Monday 29 January 2024

Monday, Jan. 29, 2024

 I'm slow to get back into the rhythm of things here. I have taught two days since coming back home. Mostly I've been tending to the hens and getting back into my (usually) daily walks through my little village. 

I walk alone with no distractions. My route is the same streets but sometimes I change the direction or I add a loop to cover more distance. In the nicer weather, there are sometimes other people with whom to exchange pleasantries, but in this cold that is a rarity. I have a couple of dogs who still bark at me from behind fences or from inside houses. 

Mostly I think.  I go over a lot of things in my mind during my walks. I plan ahead, I think about my family, I think about my to-do list, and I think about the village. I do not live in an idyllic "chocolate box" village where people lovingly tend their window boxes and stroll about with their pretty babies. I live in a scrappy little collection of streets ripped up by the snow plow inhabited by locally raised seniors and young families who can't afford to live in better, bigger homes. As I've said, there are few if any amenities: a mechanic, a plumber, a post office, a community centre, a fire hall. There is no corner store. There is no gas station. 

Many people who live here have bigger things to worry about than maintaining a pretty yard or putting on new siding, or picking up the random garbage that blows out of the recycle boxes. Sure, there are some who keep things tidy and take pride in their surroundings, and those are the ones that, by comparison, really stand out in the little community. But for the most part, the properties are tired, worn down, somewhat messy, and in previous economies, cheap - much like their owners or renters. 

I walk past a place that in my mind I refer to as "the hoarder house". It is a small one storey house that has had a car bumper on its front lawn for more than a year. The boxes and random objects sprout from the porch of the house and make their way down both sides of the drive way. They continue into the back yard. I know there is a young woman and a child who live there, or at least I have seen then in the nice weather. I often wonder how much room the child has inside the house. Personally, I think hoarding is sign of mental illness, but I'm no expert.

I walk past another place that has an exterior combination of various greens - mint, olive, kelly... Inside that house lives a pair of grandparents who have taken over the raising of five (I think) grandchildren for what has been hinted at as good reason. They have created a haven in the backyard of a collection of swings, tree houses, bird houses, and seasonal decorations. 

There is another place I walk past that used to be a school. I will come back and edit this with the date on the outside of this big brick building later, after my walk today, if I remember to take note. It is a big, two storey structure with two entrances and I think it was actually a secondary school. I find it funny that this little village was "booming" enough to have a highschool, but of course it would have drawn from outside areas. Now it has been converted into apartments. It seems to house a collection of men, some older, some young enough to be away all day working, but sometimes I see them gathered round the back with a small campfire, talking, with a dog keeping them company. There is a work truck parked there, but it seems to always be there, so maybe there is no work for that person. 

Then there is a sweet little house lived in by a widow who I sometimes see walking to her granddaughter's house. She always changes up her seasonal decorations and things are cheery and bright. I look to see what is coming up in her flower beds and have serious clematis envy, as her two climb over wooden trellises and bloom like crazy. 

There are times, especially early spring when the snow is melting and all the garbage and "stuff" that was hidden by sbow becomes visible again, sometimes never to be dealt with, when I desperately hate this village. I'm happy to just stay put in my own house and not look anywhere else. We are at the end of a dead end street, but now new houses have been built across from us, so we no longer look out at fields of grain or corn. 

But then spring flows into summer and plants are blooming and those people who do care are cutting their lawns and saying hello and there are enough nice things to look at that they outweigh the bad. Why do we stay? Well, because it is home. This is where we raised out two kids. We are on an acre at the outside of the village, away from everyone else (or we once were) in a big old yellow brick house and I've created flower beds and a vegetable garden. Husband built a pool and a big gazebo and a chicken coop. We have been able to have a little oasis at the end of our road with relatively low (although they have increased) taxes. And our closest neighbours either are never there or are rarely there (they were in that group from the big city that decided to buy in rural areas during Covid). Would I like to live somewhere else? Yes, sometimes, but not yet. Not now. For lots of reasons. (Couldn't even imagine having to pack up our lives - husband's garage alone would be a nightmare!). 

So I get out and I walk. And I think all these thoughts and then about 23 to 30 minutes later, I come back to our home, having filled my lungs with fresh air and done something good for my body and carry on with my life. 

Monday 22 January 2024

Monday, January 22, 2024 - getting my feet back under me

We went away. We are now back. I have done laundry and cleaned up the house, and started back into my walking routine through my little village. Our son, who lives here as well, took care of cats and hens for which we are grateful. 

We were in Florida with friends who are very much Florida oficionados. We drove down with them and flew home separately, as they stayed for a while longer. I have only been to Florida one other time, shortly after husband and I married. It was the year of the "storm of the century" when highways were closed and weather was awful. Perhaps it was 1992?? This time, ironically, the temperatures were unseasonably cool, the skies overcast and rainy. I have never been in hot tubs more frequently in my entire life. I will not bore you with a multitude of vacation photos, but here are just a few:

We had a day here and husband loved it. I also liked it, but didn't have the same knowledge or interest as husband, but it was still a good day. Windy as heck!

We agreed to go to one Disney park, so we chose Epcot. 

Ridiculously, one of the highlights for me was seeing manatees. This fellow is a rescue who lives at the aquarium in Epcot. 

Our friends are very much Disney people and we stayed here, Wilderness Lodge, for three nights. Did you know they pipe in cricket sounds in the evening to add to the effect? Now you know.

And it just wouldn't be a post without a Murphy picture. I'm not sure what the message is here. We were unpacking and putting away suitcases and this happened. If possible, he is now wider of girth than before we left. 

We did time it well in terms of the weather at home. There were days of closed roads and bus cancellations for schools (schools always remain open however). It is still pretty darn cold, but things are supposed to "warm up" later this week. 

I am happy to be home. Our friends showed us many interesting things during our time down south. There are so many communities for retirees, everything from trailer parks to luxurious homes in gated communities. We are not, however, Disney people. I just don't feel the need to go back and the commercialism and contrived world just isn't for me and husband. But for those who do like it, fill your boots!

It is unfortunate about the lack of sunshine while in Florida, but that is nobody's fault. At least it was green. Everywhere we stayed had pools which were heated and glorious hot tubs. I've never really been a hot tub person, but I was those two weeks. As well, we ate. A lot. Time to stop eating. A lot. 

Today my excitement may consist of putting away clean laundry and mopping the kitchen floor.