Whew! Stealing a look at my electronic calendar says it all! It has been a busy several weeks! Certainly one can expect a bit of hype surrounding an upcoming four-month sojourn but there were many other factors in the mix which had nothing whatever to do with packing, things we hadn’t anticipated, things we would have preferred to have by-passed. It is too tedious to trot out the sometimes annoying details of all that has lately transpired. When however I drove home today from my early morning appointment in Ottawa I was decidedly relieved; at last my scheduled duties were behind me and an open calendar beckoned me. As so often is the case everything seems to have magically dovetailed mere hours before our departure. I can’t imagine that there is any design in that happy fortuity but there it is! Just plain good luck.
It is further no small consolation for having endured the stressful urgencies of the past several weeks that my elderly mother and I had a very satisfactory rendezvous this morning. One cannot always be assured of such a buoyant reception. Because I had my MacBook Pro computer with me – I had just been to the Apple Store to collect it from the repair shop, that’s another story! – I decided to connect the thing to a “Personal Hot Spot” on my iPhone so I could review with her the details of her financial affairs and to show her how wonderful my amateur photos look on a large screen. As you might imagine the wealth of information which I was able to lay before her within an instant was somewhat overwhelming but she generally grasped the gist of what was going on and appeared to appreciate the marvel of computers and the internet. I titillated her by exemplifying the location of my iPhone through iCloud and sending an audible notification. It bowled her over! I tied up the whole package by reminding mother that we all have a great deal for which to be thankful and that we should as a result avoid any whining complaint (sadly not an uncommon refrain). I told her that her only worry should be about how much to eat and drink on Christmas Eve when she stays overnight at my sister’s place.
It also helped that I brought along a number of compact discs which I no longer use (all my favourites have been added to a USB and the rest I get off my iPhone). It is a sign of the times that my former tuner/CD player and miniature speakers are now virtually redundant having been replaced by Bluetooth technology. My mother, being yet less advanced and having no Bluetooth enabled devices, has however a new little sound system to which she has happily adjusted very well. The extra CDs were therefore a perfect addition to her collection. I put on a Christmas CD, the classics including Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”. Later as I returned home in the car I listened to a new USB, magnificent pieces by Arvo Pärt (reputedly the world’s most popular modern composer) as well as Handel’s Messiah performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Philadelphia Philharmonic under the direction of Eugene Ormandy (my very favourite rendition). It was Nirvana listening to the music in the car, streaming along the dry pavement, the undulating ribbon of highway from the City to the country, surrounded by tranquil landscape, grey trees and orange streaks of light in the late autumn sky.
There was a minor setback in the afternoon after I discovered that in the process of repairing my computer many of my bookmarks had been removed. For the most part the replacement was easy but one in particular was not, of course the one I use most regularly and without which I am effectively locked out. I finally got it.
We are now absorbed thinking about packing and the calculated depletion of our remaining food provisions. Our new next door neighbour knocked on the apartment door to invite us to tea with his wife on the following day. It is odd that we should cavort with people who are our very newest acquaintances as we have deliberately turned down other invitations from our closest friends. We decided weeks ago that we would not contaminate our last few hours on terra firma by socializing. Our new neighbours are however irresistible; they are both charming and scintillating as we have discovered through the most casual brushes. It always amuses me how certain people instantly connect. There must be so many indicia flying about apparently unobserved, clues of things which mysteriously manifest themselves.
So now the unencumbered life unfolds. I have only to attend upon my hair architect tomorrow, unplug the lamps, remove the batteries from the mantle clock and put out the money for our cleaning lady’s Christmas gift. The onus of obligation and commitment slips away. If a calendar can be trusted as a reliable source of direction then the way is clear from here to there.