Tuesday, September 30, 2008

65 is a good driving speed...

My nephew Jeff sent me this message for my birthday and I love the sentiment. I “facebooked” him back to let him know that I’d be borrowing his line a great deal this year. So here I am, 65-years-old and still driving: driving metaphorically through my life and, in reality, driving around the North American continent. 65 is a good driving speed, indeed!

My original plan was for Sandra and I to leave tomorrow for our leisurely drive to Florida but on Saturday Sandra’s 90-year-old mother Alice collapsed on her kitchen floor. Alice still lives alone and on Saturdays she cooks a noon meal to share with her two daughters, Sandra and her sister Heather. Last Saturday, Sandra was taking the chicken out of the oven when her mother said, “Sandra, I’m going to faint!” This was followed by a heavy thud as she hit the floor.

Sandra dialed 911 and Alice was whisked off to the hospital where it was later determined that she needs a pacemaker. The doctors have told the family that she is still able enough to return home once the pacemaker is in place. The only caveat is that someone should be with her for the first couple of days.

Alice gets her pacemaker today so our leave date is now set for Friday to allow Sandra to spend those first couple of days with her mother. Then her sister and brother will take over.


I am ignoring the falling stock market today and concentrating on the concert I’m going to tonight: just Elton John and his piano for two and a half hours in a stadium that holds slightly over 7000 people. It should be wonderful.

Okay, who can really ignore the stock market news of the last few days? I have really mixed feelings about the plunging stock market. Part of me cringes as I watch my life savings waste away, part of me thinks that maybe a major crash/depression is needed to wake us up to different possibilities for repairing the economic inequities that are solidifying in our society.

There is certainly room for major improvement in our current economic system, in the way we distribute the riches we have been graciously blessed with in this part of the world. There is something profoundly wrong when the gap between the rich and poor keeps growing, when families live on the streets of our richest cities.

Perhaps if more of us were hungry we’d be motivated to find a food distribution that would allow food to reach all of the people in the world. Do we really need the incredible array of choices in our supermarkets when so many people in the world are starving? Do we really need to spend our energy developing an industry around bottling water when we have safe tap water – and 30,000 people a day die of waterborne diseases in other parts of the world?

Could it be that we need to have our way of life reduced to survival mode in order to realize that no one life is more important than another? Perhaps we need to use our intelligence and education to figure out a more equitable way to share the world’s resources rather than worrying about how to preserve a system that isn’t serving the majority of the world's people well.

This morning I’m writing this in my campervan, Bessie the Bus. When I look out Bessie’s window I see a gorgeous 50-year-old maple tree that has begun to show off its fall colours: orange, red and yellow mixed with a few branches of defiant green. When the vagaries of world politics and economics tug at my heart, this is where I retreat: into the glorious arms of nature’s beauty.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I’m leaving for Florida on October 1st…I’ll be going to Newfoundland next year – with my sister Shirley. I was going to fly over, rent a car and spend a few days. But after some recalculating of my expenses and, more importantly, the opportunity to travel with Shirley, I’ve decided to wait. So it’s nine provinces this year and I’m getting close to begin counting states.

My friend Sandra is joining me for this leg of the trip. She’ll fly back from Orlando on October 30; I’ll fly back to Calgary on Nov. 4 and stay there until Dec. 11 when I’ll fly back to Orlando. I have no idea what I’ll be doing at Christmas yet other than go to church. This Christmas will be about the real Christmas and I’m looking forward to celebrating it that way. I’ll have a family dinner and celebration th Leslie, Todd and the girls early in December before I leave Calgary.

I’ve been back to PEI with my sister Nancy but mostly I’ve been enjoying two weeks of living in a real house and driving a car instead of a van as I’ve been house sitting for my sister Shirley and her husband Dave while they’ve been on vacation.

The weather here has begun to showcase a lovely eastern fall. The clouds and fog have departed in favour of warm sunny days; crisp, clear air and cool nights. This morning I sat up in bed and turned up the thermostat to dispel the morning chill. A few trees have begun to turn colour: lovely maple reds, oranges and a bit of yellow. In a few weeks the hills will don their full fall coat, a truly wondrous sight.

I’ve started reading a book on neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change and heal itself. I wonder if there will be anything there to help Mum who has lost her mobility and is now confined to a wheelchair. Or for the rest of us as we age.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Update on Holly

I have been amazed at how much I miss Holly on this trip. I know she is safe and well-loved, and that this trip would have been impossible if I had to bring her along. But I think of her often and still miss her a lot.

So the other day I called Donna and Chris to see how she was doing. I got a glowing report this time. Holly, it seems, has settled into adult doghood and has left her annoying puppy habits behind.

Holly was a “bolter.” If she saw a place she’d rather be, she’d bolt , taking off at a full run - and stay as long as she pleased. No amount of calling or bribing could get her to return before she was ready. And there was no way you could keep up with her.

She took off on me several times and she had done this to Donna as well. No more, says Donna. “We hardly put a leash on her now. She’s even figured out which of the neighbours will welcome her and which ones to avoid.” Mmmm, I thought. Very interesting.

Next I was told that she no longer is so food centered. She no longer sneaks into the kitchen, nose in the air, checking for unguarded food on the counter. Nope, not Holly, who was previously known to eat anything that resembled food that was left within her reach. Donna told me that she makes Holly’s food now. Once a month, Donna boils up brown rice, lean ground beef, grated carrots and other healthy morsels for Holly’s breakfast and dinner. Maybe this food is more satisfying for her. At any rate, Donna and Chris no longer have to make certain that anything remotely edible is carefully and quickly hidden away. That must be real freedom.

But the real news is that Holly is still working at some of the local hospitals. She is now working with children. Donna takes her to the ward where the sexually abused children stay. Donna says she can feel the oppression when she enters the ward – but Holly just goes in, climbs up on a bed and snuggles – and those terribly abused little children respond to her. They hug Holly and talk to her when human contact is still beyond their reach. One of the nurses stopped Donna as she and Holly were leaving one day and said, “If only you knew how much good you do by bringing Holly here….

So while I still miss her, I have to acknowledge again that Holly is where she is meant to be. God bless her – and Donna and Chris.