If That’s Life, I Guess I’ve Had It

I wrote this about my Dad, so long ago I had forgotten about it. Originally published to BackWash.com on May 28, 2004 and written when my Dad died.

My Dad would sometimes say, “If that’s supper, I guess I’ve had it.” This past week after his death that phrase has caught in my mind only I’ve adapted it to, “If that’s life, I guess I’ve had it.”

My Dad was 71 years old when he died. He was born in South Shields, Scotland in 1932. He had one sister who also came to Canada (the whole family did when he was in university). My Dad was an electrical engineer though he didn’t have the actual engineer stamp due to not finishing that last year of university. He could have many times over, but he chose not to bother. He chose not to bother about a lot of things.

Anyway, he married my Mother in 1964. They lived in farm houses and city apartments for awhile, back and forth until one run down farm in a town called Kincardine where my sister was born. She was the third of four kids. We moved back to the city from there cause the farm house had no running water and my brother and I were having asthma problems with the country lifestyle. Two more moves and we ended up in The Rouge. It was the town of Port Union then, later it became part of Scarborough and thus part of Toronto. When someone asks where I grew up I think of The Rouge. It was a very white middle class place. Nice though a bit sheltered.

Dad always loved jersey cows. He kept buying the Jersey Breeder magazine long after we had seen our last farm house. While I was growing up in The Rouge he was daydreaming about a jersey farm. He made lots of plans on paper and now and then we had family trips into the middle of nowhere Ontario to look at a farm he could buy. By that time Mom was pretty much prepared to veto them all. No more run down farm houses, no more him expecting her to run a farm and cows while he worked in the city and came back on weekends to supervise.

Dad liked to sing and whistle while he worked. Often the same old songs about ‘stay home and mind baby brown eyed girl, captain brown being down amongst the dead men and tally my bananas day o’. I’m not even sure what the names of the songs are. But I’ve heard them over and over all my life.

We started looking through his things, picking what to keep, what to display at the service and what to toss. There is a lot to toss. He wore his clothes till they were worn out, he was no fashion plate though he liked to think he looked good. Sometimes he did. Among his things I noticed an old program from a theatre performance of ‘Man of La Mancha” that he went to with my sister and myself a very long time ago. I was surprised to see that. Also one Father’s Day card from all the cards I had ever given him. Usually he left them sitting right where he had opened them and let Mom eventually toss them into the garbage. I put away the one card that he kept. There were also more pins and badges from the local Lions clubs that he had yet given to me to sew onto his Lions vest. Between my Mom and I we had kept them sewn on for him for the past ten or so years. He also had pictures of golf games and events with business associates and sometimes my brother or his current son-in-law too.

He had his first small heart attack while we lived in The Rouge. After that they came more frequently, over time, slowly. He ignored them. Even though his own Dad had died at age 65 from a heart attack which he ignored until he died in the hospital that same night. That just proves you can’t help people who will not help themselves.

I remember being in the hospital up here in Alliston with my Dad just a few days before they took him down to Newmarket for the quadruple by-pass operation. He wasn’t sure about having the surgery and I can see now that he was afraid. That makes me feel very sorry for him. But, I don’t see how we could have done differently at that point. It was likely already too late. Anyway, he had a very bad heart attack right before the surgery but they went ahead at that point cause he would have died anyway I guess. Either then or the next attack. Surgery seemed to at least give him a chance to survive. He did pull through for two more days and seemed to be feeling pretty ok for someone who has just had his chest opened and adjusted. But two days after the surgery he didn’t wake up. He was in ICU and stayed there. Being worked on, his body kept functioning with life support. The hospital staff seemed to think his chances were not too bad at that point. But he never got better and last Saturday, the very day they were going to pull the plug he died himself sometime before 6:00 AM.

Maybe it’s having the distance of time and now death, but I do feel less angry about him and things he did and said. In the end it doesn’t matter. It’s up to me to get on with my own life. On Monday we are having the memorial service. Mom is bugging me about what I will wear. I am not looking forward to having to make chit chat with people who think they knew him. Cause they didn’t really know him. Dad liked to make a show of his life. He was always Mr BigShot and we were holding him back, picking on him and making things difficult in general. He would tell his business associates, the local Lions club which he joined and others all about us, as he chose to see us. So, no, I’m not looking forward to two hours of hearing about what a good guy he was. But the service is for them I think. For me, I don’t care. He is dead and it’s over.

Right now beside me I have an old rolodex of his business cards which I’m sorting through for valid names to add to the guest list. If he could be there for the memorial he would be happy with the show put on for him, because of him. His due I expect he would think. For me it’s just something else I have to do. I wonder if I will think of him much after the wind down of everything. It seems as if we’ve been expecting and waiting to put on this last show since we were kids and here it finally is. Now we can do the show and put it into the past and leave it there. All the build up and the suspense will be gone. Just like Ian N. Brown himself.

Outsider Art (You Don’t Have to be Crazy)

What is Outsider Art?

RawVision: What is Outsider Art?

Nada Farm Museum of Archetypes: What is Outsider Art?

Wikipedia: Outsider Art

The term outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut (French: [a? b?yt], “raw art” or “rough art”), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by those on the outsides of the established art scene such as insane-asylum inmates and children.

While Dubuffet’s term is quite specific, the English term “outsider art” is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.

Interesting Ideas: Outsider Art Links (no longer maintained).

International Outsider Exhibition of Modern Art 

Flavorwire:  The 13 Most Amazing Outsider Artists of All Time

Flavorwire:  10 Contemporary Outsider Artists Everyone Should Know

Outsider Environments Europe

Vulture: Jerry Saltz on the Outsider Art Fair — and Why There’s No Such Thing As ‘Outsider’ Art

Ghostly Haunted Ontario

This is mainly a link farm while I work on putting the sites I have found into a web directory on this domain.

Canoe.ca: Haunted Ontario
The Toronto and Ontario Ghost and Hauntings Research Society
Terry Boyle: Haunted Ontario
The Haunted Walk: Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario.
Burlington Ghost Researchers
Haunted Hamilton
Whitby Ghost Walks
Ghost Tours of Niagara
Flickr: Ghosts of the Niagara Region
Haunted Ottawa
Canadian Haunters Association
Suite101 by Jason Gray: Tales of Haunted Ontario
Wikipedia: Ghost Towns in Ontario
Abandoned Ontario: Haunted Houses in Ontario
Facebook: Most Haunted Places in Ontario
St. Thomas Elgin Paranormal Society
Facebook: London Ontario Ghost Squad
Paranormal Knights of London
Spirit Matters for Durham Region
Paranormal Toronto

Canadian Links:

CBC Digital Archives: Halloween and Tales of Canadian Ghosts
Paranormal Studies and Investigations Canada
The Halloween Project: Celebrating all things Halloween in Canada.
Canadian Haunters Convention.
Ghost Towns Canada.ca
Ghost Town Pix.com
Haunted Sites in North America: Haunted Sites in Canada by Province

The “Successful” Blog

People talk about having a successful blog. Most of those people are the money making, SEO, business bloggers. That’s fine for them to measure success in terms of number, scores, ranks and ads (sometimes even revenue). It’s not for me.

I don’t blog for those reasons so my success isn’t measured that way. I blog for personal reasons and success isn’t really what I’m looking for from this blog. Often I write to hear myself think. I draw to keep myself working on understanding how to draw, learning by doing. I wished I could draw for a long time and suddenly, once I actually started doing it, I realized I could. A personal achievement. That’s a successful blog for me.

I love exploring, decorating, and meeting people through my blog. Posting my photos of flowers, abandoned farm houses. Making changes to my template, taking a risk on them totally bombing and then fixing them again. Having new people comment on what I have done here and visiting them in return for more ideas of what I can do and in some cases making a personal connection that I want to keep and grow. Those are things that make a successful blog for me.

Success isn’t really the right word though.

I joined up Entrecard as an experiment, something new to try. I like joining new sites and networks and learning a bit about how they work. Seeing if there is something that will interest me about it. Entrecard has become partnered with SezWho. I don’t think it is a site I would have joined if it wasn’t for the partnership with Entrecard. I really don’t like the idea of rating/ scoring comments given to my blog posts. That seems very arrogant. I don’t want to do it. If I can automatically set it to score every comment at 100% I will do that. I moderate my comments and filter out any junk. Every other comment I fully appreciate and don’t feel I have the right to sit and judge them. A comment is freely given and should not be something that falls to the “successful” blogging scheme.

I’ve set up SezWho for those who want to score big with this. It seems like a get points quick scheme and little of real value to me. But, I am giving it a try, for now.

Thursday 13 #24: Fired and Rising Up

Thirteen things I can do now that I’m unemployed (fired yesterday).

Set the alarm clock and ignore it. Just let it go on beep-beep-beeping, getting all upset and flustered. You know how those little yappy alarm clocks sound.

Miss the bus. At the time I would have left for work today I stood at the window and watched the bus leave, without me on it!

Catch up on important things like the book I’ve been reading, my web domain that has been sadly neglected for ages (thatgrrl.ca), fix up the new domain for this blog and figure out why it doesn’t always load up the first time.

Get out for more abandoned farm house photos. Find the locations I have saved in notes, on Flickr and in my email from others.

Check into the idea of making Word Grrls a blog with ads, a money making blog. I know it’s not what I had planned or thought I would do. But, maybe I can run a bit of this and that and not have it feel like a spam pit or ad farm.

Call some other poor fool working as tech support for a company and just shoot the breeze awhile. Funny how often people did that. I don’t think they knew we were rated on how quickly we handled calls. My rating was pretty good, not the best but it wasn’t something they complained about.

