Fix It!

There’s nothing beautiful about this!  This situation is a symbol for all things that can ‘go wrong’. This is one of countless conundrums that can take over time, temperament and wallets, in the swoosh of a moment! This is the babysitter calling in sick early morning.  It is the tire that is flat after you’ve fixed the perfect lunch and feel that you’ve got life by the tail.  And in this case, it is the hoses on my thirty-year-old washing machine on delivery day!

The single day that I don’t teach this week and it was my intention to paint in the studio and wait for the call about the delivery of my brand new washing machine.  This is the day I decided to visit the hospice for afternoon Thursday tea.  It is the day when I was starting my day with a poached egg and a piece of whole grain toast.  It is wild how perfectly we imagine our days.  Well, at least I do.

But sometimes…and not always…there is a challenge lurking around the corner.  It is the news that my loved one is going to die. I stare blankly at the doctor. I feel that I am being dangled helplessly over a giant precipice.

It is that full glass of Pepsi that I  perch on the counter.  I put the ice cube tray away. The popcorn is hot. I knock the glass over and on to the floor.  Broken glass and sticky bubbly, everywhere!  Ouch!

At the point when either event (or something far worse or something much more benign) happens, it is my choice as to how I respond.  My own responses are often surprising, but also, during a certain set of circumstances, perfectly predictable.

I thought it would be a simple thing to disconnect the hoses on my washing machine.  It’s hung in there for so long.  I’ve lived in the same place of 20 years and I’ve never turned off these valves, NOT ONCE.  So, with delivery to happen today, I decided to go to my laundry room and turn off the water and disconnect my hoses before bed last night.  I was already in my pajamas when this story unfolded.

It was 10:45 when I made my first clockwise turn.  I noticed for the first time ever that the handle for one of my ‘nipples’ (I’ve learned that this is what they are called) had broken off.  But, this is what the other one looked like after that clockwise turn.

Panic set in at this point.  As my readers might surmise, the next step was naturally to go to my tool box and to find a set of pliers.  Surely I could turn the nipples to the right, with pliers.  As I madly gripped the first nipple, the pliers slipped around the metal and nothing seemed to move.

I think I made my first cry out to the universe at this time.  It was 11:03. Trevor’s name appears in my cell phone contact list as THE PLUMBER.  So what if it was after eleven at night, right??  I texted Trevor in a wild breathlessness.   I don’t know what I thought he could do from the warmth of his bed.  I just needed a plumber-connect like one might need a psychologist-connect.

I took photos (these photos) and began to communicate a narrative of panic through the medium of text.  When I clicked SEND the photos whirred around and around and never did leave my phone, a feature of my phone/text/approach that is consistent with every other time that I am given one of these life situations.  I was given a message that I could try re-sending. Over time, I deleted the photos and settled back into a state of self-actualization. (At this point of writing I laugh out loud. I think that in the panic, choosing to write is a real stumbling block.  Couldn’t I be painting?  No. As this story continues to unravel for my readers, you will all see that presently I am in a holding pattern.  I can not paint while in a holding pattern.)  From Trevor, I learned that indeed, I needed to turn off the water.  And yes, the faucets should be turned clockwise.

Phone put down, I began to look for a water turn off valve.  I walked upstairs to my computer where I began watching Youtube videos about replacing washing machine hoses.  Oh my goodness.  There wasn’t a single set of valves that looked like those on my machine.  Click Click Click…minutes rolled by as I became saturated with too many ideas, too many calm confident male voices performing such ‘simple’ procedures on their washing machines.

Max, my border collie, looked on with a particular look.  I know he was quietly thinking, “I wish I could roll my eyes.”

I explored my house for all of its personal plumbing lessons.  If I didn’t know my pipes before, I think I do now.

By 11:50, I texted my friend, Wendy.  Her partner is a phenomenal fix-it guy.  But, again, what was I doing sending out SOS messages to my dear friends in the middle of the night?  Wendy is an amazing woman who is busy, with her fingers, hands and arms in so many things!  I thought, too late, ‘Wendy is probably sleeping.’

I went to bed, feeling exhausted and defeated, but not after having a chat with my son in the cold dank laundry room.   He made all of the right recommendations.  His first inclination was to ask for pliers in order to turn off the valves.  (I told him I couldn’t bear any more drama before sleep.)  The second suggestion he made was to turn the water off at the  main valve.  I told him, in my small voice, “Let’s just go to bed.”

