Friday, 3 November 2017

Reasons not to be home

Showings are like your annual physical.  Chances are, you haven't lived as you ought and now someone's going to judge you.

Days after our house went on sale, a recognizable pattern emerged, one I faintly remembered from selling our house in Victoria seventeen years ago:  the stress of continually cleaning and clearing out, while packing and dealing with the ordinary everyday chores that don't go away simply because your life is in upheaval.

Seventeen years ago, I was doing this mostly on my own in Victoria while the Resident Fan Boy was starting his job in Hades, usually getting a few hours' notice before potential buyers showed up, scooping up an eight-year-old and four-year-old and heading out.

These days, I have one grown-up daughter on the autistic spectrum and an elderly dog to get out of the house, but the internet means I get at least twelve hours' notice.  The downside is that I can't go downtown or into most shops or restaurants because of the dog.  The weather has been kind.

However, some agents show up early, assuming I'll, of course, be out at work.  This means leaving in a hurry while the prospective buyer waits outside, an awkward situation which sometimes has me struggling to hang on to the precepts of my "angel cards" which happened to include "enlightenment" the day I run into one of the McKenzie brothers on my front walk.

Enlightened people don't think dark and nasty thoughts about such people who have shown up five minutes ahead of the scheduled viewing time, while one attempts to marshal said dog and said daughter, both of whom have already been hustled out earlier in the day by an agent who showed up ten minutes early.

Enlightened people don't think ill of anybody - even a cheerfully loud man who asks questions in the third person while one is standing there, even after one has already answered his question about the roof:  "Beauty!"  (Yes, he really says that.)  "Did they give up their parking in order to have the deck?"

His large, brilliantly white SUV-type truck is squeezed next to the curb, and still taking up much of the lane.  I pass it as I head down to the coffee shop to take up vigil with the dog, sending younger daughter in to buy a drink, while I wonder by on earth such a person is looking for a house in an urban neighbourhood when everything about him screams "Suburbs!!!"

Enlightened people don't think that way.  An enlightened person would give him the benefit of the doubt.  An enlightened person wouldn't worry about subjecting such a jackass on one's very nice neighbours.

Give me strength.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The eighteenth October

On the seventeenth anniversary of the day we moved into our Hades house, I board the bus on the heels of younger daughter.

And there's André.

During our first year in Hades, André was almost always our driver on the bus that took us to younger daughter's preschool. He always greeted younger daughter by name, and treated all the passengers with calm kindness -- even the ones who were being difficult or silly.

We mourned when his route changed, and younger daughter made him a card. For my part, I wrote to the OC Transpo web site, describing his specialness.

We glimpsed him from time to time, when younger daughter attended kindergarten near Westgate, and later when she was in a special programme in Blackburn Hamlet. (Younger daughter's school career was an immersive course in Ottawa geography, and OC Transpo bus routes.)

Now, I greet André warmly, and he says, "It's been about fifteen years, hasn't it?"

"We saw you in the newspaper!" I exclaim, before hurrying to my seat. André is one of the drivers who mans the emergency buses that act as temporary shelters in big apartment fires, and we had saved the article.

I'm careful to leave the bus by the front door, so younger daughter can say hello. And goodbye.

I tell him we're moving and that we'll always remember him.

So many things are coming full circle as we prepare to follow Orpheus. I hope he doesn't look back.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A seasoned fool

The Fools celebrated their fifteenth anniversary of putting on their loopy, yet spot-on versions of Shakespeare's plays in Ottawa's park. (The actual company has been around quite a bit longer, but you can check the web site yourself.) That means they've done sixteen park productions, of which I've seen nine. I would have seen ten, except for the summer that my escape to Demeter took me out of town for the entire run of As You Like It, which, according to the Resident Fanboy, was superb. Damn.

On my last evening with the Fools, we squeezed our camp chairs next to a tall man sitting in a kitchen chair, effectively blocking the view of those behind him. Three rows ahead, another tall man, arriving minutes before curtain (had there been curtains), lowered himself into his "low-profile" chair, directly in front of another gentleman who had arrived more than half an hour ahead, leaving him little leg-room, and effectively blocking his view as well -- and quite a bit of mine.

