Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mother/Daughter Bond

It's been absolutely months since I entered a new post. Why? So many reasons - too busy; not busy enough; traveling; depression; loss of interest; busy again and all that jazz. So today my entry will be about balance because it is a correspondence between me and my daughter after I returned from two weeks in London where I helped Maya and Glenn organize their new house. The cats went too and all five had a mostly good time at Kitty Camp (Mattie not so much). It was an important visit because we were drifting apart and out of touch with each others feelings. So often I've shared my sadness here. Now I'm sharing my happiness.

To claire hogenkamp
I wanted to say again how much fun it was to have you stay with us.  With your guidance, we accomplished so much.  I really enjoyed coming into my house and seeing it this way.  I am excited to keep working on it now that I can see it's not insurmountable.  Choco sat with me on the couch after curling, just leaned against me purring happily.  Twee's sitting in the other blue chair watching me type.  Mattie... well, he's Mattie.

I also wanted to let you know that I have decided not to apply for the executive director job at the museum of Archaeology.  In re-reading the job description, it's not curatorial in the least and really is an intense management job.  I simply am not qualified.  I am, however, still applying for the curator/director position at the Ingersoll Cheese and Agriculture Museum.  ;)  After all, I like cheese.

Anyway, I suspect they will be advertising for a curator at the Archaeology museum once they get a director, and in that case, I will apply.  They are planning a site redesign, and I'd like to get in on that, even if it means a pay cut.  In the meantime, I'll hang on at M. L, where I have a few interesting projects coming, if  "he who must be obeyed" would just leave me alone long enough for me to find my stride.  Again. 

So that's all.  Tell me please, what Michael said.  Tomorrow I'll let Adam know we won't be at his mom's seder. 

Love and kisses,

To maya hirschman

Hi Honey bun,

I talked with Jean for a long time and she was quite animated. She is looking forward to our coming and wants to know what we would like to eat on Easter Sunday. I told her not to worry, we'll take care of Easter dinner. She completely forgot that she will be in the nursing home by Easter. She's on morphine so is feeling no pain, literally and figuratively. Dear Jean, always the caring mother, is really looking forward to our arrival. Michael says he'll have the cottage up and running when we get there. There was little snow, the roads are a bit muddy but firm and he feels there will be no problem getting in. He said, that if it turns bad we can always stay down at the house where, he'll be alone.

He is quite stable one minute and then starts raging the next. Poor Mike, he's so confused and at a loss about life without having his mother to care for.

I really enjoyed my visit too. I was amazed at how much physical work I accomplished. I'm not as "old" physically as I thought. There is so much potential for you both in that house and in your lives. Glenn perked right up after a few days and so did you. I may need to come back in May or June to help plan your garden. I have Miles taking care of mine, so I can look to yours for challenges. Lets not allow so much time pass ever again, without seeing each other. Lives have to be shared to stay connected. I also suggest that you and Glenn take a weekend or so to visit here. It's like a mini vacation in a lovely B&B. I can't wait till your foyer door is installed. It should look just lovely. Maybe the guys next door can provide the extra arms to help you hang it. Next stop - Home Depot for a back storm door, fully screened with a top sliding panel not bottom. Remember the grief we had with the kitchen door at the cottage, when the glass opened from the bottom. Everyone kept kicking out the screen, including the cats.

Willy just came in from defending his territory from the neighbour's black cat. He's licking his chops. I hope he hasn't eaten it.  The cats are all settled into their routine again, but every time they pass my suitcase, they sniff and then rub it vigorously. Clearly it contains memories of good times past.

Hugs to Glenn and love,


Monday, January 9, 2012

Tentative Steps of Optimism.

Hi again. It's now the ninth day of the New Year and I'm putting one foot ahead of the other with tentative steps of optimism. Yes I paid my bills, organized my receipts for taxes, packed away Christmas for another year and did several loads of laundry.

I have also resumed work on my website which is shaping up very nicely. I am so grateful to Heather for getting me going on this. It is looking like becoming an awesome site, a work of art in its own right. I have decided to add a Guest page where I will host other artists that I admire with a showcase and link to their own sites.

