The days are getting shorter and the nights longer. The air is crisp and clean. The trees are so beautiful in their autumn display of colour. It’s October, and this weekend is Thanksgiving. I feel at peace with myself and with my life.
It took a long time for me to finally find serenity. Perhaps I had to travel my life’s bumpy road with all its heartbreak, disappointments and sometimes joy. Perhaps we all do, I don’t know. At least, I am no longer afraid to feel happy. Used to be, I’d fear feeling joyful because it usually meant someone or something was about to pull the rug out from under me. Living on the edge of a volcano was the only way I knew.
I could dissect my early childhood through my teens and first marriage, ad nauseum but why open that can of worms again? I could dwell on family turning on me, but why bother? I’m a senior citizen now and I am finally happy to be alive. For now, I’m enjoying good health, I have a kind, sweet husband and we have a lovely home. What else is there? Children go their own way and travel their own road. I understand. It’s life. My son has his own road to travel and he’ll do it the best way he knows, as will his children when the time comes.
I didn’t mean to get all mushy on you today. It’s just the season bringing it on. After all, it is a time for reflection, giving thanks and looking at the long, cold winter ahead and yet feeling warm and safe.
Below, view from sun room and potted mums on porch.
How can I describe her? When I first met her, she looked “cheap”, “hard”. There was that do-it-yourself bleach job, for starters. She suffered from acne. Her voice was tinny, jarring, guttural, clipped and sometimes, shrieking. Although very fair-skinned she wore heavy black eyeliner on her upper lids. She painted her eyebrows black. Her skin was oily so, by mid-day, the painted eyebrows glistened and sometimes smeared. She talked tough. You’d think she had slept with every man in town. Years later, I learned she’d been a virgin all that time. Maybe she wanted to draw attention to herself. Well, she did but in a negative way.
Jane was very thin yet her hips and thighs were ample. She had no bust to speak of. Furthermore, she seemed weary of life, although she was only nineteen at the time. Jane was, at best, a curiosity. Some of the girls chided her. Some, like me, were curious and wanted to get to know her better. Despite outward appearances Jane was friendly and looked like she desperately wanted to be liked. Most of the girls shied away from her. I guess it was that hard edge that turned some people off. Tough girls are hard to like. Read more…
I wouldn’t call myself a complete cultural idiot. After all, I did take music and art as a youngster. Still, there are genres of both that appeal and those that repel.
I’ve never been a lover of opera. First of all, I don’t like high-pitched voices. They irritate me, although I do appreciate that they are rare and lots of work has gone into fine-tuning them. That said, I just don’t enjoy listening to them. I prefer baritones and altos. They’re just kinder to my eardrums. So how does that explain my annoyance with country and western music? And I use the term (music) loosely. No tenors or sopranos there. I guess I just don’t want to hear about the little lady doing dishes while her man is at some honky-tonk and cheatin’ on her.
One year, my husband and I decided to buy season’s tickets to the Toronto Opera company. We really wanted to immerse ourselves in opera and develop an appreciation for it.
We certainly liked all the fanfare. We loved dressing up and moving among the artsy fartsy crowd, giving our two cents worth while sipping on white wine. Oh yes. Very hoity, toity. Don’t ask me what we saw. After a time they all sounded and looked pretty much the same. Thankfully, they had the English lyrics displayed above the stage so as to help the uninitiated. Like sitting through Mass, perhaps I would have found it to be more mystical or something, had I not understood the words. I mean, the plot was always the same. Always. There are parties and every man there is a count or a prince, or something. There are always beautiful women who are their courtesans. There is always one young woman who falls in love with said prince or count or something. He leaves her for another, for one reason or another. She falls ill and dies. End of story.
The story lines are boring. The arias are few and far between – and then very short. On top of which, you have all those voices singing in unison but making no sense. All of them screaming away. Oh boy.
On the plus side, the costumes are beautiful. The sets are beautiful. The audience is beautiful.
One day, we were driving along the QEW, late as ever, trying to make curtain call. There was a weaver – we all know who they are – who was whipping along, weaving in and out of traffic. He wove past us and – somewhere up ahead – he clipped a car on the left, rear bumper. The said car spun around with the driver pointing to the oncoming cars. I’ll never forget the look on his face as we whizzed by him without slowing down. Like a deer in the headlights. Like his fate was sealed. We didn’t hear a crash so we figured everyone stopped in time and that he was safe.
Once we got to the O’Keefe, we reflected on what could have happened and let out a sigh of relief. We then proceeded to our seats and pretty soon, the orchestra struck up and the story began – opening with a party, what else? Having seen that very same plot several times over, I began to lose interest and fell blissfully asleep. I later learned that my husband did as well.
