Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Fussy, ingrate elderly…

March 16, 2014

Oh Joy! Some odd combination of words appear on my blog search terms.  “Fussy, ingrate elderly” can be plugged into Google and one is directed to my blog. This is downright weird, because I don’t like to think of myself as either fussy or ungrateful. Elderly yes, that designation is impossible to not accept. The evidence does not allow this.  The hair is shot through with white, the skin shows elephantine creasing and sagging, the voice emits wash-board harmonies, the cervical vertebrae squeak and scrape with bad horror-show door sound effects and the diminishing eyesight  helps me view the world, as if through a badly fogged wind-shield.

But fussy? Nah! Or, Maybe? Systematic in behaviour, perhaps.  We old people tend to be more careful in how we manoeuvre through the world. Step off a curb carefully – check. Always leave glasses within arm’s reach – check. Make sure dentures are in before going out – check. Look repeatedly in all directions before daring to cross a street – check. Read labels over carefully in the grocery store – check. In restaurants, read over menu  with an eye out for food easy to chew, not cause excessive flatulence or constipation – check. This cautiousness only demonstrates we are not in a terrific hurry, unlike younger folk.  There is a lot of tooth-gnashing and eye-rolling exasperation from witnesses who have not yet reached our advanced state of decrepitude. Think about this; what is there to be gained in rushing about? Oh, yes – a hum-dinger memorial service, and then, the Grave.

On the other hand, this extreme caution may have some elements of fussy  about it.  I mean, just because aged, one does not simply have diminished likes and dislikes, nor are these necessarily magnified. The only time we will cease to be not particular is when we no longer draw conscious breath. This condition is not age-related, but rather  universal with everyone equally afflicted. Why lob pot-shots at only the elderly.  We have not invented gluten intolerance, dislike of beans and broccoli, irritating loud sounds and long line-ups.

And what is this business about having to be grateful, constantly. Old people are just so thrilled to open their eyes one more morning, see the daylight, hear ambient sounds, be able to move about unassisted, have occasion to laugh, complain, assent, celebrate, regret, admire, touch and be touched. Permit us to be grateful and to be ingrates when occasions require, to be moody and be demanding if need be. After all the weather is, just is, in all its variability, as is being human.

Post-Apocalypse cooking…

March 6, 2014

Yesterday friend Bev and I traipsed downtown – she with her cane, and me with my rolling shopping cart – to partake of a celebratory lunch on occasion of her 76th birthday. Bev’s choice of restaurant was the newly opened Mongolian Grill at a local Mall. In our little municipality, currently in the throes of debating whether or not it might declare city status, there is a surfeit of Chinese, Sushi, Pizza and Burger restaurants, so dining out can be predictably boring, and less interesting than slinging the pots and pans at home concocting some unexpected meals. Thus the lure of novelty caused us some anticipation and promised a lift on an otherwise grey and dreary, overcast March day.

The restaurant was a typical mall frontage hole-in-the-wall, with bold signage outside and prosaic diner arrangement inside; a long counter holding a variety of food-stuffs to be selected from separated the food prep and eating areas. Not particularly redolent of a Mongolian experience, I thought, rather fancifully. The cooking arrangement fascinated me. It was a large round griddle, around which the “chef” ambled, stirring and turning over separate mounds of raw ingredients. It reminded me of sanitized indoor camp-fire cooking, free of the pesky odours of dried dung or wood fire, free of the bits of ash and cinders which inevitably land on food during outdoor cooking. So rather doubting that fermented mare’s milk might be on offer as drink of choice, I settled for a cup of hot water, and Bev, for a cup of tea.

The food portions seemed appropriate to the theme of Mongolian vittles, of what might be available to travellers on the Mongolian steppes – shaved meats, bits of a variety of vegetables, small clump of gluey rice.  Just the sort of stuff that the weary Mongol hordes might expect to prepare and eat whenever they rested in camp after their raids on far-flung villages, where, perhaps they were able to capture a stray sheep or goat, or a chicken or two, which had to be apportioned to feed a largish group. Of course, at the end of winter, they may not have had fresh cilantro, green onions or chile peppers with which to spice their daily rations. But here in North America, we can be pretend Mongol diners without fear of lacking any ingredients with which to tempt our palate. And, as an older women, we were grateful at not having to gather fuel, start and keep going a fire, kill, gut and clean a ptarmigan or goat, glean about the prairie for available green stuff to augment the meal. A fantasy, such as this is lovely to sustain, even briefly.

