Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lessons on Getting Old




I haven't been wearing shorts much this summer because I'm conscious of signs of aging on my legs.  Veins, bald patches, sagging flesh around the knees.  Normal aging.  So I've been hesitant to show them.  (Also, I try to avoid the sun for health reasons.)  But it means I'm often warmer than I need to be.


But I've been noticing other old people and they're going ahead and wearing shorts and t-shirts that show the sagging flesh underneath and I've come to to realize that it doesn't matter.   That's what aging involves.  That's how it looks, and why shouldn't we old people wear what feels comfortable.


I've been a young person and know how critical the young can be of the old.  And I understand it might be uncomfortable for them to look upon old bodies because some part of them knows that that's where they are headed no matter how much they avoid facing it.  


It happens to us all if we're lucky enough to live into old age.






Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lessons on Getting Old




It's really important to keep the daily shower thing going.


Many days it would be easy to say that I had a shower yesterday and I haven't done anything to make me sweaty so I can leave it until tomorrow.


But the danger there is that leaving it until tomorrow can lead to leaving it until another tomorrow.


And that's how old men end up smelling.



Monday, July 24, 2017

New Clothes




I've made an effort this spring and summer to buy a few new items of clothing.

But I'm finding that, even though I spend time in the store trying things on and thinking about when I can wear an item and what it will match etc. etc.,  I'm not wearing them.  I don't seem to like them.

Perhaps I just need to make more of an effort to wear them until I get used to them.

One big problem is that I don't really like fashions now.  I've never liked tight form-fitting clothing and of course that is what's being marketed for men now.  Narrow pants, low-rise (which I hate to wear or to look at on others), tight shirts with very short tight sleeves, soft fabrics which show every imperfection in your body.

If I like an item of clothing I tend to wear it until it literally falls apart.  I wear faded and frayed things regularly.

There seems to be so much choice when you look around in a store, but really most of it is just variations on whatever narrow choice of styles some "fashion expert" has decided is "in" this year, and no doubt what will cause many people to buy whole new wardrobes just in order to be in style.




Sunday, July 23, 2017




I'm a little worried about the amount of time I spend on my own.

It's not that I mind doing that, I'm quite happy being alone.  But since I'm a retired person I don't have the regular impetus of a job to get me out of the house.  I quite happily go for days without leaving my condo.  I think what is worrying me a bit is that the number of days I do that is increasing, and the number of days in a row that I do that is also increasing.

It's worse in the summer of course since my body does not respond well to hot and/or humid weather and I feel pretty miserable physically if I have to spend time exposed to it.

Fortunately I have a small group of friends who, in some combination, get together to go out to dinner every Saturday (or sometimes Friday or Sunday) evening.  I'm actually the only one in the group who almost always is available to do that.

But there's no one in my life whom I would just call up on the spur of the moment and suggest a movie or a lunch.  No one I just hang out with, or go for a walk with or window shopping with.   If I go to lunch it's something that is planned well ahead.   There's no one I go to movies with.  Actually, I never go to movies anymore - I sometimes look at the listings but don't find anything I want to see.  And it would mean going out and sitting in a theatre with strangers.

I've thought of volunteering but everything seems to involve working with people.  Which is a strange comment because the reason I consider volunteering is to get out amongst people more!

One thing I am totally sure of is that I have no interest in any way of forming a romantic relationship with anyone.



Sunday, July 16, 2017




I am generally very happy living by myself and spending most of my time alone.


Yet I do look forward to getting together with friends (unless it is a large group thing).  But often when I've been with them for a while I find myself longing to get away from them and be on my own again.  I probably don't cover that up as well as I hope I do.


I appreciate that people still deal with me at all.   I must be a real pain in the ass a lot of the time.


It's not intentional.


I drink when I'm out for the evening because:
1) I think it will make me more sociable
2) I'm bored.  (Approach/avoidance -- I want to be with people/I want to be alone.)

It might be better if I stopped drinking.



Saturday, July 15, 2017




I hate hot and/or hot and humid weather.


I barely leave my home on hot days in the summer.


But then I don't like leaving home at the best of times.


Aside from the weather I find people really annoying.  I also find the world a threatening place.


I often hate my home because of noisy neighbours.


