Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Circling the Wagons

My wagons may not be circled yet, but they no longer careening amok either. At the very least, they have been reigned in and are being nudged toward their appropriate positions. I managed to get some gardening done, but the way that gardens gallop apace, they beckon once again: to be both deadheaded and weeded. But my XHTML lessons are done and posted, and so are the wedding photos. I am not yet close to printing the photos, but there are a bunch posted on my web site for all interested parties to view. Printing can take place at a fairly leisurely pace, I would think.

Once I got into the rhythm of working with the photos, I really enjoyed the task. It was such a fine wedding on such a glorious day that, as I worked with the pictures, I sometimes found myself being touched by emotion: by the photo of Shauna on my arm as we neared the altar; and, the one of traditional father-daughter dance.

There have been a number of passages in the past few years: both of my parents passed away; I retired; and, my eldest daughter got engaged and married. None of these passages were inappropriate. First: my parents were both old and had lived full lives. Second: retirement has been a joyful experience for me; I can’'t imagine why it isn’'t that way for everyone. There is so much to do, so much to experience that I can’t get to it all. Third: Butterfly is mature and responsible enough that I feel no pangs of apprehension. It helps that she chose a peach of a guy to share her life with; it must be difficult for parents when their children marry young to partners who are not everything that one could wish them to be. It must also be difficult to lose parents or other loved ones prematurely or to lose a job when you are not prepared — when it is some else who determines your destiny.

So, I sit here on the final day of June, with Wimbledon playing on the television. For so many years, it was Wimbledon that marked my first relaxing summer weekend after another tiring year in the classroom. Now, with my wagons assuming some form of control, I am relaxed once again and looking forward to the championship weekend when I shall get into the spirit of the tournament and consume strawberries (and maybe cream) for Breakfast at Wimbledon. Maybe my wagons are circled after all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Wagons in Circles

Yesterday, I received a job offer to work on election day next week. It would also have required several hours of training this week. Not odious or time-consuming, and it is a job that I normally wouldn't mind doing, but I had to turn it down. You see, I'm feeling a tad under siege.

It's not that I have any do-or-die deadlines — I am retired for goodness sakes! — but I have wedding photos to work on, my xhtml lessons, and the garden. I spin in dizzy circles going from one to the other, never completing anything it seems. This spin-cycle is frequently compounded by Honey Do requests and the need to perform necessary household duties such as cooking, vacuuming and mowing the lawn. Suddenly, Bill Clinton appears on Oprah, and I feel compelled to watch, or I get hooked by some election coverage, like Stephen Harper on The National last night.

On top of that, I feel that I need to post new blogs two or three times a week, and I also want to try some more geo-caching. Meanwhile, my fancy digital camera is gathering dust.

Instead of circling the wagons, my wagons seem to be careening around in circles.

But if this is as hard as life is for me right now, then I really am thriving, for these are all things that I choose to do because I like to do them. I'm not complaining, just explaining.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

It's Official

Okay now, everybody take a deep breath because I declare the official beginning of — summer. Yes, I know that there are some among you who, erroneously, believe that summer started two days ago, but I'm here to tell you that it really didn't. Summer really begins when my first (shasta) daisy opens, and that occurred today.

That's right! My first daisy opened today. Actually, the second, on a different cultivar in a totally different part of the garden, is just about fully birthed too — it just has to stretch its rapidly unfurling petals a tiny bit more. The first is a tall, old variety: the second a newer, dwarfish cultivar. But the two plants' clocks are certainly in synch: both with each other and with the season. How do they do that?

Daisies aren't my very favourite plant, but who doesn't really like them a lot? They speak of the newness of early summer: the season that probably has a deeper pyschological impact on Canadians than on just about anybody else on the planet: sun, swimming, holidays, camping, cottaging, woods, lakes, streams, mountains, and no school!

The expression, fresh as a daisy is just that — an expression — because it's also a truism. There's something special about a daisy, perhaps because they are as fresh as an early summer morn. And summer is ... well it's summer. That's what.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Hint of Bitter

Truth be told, I am having one of those occasional down days. Little decisions seem difficult and overwhelming. Dare I make the switch from cable television to satellite television? Why does that puny, insignificant decision seem so monumentally difficult today? Sue asks me to print a few wedding photos to show her friends, and the task frustrates me. How many hundreds of these sheets have I previously printed with enthusiastic ease? It is not normally difficult for me, yet today I dither: try one arrangement and scrap it; try several more and do the same.


Is it because it is simply natural for every up-cycle, every emotional high, like the wedding celebration of the weekend, to be followed by an emotional downturn? Is that simply the way we are, or the way that I am?

Is it because I see an old face staring back at me from the wedding photos? From whence came those heavy creases around the corners of my eyes? How about the loose jowls flapping like so much turkey-skin about the neck? Where did the boy go? It feels to him as though his own wedding day was but yesterday, but all of a sudden he is the elder gent walking the girl-become-woman to the altar. She recites her vows in the sun; he slinks back into the shadows.

