday.
Tomorrow is farmers market day and I may even get one more weekend of being able to sit outside. As the title says…it’s the little things.

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Grocery shopping

Express
When I saw the word for today it made me think of the express lane at the grocery store. Last Saturday I went shopping with a friend of mine. We started at a home store then clothes shopping and ended at Loblaws. As soon as I walked in the store I was overwhelmed with all the departments. It didn’t seem to flow the way a grocery store should. The big stores lay it out this way so you will buy more and it worked since I was only intending to buy milk, eggs and some meat. This store didn’t have an express lane but they have self checkout. I’m a big proponent of going to a human being for most service items. I say most because I actually prefer using a bank machine because inevitably “they” try to sell me something.
I used to like going grocery shopping with my Mom. The cashiers would make fun because we had what they termed a large order. So many people go twice a week but we did one big order a week. I find grocery shopping by myself a chore. Because I moved I had to find another grocery store to go to and then learn the layout. I thought I would go to Valu Mart but it’s small and the quality isn’t good. I was talking to my grocery guy about going to Loblaws and throwing in items that I didn’t really need and he said he is often told that having groceries delivered cuts down on impulse buying.
I do know of a couple of people that pick up items through the week so probably go 3 times. Both have told me that they never sit down and actually add up what they spend in a week. I was watching Rachael Ray and she had a woman giving suggestions on how to cut down your grocery budget. It only works if you live in a house. I can’t buy in bulk I don’t have the room. Nor can I freeze much either.
At the same time there is something special about a leisurely dinner spent with a friend. Or even just coffee. A chance to express our thoughts and feelings.

Brave

Brave
This morning I learned that Gord Downie passed away. I don’t follow his music but I would have to be living under a rock not to know he had cancer. I was amazed at how much he did after his diagnosis. He was brave in showing the effects the cancer had on him (his memory). My Aunt loved the band and had a crush on him. Her profile picture is of the two of them…crossing an item off her bucket list.
Cancer sucks. But every person that has it is a fighter. My Dad chose not to have surgery and there is bravery in that. For me I had to be brave for my Dad. I was so scared because I wasn’t ready to lose another family member while I had barely processed losing my twin. Somehow all of us find a strength we never knew we had.
For me it took courage to be honest with people. To use yesterday’s word it’s a risk opening up to other people. Being vulnerable and asking for help. Being brave meant facing my fears head on even though I wanted to run away. Being brave meant standing up for myself. Having the courage to know I may have to go it alone for a time. Growing up I had someone who always had my back. I think it’s like a muscle the more you use it the stronger it becomes. My friends always knew I was strong it just took me time to believe it too.

Bold choices

Risky
I was thinking about this word today and I don’t think I’m a risk taker but I think it depends on the way I look at it.

The summer after my Dad I redid my room top to bottom…new carpet, paint and furniture. I took a risk with the colour and a friend called it “school bus yellow”. It’s actually called yellow raincoat. The painters kept asking me “are you sure?”. My Mom wasn’t sure until the furniture went in and then it grew on her. To me it reminds me of the colour of a sunrise. It was at a time when my world was very grey. Even on a cloudy day my room was sunny. My sister painted her room peach. My Dad wasn’t sure of that but she loved it.


For some people having a red couch might be considered a risky colour but I always knew it was what I wanted. Janet’s favourite colour is red and I can imagine her sitting beside me. It brightens up the builder’s beige.


Of course bidding on this quilt was scary. I had never bid on anything in my life in a live auction and all I could think was how much money it was going up to. The reward was worth the risk. Our favourite colours are in that quilt. A twin told me that she went out and bought something that she had been eyeing when she got home. When we lose people we love we realize life is short buy the things that make you happy.

