in search of swans

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“There they are! See, over on the far bank.  You can see a few!”

“Hold on, I’ll pull over and we can get a better look”.

Our spring-time tradition of heading off to find the swans as they touch down and ride the river currents between thinning sheets of ice.  Driving north where the bears are still snoozing under snow blankets and any pull-offs from the highway are blocked with 3,4,5 feet of snow, we search for swans through the trees from the truck windows.

“Wait I see something.  Lots of them.” As she looks through the seriously unfocused binoculars. IMG_7194.JPG

“I think it’s a swan. No, wait….. it tipped over. It must be an ice burg that fell over.”

“Uh… ok, I guess it could be an ice burg, but…….”

“Oh, hahaha it’s a swan butt! He’s upside down feeding….a swan butt! I’ll get a picture of it”.

With photo ops few and far between from the truck with the phone, we drive on in search of swans.

“There’s lots of somethings over there. Let me check with the binocs.  Well, they sure look like penguins”.

“Don’t think so, Sue.  Not likely penguins”.

“You’re no fun.  Wouldn’t it be cool if they WERE penguins?”

“Sure”.

“There’s a weasely thing on the far bank”.

“Whatcha mean, weasely thing? You mean a marten?”

“Hey, I should narrate wildlife creature shows! (Much laughter)

“Sure”.

Finding swans feels a bit different this year. We left the house with our road sammies (BLT on fresh French bread), cinnamon buns and coffee because stopping in the tiny cafe for lunch is not an option right now.  We stop at the only outhouse rest stop open and maintain awkward social distancing with the few other travellers who have stopped. We disinfect our hands with sanitizing wipes immediately when we are back in the truck.

Finding swans this year sent us home with hope, faith and love. The swans show us that while our world might be different for awhile, we have faith that we will meet together again; and hope that we all stay safe in the meanwhile.

and Love.

“Yeah Sue, you really should narrate creature shows.”  Takes some love to say that with a straight face.

Happy Easter my friends and family. Miss you mightily.

 

 

 

 

 

some stupid things I’ve said…..so far #cringe

As I was sucking up the dog hair with my Dyson this morning, I realized that it didn’t have a light on it. When did they quit putting lights on vacuums? I remember “a lot” of years ago when I proudly was showing off my new vacuum cleaner to our friends and I said “look at the light on it! You can even vacuum when the power is off!” (Like that would be my first priority in a power failure?) Then my friend pointed out the obvious that the unit needed to be plugged into the wall blah blah blah. They laughed at me.

Lounging on the beach in Mexico, sand to be found in bikini places later, watching the waves, drinking beer and getting to know other travellers, I said “I wonder what elevation we’re at”. A simple statement that had everyone looking at me like I’d grown a third eye, or a horn out of my forehead. Too late to explain that I was thinking of the Mexico Olympics and the elevation issues the athletes had. Too late by far.

When my friend came into the office wearing a fancy new skirt and blouse ensemble and asked me how it looked. Did I think the skirt was too long? I replied “maybe if you hem it up a bit it won’t look so frumpy”. Yep. I said frumpy. Like where did that old fashioned word come from – and the withering look on her face as she said “frumpy?” said it all. I guess the subconscious is a strong force to be reckoned with.

Showing off “the latest Iphone” I announced to my colleagues that “I have to return it. There’s a flaw right here at the top of the screen. Looks like a bubble in the glass.” Uh huh, they pointed out the camera……

Losing my hearing at the incredible rate it’s slipping by like melting ice cream isn’t fun, but it has provided some entertainment for my colleagues. When we got our fancy new fleet vehicles I announced that all the new cars have silent turn signals – blinkers. That the annoying click, click, click isn’t there anymore. After a stunned moment of silence I realized “it’s me, not you”. Still they laughed at me.

As soon as we muffle ourselves and edit our questions and comments, we lose the incredulity of stuff we say. We miss the flushed face, the cringe we feel, or the hilarity of the stupid things we say. We also edit out the amazed WTF looks on everyones faces and that part is truly priceless. I think I live for that.

travelling with my emotional support chicken

When I was buying camping groceries I ran across the chicken. Self-checkout challenges my grocery packing abilities so the chicken ended up being squished in between cans of baked beans, deli potato salad and smokies. The chicken began honking and screaming as I jostled the bag – trying to make a quick exit because it sounded uncannily like a baby screaming in the bottom of my heavy duty re-useable bag. I laughed all the way to the car.

