I stole this theme from Dephal, who stole it from Leanne. Then I stole this explanation from Dephal: "The idea is you get a letter, and then list 10 things that begin with that letter that have significance to your life. If any of you want to play, just email me or leave me a comment, and I'll send you your letter." Dephal gave me L. I was grateful she didn't give me X or Z!
L is for...
LOSERS I am a loser-magnet. ;) If I sit down on a bus or a subway car or in a movie theatre or in a waiting room or ANYWHERE public, and there is an empty seat next to me, someone annoying / incredibly smelly / screaming into their cell phone / picking their nose and eating it / leaking loud country music from their iPod earphones / bent on world destruction will sit down next to me, even if there are 153 other empty seats nearby. Even my husband admits that I am a loser-magnet, or sometimes we call it "idiot magnet." It's a fact. There must be something about me that makes people feel safe sitting next to me. How unfortunate. I need some sort of evil makeover.
LETTERS I have always loved letter-writing. Long before computers and email, I had penpals. My longest running penpal (which must be a defunct term these days), now friend, is Lisa. We started writing when she was 15 and I was 16. She lived in small-town Massachusetts at the time, and I was was living in Toronto (where I grew up in deepest, darkest Scarberia.) Lisa saw my name in a penpal newsletter mailed around the world, and decided to give me a try. This year will mark our 27th (!) year of writing, although now of course we e-mail. We have gotten together in person many times now. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding and is married herself, with four beautiful kids. I still do write the odd letter by hand, and it's a bit sad that it's going the way of the dinosaur. I used to pride myself on my stationery collection.
LITERATURE I love to read. I love to write. I have Rubbermaid boxes full of my journals. I've had the odd tiny thing in print here and there, and I still intend to write a book at some point (but I guess a lot of people say that, eh? But I always do what I say I'm going to do, eventually!) As a child, I always intended to be a writer, then I got side-tracked and got my Bachelor of Music. Then I realized that the life of a classical clarinetist was not for me, so I went to graphic design school, but I continued reading voraciously, and writing regularly. Now I am illustrating a book, so we're getting there! I'll get to see my name on the cover of a book at last.
I love literature, high-brow, low-brow and in between. I read every night before bed at the very least. I often fall asleep with the book in my hands, and my husband must gingerly remove my glasses, and gently take the book away. He's very good at doing that without waking me up.
As a kid, I would go to the library and dream of my name being on the spine of a book. I have to work on fulfilling that dream, as I am not getting any younger. Which brings me to...
LIBRARIES I love libraries!! I love librarians. I feel sorry for them when they are abused by the public, like when idiots put disgusting things in book-return slots, or scream at them about fines, or give them a hard time over anything. (By the way: don't FRIGGING WRITE OR DRAW OR HIGHLIGHT in library books! If you want to scrawl all over a book, go frigging buy one! GEEZ!) A library is a beautiful place. At any given point I have at least 15 books out of the library. The best thing that ever happened was when libraries put their catalogues on the Internet. I just sit here and reserve all the books I want. I often check books out that I am thinking of buying (like cookbooks, etc), to see if I really want to lay down the cash for them. ... Back in Abbotsford, BC, I adored the little old library near us. I was on a first-name basis with many of the librarians, and took them chocolates at Christmas and when we were moving. They were a great bunch, and I miss them. Now we go to the main library in Ottawa, or rather, my husband usually does. I reserve the books, and he picks them up for me once a week. There isn't a good library any closer than that, at least, not an English-language one. I do read books and magazines in French, but most of my reading is in English. Here's to libraries and librarians!
LOONS ... and all birds! I adore bird-watching. I have several feeder stations set up around our house. I'm not much of a "trek out with the spotting scope" birdwatcher, although I am envious of those who are. But I love to watch birds whenever I have a chance, even if it's a passing glimpse out a window. We have seen some spectacular birds on our trips in southeast Asia and central American, but North American birds are plenty wonderful too. I have a real soft spot for the loons. When we lived in Nova Scotia, in winter we would see common loons on the saltwater bay our house was situated on. Here I have seen them on the many lakes nearby, particularly when we are out kayaking. There's nothing like the call of a loon... eerily beautiful. And of course, many people have called ME a loon, so no it's wonder I have an affinity for them.
LAVENDER Which is my segue into: I love gardening, and the favourite thing in all my gardens is always my herb garden, which is generally awash in several types of lavender. There are many things I love doing in life: reading, writing, drawing, rug-hooking, knitting, walking... but gardening is the thing that I can do for ten hours a day without ever looking at a clock. I am never more in the moment than when I am in my garden, working away, Even pulling weeds is therapeutic for me. I could not live if I couldn't get my hands into the soil regularly.
I sometimes wonder where this intense love of gardening came from; my Mum couldn't be bothered with it at all. My Dad used to make very nice flower and veg beds, but when my parents split up, he moved to an apartment where he lived until the end of his life. He did, however, always grow a few tomatoes and some flowers on his little balcony, in wooden planter boxes he'd made myself. And my paternal grandfather was described on my Dad's birth certificate as a "landscape gardener" although really he was good at laying paving stones and so on. ... I am glad that we have winter here so that I can get a few months rest from yard work, because I do need that, but come January I'm getting out the seed catalogues and looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt once again. My nails are always, not surprisingly, short. I spend a lot of time scrubbing dirt off my hands in the spring and summer.
