Feeding Me

One of my favourite memories of Jody’s and my home in Union, Ontario is our bird feeders.  What joy to sit on the deck and watch the hummers hum and the finches frolic.  Since moving to Belmont, I’ve missed that.  But I brought two feeders with me – a big cylinder holding sunflower seeds and other yummies (sparrow, finches, red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves and associated friends) and a small cylinder holding nyjer seed (red finches and goldfinches).  Two weeks ago, I set up a black shepherd’s hook stand outside my living room window and hung the feeders.

Within a day or two, I had multiple winged visitors.  What ecstasy!  Especially the mourning doves.  They were too heavy for the big feeder but they loved rooting around in the grass for the spilled nutrition.  As many as five of them at a time.  Every day, I love sitting on my couch near the window and welcoming the little people.  It’s like an extended family.

But then there was yesterday, and today.  I was having guests for dinner last night so I took out the hose and washed off the patio, getting as much bird poop off the stones and furniture as I could.  Then I refilled the sunflower feeder.  During the evening, I would occasionally glance out the window at the feeders.  They were empty of birdies.

This morning the same.  I sat down to blog half an hour ago and nobody was home.  I was sad.  Missing friends.  Will they ever come back?  What did I do wrong?  And I got thinking about the rest of my life.

What is supremely important to me is loving.  Being loved is very wonderful but I have no control over what comes back to me from other human beings.  Thursday was the last day of school.  Five minutes before home time, all the Grade 6’s were standing on the playground with Mrs. Fournier and me.  I so much wanted to hug each of them but of course it’s not my place to initiate physical contact.  Kids need the room to make their own choices and at 3:25 pm, that choice could have been a little wave goodbye, or no goodbye at all.  I stood.

My eyes are wet as I remember the next.  At least twelve young human beings lined up to hug me.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.  Oh, how I wish they were my children!  And in a sense they are.

I’m still sitting by the window.  A few minutes ago, a lone goldfinch perched outside for a bit, and then left.  And one mourning dove is meandering through the grass shoots.  So someone has come back.  It’s not the flurry of wings that came my way days ago, and that’s fine.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Delayed Gratification

I’m not really good at this.  Take my current medication saga, for instance.  I’ve been on Trazodone, a sleeping pill, for years.  My pharmacist wants me to wean very slowly – two weeks of half a pill one day, a whole one the next.  Although Albert hasn’t said, I expect it’ll be an eight week process before zero is reached.  Eight weeks!  My need to get rid of the stuff is so strong that my brain says it can do the deed in two.  After all, I did sleep six hours last night on half a tab.

Slow down, Bruce.  Your pharmacist knows things.  If he says speed leads to panic attacks, wouldn’t it be wise to heed his advice?  Well … yes.  I guess.  In my better moments, I sink sweetly into contemplating free sleep in less than two months.

Exhibit Two:  I have three more car payments and then, for the first time in my adult life, I’ll be debt free.  How wondrous!  And I want it right now, not on June 7.  I want the bliss, I want the dancing, I want the foaming at the mouth.  Okay, Bruce, now breathe a little more easily please.  June 7 is just a hop, skip and jump away.

Exhibit Three:  I have a dear friend.  I’ll call her Abby.  I so much want to tell her all about my recent meditation retreat.  She would understand what I’ve been going through.  But Abby’s had some challenges and she doesn’t want to go out to dinner until the stress is down and she’s feeling better.  Fair enough.  I told her that I’ll wait to hear from her.  And I’ll keep my word on that.  But it’s hard.  I want to blab and emote and explore my head.

So there you have it.  Time will reveal all.  And in the meantime I get to meditate on not getting what I want … yet.  I’ll take it.

You and Another

I sat in the lounge of the Sheraton Four Points Hotel yesterday, eating my curds and whey.  (I think that’s from some fairy tale)  The waitress and I had a few good mini-talks while she came and went.  I wanted those talks to be longer but duty called.

I drank my white wine and devoured my honey garlic wings and read Toronto Maple Leafs articles on my phone.  All in a cozy chair.  So nice.  Glancing over to the bar, I saw my serving friend chatting with a grey-haired fellow (just like me!).  And their conversation extended, much to the delight of both.

