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Sunday, April 30, 2006

INDULGING MY SHOE FETISH

SUNDAY, April 30

The last day of April. Where or where is Spring? We've had very few sunny days so far (today it's turned out to be one of them) mostly cold rain and still too cold to wear light Spring clothing. I'm so looking forward to putting away my winter coat and dark clothing. And in prepration for the eventual Big Day (the 'real' Spring weather!) I have been on a couple of shopping sprees. This is an indulgence I haven't been able to afford for quite some time so it's been a pleasure to actually have cash to spend and being used to frugalness I am always on the look-out for bargains.

Last week I spotted a buy-one-get-one- pair-half-price at the Pay Less shoe store. I usually go into the store every Thursday after my Memoir class just to browse and drool over shoes I'd love to buy but usually can't afford (although the other week I did get a pair of pale green sandals). Well, this week I ended up buying four pairs of summer shoes (mainly because I couldn't make up my mind which ones I really wanted). I had gone in the store with the intention of getting a snazzy pair of white thong sandals with pretty turquoises on the strap. As it was a sale, I also chose a pair of powder blue shoes with rounded toes and ankle straps that look quite snazzy with my jeans (and happen to match my summer purse). Then I saw some pink dancing shoes and another pair with gold straps. I bought them both. So now I have this huge shoe wardrobe and I think my shoe fetish has been satisfied for the time being.

Now I'm waiting for the right weather so I can wear them with my light pastel-coloured spring/summer clothes. So yesterday I went and got a new pair of jeans with sparkles on the bum pockets, two silky sleeveless tops (one mauve, one pale green) and some spiffy new underwear. As soon as I lose some weight I'll purchase a couple of summer skirts.

Yes...the weight issue. I finally went and joined Weight Watchers yesterday too. (At last I was able to afford to do this!) So now I must also resume my exercise regime which has been sadly neglected since I returned from Malaysia due to work committments. (At least I walk a lot and go dancing on the weekends so I'm not entirely sedintary.)

So...SPRING TIME! Where are you? Let's bring on more of the warm sunshine. We're all quite water-logged about now and tired of being cold all the time. I want to put on my pretty new shoes and go walking in the sunshine!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

HOW I SPENT MY EASTER WEEKEND

WEDNESDAY, April 19

"What made us
friends in the long ago
When first we met?
Well, I think I know!
The best in me
and the best in you
hailed each other
because they knew
that always and always
since life began
our being friends
was part of God's plan."

I found this verse on a fridge magnet at Iva's house last weekend. I was spending the Easter weekend with my friend Anibal's daughters. This verse, to me, defined exactly what our friendship had been. There were many times when I was angry with A. and yet we always made up and I was with him right to the end. And the week before he passed away he told me that he really did love me and had had a feeling for me since he first met me. I felt the same way. Somehow we had seen through each other, into our souls, and made a connection there that couldn't be broken. And now I can also see what 'God's plan' was: I have become good friends with his children, grandchildren and ex-wife. His daughters and grandchildren have become my 'adopted' family.

So Easter was special this year because I spent it with them, reminiscing about their father, walking on the woodland trails where he used to go on adventures with his grandchildren, or alone to meditate and write. I went to church with them and shared the fellowship of their neighbourhood congregation. We talked about their Dad and remembered him in stories. I felt he was there with us and was happy that I was there with his girls and grandchildren.

Later, on Sunday I went to my son's house for dinner and my Havana Buddy came along too. It was a nice gathering, with a lot of music talk and watching music videos as both Steve and Paul are involved in music.

Monday I rested up because I felt very tired all weekend and had a busy week ahead. But later in the day I went to my pal Cliffy's for dinner and a rare evening just sitting around together visiting.

So it was a very special Easter with friends and family. Too bad the weather isn't nicer. Still so cold and wet for this time of year. (April showers go away, come again another day!)

Now is my busy time: lessons, daycare work and trying to squeeze in some writing time.


