Skin Care, healthy living

Isolation Journal Prompt 115 Mercury Retrograde – a person from your past

Your prompt for this week:
One of the things Mercury retrograde is notorious for is that certain people from your past appear out of blue. Just last week I saw a childhood friend on the street. Years ago, this person was my best friend, until it became clear to him that I was gay — then suddenly he wasn’t. When I saw him, I started thinking about the boy I used to be: the anxious, closeted 12-year-old. And as I saw this old friend, I was surprised to realize I felt nothing. I felt free, I guess. The sight of him didn’t inspire anxiety because I understood I am no longer the person I used to be.
Alex Gaertner

Write about a time you encountered someone from your past after many years. How did it feel to be suddenly reacquainted with this person? What did it reveal to you—about who you were and who you are now?

2013 Me at the Parliament buildings Ottawa

As a child, we visited Ottawa every couple of years. In Ottawa were our aunt and uncle, ( later a step-uncle) and three cousins on my mother’s side (Allen, Liz and David).  The cousins were a few years older than us, so were married and had children while we were still teens. After my mother and aunt died, that connection faded. We still kept in touch with Liz and visited her and her family once in a while.  My sisters and I even flew to Seattle for her daughter’s wedding brunch.  But we lost touch with the two boys, Allen and David. I connected once on my trip across Canada to Newfoundland, and though I sent Christmas cards to them for years, there was a rare response.  

On my dad’s side, we stayed close to all of our cousins for our childhood while we were young. Though from all across Canada, we united at family reunions and various unfortunately some funerals. Two of our cousins, Lois and Linda, who moved frequently due to their dad’s military career, were pen-pals to my sister and I for several years.  We traded teen angst from Germany and New Brunswick to Saskatchewan.  Again, except for a visit to one of them on the grand cross Canada trip, we lost touch. 

One day I was invited to join a national committee to do with my job, We had meetings held yearly and sometimes twice yearly in Ottawa. By chance, two of the cousins from both sides of the family reached out to my sister.  Both lived there.  So, my first trip to Ottawa, I contacted them, David and Lois, and arranged to meet.  This turned into friendships with both the girls from my Dad’s family and with David from my mom’s.  Meeting their families also added to the pleasure.  What a blessing !! 

We started off, casually, meeting for meals, and found a lot in common, and both families then invited me, and my husband when he accompanied me, to stay overnight. It was unnerving at first, but soon it became the norm to go to these meetings and extend my stay to visit with the long lost cousins. 

The first time staying with Lois I found an easy hospitality and much in common. Though our lives had varied immensely, our tastes in music, food and coffee were identical. Left alone in the car while she bought some groceries one time, she told me to choose a CD and play music.  I opened the glove box and the CD’s I found were almost identical to those in my own car and home, and those that weren’t, I wanted to buy!  I knew that I would find a relaxed host and easy conversation when I returned.

In David, I found the gentle, caring nature that I remember in my mother and aunt. He remembered our childhood days, loved to take me on car tours to the old homes and even the cabin they had in lake country.  He informed me more about my grandmother who I had loved but lost early in my life.  My meeting days are long over, but our phone calls continue, as well as a visit in the mountains in 2012 and Arizona in 2018. 

An added side benefit to these trips to Ottawa was connecting with the seat of our government and a city that has much to give.  It reawakened an interest in politics and political history, that became even more enhanced with the pandemic, racial unrest and of course the controversial American election.

Both cousins had reached out to my sisters and I after a family loss. Lois’s son had died suddenly in heart surgery for a congenital defect, and David’s brother, estranged to him for many years, had died of Cancer.  Perhaps in the loss of one of our family members, we begin to treasure our roots and find common bonds in common genes.  Or perhaps, time was right for us to grow friendships with families long lost. 

Whatever, I am so glad I made that difficult phone call asking to meet and that I found more  family to love.

I need to make plans to return. 

Skin Care, healthy living

Pro-life or PRO-LIFE that is the question.

It is hard as a Christian woman to express my pro-life views.  The anti-abortion groups have taken that term and made it all about abortion. 

I believe that pro-life is a good description of my views, but in answer to those that ask if I am PRO-LIFE, I have responded no.  Now I am changing that answer to “Of course I am pro-life I believe in the sanctity of life, I believe we are all created by, loved by, and valued by a faithful and loving God.  I believe that this means all life – the life of an unborn child, child, adult, child regardless of race, ability, gender or orientation, and the aged and infirmed.”  To give value to women of childbearing age the same value as a fetus, I choose not to value one life as more valuable than another.  As it’s not clear in the Bible, and it is not clear in science without opinion, I cannot decide when a fetus would be considered a life with a choice.

