a god in ruins

I'm still reading in my spare time - lots of time on the bus the other day. I Just finished Kate Atkinson's newest novel, "A God in Ruins".  Mixed reactions.  I  still haven't made up my mind about her, although her jacket blurb says, "Few will dispute that [this book] proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age." I wouldn't go that far.

 I read a couple of her early novels that were in my building library while I waited for "Left Early, Took my Dog"  which I ordered because I liked the title.  I didn't really enjoy any of them and stopped.  But then I saw a TV mini-series, a BBC production based on three or four of her novels featuring Jackson Brodie. I remembered him and liked the actor who lead Brodie - Jason Priest {I think). Even so, I passed on "Life After Life".  I'd had enough.  But then (again) I found it in the ship library and read it and enjoyed it a lot, so much so that when I came home I ordered "A God in Ruins".   And now I'm confused again.

Why can't writers tell a story in chronological order any more?  Atkinson leaps around in time, telling her story in chapters that identify the time her characters are living through, backwards and forwards.  She drops terrible nuggets of information that she will elucidate sooner or later, major events like a death or a discovery that the reader will have to wait for and  piece together.  I could never cotton onto one of her major characters, she was so disgusting at the beginning. Later, I'm supposed to understand what this woman went through that made her what she was.  Not believable, also unforgivable. 

The various chapters, set in different times, succeed in varying degrees.  The best are like mini novellas or short stories and quite gripping. Others I could barely wade through.  Are you familiar with the expression that assesses quality when it is spotty?  Well, this book to me is" like that curate's egg": good in parts. (Curates were known to be poor so they couldn't afford good eggs.)

Neverteless, Or notwithstanding.  Go ahead and read it for  yourself.

pleasant dreams

See, if I can't sleep, I have things to do, no problem.  Sleep experts tell you that you shouldn't just lie there, that after 20 minutes or so, if you can't sleep, get up and play Aces Up or something. My father the doctor used to say that you should go ahead and lie there, that you're getting more sleep than you think you are and that at least your body is getting bed rest. I believe both of them.  I usually do fall asleep again unless I have too much on my mind. So then I get up and...empty the dishwasher, make tea, get back into bed with my beloved wheel-up bed table (normally at the foot of the bed, but it glides up over my knees to be a Queen-wide desk, one of the best designs IKEA ever came  up with).  Right now that's what I'm doing.  

As you know by now, I visit people. A single woman is usually a welcome guest, not much trouble and she helps out where she can. I do. I also listen, and learn a lot: other people's eating habits, reading preferences (if any), sleeping problems.  Sleep is not mentioned unless there's a problem, and it's fascinating.  I guess we all know about apnea now, don't we?  It's a bad signal if you stop breathing while you sleep, as lots of people do if they're fat, lie on their back, snore or have breathing problems, and so on - supposed to be a warning of a heart attack in the future.  Yes, well, my late husband had apnea before I knew its name.  If the noise of his snoring stopped, I would wake to the silence and hit him to make him start breathing again.  

Experts are more scientific now. I have known a number of people who go out at night to be wired up for sleep so their breathing patterns can be tracked. How can they sleep when they're wired? I never ask. Insomniacs take pills of varying strengths and promises.  Tonight/this morning I have camomile tea with a little honey; sometimes I have warm milk with a little rum.  I don't take pills. 

Recently I talked/listened to a friend who got tired of taking pills and found an expert who prescribed a change in his sleeping times, starting from a couple of hours after he normally (?) went to sleep, about 1 in the morning, to 3 or 4 a.m., requiring him to stay in bed until 7 hours later. (He's retired, of course.)  Gradually he has worked it back to a bedtime of 11 p.m. and a rise-and-glimmer (not shine) time of 4 or 5 a.m.  Yeah, that's about right.  My personal best is 5 hours without a pee.  Then, maybe back to sleep if I have nothing pressing to think about. I take daytime naps, which are delicious.  I'm not retired but I'm a writer, so it doesn't matter. I am not an insomniac. I just have a lot to think about. I have always said my mind to me a playground is; some times the playground is more active than other times, that's all. 

I think that this obsession with 8 hours of sleep began with the Industrial Revolution and the 9-to-5 work schedule.  Before that people went by their circadian rhythm, like other animals. Not to worry.  Gore Vidal once said that people get as much sex as they need.  I disagree with that because sex to me requires a partner. I never liked DIY sex much.  But sleep?  I do believe that you get as much sleep as you need, one way or another. Without pills.  