The first guest artists will be painter, Ray McGirl, and  photographer Heather Bickle. They are each exceptional in their fields and it will be an honour to promote them. Since the site is called Art et al and I am also promoting my advocacy work, the guest showcase is most appropriate. I hope we can launch it quite soon.

Maya and Glenn have taken possession of their new house and are now engaged in the dreaming stage as well as packing for moving. There is cosmetic work to be done and some structural stuff to the basement to soundproof Glenn's music studio. I bought them an area rug for the Living Room and three coordinated scatter rugs. I also bought them a gift certificate for Molly Maid to help them clean the new house and a clean up the apartment after they move out. It will save them so much grief. I just wish we lived closer to help them select tradesmen, and to supervise their work while the kids are at their jobs. Alas, from this distance, I can only advise.

I need to clean up my sculptures for the AGP Triennial and prepare a submission for the Mental Health show. So there is much to do and I'm so pleased to be thinking of work instead of myself. It's not good for me to be rummaging around in my head for too long. So back into the world..

Friday, December 30, 2011

Get Me to a Nunnery and Other Good Ideas.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and I'm unraveling. My positive state of mind is growing very negative, very quickly. This is a cause for concern because it reminds me of my teenaged anxiety over not being included. Everything is happening somewhere else, and I've been left out. This is particularly insane because I normally don't like the to-do around New Years Eve. When I'm in London we go out for a lovely dinner and later the kids go to a party and I stay home with the cats. I watch TV and then they come home.  It was a wonderful evening for both generations. I just wasn't prepared not to see Maya at all this season and that is taking its toll as well.

 I used to make beautiful N.Y's Eve dinners in New York and Toronto and invited all my closest friends. We had fun, it was warm and meaningful. I would also include strays and orphans at my table. I always took steps to ensure that I wasn't alone. This year I am alone on the eve and for the day and all the old fears are creeping back under my skin. Wow. I'm 71 and the ghosts of 17 are coming back.

We had hilarious parodies of classic N.Ys parties after I moved to Peterborough and Mary was still alive. We would dress up with  cocktail hats and fedoras, or funny hats and masks to dine out splendidly and then bring in the New Year at Mary and David's or my place. It was gentle fun. Mary usually fell asleep before midnight and had to be roused for the toast. Wayne told stories and we gossiped about work. We belonged, there were no outsiders and we went home after midnight. Except for the few occasions when Ray was present or Gary Forma, I was always the only unpartnered woman and it didn't matter.

I find myself at 71, still unpartnered and very much alone. I need to understand why I can handle this 364 days of the year but not on New Year's Eve? These fears are totally baffling and very unhealthy. What other demons from my past will arise in my old age.?  Why haven't I faced them years ago and how can I put them to rest?  For that matter, how is it that I have spent so many years alone? Am I so formidable that no man  ever wanted to know and love me?  See how damaging this state of mind can be? I'm alone for New Year ergo I'm unloved.

Claire, get off your duff or "get thee to a nunnery" before you turn into a geriatric Mildred, all. about me all the time. Ewe, what a dreadful fate. Focus on the good stuff.. Two of my sculptures were selected by an AGP jury for the 2012 AGP Triennial. I sold some art, I had a nice show at Chasing the Cheese and my painting is really improving a lot. My health was good enough to permit me to travel.  I had a great visit with Pat here and a wonderful trip to Holland. People love and care for me there.  It's time to start moving forward again; to rejoin my classes at the Peterborough School of  Art, and to resume a diet and fitness regime.

Lets start today by paying bills and organizing my tax files. Now doesn't that feel like fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In the company of good friends.

Two days since Christmas day and the last night of Chanukah. The holiday memories linger as I prepare to assume a normal routine again. It was a surprisingly pleasant time this year. I say surprisingly, because I have not spent Christmas with Maya and Glenn. I stayed home alone and I was afraid it would be terribly lonely. It was actually quite enjoyable. I'm happy to note, I survived the periodic stabs of loneliness.