In my teenage years, I would have told you that abortion is wrong – period. Circumstances have challenged those views, in experiences that I will never forget. I would hope that those who read this will read it with an open mind, for I don’t hope to change anyone’s mind.

in my early days of nursing, Canada had passed an abortion act that required that a woman’s life be in danger for a termination of pregnancy.  This had to be determined by two physicians ( often male ) for her to be approved for an abortion.  I cannot forget how as a student nurse, and a new nurse I was required to help with this law. 

  • I will always remember a young woman in tears in an examining room. She was pregnant with a child from a relationship that was ended, and it appeared that the ending of this relationship was in her best interest. Her family had abandoned her and she held a minimum wage job.  It was my job to hint to her that she would be approved for an abortion if she told two doctors her life was in danger. As physically that was not true, she would have to say that she would commit suicide if required to bear this baby to term. She didn’t get my hints. The registered nurse rescued me and blatantly advised this young woman to lie to two doctors. This, the nurse told me was common. We were circumventing the law to help women. This disturbed me.
  • I also remember walking into an Emergency exam room to assist to give blood to a 20-year-old woman who had found a “back door” midwife, to use a coat hanger type instrument to cause an abortion. The woman was rushed to surgery, and although I never heard the final result, the surgeon commented to us that she probably would need a hysterectomy. 
  • I also remember the teen who I met in a similar situation who had tried to abort herself. Fortunately, she did herself very little harm but went home with her mother, and her mother never got the advice for this young girl to “cry suicide”.  I do not know the end of this story.
  • I heard stories of rich young women who knew the path, used it and doctors applied the law differently to them.

So, I had to struggle with the common Christian views that all abortion is wrong and the reality of what that meant. Who does this stance support, and who does it hurt? I have asked not to be put in the operating room where “TOP”s were done, but I also knew how many of these were done after convincing people to lie.  I put these experiences in the back of my mind. Abortion, I thought would never be for me, but I couldn’t decide my views on these experiences.

I knew that making abortion illegal or hard to obtain was what caused that woman to go to a backdoor abortionist. I knew that there were conceptions from rape or and from adolescent feeling the peer pressure of having intercourse with their dates/boyfriends.  I also knew that I had never been in those shoes. 

Recently, an acquaintance had a late-term abortion.  This was a hard story to read, as  I held three babies who were born too early to live, and learned about grief from the loss of a child from these two losses.  How could I support late-term abortion?  But when I saw her story, 3 losses of babies naturally from 8 to 15 weeks, and now, at 23 weeks, she found out that the baby she was carrying had the same genetic disease that they had now discovered affected her first 3 pregnancies. This baby had no chance of life at birth.  There were no cases of a baby affected by this gene surviving. So, this woman and her husband, in tears and severe grief, underwent a late-term abortion.  This brought this so close to me, that in minutes I understood why a late-term abortion (after 20 weeks) might have been something I could have been faced with. 

Other stories are surfacing, notably one from Senator Peters and one from Hallie Grammar from Texas.  Heartbreaking. 

 I remembered when I met with my obstetrician after being diagnosed with twins, that he told me that because of a physical abnormality, I had very little chance of carrying those babies to term, and most likely would lose them before viability. Did abortion cross my mind? Yes, reluctantly and in grief, we did consider it rather than face a loss like the first.  A second opinion physician promised us that he would try his best and thought 30 weeks was achievable. And we believed. Despite our efforts,  I buried those babies born at 23 weeks.  Labour with that pregnancy was hard, and long and was far worse knowing the outcome would not be babies I would take home. I was shocked that one-pound babies take more pushing than a 6-pound baby. in Canada, if I had needed a c-section for my twins, it would not have been looked at as a “late-term abortion” ( as in Senator Peter’s story)  but stories from conservative states in the USA show that women are faced with abortion laws that would make this illegal and with the same sad outcomes.

There is so many deceiving information that gets published about abortions. I cannot dispute what comes out of the USA but I can dispute that we as Canadians cannot use their examples for what happens in Canada.  In Canada, the law that I described above was thrown out as unconstitutional. As yet, we have not replaced it. Our right-leaning politicians talk frequently of having a pro-life belief.  One Conservative has asked to put some restrictions on abortions which I agree with – banning coercive abortions and those for gender selection. 

But let me clear up the numbers and the facts of abortions in Canada. In 2018 there were 85,294 medical abortions done in clinics and hospitals in Canada. Most of these are in the larger provinces and 2000 are in Saskatchewan. Too many? I think so.  These are mostly distributed equally among the age groups from 18-40+ with very few ( 4%)  being under the age of 18.  A larger number of these are handled by clinics where they exist. Saskatchewan and some of the smaller provinces do not have clinics.  Many people talk about people using abortion as a birth control method, though the stats do not support this. Late abortion ( after 21 weeks ) happened in 3.4% of the cases in 2018 or 700 times in all of Canada. The Partial-Birth option talked about in the Right to Life movies does not happen here. Most, if not all, of the late-term abortions, are for medical reasons, like my friend.