I've finished my tea. I've been awake for about 2 hours. I'm going back to sleep now, not much time left before I swim.

Anon, anon.

lonely as lonely does

I'm not so sure about my son Matt.  He said he was fine while I was away for so long and I was glad of that. I said it made me feel relieved that he would be fine after I died. But he is lonely.  At that, he has made "friends".  The people he works with (he is a buggy-gopher at a grocery store, part-time) all like him. He knows most of the people in his (subsidized) apartment by name. He has an on-and-off girlfriend. But he is lonely.  So am I. 

His working schedule is capricious, changing from week to week, so we have to adjust to it to make our plans, for entertainment or meals or shopping, or for me to check his room and clothes and so on.  We were going to make a day of it yesterday but he had to work.  Now he has the weekend off.  He's going to come for  a swim and dinner tomorrow but he called today and guess what?  We'll have today, too, and I am happy with that.  He has just arrived to spend the rest of the afternoon with me and we will walk to a Swiss Chalet for dinner - they have a two-for-one dinner special until the 14th of September.  We like chicken. I'm just working, gradually - too gradually- catching up with all I have to do: letters that nobody answers; pitches, ditto; attempts to break the sound barrier between me and new potential producers/publishers of my work. Plus personal letters.  I have to write all the people I'm not going to see at the birthday party I'm not having. 

So here I am, here we are.  I'm writing my blog before we go out.  We should go swimming (second time today, for me). Maybe. 

Well, lots to do. 

I still miss the ship.

one out of seven

News item from the NYT today: "For the first time, a billion people used Facebook in a single day last Monday - that's one out of seven people on Earth logged in....Facebook had 968 million daily active users in June.  Most people on Facebook live outside the United States and Canada."

Elsewhere on the Earth, people were leaving their homes seeking survival in a safer place, being shot at or shooting, starving or being starved, all those things people do when they're not online. It's scary, isn't it? I have never bothered with Facebook. I thought it would be time-consuming and invasive so I didn't try.  My favourite news channel gives me little shots of Facebook, human interest stories that go "viral".

VIRAL:  relating to or involving an image, video, piece of information, etc., that is circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another: a viral video ad | the video went viral and was seen by millions. (online Dictionary)

Not knowing what happens on Facebook, I sort of assume that the appealing things that go viral are the essence or perhaps the above average items of interest, like funny cats; jaunty dogs; monkeys in sheepskin jackets; bears peeking through the viewfinder of a camera; nice fathers telling their teeny little kids they can be gay if they want to be;  or whatever.  I would never be considered viral, not in my wildest aka mediocre dreams.  

Someone put me on Facebook, I don't know who or how.  But I am told that my blog is on and do you know what? I am told that I have 19 hangers-on or - what do you call themFans?  Friends? Likes?  


It's not a billion, of course, but it's a beginning.


You'd think after all this time and with so many departures that I would be used to it, to moving my body and brain from one place to another, but I still get uptight and my lists are fraught.  Perhaps freighted would be a more accurate term.  I carry much more baggage in my head than in my carry-on. 

I'm disappointed that I didn't swim but it was too wet and cold this week.  I did clear out my friend's fridge (and freezer). I have to make a list for her of what to use with simple recipes and tips.  It's one of my few skills.  As you know, I can't sew.  If I lose a button that's it for that garment. I can live without it.  And that reminds me of how little I can live with; my long trip proved that.  I didn't take enough clothes with me but I stayed clean because we had free laundry service and no buttons fell off.  I did mend a hem that I had stepped on and pulled loose.  I was very proud of that.  

But the point is, I didn't need much, and I learned to live with less. Hah!  Oh, that sounds so fake and phoney!  I don't begin to know what deprivation means. But I do know that too much can be debilitating.  So this fall, always to me the new year and time for new resolutions and goals, I am going to go through my closet and drawers and empty them.  Well, not empty, but cull. I've talked about clutter, mess, hoarding and pack-ratting before.  It's an increasing problem (blight?) in the affluent world we are blessed to live in.  

Is it possible to lighten the load?  I've  read lots of suggestions for changing one's accumulative ways.  One is that for every new article you bring into your home, you should remove two things.  I'm not bad at that, books excepted. Don't go there.  Right now, I'm going home. 

double thinking

I'm still at Lake Rosseau and it's still raining.  Next week it's going to be 28 degrees Celsius and sunny, much good that does me now.  So I've been cooking.  My hostess asked me to help her with leftovers.They just had a party for 70 of their closest friends and party leftovers always present a challenge. I rise to challenges.  My first cookbook was about leftovers and I do make house calls for dear friends.  Sometimes I fall a little short, like bread.  Not flat, but short. This morning I met a complication. 

