Spring and hope

Spring – I love this season. It is hope made visible.

Who could imagine there were so many shades of new leaf green – each sweeter and more tender than the next – and what can top the candy-floss blossoms of the magnolia and cherry trees?

It all fills me up with joy despite being mired in this pandemic. And that reminds me how resilient we humans are and that brings me back to hope.

We will get through this – and I am hoping we will be out of lockdown by May 29th so we can repeat the success of last year’s TPW Virtual Sporting Life Race. If you will remember, we met at the Starbucks at Hotel X down on the waterfront and set out in two groups, one going east and one west. Afterwards, we celebrated by sharing goodies brought by members of the gang .

I know this is dependent on the circumstances on the day but I love having something to look forward to so please put the date in your calendars…and hope for the best!


Well, here we are, in complete lockdown again.  I have to admit that for the very first time, I feel like a prisoner in my own home and in despair, like a child being punished for something they didn’t do.  And  this on top of what The New York Times calls: “Languishing – a sense of stagnation and emptiness”…  Who could imagine this would happen?  Clearly not our inept provincial government, only our dedicated and exhausted healthcare providers, but don’t get me started, it’s too enraging and bad for my blood pressure, though anger has sent me exercising so furiously maybe that’s one good thing?

So my fellow solitary walkers,  it’s definitely time to break out the emergency brownies again (one brownie a day is my prescription although now it’s “take whenever needed”) along with some laughter (otherwise we would weep).  I dragged out my volume of “Age doesn’t matter unless you’re a cheese”;  and below are some quotes I think we can all relate to:

“I have everything now that I had twenty years ago, except now it’s all lower”  (Gypsy Rose Lee)

“I cut my own hair.  I got sick of barbers because they talk too much.  And too much of their talk was about my hair falling out”  (Robert Frost)

“When you get to my age, life seems little more than one long march to and from the lavatory” (John Mortimer)

Reporter:  “What do you expect the future to be like?”  Very Old Woman: “Very short”  (One of the oldest women in France during a birthday interview)

“I regret having been so polite in the past.  I’d like to trample on at least a dozen people”  (Harold Brodkey)

Interviewer:  “To what do you attribute your longevity?  Chef Julia Child:  “Red meat and gin”

And as always, things could be worse (I guess) -for all you math phobes,  here’s what Samuel Beckett once said:  “Even death is unreliable; instead of zero it may be some ghastly hallucination, such as the square root of minus one”

Walk on, my merry band of walkers,  this too shall pass, we shall walk with each other again, though not nearly soon enough for me.

With love,  Philippa

P.S.  Hot Tip:  Listen to CBC radio’s Sunday Magazine (April 25) for Piya’s interview with neuroscientist Lisa Genova – it is guaranteed to make your aging brain feel better.



You’ll never walk alone

Except just now, of course.  Like many of you, I ended up walking lonely as a cloud this morning.  (Why a cloud, Wordsworth?  Just for the rhyme?)  Anyway, I went early and it was grey and colder than it’s been for awhile which sort of matched my mood.

As I walked I listened to the Munk podcast which had been recorded before the Ontario pandemic edicts for the weekend were announced.  Each of the announcers searched for a word to describe their reaction to the current state of affairs.  One chose “bleak : a middle-aged father who cannot see his family or friends, whose children cannot go to school, who can no longer really  the count on an end point.  The other chose the word “grit.”  It’s not more hopeful, just determined to hold on.

All along, I have been chirping on about having a birthday party in June, even if it’s just a backyard do.  Now, I don’t feel too hopeful of that.  But I still prefer grit to bleak.

“Grit is not just simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an often invisible display of endurance that lets you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and do it again and again.” Sarah Lewis


I made the mistake of trying to figure out how far I walked. It turns out there is an app on my phone that gives me this information. But it does not stop there. This app has decided that I have a goal. It determines that I must walk 10, 000 steps each day. It admonishes me when I don’t and over-congratulates me when I do. There is a spinning target and large whizzing print when I hit the app’s goal. It even accumulates weekly data.

I have always prided myself in being quite happy to go through life without goals. I truly do not care if I walk 5 or 10 km., I just was curious to see how far I had gone. Now this busybody on my phone thinks I have to reach a particular number – and it admonishes me when I do not. It wants me to enter my weight and create a “ranking.” It challenges me to “Get started on the life you want.”

Well, thanks very much Mr. App. I have been living the life I want for quite some
time. I really don’t like being encouraged by this thing. So why have I not removed it from my phone? I am still trying to figure that out.  But watch out – it is asking to be introduced to my friends.


Spring, sweet treats, bunnies and May 29th race…

I hope everyone is enjoying the lovely spring weather and the abundance of chocolate and other sugary treats that marks this spring holiday. We celebrated with some deliciouos Hello Dollies and cupcakes at our after-walk picnic on Saturday before a chilly breeze sent us on our separate ways.

I got thinking about ‘why bunnies’ as an Easter symbol and so asked Uncle G who came up with lots on the subject but I liked this little quote.

Red rabbit stock image. Image of looking, bunny, nosy - 9633435All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre (or Eastre), a great northern goddess (of spring and dawn) whose symbol was a rabbit or a hare. (adapted from The pagan roots of Easter, Heather McDougall, The Guardian).

So  it all starts with a woman who is then lost in history largely written by men (haven’t we heard that story before?). But enough of that, it is a season to be joyous. The days are longer and warmer, most of us have received at least one of our jabs, we are still walking and we can almost see an end in sight.

A reminder that we are planning to do our own Sporting Life race on Sat. May 29th from the Ex as we did for the Scotia back in the fall. Something to look forward to. In the meantime, indulge and enjoy the sunshine!

