Endless Days

Two adirondacks in garden 2You know those insurance ads that feature a retired couple sitting in Muskoka chairs at the end of a dock on a picturesque lake in cottage country sipping a hot beverage and holding hands – yeah, well that’s not my reality in “my golden years”.

The house does not clean itself but my car can drive itself to the grocery store – unfortunately, it doesn’t do the shopping as well.  Beds still have to be made, toilets cleaned, windows washed, etc. etc.  – you may have retired but the chores have not!  The silver lining however is that if you don’t feel like doing any of that on a given day, you can just go back to bed, pull the covers over your head and nap or catch up on that book you have been meaning to read.

I now have the time to be grateful for all that I have, the time to be creative … get out and take photos, paint, and take on projects that I’ve always wanted to complete.  People ask how I fill all those hours that I don’t work; aren’t I bored but I honestly don’t know where the time goes –  I play on the computer, watch you tube videos, tinker in the garden, see friends, go to concerts, walk in the woods, dance around the house and volunteer.  I recently volunteered for an event at a local auditorium which went off rather well despite the few glitches associated with a first time exhibition.  I distributed flyers for them the week before and the Monday of so I got to get out and get fresh air, had some exercise and participated in a worthwhile endeavor.  I also handed out attendee bags the first day and helped hand out sponsor packages the day before while they set up; everyone so excited and enthusiastic. I figure I’m pretty much on my way to sainthood now!

I watched the organizer who is very talented and efficient and seems to run on those bunny batteries handle all the different crisis that came up in a calm, professional manner and I applaud her zeal and commitment and energy and I realized I don’t want my time structured anymore, I don’t want to be that responsible anymore.  I want to enjoy ‘me’ time; I’ve earned it!  Not quite ready to sit and watch the sun set up in cottage country but adapting quite nicely thank you very much!

The quest for the perfect night’s sleep

pillows

I’m not at all sure how many of you even consider the importance of the pillow you sleep on at night and its overall effect on your health but in the last ten months or so it has become the windmill to my Don Quixote.

Normally I could care less whether a pillow is made of goose feathers, polyurethane foam, buckwheat or organic hemp … but those ads you see constantly on the TV do prod at your subconscious ever so sneakily and before you know it you have invested in a $200 contoured orthopedic polar ice pillow for your bedroom.  What the hell happened?

Now I know that a lot of you like the real goose down feather variety to keep it real or the down alternatives – and most others like a polyurethane or polyester fiber pillow which is hypoallergenic and doesn’t irritate sensitive sleepers. Plus, a group of you  like buckwheat hull and memory-foam models or bamboo pillows (called as such due to the bamboo fibers used to help create the material weave found in the casing) but generally filled with a shredded memory foam.  I have to say though that I think we have gone over the deep end here and not in a good way.

Now, I personally like a flat pillow, not one of those fluffy overstuffed things that make your neck sore just looking at it.  I only need a certain amount of fabric between me and the mattress, I have managed to make it through the night with a folded towel when need be but I much prefer a pillow that I can sink into and it surrounds my neck like well oiled masseuse hands that know how to get that crick out.

Recently, we decided to get a new bed – a king-sized bed so that both of us would have lots of room for moving around without kicking the other off the bed.  So we figured we should treat ourselves to these new buckwheat filled, cool to the touch clouds of delight that we have seen constantly on late night TV, you know the ones I mean.  I don’t think anyone ever mentions the fact that you could actually kill someone with them if you ever got in a pillow fight since they are god awful heavy.

My husband, bless him, seems to have adapted quite readily to his whereas I feel mine is a blend of instrument of torture and foul-smelling doorstop.  Needless to say, I have gone back to my much pulverized but comfortable synthetic model that I have had for the past few years.

I just sleep better with it and no geese were plucked in the making and we didn’t spend the equivalent of ten bottles of wine on it.  I also sleep with a cheap pillow beneath my knees to relieve lower back pressure.  Unfortunately one of the polar ice contoured fancy pillows sits neglected in a corner of the bedroom reminding me of how hard-earned money can be foolishly misspent.

Aw well live and learn!

Note:  Experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend replacing your pillow every 18 months or so. Pillows can be packed with mold, dead skin cells and dust mites, oh, my!  Yes, even when you throw the pillowcases in the wash every week.

To determine if it’s really time to get a new pillow, test it by folding it in half and seeing if it springs back to flat. If it doesn’t, it’s time to find a new place to rest your head.