Loyalty

Loyal
I had to look up the definition for the word today. “giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution”
I wrote recently that I am a name brand person. I could say that I am loyal to certain brands. Growing up my Mom always told me that you get what you pay for. I still buy Royale bathroom tissue and usually wait for it to go on sale. When I take a cab in the city I have one that I rely on even though there are at least 4 different ones. My Mom always went to the same grocery store and if I go on my own I go to the closest Metro to me.
Of course we all have loyalty cards in our wallets. Air Miles, Optimum card for Shoppers Drug Mart, Addition Elle, Chapters Indigo. I get rewards for my credit card. I also have a rewards card for the restaurant that I frequent. When I moved I had thought I would stay with my neighbourhood pharmacy but there was a lot of miscommunication. Customer service is a big thing and they should value that. I now have a regular Saturday morning routine of going to the Farmers Market. I quickly learned which ones are friendlier than others.
I have my services with Bell and Rogers. My parents always used them too. Of course this was long before there were options. My parents never had trouble with either company and they were quite helpful when I had to cancel the service for the house when I moved. Yes I wish it was cheaper but it’s factored into budget (and I’m enjoying my HGTV!!)
This morning I passed both my supers on the way back from taking out recycling. On Saturday I was shopping with a friend who carried in a new lamp for my office. She commented that it’s nice that I’m getting more settled. She said we like to retain the good tenants. That’s a form of loyalty too. My parents lived in their house for 40 yrs. I remember in home ec in high school we had to write down on a piece of paper all the places that we’ve lived and or houses. Janet and I the only ones that only had one place. We would tell people we love our neighbourhood why would we move?
I always considered myself a loyal friend but if I went by the definition would I be? It’s unrealistic to think that we could give “constant” support to someone. Our relationships change. A friend has a baby and their focus is on that. A friend moves away. For me looking after my parents meant that was 24/7. I have lost friends because we’ve grown apart. Something changes. I believe that we take away something from each relationship.
There are days when I miss the unconditional love from my twin. It’s irreplaceable.

BALLOONS–photo challenge scale

Scale

There is something magical about watching balloons get smaller and smaller in the sky. I have done it a couple of times for my birthday. Mom and I were able to do it when she was in rehab facility. It was special to be able to honour Dad and Janet together.

Being thankful

Believe
Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. I have been invited to a friend’s house. This morning I found a video on Facebook of my September moments in pictures. September is a hard month for me but seeing it in pictures it took on a different perspective. It highlighted the little things. Going to the market and enjoying a cup of coffee and scone on my balcony. It’s still warm enough to do so without the heat and humidity of summer.

The changing colours in the fall and being thankful that I don’t have to rake them. The abundance of produce at the Farmers market. Being able to try new things…a tomato tart, spinach and orzo soup. Buying sunflowers for the table.

As I listen to the hum of the washing machine I’m thankful for things that make my life easier. A dishwasher, a washing machine on the same level and central air. It may seem “superficial” but I’m thankful for products that make cleaning easier…a swiffer.

I’m thankful for a closet full of clothes and pretty pjs. I’m lounging in a tshirt and pretty purple pyjama bottoms. They are so soft and the first time I put them on I thought of Mom because she loved pretty pjs. I’m thankful for little reminders.

Although I’m thankful for a plethora of shows to watch Monday night because of on demand I can space the programs out during the week! I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars but my Aunt does so I keep track a little online so I can discuss it with her. She and my Uncle were great dancers.

Of course this wouldn’t be complete without including my family in heaven, my cousins and friends who have become my family. They are my support system but they are also the people who make me laugh, who I go for coffee with and who I celebrate with. I “believe” I’m very blessed to have you in my life.

Deny daily prompt

Deny
Last night I was watching the news and I couldn’t deny there was a lot of bad stuff going on. I was shocked at the report on University students having a party where over 10,000 people were there. 40 people taken to hospital and they are still tallying the cost for the weekend for police, EMS and of course garbage crews. In March there was a small house party near me and that was tame compared to this (and there were people taken away by ambulance from that one as well).