V-DAY!!! A Call to Arms…

I have (what is the right word?) traversed this pandemic to the best of my ability; I’ve tried to remain calm and reasonable in the face of constantly changing information and negotiated the multiple levels of risk like a gambler at the wheel of fortune.  But my subconscious?  That’s a whole other story…as I am having  dreams that I have never had before.

In one dream, to my horror, I enter  a large indoor gathering where I am the ONLY person wearing a mask.  In  another dream, I am the only one NOT wearing a mask and lost in a huge group of people.  But the worst dream I have had so far is the one in which I reach out to grab someone`s hand as I watch them falling in front of me  and as our hands touch, we both recoil in horror.   Sound familiar? I think we are, each one of us, suffering from a pandemic  anxiety that has seeped into our very bones.  Who ever had dreams / nightmares about face masks prior to 2020?  Or been horrified at the very idea of touching another person`s skin?

Therefore it was such a wonderful relief that, contrary to being told that my age group would be vaccinated in June, I had my first dose of vaccine last Wednesday, March 24. Now,  no matter how bad the numbers become in this province, somehow I am feeling that things will eventually, over time, be all right and I am so grateful to live in a country that not only tries to do the right thing but also has the means to do it.  This pandemic is a world changing event; I only hope we learn the right lessons from it.  It is, as an Indigenous Elder said, a message from our planet and we would be wise to heed it and take action.  It’s a call to arms, both in the sense of vaccines, and to the belief that we, collectively, must do better.

Happy Passover!


Dear March

Like Emily Dickinson, I waited all year for March, believing that surely release would come!  And maybe it will for many of us!   I love the breathlessness of this poem!

Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—

I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare – how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—

Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come.

COVID Sheroes

Many times, women of a certain age are seen (or rather, unseen) as no longer making a contribution to society. The TPW walkers know this is nonsense. This week alone, I have had the privilege of cheering on our “junior seniors” who became role models for the rest of us by being among the first to be vaccinated with the Astra-Zeneca inoculation against COVID-19. These are some of the same folks who for the past year have encouraged us to look on the bright side of lockdown. They have helped point out light at the end of the tunnel and have managed to stay cheerful and hopeful when others may not have felt the same way. We have walkers who make plans, baked goods, masks, and wry comments – all in as a way of keeping the rest of us going. My hat is off (largely because it is sunny and a bit warmer) to those special people who have made this very long year a lot less grim. You know who you are: Please give yourselves a big hug, because we are not yet safe enough to hug one another. But it won’t be long now!

Celebrating women – and treats!

International  Women’s Day was on Monday but I think, given that women are over 50% of the population, that we can extend the celebration a bit longer, eh? In that spirit, I give a big shout out to my Toronto Power Walker friends. We are mostly female with, currently, one staunch male walker and ally (more are welcomed).

I find, the older I get, the more I rely on the companionship, compassion and comfort of my women friends and family. Oddly enough, I think it is the same for my husband, who seems to have drawn even closer to his sisters as time marches on.

So, for all the challenges of being a woman in this world, I count myself very lucky. Hooray for all you wonderful women out there – give yourselves a big hug from me!

And some terrific news, with the loosening of the lock-down, our Courtyard Social Convenor has announced that we are resuming our Saturday morning, post-walking treats. That is definitely worth celebrating!

Best Excuse Ever!

Really!  I couldn’t walk with the group last Saturday because a bat flew into my  bedroom first thing in the morning.  I had just gotten up at 7 am and was getting dressed for the walk when something black torpedoed into my bedroom being chased by my cat.  At first I thought it was a panic stricken bird flapping its wings but then the creature landed on a curtain rod and folded up its wings – it was jet black and quite tiny and definitely looked like a bat and not a bird.  Well!  What was I to do?

I definitely knew I did not want to be sharing my house with a bat and quickly shut my bedroom door, hoping to contain the little critter and then immediately called a wildlife control company for help.  You know, the kind of company that removes unwanted racoons and squirrels from your attic.  “Oh yes, Ma’am, we have experience with bat removal, we’ll send one of our people over to collect the bat”.

Meanwhile, the cats and I sheltered in the kitchen while we awaited arrival of the batcatcher.  Two hours later, a pleasant young man (although everyone seems young to me these days) arrived with a net and jar in hand.  “Oh no, Ma’am, we can’t just chase the bat outside, it’s winter and it would die in the cold.  We have to catch the bat and take it to a wildlife refuge centre where it can safely nest until spring when it’s warm enough to be released”.  The pleasant young man then proceeded to take apart my bedroom from top to bottom looking for said bat which was not to be found, anywhere.  Apparently bats can squeeze into a hole the size of a dime and I live in a big old house full of nooks and crannies.  Two hours later, still no bat.  Batcatcher told me there were two possibilities: 1.  I would find a dead bat over the next two weeks (no food) OR 2. bat girl/boy had made good her/his escape.

That night I moved up to the third floor and into my spare bedroom.  There had been no further bat sightings but just to be safe, as I’m sure you understand.  As I was nicely drifting off to sleep, I heard little scratching noises coming from the chimney wall behind the headboard.  Aha!  There were creatures in my chimney! Suffice to say I did not sleep well that night.  The next morning, I made another call to the wildlife company to make arrangements for them to climb up onto my roof and inspect the chimney flue for invading critters.  And no, of course they won’t poison any invading critters (perish the thought!), they will seal up any cracks they find while leaving a one way door in the main opening that will let the critters escape but deny them return entry. That’s what they tell me anyway.  The batcatchers will be returning this coming Wednesday to finish the job.  In the meantime, I await their invoice with trepidation!

P.S.  I came across the quote below that extolls the virtues of walking; it could be the TPW motto!

“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right” (British historian George Trevelyan.)