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Archive for March, 2012

I’m Starved For You

Author: Atwood, Margaret.
©2012

This is a long short story, or a novella, if you like. It’s futuristic fiction, and paints a pretty strange picture. In this story every one has a job, but only half the time. People alternate between working as prison guards and being in prison. It’s a modern way of job sharing!
But no one sees the person who does his/her job while he/ she is in jail. They share a locker but never meet. In circumstances like this, it’s hard to have a romance. But somehow, a couple manages to get it together.
Atwood posted this original story on the internet and charged $2.99 for the download. Interesting experiment on her part.

I’d love to know how well it sold.

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It’s interesting that some comments to the online edition of my essay have been very supportive, especially from people who have aging parents. However, one person posted a nasty reply (“Just shoot me now”) while one responder, annoyed at him, would like to do just that!
My essay seems to have struck a nerve with quite a few people who appreciate the fact that I can find positive things to say about living here in the seniors’ residence. My response to that is that I had a choice: grumble and complain about landing here at an early age (I’m about 10 to 15 years younger than most of the other residents) or accept my new stage of life and find all the good things about it that I can enjoy.

In my essay I did not mention most of the good things, but I’ll mention one or two here. My rooms are on the 6th floor, and my windows look into a lovely wooded valley which has provided me a lot of interesting moments. One day in the autumn, I saw a gray jay, a highly unusual sighting here in TO. I have also seen a peregrine falcon from my window. It was not a fluke sighting, because others in the residence have seen the falcon also. We are all entertained by the antics of the squirrels who live right outside our back door. (Yes, of course they have been fed by some residents over the winter.) Right now I am enjoying the budding of the many trees in the mixed woods that I see out my window. In fact, I am living closer to nature here than I was for the last 25 years. What a blessing in my life!

If I could give advice to any of my naysayers, I would tell them to begin to lay away money for their retirement, and also to sign up for “caregiving” insurance if it is available to them. Living in a decent seniors’ residence (even without needing any special care) is expensive. I took out caregiver insurance from my pension administration long ago. Have not had to dip into that yet. I am fortunate in that I have three pensions coming in: OAS, CPP, and a private pension paid for by 35 years of deductions from my pay cheques. Luckily for me, these three monthly deposits to my bank account just cover my monthly fees here in the residence. I usually accumulate a few extra fees per month by attending ‘Happy Hour’ occasionally (whatever I drink is charged to my account) and occasionally having my children to dinner with me (ditto for the dinner charges). Both dinner and drinks are far below the going rates in restaurants and/or bars, BTW. The profit I made on the sale of my condo gave me a good cushion of extra money that covers these incidental expenses.

Anytime (especially right now!) is a good time to start preparing for the unexpected down the road.
Being flexible and having a positive attitude are good qualities to have for the twists and turns that life throws at us.
I am no saint, BTW. I was driven so low in spirits after my surgery last summer that I really wanted to give up. My family talked long and hard to me, and prevented me from doing that. It was truly one of the lowest points of my life, because the road to recovery was going to be long and  steep. But their pushing me for a change of attitude worked, and here I am, glad that they laid down the law to me. In fact, they told they needed me to stick around.

Thanks to the many people who have given me positive feedback on my essay in The Globe and Mail.

Here is a link to my essay, if you have not already seen it.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/relationships-facts/my-life-in-an-old-folks-home/article2383227

See you here next time.

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Author: Eva Stachniak

Pub: Doubleday Canada, © 2012

440 pp.

Variously described as an historical novel, a saga, and an epic, this hefty book describes in amazing detail the eventual rise to power of Catherine the Great of Russia. The time is the mid-18th century, and the setting is St Petersburg, Russia. The Russian palaces, both Winter and Summer, are filled with “tongues”, who are members of the court who regularly spy on and report to rising courtiers as well as to the Emperor and/or Empress. Not much is secret in this society. There is a cast of characters listed at the end of the book. I suggest that you look at that before you start reading (I wish I had done so!) There are so many people and so many titles: Empress, Grand Duke, Grand Duchess, Princess, and more, including a British knight. It’s hard to keep them all straight, especially since all of them have nicknames (sometimes more than one!) which are liberally used throughout the story. The Poles who show up are renamed with Russian names. I hasten to add that this device really boosts the authenticity of the story. This novel is well worth your time, because it depicts a time and place not often encountered in fiction. Well written, and with a good story, this book will hold your attention. The descriptions of the glittering court life are so good, and the secret life of the spies and “tongues” is even more interesting. 8/10 on my personal scale.

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Last year, I stumbled into the website run by the Raptor Resource Project, and thereby found myself watching an eagles’ nest in Decorah, Iowa. Yes, this nest in the American midwest has a live camera up 80 feet in the air, watching and transmitting everything that is happening in the eagles’ nest. I was hooked from the moment I first started visiting the nest online, and I visited the site daily, right to the end of the eagles’ nesting season. Once the eaglets fledged, the birds flew away, and the website closed down for the remainder of the year.

Now it’s March 2012, and the eagles are nesting again. I am back to watching them as they are incubating their 3 eggs for the 2012 season. Thousands of people around the world are watching along with me. (There is an online head count under the live feed!) Many of the viewers are posting their comments in the chat room that is located beside the live camera feed from the nesting site.

I grabbed this screen shot 2 days ago – March 1st.
It gets very interesting once the eggs hatch.
Until then, the website is a great place to hang out and chat with other bird lovers. It’s also fun to learn a lot about eagles.  Would you like to check out the activities of the Decorah eagles for yourself?

Here’s a link to their website.

http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

By common decision, the Decorah eagles have not been given human names. To us viewers they are just ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’ This pair has already raised a total of 8 offspring  in previous seasons on this nest.They seem to be on track now for another successful season of raising their young.
If you become a regular viewer, you will enjoy the companionship of a crowd of online viewers who are glad to share their knowledge. You will also find answers to your ‘eagle questions’ on the eagles’ home page (link is above) and you will join a gang of eagle/bird lovers who enjoy learning about nature. Start watching now to get the most enjoyment out of the hatching of the eggs–probably near the end of March.

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