Random stuff, reflections on the meaning of life and death, humour, self-deprecation, a bit of bad poetry.

It’s been ten months since my dad died and as many months since I retired, these two events followed by a string of unfortunate incidents and other losses, difficult to measure against those major ones.

When people ask me how I am enjoying my retirement, I tell them I am only semi-retired now, having returned to work two days a week, cutting that loss to a little less than half its value.

Work days start off with black coffee and culminate in a sixteen hour fast. I am much more disciplined with the rigidity of structure. I keep a few ginger lemon drops in my pocket for the drive home to break my fast, my reward for getting through the day.

Days off start with pain in my right hip as soon as I slide off the bed and hit the floor. That’s a long way down at my height. To save my hip, my husband carries one of our elderly dogs, who is lame and low vision, down the stairs. I feed the dogs and tend to our four birds. I pour a little black coffee in my cream. On unstructured days, I need the comfort of cream like a buffer for the day. I sit in my chair by the window and bend my back rather than my knees to hoist the needier of my two dogs onto my lap. He’ll jump down a few minutes later, then whine to be picked up again. I do the New York Times Wordle, always starting with the word « aloud » to take care of three out of five vowels. Then it’s the mini crossword while my cockatoo screams for attention, my cockatiel whistles her flock call, my Linnie does a soft wolf whistle and my parrotlet forages noisily for seeds. A morning person, I no longer exercise in the morning; it is the beginning of my demise.

There are always lots of chores and errands to do on my days off and every day off or thereabouts, I visit my mother at the senior’s residence where she was placed after my father died. It is a beautiful place filled with light, birds, dogs, caring workers and good intentions. It is the place I chose for her, five minutes from my house. As wonderful as I think it is, it is not home. Rather, it is where we dropped her off when caring for her became inconvenient.

To grow old is to lose everything as your life winds down and you are waiting to die. It is to be forgotten if not by all then by many.

What is semi-retirement like when you are caregiver to a parent? It is dutiful love or loving duty, heartbreak, anguished guilt on the days you don’t go visit.

I sandwich the days off with coffee in my cream and chocolate. I wear boyfriend shirts to hide the filling. My husband carries our gimpy dog up the stairs. I set the alarm for another day.

Sixty years ago today, I was born on an elephant in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, formerly Orissa, on the Bay of Bengal, to a Punjabi father and a Welsh mother.

This birthday is particularly painful because my dad died this past July and he was a true aficionado when it came to birthday celebrations. Granted, I would probably have had to remind him that it was my birthday, but once informed, he would have responded with a booming birthday greeting.

My father was the quintessential optimist, the most enthusiastic birthday celebrator and I really miss him today.

Probably some kind of delayed grief response to his death because honestly, I haven’t taken the time. Correction, I did try some grief counselling offered by the funeral home post funeral, only to be accused by the grief counsellor, who was a person of colour, of being racist as a white person for referring to my father and I as members of the brown club. She said some other bizarre stuff to background music of The Twilight Zone, offered me juice and a granola bar, then tried to convince me to sign up for group counselling. Over my dead body, though I won’t be checking into that funeral home when I die. Nope. I will donate my body to Science and let them sort out the racist as a white person versus brown club controversy.

To add to my grief, my mother, who has dementia, did not remember it was my birthday today which made both of us sad when I gently reminded her.

On the bright side, because there is one, there was cake (the kind with four corners) and there were flowers, cards and gifts and lots of lovely messages in all sorts of formats and there was love. There was love and there was more to love. And for that, I am very grateful.

Today, a client of mine with neurological deficits affecting her balance and coordination reiterated her need for exercises to improve her balance.

She pulled out a publication for seniors, L’âge d’or (The Golden Age), and showed me a page she had dog-eared: a grey-haired senior stretching her quads in the standing position, one hand on the wall for support.

« Would this exercise help my balance? », she asked hopefully.

Standing quads stretch.

