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Sunday, September 30, 2012

What the Well Dressed Woman Wears to Surgery

What Does the Well Dressed Woman Wear to Surgery?
The instructions from the hospital are vague.  “Wear something loose and comfortable.”  Does this mean my pyjamas?  I wish it did. 
“Wear a bra without under-wires, one tight enough to provide support and to reduce post-surgical bruising and swelling; yet one which is loose and comfortable.”  Pardon?  Aren’t those instructions mutually exclusive? 
“Wear no nail polish, no deodorant, and no make-up.”  No problem.  This will make getting ready and travelling to the hospital by 7:30 am, really easy. 
Because I have to sit around in a “hospital gown” for 2 hours between the first part of my surgery and the second stage, shouldn’t they also tell me to wear warm socks and to bring a sweater?  The hospital staff rushes around working; therefore they stay warm.  But I’m not warm; sitting on a hospital gurney, waiting and waiting isn’t cosy.  It is chilly.  It is very chilly. 
And how is a “hospital gown” in any way a gown?  They’re made from thin fabric, in a housecoat style.  They tie in the front or the back, or they snap open at the shoulders providing inadequate coverage at best.  This gown leaves arms, chest and legs hanging out in the cool air.  Shouldn’t the term “gown” be used for real gowns; fancy gowns worn by stars at award shows? But then, those gowns on award shows leave lots of flesh hanging out too.  So maybe using that definition, it truly is a gown, this hospital gown.  Hmm?  I wonder.  Maybe, except it is missing the fancy part.
Despite the lack of guidance about what the well dressed woman wears to surgery, I have come up with a plan.   To travel to the hospital, I will shower, be make-up-less and polish-less, yet I will be well dressed. 

I have chosen a comfy plaid flannel shirt in a blue that matches my eyes.  Plaid flannel shirts are in back in style.   Amazing!  Who knew?  When I grew up, these were Albert County chic, but that was decades ago.   What goes around comes around…and around.   
I am wearing black pants, of cotton and some unknown stretchy fabric, with an elastic waist.  They are mystery pants.  They could be leggings or yoga pants, or exercise pants or pyjama pants. Yes, they are similar to pyjama pants.  This is great.  And the bra, well it reminds me of the unattractive, thick cotton undershirts I wore as child.  Serviceable, yet ugly.  Enough said?  I am taking a sweater and warm socks for comfort.  To complete the look, I’ll wear my Birkenstocks.   A fetching ensemble; yes, I think so.
I won’t receive rave reviews on any fashion runway, but I will be comfortable.  And when facing surgery, comfort is what it’s all about. 
Now, what was it the hospital said in their vague instructions?
Oh yes, “loose and comfortable.”
I believe I’ve done it…loose and comfortable, and well dressed, too.

Words and photo are © copyright Carol Steel.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Autumn in the Rain

Autumn in the rain and a drive through the hills and trees
of Albert County, NB are always good for the spirit.

It rained so hard it was a challenge to capture photos.  
 Gary was a good sport and pulled over close
so I could take photos out the car window.

We drove for hours just catching up,
 as he's been away working most of this week.

It has been one of those good peaceful days,
the kind that make memories.

Words and photos are copyright Carol Steel.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Today is a Gift

The heat of the sun, like a warm compress, soothes my skin.  Leaves, crisp, dry and turning brown, rustle a meditation.   Random thoughts follow the sound and ripple out on the breeze.  Cars whoosh, whispering by, far away on the road below.  A neighbour is building, hammering on her deck, getting ready for winter. 

A red squirrel climbs the wrought iron pole to the bird feeders, finds nothing appealing and falls off.  Or leaps to search for fallen rowan berries and the last of the grapes hidden beneath the vine's yellowing leaves.

Last night's rain and the sunlight wink and glisten on the leaves of the wisteria vine, the elm hedge and the sugar maple.  The light plays, creates patterns of shade.  Shadow copies of the leaves dance on the grass, deep greys on green.

Hosta leaves, touched with frost, droop now, brown tinged, wilting into the earth, turning themselves into compost for their winter's rest.  The air is cool, smells crisp and fresh, smells like fall.

The sunlight slants through the dark green, waxy leaves of the saucer magnolia, makes it look different; it becomes a glowing, unreal, lime colour.  The magnolia has had a good summer, has recovered from its breakage.  Tender care and the duct-taped splint are a success.

Autumn changes, touches everything.  Each shrub and tree, every vine and berry turns from one form of itself into another; transitions from one stage of its life cycle into another.

Me, too; I am changing, transitioning.  I await the next change in my life, this new transition into another form of myself.

I hope to pass through this cycle of health challenges, perhaps a little browned at the edges, perhaps dry and rattly for a time.  Like the magnolia, I hope to have a good season.  I anticipate my physical self will look different, maybe it will sometimes seem unreal.  But, I hope with tender care, I too will survive and become stronger.

May it be so.