Colour my hair again. It’s about time for it to get done. I can see the difference in colour in the new hair. Also need to do laundry, including the bedsheets. All those things I’ve usually left for the weekends when I had more time.

Start that Best of the Web work or get going with it at least. They say it pays after the first thousand sites. I’m not near to that but could be, now that I’m not getting sucked dry at work and coming home wtih massive headaches.

More drawing and doodling and cartooning. Doodle Week Summer is coming up for July.

Have lunch and dinner during rather than skipping them and coming home after 10:00 to eat dinner late. I can even do some cooking. I miss making lasagna and such things. Not as much fun to just crack open a can of soup.

Eventually I will look for some other work. Not yet. I’m giving myself this weekend off. Seems my sister is even going to be dropping by on Saturday. If I were still working I would have missed seeing her at all.

Watching the soaps, catching up on them. Have them on today and don’t know what they are talking about. Seems someone died but so far I haven’t noticed anyone missing.

Writing. Really, actually getting something finished. I made plans to write a guest post this month but have not even started anything. I have an article as a draft about rural exploration but it’s in need of work. Lots of other writing which is half done to not started beyond the idea stage.

Something Waits Beneath

Quote from BlueMountainMama‘s blog post:

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it—the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” -Andrew Wyeth

This is kind of how I feel about the abandoned farm houses when I am am there, seeing them and getting photos.

Thursday Thirteen #10: Beat the Creative Blahs

Writer’s block isn’t phony. You can get in the way of your own creativeness. Whether you are a writer, photographer, illustrator, fashion designer or some other creative and art type everyone can get to a point where they feel out of ideas or lacking in a way to bring the ideas in their head out into the world.

1. Give yourself a break, know you are a little burned out right now and stop forcing yourself to come up with something brilliant and original. Get some physical, real distance from the burned out area.

2. Pick something else to do, creatively. Set the table for dinner, take the time to be fancy, glamorous or kitschy. Google a few favourite foods and see what interesting recipes come up, try one of them.

3. Do something practical, think of an errand or household task you have been putting off cause you were just too busy. Finally sew on that button. Take that stack of books to the second hand bookstore.

4. Pamper yourself. Try a new hair colour or style. Spend time in the tub with a good book. Sleep in with the radio on low and don’t rush starting your day.

5. Retail therapy. What’s your store of choice? I like the bookstore, coffee shop and the thrift store. Or window shopping and online catalogues for those who don’t want to be tempted into spending.

6. Enjoy your day. Do something you really want to do, only you know what that is. I’d go on a road trip and take more photos of abandoned farm houses.

7. Exercise. Go for a walk. Try yoga, pilates or something else new, different or more extreme.

8. Stop being so perfect. Let a few mistakes happen. The world won’t spin out of orbit if you burn the toast. But you might feel less pressured to perform up to some unrealistic standards you set for yourself.

9. Unclutter. We have so much stuff and only so many drawers, closets and floor space. Tidy up, throw it out or give it away. Once you can see the surface of your desk/ work space again you might find what you were looking for.

10. Be an angel for the day. Kids love getting something in the mail just for them and Grandparents love to feel they are still included in your life. Make a batch of cookies or muffins for a single parent you know.

12. Laugh along with life. Watch a movie that made you laugh before. Call a friend who can look at things with fresh perspective and laugh about what seemed so important before.

13. Spend time with people. Take the kids to a movie. Meet a friend for coffee. Join a new group involved in some kind of hobby or interest you haven’t had much time for lately.

If I Could Keep Time in a Bottle…

I’ve been looking at new digi cameras this morning. I should be working of course. but I don’t go into work till 3:30 and I’m slacking off all the other work this morning.

Nice to be looking at new cameras. I was at the Staples site and found two which interest me. Nice to have a goal in mind to work for while I’m at work. Not all the calls are yelling. Last Thursday was the worst. Even some of those aggressive types wind down and apologize often enough. I do understand the frustration of dealing with the big companies and trying to get your cable TV working… but… I’m just some schmuck trying to make a pay cheque so I can buy a used car and a new digi camera.

Anyway, not a day where I am accomplishing a whole lot. So far.

I did go online to the Min. of Transport and change the address on my driver’s license. That was a good thing. I even got my Mom’s license and did hers too. I really should get something else done. I’m working on it. Still a couple of hours before I need to think about catching the bus.

I want to write an article about rural exploring, or at least a query letter for an article about rural exploration. I’m aiming for Chatelaine and Canadian Living. Wouldn’t one of them just LOVE my pictures of abandoned farm houses along with a blab about finding them and taking the photos? Surely they are just waiting, drooling, at the chance to pick up an article like mine. I hope.

While I’m at work I think of all kinds of things to write about when I get home. But we can’t keep any paper and pens on the floor so I can’t make any notes for myself. By the time I get back here and sit down to write I can’t remember a thing. I’ve had some interesting ideas and deep thoughts. Too bad you missed them all.

So, I should get with the plan. The day is passing along. Time isn’t going to freeze just for me.