 

FAMILY GAMES NIGHT

We are holding another Games Night this week-end in which our friends and family will participate in a card game, a quiz game and some form of physical competition which I have not figured out yet. No, it doesn’t seem like we have learned anything from our past attempts but as stated previously, it is sometimes the only way we get to see people that doesn’t involve a death – and these game nights can get quite heated but no one has died yet!  Please see link to for prior blog on this event.

REFLECTIONS OF A SWAMPER

family-games-night-clipart

To hold a family games night as a means to spending quality time with your children is an adorable premise – a Hallmark moment of polite entertainment interspersed with laughter and learning in a secure and nurturing period of time.  In reality, it can be utter and complete chaos.

Please read  for our version of family-games-night from long ago.

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta lies on the Pacific Coast and is the chief port of Jalsico estado (state) in West-Central Mexico.  Over the years it has gone from a sleepy fishing village to the third largest destination in Mexico and hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year though its population is 300,000.  I have known people that have been going down there every winter for the past twenty years and I recently got to see for myself why they go back every year.  I suspect its chief claim to fame was when the director, John Huston, filmed “Night of the Iguana” 8 miles south of here in 1964 and the subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map.  The movie starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon.  Richard’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Taylor accompanied him though both of them were married to others at the time.  How scandalous!

churchExplore the architectural wonder of the town’s centerpiece, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the focal point of a 12-day festival in December that marks the founding of Puerto Vallarta in 1851. White-washed villas with red-tile roofs, many capped with small domes sparkle in the hillside.  Spanish explorers had great influence on this region’s architecture, importing their arches, domes and courtyards.


For now, I will simply showcase five of the many sculptures that you will find when you stroll the Malecon (boardwalk) in the ‘old town’ region.

caballito de mar by rafael zamarripa, 1976Let’s start with the 1976 bronze of a boy waving while riding a sea horse by Rafael Zammarripa or the Caballito de Mar.  There are numerous sculptures lining the boardwalk, not all of which I took photos as they were generally encircled by tourists or they didn’t speak to me.  However, I might have paid more attention to some if I had done any research before my visit.  Poor planning on my part, I hate to admit.

 

the friendship fountain by james bottoms and ocatvio gonsalez gutierrez, 1987Next is the Friendship Fountain (Dancing Dolphins) created in 1987 by James (Bud) Bottoms, a Californian sculptor and environmentalist with co-artist Octavio Gonzalez Gutierrez, a Mexican sculptor best known for his Vallarta whale.  The use of dolphins is inspired by a Chumash Indian myth in which the Earth Goddess, Hutash creates a rainbow bridge, Wishtoyo, to help the Indians cross over to the mainland, along the way some looked down (despite being told not to do so) and fell off the bridge, to prevent them from drowning they were transformed into dolphins and since then the Chumash have considered them as brothers.

triton and mermaid by carlos espino, 1990
The Triton and Mermaid is a bronze sculpture fashioned by Carlos Espino in 1990 (born in Mexico City, May 3rd, 1953).  (Also found under the name “Neptune and the Nereid”, “Triton and the Nereid” or “Poseidon and the Nereid”). It depicts Triton, a merman, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite (God and Goddess of the sea respectively) reaching out to a Mermaid.

the subtle rock eater by jonas guitierriz, 2006Our fourth sculpture is a 2006 whimsical figure named “El Sutil Comepiedras”, (The Subtle Rock Eater) by Guadalajara artist Jonas Gutierrez moulded out of bronze, obsidian and stone.  When asked, the author states that he feels that negative emotions are like stones which we swallow through life. So this figure is certainly very artistically going through life digesting negativity at a rapid pace yet surprisingly unaffected so perhaps he is trying to help mankind by devouring all the negativity so that we can be spared.  One thing is for sure, you either love it or hate it!  I kind of think he’s cute!

 

xiutla folkloric ballet by jim dementro, 2006
I was utterly enchanted by the sculpture The Xiutla Fokloric Ballet in which a gentleman and his lady are dancing oblivious to the throngs of tourist with eyes only for each other.  This was also created in 2006 by Jim Dementro.  Xiutla means “the place where the vegetation grows” in the Nahua language of the pre-hispanic inhabitants. The Xiutla group was started in 1993 by Professor Enrique Barrios Limón, one of the foremost teachers of dance in Mexico. He used local Puerto Vallarta children to form one of the best troupes in Mexico, one which has toured internationally.  The sculpture captures the fluidity and grace of motion both in her dress and his stance.

Next week, I will highlight some of the restaurants in this beautiful City.  Thanks for visiting!