A friend of mine who is a teacher said this is our future. She has told me stories that would make your toes curl (and those are high school students). I remember going to college and there were some students that didn’t really take it seriously because mommy and daddy were paying. Or maybe they did have a loan but didn’t understand the true value of money. My parents were social drinkers. After my Mom had a transplant she wasn’t allowed to drink. I didn’t go out clubbing and couldn’t see the appeal in getting so wasted that you didn’t remember what you did the night before. I realize that made me look like a “goody goody” and thankfully I was strong enough to know it didn’t matter.

We now live in a society where there isn’t deniability for your actions. There are camera phones. Social media. Actions have consequences. People say that it’s a generation of entitlement. Partly. But each one of those students have a family. I would like to think that as parents they would talk about drinking responsibly, being safe. Cleaning up after yourself. Taking pride in the city that you live in even if it’s temporary.

Not interested

Interest
Right now politics is everywhere. My newsfeed is flooded with articles about “President” Trump. A couple of days ago I saw a commercial…or more appropriate attack ad…against our premier. Yesterday the news outlets were talking about the new leader of the Federal NDP party. My Dad was very interested in politics. One could almost call him a political junkie. But taking care of someone who has cancer means there isn’t time to watch a lot of t.v or read the paper. And it all seemed so frivolous.

I don’t care that our PM is pretty or how young all the leaders are because that has no bearing on their ability to lead. I don’t get a newspaper anymore so I don’t know what the party platforms are. Truthfully it’s getting harder to filter out the information from the media outlets. Next year is provincial and municipal election and the following year is federal.

I titled this not interested because I guess like a lot of people I’ve become cynical about the process. Since when did it become a popularity contest? Municipally we have a lot of issues on the table. I hope we have people that will step up the plate to be a leader. That’s what it means to be Mayor. Park your ego at the door and work as a team. When Janet and I helped with campaigns we were part of that. I hope someday we can have that again.

It’s called yard “work” for a reason

Athletic
Every once in a while a memory comes up on Facebook usually referencing yard work. This is the time of year where we are getting the gardens ready for winter, cutting things back, raking leaves, picking up walnuts etc. When my Dad had cancer he wrote out a list because he couldn’t sit out in the sun and he didn’t have the strength to do it. I like raking leaves…and there is an emphasis on raking I can’t stand the sound of leaf blowers!! But raking and bagging them on my own was work especially dragging them from the back lawn to the front for pick up. My Mom would joke that I was gaining muscle and there was a little bit. I got an awesome “farmer tan”. Janet would sit beside me on the deck and lean over and say “yep, the neck is looking good!”
I am not athletic so carrying bags of dirt or manure was hard. After my Dad died I had to learn to pace myself because if I did too much my arms would be very sore.
Living in an apartment I don’t miss any of those chores! I can go for a walk and enjoy the fall colours without the work involved in raking.

Janet and I would go for walks in the neighbourhood. Mom used to call it our “daily constitutional”. Going for a walk we would notice things that you don’t if you are driving in the car. She would walk faster up the hill at the point where I was slowing down. She would tease me and ask “do you need a push?” I’ll sometimes go for a walk downtown on a holiday because the streets aren’t busy and I can look in the windows.

Janet and I would go with a friend to a Woman’s show in March. They would have all sorts of booths and there were a few from gyms. Of course we couldn’t tell them we’re really just here for the food samples. They all looked the same…blonde, spray tanned with really white teeth. I once stood in front of a gym owned by the son of a woman from the church I grew up in and as I was eating my almond bark I had to turn around because I felt guilty. His Mom laughed. My brother used to go to a gym downtown and my Dad couldn’t understand it because he grew up on a farm. You don’t pay money to “work out”. And he would not let him drive to go and work out. Don’t get me wrong there are great health benefits to working out I would just feel too self conscious doing it. It’s all working together…eating healthy (drinking lots of water!), exercising and maintaining stress. I’m trying.