Friday, April 14, 2006

AN EASTER MEMOIR

GOOD FRIDAY, April 14/06
Why is it always gloomy on Good Friday? Beginning yesterday, when the icy rain started again (is it really Springtime?) my mood became oppressive. Last night, at the bus stop waiting after my class, a deep feeling of melancholy came over me. In my mind a tune began to play, the bolero I sometimes danced to with Anibal. It made me feel sad and I began to review all the events of the past months, and the tragedy of his passing. This weekend, I'm going to spend Easter with his daughters and grandchildren.

When I was growing up, Easter was always a special religious holiday celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Beginning with Good Friday, (which as far back as I can remember always seems to turn out a cloudy, gray day) through to Easter Sunday morning when we went to church, it was a solemn occasion though my parents honoured the myth of the Easter Bunny too and when we woke Easter Sunday morning we'd find decorated baskets of chocolates bunnies and eggs and coloured eggs for our breakfast.

One thing I recall best was all the new clothes we would get: shoes, stockings, dress, hat, gloves and sometimes even a new coat. Usually my Mom, an expert seamstress, made us our new dresses and the accessories were bought to match. As Dad was the pastor of the Church, he'd make sure the church was decorated with lilies and other spring flowers although lilies seem to be the most significant flower of Easter. The Easter service was a joyous celebration of Christ's resurrection, with appropriate songs and Dad's special Easter sermon.

After church we'd go home to a delicious meal prepared by Mom (who was also an excellent cook). The traditional fare in our house was either ham with pineapple and scalloped potatoes or lamb served with mint dressing. In the afternoon, all deciked out in our new Easter duds we'd head for Stanley Park for a walk among the gardens with their spring arrays of tulips and daffodils, strolling under the blossoming trees in the soft spring sunshine.

This was the way my family and I celebrated Easter for years until I experienced my first Greek Easter, or Paska, and became invovled with the wonderful traditional Orthodox celebrations that began at the beginning of Lent with Apokries (Carnival) and led up to Good Friday when the funeral bells tolled all day long. At night we'd gather outside the local church and watch the processional of the carrying of the symbolic Christ into the church, everyone holding bees wax candles. My very first Greek Easter was celebrated at the Monostary of St. John on Patmos, and included a visit to the cave where the Apostle John wrote The Revelations. For dinner that night, you eat magaritsa a traditional Easter soup made of the innards of sheep.

All the next day you'd hear the sound of whistling rockets, firecrackers and flares. Then at midnight everyone troops to the church again, this time carrying decorated candles. At midnight the church bells chime and the Pappas (priest) comes out to announce: "Christos Anesti" (Christ is Risen). From his altar candle, all the candles held by the participants are lit until the whole church square is glowing with candlelight. The children are given eggs dyed bright red and polished with oil and with these they play a game to see who can smash the other's egg. Everyone carries their lit candles home to scorch a cross on the door lintel for luck and blessings.

I loved the Greek Easter Sunday, the air pungent with the smell of lambs roasting on spits for the feasts that would follow. I miss those rituals now. At most I prepare a small family dinner and cook a lamb roast (Greek style). This Easter I hope to attend the community church with Anibal's daughters and later on go to my son's for dinner. There won't be the rituals and ceremony, but it still be a special occasion.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

SOME THINGS ARE WORKING

TUESDAY, April 11

I've had a bit of success with the bird since I've changed my tactics and put him on a more structured program of discipline. That is allowing him more cage time each day. It has helped that the weather is improving and I can put him outside on the balcony. He still makes a lot of noise but part of it is because he hears all the wild birds. I've also found the last two evenings that when I put his cage in my bedroom (because I had writer's groups over) he settles down and if I am working at the computer while he's in the cage he doesn't make so much fuss. (He also sleeps in later now I'm covering him with a heavy black cloth. The early and late daylight hours have him confused regarding nesting times.)

He hasn't been so much of a pest although I still want him to quit following me around the apartment and get him to be more independant. He does like waddling around on the floor foraging and if I keep him busy with treats to eat he's quite happy. I bought him a lot of different treats to have in his cage so he doesn't think cage time is a 'punishment'.

