Pattern Dystrophy—The Eyes Have It

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Pattern dystrophy. It’s a strange name for an ocular condition, sounds more like a fashion accoutrement, but it’s real, and I have it.

I first learned about this rare disorder thirty years ago, while in my early forties. I noticed that edges of objects had become wavy, and letters of print were crooked, as if chunks of them were missing. I’d check it out by looking at the edge of a doorway or wall. Sure enough, there were tiny bites in the straight lines!

A disastrous diagnosis

My first diagnosis, which was given on a Friday (never a good idea), sent me spiralling.

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Happenings in Paradise – Norma, the Professional

happenings-with-title-boldNorma’s elation lasted for days. Suddenly, it seemed, opportunities for reporting opened up in front her. McCaskill, her adversary, sharp tongued, flippant, never caring where his remarks landed, was now her champion and friend.

“Not bad”, he would say, scanning the new copy she had pushed across his desk, “Looks like you concentrated on the facts.”
Running his nicotine stained thumb along the left edge of the paper, and holding it up so she could trace his progress, he mumbled as he read.

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Reverse Mortgages – Short Term Gain for Long Term Pain?

Reverse Mortgage

Like a sleeping giant, the issue of reverse mortgages has been relatively dormant, although I’ve been aware of this type of financial product for years, through television ads that show couples in their sixties cooing about how they can get money in their pockets, travel the world, renovate their homes, and still have some left over for their heirs—but the reverse mortgage always seemed to lurk on the fringes of financial advertising, never the mainstream.

This all changed this summer, when celebrities like Tom Selleck and Harry Winkler appeared on prime time television selling, you’ve got it—reverse mortgages. Really? Tom Selleck, wearing his signature suit and vest, and speaking in the weighty tones of Commissioner Reagan, informing us not about our Miranda rights, but about a financial package? And the Fonz, abandoning his cool for a sales pitch?

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Hallowe’en at the Little Schoolhouse

Hallowe'enMy sisters, June and April, are walking with me to school. We love school, so every day is exciting. But today is more exciting than ever. Every day, when we get to school, there is a new date on the chalkboard, up high up at the very top. Yesterday, Mrs. Brick printed it in coloured chalk! She wrote out October 29, 1947. It was in orange and yellow and purple. Us kids never saw coloured chalk before, so the whole school was watching her do this, (except for Eddie and Johnny, who were playing marbles under their desks).

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Happenings in Paradise – A Surprise Reaction

happenings-with-title-boldDistance was measured in time in Paris. If you had to walk from your house to the post office, it was 10 minutes. If you had to walk from there to the school, it was 12 minutes. And if you had to go from the school to the tiny building that housed the Paris Bulletin, it was about 15 minutes. If you had a watch, which Norma didn’t, you could time it accurately, and never be late for anything.

Guessing the time, and ensuring she wasn’t late for her appointment with Mr. McCaskill was the easy part. The hard part was getting through the Sunday that followed his phone call, and making it through her five classes on Monday. At last she was on her way, and only a few minutes from “getting it over and done with”.

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Family Reunion, Summer of 2016

I am entering the dining room at June’s invitation, along with my four sisters and brother, expecting to have lunch as part of the family reunion.

“We’ll seat all of the siblings first,”, she says, and we follow along, like we always did, after all, she is the eldest sister. What I don’t notice at first, but what dawns on me moments later, is that there are only seven plates set out, at an event that should host 22.

“This is just for us, the others are eating on the patio.” she tells us, ladling out the borscht, a soup our mother served us in our farm kitchen, some 55 years ago.

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Happenings in Paradise – Power of the Pen

happenings-with-title-boldIn Paris, the rest of the village was living their regular lives, waking up this Saturday morning to the sound of birds in the backyard, dogs barking at each other across the gravelled streets. The men who owned businesses would usually be the only ones moving about, some of them jumping into their cars and pickups to prepare their stores for the public, some of them, like Mr. Jason, who owned the dry goods store, would be heading off to Joe’s to meet up with the six or seven guys for an early morning coffee.

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The Happiest People on the Planet

happiestIt appears that we older people are the happiest generation in history. Study after study says that we are. Our aging faces may not reflect this, but it’s true—we older people are considerably happier than younger people and certainly happier than people who are middle-aged. It seems that when it comes to the feel good chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins, we are practically junkies.

This is well documented.  Meg Selig, in a report for Psychology Today (2015) writes,

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Happenings in Paradise – The Talent Show

happenings-with-title-boldSo this was what it’s like to be a reporter, Norma thought, as she sat in the middle of the Paris Theater, with her notepad on her lap, and her stack of pens beside her on her seat, ready to assess the local talent. She had arrived early, in order to get a good seat, and the room was finally filling up, so she wasn’t “sticking out like a sore thumb”, as her mother would say.

She had a big job to do tonight. Mr. McCaskill had gone to a conference in Edmonton, and it would be up to Norma to “put the paper to bed,” to take the brown envelope containing the display ads, the classifieds, and the articles to the bus, so that in the morning it would go on to Peace River to be printed. McCaskill had given her so many instructions, her head was spinning. Make sure you number the ads, he said, and check my articles for spelling. And be on time at the depot. They won’t hold the bus for you.

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After the Boom – Children by Choice Not Circumstance

Mom Putting Baby In Pram

The baby boom still resonates in our society. So much has been said and written about the boomers, with constant speculation about what they will do next. With so much attention centered on them, and especially on their numbers, no one gives much thought to the women who were responsible for them—their mothers.

These were the women who grew up during the depression of the 1930s, coming of age just as WWII was ending—women who would be in their seventies or eighties now. They were in their twenties and early thirties when soldiers came home from the war, yearning for stability, ready to marry and settle down. These young women were unknowing recipients of new and constricting expectations, some imposed by a society tired of self-denial and war, and some imposed by corporations capitalizing on a nation’s desire for the safety and comfort of family.

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Happenings in Paradise—The Paris Bulletin

happenings-with-title-boldOn Friday, Norma arrived at school late, after a frustrating morning at the Jason’s, where she stayed as a boarder, doing various chores to earn her keep. Everything seemed to go wrong. Mrs. Jason was still in bed when she woke up, and the girls were playing grown-up in the kitchen, pouring cereal into bowls and spilling milk, the baby wet and cranky in his crib. Mr. Jason had long gone. An easy-going man, he often helped Norma with the children on those mornings when his wife stayed in bed, postponing her responsibilities until the very last moment.

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Are Millennials Questioning The Wisdom of Older People?

wisdom“In youth we learn, in age we understand”.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach wrote these words when she was seventy-five years old. It’s my favourite explanation of wisdom. I’ve gone so far as to print it out on a little card and mount it above my desk, just as a reminder that wisdom, as a by-product of age, has value.

I need to be reminded about that these days, when attitudes about us, the older generation, is eroding, and our place in the world is being questioned.

In the past, when I’ve been frustrated or overwhelmed, it helped to read the quote, and have my spirits buoyed by the idea that, now that I’m older, I have the advantage of being wiser, too.

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