What can we do to lower that number? Education and clear access to birth control. A physician that does not believe in birth control must find his/her client a place to obtain what he disagrees to. Parents need to know what their teens are doing.  Education needs to be in schools too, and school nurses/counsellors ready to advise.  Abstinence is ideal, in my opinion, but in this day and age, we need another revolution away from casual sexual relationships. 

We need compassionate and helpful people if a woman reports a rape or a date gone wrong. But since the abortions are not all in teens, access to birth control at college, and for those who may not be able to afford it.  Unexpected pregnancies will happen, so support, unemployment, and options for those that seek help, and if that isn’t possible, a compassionate, non-judgemental referral for abortion services might be the choice young women in college, in a bad relationship, with limited funds, or overwhelmed by a large family already.  I feel we need to walk in their shoes, help them before and after, and not let our feelings about this cause a woman to feel shame. 

It’s a big ask. We as Christians need to realize that for every finger we point out to someone there are four pointing back.  We don’t know what we may have to fight in our own lives, our children and grandchildren’s lives. A relationship must come first before the condemnation of our beliefs. 

I am asked often because of the church I belong to if I am pro-life.  Writing this explains perhaps only to me, but perhaps to you, how my views have morphed. It may come to Canada, as it is in the USA, that abortion banning or rights may become a pivotal way to vote. I don’t believe that one issue should define my voting, but I don’t believe that ever banning abortion would serve my fellow Canadians. 

Matthew 25:40  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Skin Care, healthy living

Isolation Journal First Seven Jobs

Your prompt for this week:
Excavate the long-buried lowlights of your résumé and jot down a list of your first seven jobs. Then pick the most surprising, disastrous, or absurd, and spin it into an epic tale.

Photo by cottonbro on

My first seven jobs:

  1. Babysitter 
  2. Student nurse 
  3. General duty nurse Newfoundland/Edmonton/Saskatoon/Edmonton
  4. Casual Nurse /ICU nurse Moose Jaw 
  5. Nurse Manager Medical Floor Moose Jaw 
  6. Resident Care Manager ( actually 6 titles ) Moose Jaw nursing home
  7. Manager Development and Research ( MDS ) for our health region 

Though some of these are lumped together, each city had a very different experience, expectation and level of responsibility. The last though fancy-sounding was teaching and supporting the RAI tools for home care and long term care. 

As I made this list, I started thinking of how often in my employment story I was given expectations beyond my skills, and comfort level.  Perhaps the babysitting story is the funniest and the easiest to recall.

I was a babysitter from the time I was 13. I had done a few afternoons sitting before that but became a competent and busy babysitter for our neighbourhood. My wages were high. I wrote in my diary at 12 of a generous 10 cents an hour. Later I was getting twenty-five cents an hour and fifty cents after midnight.  I babysat for families, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and with three girls in the family, the phone was forever ringing for our services.

I am not quite sure who was the craziest – me or the family, but I ended up babysitting for a family of four for a week when they went on holidays. My older sister had the job but then accepted a “real job” and had to back out. It was the summer my mother went into the hospital and subsequently died, but we were not aware of the seriousness of her illness so life went on

There I was 15 years old and in charge of 4 children under five years old. This included a 2-year-old set of twin boys, active, in diapers and their two older siblings.  I was ill-prepared.  I had to make meals, iron clothes, wash clothes and change and washcloth diapers for two !! I learned the sigh of relief when three out of four were down for a nap, and when all four were in bed for the night.  This was enough for me to swear that I would space my children out when I got married and that I wouldn’t take on another week-long babysitting job.  I think I did okay, though. The only mishap I remember was having the heavy silver iron fall on the floor from the ironing board – and I don’t know what would have been so important to iron for the household!

I also remember a call from my dad, who imagined I might need a break, and took us all for ice cream. My dad wasn’t a very practical man at times, and I am sure he never imagined what those four children would do to his car. It was before car seats and seatbelts and Dad was sure the children should have the flavour they wanted so tiger, pink, brown and white ice cream was smeared all over his car’s seats. The kids looked worse, and I carried them into the house directly to the bathtub.  But it was a much-needed relief for me on the 6th day of the mission and I still marvel at my dad thinking of it.

I think I took many lessons from that week. I learned, after I hid the iron, then confessed, that confession is the better part of valour.  It turned me off ironing for life and gave me some idea of what it was like to cook and clean up for four children. I think it was a bit like the “baby project” many teens do as a class these days. Mostly I believe it helped with my life long belief that I could do more than I could ever imagine if I set my mind to it. 

This has been a good lesson as I travelled through the following career-changing positions, often been expected to jump in and know the ropes before I was ready.

Funny, though I always had a dream to have four children, and my loss of twin boys always puts me back to the rumble tumble tow heads that were mine for a week when I was ill-prepared.

