How to Have a Conversation (with your grandmother)

Most of us already know how to have a conversation with our peers. If I meet a woman of a certain age, we can be talking like best friends in a few minutes. In fact, one of my new closest friends became my buddy just through a conversation in our local library.

This blog post is mainly for the young person who finds himself or herself, without the support and loving companionship of their smart phone or tablet, facing Grandma across the table. You could begin talking about your video game stats, your friend’s cat, or how much you love or hate a TV show.

OR…

You could start this way. “Grandma, where did you go to school? What was your most difficult subject? When or why did you decide to become a … teacher, artist, electrician, nurse, police officer? Are you happy you did?

Did you have your own bedroom when you were a kid? Who was your favourite sibling? What games did you play? Who was your best friend? Are you still friends?

What did you do to help your family? How old were you when you got your first job?  What was the worst job you ever had? What job do you wish you could have done?

Were you ever bullied? How did you handle it? What was the nicest thing a friend did for you? Did you ever stand up for a friend who was having a difficult time?

Did you ever have a birthday party? What was your best gift? What was the best gift you gave someone else? How did they react?

What was your favourite book when you were young. Why did you like it so much? Have you ever re-read it? Who is your favourite author now?

Is there a country, city, location, that you would like to visit? What would you do if you were there right now?”

These questions can be applied to any situation where you are faced with someone you don’t know much about.

Grandma can ask grandchild, you can ask a neighbour or colleague, kids can ask other kids.

Just show some interest! You might learn something new about someone. A relationship can result. You just never know where it will lead. It might turn out to be one of the best things you ever did.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day! – Maureen

 

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BERMUDA – 2018

I returned last week from an amazing trip to Bermuda, to visit my sister, Helen, her husband, and their children and grandchildren.

Do you feel excited when you are going on a trip? I couldn’t sleep the night before the flight and had already been packed for a couple of days.

I was a little disconcerted by the announcement that our Westjet pilot was Lance and our copilot Tyler. I think I taught them in grade four a few years ago!!! What happened to last names?

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Helen had prepared a room for me in my own private wing of their beautiful house, and after depositing my suitcase we were off to church for prayer meeting. The music was amazing and the message was inspiring.

The next day, Helen and I went to the Bermuda aquarium and zoo. They have recently renovated it and we saw a lot of local sea creatures, and animals from all over the world.

We relaxed on the patio in the afternoon and had many cups of tea.This is the view from the main floor patio and then from the upstairs patio.

The next morning we went to visit Glass Beach which is full of colourful pieces of glass which have been tossed up by the ocean and rubbed smooth by the action of the waves on the sand. We collected a few pieces and also saw a Portuguese Man of War, a type of stinging jelly fish.

Then we went to Dockyards, passing over the world’s smallest drawbridge, and had lunch in The Frog and Onion. We browsed in all of the craft shops and I bought myself a Bermuda 2019 calendar.

On Friday we went to Hamilton and tried on hats, and had lunch in Queen Elizabeth Park. It was a beautiful day as all of the days are in Bermuda.

On Saturday we went to a hotel for lunch with Ray, and it was stunningly beautiful with the most amazing views.

The pool was very inviting but we resisted the lure of the warm water.

We drove into Hamilton again to see the ship that had just docked on Front Street. It was very impressive.

On Sunday we went for a hike on the old Railway Trail, and visited Shelley Bay Beach on the way. The views were stunning!

We went back at sunset and took a couple of beautiful photos. It is difficult to believe that there is such a place on earth and that my sister and her family live there.

On Monday we went to St. George’s, at the other end of the island from Dockyards. We really enjoyed visiting the shops and trying on more hats. I bought a Bermuda baseball cap and another purchase that I instantly regretted! We had lunch at a seaside restaurant where a friendly waiter took our photo. Even the restrooms are elegant!

We visited the unfinished Church which was started in the 1800s and was never completed. It’s in a beautiful spot, just steps away from the town.

Some of the street names are hilarious!

Here are some of the views on the way home.

On my last day we visited a private garden where I went for a little impromptu scooter ride courtesy of my bother-in-law. Then, because of an incoming squall,  we drove to John Smith’s Bay to look at the waves. Beauty everywhere!

A huge thank you to Helen and Ray for making this trip possible. I missed the worst Ice Storm of the year in Ottawa and had a restful and restoring visit. I loved seeing all the colourful houses, and especially Ecum Secum.