I'm not a very happy person I guess.


I have no idea what could make any of this any better.






Why am I writing this blog?



Friday, July 14, 2017




I've tried writing short stories over the last few months.


They all seem to come out as revenge fantasies.


Not revenge about things in my life, but the main character always seems to end up, in some form, avenging himself/herself on the people in his/her life.


This has to be about me and things I'm not acknowledging about my life.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017




There's a party.
There's a bowl of mixed nuts.


Some people have a sampling of the various types and maybe have an extra two of their favourite.


Some people stand a the bowl and munch down on the cashews until there are none left.


I've never understood the second type of person.  To me they exemplify why there is such financial and other inequality in the world.



Sunday, June 18, 2017




I'm wondering, as a longterm minimalist, if one of the reasons people like to go on vacation is simply to get a way from all their stuff and feel free for at least a little while.



Friday, June 9, 2017




I remember a long weekend early one summer, many years ago, when I was a university student and my parents were away for a long weekend and I was staying at their house looking after their pets.


I was starting a summer job on the Tuesday and I was thoroughly enjoying my three days of solitude and peace.  My parents lived in the country and there were no neighbours nearby and no one was running a tractor or cutting wood.  Just the sounds of nature.


On one of those sunny mild afternoons I was sitting on the back deck with the dogs and I experienced such a feeling of contentment and presence.  I just wanted to stay there like that forever.


All through my life I have been most contented when I've been able to be by myself, somewhere peaceful, not trying to do or be anything or get anywhere.  Just being.


Which is one reason I love retirement so much - it gives me many more opportunities for that kind of moment.



Friday, June 2, 2017

Advice I Was Given in the Past #2




Years ago when I was a student one person introduced several of us to the works of Ayn Rand.


Whatever one thinks of her ideas she was an compelling and persuasive writer and all of us were at least intrigued by what she had to say.


One friend said, "That's all very interesting but I can't live that way, that's not the kind of person I want to be."


That was such a moment of clarity, and I thought, "Yes, exactly, you're right."



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Advice I Was Given in the Past



Many years ago at work we were being given a retroactive pay increase and getting a nice amount of money in a single cheque.

I was saying to a colleague that I might use that money to buy a new colour television (this was back when black and white TVs were still common).

She didn't think that was necessarily the best use to make of the windfall.  Whenever she got unexpected money she put it into savings.  If she wanted something like a colour TV she started setting aside a bit of money each payday until she had what she needed to buy it for cash.

Although I grew up with parents who always waited until they could pay cash for discretionary items (and had always stressed saving part of income) this sensible idea of how to use unexpected money was new to me.

I did put that retroactive cheque into savings and it's a policy that I have followed ever since and it has served me well.



Friday, May 19, 2017




I understand why people enjoy scrapbooking and taking pictures when they travel.

But these are personal things about personal memories.

You really shouldn't expect other people to be interested in looking at them.



Thursday, May 18, 2017




It seems to be a rule of the universe that in a grocery store when someone gets in your way once they will get in your way over and over again the whole time you there.   Even if you make an effort to skip to the other side of the store to avoid them.



Thursday, May 11, 2017




The unfortunate thing about all this growth and building in downtown Toronto is that it doesn't seem to be becoming a more vibrant and sophisticated city.


It seems to be becoming more and more just a crowded vertical suburbia.





Wednesday, May 10, 2017




One of the things that annoys me about dog owners walking their dogs in this city is the attitude they have that everyone else is supposed to make way for them.

Because they want their dog to have immediate access to other people's front yards and gardens to use them as bathrooms they expect you to move away to the far side of the sidewalk.

I enjoy looking at gardens and I also make an effort to smooth the flow of foot traffic by keeping to the right hand side of sidewalks.  

More and more people are moving downtown and the sidewalks are getting more and more unpleasant to use.


(And why is it that dog owners think other people's gardens and lawns are an appropriate place for dogs to shit and piss?)



Monday, May 8, 2017




Something I enjoy on Blogger is the "Next Blog" button.  I like moving to a random blog and seeing what it is about, maybe decide to follow it, and then move on to the next one.


Thus I am annoyed when I come to a blog where the blogger has removed the "Next Blog" button.  As a matter of principle I close such blogs and refuse to look at them.