Skin Care, healthy living

Isolation Journal Prompt 112. On Sunlight as Disinfectant

Your prompt for the week:
Write a confession—something you did or said that you still carry with guilt and shame. Then write your own absolution, honoring the aftermath of your actions, calling in grace.

*Optional:Burn after writing.

As I write this, I do remember many times making an emphatic statement and it coming back to bite me. Statements that start with I will never, and I always. So I expect something I say here to be different in a short period of time.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I believe the route to forgiving others is to first forgive myself.   I have spent many years worrying and regretting things I have said and done, but once I decided to learn from mistakes, ask for forgiveness when necessary, and  move on. Then I  forgive myself and put my mistakes behind me making a much easier journey.

This prompt had me going back on the rabbit trail of what things perhaps others still remember that I erred on. Certainly, some of those would have been angry words  towards my children, and family members, words said, actions done that can’t be reversed. It would be times where stress or being caught in my own world led me to look and act like an unthoughtful, uncaring person.  Yes, we all have many of those regrets. But going back isn’t what I wish to do. 

I come back in my thoughts to the concept of forgiveness. . There’s a saying that I give it to God, but knowing better, I take it back. Those actions and words have been forgiven and it does nothing for me to bring them back out 

So perhaps guilt and shame remain deep down in my long forgiven self. I will leave it there.

I will concentrate on correcting and forgiving today’s mistakes, today’s unthoughtful words, and today’s inability to see who is in pain. 

Please forgive me !  ( and with that Bryan Adams rings in my head ) 

Covid19, Healthy LIving, Isolation Journals, Lake life, nature

Isolation Journal Day 111 RED

Your prompt for this week:
Choose a color (any color!). Write about the sound, smell, taste and feel of that color.

You can write in lines of poetry or prose. You can focus on one color, or if you’re writing shorter lines and sentences, jump around to different colors.

Bonus prompt:
Choose a sound (maybe a sound that you love, or that you hear all the time, or that you heard once and will never forget). What is the color and shape of that sound? How does the sound smell, taste, feel on your skin?


Red – the colour of anger

in a person’s face

the colour of the emoticon,

in the feelings that bubble up from the belly 

tasting like bile,

smelling of sweat 

Red the colour of fear – 

sudden fear 

tasting like dust, 

smelling like the imminent threat, 

or the sweat of the fearful.

Red – the colour of blood 

from violence

from BLM 

from domestic abuse 

from an innocent cut from a paper edge or a knife.  

The scent of blood 

always unmistakable,

the odour confusing,

but sometimes too real. 

Smell just like measles or mice –

you walk in the room and you know – you know it’s there.


the colour of sunsets

and sunrises,

and red skies of warning

smelling like the lake

impending rain

fresh mowed grass

tasting like the end of day

with red wine

Red – the colour of women

of handmaids in a dystopian world

the colour of women giving birth

having monthly flow

unexpected sometimes invoking fear

Women smelling of perfume

and hairspray 

baby spit-up.  

Red – the colour of flowers 


of peonies, 

of carnations 

smelling sweetly

their fragrance wafting up

Flowers smelling sweet,

tasting of love and care. 

Red – not the colour of  little girls

the colour rarely used in pictures 

made from the craft box 

in grandmas house 

pictures by the ream

they choose shades of red 

pink and purple – 

these are colours of young girls 

in love 

with koalas 

and unicorns 

and ponies.  

Bonus Prompt 

Sounds of laughter,

sweet giggly laughter of girls put to bed

giggling more when told to go to sleep 

giggle with snorts and more giggles, 

as they play their imaginative games

best of friends 

My loves, I love your laughs that remind me or my children’s young days and my own.  

Faith, Mother /daughter, Nursing, Women,s issues

Isolation Journal Day 110 – A Woman’s Battle

Your prompt for this week:
Set your timer for five minutes and do nothing. Stare at the desk or the wall or the dust motes in a slice of sunlight. Then write about the thoughts, the questions, and the answers that came up in that moment of slowness, of stillness.

If I could be so brave and bold to say, I see some parallels to the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in my life and in many women born in my time (and hers).   Parallels in some ways where I veered off the path, and she bravely ventured forth but parallels in perhaps making a difference 

Now, I am not saying, by any means that I compare to this lady who is now famous for so many accomplishments in life, and who is described as paving the way for women in many ways.  That would be audacious and disrespectful for sure. 

But as I read about her life, the loss of her mother as she was leaving high school left an indelible mark on her life. I relate. My mother died just as I entered my 11th grade, and that defined me in so many ways.  RBG was quoted as saying that she owes so much to her mother who told her she could do as much as any man. Her mother was restricted from higher education because the money went to her brother.  My mother, according to stories, was restricted from going into Nursing – her passion – because she was more fitted for a bakery girl according to her father, my grandfather. He believed that my mother’s sister, the pretty one, could go to secondary school.  

