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DEAREST MOTHER

 My Mom JULY 6, 2021


One year ago today my Mom passed away.  It was not a surprise to the family nor to her; she was ready and she wanted to go.  She had done all she wanted to do; seen all she wanted to see; and, she’d been everywhere she wanted to be. 


Since her passing, a lot has happened.  Her descendants have all survived the Covid Era. A grandchild carries her name. Other grandchildren have graduated or almost graduated from post secondary careers choices and some are entering trades training.  The estate settled quickly; the condo sold quickly; our celebration of her life went beautifully.


My mom was a Dutch immigrant and proudly became a Canadian Citizen in 1963, as did my dad, my older brother and me.


In 1957, when we moved to Canada, Mom had a tough time adjusting to the language and new country. It was her first time away from her parents and friends, and her first time in a foreign land where she had no choice but to learn English and make new friends.  It was a very tough time for her, but she persevered.


I still remember her ESL textbook and how hard she worked to prepare for that ‘scary’ Canadian Citizenship exam. I remember my dad driving from North Bend to the court house in Chilliwack to face the Citizenship Court judge who had the power to say yeah or nay to our application. We were all dressed up to the nines and it was a very quiet drive. The shiny varnished benches of that courthouse still stand out in my mind. The man at the bench, dressed in robes and a funny hat, was like a God and our future was in his hands. 


We all passed the test and my parents were each given a bible with an encryption that read: “We pray that God may bless you and those dear to you in the land which has become your home.” My brother and I were given our Certificate of Citizenship.


My mom did eventually get used to living here in Canada mainly because she knew she would never be going back to The Netherlands — at least not to live.  She eventually felt settled and happy to be here, making friends and, late in the 20th Century, enjoying long distance phone calls with her parents, brother, relatives and friends she left behind. Then, later in life, she learned how to use email and FaceTime, and playing E-Scrabble with her adult children.  Her iPAD became a real joy for her.


Mom had a long and diverse life but the road just became a bit too long with health issues, loss of loved ones and friends too. She saw a lot; enjoyed a lot. She proudly saw her four children grow up and develop their own lives. 


I feel her around me now and then, especially when I look at her knitted dolls or remember her sitting on a bench at Hammond Pool watching my sister and I enjoy an aquafit class outdoors. I will always feel her close by when I spend my time in Aruba — a vacation place she loved more than any other; a place she visited every year for at least 35 years.


RIP mom — you did well, and we are all doing well too.

RABBIT EAR TELEVISION

 RABBIT EAR TELEVISION


As an experiment after giving up my 2nd home and leading a more simple life, I decided to not get cablevision. I decided I would only use rabbit ears — an archaic technology but still a very impressive and effective one.


I am now into my 4th year of retirement and I remain happy with my rabbit ears.  I get very clear reception of our four main Canadian television networks:  CBC English, CBC French, CTV Vancouver, CTV Vancouver Island and Global BC.  


Amazingly, I also get five Bellingham stations identified as METV and found at 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5.  From those channels I can view detective/crime solving themed shows, past episodes of half hour comedies like Dick vanDyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Mash, Hogen’s Heroes, Green Acres; blitzes of popular shows through the decades; old movies and one channel devoted to Star Trek reruns. I can do without that one!


I’ve never really been a television watcher so this minimalized choice has truly been all I need for the occasional laugh or  bit of extra entertainment.

SPINNING THE WHEELS

 



SPINNING THE WHEELS in Maple Ridge


Spinning On Wheels is a collection of journal entries written in real time during the 2021 Go By Bike Week in British Columbia Canada. The word “Spin” has multiple meanings including ‘a new and better way of looking at things, ideas, concepts, places, people and life.’



I



Controlling my Destiny


Today’s adventure on Day one of the week to celebrate cycling, started off with a burning desire for a classic Blenz café mocha in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia.


I don’t normally plan such a thing as I actually make my own mochas every morning with my espresso machine and frother. However, I strategically made sure I did not have any milk in the fridge as a way to get me up early and out the door to start my cycling day. It worked!