The bird sanctuary woman said that cockatiels will shriek for long periods of time to show their displeasure and I realize he was pretty traumatized not only by me taking him away to a stranger's house, but because I was so cross with him I was swatting him and yelling. This upset him more.

I just hope he's going to be okay on the weekend when I have to be away. A friend promised to come around and spend time with him so that might work. But he does carry on vocally when I leave the apartment and I am sure the neighbours are not amused! I've thought of getting him a companion bird. But when I go away who will look after them? This whole bird business has become a huge dilemma.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

BIRD PSYCHOLOGY

THURSDAY, April 6/06

Ever since I arrived home from my trip this week, my cockatiel, Cheeky, has been misbehaving. In fact, he was very naughty for the bird sitters, the kindly elderly couple who offered to take him while I was away. They used to look after Cheeky #1 and loved him so much. Little did they realize what a different personality Cheeky #2 has. For one thing, he's much more social and demanding and likes to be the centre of attention. They call him 'a companion bird'. And since he came to live with me, I've been the main focus of his attention, his 'flock' so to speak. Just him and me and he's spoiled rotten. So when he went to Allan and Betty's, he seemed like he was making friends with both of them, however, pretty soon he turned his attention to Betty and whenever Allan was in the room he attacked and bit Allan's ear. Jealous, because he wasn't the focal point of Betty's attention! He does the same thing to guests when I have people over so I have to lock him up. Betty and Allan had to keep him locked up in his cage most of the time and felt real bad about it. But now I realize that I've been allowing him far too much free flight time and the run of the apartment and he thinks he's a person. And when he doesn't get all the attention he's like a three-year-old having a hissy fit.

When I went to get him Monday, he was so mad at me he attacked me and bit real hard. He flew up on Betty's shoulder and wouldn't have anything to do with me. Of course, later on when I took him home and let him out of the cage, once he realized he was in his old familiar surroundings again he was happy and sat on my shoulder giving me zillions of kisses. And the next morning when I took him into bed with me (as I'm in the habit of doing) he wouldn't stop talking and chattering and kissing me all over my face.

All this week he has been a pest, not only following me around everywhere but squawking and screeching whenever I am out of sight. It was driving me nuts. The last two days have been mild and sunny, so I started putting him out on the balcony awhile. He seems to like that but ends up screeching so loud I'm afraid the neighbours will complain, although today he was a little more subdued and his cheeping blended in with the wild birds'.

Anyway, I thought I better do something fast, before I make soup out of him, or something worse. I was so upset last night I was almost in tears and even considered calling the bird sancutary and asking them to take him back. But we've really bonded these past months and he is a very amusing and entertaining little pal to have around when you live alone as I do.

So today I got out the cockatiel book and read up on some of their habits, and tonight I googled a bunch of cockatiel sites and printed out whatever I could find on the psychology of birds so that I know what I'm doing wrong and how I can correct his bad habits.

First, I shouldn't get mad and shout at him as this only agitates him more. I know also that when I was feeling a bit stressed my other bird used to 'feel' it and react by screeching just like this little fellow is -- and between jet-lag and culture shock and dealing with this naughty bird I have been stressed this week! Second, I have been giving him far too much free-flight time. He needs a more structured routine so that he gets used to being out awhile and in the cage awhile. (My other bird loved being in his cage as he'd never been allowed out until I got him.)
Third, when he nests on my hair (or masturbates or whatever the heck he does that annoys me) I should just gently remove him and distract him. (When I'm at the computer I wear a cotton cap to keep him off but every chance he gets otherwise he's on my head and it bugs me!)
Cockatiels are clever little birds and very intelligent. I need to take that into consideration, that he has been picking up on my cross moods with him and reacting just as a hyper child would.

So here's hoping my little lesson in bird psychology will get things back on the right track. As it is now, none of my friends want to bird-sit with him and I know I have some weekend and longer trips coming up this year and have already started worrying about what to do.