My mother’s father died when he was 64, my mother was 29.  The bakery was sold, and mom was allowed to venture off to nursing school, now the age she would have been called a spinster. The story is vague from then on. but she did meet my dad and married and had the three of us- all girls. My legacy is from a mother denied because of sexism and an authoritarian father, and my father who could have been denied because of finances, but worked it out. It was through them I was growing up to believe that I could be anything I wanted to be. My mom became a nursing supervisor, my dad a businessman.

I know my dad’s choice for me would have been Engineering. My mind was logical, my math skills were good, and he had a company ready for me to join.  But my shyness baulked at the thought of a class with mostly men – a class with the reputation that every second person would fail.  Justice Ginsberg did it though – stood up when there were only nine women in a class of 500, and rejected a professors viewpoint that she didn’t belong there. She went on to sit on the highest court in the land, ironically picked by President Bill Clinton, who was Impeached because of his ways with women. 

I chose nursing – to follow in my mother’s footsteps. I remember the letter I wrote to get accepted – I was going to be the helper of the sick and would lead with compassion and caring. Women were expected to be nurses, teachers and secretaries in the late 60’s. It was right for me then, but some days I always wonder if I would have survived the Engineering atmosphere and where that would have lead me. 

I started out as an underconfident and obedient bedside nurse, but it wasn’t long that I learned that there were too many parts of nursing that were lost in the dark ages, a place I would rather not stand.  Nurses were to do and not ask why. We did menial tasks, like washing gloves and syringes rather than knowing medical answers. We stood when the head nurse walked in and asked how high when the doctor told us to jump.  We were criticized for asking questions, reminded it was not ours to diagnose and screamed at if we weren’t handy when the doctor needed us. We had to balance our many tasks at the bedside to run when the busy doctor arrived at our desk.  Nurses in those days were mostly women and misogyny was rampant. 

It was this atmosphere that allowed a scalpel to pin my shoe to the floor when I handed the surgeon a wrong instrument, that made me disappear crying when I didn’t have answers to a doctor that berated me or a head nurse that chose to “ride” the newest kid on the block. The saying “we eat our own” was very true. 

I don’t know when it was that I learned that standing up for what was right was the thing I could do, but I attribute much of it to my first Head Nurse in Edmonton after I was married.  Mrs. F (everyone was still called Dr, Mrs. and Miss then) was a feisty little Pilipino head nurse who respected her staff and wanted us to be the best.  A turning point for me was when a surgeon came to the desk and started tapping at the desk. When nobody noticed, he uttered a couple of harrumphs. Mrs. F. looked up and smiled at me. I was the team leader for his team and responsible to take him on rounds.  He loudly yelled NURSE!!  Mrs F. stood her barely 5-foot ground and calmly said: “I didn’t know you hadn’t met Mrs Jago – let me introduce you.” Now I had taken this particular surgeon on rounds many times by that time, and he was taken aback. “Of course, I have met Mrs Jago”.  Mrs F looked at him and answered “ Well you won’t call her nurse from now on will you?” Humbled, (and it was hard to humble a surgeon in those days) he nodded and politely asked me, by name, if I was ready for rounds. Surgeons learned not to rap on the desk for attention, to come to where we were working and ask for help, and sometimes even to do their rounds themselves!  She taught me not to apologize for calling a doctor – this was his job, and calling was ours.  Up to then, we started most sentences with “I am sorry to bother you, doctor”.   I learned so much from that workplace, things I used later and incorporated into my nursing career. I learned we were registered nurses educated to do the best for our patients, and we might have to step on a few toes to do it. I am saddened when I hear stories of physicians and surgeons who think they still live in the age of yelling to a “subservient” nurse. 

I soon learned that it was the diagnosis and medical part of nursing that I loved the most. I wanted to make the difference by knowing the reason for the symptoms, being ready with an answer to a problem rather than by pretending that the doctor was always right. It didn’t always go well with the physicians but mostly, I earned their respect.  But it took some bravery to stand ground with people who didn’t expect that.  To hang up the phone when a surgeon swore at me for calling him.  To advise a top doc that profanity wasn’t to be used on my unit ever and it didn’t become him. To ask another physician to quit the inappropriate jokes told at the desk – and being called Sister Terry for that behind my back.  He was corrected on that too!  To report breaches of a policy when necessary even though that indirectly caused me to change places of work. 

Soon, the tide changed, and nurses were expected to know, not just do.  It was an honour to be taught by doctors how to read an ECG, listen to heart sounds, and diagnose an acute abdomen or a Myocardial Infarction. It was an honour to be told that if they heard my voice in the middle of the night, they knew they had better get dressed, as I didn’t call unless I needed them. I accepted a few apologies when I was right and they were wrong and from others the harrumph that said the same thing, but in a very different way.