Working on my laptop, I was making out my grocery order for delivery on the day  I return and I was doing double digit thinking, not digits but food items.  I'm conducting a mental inventory of my fridge and pantry and bumping into my more recent knowledge of my hostess's contents -well, not  her bodily contents, you understand, but the contents of her larder.   So I have to stop and double-check before I enter the order. 

People who juggle two or more homes do that all the time, I'm sure, except they probably have a housekeeper or someone to do it for them.  I remember buying a two-sided notepad designed for home and other places, a grocery list for two, as it were.  Even if you just rent a place for a couple of weeks, it can be confusing.  You find yourself thinking, "I know I have peanut butter, I just bought some" but it was for the other place.  Or else you find you have two of something you never meant to have two of. So this  morning; I had to double-think. To buy or not to buy.

Today I will be coping with a plethora of pineapple and several chicken breasts, cooked and uncooked.  Plus beets and pecans and some very tired celery, and an overage of asparagus.  It's a good thing it's still raining or I'd feel overworked.  As it is I feel as if I'm auditioning for "Chopped".

I wish it would stop raining.



Here I am and there is nothing to stop me from writing a decent blog except my own lethargy, inertia and laziness. Oh, and I have to catch up with me.  Too many disparate places and people, too much moving my body in space and time; I have to stop and breathe and figure out where I am now.  Well, of course, I know where I am:  I'm in a cottage/camp/summer place (but it's a year-round home)  on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, Ontario.  It's a dull, cool, rainy day I'm happy to say. Otherwise I'd be forced to be active. The silence is deafening.  The tap of my fingers on the computer keyboard is the loudest noise in the room.  I'm sure I will begin to think soon.

Lots to think about, I must say.  My inner dialogue never stops, of course, and I react to everything I see, hear, read, remember and forget. I try to make mental post-it notes for the next blog and sometimes I pick them up.  Such a clutter!  If they were real, my forehead would be covered with paper.  But then, when I sit down to recall and write them out, they fade away, with just a few tschotschkes fluttering behind my eyeballs.  No, that's not right. Tschotschkes don't flutter; they pile up, stretch out and cover surfaces not originally intended for them.  I am, right now, in a House of Tschotschkes. It is a museum, a muse- see -'em, and I am certainly amused. Also amazed. 

And before I start calling the kettle black, I must look to my own dark pots. (Is anyone old enough to remember that expression, about the pot calling the kettle black?)  I keep talking about clutter, yours, mine, ours, everyone's, including poor people's - not poverty-stricken, but poor.  Rich people just have more expensive tschotschkes, more, and more expensive.  Earlier this morning and it is still relatively early by other people's standards, I was thinking I could offer to help and cull some of the clutter in this house. Well, look to your own house, I said to myself.   My clutter is not as attractive, consisting as it does of mounds and piles of paper, uninteresting until read. The clutter here is instantly appealing, full of humour and colour and gaiety and playfulness and charm and invitations to linger.  How could one bear to throw anything away?

My friend is a designer and an artist and a generous free-wheeling spirit with great panache.  She deserves every tschotschke she owns and they are lucky to be owned by her. I must admit I've even given her some - but useful, functional, ultimately disposable ones. 

I'm going to have to think about that. Is it too late to change?

a lick and a promise

Well, I can understand that people who should keep in touch don't because they are too busy. I am too.  I went ago a ninetieth birthday party yesterday and home too late to write and far too late for a 90-year-old to be up!  Today I am preparing to go to another lake for a couple of days....at least, I'm getting caught up on some reading. I finished the Anne Tyler book; I'm taking Kate Atkinson's new book with me today.

I'm saving up some ideas for you.  Plus a to-do list you wouldn't believe. At least I'm "dropping a note" as they used to say. Why don't you do the same?  (You know who you are.)

here I am again

Well, which comes first? Carousel, which I saw last night at Stratford, or the return bus ride to Guelph, or the marvellous people I stayed with, or a good chicken recipe from the New York Times that I cooked for Matt for dinner this evening, or the Anne Tyler book that I've almost finished,  or the fact that I'm too tired to write my blog tonight.  Yes. I'm going to bed. Anon,anon.


I'm going to Guelph today by bus, meeting friends I am taking (with my freebies plus one) to Carousel at Stratford. It's not my favourite musical because I hate the premise, but there it is. I'm just taking Minnie with me (my iPadMini) and a Book, a real one. (Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread) so I won't write a blog until I get home.  Have a thoughtful day/night/whatever.

more writers

I´m having trouble. I tried to edit what I´d written and my copy wouldn´t allow editing. So I couldn't give  you the dates for Laxness and Þordarson.  Laxness: 1902 - 1998; Þordarson: 1889-1974. I don't know the latter's work at all. You're on your own.  Among contempoary writers, I know a bit about Sjón; he took his nom de plume from his name Sigurjón.  I read his novel The Blue Fox (in translation) and can't remember it.  I note that he is also a performer-musician, having worked with Björk. I know the mystery writers better: Arnaldur Indriþason and Yrsa Sigursdottír, very different from each other and each of them very popular.  I gave my collection of  Indriþason to the ICCT library so you can borrow a copy, if you live in Toronto, by appointment with Kara Schuster. I recommend that you keep reading Logberg Heimskringla (Icelandic-Canadian newspaper) and The Icelandic Connection (magazine) to keep you up to date with current Icelandic writing. It´s worth reading!

Icelandic writers I like

So let's do this:  Halldór Laxness, of course, and the only Icelander to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1955).  He wrote a lot but his novel, Independent People, is arguably the best novel of the 20th century.  I normally gulp books because I'm a fast reader but this one I didn't gulp. I'd read just so much and then I'd have to stop and absorb it. He writes like the sagas, without dipping into stream of consciousness, but the effect on your mind is devastating.

Another writer, contemporary with Laxness but not as well known, is also considered a giant of Icelandic literature.  Þórbergur Þórðarson, relatively unknown outside of Iceland, has had two of his works translated and published in English, The Stones Speak and Of Icelandic Nobles and Idiot Savants. 


where was I?

Oh, yes -- Icelandic literature.  I fear that blog is jinxed. I kept losing it and time and now, focus. I'll get to it soon. I still have my notes and I promised a tidy wrap for The Icelandic Conncection, the Canadian Icelandic magazine my cousin Lorna edits.  Soon.

Yesterday was a busy, puttering day.  The highlight was  a house call made by my friend and guru, the Apple lady, who guides me through my techie problems and saves me from myself. I learn a little more each time she so generously comes to my aid, and we always have a nice visit. I'm backed up and safe and inspired.  If only I could say the same about my life.  Don't you find it daunting to look at something you've been meaning to do for ages - ca it be three years now? - and you still haven't done it?  I fid it comforting to know that I'm not the only one.  The darling woman who hosted my talk the other day has generously offered a room in her house as the new home for the ICCT (Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto) library. That's why I donated  some of my books.  All the books have only recently been moved into her lovely, glass-doored shelves and cozy space.  She said they were not yet sorted out and shelved by category and alphabetical sequence.  She'll "get around to it" soon.  Do you remember when you could buy a TUIT?  A round one, that is. Everyone had to get a round Tuit.  I still need to. Yes, well, if it makes me feel (a little) better,  that's a good thing.  

 It's early morning and I delay the 6 a.m. swim time slightly because it's so dark outside now. I wait until quarter after, even six-thirty sometimes,  No fear of being cold.  I usually plan my day and menus while I swim and play anagrams with the warning signs posted around the pool.  My favourite one is PARADE, from DEEP AREA.   Other random thoughts: did you know you can buy a tongue brush?  I've seen ads for it on TV.  I mentioned it to my dentist's assistant the other day while we were waiting for my mouth to freeze. I was going to scoff at it but she picked up on it right away. Oh yes, she uses one every night, and she gave me a pitch about how to use it, just one or two minutes, not five, and be careful not to go too far back on your tongue or you'll gag. 

And I thought I might buy a Fit-Bit, a bracelet monitor that tracks not only the number of steps you take each day (I know about pedometers) but also other, to my mind, more imitate activity, like your sleeping habits and stair-climbing. Does descending or ascending gracefully after a nice young man or woman who carries my shopping cart  down or up the subway stairs count?  Anyway, the Fit-Bit is too expensive for me.  I just try to follow the advice I found on a birthday card I gave to my mother years ago:

"Keep moving or they'll throw a tablecloth over you."