I woke up to loud cheers of “Bravo! Bravo!” I opened my eyes, confused for a moment. Where am I and what’s with all the shouting? The audience was on its feet clapping and cheering loudly. It was Intermission. We got up – a little annoyed at having been woken up – and filed out, stood in line for our glass of wine. No use lining up for the ladies room. That lineup snaked around the corner and down the stairs. No sooner had we finished sipping our wine than the tones sounded requesting our return.
Back in our seats and settled in, it wasn’t long before we drifted off once again. We woke just in time for the prince or count or whatever, to be kneeling beside the poor girl’s bed as she drew her last breath. I mean, it is clear she gave into the cravings of the flesh, sinned and therefore had to die. Clearly the count or prince or something, suffered no such repercussions.
Again with the “Bravo!” Well, at least we had some good sleeps. It had been, after all, a long day.
We stopped buying season’s tickets after the third year. We figured we had given it a fair chance but it was just too expensive to be used as nap-time.
This brings me to wondering what it is that entertains us. Clearly it is different things to different people. Where opera hurts my ears and puts me to sleep, jazz perks me up and makes me happy. Watching anything and everything Bob Fossy had a hand in choreographing has me mesmerized and always wanting more. I have watched Cabaret, Chicago and All That Jazz, about 27 times each. I own every movie Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock ever made. What is it about some types of entertainment that puts you in that other place? What strings does it pull? What buttons does it push?
Does it matter? I think not. The only thing that matters is that it brought joy into our lives. When all is said and done we owe it to ourselves to be joyful as much as and as often as possible.
My husband and I still go to theatre. Only now it’s to experience what we both enjoy. Hey, we want our money’s worth. We want to be awake during the entire performance.
So, the next time you’re at the opera and hear unusual night-time sounds coming from those around you, have a look. Those next to you or behind you may be fast asleep, blissfully unaware that the death of a young maiden is about to occur. Be sad for them for they will never understand what you find so infinitely engaging.
A time of renewal in body and spirit. Things that looked dead for months, suddenly burst with life. Tender green foliage appears everywhere. Little buds soon growing into lovely flowers. The air is still cool and clear. Spring, like Autumn never lasts long enough.
Soon summer will set in along with the heat, humidity, smog. I am not looking forward to it. My hair will be frizzy, my skin oily, my clothes wrinkled. So what if we don’t have to shovel snow? I wish there were a way to shovel smog and humidity to make it go away.
Here, beside Lake Ontario, our summers are rarely clear. The haze caused by humidity gives a grayish cast on everything, making it look like a gray winter day – only hot. Colours are muted. Here on the 26th floor we have a birds-eye view of the lake. On clear days, we can see the Niagara Peninsula. Oh well, what’s the use of complaining. Can’t do a thing about the weather no matter what those environmentalists say. It will do what it will do. The earth is forever changing.
While on that topic, it would be very nice to see a country free of pollutants. It would be very nice to have motorized vehicles fueled with hydrogen rather than gasoline. It would be very nice to have everyone throw their trash into proper receptacles. It would be nice to have the steel plants treat their refuse before pouring it into Lake Ontario. It would be very nice.
When I was young, I never got warm and fuzzy over babies. I think I was expected to. When my sister was born, I was excited. It was amazing to see a real person in miniature. Those tiny fingers and toes. Wow. I was amazed at how much that tiny being could poop. HOLY!
Well, eventually the novelty wore off. The work involved was too much and became a drag. Mother and her husband depended on me a lot. I was almost 13 years old when she was born so I was expected to be the vice-mother. Well, maybe not but definitely a built-in baby sitter who didn’t get paid because, aren’t we feeding you and dressing you and putting a roof over your head? Like I said, it was OK until the novelty wore off. I was, after all, a teenager and had other things on my mind. Movie stars. Boys.
By the time I was late teens, I took great pains to stay away from babies. Some women thought me cold and unfeeling. Some women thought me weird. Wasn’t it every woman’s dream to hold a baby? To have a baby? No.
When I was finally married and expecting, I was looking forward to see how this thing growing inside me will look. Besides, I wanted to experience childbirth. Like a biology assignment. Lucky for me, I saw it all. Since I was in a semi-sitting position at that crucial time, I saw the back of the head first, then the rest of the body. Baby’s arms flailed up and down feverishly and legs were kicking. What a kid, even then. Of course, I had no idea of the sex since I only saw the backside. When they told me it was a boy, I was so happy for husband. He wanted a boy more than anything.
There, project done and I got an A.