Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas prequal

The picture above is a handmade Christmas card by a talented friend. She vastly under estimates her own talent, insisting that her daughters are far more talented. They have obviously inherited her artistic talent but their style is very different from hers. She makes things simple, they make things more elaborate.

Busy pre-Christmas season. Three potluck dinners in one week. I actually find potlucks stressful, I never know what to make and am nervous that I will burn or otherwise make the food unappetizing or inedible. This year I bought two Christmas fruitcakes which I managed to stetch out over two of the potlucks, and baked an extra loaf of bread (I normally bake all my own bread, one of the few things I can make without mishap!). When a couple of people heard that I made sourdough bread, they requested a bit of sourdough starter so I made that too. I figure I got off light.

Christmas Day dinner will be at a neighbour's place, my contribution will be cheese and crackers, and broccoli. How hard can that be? Not, I hope. Someone else requested some starter and offered a kombucha scobie in exchange, I'm not sure how I feel about that. One more thing to keep alive! Ah well.

Then on Boxing Day a friend is having a bunch of people over because her son and daughter who live in other provinces will be here. A cause for celebration. She told me that her husband recently switched to non-alcoholic beer and they buy it at Superstore. She said it was very close to real beer, so I bought a 6-pack to try it. Especially over the holiday season when the law is out in force to catch inebriated drivers, I thought a nice non-alcoholic beer to take to parties would be good.

Finally, on the first Sunday of the New Year, another neighbour is having a single women's New Year celebration. She lives walking distance from me so I will leave the non-alcoholic beer at home and take something a little more fortified.

By the time all those dinners, parties and celebrations are done I will be more than ready to be a recluse for a while. It seems that I can only handle so much socializing before I just want to hide away from humanity.

This picture is of a Christmas gift from my eldest son. It depicts a lake in Ontario, Balsam Lake to be exact. As a child I spent all of my summers there. My parents retired and lived there until my father's death. My mother sold the house, she said it was too difficult to consider how to split it between four offspring, only one of whom remained in the province. Too bad. We each ended up inheriting the equivalent of a quarter share; the cash was nice but I miss the lake. Now I can put it on my wall.

There is one tiny island missing from this picture, the creator of the plaque said it was too difficult to include it. Here is an old photo of that island (Ant Island). It's that little black outline on the horizon between the two trees. I used to be able to swim there and back, it was the test you had to pass if you wanted to take a canoe out by yourself.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Death of a young man

I went to a funeral yesterday. Left the house at noon, didn't get back home again until almost 5pm, so it essentially took up the whole of my day.

I picked up a friend who can't drive and we went early because we knew that half the town would be there and we hoped to get seats. It was the funeral for a young man who committed suicide, his family is very well known and connected in this town. I have known the family for over 40 years, and the young man helped me build a fence around my backyard in anticipation of Hapi's arrival in 2011. My friend's kids went to school with this man, he was part of a large 'gang' of kids who hung out together in those days.

He struggled with depression for most of his adult life. He was somebody who appeared to have everything going for him: attractive, talented, well-liked and at the centre of a good group of fun-loving kids. Also part of a loving family with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles around. But for whatever reason it wasn't enough.

I know two things about depression. One is, your brain lies to you. And the more it lies the more you isolate yourself from the people who can point out the lies. The other is, it's worse when you're young. Emotional experience is more intense and you don't have the acquired knowledge of life experience to deal with it.

The funeral was well done I thought. It was held in his parents' church, there was a slide show of photos and a display of some of his art and musical instruments. The hymns were good. That's saying a lot, I don't usually like hymns, to put it mildly. A Catholic priest who had befriended the young man gave the eulogy, his brother and a former girlfriend spoke of their experiences with him, and another friend sang 'Somewhere over the rainbow'. At the end they played a recording of the young man singing a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. No dry eyes, but a few chuckles over some of the stories, particularly as told by his brother.

His mother is the musical director of that church and all of the family is musically gifted. A few young people attended but around here most young people have to move away to find work, so a lot of parents of the kids who hung out together attended on their kids' behalf. Many more went to support the family of the young man. My kids weren't part of that gang, they were an older cohort, so I went because of my relationship to the family and because of my brief relationship with the young man who helped to build my fence.

It snowed heavily. I could barely get back up the hill to my home afterward. Yet another winter wonderland. The ducks really are gone now, the ponds are fully frozen. After dark the sky cleared and I watched Orion rising with Hapi. I love that she likes to just sit and watch the world. She even got me out of bed so she could go out and look at the snow one more time.