After lunch, Bev and I said our goodbyes, and I dragged my cart off to the supermarket to fill it with provisions. Standing among the array of vegetables displayed I had a flash of fancy that all of this bounty is illusory. What if those vegetable bins were suddenly empty? What could I glean on the way home with which to sustain myself? And if I were able to find the errant day-lily bulb in one of the municipal plantings, dig it up and proudly take home, how would I be able to process it via cooking if there was no fuel for my magical electric range? Would I resort to using a metal garbage can lid for a griddle, fuelled by twigs from my neighbour’s ornamental shrubs?

Of course, where I live, in a ten-story apartment block, neighbours are obsessed with pigeon populations roosting on the balconies. There is much neighbourly palaver and problem solving around the question of how to make the balconies unattractive to the pigeons.

Maybe there is another way to consider these birds. They are a post apocalyptic source of protein. The ingenuity people expend in trying to rid themselves of this nuisance, might well be turned to innovations on how to catch and cook them in the urban jungle.

I rather think this has been a good, if unexpected outcome of my Mongolian Grill feast with Bev.

No Mars trip for me, thank you…

January 14, 2014

Ah1 The lure of the exotic, the different.  Canadians want to travel to Mars, already. But why Mars?  Just because it is there? Why not the adventure down the nearby block, or alley, or path? There is enough strangeness, exoticism, difference close by. Why, the other day, as I was dragging my groceries home, my left elbow cramping, I stopped on the sidewalk and looked up, just because. The tree girdled by sidewalk concrete rose in its spiky wintery brushiness. Dark green-black speckled bark glistened with rain. A winter bleak sky as is only possible on the West coast of BC. A sleek crow busily fastened twigs into a rough area which on closer consideration appeared to be a rudimentary nest. It was joined by its mate, landing with economy and proffering another twig. The crows deliberated upon the placement of this fragment, seemed to be engaged in a telepathic discussion. The twig was added to the bristling mass, and they moved around in tandem inspecting. What a new and strange treat for me. A promise of spring continuity, of maybe a nestling soon to be observed.  Perhaps an occasion of observing flight lessons, of the cajoling that all parents implement in motivating their young. An opportunity to hear the sounds of crowish language, encouraging, prompting, cautioning.

Daily, I am reminded of the ubiquity of the uncanny, the novel, the never-before-experienced… and of joy in the present place.

A November thought…

November 23, 2013

Leaves rest on pavement.

After a rainfall

Rusted leaf ghosts remain.

GM, November 2013

Concrete skin…

July 8, 2012

Living in the downtown core of this little bedroom community, walking everywhere to provide for my daily needs I have had ample opportunity to observe the gradual development and redevelopment of the local environment. Old buildings, some not more than thirty years old, have been demolished. Some defunct, boarded over apartment buildings of wood and stucco still sit languishing in their derelict decrepitude

. An older down-town park has been refurbished, but not in any stellar aesthetic way with arcing concrete walkways leading walkers around and nowhere in particular and hard iron benches plunked down alongside to give a weary walker respite from treading the brutal hard surfaces but not from  the blazing sun.  At the entrance of the park, just off the main downtown street, a horrid set of fountains have been buried in corners of the park. These are the most unfriendly of water features. The design is Conrete Brutal and resembles uncannily a set of bidets radiating from a backdrop made of tempered glass to echo visually the mountain ranges which loom over our fair municipality. No one tends to linger there to soak their weary feet, or to wave their hands through the cooling waters, except perhaps street people at night, most likely performing their ablutions in the dark. The water jets, which burble to no more than 18 inches above the concrete bidets has been dyed a sickly turqoise. Not exactly inviting to put the hand or foot into this water, that is if first one does not skin oneself on the geometric hardness of the fountain surround. A Fountain of Trevi it ain’t.

There has been road construction a block and a half from my apartment building. This has been in process for about twelve months.  Because of all the concrete surfaces in this neighbourhood, construction noise has been steady and unremitting. The scant green sward left as buffer still gives me privacy if not respite from the constant noise of vehicular traffic and earthmoving and paving machinery. Some days I wish I were going deaf, although I do crank up some opera to help drown out the noises.

The concrete skin here spreads and crowds out natural growth. Despite this endless encroachment nature asserts itself with its guerilla seeding of weeds in the slightest cracks. On my daily walks I marvel at this perseverence and at its peculiar manifestation of beauty.