The gent is happy to see his little girl grow up to be such an outstanding human being, happy to see her marry such a grand man. He would not have it otherwise, would not deny her this blessed passage. He would not deny it for himself either, but his own mostly-sweet passage contains a hint of bitter. There is some darkness gathering in the corners of the corridors down which he now treads.

Life is mostly sweet if we hold it rightly upon our tongues. Perhaps it is the occasional taste of bitter that makes the most of it seem all the sweeter. Bitter is, after all, a taste. It lets us know that our senses are alive. Still alive.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Fairy-Tale Lives

I am back from the wedding. I was going to say that it went off without a hitch, but, of course, there was one -- the one for which we all assembled! The day was beautiful, which is a darn good thing for an outdoor wedding, and the spot (at a rural inn) was commensurately splendid. The nuptials were repeated against the backdrop of an idyllic pond: what a fine convergence of two resplendent things.

Of course, a wedding, especially of one's own daughter, does call-up a certain amount of cogitation. One hopes that this will be one the "good" marriages. We all want a nice event and a joyous day to look back upon, but we really need to concentrate on looking-forward to a great life. Our culture seems to have misplaced its priorities in this regard ... and in many other regards, I suppose.

Why it that? Not to repeat my reception speech, but I think it's because we believe the fairy tales. Our own romance starts like a fairy tale. Just like the prince and princess, we fall in love, and we feel just like we imagine that they did in the stories. And, just like they, we plan and experience a storybook-perfect wedding ceremony, replete with fine food, drink and fellowship. And just as they, we have the expectation to live happily ever after.

There's the rub!

What did it take for the fabled prince and princess to live happily ever after? Maybe they lived under the divine right of royalty, and it was their birthright. But it isn't ours! The rest of us have to work hard to attain the good things of life, and that includes happiness in marriage.

This really is not terribly onerous work of which I speak. It's not really that hard to do, more like watering a plant than anything! We must simply attend to it, not neglect it, not presume that all is well for another day or longer. On a daily basis, we need to give our partner a little attention: a little water, a little nourishment, some tender and loving care. We need to smile, speak softly and gently, be considerate and supportive.

Not hard work really, but work nonetheless.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A Major Passage

Early tomorrow, we will set out across province to get to my daughter's, Butterfly's, wedding. With a sidetrip to Hamilton to pick up Ladybug, our other daughter, we are looking at spending probably more than eight hours in the car. I will need more than a few breaks to rest and stretch my creaking, achy body.

I picked up the tux yesterday. My wife says that I look nice in it, but I can't help but wonder when, for men, dressing up will mean something other than wearing basic black? My sartorial statement for both the rehearsal and morning after breakfast will be much more me. I was going to say that I can't remember the last time that I wore a suit, but I guess it was over a year ago at my mother's funeral: weddings, wakes and funerals. Who buys all of the suits, starchy shirts and ties that line the racks at men's clothing stores?

My daughter is getting married in two days, so why haven't I blogged about this before? Perhaps it's easier to blog about little things: passing thoughts, little impressions. Truth be told though, I am very comfortable with this marriage, very much at peace. Butterfly is mature, sensible, has long since left the nest, and has chosen a great person to be her partner. I have neither angst nor sense of loss, just the sense that a circle is being fittingly closed.

A wedding is just another of life's natural passages. I have learned to embrace these passages: might as well because I can't stop them and wouldn't if I could. By definition, life is passage. My life began because someone else made the transition into parenthood. And what passage of mine would I gladly have forfeited: going to college; getting married; starting my career; having children; retiring? None of these! I have yet to make a passage that does not enhance me in some way.

My own life has now passed from summer into fall. But autumn is perhaps my favourite season. It has a beauty that is all its own: a beauty unlike any other season and unmatched by any other season. I expect that winter will have it's charms too, but, for now, I revel in the changing of the leaves of my life.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Fridges and Life

We just had a couple of guys here to move a fridge for us. The forty-year-old fridge in the basement has now been replaced by a comparatively youthful, twenty-year-old fridge. The newer one also has a large freezer compartment which will, hopefully, allow us to turn off our large chest freezer. It seems like a good deal: friends gave us the newer fridge for the cost of moving it; we got rid of a very old inefficient fridge; and, we will be able to shut of one big appliance completely: good for the energy bill, good for the environment.

Once again, I am reminded that everything in this world is always more complicated than it first appears. To get a free fridge, we had to: pay to have the old one drained, pay to have it moved, and clean out the basement for the transfer. To get the fridges in and out both the inner and outer family-room doors had to be, temporarily, removed. Work, work, work. A friend once said, when you estimate out how long a job will take to do, just multiply by three to obtain the real number.

It takes work to live life successfully, more than we counted when we were dewy-eyed youths. It takes work to earn our bread, work to raise our kids, and work to nurture our relationships. It even takes work to get a free fridge. Always more work that you forecast. Always worth it. It has to be worth it, for there is no choice.