Helen and Maureen on an adventure.

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I loved eating the bananas picked off the trees by Ray, and I was glad to take a few back to Canada with me. The Portuguese Red Bean soup was amazing, and the dinner at the Lobster Pot was delicious.

Playing cards in the evenings and visiting with the family were tops!

This is Ecum Secum, Helen and Ray’s house.

Adieu Bermuda! A la prochaine!

WINTER OLYMPICS – SENIOR STYLE

Yesterday in Ottawa, two marvellous events occurred at the same time, making it a monumental day for seniors!

First of all, it was a Wednesday, which meant that all city buses were free for seniors. Every week, this really gets the citizens of golden years out and heading for local malls. Especially at Christmas time.

The second breathtaking circumstance was that it was also the Old Age Pension payment date. You know what that means – every person 65 years or older goes to the bank. We all have direct deposit, but we’re not stupid – we can’t trust that the federal government will pass along our  $585.49 unless we stand in a line as long as a football field, to check it out for ourselves.

Being, good, card-carrying seniors, my husband and I put on our winter shoes, our parkas, scarves, toques, and mitts and left the house to wait for the number 40 bus, to go to the mall. The 40 is always either 3 minutes early or eight minutes late. Yesterday, it was -30C (-22F), so of course the bus was eight minutes late, and we were out there early because, you know, it could have come early!

Finally we spotted it coming around the corner and this is when the Senior Winter Olympics, Ottawa style, started.

The first event, for which I received the gold medal for Canada, was Bus Hopping. It is not as easy as it seems. The bus stop was not shovelled out and we had a pile of snow to slog through. The bus pulled up and I had to climb onto a snow bank, take a step forward, and JUMP onto the bus.

I am almost 73 years old and you would have thought my jumping days were past me, but I was like a gazelle. I nailed the landing and earned a few smiles and congratulations from the other passengers. So the Hop, Step, and Jump On the Bus event was a success.

On the 30 minute journey to Shopping Heaven, I spotted a couple of nimble seniors doing the Ice Walking event. This takes place after every freeze, thaw, freeze, and freeze even more weather. The senior approaches an icy patch and decides to go for it! No skates or cleats are used in this event. To do so would mean disqualification!

I saw an old lady actually do a couple of double axels, a flying camel, and she finished with a beautifully executed sit spin. I gave her a 9.6 and she gave me a thumbs up as she boarded the ambulance.

At about the 10 minute mark of the ride, my husband drew my attention to the Two-Seniors Bobsled event, that was taking place near the Science and Technology Centre on St. Laurent Blvd. Two old geezers, sorry, I mean, two gentlemen of a certain age, were sitting on their shopping bags, and flying like bullets down the embankment, only to come to a halt at the museum door. They were way ahead of their nearest competitors, a couple of retired civil servants (you can tell them by their suits).

We arrived at Shopping Heaven, and saw the Mixed-Doubles Slush Jumping event was just getting under way. Freeze. Thaw. Freeze. Thaw. SLUSH. The French word for slush is neige fondant, which paints a picture, doesn’t it?

In this event, husbands and wives dodge piles of drippy, salt-laden slush and try to make it through the mall doors without getting sprayed by the 3,657 buses that race by. It was very exciting, but my husband and I narrowly lost to a couple of spry 68 year olds who I think were taking supplements! I spotted a suspicious package in the wife’s tote bag, but she said it was just her blood pressure medication! Hah!!!

Inside all was festive and the Christmas carols were dancing in my head when we came upon two teams of women from a couple of rival seniors residences, just starting a game of Women’s Cane Hockey in the mall’s centre court. I knew it was hockey, because several of the women smiled at us nicely and I noticed that they didn’t have any teeth.

The women from The Good Buddies beat the The Golden Girls by a score of 3 to 2. There were several penalties, and a game misconduct, when Maude, the captain of the Good Buddies said her grandchildren were cuter than Millie’s from the Golden Girls. But they stopped fighting when I showed them a photo, taken this past summer, of my eight grandkids. They both had to agree that mine were the cutest EVER!

The morning’s events ended with the Biathlon event which includes Cross-Mall Shopping and Mailing a Christmas parcel to Alberta. Only the hardiest athletes are able to enter this event and I have heard that the contestants do their training throughout the year by waiting for the number 114 bus, which never comes, because it inexplicably and with no warning, changed its number to the 40.