I taught others as well, by example or by a story, that we are nurses, proud nurses and never “Just a nurse”. That our assistants are not ‘ Just an aide or just a SCA” but a proud and important person in the health care field. I wanted to place equal value on us all – male or female, doctor or nurse, aide or technician. For that to happen, we all had to believe it. 

When  I hear the story of Justice Ginsberg, and the changes she made for women, it wasn’t the  reproductive or abortion rights that I focus on. That was such a small part of it.   She paved the way for our daughters and granddaughters to choose a career, be paid equally for it, to stand up to tyranny and misogyny and the right to speak up as a person. 

When I see the picture of her and her fellow Justices, one of three woman on the Supreme Court, and a little osteoporotic one at that, I think of the battles she must have faced, for us, against the band of men making rules for all.  I think that she might have said – “call her by name”, or “think of me the same as him”, to object at dehumanizing comments or jokes, or even had to leave the room when a band of men wouldn’t see her as an equal. I can see her rising, like that tiny Head Nurse of mine, and setting her clerks and fellow Justices straight on how to treat people with respect and dignity no matter who they are.

It’s a battle we face as women, to be counted as equal, yet be respected as women as well. It’s a battle we take on every day, proud to be the gentler gender, but also wanting to be treated as an equal. To me, it is not about an occasional hand on my back to lead me in a room, or a hand offered to help me scale a rock, but the acknowledgement, that there is no obstacle for women for equal pay or equal opportunity.  We are not often equal in size or muscle strength or even hormonal bend, but we are equal in value.

Isolation Journals, Lake life, Living life, nature

Isolation Journal Day 109 This is what the living do –

Your prompt for this week:
This is what the living do… Using a poem by Marie Howe

Today, with Marie’s blessing, we’re sharing her poem “What the Living Do” and a prompt inspired by it.

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Marie Howe

Use this line from Marie Howe’s poem as inspiration—perhaps as the opening sentence of your journal entry, or as a poetic refrain. Reflect on the mundane; revel in the glorious everyday details of living.

Here is my attempt at What the living do

The road to home – or the road back

This is what the living do – in the season in-between

It’s not summer, but not quite fall

In between homes – from lake to town

Leaving behind essentials when moving things in

Especially the power cord for my beloved laptop

And, in first world type problems, coping with an iPad and a phone.

But wait, there is another device, pushed into the corner

of an office now made sewing room.

His spot, his chair, his Mac but it will work to compose

Pushing a button – nothing – is it dead ?

But this is what the living does when confronted with a problem

Perservere, search for answers and finally – success.

This is what the living do, in the season in- between

Check the weather, grab shorts or hoodies, depending on the number

Different day to day.

Sun warming glow or cold smoky skies

Mother Nature not knowing what to choose

There is Autumn work lists to be done – in both homes

Where to begin

Canning, chopping, baking, tomatoes to put away

Lawn work, leaves to pick up, and readiness for the winter cold

It is a sad time, yet a time of anticipation

Leaving things behind to make the opening up easier

Knowing another summer will come to warm us

After winter’s cold.

This is what the living do

Move through seasons of life,

seasons of nature,

seasons of grief

seasons of hope

grief, Living life

Where Were You ?

There are a few days in a lifetime that you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.  The impact of those days continues for the rest of your life. The feelings you felt then are brought back in crystal clear recollection. 

One of those days is September 11, 2001.   I don’t have to tell anyone what happened that day, because we all know.  

I was driving to Regina early that morning. I had been seconded to a position with Saskatchewan Health where we met as a group of unionized and non-unionized nurses to pound out a Joint Job Evaluation. This was to ensure equal pay for equal type of nursing jobs. The project came to an abrupt halt with a nurses’ strike that bargained all our work away, but that is a side memory of this day.  The group met in Regina and Saskatoon on alternate weeks. On the weeks in Regina, I joined the large group of commuter cars that travel between Moose Jaw and Regina daily. 

Breaking News came on the CBC.  I always listened to CBC in those days. Our national radio network has always been my companion and part of my life long learning journey.  In 2001 Breaking News was just that – an actual event that needed our attention. The Twin Towers in New York had been crashed into by two large planes.  At first news broadcast, if you recall, we didn’t know if this was a world event or an accident or what.  It was scary. 

But even scarier yet was a report of a plane over our Canadian North West Territories that had not responded to the air traffic controllers.  This was directly north of where I was driving. I remember ducking my head.  It’s an odd response I have, since living in Nurses Residence right under the pathway of a large industrial airport.  If in my car in the parking lot of the residence and a plane went over, I used to duck. Not that it would make a difference, but this prairie girl hadn’t been in the direct pathway of a plane in her lifetime (unless you count all the Tudor jets overhead in Moose Jaw but at that time, we hadn’t noticed those.) And on this day, I ducked! A plane was somewhere thousands of miles from me in the air and soon three planes had crashed into New York and Washington.  And I am ducking in a car on a lone highway in Southern Saskatchewan. But that is how news like that affects us.