I pack up the sunscreen, fresh water and my towel, and gallantly start the day, grateful that the sun is out and that the nimbus clouds overhead are off high in the stratosphere. 


As I position myself comfortably on the seat of my Nishiki bike, I feel my smile behind my mask and the extra beat in my heart as I look forward to the day.  I disembark at Blenz and order my medium drink at the price of a small (thank you BCAA).



Next stop finds me at the Maple Meadows West Coast Express station in Maple Ridge. I am drawn to this location because it is my best reminder of being brought up in a CPR town (North Bend) where I learned how to cycle and how to double (Sharon Evans), and that joy of controlling my destiny has stayed with me ever since.


A lot of flashbacks come to mind as I sit here on the bench easily recalling the fun of cycling through big and small mud puddles on Highline Road and doing hands-free descents down the hill leading to Carlson’s store where I often scored two bottles of pop for the price of one from the outdoor pop machine. I had figured out how to hold on to two bottle heads at once, yank at exactly the same time, and all that for one dime! It was always such a victory until one day the machine was decommissioned! Isn’t it funny how we remember things?


I can also remember waiting for the CPR train to approach the station yard. I would ride along side the engine, waving at the engineer, then bolting ahead to cross the tracks before he had a chance to block me. I know it was a very dangerous thing to do but in a small town you’ve got to do whatever you can to keep the adrenalin flowing. I always considered it a victory lap!


Victory, when you think of it, is a component of a good life. A good life for me is a series of victories (paragons) like learning how to cycle without help, graduating and successfully making bread from scratch. Other victories are things like dismissing draining and perplexing relationships to pursuing better ones or tackling computer challenges from nervously to calmly; or, almost completely reframing life to accommodate an international pandemic. Victories big and small carry us forward. 


On I go with my cycling journey, leaving the train station’s parking lot  and heading into Hammond.  As I approach the roadway, I see it has been recently paved. That may not seem like a big deal but to a cyclist it definitely is; what’s more — the road will, from now on, include an official properly designated cycling lane. I am delightfully surprised and definitely impressed. Kudos to Maple Ridge for designating my tax dollars so wisely. 


I love the Hammond neighbourhood; it is a part of Maple Ridge but it is where this area once boomed with the forest industry — the backbone of British Columbia’s prosperity, long before Maple Ridge was created. It has a lot of history and small town character, and those who live there carry that sense of pride in how they tend to their gardens, yards and their homes.  I think I would enjoy living there too.


At this point, those nimbus clouds have descended somewhat and I am anticipating drops soon. Best I head home and plot out tomorrow’s destiny.


 

                                                                                                 II

Don’t Ignore The Signs



Today is Day Two of Go By Bike Week in British Columbia. I started my journey at home and 26 kilometres later I was back. It was a long, hot day, but inspiring, reflective and transformational. Here is how it unfolded:


After a good warm rice porridge breakfast and a delicious home made cappuccino, I refresh my water bottle, reset the odometer, and set out on another new adventure in my region. COVID-19 restrictions continue to put me into that framework of limitations, and I am actually quite liking it.  I let my bicycle take the lead on this beautiful sunny day.


We take a left from home and then a right along 123rd Avenue. There is no designated bicycle lane immediately but, a few blocks up, a sign tells me I am on the 123 Bikeway.  Not sure what that means but I keep spinning forward to Laity Street and take a left. More signs, more messages. I don’t think I have ever noticed that these signs are specific to cycling.


You know when you travel along the same stretch over and again, you tend to not notice the little things. Life tends to be like that. It is kind of like looking at a forest and not seeing the trees. You only see the forest.  


I am passing by another sign. I stop; turn around and take a photo. This sign indicates the beginning of a cycling lane. All of a sudden, out of the blue, with no rhyme nor reason, a cycling lane begins.  The sign across the street indicates the end of a cycling lane.  So, when you get to the end, where are you supposed to go?  This is kind of a weird moment. Life has those too. Weird moments. We usually cast them aside and spin on.