This morning, at the crack of dawn, I left a phone message with Dan at Dr. Heat and Air.  I  thought it best to get calls out to all the perfectly wonderful guys in my life.  On my own, I have learned to rely on my village a little.  It’s taken time to feel confidence in doing that when in life, I always, in every circumstance, relied on myself.  Certainly, on days like this one, it is good to know really competent people in a variety of fields.  Beats GOOGLE all to heck.  While plumbing isn’t Dan’s expertise, he always gives me an ear and has wonderful recommendations.  Most important, he offers a voice of calmness and causes me to feel that I still have control and I can still solve problems.  He gave me that this morning, as well as another recommendation for a plumber.

I emailed Trevor the photographs.  I asked him for recommendations on name brands for good valves and asked if he would suggest any good ones.  I told him I’d keep him up to speed. (poor guy)

By this time, my friend Wendy was awake.  She sent me a calming message (as only Wendy can do) suggesting that, these challenges are tough.  (EMPATHY, right from the get-go)  Turns out she had put in a huge shift the day before, but that she would leave a message for her partner to contact me.

That brings us HERE.  I poured myself a cup of coffee and made a decision to ground myself.  I began this writing.

And since beginning this writing at around 9:30, Max barked at the front door. My dear friend and Wendy’s partner arrived, two wrenches in hand.  He was in the lowest level after giving Max’s rope a playful tug, two minutes later.  Five minutes after that, with water spraying a bit here and there, he completed the task and gave me directions for turning the water back on.  I stood in my tracks and wept, saying again and again, “Thank you.  Thank you.  It was so hard.  It was all so hard.”  A supportive hug and he was on his way to plant tomatoes and I was left standing, asking…

“What was that all about?”

Challenges are a part of life.  We can discover new things about ourselves by tackling them. We can connect with people through our challenges.  We can be creative and we can create.  Obstacles are not put in front of us as punishments or to make us stronger or even to teach us lessons.  Obstacles and challenges are just a part of what life is.  In the past twenty four hours I’ve learned a lot about washing machines, hoses and a little more about plumbing.

As my friend said, before leaving, “In the end, it’s just water.”

My washing machine has been broken since just a week before my brother’s diagnosis with Stage 4 Cancer.  The fact that a new washing machine will be here by evening causes me a strange bubbling up of emotion.  I know that John’s death and this story are not connected at all.  But, they feel connected.  It is ironic that it took so much energy, brain power and community support to get these hoses disconnected!

 

Loretta

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The elevator repair has gone on a tad longer than expected.  Wendy Lees and her band of creatives from create! at the Golden Age Club, have spent some time relocated to another space while renovations and such were taking place, but…now, back at home in the Golden Age Venue, the elevator is still not fixed.  “Soon”, everyone hopes.

Sometimes when I read what people struggle with or what they take issue with, I have a tricky time feeling empathy.  Sometimes we are each ‘devastated’ by such benign issues and so in order to withhold judgment of ourselves and the other, it is important to consider each issue as it relates to current conditions/variables.  An example: We can celebrate that Target closing down can be a problem for someone because this means…their health is good…they live in a warm home…they have the food and water they require and they likely have family and friends for company and support.  They ALSO have the cash in their pockets to go shopping.  But let’s simply look at the very first…GOOD HEALTH.

Loretta told me that she didn’t mind me telling her story. I explained that she’s just so inspired me this week, that I wanted to try to capture that inspiration in a post!  Loretta is a woman who has such a positive attitude about her life and is willing to do almost anything in order to express her creativity, whatever form that might take. All is done with a sense of humour.  Over time, Loretta has suffered six different strokes, but the fact that this has impeded movement and function on her right hand side, has not stopped her from being a dancer with MoMo Dance Theatre or making paintings, mosaics and recently, papier mache! (That’s Loretta on the left.)

MoMoOn Tuesday, I was witness to Loretta’s climb of the stairs to arrive at our papier mache experience and I have to say that her determination caused something more than awe in me.  I guess that’s why I’m writing.