Thursday, April 13, 2017




Recently I've been trying a different approach to surviving all the clunks and bangs from various neighbours.

I've used noise sources in the past but I've always tried to turn them off whenever possible so that I could have at least a few hours, minutes, of peace.  Now I'm just leaving the noises to run 24 hours a day.  Currently in the bedroom/office I have rain sounds, plus thunderstorm sounds plus a fan running.  I spend most time in this room.   When I'm in other rooms I turn on additional things - the sound machine in the kitchen and/or the sound machine in the living room.  Sometimes the kitchen exhaust fan as well and the bathroom fan.  If it's warm enough that I'm forced to have the balcony door open as well I put a really loud fan right in the doorway (which also helps a bit to pull cooler air in).  I never use the "solarium" so there's nothing in there.

I try to vary the sounds a bit since I find that I can get used to them and then I start to hear the sounds under them.

It's not perfect, I can still sometimes hear bangs and such but with the constant noise they don't send me into a startle reflex as easily.

One downside is that I can only listen to music or watch TV using headphones or earbuds.

I seem to be adapting and I am sleeping better - I often now sleep until 7 a.m. instead of being jolted awake several times from 5:30 on.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017




I watched a news special recently about the future of housing development in the Toronto area.


Lots of nattering and pandering and protecting the interests of whomever the person speaking worked for but in the end the message was that there are many people going to come to the area in the next twenty years and there's no way there can be space for detached dwellings for all those people.  They can only hope for a condo in one of many buildings in densely developed areas along transportation routes.


Not to neglect the fact the majority of them will probably have to scramble just to afford that condo. And already, condos are getting smaller and smaller and smaller.


One panelist pointed out that balconies are a bad idea since they tend to deteriorate with the weather and require costly repairs.  So even that little bit of private outdoor space may be unavailable. (Personally I prefer not to have a balcony so I don't have to listen to the noise other people make while they are out on theirs.) Parks are all well and good but they are not private space where you can get away from humans and have some peace in the natural world.


I find it sad that owning your own house is something else that may become the prerogative of the one percent.  That the hope of having a place of your own is becoming a pipe dream - and while you may "own" a condo you are subject to many rules and conditions that make it feel like a rental.


I personally did not like owning houses, even the country.  Neighbours were annoying and noisy and intrusive but then I'm a person who does his best to isolate himself from humanity as much as possible.


Just think of how much more of everything, including space, there would be if the world held maybe one billion people instead of seven.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017




On the sidewalks, in stores, in restaurants, in the cinema.  On the phone or to someone else.


Talking, talking, talking.


Do they ever stop to breathe?


Do they ever stop to think?


Do they ever just simply SHUT UP?



Monday, April 10, 2017




RE:  My post of April 5.


One reason things bother me is that long in advance of their happening I start planning for them and rehearsing them in my head.  Over and over.

I think this is a way that I try to control my anxiety by being prepared for whatever is going to happen or whatever could possibly happen. But I think at the same time this keeps whatever it is, and the associated anxiety, really fresh in my mind.






Sunday, April 9, 2017




So.

A beautiful spring day in Toronto.
One of the first of the season.


Which means there are people out walking and the sidewalks are jammed.  It's hard to move, certainly if you're trying to get someplace and not just strolling along.


Which makes me wonder what the sidewalks are going to be like when all of these condos that are currently being built in the downtown core are occupied.


It's not like there are more sidewalks or neighbourhoods being added.  Just more people



Wednesday, April 5, 2017




I am not good at remaining calm when anything outside of my comfortable routine is going to have to be dealt with at some specific point in the future.


Dentist/doctor appointments, getting tax return papers to the accountant on time, surgery - anything that breaks into my comfortable retiring retired existence causes me anxiety.


I think I long for a life of complete and utter calm with no demands even though I know that such a thing is impossible.  Things impinge on everyone's life and the only way that is going to stop is with death.


I feel such as sense of relief, even accomplishment, when one of these things has been completed but as soon as the time for some other thing starts to get close I begin obsessing.   The time when I start this varies with the event.  For the dentist, maybe the week in which the appointment happens.   For air travel it can be weeks or even months.


The period between being finished with one thing and starting to stew about another is really wonderful.