Further down the designated lane, I see more signs and take more photos, and the song ‘Sign Sign Everywhere A Sign’ comes to mind. I smile. I don’t think they are new signs, but I really have not noticed them being ‘bike specific’ before now.


This weird and perplexing moment also brings to mind a correlation between what I am now experiencing with road signs and a once promising and prosperous new friendship years ago, hit by a very unexpected curve ball. I evidently missed the signs. 


The potential success of the friendship was obvious and taken as a given. Everyone could see it and everyone believed it. But, in hindsight, signs neatly camouflaged to the contrary were actually there.  In a way, when putting all the slightly hidden signs together, it brought to mind battered person syndrome. Mentioning any of this to anyone, would result in a gasping ‘No Way’ reaction. They have never seen those signs and likely never will.


Like the road signs, the signs in this personal experience were definitely there early on. I ignored them until a torpedo came out of nowhere and a guillotine blade almost severed my neck. No lead up; no explanation; no follow up. No response to an offering of an open door to clear the air.  Ignoring signs can be fatal. 


In hindsight, I can now see all of the poignant signs that got me to the end of that personal journey. I missed them, didn’t acknowledge them, didn’t value them and pretended they were not there. 


Isn’t this much like the cycling signs I have seen today? The reality is each one of them  has been there for a long time and each carries an important message.  Ignoring them could be fatal.   Don’t underestimate the power or value of a sign!


Ok, enough of that, onward we go. Let’s spin on! 


Up ahead at the foot of Laity Avenue and Abernathy Way still in Maple Ridge, I see a sign leading me to the Trans Canada Trail.  


“Wow”, I say. “The Trans Canada Trail is right here in front of me! I have been here often and did not realize its designation until now.  A sign says I am about to enter a section called The Great Trail. Somehow now it feels exciting.”


It is actually one of the original dyke pathways that separate farms from waterways, and it spans for many kilometres. The scenery is incredible with majestic mountains to the north, and flora, ducks, birds, and people of all ages, all abilities and all backgrounds spread out along the vast landscape walking, jogging, cycling, kayaking and fishing. It is glorious here and a great sign of how fortunate we are to have a place to exercise, to contemplate and to be at peace.


I happily continue my ride, smiling from within. My eyes are open wide, back straight like a yoga back extension. I am feeling like a yoga high mountain, relaxed and at peace. As I stop, with my heart centered, I close my eyes and imagine a brand new sign yet to be posted saying “Don’t Ignore The Signs” …. whether tangible or not.


Let’s cycle on alert and aware!

   


III

Heavy Hearts Harmonize


Today, Day 3 of our Go By Bike Week in British Columbia, I woke up with a heavy heart. When that happens, the best therapy for me is a good breakfast followed by a purposeful bicycle ride.


I got up early and cycled to Hammond outdoor pool for a good session of Aquafit. As I cycled home, I sorted out how best to unfold the rest of the day. After a refresh, I am going directly to the Katzie First Nation territory in Pitt Meadows to talk with the Chief. I want to sit on their land, be near Katzie people, express my disgust, shame and sadness about the seemingly endless stories of atrocities indigenous people in residential schools experienced under the ‘watchful’ eyes of the State and Church.  Quite frankly, “disgust” is not even a strong enough word.


215 children’s bodies have been found secretly buried under ground beside their designated residential school in Kamloops. We don’t need a Royal Commission, Task Force, Independent Report and any other form of delay tactic by the State or the Church. Words no longer mean anything; apologies are no longer sincere. It is time for concrete retribution and I am heading to the Katzie Nation to tell them what I really think.


It is a very hot 21 degrees Celsius and the cycling distance is only 7 kilometers each way.  I have refilled my water bottle, applied the sunscreen, checked the tires and off I go.


The territory is protected by security and only members are permitted entry due to COVID-19 restrictions.  I am happy to hear they have made their own rules in order to ensure their own protection. I am also happy to hear the residents are getting their second dose of the vaccine on site today.  


The Chief is not available to talk with me but I manage to talk to a couple of members who happily listen to my tirade and my expectations for a somewhat plausible resolution.  I say to them that both the State and the Church have to carry this shame and both have to hang their heads in shame from now to eternity. 


