A Covid Disrupted Christmas

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft a-gley.”

It’s boxing day. I just finished eating a small bowl of oatmeal porridge—with strawberries, maple syrup and goat’s milk. The sore throat I’ve been nursing for four consecutive days, shows no signs of improvement. Hot beverages, soft food, salt gargles, and rest…so the recipe goes. Honey too. It’s antibacterial. I didn’t know that. But I was tired of honey—honey in peppermint and lavender teas, honey in hot lemon water, blobs of honey licked off a spoon. Maybe, I took the suggestion a little too far. So, this morning I figured that if honey was antibacterial, maple syrup must be too. No scientific reasoning led to that conclusion, just rationalization born from boredom and desire.

I was supposed to spend eighteen days of the Christmas season in Ontario with my children and grandchildren. Covid cut short my stay. When one family member tested positive for the virus, my son-in-law, always prudent and considerate, bought me a ticket on the earliest emergency flight home. Even though I had tested negative, he paid more than the already expensive fare for a premium seat—to keep me, and other passengers, as safe as possible—just in case. Because of his generosity, I may be spoiled. What luxury not to be squeezed between two strangers in a row with armrests wide enough to accommodate only one person. No line-up for the bathroom. Copious legroom for someone much taller than me. The special “treat” I could have done without. But, I stashed the small box of goodies in my carry-on. Mom would have approved. “Waste not, want not,” was her motto.

My covid test at the airport came back negative. Two days later an illness grabbed me by the throat. A tickle turned to fire. Gobs of mucous choked me. Every part of my body hurt. Fatigue kept me pinned to my bed, albeit in a semi-upright position so that I didn’t gag. The next morning, I made my way to a covid testing centre. After waiting three hours in a line-up, the test felt anticlimactic. And also deficient. In other screenings, the oversized Q-tip was inserted farther into my nose, slowly swept the area several times, not two or three, and included both nostrils, not just one.

Positive results are communicated within four hours. I heard nothing. Negative results are posted on-line. Seventy-two hours later, I still have no information. How odd it would be if whatever disease I have is not covid. All five members of my daughter’s family tested positive as well as every neighbour and friend who had visited during my stay.

In spite of my present state of health, or more accurately, non-health, I am truly grateful that I enjoyed ten good days with family before my abrupt departure. Highlights included:

  • sparkly professional manicures for the three girls—me, my daughter and granddaughter
  • buying and decorating an evergreen tree
  • my son, a master at weaving strings of lights trough branches, joining us to illuminate the specimen
  • a rhapsodic tour of Casa Loma—a fairy-tale adventure for everyone
  • a long walk on the marsh boardwalk bathed by a warm December sun
  • many gourmet meals prepared with love by my talented daughter—some of my favourites were “second” breakfasts such as bagels with avocado, eggs, and mustard sprouts or granola with fresh fruits, yogourt and pistachios
  • assisting my two-year-old grandson build intricate, often wheeled, structures with Lego and observing his concentration as he solved some complex engineering problem; reading dozens of illustrated stories to a rapt audience; watching my costumed three-year-old granddaughter perform an original ballet; cuddling my blissful six-month old grandson. And all the time inhaling the enchanting fragrance of these three tiny people.
An illuminated deer in one of the horse stalls at Case Loma

Yesterday was Christmas. In spite of my illness, I donned the bright red sweater I had planned to wear in Ontario then added a shiny gold necklace and earrings. No need for lipstick. An N95 mask covered most of my face. For a few brief minutes Face-Timing with my children, it felt like Christmas.

However, there was no smell of roasting turkey, no crackers with paper hats hidden inside, no carols or laughter or outdoor excursions. Not even snow. Every Christmas Day I usually spend an hour or more photographing nature—the sea, the sky, the trees, the wildlife. When I look back through my Christmas folders, I relive the wonder of those Christmases past. How grateful I am to have many pre-Christmas images taken during my Ontario holiday.

Grandchildren painting

In fact, I am thankful for many things. Some of those blessings include:

  • the return to health of my daughter and her family
  • my husband’s affectionate care for both my little dog and me
  • a bright, warm home in which to convalesce
  • the abiding love of family and friends

Covid may have changed the appearance of your Christmas celebrations. Even so, if you look with your heart, you can still see the wondrous beauty of the season.

May peace be within you; may your heart be strong.”

Love

Prairie

,

The Murder of Creativity–How Dreams Uncovered the Crime

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

Henri Mattisse “The Dream”

Last night I over-dreamt. I feel as if I attended an all-night movie where none of the “shorts” were related.


“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin

My last dream memory is of lying on my left side, nestled under the covers, my face buried in my pillow. A girl’s voice calls to me, “Auntie, Auntie.” (Auntie had a last name but it is lost to me now.)
I raise my head. A child of five or maybe eight years, sits on the floor facing me, her back against the wall.
“Bethany?” I ask. “What are you doing here?” Vague now. It seems I am supposed to be babysitting Bethany and one or two other children.