I do wish that I could learn to just appreciate the calm of each quiet day as it happens and not let these life events enslave me until they until they actually arrive.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017




I have a friend who many times over the years has done this thing.


In conversation I tell him some interesting fact that I have come across and he will, at most, respond minimally but usually not at all.


Then, a few days later, in a group of people he will present the same fact but always, always, attribute it to "the paper" or "the news" but never, never, to me.


I've never been quite sure how to interpret this.

Does he truly not remember that I was the source?
Does he consciously just not want to give me credit?
Does he unconsciously think that I could not possibly be the origin of useful information?


Does he actually like me?



Sunday, March 5, 2017




Oh, these people who react with horror when they discover that you do something differently from the way they do it.

Their way or the wrong way.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017




Do parents who insist on trying to control their adult children's lives and bend them to their wills really not realize that those children are, at least to some extent, relieved, even glad, when their parents die?



Wednesday, February 8, 2017




When I'm reading a book and the author has chosen to put in phrases or sentences in a foreign language and not proceeded in some way to provide a translation it makes me want to just pitch the book across the room and never read anything by said author again.




Friday, February 3, 2017




When I read in the news about the salaries some executives are given I find it hard to believe that anyone is worth that much.


I'm told that in order to get the best people one has to pay them that much.


So wouldn't it be better to hire the second best person and pay them less.  Or the third best or even the tenth best?


They'd probably do just as good a job.



Thursday, February 2, 2017




At one time in my life I owned an awful lot of stuff.


Part of that amount was made up of things, the majority of which I had inherited,  that were reasonably valuable-

silver(plate) flatware and utensils, teapots etc
crystal stemware
old 33,45 and 78 records
several violins
old comic books
furniture
memorabilia

-all the sorts of things that people will tell you are "valuable" or "worth something".


Then I came to a point in my life when I simply could no longer live having all this stuff around me (let alone having to pack it up and move it even one more time) and became a minimalist.


I put a lot of time and effort into selling what I could (this was in the days before eBay) and eventually sent everything that was left to a consignment shop.   I got some money as things sold but even at the time I was aware it was a small fraction of what it all was "worth".  (Something can be very valuable but that doesn't mean a lot if you can't find someone who is willing to buy it.)


Now, in my joyously minimalist life, I do my best to NOT have valuable things.  I have some nice things and things that I like but overall nothing that I would be that concerned about losing.   I love having furniture my friends and I can relax with - if something gets scratched or spilled on it's not a big deal and I think of it as adding character.  If a dish drops and breaks and I just sweep up the pieces and may or may not replace the item.  It's not that my home is shabby or junky but it is a place to be lived in.



Thursday, January 26, 2017




I'm so glad about all the information that is now available about introversion and support for introverts.  (Thank you Susan Cain, who seems to have set it all off.)


I do wish it had happened much sooner in my life.


I have lived most of my life being told, and believing, that my discomfort with social situations and people was a personal flaw, something that I needed to "get over", something that I just needed to keep doing so that I would "get used to it."


Well I lived like that for more than sixty years and I didn't get over it and I didn't get used to it.


I have always hated parties and I have always hated dealing with new people more than one or two at a time.   I can remember so many hours being someplace where I was not comfortable just waiting desperately for the time when I could leave.


It is only lately that I have discovered that when I am someplace I don't want to be if I simply say something like, "Thank you for inviting me, I have to get going now, goodbye", and leave,  no one bats an eye or cares.   Possibly because in that sort of situation I'm usually just siting there like a lump not saying a word and it's a relief to have me gone.


And I am still struggling to be able to say, "Thank you for the invitation but that's a setting in which I know I won't be comfortable so I am going to decline."


It isn't that I don't like people at all.   If I'm in a comfortable situation I do enjoy spending time with my friends.


But I have to admit that I am the most content when I'm at home on my own.
( Except of course for noise from the neighbours. )



Monday, January 16, 2017




Sometimes when I'm eating something that I know is unhealthy or really fattening I seem to eat it really really quickly.  


As though I somehow think that by doing that it doesn't count and my body isn't going to notice the intake.


Whereas what I should be doing,  having decided to eat it in the first place,  is eat very slowly and savour each sinful mouthful.