I started to explain that this was not an exercise for balance but rather for flexibility. As I spoke, I demonstrated. I lifted my right leg, knee bent behind me and reached for my Skechers-clad foot. To my horror, I could not reach the foot and in my attempt to prove that I, experienced physiotherapist that I am, could do what I say, lunged for said foot, performing a reckless rotation/side bend of my trunk, causing the quadratus lumborum of my right flank to go into immediate spasm. I promptly lost my balance as my horrified client looked on.

Nope, not good for balance at all. 🙄

P.S. You will have to google quadratus lumborum for more information. I ain’t posting a picture of mine. Let’s just say it hurt where my love handle articulates.

When I saw my eye surgeon January 14th, he said all was well post vitrectomy and that I could resume work and all activities without restrictions. He also gave me the green light to drive, once the gas bubble in my eye was gone, giving it another two weeks to dissipate.

Today is my Independence Day. Instead of my husband chauffeuring me to visit my mother at the senior’s residence where she lives, I will drive myself.

The gas bubble is still present, rolling around my visual field like a rogue punctuation mark, a swirling purple period with a Milky Way centre, small enough not to interfere with my vision or cause any blind spots.

I’ve remarked on a few things while recovering from this retina repair:

  1. I need structure in my life, fixed landmarks around which I plan my day, week, life.
  2. I have a propensity towards a sedentary lifestyle. I like to sit and read, especially during the winter months. When I am not reading, I sit and ponder, and when I’m not pondering, I sit and write. There is a small table next to my favourite chair in the living room which allows me to sip coffee or tea while I sit and in the late afternoon, it holds crunchy snacks. I am becoming a placid blob without purpose or straight lines. As my son once observed as a youngster: « Mummy, you sure like to blob. »
  3. I have lost my confidence, the assurance that all is well in my corner of the universe. I am afraid to resume the life I led pre-surgery, rife with stress and heavy lifting (both figuratively and literally). I am afraid to take a plane, to travel to a place where they may not be able to fix my eye if my retina detaches again, of being without recourse or resources. I fear driving in the bright sunlight or at night. I am worried that all this sitting has made me more kyphotic and further lowered my centre of gravity. I am terrified that if it does happen again, I will lose my sight permanently. And I am strangely sad that this gas bubble that has been my retina’s stalwart anchor, not to mention, of late, my big fat excuse in life, will soon be gone.

I’ve received two weird facebook comments in as many days from random people asking me to add them as friends.

The most recent one was in response to a YouTube video link of a cover my husband and I recorded, from some dude named Ericus Mandy: « i need to listen to this song, i hope it is a good one. Sharon, i will like to have you as a friend. kindly add me up as a friend. thank you. »

Well, of course it’s a good one, Ericus. What are you insinuating? That if it’s not, you won’t be my friend?

If my father were still alive, he would have insinuated that Ericus was probably a very « gungkish » kind of fellow. I think he meant gonkish but with his East Indian accent, it sounded like «gungkish ». Both versions mean stupid.

I checked Ericus’s (too many esses to be real) facebook profile and OMG, how lame can you get, this faker is posing as a divorcee, originally from Bucharest, now working for the US army in Orlando, Florida.

Yeah, right. You are bogus, Ericus; your syntax gives you away. And that’s no Walt Disney castle in your cover picture.

The other comment was from a woman living on the Island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean under a photo album I posted years ago. « Bonjour comment allez vous aujourd’hui? J’ai vérifié mes mises à jour lorsque j’ai vu votre profil. J’ai vraiment aimé ce que vous partagez sur votre profil. Je voudrais vous envoyer une demande d’ami, mais sans votre consentement, ce serait impoli. Je vous demande de m’envoyer une demande d’ami et je l’accepterai. Soyez amis. Je veux vraiment être votre ami et j’espère que cela ne vous dérange pas. ☺️🥰 »

Yikes, get a life. I checked her profile. She only has one profile photo of a very pretty woman who looks to be in her early 20s. Her interests are: shopping, healthy cooking and gardening. Even if I was looking for friends, and I’m not, we clearly have nothing in common.