'Twas ever thus.

I strolled over to the snack-and-souvenir booth and exclaimed: "Diet coke and chips!"

The girl behind the table intoned with me, in exact, unplanned synchronization: "Luxury!!"

"Sister!" I exalted.

Another volunteer asked me if I'd seen a Fools play before, and after she'd heard my catalogue, offered me a "Seasoned Fools" sticker which I wore proudly, as I returned to my seat behind the man behind the tall man in the low-profile chair.

It was A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of my favourites, and was, of course, hilarious and charming - what I could see of it.

A few months ago, I made a list of about a dozen things I will miss about Hades. A Company of Fools came third, which isn't all that significant; it was a pretty random list.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Gremlins and psychopaths and genes, oh my!

When I have a "gremlin episode", I wonder nightmarishly whether I'm actually seeing things with greater clarity (horrors!), or am deluded with dark nocturnal pessimism.

Do I really want to know?

I'm thinking of a show I saw on TVO a few months ago, called "Genetic Me". A Scandinavian journalist - there's darkness right there - disturbed by what she sees as her negative personality resulting from unhappy incidents in her childhood and adolescence, explores where our personality comes from, ie. genetics.

Can we help it? No. And yes.
Does our family life have a role? No. And yes.

Apparently, we have some say in how unhappy or happy we are, because we can choose how we respond - and our choices may be rooted in what has happened to us in our family.

The strangest story involves her encounter with a Dr. Fallon, a leading expert in psychopathic murderers, who accidentally discovered that he too is a psychopath -- his brain scan confirms it. However, he's a "pro-social" psychopath. He dispassionately analyzes how a "good person" responds, and this has mostly worked for him, preventing him from damaging those around him. He gives his mother's raising of him credit.

The Scandinavian journalist has troubles with what she calls "ruminating" - the experts call it perseveration - the first time I heard this term was June 28th, 2000. A speech therapist used it to describe my younger daughter, then four.

So, I think, the gremlins are my own way of ruminating. I can embrace it, recognize it, and move beyond it.

Can't I?

I rose, walked the Accent Snob with the Resident Fan Boy. As we made our way back, I thought of ruminating, gremlins, my panicking amygdala. I did my Creative Visualization exercises, and the angel cards drawn from my Blessing Bag read: "Comfort", "Cooperation", "Healing".

I can't stop aging.
I can't change younger daughter.
I can work on how I respond to these things.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Defiantly patriotic

The blazing tangerine that has dominated the sky for a week of late September heat wave is finally making its exit, as I make my way down the humid street in search of stamps. The post office at the pharmacy is closed, but you can buy stamps at the regular register.

The cashier offers me a choice: a selection of geological landscapes or large, maple-leaf-shaped stamps festooned with rainbows. Canada is not only celebrating its sesquicentennial, but also a dozen years of "marriage equality".

"I have several relatives whom I can really piss off with these," I muse, examining the latter sheaf.

The cashier laughs.

"I'm feeling pugnacious," I tell her. "Maybe I can use them on our Christmas cards."

It's getting dark as I pass the local bookstore, where a dozen people are strumming ukuleles.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Must be Wainwright week

PBS recently re-televised a truncated version of last year's Shakespeare Show, but they didn't excise Rufus Wainwright's performance of this.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The liturgical year

The Resident Fan Boy is a P.K. (Preacher's Kid), the son of an archdeacon, so when he wandered out into our neighbourhood, he first saw this new variation on street signage from the other direction, and caught himself thinking: No, isn't it Trinity?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Younger daughter has been repelled by the steady decomposition of a squirrel in the gutter near our house. I introduced her to this, by the man who's now chiefly famous for being Rufus Wainwright's dad. My Grade Eleven Biology teacher used it for his theme on a module on molds. Good times.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Those hallways

I've probably mentioned this before, but I used to have a friend who marketed !2-Step teeshirts and greeting cards. My favourite was a pair of staring white eyes against a pitch-black background with the caption: "I know that when one door closes, another one opens, but MAN, these hallways are a bitch!"

I loved it because you don't need to be recovering from an addiction to find yourself in a dark corridor after a door has slammed shut.

The door will open.