LEAVING ... home, that is! Travel is one of the best things my hubby and I do together. We have a particular fondness for southeast Asia. I will never tire of seeing new places, even here in my own province. Leaving home and going out into the wide world has broadened my mind and taught me more than I'd ever imagined it would. It has made me (I think) more compassionate, and I have become very aware of the huge footprint we North Americans in particular are leaving on the world, to the detriment of people in poorer countries. The more I travel, the more I believe in my favourite quote: "Live simply, so that others may simply live." I am by no means there yet, but I'm working on it.
My life list of countries visited: Barbados, Grenada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, England, Germany, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and of course many places in the US (Hawaii, California, Alaska, Washington, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, and Wisconsin) and Canada, which we've driven across twice. I reeeeeeally want to visit the Canadian north. I would like to visit a new country every year for the rest of my life. That would be lovely!
LEARNING I always loved school, was a total "browner" bookworm keener geek straight-A student, and while I don't want to go back to school per se (as in university or anything like that), I never want to stop learning. I do not want to become some old fart whose universe is TV-watching, shopping, sleeping and eating and perhaps farting. If I keep learning, I figure I'll stop my brain from withering into a useless, dried-out hockey puck of grey matter. (Having said that, I SUPPOSE some people find hockey pucks useful!) I want to keep my mind open, and prevent myself from turning into a conservative old codger.
Right now, I am taking French lessons to improve my French, which is definitely taxing my poor middle-aged brain. There are many things I still want to learn: how to keep bees, how to spin wool, how to keep chickens, sheep and llamas, how to read tarot cards better than I already do (which is not very well!), how to cross-country ski and skate better, how to speak a little Sinhala before we visit Sri Lanka again... I want to keep learning until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil.
LAZINESS I have an innate fear of laziness! I think that's because both of my parents got on my case constantly about not being lazy when I was a kid. In my house, the worse thing you could be was LAZY. As a result, I find it nearly impossible to sit around doing absolutely nothing without it invoking guilt, which is probably not the best thing. I admire my husband's ability to relax completely, sleep in late and move around like a sloth. He's hard-working when it matters, but he has a wonderfully relaxed way about him that I will never have. I have no doubt he will live to be 129 years old because he has so much quality down-time (which probably shouldn't be called laziness, but I mean lazy in a nice way here.) If I am not doing something, I feel a sense of guilt that is quite ridiculous. I think I really need to learn to be a bit more lazy, without feeling bad about it. It will make me a healthier person.
LOVE Seems a little too obvious (doesn't everyone write "L is for love"?), but love is very important to me. What would my life be worth if I couldn't love and be loved? The most painful part of love, in my opinion, is losing someone dear to you, but I think that loving is worth every bit of that inevitable pain. I don't know how I could get through life without the love of my husband; he is my friend, my rock, my biggest fan. He has been through so much with me, and he appreciates my twisted sense of humour and, er, interesting moods. He is devoted, loving, intelligent, gentle and quietly funny, and he makes a damn fine cup of tea. I love him!
The love of friends, the love of family, the love of pets... how could we manage without love? And of course, we must love ourselves. If you can't love yourself, how can you love anyone else?
I love my "little brothers"! Twice my hubby and I have been matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters as a Big Couple to "Little" brothers, both of whom now tower over me, and are really young men, no longer boys. They are so different from one another, but I love them both and I don't think they will ever realize how much joy they have brought into our lives. I wish them much love and happiness. One of my "littles" is having a particularly difficult adolescence right now. The road has never been easy for him and he has many things working against him. I hope that he learns to love himself and see all that we see in him. Right now, he does not. Our other little is also bright and wonderful, and he has the strong love of his family, but he had a very rough start in life, and was saved when he adopted. His mother is a powerful force of love in his life.
Then there are the animals in my life, the beloved pets I love so much, past and present. Pets give so much and ask for so little! And wild animals: I love them and appreciate them and wish them lives free of harm from humans. Not so easy when we are polluting and ravaging this beautiful planet beyond belief.
I will never forget the love of my parents. I lost my Dad (Jim) when I was 28 and my Mum (Phyllis) when I was 33. They died on the exact same day, five years apart, both in their early 60s, far too soon. My parents weren't perfect, but I have never doubted their love for me. As an only child, I sometimes feel quite alone in the world without them.
And hey, I love you people who take the time to read my blog and rack up the numbers on that counter. Thanks, people!
Yes, love is definitely the most important "L" of all. But right now, what I would love most is... another cuppa tea!
(This is the loving legacy my loving English/Irish parents lovingly left me: early-onset tea addiction, a sincere love of potatoes, periodic hankerings for fish and chips, an understanding of the wicked pleasure of fried bread, weekly use of HP Sauce, a great Shepherd's pie recipe, and a shameful need to watch Coronation Street on a regular basis.)