“How?”, they ask.


“Well, let me tell you,” I respond.


I think all the names of any of the perpetrators of the residential school system found on statues, buildings, streets, highways, currency, and events have to be removed. I want them to be condemned in absentia.  I also think both the State and the Church must be compelled to admit, orally and in writing, to the atrocities, as well as express their shame and regret openly and publicly on a certain date, each and every year from now to eternity.


I went on to say that the atrocities are reprehensible; the damage on human souls irreparable; but, actual amends must follow this wake we are going through now.  We owe it to all indigenous peoples; we owe it to the buried children and their families; we owe it to each other.


If we could hug, I am sure these two Katzie men and I would; but, I do give them the traditional respectful ‘dipping of the hands’ thank you and farewell. 


As I mount my bicycle to return home, I end by saying “the discarded children have spoken and you can be sure that finally a lot more people are listening”. 


I hope I made their day!  The experience definitely made mine.


RIP sweet children — your voices are finally being heard.

 




IV


Smiling From Within


Today is Day 4 of Go By Bike Week in British Columbia and I woke up realizing that I have actually not been in my car since Saturday —that is five days ago.  I feel myself smiling from within because that is what personal victories or milestones do for me.


I set off after a delicious warm, smooth homemade caramel mocha and a few scrabble words with actual friends in Ontario and Quebec. Scrabble has nurtured and enriched our relationships so very well during our shared COVID-19 pandemic experiences. Cycling has that same impact on me and my relationship with myself; the adventures are both nurturing and enriching.


I replenish my water bottle, oil the chain and off I go wondering what the day will bring.  Destination is a lovely quaint, quiet café, deep into the rural part of East Maple Ridge, 8 kilometres from home.  It is called Humble Roots. (@humblerootscafe). I love this place and try to come about once a month for their delicious eggs benny.


As I arrive, the familiar server spots me and directs me to an available table. She has an extra jump in her step and she clearly anxiously wants to tell me something.  I wanted to tell her something too but I let her go first.  Turns out, we have the exact same story to tell.


Yesterday, I noticed a couple of cyclists in a shady area, looking perplexed and lost.  I stopped and asked if I could possibly help them. The man had a large map unfolded on the grass below and the lady was on her cell phone trying to find names of places in the area with outdoor dining for lunch.  They told me they were on an RV vacation, parked in a lot in Fort Langley, and they undertook significant cycling excursions daily.  They really wanted to enjoy an outdoor quiet lunch in Maple Ridge. 


“Oh,” I said. “You must go to Humble Roots.” The conversation extended from there covering off the type of place it is, where it is, what the menu was like etc. 


“Oh,” they both said in unison. “Yes we must go there!”


The encounter was delightfully interesting and they were most grateful for the recommendation. They tapped in the coordinates and off they went.  I cycled in the opposite direction again feeling the heart smile from within, saying: some people are just so nice.


So, here I am today at Humble Roots and the server tells me that while that couple was talking to her yesterday, she immediately thought it was me who sent them.  All they had told her is that a cyclist who comes there semi regularly, for the Humble Benny, highly recommended the place.  


Again, I feel the heart smile for all the right reasons while I enjoy the fresh air, notice the smiling people around me, and realize this is indeed a small but very interesting part of the bigger world.  We are pretty darn fortunate to be here.




V


Cycle Spin


Today I decided to sit down in my quiet space and put some spin on cycling. This is Day 5 of Go By Bike Week in British Columbia and some people might still be wondering what’s the big deal?


There are a lot of obvious answers to that question: exercise, better energy levels, muscle formation, happy lungs, healthy heart, endurance, balance, obedience, compliance, stress release and relief, contemplation, accomplishment, personal bests, goal setting, decision making, story telling, discoveries, photos, time-outs, time outside, socializing. The wheels keep us going forward as far and as fast as we want and, based on this very long answer to that question, the experience offers something to everyone.


Of course other advantages are no greenhouse gas emissions and no need for fuel or expensive repairs.