Yes there were some. Mostly, I didn't know what to expect from a family-less Christmas. For example, I bought two tortieres and a stuffed turkey breast in case I would be required to produce a full Christmas dinner for surprise guests - like whom? Elija, perhaps? I have cooked for others so many years, that I just couldn't bear the reality: nobody would be coming for Christmas dinner. I was invited out for Christmas Eve lunch. Unpartnered women get invited to lunch a lot because there is no room for them on the Ark of couples dinner parties. It was a lovely lunch with a true friend that I enjoyed greatly. But Christmas Eve I spent in my own company until I went to Church. It was beautiful to be in the fellowship of others on such an important evening. Christmas day was spent with my two cats. We opened a few presents, catnip toys for the cats and then I ate an omelet for lunch and a lobster for supper.

 In retrospect, I did find it lonely. It was not self-pityingly lonely, but I found the day long. I treated myself to a long soak in a scented bath, listened to Christmas music and went to bed early. Boxing Day was the big day for Christmas dinner. I was invited to spend the afternoon and evening with the Mutton family, in their new house. It was like days of yore when our two families spent every Christmas dinner together, sometimes here and more often at their place. The kids were the same ages and enjoyed each other. It was always fun and yesterday was no exception. Only with the passage of time, another generation of little children have been added. They now have a young nephew Colin and a beautiful baby grand daughter.

We played games after dinner as always and Phil retired because of a bad cold. Colin was wound up from too much sugar and because he was over tired, but baby Claire chortled on happily. Wayne was so pleased and happy and they all were genuinely happy to welcome me back into the fold. I felt wanted and part of the family of man. I drove home at midnight filled with gratitude and blessed with good friends.
So all in all it was a good Christmas experience. Having my daughter near me is better, but if needed, I can do well in the company of good friends. My cats are recovering from several days of treats and new catnip toys. They liked Christmas very much indeed. Life is good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On traveling home December 7, 2011

Well, I'm on board the plane waiting for take off. I'm in the exact seat I had when I left Canada. It's so much more comfortable in Economy Comfort. Everyone has been very nice at the airport and I got assistance from check in to the gate.Martine came with me on the train , so it was fun and relaxed. One train from Nijmegen to Schipol. We checked my baggage, had a bite of lunch (delicious) and then we said good-bye. It was sad to say good-bye to the kids and Jan but saying good-bye to Martine was saddest of all (except for little Karol).

That dear little dog knew something was up and was glued to me for the last forty-eight hours. He slept with me, followed me into the toilet, sat on my knee during TV, waited for me at the ATM machine etc. Whenever Norah came near me there was a jealous outburst.

I'm on my way over the Atlantic. I had a very good supper, some juice and Tonic but cannot sleep or even nap. When flying to Canada we are in constant daylight.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On privacy and the Dutch Connection

Wait a minute guys. What is this about adding my mobile phone number to the security check? How does giving more information equate with more security for me? What if I'm a neanderthal without a mobile phone or a misanthrope who won't share? Does that mean that I will eventually be denied access to my own blog? So the more we surrender our privacy, the greater our access to self-expression? It may soon be time to step away from blogging to protect some shreds of privacy.

Relax guys, nobody reads my Blog anyway. I won't be starting any geriatric revolution in the foreseeable future. Three old women and my daughter doesn't constitute a threat to the status quo.

I have returned from the civility of my beloved birthplace. Holland was wonderful and maddening and enticing. It's a geographically tiny land which is getting ever more developed. Driving is a nightmare but the trains are awesome, on schedule and comfortable. They have some design flaws that impede access for the elderly and infirm. I didn't see many old folk on the trains. Could it be the steps onto and inside the trains? or could it be the lack of baggage storage space on the Schipol trains? Or the absence of maps inside the trains so that you can plan when to get off in advance. Some trains make announcements, others don't.

If you are not spry, an opportunity to preplan your entries and exits is a must. Alas, even with a good transit system, the designers are too young to understand mobility problems. On the other hand, there are still a great many young men in Holland who are willing to offer a helping hand. I was impressed with the courtesy shown me everywhere I went. Young women were generally less sensitive and courteous. If a woman was providing assistance, she was usually middle aged or over.