I wake up. Other dream pieces materialize.

I am still lying in bed. A distraught man comes to me. Says that his prostrate is burning. I tell him, “Get the bag of frozen peas, the one with the large blue X on the front, and put it over your genitals.” He refuses. I say, “Your only choice then is to go to the hospital emergency.”

In the last remembered fragment, I am in a large, unfamiliar house. Horizontal wooden planks, weathered to a brown-grey, line walls, floors, and ceilings. I wander from room to empty room looking for an exit. I come into a small vestibule with a door leading outside. An older man enters—a brimmed hat shrouds his face. I know he’s a police detective. I say, “I am known to have prescient dreams,” and tell him the name of the murderer was revealed to me in a dream; however, it is up to him to find the proof.

**********************

It is now a few hours later. I have eaten breakfast, been for a long, cold walk with my dog and fielded a phone call. But, the dream images peek out from behind other thoughts, play on my mind, keep me from being fully present. I realize that the day will go badly if I don’t “do something with them.”

Keeping in mind that 99% of dream images are aspects of the dreamer, here I go.

Dream #1
Associations

For every image in a dream, the unconscious can provide associations that explain that image’s meaning. Every word, idea, mental picture, feeling or memory that spontaneously arises in relation to an image is written down.


Bethany
Bethlehem Christmas Jesus Baby Beth Epiphany A saviour A new beginning

Young girl 5 or 8
What was I like at that age? What did I value? What did I believe?
Move to new house. Tomboy. Grade 2. My own bedroom. Windows too high. Couldn’t see out unless I stood on the bed. Snakes in window wells. Summer. Tree-climbing. Adventurer.

Back against a wall
No where to turn, a desperate situation

Auntie
Auntie Mame—looked after young boy. My aunties—hardly knew them. Who am I an aunt to? Nieces and nephews live far away. Auntie Blanche—Marilyn’s fake aunt—jealous. Someone who is supposed to take care of children? Not a mother. A loving care-giver. I am sleeping—neglecting my duty.

Title: The neglectful care-giver.
Theme: Failure to take care of business
Feelings: Surprise! I didn’t realize what was expected of me
Questions: What have I been neglecting? What young-girl part needs attention? How would taking care of this be a new beginning?

Research:
The most famous Bethany was a village on the eastern slope of Mount Olivet, about three kilometres from Jerusalem. It’s where Jesus’ three friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived, and where the latter was raised from the dead (John 11:18).

It seems that I am on the right track. I remind myself that all dreams in a night, however dissimilar the imagery, are related in theme.

Dream #2
Associations:
A distraught man
My husband? My inner masculine? He’s about my age. The active inner force. The doer (as opposed to the dreamer). The man who gets things done.


Prostrate
Gland. Sperm production. Reproduction. Ability to produce children. Symbolically, the source of new ideas (children).
But, it is on fire, burning up, too hot. Destroying what is inside? Not being used? Seed is not being released. Pent up. Source of cancer.


Bag of frozen peas
urine? Pee? Bag—testicles? Large blue X—not good anymore?
The solution I offer won’t cure the problem—just freeze it for a while. Inner man rejects it.
Go to emergency—is it an emergency? Are things worse than I perceive?

Title: the burning prostate
Theme: the danger of neglecting one’s creativity
Feelings: once again, I feel aloof, not emotionally engaged with the problem.

Questions: How can I get the creative juices flowing again?

Dream #3
Associations:
Unfamiliar house
a place I have never been, an unrecognized place in myself


Large empty rooms
no furnishings=no ideas, no inner furniture, bleak


Weathered wood

feminine, natural material, usually outdoors, how did it weather inside? The feminine is old, tired but still holding up, still strong

Seeking an exit
I am lost inside this barren space, need to escape

Police detective
someone who solves crimes, the part of me that can help me out of the bleak house, my conscience
Prescient dreams
dreams that foretell, a consciousness of something beforehand, I know the murderer but my conscience will have to prove the guilt.

Title: the murder of creativity
Theme: problem solving
Feelings: sadness about the old house and the empty rooms, lethargy as I wander, hope when I meet the detective. ( Frustration when I woke up and wondered why my unconscious chose the word “prescient” because my conscious self didn’t know its meaning.)
Questions: How will my conscience solve the problem? Who/what did murder my creativity? Self-doubt? How do I restore my belief in mySelf?

Wow! That exercise, as time-consuming as it was, proved not only helpful, but necessary.
For almost two weeks, I procrastinated about writing. Found excuses at first and then retreated into inane NetFlix dramas. Killing time. Killing creativity.

The solution, of course, is to write. Simply write. No matter how uninspired. No matter how crudely done. The simple act of writing restores us to ourselves.

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath