Winter Has Arrived According to my iPhone; This Was the Winter of our Discontent; A Study of Its Origins; Warm the Cockles of My Heart Explored; A Chance Encounter on An Elevator Leads to Questions of Normalcy and Ordinary Lives; New Hairdo Wins Compliments; Extraordinary Explored; Photo of New iPhone Screensaver

Seasons are a novelty to me. Not brand new, but unusual because, although I lived with seasons until 1967, now their fifty-five year absence have made them a them a distant memory. I returned to the land seasons in May of this year. This was, come to think of it, superb timing. Summer was slow in coming but eventually made its appearance. Then all of a sudden on one fine day in September,  t was autumn. This has been an unusual year, folk say, because autumn was with us in all of its glory until today. I am declaring it winter as there is an eighty percent chance that it will snow tomorrow.

But I am ready for it! Winter clothes purchases are complete (except for cleats). Then, out of an abundance of caution, all appointments for the next few days were cancelled. The first day of snow is bound to be a mess, I will look down on it – that is the plan. It is possible to use the tunnel system (which is apparently under the ground) to get to breakfast at the Legislative cafeteria. I would not freeze to death (or barely even get cold. The tunnel walk would allow for a  satisfying breakfast accompanied by morning greetings from the superb staff. Do have coffee and breakfast necessities in house – we shall see.

Echoing constantly in my mind is this sentence:  This Was the Winter of Our Discontent. So naturally, almost  almost instinctively, it was off to Google, first retrieving this snippet “The Winter of Our Discontent is John Steinbeck’s last novel, published in 1961. The title comes from the first two lines of William Shakespeare’s Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun [or son] of York” Further discovery led to the real thing, The beauty of the language makes it impossible for me not to quote in its entireity.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up,
About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes.

From Richard III

Recently, (not of olde) receive accolades about my writing abilities. Some have been reported on this blog.
They: Alexis! You are a great writer!
Me: Thank you, it warms the cockles of my heart to hear that. But I am not Shakespeare.
They: Well you are right about that. But at your best, you are funnier.
Me: Thanks! I do enjoy Will’s comedies but I do have a better turn of phrase.

What does it mean to warm the cockles of my heart? : to give someone warm and happy feelings. The following information is more than you wanted to know but:  “The term warm the cockles of one’s heart dates back to the mid-1600s, a time when scientific texts were often written in Latin. The Latin term cochleae cordis means ventricles of the heart, and most probably, the word cochleae was corrupted as cockles.” On a more mundane level it can also mean warm hearted: sympathetic, compassionate, kind; enthusiastic, fervent.

To get back to the topic at hand, I do confess that, rather than harboring feelings of discontent this winter, I am feeling most content. The content definition: in a state of peaceful happiness. Its synonyms when used as an adjective are:   satisfied, pleased; gratified, fulfilled; happy, cheerful, cheery, glad, delighted;, untroubled, at ease, at peace, serene. Used in a sentence: She seemed content with her lot in life.

But I am not altogether placid, tranquil and bovine because there is a lot going on in my life. Again another expression comes to mind. I have too many irons in the fire. It, of course, is an idiom: If someone has a lot of irons in the fire, they are involved in several different activities or have several different plans. Too many irons in the fire can sap your energy and prevent you from seeing which path to take.”

This is an example taken from an email sent to a cousin – we have recently reconnected and are having a jolly time with one another. I sent her an email with the subject line. “Just When My Life Starts to Seem Normal.
Me: Phone rings to tell me parcel is being delivered. I have to go down to collect deliveries so throw on a robe and slippers over my long underwear (I was in bed early). The elevator stops at the on the way down and an incredibly handsome man gets on. I apologize for my appearance saying I am a Muslim and that I never would appear like this when I lived in Abu Dhabi. He calmly said he was a Muslim from the UAE. Unasked he came to the entry with me and carried the heavy microwave up to my apartment. Left quickly as he had an appointment but took my number. What are the odds of that happening? Why me???? That is not normal, this is Edmonton?!?!
She: Why you? I have no idea! Maybe you should not look at incredibly handsome men & live a normal life. Hahaha
Me:  Too late!!!! Hahaha

