Monday, July 20, 2015

Men in the Trees



“It gets to me; some days, it feels never-ending.”
Gary says this at least once a week, referring to all the “to-dos”, and the repairs needed on the house. This rant is always followed by a discussion with me (or with himself) about the merits of selling over owning our home.

That’s a hard decision. And, is one with which we struggle. But, no matter if we stay or if we go, home maintenance must be done. And this summer, it seems like more and more needs to be done.


Gary has accomplished many repairs himself; he is a capable, efficient man. He needs to focus on what he has completed, instead of cursing and listing all the chores which remain. 

Some of the maintenance has been too overwhelming for us to manage. 

We had our roof re-shingled in late June. Last week, we had an arborist come to remove an enormous maple which had grown too close to the house, and was overhanging the roof and the northwest corner of our home.

For a few hours, we were entertained by men in the tree with chain saws and limbers and tree saws. What an efficient group they were! The men took down the tree with patience and care, and no cussing.

But the work doesn’t end. We have frequent-flyer points at the waste management site from weeks of shrub trimming, damage repair on our hedges and smaller trees, and the subsequent trips to the dump.

There are still more small repair and paint duties waiting for us, outside and inside ... the work that needs to done whether we stay or sell.

Even selling and moving are challenges. The real estate market is tricky, (a buyer’s market, we’re told) and we would need to sell our house before offering on another or renting. So, in the meantime, we work at keeping our house in the best shape possible. 

The discussions continue.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Will We Stay or Go?

I wonder how I will know, when it is time to sell our home and move to another place, someplace smaller, easier to maintain.

Will it depend upon my health, my energy, my finances, my desire to spend time doing things other than house chores and upkeep? Will it depend upon how many other demands there are for my time, my attention, and upon who else needs help in my family?

I am unsure.

Even though I, that is, we are unsure, we have begun to plan and to discuss the possibilities. We have started to weigh pros and cons of home ownership. To look at what selling means, what it takes away.

We do not consider ourselves elderly, but we are aging. One or the other of us has faced health challenges in the past five years: emergency surgery, long term illness, cancer, mobility problems … problems serious enough to make us stop and take a hard look at our living situation.

We have checked the costs of staying here against the costs of renting or buying a much smaller home. With home ownership, we build equity, but that is leveraged against the dollars needed for ongoing maintenance and keeping the house in good repair.

We know we don’t want to deal with the petty politics of condo associations, or of living in a neighbour's armpit that condos require, so that is an option we won’t consider.

We’ve looked at hiring some help with our enormous yard and its upkeep. We’ve talked about the real estate market; it is not conducive to selling and doing well with a house sale right now. Will that market turn around soon? Can we wait?

How much does it cost to stay put? We’ve had to put on a new roof, a necessity.  It had to be done whether we stay or we go.

These questions feel like they contain nothing but words about loss. And there will be losses: letting go of belongings, notions of what a home should be, letting go of relationships with people, with pets. Some losses will be difficult.

We do love where we live, and enjoy the privacy our big yard and mature trees provide. We like our neighbourhood, appreciate the variety of ages and lifestyles around us. We are attached to our home by emotion and memories and dreams.

But, life and reality are all about change. There will always be changes, and yes, some bring a deep sense of loss but there will also be a sense of something new coming, perhaps something better, easier. A pleasant surprise?

For now, the conversation about how and when we will know it is time to let go continues.
I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dandelion Dreams

If we didn't know dandelions were weeds,
would we love their sunny faces?

If we didn't know they were invasive,
would we stare in wonder 
at fields of yellow?

If we didn't know they'd keep coming back,
would we let them be?

If we didn't try so hard to be rid of them,
would we appreciate their tenacity?

If we didn't know they were weeds,
would we love their transformation 
into blow balls of seed?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nightmare, News, No Sleep

This week, my poetry assignment is to write using the first person, the "I" in a poem. The point of the exercise is this. When I write as myself, coming to the reader with a narrative of myself passed along to the reader, it makes it much harder for the reader to take my story as their own. The use of "I" creates a distance between the writer and the reader. 

We examine other ways of using the "I" without excluding the reader, such as using a mask or persona. For now, I share a draft of the poem I wrote for the first person story.

Nightmare, News, No Sleep

I walk a dirt road. Shadows move
through the dusty trees.  Something
snaps twigs, travels the woods beside me.

Now awake and shaking,
I turn on the radio,
get up to distract myself.

The news reports a smuggler: 
“A man is caught at the border
with fifty-one live
turtles, stuffed down his pants.
Two hundred more
in his suitcase.”

I wonder.
Does he consider the possibilities?
Of cuts or genital damage,                                                                 
from claws or strong jaws?                                                                
Does he know the red-eared                                                              
sliders desire his body heat? 

My nightmare wanders
the back of my mind,
withdraws into its shell,
hitches a new ride.

The eastern box turtles           
regenerate parts of themselves,                                                          
gone missing.

Will I?

The photo is not mine but is used with permission from Creative Commons.  Attribution follows:

photo credit: <a href="">Rainbow Turtle</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Lauren Wiggins
Photo is not mine but comes from the CBC news story linked below.


(Twenty Facebook Statuses)

1.      You need to know
2.      The past is just a story
3.      #enlargethepicture
4.      Open to anyone who wants to enter
5.      A woman’s body is not dangerous
6.      #feelconnected
7.      At the school, buns are rising
8.      #gowiththeflow
9.      The boys are lined up
10.  Jelly doughnut dimpled down the middle
11.  One share, 9 people like this
12.  A woman’s body will not make you do stupid things
13.  That black you see is your shadow
14.  What does this mean?
15.  The answer is honest, candid, resonates
16.  #feelssoright
17.  If you do stupid things
18.  #twelvesecondslater
19.  it is because you choose to do stupid things
20.  Write the next chapter 

The idea for the poem comes from “20 Imaginary Facebook Statuses” by Natasha Tiniacos. Click here to learn more about her.

My poem is composed of actual Facebook statuses posted by friends and acquaintances, pulled from my account on May 19, 2015 -- just an arrangement I put together.

The assignment this week is to write a political poem in a style I haven't used before.  Here I understand political to mean taking a stand. I chose gender politics, the stereotypes and biases which fill our world. 

In particular, I am interested in and annoyed by the fact that a 
young woman was disciplined in her high school recently, for
coming to class wearing a sundress with her bra straps showing.

She was accused of distracting the male students and of being an 
enticement to bad behaviour. Click here for link to CBC story.

Aren't young men and all men responsible for their own choices of 
behaviour? Aren't we all, each one of us?

I apologize for the uneven spacing of the previous lines. Blogger is misbehaving.