This seems to be a new trend. Instead of the scammers sending me a friend request, they are trying to cajole me into adding them through cheap flattery and over the top courtesy.

They obviously haven’t read my blog entry about being an introvert.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. A decade ago, I was getting messages like this one:


I’ve come a long way, baby. 😂

My singer-songwriter-guitarist husband has an upcoming gig in February that he is really looking forward to.

I’m happy for him. He works hard at his craft, is a prolific songwriter and a gifted (and patient) teacher.

Ian in his happy place.

Since we met, he has generously invited me into the fold, whether to play guitar alongside him or accompany him using one of the many little instruments that clutter our home. He has taught me how to sing harmony and when the harmony is too difficult, allowed me to sing melody to his harmony in my reedy, wobbly voice.

Happily for me, he has invited me to play on three of his original songs for the gig, using three different instruments: guitar, bass ukulele and merlin (like a dulcimer, tuned to D).

Unlike Ian, I only practice when I have an upcoming gig or open mic spot. Today, I decided I’d better get cracking. I knew all three songs but hadn’t played them in a while. To my delight, I was able to remember all three arrangements after a quick run-through.

One of my favourite things to do when playing music is to accompany, to sit back in that role of enhancing the performance without having to assume any of the heavy lifting.

I keep forgetting what a joy it is to play music. When you play music with others, you are forced to be in the moment, intently listening to the lead player, watching as you would a conductor, yet your brain must also multitask, keeping track of tempo, dynamics, phrasing and of course, which notes to play.

The rehearsal was so efficient, we had time to record a favourite Jeff Tweedy cover.

My husband and I tried this exercise where each of us would contribute a line in an effort to write a story. We did it twice and ended both stories when it was obvious they had died a natural death. 🙄

Story #1

I don’t know why the number 12 just popped into my mind.

A baker’s dozen, the dirty dozen, I’ve done this a dozen times?

A baker’s dozen is actually 13.

I was 11 when puberty hit. By 13, I had a mustache and breasts.

I hate teenagers but I kind of like breasts, though not on teenagers.

It’s hard to run a marathon when you’re big-chested.

It’s hard to stand up with a big head, bobble head.

If you had both, you could rest your big head on your big chest.

Tit for tête.

Ooh, my aching back. I am shrinking by the minute.

I could put you on the rack.

With the baker’s dozen?

The spice rack.

I’m losing all my straight lines and edges.

There are no straight lines in nature.

I’m like a box of cereal then.

Breakfast of champions.

Going for a run. See ya later.

Story #2

I cannot sit back on my heels anymore.

Does that mean you have to be on your toes?

I tried that once and my stiletto broke going down a flight of stairs.

I had a stiletto that I used as a letter opener at boarding school. It was stolen.

Nobody writes letters anymore. Just texting, lol this, lol that.

They should probably look up; there’s a stolen stiletto out there.

Maybe the person who stole it needed to open a letter.

I don’t think so, reprobates don’t read.

They still need to feel loved. We all do.

Not if they got stabbed first.

It’s lonely at the top.

Kind of lonely at the bottom too.

Thank goodness my heels touch the ground when I’m standing.

When i met you, my feet didn’t touch the ground for weeks.

Sounds like you were recumbent.

Nope, walking on air.

Not sunshine?

Kinda fun. Try it!

I was in the middle of writing a rant about motivation, or lack thereof, when a good friend, who also happens to be a brilliant scientist, wrote to ask how my retina repair was healing.

The repair was done on November 25th for: ten tears and a retinal detachment, macula on. The latter means that central vision is preserved and that emergency surgery should be performed within 24 hours.

Here is a picture of my eye pre-op. I knew something was up when the retina specialist’s assistant lined the cursor up with that light leak in the top left aspect of the image.

Still hopeful, I asked the doctor if this was another floater.

«No, Mrs. Cheema, this is not a floater. »


I will spare you the post-op picture. I looked like I’d gone a few rounds with Muhammad Ali.

My surgeon was aptly named: Dr. Sun. So full of hope considering the black hole in my visual field.