This is an entirely different subject but still not a normal conversation considering where the young woman resides and the nature of our continuing correspondence. She is originally from Wales but living in Abu Dhabi. I do not believe we ever met but began an Instagram chat about ex pats working in the UAE. (Her husband is employed in the UAE) . We communicate often.
She: Your new hairstyle really suits you! Very glamourous.
Me: Thank you! I love it! It is an oldie but a goodie. I had my hair cut off when wearing a hijab in the heat. But now neither is true – no heat and no hijab. A dear man laughed and said that I am now an ‘under cover’ Muslim’. It is so funny and I guess it is true although I readily admit to my Islamic faith. Perhaps I shall share our conversation on my blog. Well not the part about (name withheld).

I am a 79 year old woman, retired from the practice of law, who returns to Edmonton after an absence of 55 years. That is rather unusual, downright abnormal, as I did not return to family or friends (as they are probably all dead). I became a Muslim two years ago – that is highly unusual. I did obediently wear a hijab and abaya when living in California and Abu Dhabi but about a week ago say No More. I shall speak at some length of my decision in a subsequent blog but in brief will say this. The Quran decrees that men and women dress modestly – that is all. Older women are not held to the same strict requirements – they do not have to wear ‘outer garments’.  Not sure exactly how that translates into everyday English but, excuse me, this is Edmonton and it is cold. Therefore, I usually feel totally comfortable not covering my hair (exception was the elevator encounter).

All in all, one has to say that this is not a normal, ordinary life. I have fashioned a productive, fulfilling life in Edmonton, arrived here in May. For example,  a woman whose real mother lives in Nepal calls me (at my invitation) her Canadian Mom. Her Nepalese mother is younger than I am. We laugh whenever we are together.

Her husband and I had a serious, but jovial, conversation today.
Me: I am surrounded by such good people now – here in Edmonton. It all starts out with good people. I meet you, you tell me about your doctor, who is an amazing woman.  She accepts me as a patient. She tells me about a physiotherapist who has got me up and moving. Last week I ask him. “Do you have a good dentist?” “Sorry No”. A woman from an adjoining cubicle spoke up, recommending her dentist.  So now I have a dentist!!
Husband: You do! You have it all!
Me: I don’t have a husband.
Husband: You got a coffee. Who knows?
Me: I am laughing! I do not think I need a husband. It is all up to Allah.

During my months in Abu Dhabi I had ‘my own taxi driver’ who came from Bangladesh, wife and family lived in Bangladesh. He supported them, they were unable to come to the UAE, the plight of most workers. We would take about (my less than) ordinary life.
He: You are not ordinary! You are extraordinary!
Me: Thanks I guess. I will go and look up the meaning of the word.

Well, I did. Some extraordinary synonyms: remarkable, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvelous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, spectacular; striking, outstanding, momentous, impressive, singular, unforgettable, never to be forgotten, unique, arresting, eye-catching, conspicuous, noteworthy, notable, great; out of the ordinary, unusual, uncommon, rare, surprising, curious, strange, odd, peculiar, uncanny; tremendous, stupendous, awesome, amazeballs.
I am forced to agree with my Bangladesh taxi driver: I do have an amazeballs life. Who wants to be ordinary anyway?

Writing this on Tuesday, the day it was supposed to snow. It did not! Went for my yummy breakfast at the Legislative cafeteria laughing with my people. I had cancelled all appointments for two days, so when I got a call from the new dental office saying that they had a cancellation I was able fill that time slot, beginning my Canadian dental care on Wednesday – sooner rather than later.

Photograph is now my iPhone screen saver. During my UAE days my iPhone revealed my US vaccination records. The phone coupled with a recent PCR test got me everywhere – into malls, the Grand Mosque, back and forth from Dubai etc. etc. etc. Do not need that here. That is me, by the way. I was about 43 – even my mother – my most severe critic called me beautiful I should have said at the time.
Me: Thanks Mom but why did it take you 43 years to recognize that? It might have been helpful earlier.
I did not say that but, if I had, she might have said.
She: I am sorry Alexis
Me: That’s okay! I never thought I was beautiful – therefore I developed a personality. Beautiful women (and really handsome men) just rely on their looks and are most superficial. So thanks.

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