My friends in Rotterdam were kind, generous and a pleasure. Quita, is possibly the kindest and most thoughtful person I know. She structured our social life exactly in accordance with my capacity. As a result. I found my four days with her were perfectly paced and really interesting. We spent an afternoon in Voorburg where we lunched and had a nice afternoon shopping with a childhood friend Paula. Paula and I are Resistance children. Our parents were closely connected through opposition to the Nazi occupation. We were occasionally allowed to play with each other when we were secluded from other children. So there we were in Voorburg, women with a lifetime of memories dining and talking without skipping a beat. The next day, it was off with Quita for a day at the Rotterdam Kunsthal seeing the Stanley Spencer Exhibition. It was a splendid show and a fine lunch. My friendship with Quita is a blessing. I met her when Maya was six and in the same class with Justin, Quita's son. The kids loved each other and the parents had an instant rapport. When I was hospitalized for emergency surgery, Quita took Maya in till I recovered. A huge act of kindness when we barely knew each other. So here we are 28 years later - still friends.

Hernen, is my adoptive home ever since my parents died. My father's best friend Gert v d Steenhoven, became my surrogate father when I was so suddenly left alone. I always had a safe haven with him and his wife Nell. Their only daughter Martine, came into my life when I was thirty. I watched her grow up on my visits to my "Godfather" and was available when tragedy struck their home. Nell died suddenly when Martien was 16. An only child like me and motherless at an early age, Martien needed a safe place and an understanding woman. Oom Steen sent her to me for six weeks the following summer, and we became sisters during that critical time. To this day, sisters we remain, so all our visits are family experiences. Jan, her husband, and the three now teenaged kids are my niece and two nephews. No family bond is so tight as the family that chooses to be related. We are such a family. My days in Hernen were perfect days of family life sharing Sinterklaas festivities, Peter's 14 birthday and Astrid's 16 year old female dramas. It was little Leo (ten) that still was child enough to find me relentlessly interesting. It was great fun to be in a family again and very sad when I had to leave. Whatever happens though, we'll still be there for each other and that is a very comfortable feeling.

Maya, I fear, will not find her comfort there because she has grown away from the Dutch side of her heritage. Where she lands in the fullness of time, I can't say. She is forming her own connections with people that bring meaning to her life. The Dutch connection may end after me. That makes me very sad, but what will be will be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Globalization and Positive Change

This is a bon voyage post because I'm leaving tomorrow and will not be blogging for a few weeks.

Amid the media pros and cons regarding the Occupy Movement, a personal response says - thank God - people are finally getting it. Our society is at risk not from the demonstrators who clearly love their country, but from the corporate interests who are overtaking and controlling the major societal decisions being made by government.

Globalization is a two pronged fork and it is only logical that one connects to the other. As corporate governments decide to broaden the market place for the benefit of the few, the people are growing ever poorer and disenfranchised. The many that have been bought off with cheaper international goods, can no longer pay for those goods because their jobs have also gone global. For some people, it has become very clear that the ubiquitous MacWalmarts have cost them and their local economies dearly. Corporate greed is swallowing up our way of life, killing the middle class dismantling unions and indenturing the working class.

I worried for a long time that people were passively being co-opted into acceptance of the status quo. I wondered why the people couldn't see what was happening to them. But, Globalization has also occurred in the communications sector so that we can all see what is happening in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Greece, Italy and Ireland. People are rising up and saying NO. Nothing begets a movement better than witnessing massive injustice and resistance.

I see no distinction between the Arab Spring, African Diaspora, Greek riots and Occupy Wall Street, except location and style. We cannot keep propagandizing the joys of democracy without people wanting some. The Global 99 percent are angry with their leaders, businesses, banks and governments for selling their interests to the Global one percent, without any light on the horizon. If the powers that be don't shift their priorities soon we could be witnessing an ugly Global revolution.

The corporate media also have a choice to make - either keep obfuscating the truth in support of the status quo, or respect the depth of this movement and provide some analytical guidance for positive change. Instead of articles about dirty tent camps and traffic jams, lets see more articles questioning bank profits, environmental rape, downsizing's effect on local economies and corporate tax shelters. The Occupy Movement may be "leaderless" and lack a cohesive structure, but it's common issues are very clear to the corporate power structure. They will fight back hard and dirty.

They will go after the communications industry and try to close down the Global access to truth and free speech. But the people are also getting wise and we are seeing the first stages of a global revolution - not for communism, socialism or capitalism - but for an equitable share of the pie. That, ultimately, is the meaning of democracy.

It is time for world leaders: corporate, political, and religious to act responsibly and provide some positive change.