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Although Gill is back in the UK, Dear Readers, we are going to pretend she’s still here in Canada. Why, you ask? Because we have many more blogs about our summer time together and we think you’ll enjoy them. Besides, it’s hard enough for me to think of topics so we can’t simply discard them! With age, it takes the hamsters in my brain a bit longer to rev up than it used to.  So here goes…

I normally don’t pay a great deal of attention to time constraints since I’m pretty much retired. Or to be more precise, I don’t get PAID for my writing. I continue to write essays for The Globe and Mail, but let’s face it, it’s for the fame and glory(what little there is), nothing else! Oh, and it’s part of my sinister plot to get my name out there in advance of my completing the book I’m writing. There is, as you can see, nothing to match the unfettered optimism of a writer that his or her next book will be ‘the big one’!

I am, however, forced to be on something of a schedule during the summer months. To be precise, it is the pool schedule that rules my life.  With Gill here, it’s even worse since she lives for swimming in the summer.

Three days a week, our pool has ‘early swim’. It goes from 7:45 to 8:15. That’s what the rules say. I’m not a big believer in rules. No, indeed. I’d rather thwart them, outmaneuver them, or pretend I don’t know them. Sometimes I can pull it off. Sometimes I can’t. But my success in ‘gaming the system’ has generally been good.

To whit, I like to arrive for early swim about ten minutes before the lane swim actually begins. That extra ten minutes allows me to finish 40 lengths of the pool (my daily target). The guards are there anyway, taking off the pool covers and doing small maintenance checks. They pretty much ignore me (there’s a lot about my swimming that should be ignored) but they are there for an emergency drowning –should I feel so inclined. Sometimes, if I really feel energetic, I’ll push my luck at the end of the swim time and sneak another five minutes.

This has been my M.O. for years. I had the lifeguards very well trained…but then new guards were hired. I had to begin my reprogramming of them this year. They were generally amenable but occasionally they balked.

One morning Gill and I arrived at the pool to find the gate still locked. Wanting not to seem pushy (I AM still Canadian), we waited for them to see us and open the gate. We waited. And waited. I made slight noises (not crying, just loud throat-clearing noises designed to get their attention). Do you think they paid attention to us? They did not! And then, after we were joined by another friend, we saw that there were people IN THE POOL already…and we weren’t! What was going on?

We trotted around to the other gate, went in and asked, in a pleasant tone of voice (I thought) why they hadn’t opened the main gate. I was greeted with a frosty, “Oh, we must have forgotten. But it IS just 7:45 now so we’re not late anyway.” I had been told. Ouch! See if she gets a bottle of wine or home-baked goods from me at the end of the season.

I tried for a few days, honestly I did, to stick to the pool’s strict schedule…but after the first week, the urge overtook me again and I/we began showing up early. It’s just something built into my body. I must be at least on time and preferably early for everything — be it a doctor’s appointment, business meeting, or lunch with a friend. I get the shakes (as in withdrawal) if I’m late for anything.

I blame it on my father who was, probably in response to his brother who was late for everything, always early. It is part of my genetic code. I note that it seems to have skipped part of a generation since Crazy D is often late (for personal things only, not work) and since he is so forgetful he is often SO late it’s the next day by the time he’s sorted. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m not convinced he actually knows the days of the week. Sigh…