Call Your Mother

I got my car back yesterday, after it had been in for repairs. I had – in the collision shop’s world – a very minor fender-dinger/scrape in December. My fault. My car, my heart, and my psyche are now all whole. I beat myself up about it too much, but I am better now. I live in a car town. I’ve got my wheels back. I rode the bus a bit during the nine days, but you can’t take your dog on the buses here. And I didn’t sign up for the rental car that was offered because of the dog. I’ll let my own special dog blanket and back seat get muddy, but not a rental car’s. So as of yesterday, we’re both very, very happy again.

Espresso’s out at the dog daycare farm today. He pulled me to their front door when I let him out of the back seat. Joy. And I tootled off to Canadian Tire, which opens at 8:30 a.m. And Dollarama, 9:00. And then Walmart, for more crochet yarn!! (I made every piece of thread in the apartment into a throw, a small pet blanket for the Humane Society, or the beginnings of a lovely lacy tablecloth, all in nine days.) On every road: radio. And me singing badly with the HITS from the 70s, 80s, and early 1990s that are popular here, and in Windsor, and Detroit. Between those rock stations and my propensity to shop at dawn, my status as a retired person are becoming fixed in granite, soon to be basalt. (Geologically backwards – thank you, PBS NOVA! – but utterly true.)

Which brings me to time. 

I opened the door to my apartment and had an overwhelming urge to telephone my mom. I mean overwhelming, heart-twisting, stand still and think what you’re thinking overwhelming. Look at your cellphone and almost press the button for Contacts overwhelming.

I can’t phone her. There’s no one there. There’s nothing there. She’s been dead since April, 1993.
I suppose I wanted to tell her that I got through another of life’s trials, and I am better than okay, and I’m still very happy I sold my little house, quit my job, packed up and moved here. I love my car. I moved to the right apartment. The cat and dog are very well. I’m so free, and I feel like a happy kid. Happy wasn’t a thing kids were in my family, but I chased it down, I took it back, I live easy, for me. Who would have believed I could do all that, that I would do all that?

I wanted to tell someone who loved me that, in this chapter, things worked out. That my accomplishments, while small, were significant. That I am glad I’m me.

If she’s the right person in your life, call your mother. In all the daily tumult and stress, with all the upheaval and strange politics, with the dreary January weather, call the one whose approval means the most. Ring your bell, let the true note sound.

PETROLIA!

I dropped the dog off for the day at The Fox & Hound farm this morning with a vision of laundry sitting heavily on me, like a big old stinky hat. It was sunny, in that the sun was actually visible as the horizon spun east to meet it. The temperature mild (only minus 5 celcius). The roads clear. The fm radio stations were playing old soft, heart-warming romantic tunes mixed with old metal sing-alongs. So I threw the idea of laundry off and headed east, to find Petrolia.

There aren’t any words, really, to express the joy I feel while travelling at high speed, behind the wheel of my own car, singing along to the radio. It doesn’t matter where I go; I am certain I’ll find my way home – just not YET! I’m happy to slow for towns, school zones, and kids crossing streets to get to school, but it’s the going that is so exciting. It’s the psychological wonder of the automobile, over 100 years old, but new in me. It’s the reason conservative Saudi clerics don’t want women to drive. It’s flying on land. It is a lot of responsibility. And it is just plain fun.

Last time I ventured out in this direction, I was one major road too far west. This morning, I am happy to report, I found the very small town of Wyoming, and the small town of Petrolia. Most of the land there – and here – is low-lying swamp. What a job earlier farmers must’ve had scratching a living out of that. I can hear mosquitoes now, and it’s January. And I drove through before nine this morning.

But then, of course, after farms started scratching, came oil. The train passes through the southern end of Wyoming, Ontario at a level crossing. Hundreds and hundreds of cars clink-ca-chunked by, full of oil, cars, car parts, stuff, and things. The wealth of the land, heading off to new car dealers and manufacturers and gas distributors further east. From Sarnia? Windsor? From Detroit? And probably points beyond.

A tiny fraction of an iota of the wealth of this land on one train.

And then, follow the sign: DOWNTOWN PETROLIA (turn right).

You know you’re there because you can smell it. Sarnia’s had that odour once since I moved here in October. It was a very thick miasma this morning. Overlooking that, and just out of range of the smell:


This astounding Victorian construction. The photo is not mine. I Googled it.

I imagine an oil family built it. I didn’t want Google to tell me, but I did learn that it may be being renovated. It’s an eye-popping beauty. It’s a high perch up off and away from a valley of gack. It’s an obvious reminder of who was who and who was not.

I made my way through Corunna and up the river. Filled the gas tank, got the car washed. Bought some groceries, and stopped at the store pharmacy to get a flu shot. A free injection to help prevent me from getting influenza. At the grocery store pharmacy.

Last night, I watched a documentary on Netflix about Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. She was ill with pancreatic cancer during the filming, and trying to hold her life and the band together. Without gigs, the band earned no money. Her treatment is guessed at about “a hundred thousand dollars” by someone in the film. It was finished before Miss Jones died, late this last fall, 2016.

If she’d been Canadian, she’d have had free health care. I wonder if she would’ve sought treatment sooner, and I wonder if she’d have lived longer.

I watched a long trainload of wealth pass by me this morning, Canadian and American goods, all the same, and I cannot for the life of me understand American attitudes toward universally available medical treatment. Resisting care for all. How lucky to be on this side of the St. Clair River.

Four loads of laundry is why I got done before lunch.

Time to go get one tired dog.

Wind Waves Winter

When this building was erected, in the late 70s, it must’ve been utterly snazz. Money was spent on quality features. Some 40 years on, the double-paned windows hang fast, with just a low tremble and a small rattle with every gust of brutally cold air that would shake us up and off our foundation if it could. 40 years of merciless gusts from the river and lake. Congratulations, aluminum frame makers and installers. You did a great job, and I thank you.

The river was a miniature Japanese ink drawing of ocean storms this morning. Deep green-blue undulating triangles punched up to shimmy and writhe, some transformed into dragon paws, flipping white crests off fingers of instantly frozen, icy drops.

The dog had to take me on the full walk for the satisfaction and health of his alimentary canal. My overall health and fitness benefit from this couple of kilometres of perambulation, also, but a face held in a grimace of squinting against a brutal breeze by a full waterfall of instantly frozen tears cannot be a welcome addition to anybody’s Beauty Plan. I would have preferred the quick release, one round block plan this morning, but Espresso’s guts don’t care about my wishes.

How cold was the windchill? I wore my new 5X men’s Walmart jacket with hood, and my triple-warm homemade hat, and I STRODE MIGHTILY FAST, and I didn’t break a sweat. Ooh. That’s cold.

I’ve been watching the bridge a little bit since breakfast, and I am certain I’d be afraid to drive a big rig today. Especially over the bridge. Unless it was laden with lead ingots or something. 

This an interesting town, weather-wise. No snow to speak of, and we dodged freezing rain. You don’t notice fallen tree branches littering lawns, because anything not hanging on for dear life, for the long haul, got ripped away ages ago.

The snow might be coming south now. The horizon on the Michigan side washes out in a cloud, and soon, perhaps, we will be enveloped. Or not.

A sturdy little land ship. Ever on.