Happy November First

Do you believe it?  So soon? As if I don't have enough lists to draw up, now there are Christmas lists to think about. I used to be very organized about Christmas but not any more . So busy . That's hard to believe, too.

I've said before, we take in more information and stimuli in a week than people used to consume/absorb/be exposed to - in a year. This weekend I'm going to "Carmen" (the live-from- the-Met production on TV) and "Helen Lawrence" at the Canadian Stage, a multi-media production. In my spare time I'll be reading the Sunday New York Times, and trying to catch up with other stuff, fiddlies, I call them, but if you don't keep ahead of the fiddlies, they'll drown you. I read an article recently decrying the pressure on older people to try to be 25, or 45 or even 60. 

Well, I'm not interested in skate-boarding or nuits blanches but there's still stuff I want to learn and know and yes, be dazzled by.  I have a few rules, well, not rules, exactly, but little measures of my progress, if any. When I was in school (university), I used to play a game with myself, naming the last three books I had read.  If the list didn't change every day or so, I wasn't reading enough.  I'm not competing with anyone or anything but it's still a good "game" to play, to check on your reading habits.

A friend who knew I was working on my book about aging suggested a while ago now to make a list of everything I had learned since I was 60. I mentioned this idea to someone else who answered promptly, "I've learned how to live alone."  I was astonished because I had learned that lesson a long time before I turned 60.  But I love it when people tell me something I didn't know. Not that I know everything and I am choosier now.  There are some things I'm too far along to take the time to learn, like the current popular songs.  I was amazed to hear some of my grandchildren singing along with what were to me incomprehensible lyrics. I'm not going to try. I'm never going to learn to play adequate bridge. It was agony to me when I tried and not necessary for me to know.

 So far I seem to be putting the emphasis on things I haven't and don't wish to learn, but  I always have an eye out for others' more practical solutions to simple activities, a neater way of cutting red peppers, for example (learned from watching cooks on the TV show, "Chopped").  I love to watch a friend cook, any friend, because everyone does things differently.  Have  you ever watched people tie their shoelaces?  Everyone does it differently, especially left-handers. Did you ever read "Management in the Home " by Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)? She and her husband were time-motion experts, engineers who were employed in industry. They had 12 children. I think it was 12 - yes, and a book written by two of them became a movie of the same name: "Cheaper by the Dozen".  Gilbreth ran her household like an efficient, small industry. Every kitchen I have ever set up I modelled on her time-motion expertise. "Point of first use" was her major rule.  

Early on in my marriage, not that early, but by the time I had 4 children under the age of 6, I really studied Gilbreth's book and tried to arrange my life so as to allow me some energy and time to write. I remember a friend dropping in when I was in the midst of my planning and re-arranging and she questioned me:

"Do you mean to tell me you are using your spare time in order to create some spare time for more work?" 


She thought I was nuts. I was. I still am, and grateful for it.   

 I have to go to the opera now.  À bientôt.