Yes, this is my bus and yes, it is eight minutes late again.

I concluded the day with two gold medals.

Please stand while the flag is raised and we sing, Oh Canada!

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Waiting for the 40 bus. It was 8 minutes late!

Thank you for reading and have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. – Maureen

 

Memories

The summer of 2017 is passing by very quickly. One minute you are anticipating an event, and before you can blink, it is just a memory.

We celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary in the middle of July, and a week later, our daughter turned 50. We took her to High Tea at MacKenzie King’s Estate (he was Prime Minister during WWII), and then walked around the grounds enjoying the flowers and birds and the stone ruins, brought over here from many buildings in Europe which had been bombed.

Then, a few days ago, our whole family, eighteen of us,  got together for the first time in nine years. My husband and I, our 4 daughters, 4 sons-in-law, and 8 grandchildren! Our daughter who lives in Vancouver, was on her way back from a trip to Sweden, to visit her husband’s family.

Two of the sons-in-law had had birthdays in the previous week. Then there was our daughter’s 50th, and one of our grandsons had turned 18 a few days before. Lots to celebrate!

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At the top are our two oldest girls, followed by our two youngest. We had dinner together and our waiter kindly took the bottom photo.

Nine years is too long to go between these larger reunions. In 2008,  our girls were in their 30s and our grandchildren were aged 2 – 11. We were a sprightly 63 years old, but these people are keeping us young. In spirit if not in body!

No matter what the next nine years brings, I will treasure these moments in my heart forever!

Thanks for sharing in our celebrations. – Maureen

 

Canada’s 150th

Tomorrow Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary.

I live in Ottawa, the capital city, where 500,000 people are expected on Parliament Hill, to watch an all-day concert, starting at 9 a.m. Around noon, there will be a fly past of Canadian Military planes.  I always find this part very exciting. The jets come out of nowhere and fly fast and low.

Prince Charles and Camilla are here and I feel certain there will be a speech in there somewhere. Probably a couple more from Canadian government officials.

Security is tight this year, due to recent world events. There will be two entrance points to the Hill, and every one of those half a million people have to be scanned and have their bags searched. That is 250,000 per security post!

In front of city hall, a mobile hospital has been set up to deal with any possible medical problems, from heat stroke and overdoses, to situations requiring minor surgery. Apparently the EMTs will transport patients in golf carts, since dozens of downtown streets have been closed to traffic,

All across Canada there will be parties and flag waving followed by fireworks in the late evening.

Today I brought two of my grandchildren to the mall to buy Canada Day “stuff”. Everything is red and white. We got a frisbee, a cowboy hat, temporary tattoos, stickers, a baseball, cookies, cakes, a wind sock, cup-cake holders, pennants, and flags. Our house is decorated and I am sure when they got home, their house was next on the list. Everyone at the mall was smiling and you could just feel the excitement.

Here we are, married three days, and leaving for Montreal, en route to Zambia.

We were in Zambia in 1967 when we celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday, waiting for the birth of our first daughter a few weeks later.

Canada’s motto is “From Sea to Sea”.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, Canada is a wonderful country. I pray that we will always follow the principles upon which our country was founded, back in 1867.

One cautionary note. On the 6 o’clock news tonight we were told that there would be plenty of bathrooms. There are 36 temporary toilets set up on Parliament Hill. I did the math. It works out to 13,888 people per toilet! I don’t care for those numbers. I am glad I am going to celebrate with family. There will be eight of us and two bathrooms. I prefer those numbers.

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Our 13-year-old grandson with his Canada Day cowboy hat from Dollarama.

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Stay safe.

Maureen

 

 

A Tender Moment

One day in Montreal.

It’s funny how a specific moment can tug on our hearts decades later. This little story goes back to another time, another place, and another family.

More than 40 years ago, we moved from Ottawa, to Montreal. I was eight and a half months pregnant the day we moved in and gave birth to our fourth daughter two weeks later.

A few months later, a new family moved in next door. They were originally from the Philippines and their children were close in age to our own. When they moved in, they had five children, and she was pregnant with their sixth. She had a boy to bring their family’s total to four girls and two boys.

They were a lovely family, whose names all began with the letter “R”. Roberto, Regina, Raquel, Rowena, R…., and Raphael.