Home Sweet Home

I will never receive the Good Housekeeping Award of the year or the week for that matter.  I am not one of those people whose home you visit and everything is in its place and so clean you could eat off the floors.  Our house is cleaned when we know we are going to have company and we run around like mad the day before (even though we’ve had all week) cleaning toilets, vacuuming, dusting, polishing, washing, etc. but only those rooms where I know company will be – our bedroom is still untidy and could probably use a good air freshener to boot.

I don’t mean the house is dirty or crawling with germs and maggots overflowing the trash can – though my husband did ask me last week if there were maggots in the trash but it was leftover Chinese rice that I threw in and some of it stuck to the sides of the can, so I had to take it outside and hose it clean which it more than likely needed anyway.  Cleaned by necessity.

You can rest assured if I were ever to win the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a cleaning lady or man – I’m not prejudiced – and a chef.  Namely because I don’t like to cook that much either – not after 40 years of doing it.  Of course my mom who had to make three meals a day and lunches for six kids and her husband had every right in my opinion to complain  about it…but never did!

If it wasn’t for my husband, I suspect the filter would never be changed in the furnace, the ducts would not be cleaned out and the light fixtures dispossessed of flies.  I just find that I am readily distracted from any chore I might be attempting by the phone ringing, checking e-mail, walking the cat, games on the i-pad – anything really that seems more interesting than the job at hand.

No, Martha Stewart need have no fear of being dethroned by yours truly!  She has drive and ambition and a whole crew to help her out, I am basically lazy by nature and a slob at heart.  Oh well!  Time to see if the Blue Jays are playing!

 

“Song for Zulu”

Song for Zulu

This song by Phosphorescent is featured on their Dead Oceans Album and is on the soundtrack of The Spectacular Now coming of age movie from 2013.  It got a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes website and is considered to be a thoughtful and poignant representation of teen angst.  I, however, have not seen it.  I am just enthralled with the song, it calms my being and allows me to delve deep into my own emotions and heartbreaks and come out on the other side.  I play it whenever I am feeling down because it gives me hope.  It is painful and beautiful all in one!

It is also on the soundtrack for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from 2014.  Again, another movie I have not seen!

I believe music can help change your life.  Both my husband and I have a list of songs we want played at our funerals that meant something to us as a couple and independently.  This may seem a little macabre to some but we feel it will help our friends remember the good times shared and not the sadness in our passing.

Image result for death quotes Image result for death quotes Image result for death quotes

The message here – enjoy life, it’s the only one you’ll have!

Live the Life you’re given

A few months ago, I had to empty, donate, distribute and clean my niece’s apartment.  She had been found dead by the police whom I had called because her brother and I were worried about her and hadn’t heard from her.  They came to my door just before midnight and you just know when you open the door what they are going to tell you.  The funeral arrangements, service and few weeks after are pretty much a blur though you manage because you have to.  She died from complications of diabetes and other medical issues.  She had spent a year trying to find out what was wrong with her and why she couldn’t eat, etc.  She spent most of that time in and out of the hospital becoming more depressed with each visit.

I have been blessed with relatively good health most of my life and even though I have abused my body with alcohol, etc. it ticks on like the ever-ready bunny and I take it all for granted.  The hard part about life is knowing that sooner or later it will end – guaranteed!  You can talk all you want about cryogenics and other means of extending life but in reality you only get the one chance to live.  Depending upon what you believe in, you might come back – either as a human, an animal or plant.  You might go to heaven or hell.  You might just return to dust, again; it doesn’t matter – you’ll be dead!

Don’t be that person who says I wish I’d done more, been there for people, helped that homeless person on the street, loved more!  Make that happen!

While carrying out stuff from the apartment to the garbage bin outside, I dropped something on my foot and still have a blue bruise on my big toenail.  Every morning when I have a shower I look at it and remember my niece and the good person she tried to be despite all the tragedy in her own life.  She looked after people who were dying.  Talked to them, helped them with bathing and taking medication and bonding with them even though she knew their time was short.  She ensured that there would be someone with them in their final moments and let’s face it – that’s what most people are afraid of – dying alone.  It takes a special kind of someone to do that week in and week out and I’m grateful that they had her there.  I only wish there had been someone there for her when she took her last breath.

It is comforting to know that she is with her grandmothers and grandfathers and all those close to her who went on before her.  While I grieve her loss because she was still young and I miss her even though we weren’t particularly close and I wish we had been better friends, I feel guilty that I didn’t reach out to her more when she needed someone.  Why is it so hard to let people you love know that you do love them!

swimming