For me, what I like most about cycling is the ability to correlate it with how I live my own life. I am in the driver’s seat and I love my independence.  I like to keep moving forward, one push on the pedal  at a time, at my own pace and in my own way.  I don’t have a jock mentality; I am not a daredevil; I am not a risk taker; I don’t gamble; I don’t race  or climb mountains, and I don’t wear flashy apparel. I love to live this way and I love to cycle this way: plain and simple, but always moving forward, strong, determined, focused and happy.


I do have a keen sense of adventure. I love to just get up, jump on my bicycle and go. I don’t want to wait for anyone and I don’t want others waiting for me. Sometimes the trips are specific like getting a bunch of errands done around town or meeting a friend at a not so far away favourite place to enjoy time together.  Other times I just start and keep going and going, reminding myself that I need enough energy to get back home!  


I do, on occasion, get extravagant and enjoy European cycling tours with a keen group of like minded friends who live in various parts of the world. It was like an annual reunion every 

September for a number of years until COVID-19 hit us as well as other factors.  (Cover photo was taken in Italy) I can see us getting back at it at some point because those trips were especially special.


My bicycle and I are also working on a cycle-tourism initiative that travelling cyclists or locals can enjoy. The plan is in the early stages but essentially it will bring a number of factors together such as an interesting route, including specific pit stops hosting cycling exhibits and giving participants access to food, drinks and bathroom breaks. The idea came to mind while cycling along the dykes of the Pitt River Dyke Trail system, and I flesh it out a bit more almost every time I head out that way.  The space, the serenity and the scenery in that area inspire me, and inspiration like that keeps my cerebral wheels spinning. 


I guess you can say that my bicycle and I are much like a couple with a great marriage: in sync and moving forward in harmony, slow and steady, often mesmerized and excited, noticing and feeling the breeze and the warmth of the sun, 


breathing in the fresh air, listening to and hearing the sounds of nature and, all the while, challenging the brain waves and exercising the body, always looking and spinning forward to the next milestone or victory. I love cycling and I love living. Right now they definitely work well together.


This is the end of my cycling journal in celebration of Go By Bike Week 2021. I have enjoyed the adventures and sharing the stories. The feedback tells me a lot and I thank you all for joining me cyberly on my cycling journeys this week. I hope casual cycling will continue to enhance my life for many years to come.


 



About the Author


Antoinetta DeWit was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and came to Canada as a baby in 1957.  After an introductory start to a new life in Canada, the family moved to the hamlet of North Bend in the upper Fraser Canyon region of the Province of British Columbia. The small town upbringing shaped her life and that experience has stayed with her ever since — education, independence & creativity going hand in hand in order to enjoy life and to move forward.

toine1956@yahoo.ca

HOPCOTT'S BUTCHER, MARKET AND BISTRO

Grounded in Pitt Meadows


Obeying the Provincial Health Officer’s expectation that I stay close to home, during our COVID-19 pandemic, hasn’t turned out to be all that difficult.  Being grounded has opened my eyes, expanded my life experiences, forced me to take stock, purge through my possessions, sell things and give things away, and get on with exploring in my own region. After all, my region has been here for a very long time. It started out small and now has expanded into a very large district of many neighbourhoods, blended but separate, with valleys and peaks, lakes, rivers, streams and ponds, wildlife, parks, golf courses, farms, cycling and walking paths, every shopping option, and some very successful family businesses.


Recently I took the time to find out more about a building I have often passed by in my car or while cycling. I’ve even stopped in from time to time to buy specialty breads and especially good smoked bacon. The place is called HOPCOTT’S Butcher, Market and Bistro, and today I decided it was time to find out more about this family owned local Pitt Meadows business located at 18385 Old Dewdney Trunk Road, at the corner of ODT and Reichenbach about a half kilometre from the Pitt River Bridge.  (See photo below)


The family business started in 1932 with raising Dairy cows and growing corn for feed. They now raise beef and grow cranberries on site, and host an annual family fun corn maze. By 2015, the family diversified their business even more, supporting local farmers and artisans, creating  a full scale kitchen, indoor bistro and outdoor patio. (See photo below)


In addition to being a butcher shop, the inventory includes cheeses, dairy, specialty breads, vegetables, fruits, smoked bacon, ham, corned beef and so much more. It truly is a local success story and a great place to shop or just relax after a good long cycling ride or walk.


