Downsizing Decisions: Keep? Let Go?

The time has come to downsize. Who knew we had so many boxes and bits and pieces tucked away? What a brutal job going through them. What to keep? What to let go? The decisions are overwhelming.

So I start with an easy one: lacrosse stick (c.1962?)

I can think of no earthly reason to keep my lacrosse stick. I can’t even think why I have it. I definitely didn’t bring it with me to Canada from England all those years ago. Probably my mother brought it over later when she was downsizing from the house she’d lived in for 50 years and wanted to be rid of it.

I played in the school’s 2nd eleven. Lax, we called it. I don’t remember actually enjoying it that much. It seemed an awful lot of bother to run all the way down the field and back again after a little ball (unless of course the boys at the next door grammar school happened to be lounging around beside the fence). “An animated tree stump,” one of my mother’s tennis group complained after I filled in for a missing member. Who would have thought I’d end up spending much of my working life teaching dance and movement!

A quick check online tells me that lacrosse sticks have long since changed beyond the point when anyone would find this one of any use. In any case, parts of the gut have shredded.

The stick reminds me of the smell of the games shed at the back of the school: a mix of sweat, vaseline which we had to rub into the leather thongs, and linseed-oiled wood. It reminds me of the sinking feeling as, accidentally catching the ball, seeing a certain girl in my class pound towards me and knowing there was no escape from a sharp rap over the head or the knuckles, of the phys ed teacher yelling at me: “MOVE!” And, horror of horrors, of the post game communal showers.

I imagine I played because of my older sister. On my first day of high school, the principal looked down at me from her then terrifying height and said “I hope you’re going to be just like your sister.”

My sister the brainy student, the lacrosse star. She was even the proud possessor of (oh my heavens!) a posture girdle, a long braided band in the colours of whichever school house you were in (gold, jade and two others I forget now) that you tied around your waist so the tassels rippled over your hip and down your thigh.

A posture girdle meant you not only walked with your back straight, eyes on the horizon, but that your shoes were clean and polished, your hair tucked away tidily, that you did not roll your skirt up at the waistband or let your socks drop over your ankles or let your straw boater slip to a jaunty angle. Oh how I longed to be like my sister and strut through the school with a gold posture girdle rippling over my hip and down my thigh.


Life is a Blue Cloud

In the café, a motley assortment of furniture: mismatched wooden kitchen chairs, a leather arm chair worn through in places to the horsehair, old school desks, ancient sofas.

arm chair

On the wall faded maps show countries and boundaries that disappeared decades ago.

That table reminds her of the one they’d had at home when she was a kid, square with flaps on opposite sides that you pulled out for birthdays and Christmas.

She chooses the green velvet loveseat. The springs have gone and she sinks further down than she expected.

The coffeemaker launches into action, grinding and thumping and hissing. Used to be Continue reading

The Special Delight of Old Letters


Thin, almost transparent airmail paper, aerogrammes, thick pale blue Basildon Bond paper, birthday cards, Christmas cards, cards of sympathy, of congratulations.

Old blotched typeface (my father’s big typewriter), elegant penmanship (my grandfather and my godmother), easy-to-read rounded script (teacher aunt). Upright but fast-flowing writing (my mother). Indecipherable squiggles (my father). Letters of the alphabet slanting forward, slanting back, flattened, rounded…IMG_4633

A bundle of letters written in code by Continue reading

Thanks For The Memories: Saying Goodbye To Our 1970s TV Set

IMG_8261It’s time to say goodbye to our 1970s television set!

The tv was a hand-me-down in the 1990s from friends who were leaving Canada to work overseas. “It’s on its last legs,” they warned us. “It’ll conk out any moment.”

But it still works in 2015! No zapper to turn it on or off though. Someone has to get up and pull the knob.

I’ll admit it’s difficult to watch a hockey game on it but it’s an old friend and I have a very soft spot for it.

Probably because it reminds me of my first experiences of television.

My family didn’t have a television but our next door neighbors in the small English village where we lived invited us over once a week to watch “Dixon of Dock Green,” a series about a kindly London copper.

We kids would sit on the floor, backs against the sofa or parents’ legs, trying to keep quiet so we’d be invited back the following week.

The curtains were drawn closed. The lights were turned off, the tv on. We wriggled into more comfortable positions. Then right there in our neighbours’ living room, in glorious techi-black-and-white, was Constable Dixon, hand raised to his “bobby’s” helmet, greeting us: “Evening all.” Even now I can reproduce the exact tone of “Evening all”.

An hour later we’d call out our goodbyes and thank yous, stepping into the dark. My mother’s geese would wake up and rush towards us as we ran the ten or twelve paces to our own door, stretching their necks across the path and hissing at us.

One hour a week of tv! What a treat it was! Oh, the deliciousness of living someone else’s story!