?????????? ??????????She began her bowl project, with enthusiasm…and with the use of her left hand only. By the time that the class had ended, she had applied three layers of Handel’s Messiah, in strips, to her form and with some assistance from me, applied a pedestal stand as well.  We all gave one another hugs good-bye after our clean-up and one last cookie. :0)

As the story continues, Loretta came into the Golden Age Club yesterday, thinking that it was art day…looked at the stairs…and said to herself, “I just can’t do it.”  She went home, she said, and had a good cry (at this point in the story, we embraced) because she really really wanted to paint her bowl.

Well…if she didn’t run into Michael at some point in the afternoon and she told him that she couldn’t get up to create!  He gave her the news that, in fact, it was scheduled for Friday…TODAY!!   Loretta made it up those stairs again, to her waiting project and created spectacular transparent layers of paint!

I cherish my friends at Create! and every one of us also has a story.  Each participant (I include myself here) in the experience is vulnerable in their own way, but we carry on, especially cherishing good health and creative experiences that find us sharing positivity, good laughs, support and friendship.  Thank you to Georgie, Michael, Brian, Marian, Patruch (can’t say it…can’t spell it…and he knows it!), Tony, Joanne, Patrick, Leslie, Nicole, Margaret and Loretta…and our other Loretta.   Charcoal sketching with Gary next week!

??????????DSC_1931 DSC_1930 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????We missed you, Wendy…but you reveal yourself even when you’re not in the room with us.  See you soon! ?????????? ?????????? DSC_1912 ?????????? ?????????? ??????????

 

Morning Sketch #4: Rien Poortvliet

It’s very obvious to me lately that I’m in need of some real study of proportion.  This morning’s sketch again lacked the proper posture and proportions for the tiger. (placement of head, thickness of back end…adjusted but still not accurate.)  I’m going to remain positive, however, knowing full well that if you practice a skill every day, you will improve.  I have had a long ‘go’ at painter’s block.  Regular practice is now in the cards.  What I really hope is that I will learn something new every day through that practice.

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Watching My Life Happen

Sometimes, most times, always…it’s not about what I choose to do.  It’s, for the most part, about how I respond (no sense, reacting) to what happens.  Just this past week, my friend embraced her sister and, together, they held their brother in their arms while he breathed his last breath.  Her story, shared in the studio, took my own breath away…the story at her core…the letting go…the holding on…the shared narrative…a life…a voice…gone.  She dialed up his answering machine…I listened and left a message.  The tiny fragments of a big life, left behind and cherished.  I know.  This post is fragmented (not coherent).  What is it that I’m trying to say?  Live your real life?  Think about it.  Thanks to Mel, who shared this song earlier this week.  It makes sense to me.

Colin Hay – Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I’ll stand on the bow, and feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
Don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

When I woke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, up this cobbled lane
I’m walking in my old footsteps, once again
And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Just let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I’ll check my machine, there’s sure to be that call
It’s gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It’s just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin

First Snow and a Week In the Life

My daughter says that I should only use that particular handwritten font on wedding invitations and that her brain is tired of trying to figure it out…so, I will write using a basic Ariel font from this time forward.  But isn’t the colour nice?

When the first snow hit Calgary, Max Man was still in his cone.  It’s been eleven days since his surgery, so stitches will come out on Monday and I’ll be so glad that I will no longer have to be totally vigilant about guarding them.  It’s been a long haul and I’m glad for him to be in good health again.

On the first snow day, Max went out with his protective cone over his head and resembled a snow plow more than anything.  I laughed to myself as he continued to plow up snow onto his face, as he sniffed about, looking for an ideal spot to lift a leg.  At the park, our ball throwing was equally pathetic, as each ball plunked into the wet snow and bounced nowhere.  Max, over and over again, did a search and rescue, licking the snow off of the tennis ball, before returning to me. We’re going to have to do something about finding a new play toy for his morning activity on school days.

 

He and I have returned to the river, but on leash and are struggling with the dragging.  Max just wants to run. Too bad our Polite Pooches money was poured into surgery this month as I really want to get some tips on some things, one being leash behaviours.  We aren’t able to begin agility training until the polite pooches class happens, so we’re on a bit of a hold.

Today is going to be filled up to the brim because yesterday was a play day after a crazy burrito and sangria party, early morning papier mache trees, a ya ya lunch of french cuisine…it’s time to roll up the shirt sleeves and get some things accomplished!  Max awaits his morning romp outdoors. HOLA!