When I first met him, he reassured me that my retina did not tear because I read a lot. Phew!

Honestly, he looked like a teenager dressed up as a surgeon when he came to get me in the PACU (post anaesthesia care unit) that night. His resident looked like he was twelve. They were all business when it came to the surgery though and definitely in charge. Hand me this and hand me that to an OR room full of people assisting, that sort of thing. It was very reassuring.

After the tears were zapped (zipped?) with laser, they put a gas bubble in my eye to anchor the retina in place as it heals. All I know is it takes about two months to be absorbed. A google search tells me it is likely this gas: perfluoropropane (C3F8).

Here is this evening’s exchange between my friend and I:

J: « How are you healing? »

Me: « The gas bubble is shrinking. It’s like an annoying bouncy contact lens in my eyes. Wiggles and jiggles whenever I move. »

J: « Your description of what’s happening in your eyeball is a bit…disconcerting? How’s the vision: jiggly?? »

Me: « Initially the gas bubble was like a water tank with the water line clearly demarcated at the top. Now the bubble is shrinking from all directions. When I bend forward, I can see through it in its entirety, like a round shrinky dink or contact lens with a dark rim. Wiggles like jello in a bowl. »

J: « Ooo, that sounds (uncomfortable and annoying yet) very encouraging!! »

Me: « Exactly. »

Unfortunately, the gas bubble isn’t the only thing jiggling when I go up and down the stairs post holidays. 🙄

A fellow introvert and I have been reflecting on the consequences of our introversion of late. We ponder, have our rigorous efforts to maintain our solitude so that we can read our books undisturbed and avoid small talk at all costs prevented us from having a valid social network? Are we destined in retirement to become crazy cat ladies (in my case, crazy bird lady, with a nest for hair), leaving the house only when we run out of reading material? To some, our way of life may appear as the complete absence of lifestyle, as in, why don’t we get a life. Others, thinking we must be deeply unhappy and/or terribly lonely in our isolation, feel pity and consider it their life’s mission to fill in all the empty hours of our day with things to do and people to see, or, at the very least, make suggestions on how we can lead a more fulfilling life.

My extroverted husband interrupted the above thought process to play me a song he wrote. He has since recorded it and put it out there on social media.

I just checked and he has 1500 facebook friends. 354 of those are mutual friends, most of whom I have met through him.

I’m thinking, maybe I don’t need to try harder to socialize after all.

I’m fine. Really, I am.


Life with an extrovert. Really.

Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of one of the happiest days of my life.

I think my husband was a tad disappointed that I didn’t blog about it so I will try to make up for it today.

What was so great about it?

Some girls are seduced by flowers; all it took for me was someone offering to change my guitar strings, then actually showing up to do it.

Afterwards, we sat on opposite ends of my sofa, face to face, feet up, listening to Bruce Cockburn’s instrumental album: Speechless. No words necessary.

Even after that perfect day, it took a long courtship, the natural evolution of a deepening friendship, for me to understand the source of that bliss.

That the feeling—in your heart, bones, and head—that you are truly seen, from opposite ends of the sofa, is all you need to know about love.

Ian changing my guitar strings on January 3rd, 2013. He has since changed them regularly.

Fevers of the Mind

Writing, Poetry, Short Stories, Reviews, Art Contests

Melanie Spencer

Watercolour Artist


Julia Kastner, Writer. my reading and reactions.


Analyse own life


Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North


A Blog About The World of Art

Thoughts from a Fat Old Lady

This is the stuff this fat old lady thinks about

rOsalia Cerro

Sustainable Graphic Design Solutions • Solutions en graphisme durable

Changing On The Fly

A Podcast on Hockey & Politics

Grieving maman

Surviving the loss of my son

Books for Life

Here you will find information about all my books and about my crazy thoughts.

Silent Songs of Sonsnow

"I have enough time to rest, but I don't have a minute to waste". Come and catch me with your wise words and we will have some fun with our words of wisdom.

Family In the 2020s

Cool Family Ideas