Today, however, I want to highlight the outdoor patio. During these trying times and in our collective efforts to obey the provincial health orders, eating outdoors is the new thing to do.  This location is ideal with lots of picnic tables more than six feet apart and an indoor tented area to accommodate patrons during less than ideal weather conditions. 


I don’t know the Hopcott family. I don’t know anyone who works there.  I just know that as a proud local, I am very intrigued and impressed with the ongoing efforts of our local grounded entrepreneurs who work so hard to keep their businesses going and their customers happy. 






TRIBUTE TO MOTHERS

HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY


To our mothers living and passed on

We owe a special debt

A debt of gratitude and much praise

For modelling right from wrong.


Where would we be without our mom

to guide us along the way

The way to enjoy our own led lives

Feeling happy, strong and fond.






MY NEW OASIS

 MY NEW OASIS


My road to retirement began with such promise and enthusiasm but how quickly that all changed.


The COVID-19 pandemic pushed me back … not back from the drawing board, but just back during a scary seemingly endless global storm of worry, shock, uncertainty and unknowns. 


For me it was like wondering what the cavemen would do to move themselves forward. I put myself into a mindset of back to basics and basics only, staying dependent on myself, my wit, my stamina, my resilience, my resolve to eventually slowly move forward again. The cavemen worked it out and so can I, I’d say to myself.


So here we are into year 2 of the pandemic and experiencing a third wave — finally it seems we are able to feel much closer to that light at the end of a long dark tunnel. The strength in my independence and the post adolescent path I chose, have saved me in a lot of ways — they’ve certainly strengthened my character, exercised my constructive critical thinking and out of the box analysis,  and helped me flesh out my creative writing projects like never before!  In Cribbage terms, I am a pegger, in that I move forward slowly during difficult times and work towards big moves forward.  In life terms, my personality is structured sequential and that’s much like being a pegger too.


I have discovered that I have a very low threshold of tolerance when it comes to hearing undereducated and uninformed people use phrases like ‘we should have’ or ‘we could have’, in their diatribes about how best to solve a major paranormal medical phenomenon that has major paranormal health, economic and social implications for individuals, groups, institutions, businesses all over the world today, tomorrow and for generations ahead of us. Why are people like that?  I feel much more comfortable obeying the guidelines from professional medical research specialists than tagging along with armchair geniuses.


Being independent has been a blessing because I can mute the negatives more easily. I can vent my anger in people’s contrarian attitudes by talking to myself while walking, cycling, swimming or just sitting in my quiet home, or through my passion for creative writing. I can stay away from germs more easily. The best thing of all is that I can focus on future, post-pandemic retirement plans, freely building on what they were to be and turning them into so much more, embracing family and actual friends along the way. 


Yesterday is gone, yes.  Our lives will never be the way they once were and realizing that now is my focus. 


As a recent retiree, what’s ahead for me IS my new Oasis, a refreshing fresh new start, and the possibilities are almost endless — once we get passed this last hurdle.

Our Journey is Long


Our Journey is Long but every Step Matters!

 

CHANNELING MY PEACE

CHANNELING MY PEACE


As I sit here on the second tier of a four tiered retaining wall on 203rd Street in Maple Ridge, I am pondering.


It is St. Patrick’s Day. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like just another day in the life of a COVID avoider.  Reset in new ways — no gatherings, no in-person celebrations; nothing special; nothing new. I am, however, doing my bit by wearing something green just in case.  Just in case of what, I am not sure, but maybe for someone who sees me walk by who might be Irish? All we can do is wave.


A wave! It is amazing how powerful a wave can be. I don’t think we realized that before COVID hit. Much like a smile used to do — we don’t get a lot of those anymore because of masks so we can only imagine smiles.  We also don’t hug or kiss cheeks anymore either; but, somehow a wave has become a good replacement for all of those losses. I wave a lot and those who don’t reciprocate were probably miserable people before anyway — there’s no changing those types I guess.