We were working out of the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) office that month. We worked out of various venues.  Significant memories involve the entire staff of SAHO  – from the CEO down to our tiny committee hunkered in the lunchroom where there was a TV – and very little work getting done that day. I remember a common bond of shock and grief with people I had worked and ate with daily and others who I had never met. 

We ended the day early. One of the big memories of commuting was that I saw a great Saskatchewan sunrise every morning and a lovely red sunset each night on my way home. I remember the sunset that day and remembered that even in days like this, the sun will set and rise again. 

 I remember coming home and talking to my children about what had happened, and watching those planes hitting the twin towers ( Over and over again ).  I finally said that this was enough, turning off the TV  and reassuring my children at home and away at school.  I didn’t want them to think the world was unsafe, but I wondered if I was telling them the truth.  I remember wondering what our grandparents and parents thought when announcements of the World Wars happened.

I remember my youngest son’s birthday the next day – his 18th – that had this grey dusty shadow over it.  He said that he wished it hadn’t happened so close to his birthday – it would always be a memory.  I told him days like this will always be days you remember so clearly years later and you will tell people where you were – just like I could say I was on the steps of Queen Elizabeth School the day we heard the news that President John F Kennedy was assassinated.

There are so many who have much more vivid memories than this little Canadian family on the prairies, families who visit graves and the memorials today. They will remember this day as a day where their lives changed forever.  There are the Newfoundland people who opened their homes to thousands of strangers. I wondered about that, but I  knew, that I would have done the same. 

I wish I could say it was the start of peace in the world, or the end of terrorism or terrible Breaking News stories, but I can’t say that.  That isn’t the story we can tell – yet.

The story is that we all remember where we were when the twin towers fell, and wish we didn’t. 

Isolation Journals, Lake life, Living life, nature

Isolation Journal Day 108 Ten Images

Your prompt for the week:
Your life might look nothing like mine but maybe you also feel that you lack the time, emotional space, or the presence of that saucy minx, “inspiration,” to write. Maybe you can’t sit down and write multiple pages or hundreds of words but I bet you can come up with ten images from the last 24 hours. Give it a try.

One of my favorite things is going back through my “Ten Images” pages from the last year and seeing what I saw. No matter what is going on in the world, within or without, I know I can find a home in these pages.

Ten images from the Labour Day weekend 

I wake up to the sound of the door closing. I hadn’t  heard it open.  Normally, alone in my cabin by the lake, this sound would alarm me, but I know who came in, and I smile. I see the door of my bedroom softly close, and I pretend to sleep, for my granddaughters’ arising time can be earlier than mine. I hear their quiet voices as they quietly play together until I venture out of the bedroom.  They have their own self-contained cabin on our property, but they like my Honey-nut Cheerios and morning at Grandma’s has become their habit. I love it.  

I venture out of my room, give them some attention , we all cuddle under various quilts and the special afghan my sister made for their Grandpa. That is the only arguing, who gets the blue blanket, but soon we have all settled under it, agreeing to share. Coffee is next, two cups  – fresh ground beans from Canadian roasters, nicely strong and black.  The girls know that it is now time for me to peruse my social media and except for a few peeks and asking about the pictures, they allow me the time with my coffee.  They are similar in basic looks, two wear glasses, but all three have completely dissimilar hair colours ( red, dark brown and light brown). I find that interesting. Their personalities sparkle – each a little different, one demanding my attention, one quietly telling stories and singing under her breath, and the third, the story-teller, who knows she’s cute and the baby. 

My daughter in law and I pick the produce out of the garden as there is a frost warning ahead. It seems early but they will not be back for a few weeks, now that school has begun. That means red and green tomatoes, salsa tomatoes, and summer squash. There will be baking and canning ahead.  I dig some fresh potatoes for supper. The harvest of tomatoes is good, but carrots and beets must stay in a little longer to be useful. We planted late and the spring was cold, the weeds got the better of me, and it’s a bit disappointing.  We wonder why we ever planted so many cherry tomato plants, and agree that labelling must have been at fault. 

After supper, the grandkids are back at their drawing, and the the adult children in their cabin. The girls use a youtube drawing series to perfect their art skills, and paper, markers, and glue dominates my kitchen table. They use my Ipad, and my computer to fit their inndividual wishes. I peruse my phone. The adult kids text and say they will surreptitiously sneak away for a kayak ride without kids,  but they forget that my texts display on my IPad and my computer, and pop up as notifications. So, when they catch their parents sneaking to the life jacket shed, they laugh and ask what surreptitiously means. The five year old claims she can’t read but seems to read that text quite well, when it helps her catch her parents unaware. 

