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BY mj

04/01 Direct Link
Just got news my mother’s cousin died. She had inoperable cancer and it was expected, but her death was gentle. She was sitting, talking to her daughter and she simply closed her eyes and slipped away. Although she had endured radiation and other procedures, she had never really been a full invalid. If I could go like that, I would be happy. I hope not to suffer the indignity of having somebody change my diapers. I was horrified as child at the thought that it was done when I was a baby, as an adult it would be mortifying.
04/02 Direct Link
When you pass on quickly do you even know it is happening? A few years ago I came upon my neighbour sobbing in her front yard because her husband would not wake up from his afternoon nap on the couch. An ambulance came and he was pronounced dead. There was no telling at what point during his nap that he died; she only knew he had been lying there longer than usual. If you die in your sleep, do you come briefly to consciousness and realize what is happening to you. Or do you just fade softly into your dreams?
04/03 Direct Link
It is easy to believe that our ‘souls’ must go somewhere after we die, because it seems incredible that one’s vital consciousness could simply be extinguished so easily when it seems like such a tangible force within us. Ghost stories and the occult aside, there is no real proof of this. All we really have is religious writings that tell us of a god or gods who assured our very distant ancestors that there would be a reward for us after our bodies give out, as long as we stay true to some formula of behavior prescribed by said gods.
04/04 Direct Link
Do religious people ever stop to wonder why the gods stopped talking to humans? I mean according to all the ancient myths and holy writings, there was a time when relationships between humans and gods were on a conversational basis. Nowadays when someone claims to hear god talking to him or her, they end up being treated for psychosis. It seems peculiar that god often directs such people to do awful things. Does the fact that, currently, mostly certifiably crazy people hear from god, make religious people stop to consider what sort of people originally wrote all those sacred books?
04/05 Direct Link
I saw ‘The King’s Speech’ on Saturday, which got me thinking about the divine right of kings and how royalty managed to hoodwink their subjects into believing commoners should accept servitude to other human beings simply by merit of bloodlines. Apparently God talked to royalty and told them so. Well, since insanity seems to be one of the traits that runs through noble bloodlines due to inbreeding, that does fit well with the profile of people with whom God communicates. That people today are still willing to support these families in their lavish lifestyles speaks to another kind of insanity.
04/06 Direct Link
I am sure very few people believe in the divinity of royalty anymore, and yet large numbers think royal families deserve a privileged place in society. Good thing for the royals, with all the marriages to commoners occurring regularly among European nobility, most notably a member of the Middleton family joining the House of Windsor. All the same Kate Middleton’s babies will be deemed to be heirs to the throne. And what if one of them marries a commoner? Especially the couple has only girls? It is foreseeable we could have a king from the House of Smith some day.
04/07 Direct Link
Steve is fond of saying, “We live like kings!” And when you think about it, the kings of old would probably look at our house with envy. Sure it is small, compared to a palace, but it has glass in the windows and a furnace to keep it heated, hot and cold running water, and flush toilets. All wonders we take for granted nowadays. And sitting here in front of my computer I have the knowledge of the world at my finger-tips – learnings rivalling any library coveted by the nobility of the past, when education was a rare privilege.
04/08 Direct Link
The art and design books sit on two bookshelves on the landing at the top of the stairs. Who knows how many hundreds of ill-afforded dollars were spent on them when I worked as a theatrical designer. In spite of their hefty cost, I thought it worthwhile to buy them so that the information could be at my fingertips when I was working on a show – they saved me a trip to a library. Now they sit, collecting dust. When I do spring cleaning I will pause and open one or two up, remembering the pleasure of pouring over them.
04/09 Direct Link
Steve will never throw a book away. There are many books I am loath to part with, but the majority I am happy to re-circulate at book sales or lawn sales. Steve, however, has old paperbacks that are water-damaged, with spines cracked and pages missing, that he refuses to part with. As you may guess, because of this, our house is jammed with books. The last time we moved our friend, Paul, who helped us, threw up his hands in exasperation by the time the fifth or sixth bookcase appeared at the door to be loaded on the truck.
04/10 Direct Link
Lenny coughed his way through his early years, afflicted with infantile asthma. One allergy doctor advised us to strip his room of everything superficial that could collect dust – no rugs, no pictures on the wall, no books. By the time they were two each of our kids already had their own bookshelves stuffed with substantial libraries. They loved those books – and the bedtime story-reading was a lengthy ritual each night. We opted to keep those superficials. The books were a necessity. In an old house with splintering floors, you need a rug. And no pictures on the wall? Absolutely unthinkable!