Looking around I actually see a lot of green — the grass, the trees, bushes, shrubs — glossy and matte. All very beautiful. The weird weather patterns have kept most of the greens looking spry; only a few look a little drawn. Much like people these days.


It’s quiet where I live and where I walk or cycle. Almost eerie as we all remain obedient and calm while the COVID storm subsides, but continues to pester us.


Winter yards are being readied for Spring growth; people are out doing their best to enjoy some normalcy, during tough times, weird times, different times. They are planting fresh seeds, seedlings or bedding plants, and getting excited about refreshing life for themselves and for those around them.  


I just walked by a chicken farm along Powell Avenue.  The farmer waved.  She has seen me before, many times, and we always wave.  We are too far away from each other to talk. Talking does not seem to be necessary. We are happy with the waves. Our waves include smiles. Such nice gifts. She tends to her chickens and roosters, and I usually wait for the cockadoodle doo before I continue on. 

 👋 👋 

As I look up ahead on this long country road, I see another neighbourhood treasure — the dwarf horses attached to a carriage carrying a person holding reins and another standing on a side compartment looking stern and attentive to something, but I am not sure what. Stopping them to ask questions just does not seem right. They are very serious people and just seem to want to carry on.


They do both wave and smile, as they continue on clearly enjoying carrying forward how life used to be — carefree and simple. Doing the best with what they had back then worked well. As I watch them trot ever so slowly by, I realize that we just have to do the best we can with what we’ve got happening now.  


Carefree and simple worked years, decades and centuries ago. Today it is more like ‘careful’ and ‘simple’. Our lives have definitely been simplified and we have had to fully embrace ‘careful’ in this our new reality. The miniature horses and their trainers trot on carefully and clearly still appreciate the simple life. Seeing them, brings me feelings of optimism during this time of so much uncertainty.


While cycling around town the other day, I heard my inner self say how great this life has been this past year. I had to stop and rewind that sound bite and listen again.  Yes, that is what she said. I instantly wondered if the devil had found his way into my make-up! About as quickly as that thought surfaced,  I knew he hadn’t. My inner voice was actually right — it always is. My life is new and refreshed, and I am feeling better than ever on all counts.


Despite all of the shock and sadness; adjustments and amendments; worries and wants; losses and gains, brought on by the COVID pandemic, my life has turned out pretty darn well.  I feel comfortable in my new cocoon and proud to have taken the reins to be my own chief architect. I initially felt the horrors of COVID were creating an “every person for themselves mentality” and I needed to take control.  I called it my control of self or self control, in order to both survive and move forward at the same time. I knew I did not want to fail and I did not want my life to be put completely on hold.  I had to deal with the cards I had been dealt and not fall to pieces.


My new habits and routines have became commonplace and they keep me energized and calm. I communicate on line with friends and family who are fanned out globally. I have started to read biographical books. I have written many stories and poems. I create a weekly newsletter highlighting three points about one interesting subject. The objective is to inform and to encourage discussion; the feedback has been great and that motivates me to continue.


I have allowed myself to get challenged by Margaret Atwood — her thinking, her teachings, her novels and her poetry.  Trying to figure out her multi-layered messaging metaphors can be very trying and stressful, but definitely intellectually challenging. This was the perfect time to take on that challenge. I enjoy critiquing her work and the best success in doing so was to take her poetry book on neighbourhood walks with me, stop to read a line, walk and think; read another line, walk and think; read a whole stanza, walk and think; and, then get to that four tiered retaining wall to write my logical analysis. Intense analysis is such a fulfilling and different component to my life. It has opened my eyes to so much more like looking beyond the surface of anything. Things definitely are not as they sometimes seem. People are not who they sometimes present themselves to be.