A couple of years later, their cousins from the Philippines moved in with them for a few months, until they found a home of their own. This family had six boys. They called themselves the MAPSERs, because their names started with those letters. So there were now five adults (including one Nanny) and twelve children living next door.

As far as we could tell, they all got along and there was never a moment when the kids disturbed the neighbourhood. A couple of days after the MAPSERs moved in, in the middle of May, we had several inches of snow, and those boys were all out playing in the snow in their SOCK FEET!

The youngest boy had a twisted foot, so he limped when he walked. From my kitchen window, I saw the twelve of them walking to the school bus every day. One day this little boy was having a difficult time because the school bus was coming and he had fallen behind.

His cousin, Regina, looked back and spotted him limping along. Without a word, she stopped, went back to him, crouched down, and waited patiently while he climbed on her back.

I think of all of them often. I think of the boy’s surgeries and hope that they were successful and that he now walks straight and sure-footed. I think of Regina, wordlessly offering her back to her little cousin. I pray God’s blessings on all of them.

A house full of adults and children.

A house full of love.

I was privileged to see a tiny example of this, one day in Montreal.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Have a wonderful day. – Maureen

 

HELLO! It’s Me Again

It was recently brought home to me that I haven’t posted for about a year. Well, I aim to rectify that, starting now.

I don’t know if any of you have experienced this phenomenon. While I was still regularly posting, I was asked by a well-known site, to contribute posts to their site, and I froze. It has taken me a long time to thaw out and that opportunity has probably dried up, but I think I can do this again. For me.

My art has been taking up a lot of my time and I have been really enjoying my acrylic paintings. I’ve done larger pieces and some very small ones. Even though I am a woman of “a certain age”, the creativity has been flowing. I did a couple of “clothesline” paintings that I really like. The first one brought back memories of my mother hanging clothes on the line, summer and winter.

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In the middle of January, she would bring in the laundry and stand it up on the kitchen floor. Then of course she had to iron everything, and with a family of eleven children, it was no small task. Mom used to say that the only time she got out of the house was to go to the clothesline!

The first clothesline painting gave rise to the idea for the second, which had to do with Canada’s 150th birthday, being celebrated this year. I have even had some interest in buying that particular one, although the sale hasn’t gone through yet.

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In any case, it’s not the selling that thrills me, although it would be nice, but it’s the actual creating the painting, from the initial idea, the first sketches, and the final product.

I’m not a great artist, not even close, but I can’t tell you how painting makes me feel. I just wish I had started earlier in life. My small house is full of paintings. The walls are bending under the weight of them.

Last week, we had our youngest grandchild for the day, and she and I painted together. We  had so much fun. It was a dream come true for me and she brought a very nice seascape home to show her family. Her brother wanted to buy it from her, but she wasn’t selling!

Our finished paintings. Which one was done by an 11-year-old, and which by a 72-year-old?

How are you creative?

Thanks for reading and have a good day.

Maureen

A Playlist for Me

Because John, my husband, is a techno-whiz, I know very little about the electronics in our house.

We have a “set-up”. There is a 55″ high definition TV, a sound system, a DVD player, a set-top box (?), a computer, and really about six or seven other black boxes. They are all connected through hundreds of wires and cables, and they all have their own remote, and I can’t even turn the TV on. We don’t have cable or satellite but we have 12 channels and we have Netflix (the Canadian version, which doesn’t have as many shows as the American version, which really makes little difference since there is very little we want to watch anyway). We also have Filmon, which allows us access to some British shows, among others, and I do enjoy some of their mystery series like Midsommer Murders. We can also use YouTube to play shows and music.

So here is what my husband of 49 years, 11 months, and 20 days does for me on a typical evening. He sets all of this up on his phone and they form a queue and play one after the other.

We start off with one or two ABBA songs to get things going.  Then maybe he’ll play a couple of songs by the Travelling Wilburys. I just love them. Next we might watch Escape to the Country, a British home-finding show. The last one we watched was set in Cornwall, UK.

Then we settle in with beautiful classical music playing while paintings by Claude Monet are shown on the screen. It takes my breath away! Another favourite is The Flower Duet song from Lakme, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elena Garanca. It is so beautiful.

We then go flying possibly in Norway or British Columbia, or maybe experience a terrifying landing at St. Martin. We come back to earth with some gorgeous piano music played by Ernesto Cortazar. He is my new favourite artist. He has written and performed countless pieces all of which are stunningly beautiful.