04/11 Direct Link
More than amassing a library, the ability to have art on the walls was the ultimate status symbol of old. And nowadays most people have that capability at their disposal. From inexpensive prints or pricey gallery art, there is something available for just about every level of income. Family portraits were once the domain of nobility, but today you will find them in many homes through the convenience of photography. And now with digital photography we have the means to leave a record of enhanced attractiveness, as the old nobility had when they directed portrait artists to hide any deficiencies.
04/12 Direct Link
Reading John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing,’ in art college, it became apparent those great classical nude paintings were not artistic idealizations of the female body, but declarations of ownership of mistresses by the wealthy males who had them painted. You wanted to show off your fabulous possession? – you commissioned a painting of her as the Goddess Aphrodite, hung it over the mantelpiece and told your wife she must not appreciate art if she did not like it. Nowadays I guess you post naughty pics of your GF on FB. OMG – LOL – she actually voluntarily went and sent those to you!
04/13 Direct Link
Apparently there are few more status-boosting possessions for a male than a mistress. Seems like it is almost imperative for the average rich guy to dabble a bit. I have read more than one article saying the driving force behind every achievement made by heterosexual males is to attract women. So if a man manages to amass a huge pile of money that enables him to seduce and support more than one woman, it is only natural that he would act on that. And now that women are achieving financial independence, the so-called ‘cougar’ trend is hardly surprising.
04/14 Direct Link
We are lucky to live in a society where women have financial independence, but for centuries (and still in many parts of the world) a woman’s career was her husband. So even now there is a mind-set among women to marry well. And, quite frankly, women still do not have financial parity with men and many still feel the need to find security in marriage. Those women are called ‘gold-diggers’ and despised by men. If women are supposed to marry for only for the sake of love, then why do men flaunt their wealth as part of their courtship strategy?
04/15 Direct Link
My mother said it is as easy to fall in love with a rich man, as it is a poor man. After having been courted by a number of rich men I concluded that she was wrong. While flaunting their money to attract women, they were all paranoid that women were only interested in them for their money. And they were close-fisted – in my experience there is a reason why people are rich; it is because they think of nothing but money. Those factors combine for a pretty twisted personality. I had a lot more fun with poor men.
04/16 Direct Link
I ‘married’ Steve for love, although I had plenty of chances to cash in with rich guys before I met him. I just could not see myself spending my life with any them, no matter what the financial rewards. More power to the women who can do that, because it is an undertaking beyond my capability. Anyway, as far as I am concerned I do not want any more – Steve and I were able to raise a family in comfort and security, with many more rewards than all of the Manolos I would have bought to keep my spirits up.
04/17 Direct Link
I saw it regularly when I worked in interior design – ladies who lunched, and then shopped all afternoon for something to do. And had their homes redecorated regularly because it gave them a sense of purpose to work with a designer perfecting their abodes. One woman had her house renovated when her children moved out. She took over the kids’ second floor rec room to use as a giant walk-in closet. Even so, she needed to hire an organizer to help weed out her clothes. I saw the discarded clothing heaps afterwards – many garments with price tags still on them.
04/18 Direct Link
Some people hear about the excesses of the rich and are envious; others hear about them and are disgusted. I tend to be of the latter group. I think there is a point after which spending on luxuries for oneself becomes immoral. Yes, people deserve rewards for their efforts, but should anybody deserve to live THAT much more self indulgently than others – who also work hard to contribute to society, but simply did not get the lucky breaks? But if I had succumbed to one of those wealthy suitors and living in extreme privilege, would I now feel the same?
04/19 Direct Link
Once I lusted after such things as couture clothing and designer decorated homes. When I was young I believed I was destined for such extravagances, because, like many girls I was sure I would marry a rich man. Are we not conditioned to believe this by all the prince charming fairy tales and movies? Luckily by the time it became evident I would never be rich, I had already lost my taste for high fashion, which seems more to be like high torture to me now; and for interior design, that often over-rides the character and comforts of home.
04/20 Direct Link
I have known many designers who sacrifice practicalities for aesthetics. I worked with one interior designer who insisted all showers and baths should have monolithic marble walls – no ledges or soap niches to mar them - consequently no place to put the shampoo when showering. He did not want his clients to leave their stuff out and spoil the looks of HIS washrooms. And then there are architects who will not put balconies on high rise apartment building because, again, people leave things out on them, and the building looks cluttered. Heaven forbid people live in these monuments to taste.
