Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's been going on

There’s so much life going on, it’s hard to find time to blog about it.

I spent the summer in Hamilton, Ontario. I had some financial and some legal things to take care of – the legal depended on the financial. Life is what it is, and the money moved on the day I was leaving Hamilton, so none of the legal things is even begun at this point. There was nothing I could do about that this summer, and it was frustrating. There were other things I couldn’t do anything about either – I tried applying for jobs, all kinds of jobs. Receptionist, shoe sales, Tim’s, housekeeping/dining room staff in retirement homes … There’s a lot of things I’m good at, and I learn other things fast, and I’m not too proud to clean toilets. Done it for income before. I was lucky – I have friends who had occasional, temporary work available, retail, filing, child care – they knew I needed work and sent it my way when they could. My dad helped some with finances too. And when it all looked like traveling to Iowa for the wedding Labour Day weekend, and then getting here, were going to be impossible, some lovely, lovely friends lent me money.

And I was lucky about housing. My sister Jane and niece Tegan met me at the airport at the end of April, and I stayed with Jane's family for several weeks. Friends were going to England for a month. I’ve cat-sat for them before, many times, and they asked if I’d stay in their condo, look after the cat, and pick up the mail, etc. It was great. First time in years I’ve lived anyplace where I didn’t have to think twice about what I did (or didn’t) have ON when I woke up in the night and had to dash across the hall to the bathroom. Luxurious, to have a whole place, with multiple rooms, to myself, and to have a cat I like, who’d come in and sleep with me.

My nephew had rented, in May, a place in west Hamilton to live in for the university school year, but he couldn’t live there until September, because of his summer job. I found that out Mother’s Day. So I lived in his place, and (eventually) covered the summer rent. He got it in time to buy textbooks, anyway. It was student housing – a place where several students have bedrooms and they share the kitchen and bath. But for most of the summer, there were no other students there. Just me, and the owner’s mother, and the two of us got along fine. Her cat slept with me too.

The summer was odd, in that I made contact with a lot of people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Decades. FaceBook helped with that. I’m in touch now with people I’ve known since elementary school. We all went to middle and high school together too, but some of them are people I really never talked to after we left the small elementary school. So – people I haven’t talked to since 1967, or 1974, or a little later. I had meals with some, and coffee with some, and phone calls with some – that was all great. A lot of fun.

It was all tiring though. It is very tiring to have four months and two purposes, and not be able to make any progress with either. It’s very tiring to be broke all the time. To know you have work tomorrow, and wonder if you have enough change for bus fare to get there and home again. There weren’t days when there were no meals, but there were days at a time when I ate the same thing. I’d look at protein at the supermarket with an eye to how many servings I could get for the amount of money I had, and I’d buy cabbage, because I can eat it raw or cooked, and I like it, and they sell it by the each, instead of by the pound. So, you always buy the biggest cabbage, cuz a four-pounder and a siz-pounder cost the same. There was surplus bounty from other people’s gardens, and meals with other people sometimes – that helped a lot. There were a couple of people over the course of the summer who’d slip me twenty bucks once in a while, a friend who sent $5 in a card from Saskatchewan, and it arrived on one of those days I didn’t know how I’d get to work tomorrow. Really lovely.

Mark Twain said, “Lack of money is the root of all evil.” Well, maybe. It’s just grindingly tiring though. Feels like everything has to be evaluated. Can I go have coffee with so-and-so Thursday afternoon? No. Because, it’s not just coffee, it’s bus tickets, and anyway, there isn’t enough to go somewhere for coffee. Coloured pencils for drawing? Nope. Want to start a new knitting project? Nope.

Then there was the time I got sick. It was a middle-ear infection, but it felt like a three-week long hangover. I got up Friday morning, rolled over in bed, and it made me so dizzy I threw up. The stairs kept shifting as I was trying to find my way down them to the bathroom. Eating was impossible. Hell, I didn’t even want to; sips of water were impossible. My brother-in-law drove me to the on-call doc on Saturday afternoon, and she prescribed something for vertigo, a cortisone inhaler to reduce the swelling in there, and some pain killers if I needed them, and fortunately, it was one of those times I could just take the prescriptions to the drug store and buy them. But it was over a week before I left the house again. Another friend brought me SF ginger ale and crackers, bless her. I could hold those down, most of the time, and I needed to, because the anti-vertigo drug causes nausea. How does that WORK? What help is THAT? I stopped taking it as soon as I could. I hate being sick when I’m living alone too – between Saturday when my BIL took me to the doctor, and Thursday, when I had another doctor’s appointment, I saw the friend who brought the crackers, and that’s it. She didn’t stay either, and who could blame her? I didn’t want to share it around.

Now, I’m here in Texas. I’m blogging, but not as much as I thought I’d be. And it’s because I’m tired. I got here exhausted. Well, there’d been a 20-hour trip on a Greyhound bus to get here from Des Moines. That wasn’t too bad. The seats are roomier and more comfortable than planes, and there are stops every couple of hours so you can stretch your legs, buy diet Cokes and bags of wasabi soy-roasted almonds. (Don’t knock ‘em if you haven’t tried ‘em.) When I get tired, I work my way backwards through lonely and angry, and I’ll get hit with crying jags out of the blue.

So, here, we’re in the Central Time Zone, but we’re really living on Hawai’i time. We stay up late,and sleep in late. There’s tools for wood- and metal-working; there’s the computers to play with; there’s cameras. My beautiful, beautiful cats are here. There are little girls – my hosts’ great-granddaughters, 8 and 4, and we see them often after school. My honorary grandkids. We have made a home for little witch dolls I knit, out of cardboard boxes, chopsticks, a plastic bowl, and glue. The oldest one’s written a book, and is illustrating it with my (new) coloured pencils. I knit sometimes, read sometimes, cook a lot, because I like it. I nap A LOT. I lie in the hammock and look at birds and the trees A LOT. I’ve been making wooden spatulas because I want them, and it’s fun and noisy. Today we went for a long walk in the woods, got lost, and I took about 40 pictures of mushrooms growing in the forest floor. We got home, and the four-year old saw us coming down the driveway and ran to meet us, to get scooped up for a hug and (slightly sweaty) kiss. Then I weighed out and nuked leftovers from last night’s good supper, for our lunch, sharing treats with all four cats – they got some fish, some chicken bones, and some pieces of a cheese that is too full of carbs for human consumption. I showered and read in bed with the littlest cat til I woke up. I finished today’s wooden spatula, which is too thin, and it’ll break soon, but that’s okay. I’ll just make another. And now I’m going to go put the third meal together. Might be a good night for scrambled eggs with onions, jalapenos, and pepper jack cheese in them.

I’ll try to post about the rhythm of life here in the next few days, with pictures. And my Mushroom Series will get published here soon too.


  1. Nice to see you posting M* :) I'll look forward to more mushrooms!!

  2. How wonderful to have honorary grandkids! Sounds lovely to be in the woods and on a hammock.I cannot figure out WHERE you are living in TX. Must be cooler than in Corpus Christi!

    So glad you're blogging again; I fear that all my friends are FB-ing and not blogging.