Later, the deer come for their nightly visit and I catch them with my camera. There are two tiny ones, two middle sized fawns and two mothers – more this year than usual. Some of them look too small to survive our harsh winter. They jolt when they realize that I am watching but stop again to watch me.  The deer are used to human company in their world.

Fireworks, just a small display Sunday night, from across the lake. Some beautiful red and white star explosions and a few lower bullet types are all we see this time. They had a much lower display on July 1st, Canada Day. On that day, boats floated in to watch, their lights adding to the beauty.   This is e a long weekend treat from the new Glamping resort across the lake that has grown immensely since last year. I watch for a bit but don’t try for photos as my lens won’t capture them. Added to wish list – a better lens.

I awake Monday morning much too early and sleepily walk to the bathroom. My kitchen, with its beautiful picture window glows red.  I catch my best sunrise for the year and grab my camera again.  I smile, knowing that it was just right to get up at five to catch that. 

The back shed – always called the water shed, as it held an ancient fiberglass water holding tank until this spring, is in the middle of a re-do.  My son has been that guy that builds and fixes since he was very young. Time is running out and it must be made animal and winter proof this weekend.  I offer my help and am pleased that he could use it. My job as carpenter’s helper mostly consisted of holding boards, fetching tools , stapling water barrier, and sorting through various sized screws and find the right ones.  We laugh as we constantly  search for the items that didn’t follow us to the next part of the task.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree there.  Ladders, once my nemesis, were used, and I was pleased that I could manage that without fear.  Old mom has come a long way. 

Sawdust!! It is everywhere. The back patio is covered and  I must have carried some inside. I itch.  My back is sore, but I clean up, after sending my son home to help preparations for the first day of school. Vacuuming what we tracked in will wait till tomorrow but the work area is clean. Garbage is cleared. There is a door on the water shed, and I await hearing from a contractor who will fix my sagging concrete patio. 

Family suppers – alternating cooks and homes, were part of the weekend. The littlest girl likes to say the blessing, and usually adds an anecdote that will put a smile on our faces. I don’t think she prayed that Grandma wouldn’t fall off the ladder, but she was thankful for many of the same things I list here. 

Weather !! We went from 37 Celsius last week to frost warnings for tonight  and even a whisper that there might be snow. I am cuddled up, in the blue afghan with not a soul to fight me for it, ready for a cool few days. It can get cool in an unheated log cabin. 

With the labour day weekend comes the end of summer – bittersweet.  In some ways I am ready for it, but it is hard each year as I pack up to leave this paradise in the middle of the prairie. It takes a lot of work to pack it all in.  

But tonight, I am cuddled up, sipping a glass of wine, the blue afghan keeping me warm and not a soul to fight me for it. The quiet is quite welcoming and the memories sweet.  

Isolation Journals, trust

Isolation Journal 107. Energy Multipliers and Depleters.

Prompt 107

Your prompt for the week:
What multiplies your energy? Write these in list form and tack them to the wall above your desk.

Bonus Prompt:
Reflect on the throughline between all of these things. What is it they do for you? What qualities do they share?

Things that multiply my energy:

1. Learning

I love to learn something new, either during enjoying my other passion – reading – or by someone helping me learn, or by setting a journey to learn something. This summer I worked on learning about writing and learning about racism. Presently I am auditing a course on Canadian Indigenous studies. I will read White Fragility soon.

I read Susan Rice’s book – and learned more about the Obama years and about how foreign relations work. It was tough going but I loved finding out missing pieces in my education ( I have several other non-fiction books on request at the library. ) c.

I listen to Podcasts while I drive, the most recent one being “ Nice White Parents “ from Serial – about public and charter schools in the US. New knowledge. My mind is bright and I am ageing, so I think it is important to keep a life long learning journey

2. Grandchildren – their art, their telling me about their world, and even recounting a silly TV show. I feel younger and energized (mostly) in their presence.

3. Visiting with friends – for coffee, or wine or lunch. Discussing, almost arguing at times and entertaining differences in life views.

4. Nature and photography – getting the right shot, analyzing the shot and admiring from afar. I have done some hiking and nature walks and they are lovely but few and far between.

5. Eating the right kind of food and knowing I am doing the best for my health

6. Solving a problem

Energy Burners:

1. Lack of sleep or poor sleep

2. Social Anxiety – I can usually get past it but it robs me of anticipation of fun

3. Disagreements with people I love

4. Being misunderstood

5. Eating poorly

6. Covid19 deniers, Followers of the orange pumpkin

7. Fear of future and unresolved grief issues

Sometimes I think I am doing so well in all this, but sometimes I get thrown a curveball ( Like #3 and it sends me back.

8. Giving up on a problem

I generally can major in the energy multipliers, but this summer, due to some added stress issues, I have had interrupted sleep and a serious carb addiction. Moving past that and giving myself some space when needed, I find I am always up for an activity or to assist, visit or tend to my pampering needs.