04/21 Direct Link
I have known many designers who sacrifice practicalities for aesthetics. I worked with one interior designer who insisted all showers and baths should have monolithic marble walls – no ledges or soap niches to mar them - consequently no place to put the shampoo when showering. He did not want his clients to leave their stuff out and spoil the looks of HIS washrooms. And then there are architects who will not put balconies on high rise apartment building because, again, people leave things out on them, and the building looks cluttered. Heaven forbid people live in these monuments to taste.
04/22 Direct Link
I believe strongly in form following function. First make an object workable and the esthetics will fall into place. If you pretty something up to the point where it is no longer practical, then it loses its beauty, as far as I am concerned. I love things that have elegance in their simplicity and genius in their utility. Wish I could get my life to be like that – cut away the external clutter and distill it down to some kind of pure essence. I tell myself, however, that there is no point in even trying until the kids move out.
04/23 Direct Link
A long weekend. One thinks of leisure and recreation. The sad truth for many modern families with two parents working is that a good portion of all weekends is spent trying to pull the household into shape after each week of neglect. And right now, for the Easter weekend, spring cleaning swings into full effect after a winter of ignoring all those dusty corners that were easy to overlook during the dark months. The dust bunnies are beginning to roll out from them; there can be no more delaying. And so, three out of four days will be spent cleaning.
04/24 Direct Link
I tell myself I should relax on the weekends and just let things go. Sometimes I look at other people’s places and think, why am I so obsessed with being clean and tidy when clearly other people are able to tolerate more disorder? In fact I have loosened up over the years since starting a family, to save my sanity, but still I cannot relax if my home is not under sufficient control. I need my island of serenity as my retreat from the rigors of the workweek. And so I remain a slave to household demands on the weekends.
04/25 Direct Link
I grew up with cleaning ladies around the house, because my mother was either active in the community or working as a teacher. I liked most of them. A few times I have been on the verge of hiring someone to come regularly to clean. Although I would have to make sacrifices it would be possible to afford it, and sometimes I think it would be worth it. When it comes down to it, I choke at the expense, but more at the idea of having a stranger coming into my house, poking into corners while I am not there.
04/26 Direct Link
My comfort levels have definitely evolved over the years. While Steve is actually a fairly fastidious person, I had to lower my threshold for disorder when I moved in with him. No more could I keep books in alphabetical order, sorted by type – for instance. He would take a book of poetry out and put it back in the fiction sections – just anywhere! And in the kitchen cupboards pasta would be put with canned goods. When the kids came along my fate was doubly sealed – even now that they are both adults, the concept of sorting is alien to them.
04/27 Direct Link
I thought they would learn by repetition. When they were small, each time I helped them clean their rooms I would show them how to sort their clothes by drawer; their toys by bin; their books by shelf. By the time they were tweens I was still repeating the formula. But still, at 18 and 20 years of age, they come to me asking where things are. I ask them if they have looked where the things belong, and they stare at me blankly. In their rooms I see there is no rhyme or reason to where things are stowed.
04/28 Direct Link
Maybe it seems like I am complaining that I have been forced to lower my standards. Really I am just observing a phenomenon that has occurred in my life. Overall I think the process has actually left me a happier person. I revised my attitude toward a disorderly household willingly because of the changes that I welcomed into my life – a partner and two children. You make your bed and you must lie in it. In this case, I count myself truly fortunate that it is a nice, warm, comfy bed from which I hope I never have to rise.
04/29 Direct Link
Happy wedding day, Kate and Will – as we seem to be invited to call them; as if they are familiar old friends. Ah, yes, I remember them well – they are the ones who live in lavish castles and holiday on luxurious yachts, that I pay for (not without objection) with a portion of my tax dollars. Yes, and apparently Canadians pay more per capita to support the monarchy than the Brits do! But they get a holiday to celebrate the occasion, while I am sitting at my desk stealing a few minutes to write my 100 words for the day.
04/30 Direct Link
My mother called yesterday. She volunteers at the Canadian Opera Company and, therefore, gets access to special deals for tickets. There were a bunch of extra tickets for “Cinderella” tomorrow afternoon, so Mom bought them for the whole family. The kids and I enjoy opera and this is supposed to be a very interesting production. Sophy wants to bring a friend, so when Steve said he had other things to do I was relieved he would not use his ticket. Also, when I mentioned it to him he declared, “Cinderella? On the same weekend as the royal wedding? No way!”