After I got over the “Why not me?” reaction, I smiled.  How marvelous that they’re connecting, making meaning, enjoying each other’s company.  I should always be so happy in such circumstances.  “It doesn’t have to be about you, Bruce!”

The Buddha had a lot of good ideas.  My favourite is the thought of empathetic joy … being happy about the good fortune of another.  It’s such a sweet thing to do.  More of that, please.

Here I am on January 8, 2017, reflecting on my future joys.  As much as I want the goodies of life, including a love, I marvel at the happiness I feel when a friend glows about her boyfriend.  Clearly, I’m not the most important person in her life.  I don’t make the biggest impact.  I’m not the one she thinks of first.  And the smile again.

As far as I know, all the you’s in my life have a primary other who isn’t me.  Even though I hope a lovely woman will walk into my life and see me as her most significant other, that’s not happening right now.  I bask in the redirected glow  of dear companions gazing into the eyes of a third person.  And I take pleasure in their union.

 

 

 

Letting Go Of Place

Jody and I bought our home near Union, Ontario in 1994.  For twenty years, it was our sanctuary, our place of intimacy and repose.  But gradually since Jody died in November, 2014, home became house.  For most of the last six weeks, I’ve looked at many of our shared objects, asking myself whether they still sing.  Most of them don’t and so have found their way to an auction company, a donation centre or the dump.

Jody’s spirit is everywhere within 6265 Bostwick Road, especially the kitchen, where she was the master of gourmet meals.  And so it’s time for me to move on.  And my sweet wife is coming along for the ride.

Last Friday, I put our home on the market.  How surreal to see the “For Sale” sign out by the road.  Twenty-two years ago, Jodiette and I posed for a photo near that spot, just after signing the deal.  In two months, we’d be resident on “the road that goes to Union”.  I remember our first night, eating pizza on our furniture-less living room floor.  The seller, Jim Johnston, told our realtor that he picked us because he wanted to give his home to “that nice young couple”.

Last night, another nice young couple made an offer which I accepted.  I hope they have kids someday and that their family experiences great happiness on Bostwick.  In the offer, they asked for the beautiful reddish wood sleigh bed that Jody and I shared.  My first reaction was “No way!” but half an hour later there was another letting go.  Our bed was the centre of our intimate life – sex yes, but also thousands of nighttime cuddles.  May thousands more take place in its embrace.  I’ll choose a new bedframe and wait for the next love of my life to appear.  She’ll be here next week, next year or next lifetime.  I’m a patient soul.

Goodbye Bostwick (on August 24).  Hello Robin Ridge Drive.  Home again.

Hiatus Ending

It’s been so long, WordPressers … twenty days actually.  Some of my absence was out of my hands – there’s no Internet within the wilds of Haida Gwaii.  Still I’ve been home for almost a week and no digit has touched a key.  I’ve had so much to say and so little willingness to say it.  Strange.

Certainly, there are the seasons of a life.  In 2015, I was X.  In 2016, it’s more like X – Y + Z.  And that’s okay.

I went to B.C. with my tiny Nikon camera, knowing that I would chronicle my adventures.  On Day 2, I took a cool skyward shot of the ivy that covers the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver.  And that was it.  Both before and during my tall ship trip, I kept seeing awesome photo ops but always the answer was “No”.  “Let go of the recording, Bruce.  Just be in this moment.  A year from now, you may forget most of the Haida Gwaii happenings, and that’s all right.  The conversations, the whales, the eagles may slip away from conscious thought, but they will have seeped inside in some mysterious manner.  And they will always be with you.”

I listened to that voice.  Over the next few days, I’ll share marvels with you.  I guess that having them show up in my blog means that in 2031 I can look back on my journey, but still there is a great big letting go.

See you tomorrow.

 

Saying Goodbye To Stuff

Yesterday Jeff and Rick from Shackelton Auctioneering came by to pick up items for their spring lawn/gardening sale.  It was the first step in getting rid of things that Jody and I shared for years but that I don’t want at my condo.  I thought the process would be sweatless.

Nope.