As you saw, if you read yesterday's blog, I got wiped out.  I plugged in the commuter and went to bed. I spent this morning, all morning, at the dentist's and I'm cooking dinner for a friend who is coming at 6.  So I have time to fill in a few blanks, still on about Icelandic literature.  The tone of the sagas is what impresses me most.  It is so laid back, so factual, so seemingly unemotional even when it describes the most harrowing events.  The narrative never goes inside a person's head.  We are told and we see what they are doing; we see but we don't hear their thoughts. It's sort of like play-writing, which is probably why I I lke it so much.  With plays you don't have the many and various means available to a novelist to tell a story.  With plays you have what a person says, what he does, and what other people  say about him, keeping in mind that people are unreliable and not always truthful (a good trick). So there's no stream-of-consciousness. If you're lucky, you get a monologue such as Shakespeare wrote.  Contemporary playwrights use the monologue a lot but they aren't Shakespeare.  I digress. Where was I? Ah yes, the sagas. 

Well, Snorri Sturluson wrote them down and for that we are grateful. Icelanders, like most early people, before reading, loved to be told stories, loved to hear the tales told around a fire in the dark, Icelanders more so, maybe, because the darkness lasted so long.

Oh dear, I wrote a lot more and I pushed  the wrong button (again) and it's gone. It's too late now write it again. I'll try again tomorrow.


it's in our DNA

You probably know that the Icelanders are the most literate people in the world. It's in my DNA: books, words, reading, thoughts, ideas.  Yesterday I enjoyed an afternoon of talking about Icelandic books and literature, beginning with the sagas. We were lucky that the earliest stories were written down in Norse, not Latin, so that the material was available to common people when they learned to read the language they spoke.  And Icelanders have remained purist in their attitudes to their spoken language today.  (It is one of the most difficult modern languages to learn, I'll tell you, because it still declines and conjugates and presents masculine, feminine and neuter nouns with attached articles, too, all of which have to match. I've been working at it for a few years and I'm not fluent. It would help if I did more homework, i.e. studied.)  So pure is the present-day language, in fact, that I am told a modern Icelander can pick up a saga in Old Norse and read it without a crib or dictionary.

Even though almost everyone in Iceland  speaks English (and several other European languages) they had an argument with Microsoft several years ago when Bill Gates wanted to stay with English in his programming because everyone in  Iceland would understand it.  But that would have meant that students and younger people coming on would not be as attached to their native language as they should be.  I don't know who was arguing, the government or sales force or social media, but Iceland won and got their computer programs in Icelandic.  BTW I have an Icelandic keyboard I can switch to for my Icelandic work.

I started this too late and he battermy power is about to give out. Mi

lots to report lots to say

I spoke today to a small group, a few members of the ICCT, the Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto, a kind of general, hover-view of Icelandic literature, beginning with the sagas and ending with the hot mystery writers so popular today, with my personal take on Halldór Laxness (1955 Nobel Laureate for Literature).  I think I just started a book club. 

I'll go into detail tomorrow with names and lists and specifics.  Anon, anon.

o that this too too solid flesh would melt

You've heard that line before. I bought a new, digital scale because my old scales were very old but I miss them already because I weigh more on my new, super accurate scale than I did on my comfortable old thing. So now I have to be more stringent and cranky until I catch up - or down - with my former weight.  Nothing is ever simple, is it? 

I joined Weight Watchers online again because they do all the arithmetic for me. I don't cheat but it's going to be hard to admit on my next weigh-in that I've gained weight, especially as it was not me that gained weight but my scales.  Do you think they'll understand?

Here's a good WW breakfast:  French Toast. Put a slice of whole-grain (or even WW bread) on a glass pie plate and drip 3 tablespoons of egg whites on it, turning once to soak it.  Cut up strawberries while the egg-white bread cooks in the microwave for a minute or so. Strew the strawberries over the toast. I pour one tablespoon of maple syrup over this - well, maybe two. Num.

too soon we get old

Not me, of course, but other people. It's not the wrinkles or the appearance or even the RBF I told you about (Resting Bitch Face: it settles more heavily as time passes); it's the strength, energy and stamina that dwindle and shrink and sideswipe your drive and desire.  You know that feeling: you want to do something, even something quite pleasurable but you "just don't feel like it".  That's okay for slight tasks or small efforts, you can always do them tomorrow.  But consider something larger, requiring more effort and time, and you pass on it completely.  I'll give you the example that brought it home to me and has made me change my mind about an idea I had.