Words and photo are copyright Carol Steel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Clocks (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Clocks (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Why do we need clocks?  To tell time?  Well…no.   If we pay attention to the rhythms of our days and our nights, we will eventually develop an internal clock.   This inner time-keeper, will tell us, with accuracy of within five minutes or so, what time it is.  Try it.
Why do clocks make so much noise?  Do we really need to have the ticking, the tocking, the incessant clicking and clacking, the whirring and chirring, the ringing, the alarming?   No, we don’t.  Clocks should know their place and be quiet.
Do we need a laser read-out on the ceiling of the bedroom, so we know it is 3 am and we’re not asleep?  No we don’t.  Isn’t the fact we’re awake and it’s dark telling us enough?  It’s only the obsessive part of us that needs to know the time, so we can be angry we’re not sleeping, and know how much longer we should have been asleep.
What about clocks that wake us singing, “You Are My Sunshine”?  Really?  Is this necessary?  Do I actually need to explain this one?  That’s just wrong.
What about clocks which are monuments to history, gigantic clocks in the center of town for example?  There they are, bing-bonging out the hours, for everyone to hear.  This may have been helpful in an age when only the wealthy could afford clocks or watches.  But who needs them now?  Who needs to know it is…bong-bong-bong-bong; yes, it’s 4 o’clock.  All this clock does is rub time in your face.  You still have to work until 5:30, so knowing it is only four…just sucks.
And who invented grandfather clocks?  Someone who had a fetish about “mine is bigger than yours”, that’s who.  Yes.  I think so.
Do we need mantle clocks; clocks which require being wound with a tiny key, once a week?  They may have been helpful, but only if we remembered where we put the damned key.
Now we have clocks everywhere—in cars, on microwaves, on the oven, on the cell phone or computer, in every television and radio—all flashing the time with little green dots.  It is clock overkill, all this consciousness of time, time slipping away, time hurrying past.
What happened to the internal clock I started talking about?
How about giving up watches and clocks?  Why not pay attention instead to the internal rhythms of life, to the natural rhythms of each day and each night?
Try it.  I bet you’ll be surprised at how accurate you become at simply listening to your own internal time-keeper.  You'll soon be adept at just knowing the time.  Give it a couple weeks.
Go clock-less.
Words and photo are © Carol Steel.  Text in red will take you to another website with additional information, if you click on it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When I Was Eight

When I Was Eight

Bundles of lightning
bring on
bolts of thunder.
I remember.

The sounds shook
over an ash horizon,
trapped me
in damp corners,
as a storm climbed
the husk of sky.
I remember.

A lifetime;
still the scars
and bright memory of gold

The poem is written in response to The Sunday Whirl poetry prompt.  In Wordle # 75, we are asked to write a poem using these words:  bolts, ash, corners, damp, climbed, shook, trapped, remain, bundles, storm, bring, husk.   If you’d like to read what others have written, click here for a link.  Text in colour red will take you to another website with additional information, if you click on it.  Photo was taken by my sister and brother-in-law.  Words are copyright ©Carol Steel.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Surprise.  Surprise carries sorrow or delight or sometimes both.

There is surprise and delight when sighting a red fox as it stalks insects, beetles or grasshoppers, perhaps voles or mice in the golden grass of a sand dune.  There is also sorrow or empathy for the captured prey, if it happens to be a small bird, or bird's eggs or turtle's eggs.

Life is full of surprises, full to the brim with delights and sorrows.

On the days when sorrow fills the cup, may there be equal measure of delight.  May the two find balance, this equilibrium which all of life seeks.

 Oh but, isn't this red fox gorgeous?

Text written in colour will take you to another site with additional information if you click on it.  These photos were taken by my sister and brother-in-law, last week as they vacationed in Darnley PEI.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Have you ever had a day when you keep noticing the same phenomena over and over again, like a private message just for you?  I have.
Recently, I had a day in which the colour rose kept turning up…everywhere I looked.  I was awake early and saw the sun rising over the neighbour’s rooftop, rosy hues in the dawn sky.
The sunrise started me humming the tune “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”   I smiled and noticed my insides were bubbly and light.  It was a cheery start to my day.

Later it rained (as red skies in the morning foretell) and the sedums in the garden became vibrant rosy pink in the wet.  I smiled as I noticed them.  Felt happy too.


As the day was ending, sun and cloud mixed.  The rain had slowed and the hydrangeas in the front garden glistened with droplets and were edged with rose.
All day long the tune ran through my head and rosy hues popped up, not just in my own yard but everywhere I went.
Ever had a day when colours displayed themselves and music sang itself to you, over and over again?
I wonder why it happens.