Even though they were just “things”, some of the objects held the love that Jody and I still share.  A round patio table inlaid with dark shiny squares accompanied by matching wicker chairs.  Jody and I sat there in a little alcove at the front of our home, enjoying a lemonade.  Just chatting.  A large rectangular table with ceramic squares on the deck out back … the site of many summer meals.  Two comfy loungers where we’d sit beside each other, reading our books and listening to the birds.  All vehicles for togetherness.  Goodbye vehicles.  The magic that you hold will stay in my heart, alongside my lovely wife Jodiette.

Then there was the Roper lawn tractor that breezed over the grass for many a year.  How marvelous to change the world from scruffiness to parkland in an hour.  And our snowblower.  I felt so accomplished in transforming impassible to a clear path for Hugo and Scarlet.

Later in the day, I struggled with weights in my strength training at Wellington Fitness.  Odd, I thought.  I didn’t have trouble with this amount of weight a few days ago.  Then I realized … not odd at all.  The emotional and the spiritual morph into the physical.  Such a journey we’re all on, of gain and loss.  May I embrace them both because both is what I will continue to receive.

Old chapter, new chapter.  Nice book.

Condo … Part One

Here I sit in my big home, surrounded by nearly an acre of grass.  This is where Jody and I thrived and suffered, and thrived some more.  My dear wife is everywhere here, cheering me on.  I’m looking over to the couch where we cuddled for many a movie.  And there’s the kitchen, where Jodiette created brilliant meals.  (Sigh)

What’s true is that I don’t want to live here anymore.  The energy within is loving.  It’s also of the past.  I need a new start.  Part of my bursting forth is becoming a member at the Tarandowah Golfers Club near Avon, Ontario.  I love the beauty there.  Saw a red fox a couple of days ago.  But Tarandowah is a 40 minute drive from Union.  Can’t I live somewhere closer?

Two weeks ago, I discovered the aura of Belmont, a town of maybe 2000 west of the golf course.  I was trying to create the perfect golfing day, and unearthed a breakfast spot (The Belmont Diner), a place to read (The Belmont Library) and a pub (The Barking Cat).  Cool.  But now that I had set up my perfect day, where would I hang my hat?  (Actually I don’t wear one.)

On Friday, April 29, I asked Chrystal, the owner of the Diner, if there were any condos in Belmont.  I was guessing there weren’t.  “I think that one of my customers is building some out on Manning Drive.  Go check it out.”  So I moseyed over to the northwest edge of town and found lovely new single family dwellings … but no condos.  Oh well, I guess Chrystal was wrong.

A few days before, I stood in the presentation centre of a future condo building in St. Thomas, a city of 35000 just north of Union (about 30 minutes from Tarandowah).  I liked the layout of a small unit and over time decided to put down a deposit of $5000.  I didn’t really enjoy the area of town, but it was a condo, and I didn’t want any more yard work.

On Saturday, April 30, I left home with a cheque in my pocket.  I remembered that Chrystal had said she’d talk to Glenn, the builder, about me being interested in a condo.  Oh, what the heck, why not drive out to Belmont for breakfast first, and then go back to St. Thomas for the deposit?  Couldn’t hurt.

It didn’t.

 

Tightrope

I haven’t felt like writing for several days, and so I didn’t write.  To just let that be is difficult for me.  What if in the next year I only blog once a week?  I struggle not to label that as “bad”.

In my worst moments, I visualize having nothing to say for the rest of my life.  But I know me … that simply is not true.  Something out in the world will get my attention and then I’ll find a way to relate it to my life.  So there.

***

I was driving in St. Thomas yesterday when I noticed a little black object way up high straight ahead of me.  A squirrel was scampering along the power line that stretched across the road.  Then he stopped, apparently eating something.  In a flash I was under him and gone, but he has stayed with me.

Mr. Squirrel was so calm up there.  Just dipsydoodling his way above the madding crowd.  I imagined myself on a rope, suspended above the gorge near Niagara Falls, holding on to my long pole for dear life.  Absolute terror!  Now it’s true that I don’t have the skill, and that I could possibly develop it, but to perform such a feat with my new friend’s ease?  Impossible.