A friend of mine called me last night. She is 91, exactly 7 years older than I, exactly: we share the same birth date. She has always enjoyed abundant energy and has always expended it on other people and community projects, in fact, she received an Order of Canada for her selfless dedication to others. In her "spare time" she devotes her energy to politics; she's a pathological Liberal. We used to live in the same city but now we are almost the whole continent apart. We have still managed to see each other. I get to Vancouver every other year or so and she has been in Toronto often enough to maintain contact. After her husband died she spent a decade on serious travel but now, she told me, she doesn't have the strength for it. Her travelling days are over She was responding to my question.  I had asked her if she thought she might be able to make it to Toronto next February to celebrate my birthday (and hers).  Her answer was no, her travelling days are over. I guess those days are limited for me now, but it wasn't the travel limitation that impressed me and made me change my mind.

I have been thinking of having a large party to celebrate my 85 years and I have been canvassing a few of my older friends in other places to find out whether they might be able to attend. The first obstacle, no, the first and second obstacles are money and weather.  I mean who wants to go to Toronto in February if you could go somewhere warm instead? But the third and fourth are age and energy, and those are even more limiting and definitive. So, reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that I will not have a party.  If I have the money and am granted the time and energy, I think I will try to travel to see some of my friends where they are rather than make them come to me.  It will actually cost less than the party and will give us each in  turn, a chance for a more significant reunion.  

I hope there's enough time.

lawk-mercy-on-me this is none of I

I think my character has utterly eroded. I keep goofing off and stopping to rest and do other things and it doesn't seem to bother me, though It should.  And I need to make some money. (Don't we all?)  It was my father, you see, who wanted to know what I had ACHIEVED each day and I had to have a good answer. Now, I still do a spot check but I am satisfied with less accomplishment and more pleasure.

Today was a good day, though I didn't do half of what I intended to do.  That's okay. The sun is shining, the air is soft, there is a light breeze, and I have my umbrella up (at last!)  on my balcony. That's an achievement.  And a dear friend is coming for dinner and we will have martinis. She is one of the few people with whom I drink martinis. It's not the Insignia (my cruise ship), of course, but it will do, it will do.

Tomorrow I will get serious.

whither goest thou?

On the road again, or rather, in the air.  Tthis morning I'm moving my body back through time and space to go home.  Reentry brings its own difficulties.  I'm wondering about my plants (very few since my homecoming from the Trip but they do need watering) and food, a basic problem. After managing to lose four pounds on the Trip, I have gained two pounds over this self-indulgent weekend. How, no, why, do I do that?  Let your guard down for a minute and the calories attack. So the remainder of this week I will be vigilant, stringent, abstemious and cranky.

Also busy. That will help. One of the hidden benefits of travel is the removal, even if brief, of pressing problems at home. You can't do anything about them until you return.  

I did something for someone yesterday that I have yet to do for myself: I cleaned and tidied a room.  My peripatetic, youngest granddaughter returns tomorrow from a year as an au paire in Denmark.  To look at her room you wouldn't think she had ever left  She has a lot of stuff. I offered to clean and dust and tidy up in preparation for her new onslaught (I have no doubt) of stuff.  Wow.  She owns more lipsticks than I've ever had. Plus body gel, wash, conditioners, softeners, and yes, cleansers, not to mention shampoos, also big jars of lovely-smelling creams and lotions that prevent wrinkling (at age 23). I found pretty glass jars filled with  bobby pins or Q-tips, but none with pens and pencils and letter openers (the usual contents of my spare mugs). I love paper so I covet her unused note books and fancy sticky notes and desk-size portfolios and scratch pads. They are what made me realize that I, too, have amassed too much, only in my case it's anything to do with paper. I collect paper, both blank and filled with my own thoughts, notes, noodges and reminders.  I, too, am a packrat. Aren't we all?  We just accumulate different things. 

Oh, and the books! Sometimes I wonder who buys the books that I don't buy, on subjects  that I don't want to pursue. I begin to understand.  I found titles and authors I never heard of in my granddaughter's bookshelves,  though not as many as the capsuled colours I have never thought of putting on my lips. I did see some copies of books by authors whose names I recognize and whom I like too, but not many.  Emily is 60 years younger than I am, not only of a different generation but a different mind-set and a different country, literally.   

Well, I learn something every day, and it keeps me humble.  

Very humble.

And be it ever so, I'm going home.

No place like it, withered plants and all.