Monday, October 31, 2016
Yes, I realize we are halfway through fall already but I just wanted to share with everyone a little bit of what I’ve been up to these last few months.
On July 3rd, I left my radio job in Kemptville and went to the big city to become the evening news producer at CFRA. The team was wonderfully supportive and welcoming. I was very impressed with their company culture where everyone is on the same level and even the little guy gets a thank you for a job well done.
I learned how to scan the newswires and social media feeds for news tips, and whom to call for an interview at each of the main hubs – police, fire, paramedics. There wasn’t the same connection with community as there is at the small radio station in Kemptville – but then we were speaking to a much larger group of people.
My commute was 150 kilometres round trip, daily. I got up in the morning, did some work around the farm, made sure the Farmer had something to warm up for dinner, then I hit the highway for the city around 1pm. Quite often I had lunch with my husband before heading in – because otherwise I would never see the guy.
Once in the city, I made my way through heavy traffic and LRT construction to the Byward Market. I pulled up to my parking lot on Clarence, just a ten minute walk from work. I wriggled my large Ford Explorer between two yellow lines every weekday afternoon. Sometimes I had to crawl out through the passenger door so I wouldn’t hit the neighbouring car with my door.
On my walk down Clarence and up Dalhousie to York, I saw the same homeless people every day. I didn’t give them the spare change they begged me for, because I could see that some of them were dealing with mental health issues and I didn’t want to contribute to their self-medication. I did, however, hand out a lot of snacks. I became known as the granola bar lady. The people with no teeth waved me on.
After my shift I slipped out the back door of the studio onto York Street, keys splayed through my fingers like I was taught long ago in a self defense class. Call me paranoid but I never did become relaxed after dark on my ten minute walk back to the car. Maybe it was the fact that I reported the public shootings and stabbings each day on the news.
One night mid-August I was greeted at the door and escorted across the parking lot as I often was, by Bonnie and Clyde – the two rats that lived in the back of the former Fat Tuesdays restaurant. Once out on the street, I was accosted by a blonde woman, about my age, who would be pretty if she had all her teeth. I reminded her that I didn’t hand out cash but I did have a rather soft ham sandwich she might enjoy. She took it with thanks . Later in the fall I came upon her sleeping in a doorway on a piece of cardboard. She yelled as I passed, “I’ll tell you a joke for a dollar!” and startled me. I told her she should find a safe place to sleep indoors. She said it’s safer outside.
That same night I saw two people doing something questionable in the empty lot on the block where I parked. Another person was urinating in the corner beside the Shepherds of Good Hope building. Dozens of people sat outside, huddled in tight groups and alone. The smell of marijuana wafted through the air. A group of young men – probably in their mid-20s, with pants barely hanging onto their hips and hoods pulled up even though it wasn’t cold, followed me two blocks. It was a full moon that night. A strange energy in the air.
Around the end of September we found out that one of our elderly family members is quite ill. He will have to attend a number of medical appointments and needs an escort. His partner needs company too as she is not comfortable being left on her own. I have one grandmother who recently had a shoulder replaced and needs help around the house, and another who is 101 and needs regular visits and care.
As I returned home after work one night in early October and saw my husband had once again fallen asleep on the sofa, an empty pizza box beside him, I made my decision. All things were pointing to my leaving my job in the city and returning home, to work on the farm.
Some people – I’ve met them – would give their two front teeth to work in radio. I realize I’ve been lucky to have had that experience these last five years. But it’s time for a change. I will be working at home, offering freelance writing and editing services, Now I can make my own hours and be available for the folks who need me.
So if you’re looking for me, I’m on social media @farmwife and I’m out here in my farmhouse office in Oxford Mills, on O’Neill Road.
Posted by Diana Leeson Fisher at 6:50 AM