For this past year, almost every day I walk six kilometres, sometimes alone and sometimes with someone who stays 2 metres away. I cycle a lot on nice weather days; go to Aquafit and AquaYoga a few times a week.  I bake a bit and cook a lot. I have takeout dinner once every two weeks and a delicious Brunch at Humble Roots in Maple Ridge once every other of the two weeks.  I play Scrabble with 12 people from across the continent and crib with three locals every day, or almost every day, for 3 hours a day. I watch two tv programs daily, and occasionally a few others.


All of the above replaced a lot of things I used to do and a few people I used to spend time with, but the funny thing is that I cannot remember what most of those things were. Some of the people turned out to be insincere (imposters or impersonators), gossiping socialites or just plainly people not suited for my time or attention.  Obviously they did not really matter because I am not mourning those losses. I do miss in-person time with family and actual friends, plus my joy of travelling the world.  All three are waiting patiently, as am I.


When the COVID intrusion subsides, I don’t think this new life of mine will change much — at least that is how I feel right now.  I cannot see myself turning back to refocus and reconstruct again.  Yes, we have been on a long road, with peaks and bounds, but we have come a long way, made a lot of headway and I actually love most of what is. 


I do realize it has not been the same for everyone; nothing ever is. I, too, have mourned the deaths, the harshness of the public health orders, the financial strains, business stresses and the anxieties. I feel for all of those people and I wish I could take their reins and magically make things better for them. The only help I can give them is to socially distance, wear my filtered mask and sanitize my hands before entering and exiting a building, room, taxi, bus or train. I do my bit to support small businesses and encourage others to do the same.


Through it all, I have found my new channel of peace through the madness while staying put right here in my own West Maple Ridge neighbourhood. Without COVID times, I would never have realized that for me the grass is greener on this side, and that’s how I will continue to go forward. Caring and careful; astute, authentic and aware; honest and humble; mindful and motivated; but, also strong and simple, listening to my inner self, and in control of my self and my life choices. 


This new life is a significant variation of what once was; but, so far, holding those reins has been much better for me both emotionally and physically. Soon that will be true socially as well.

 👋 👋 

BY LOOKING EASTERLY

BY LOOKING EASTERLY

(Easter Sunday 2021)


I’m sitting on one of my favourite benches along the Alouette greenway in Pitt Meadows, after a good 20 kilometre cycle.


Looking around at the beautiful scenery of farm lands and mountains, and the eagle soaring above my head, while listening to the sweet sounds of bicycle tires and feet navigating the flat rocky path, I hear myself saying “it’s really not been all that bad”.


This COVID-19 year has done a lot to everyone and isn’t it à propos, on this Easter Sunday, to define the year in terms of sacrifices — since Easter and sacrifices go hand in hand. 


This year we have all had to make many sacrifices and adjust the best we can every step of the way. We have had to create a pathway, a new pathway, to keep our lives together, to help ourselves and others survive, and to perhaps take stock of what is important, what our options are and then pave a different journey forward. I see it as an opportunity to house clean, downsize and find value in a new approach.


I am reflecting on the latter: pave a different journey.  There is definitely a lot about my different journey that I actually like very much.  I feel in control of my restricted freedom. It has been a freedom built above the pillars of strict public health Orders but, in a way, those pillars have become a new moral code — a challenge to my ability to make adjustments, to dig myself out of a COVID rut, to see things differently, try new things, push my potential forward, redefine my standards and carve a new type of happy, fulfilling lifestyle.


As I look easterly on this Easter Sunday, from this scenic spot in my own community, I see more blue sky, a field of Canada geese, some alpacas, sheep and horses, happy people, happy cyclists, and a bicycle ready to take me home following a different path.


Lives have moved from what was standard and normal, to nothing at all standard and a far cry from normal. The impact of COVID has created a new reality for everyone —in a way, for me, it is like starting a new novel but unraveling a different intriguing story, in the same setting, with some of the same characters and some refreshingly new ones, celebrating new experiences, at a different pace, and welcoming this new reality which may well become the new celebrated norm with a few more interesting and intriguing adventures.


And on we must go …




 





COVID time is a great time to find interesting things to do and interesting topics to discuss with friends and family.  My weekly newsletter features such ideas and I hope they help you too.

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