Photos and words are copyright © Carol Steel.  Words in red contain hyperlinks and will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Mother is Moving

My mother is moving…again.  None of us thought she’d be uprooted so soon after moving to the country in early summer of 2011.  But life never hands out what we expect to receive.  So, though it isn’t her choice, she is moving again.
She’ll be relocating to a condo in Riverview, sharing living space with my niece and her three children.  The move wasn’t their choice either.  Sometimes life drop-kicks you in the head and you just have to deal with it.
If my mother is one thing, it is resilient.  She will survive this move and this reorganization of her life, yet one more time.  It is likely harder on the rest of us as we worry over the details of her move and all the “what if’s” that pop into our heads.
But Mum is resilient.  And this move is where she wants to be, with her grand-daughter and three great-grandchildren.  She loves them more than anything or anyone and will be happy with the lively household they create. 
Perhaps at 86 years young, she is fitter and more energetic and more mentally astute than most women her age because she lives in a bit of chaos with folks who need her and love her.
Oh sure, there will be the usual. " I can’t find my toothbrush.  Where is the other black shoe?  I hear the phone, why can`t I find it?  Why is the turkey roaster packed with the sleeping bags?"  The ordinary "where is this"  of unpacking will be temporary, but eventually they`ll settle in, with most of the lost items accounted for or purchased anew.
While moving is hard work, it is exciting as well.  They'll be in a modern home with cherry-wood cupboards and dark hardwood floors, two full bathrooms, ample bedrooms and a front and back deck, just a 5 minute walk to the school, near welcoming neighbours and a fresh new start.
A fresh new start, that`s what all of the family wishes for them.  Yes, a fresh new start, far away from the angst of the past year; a fresh new start, a new beginning, a new home.
I wish for my Mum, for my niece and for her children a happy home full of laughter and love. 
Blessings as you begin anew.

Photos and words are copyright ©Carol Steel.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Family Visit

We’ve had children and grandchildren around, off and on for the past two weeks.  More off than on and less on than we’d like, but that’s the way it is when family comes home to visit.  They have to spread themselves around, visit all the members of the family.
And our family is a combination, a blended family, so that means even more visiting for them.
They’re heading back to Alberta soon and though they won’t fly out until Saturday, I miss them already. 
We had fun during the two days and couple of evenings they were here with us.  Yes, there were ice cream slops and sticky finger prints when they left.  But that’s all part of having lively children filling the house with dinosaurs roaring and cars running, creating chalk figures in the driveway, cutting craft snowflakes, drawing pictures and giving warm hugs.  The laughter and giggles and hugs were the best parts. 
Yes, the hugs and the smiles and the laughter, I’ll miss those, miss them lots.
There are toys to return to their boxes and a spill or two to wipe up, but that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that they came all the way across Canada to visit. 
What matters is…we enjoyed them so.

Photo and words are copyright © Carol Steel.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Visit to the River

Yesterday, we went to the Shediac River to visit
my sister and brother-in-law. 
The river was full, geese were flying overhead
and a cool fall breeze was shaking the trees.

We enjoyed the day, the company, the weather but
it was cool enough that Mum needed to wrap up
to keep warm.

Even though the sky was blue and the leaves were still green,
there were tinges of orange.

It was a lovely day by the river.

Photos and words are copyright Carol Steel.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


September.  We are eleven days into September.  It is not quite summer and not quite autumn…not yet.  The number of daylight hours is decreasing.  The evenings and mornings are cooler, brisk and fresh. 
Breezes swipe crunchy leaves from the trees.   The flowers have slowed or stopped growing.   Berries are ripe; the grapes turning purple.  The mountain ash shows off its bright orange clusters.  Wood is stacked and drying. 
The list of summer chores isn’t quite finished and, depending upon the weather, may have to become spring chores.  Swings and play sets, playgrounds and sand boxes are empty during school hours.  Everywhere, everyone and everything adjusts to the changes coming, the arrival of fall.
September.  Month of endings and beginnings, lovely mellow days and crisp starry nights. 

Words and photos are ©copyright Carol Steel.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What is it About the Water?

What is it about the water? 

Whenever we have the chance to explore the coastlines of the Maritimes, we do.  There is something nourishing and healing about being close to the shore.

We explored the Terence Bay area of Nova Scotia driving all the way to the end of the peninsula to Lower Prospect.  At the end of the road, we sat and watched people perching on the granite boulders, massive stones which are so prevalent along that coast.  We watched people far out in the Bay in their kayaks. 

We were careful not to cross private property lines, though there does seem to be something inherently wrong about people owning the coast.  Then again, I suppose if I had the money to buy a 300 to 700 thousand dollar property, I might be touchy about people crossing my property lines as well. 

But I don't and won't, so feel happy to be able to look, smell the salt breeze, and feel the spray on my skin as waves splash.

I do appreciate where we live, here in the Maritimes and am content to take photos and enjoy what is free to enjoy.

Because there is something healing and nourishing about being close to the water, isn't there?

Photos and words are copyright Carol Steel.
Text in red contains hyperlinks which will take you
 to another site with additional information,
if you click on the text.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Attention to Sunsets

Attention to Sunsets

We were away from home last weekend.  Each evening we sat, paid attention to the setting sun, watched the colours change, the shadows grow and felt the chill of twilight.

Trees became silhouettes as sunlight splashed gold on cloud bellies.  We saw pink and grey become orange and slate at dusk.

We watched the setting sun reflected on waters in bays and rivers.  We watched the sun, a molten disc, dip sizzling into the ocean.

This photo belongs to K and L Banks

We sat in the darkness as it closed around us and watched the full moon rise and the stars twinkle on.  Here and here and then another, and then more.

We were away from home last weekend and each nightfall was a spectacle.  Vibrant, peaceful, lovely.

Each evening was a gift.

Photos and words are copyright Carol Steel, unless otherwise noted.