What if I could hum my way through some activity that many people would find hugely difficult?  Do I do anything like that?  Well … now that you mention it … I’m writing this blog post.  Some folks, in contemplating the creation of words that will later fly off into cyberspace, would feel the same terror.  And although I’ve been in a scribing lull lately, when I do sit down with my laptop, I trust that I’ll have something to say, that the words will come.  Such as right now.  This paragraph is over.  I don’t know what the next one will be about.  And that’s okay.

“Celebrate, Bruce, that you can write with ease.  It’s all right if the quality is not so good on a certain day.  There’ll be plenty of really good posts.  Just let those fingers do the walking.”  And so I will.

The Machinery Of The Universe

I was afraid.  I felt, I still feel, as if on that island there’s a hatch that comes ajar.  On this side is what we’re pleased to call “the real world”.  On the other is all the machinery of the universe, running at top speed.  Only a fool would stick his hand into such machinery in an attempt to stop it.

Stephen King

Wow.  I don’t know what to say but I want to say something.  How about that?  Is it the nature of the machinery that my rational mind can’t comprehend it?  Do I just need to get out of the way to allow unknown forces to flow through?

In the conventional world, I’m sick – dizzy and weak.  I’m afraid of not getting fit enough in time for my crossing of Canada this summer.  I worry about whether person A loves me anymore and wonder why person B hasn’t contacted me in awhile.  Except I’m often the one who lapses in the contacting department.

My long meditation retreat allowed me to see some of that machinery beyond the day-to-day.  A sense of being present as everything keeps changing.  Feeling peace flow over me.  Glimpsing that one moment is no better than any other one.  When I’m feeling well, these often show up unbidden.

What will happen if I let it all go and just let the wheels turn? I don’t know.  I still have to function in the “real” world.  My bathtub has backed up –lots of standing water.  I tried using the submersible punk to drain the water.  But I plugged the pump into the outlet beside the sink – designed for shavers and such – and now there are no lights in the bathroom.  The bulbs are fine.  The breaker downstairs wasn’t tripped.  So I need an electrician.  That’s fine.  I’ll call one tomorrow.

But what’s beyond all those strategies to have light, a clear drain, and the end of illness? What exactly is down that hatch?  Maybe saying “I don’t know” and keeping my hands away is the ultimate path to the unknown.  Something is calling me.  Even through my coughing.  There is a wellness past illness, a grace beyond thought, a being beyond doing.

I await

 

Sick

It hit me last night – probably a cold, hopefully not the flu.  Today I’m very weak, sort of stuffed up, headache, coughing.  Just like every human being on the planet has experienced.  No big deal.

Why write about this?  It’s so ordinary.  And shouldn’t I take a break from tapping on the keys?  I’ve decided no.  Some of my favourite writing has been when I’m right in the middle of some experience.  It’s so much cooler than “This happened to me yesterday.”

During the meditation retreat, I learned how to watch my mind, without judgment.  To be curious about where it goes.  This morning, it’s gone off in many directions.

At 2:00 pm today, I’ve scheduled a Skype call with the organizers of the Tour du Canada.  They want to know more about me and I have lots of questions about the summer bicycle ride.  “But I have no energy.  I won’t sound like a potential crosser of my country.”  Too bad, Bruce.  Give them what you have in the moment.  It’s enough.

“What if this turns into seven weeks of bronchitis, like it did after Jody died?  How will I possibly get fit enough for the ride?”  Now there’s a little smile on my face.  I’m not quite laughing but I’m getting there.  Silly man.

“Will I have to cancel my trip to Cuba?  And the BC tall ship trip in early June?”  No, Bruce.  You won’t have to.  It’s just a cold, my friend.

“Is this the end of my newfound strength training?”  Oh, my.  That’s quite the mind you have there.  “Well, right now it’s an ill mind, having trouble putting thoughts together.  And struggling to maintain my self-esteem.”

“And I got turned down a couple of weeks ago for further life insurance – ‘a current abnormal ECG and blood profile results.'”  Don’t sweat it, Bruce.  Julie, your doctor, is looking into this stuff.  She’s always thought you were a very healthy specimen.

***

The Buddha had a word for the proliferation of negative thoughts … papancha.  “Well, hello papancha.  Nice to hang out with you.”

No judgment.  Just a human being being human.  I sort of like the guy.