I don’t want to make anyone jealous, but often all this is played to the accompaniment of John giving me a foot rub while I relax and look and listen.

This is my Playlist. Why would I want to learn to turn the TV on anyway?

What  would be on your Playlist?

Have a great day! – Maureen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rules at Grandma’s House

On Friday, teachers in Ottawa are having a holiday  professional development day.

So tomorrow evening my daughter is going to pick me up on her way home from work, to I can spend Friday with her two children and their dog.

The last time there was a PA Day, they came to our house and we went out on the buses, which they loved, and went to Tim Horton’s, which they loved, and to A&W, which they loved, and came back here to play video games, which they absolutely loved! We had a great day.

I told them that at Grandma’s, there is a different set of rules.

  • You can eat what you want when you want to.
  • You can read Archie comics all day if you want to.
  • A visit to Tim Horton’s for hot chocolate is a must.
  • Cookies are in the jar and you can have as many as you want.
  • Our TV and Netflix can be accessed all day.
  • Video games can be played for as long as you like.
  • You can sit whereever you want to on the bus.
  • You can change seats as often as you like.

It’s a wonder my daughter and son-in-law still want us to watch the kids!!!

But on Friday it is going to be VERY cold and I don’t want to be outdoors at all, especially not waiting for a bus. So I am going there, and the rules are different. Can you believe it???

I am looking forward to spending the day with Owen and Brynn. And Chip, the dog. The very cute dog.

I am going to stay over into Saturday so that I can go to watch the Moms play hockey against the Daughters. It should be a close match. On the one hand, the girls have been honing their skills all season long, but on the other hand, the Moms have size on their side. The girls are strong skaters. The Moms CAN skate (at least most of them can). The girls are good at passing. The Moms will try to pass, if their sticks ever touch the puck. The girls have energy. The Moms have energy bars.

Owen is coaching his Mom and putting her through the drills he himself practices before a big game. Apparently he is very encouraging. Brynn has been getting secret coaching from her Dad. I think she is going to try to get a penalty!

I just hope there is no fighting during the game. I’d hate to see how that would turn out!

I’ll have a recap of the game highlights in my next post.

Thanks for visiting. Have a good weekend. – Maureen

 

 

 

Exercise for Seniors

I have given myself a challenge!

Recently, because I am a senior on a fixed retirement budget, I gave up my gym membership to save money.

So what things can I do to get exercise several times a week, which will cost me little or no money at all?

  • Mall walking. There are several indoor malls within a short bus ride of my house which I can take advantage of if the weather outside is too cold or too hot (which is often the case).
  • Walking on the trails around Ottawa. We have the beautiful Greenboro Trail which is half a block away and is kept plowed all winter by the city.
  • Cycling. When the weather is good and the trails are free of snow and ice, nothing is better for making me feel like a 17 year old, which is great considering that I am now 71!!!
  • Skating. There is the world-famous Rideau Canal, and every neighbourhood in Ottawa has an outdoor rink where one can skate free of charge. People of all ages take advantage of these rinks.
  • Wii. I have a Wii console with Wii Sports and Wii Fit. It only takes a few minutes to set up and gives me the opportunity to practice my stretches and balance skills as well as tennis and bowling, which I enjoy.
  • Fitbit. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and am able to track my exercise throughout the day. It gives me a running total of things such as number of steps, heart rate, stairs climbed, and total number of “active minutes”.
  • Gym mat. Years ago I bought a gym mat which I rarely used but I got it out the other day, dusted it off, and started to use it to stretch and do exercises like crunches and planks.
  • Weights. Another item bought years ago and almost forgotten. They are proving useful but I have to take care as the first time I used them, my shoulder problem resurfaced. Take it easy, and start (or restart) slowly.
  • Stairs. Because of my Fitbit, I have made a little “circuit” in my house where I start with stretches, and then go to walking and stair climbing.

So far today I have walked more than 6,000 steps, which is 4.5 km. I have been “active” for 24 minutes, and climbed 11 floors.

I know there are probably other inexpensive ways to motivate myself to exercise. Can you think of any that I missed?

I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last April and I know that exercise helps control blood sugar levels. I have lost 20 pounds since then and should lose 10 more.

I really hope that at my next check-up, my doctor will agree that I am making good progress toward my goal of good health.

Thanks for reading.  I hope to be making posts on a more regular basis. – Maureen