The fall is a hard time for me. It has been since I was ten years old, and the smell of the fall air, the crisp mornings that invite the first toques and gloves and the beauty of the colours are there for me but underneath all that, it’s a tough time. Too much sorrow, too many losses in the fall marking anniversaries; I don’t fixate on the dates, but the calendar pages turn and there I am again and it feels heavy…in the fall.

With the steelhead running and the days shortening I know it’s time to step it up and get busy sweeping aside the “hard time” of the fall like sweeping leaves off the deck and find the good. The good is camping in my little trailer where Lena takes up most of the bed and Mark and I play endless games of cribbage. ( I am ahead in wins…..by the way). The good is baking so many apple pies that I have to share them with friends because my freezer is small. The good is the squirrel feeling of stacking the woodpile for the chill that’s on its way. The good is taking my Grandson to lunch and sharing nachos and mojitos. The good is taking Lena for walks in the park where a little girl thought she was a sheep – about as far from a Borzoi as they come – “she’s so white and soft – she must be a sheep”.

Lena is tucked in travelling to our campsite with her emotional support chicken and I’m tucked into the fall determined to celebrate the good that will support me emotionally as I travel through the next couple months. Kinda the same only Lena’s chicken makes AWESOME squawking sounds.

#fall #emotionalsupportchicken #cribbage #Borzoi #camping

beauty is hard sometimes

Photo by Proud Paws Dog Grooming

So Lena went to the “beauty parlour” for the first time this week. In all our many years and many dogs we have never used a groomer before, instead spent hours and hours brushing collies, taking some to the vet to have nails trimmed so we didn’t get our arms bitten off.

Through our weird little community of Borzoi here we have a special friend connection to a top notch big dog groomer so here we go. Lena thought it was going to be a treat-fest but soon learned the hard truth about beauty – that it can be hard – or at least hard to understand and expressed that she’d had enough half way through getting beautiful with bites and yowls.

Beauty is hard for us people too. The concept changes so often; eyebrows, no eyebrows – shiny eyeshadow, no eyeshadow – acrylic daggers for fingernails – interesting inserts giving comical body shapes to jiggle for likes and views. Social media can take us so far down the rabbit hole of beauty that we end in the bar in Star Wars not recognizing who or what we’re sitting beside.

How about all the face contouring makeup? If you’re not aware of the sets of varying dirt coloured creams – you are meant to draw lines, triangles and other squiggles all over your face, smear real good, cover up with more makeup and voila! you have a pore clogging covering worthy of well….a social media post. There’s a news anchor lady who has contour stripes down the sides and centre of her nose so obvious that I look at her and just see a badger. Can’t help it – it’s a badger reading the news.

But back to beauty for Lena. It’s a learning thing for a puppy with nail trims, baths, weird blow dryers and all to keep her healthy and bring out her gorgeous soft curls. The smile at the end makes it all worthwhile. Here’s to more beautiful smiles and patient dog groomers who love their clients!

things that can’t be erased

-coffee stains on the carpet – I know, you were going with dog pee but you’re wrong. Black coffee spilled will come back to haunt you again and again. My sage green carpet attests to this.

– that seventh grade yearbook photo where I had the blue velvet bow in my hair just above my rolled

bangs – like a poodle or a yorkie purse puppy. Just how many copies of that picture were there anyway that they come up every time I get one of the “here, you might as well have these photos now” boxes from my parents?

-that time we had guests for dinner and over dessert of weird peanut butter pie my husband looked at me and said “Sue, this is really terrible- it didn’t work out” and to the guests “you don’t have to eat this if you don’t want”….but I didn’t make the pie; the guests did…… Can’t erase it because it was SO GOOD one of those moments I can’t let him forgetJ Oh, and it really was disgusting pie.

-that time almost 30 years ago that I had a really horrible boss.  I went in to confront him over a blatant discriminatory action he had taken towards me.  As I nervously leaned over his desk for leverage, I farted. Loudly. Yup, can’t erase that moment of shock on his face, or the surprise on mine, or the few quiet seconds before I launched into my issue….

– that feeling that fills you up when someone says “I’m proud of you”. Yeah, we should do that to each other more often.

– that time and age thing. It’s a weird space to be in where you look around at “old people” and realize you are thought of as one of them. And…. It’s ok to ask for help sometimes…. That’s cool; just go with it.

The idea that we need to erase things, moments, people from our lives for whatever reason – just realize that things are never really gone; stains, good moments, bad moments. They all keep us humble when we need it, give us strength when we need it, keep us laughing when we need to, and that’s ok. Remember from school when you rubbed too hard with the eraser and left holes in the paper? Yeah.

#moments #family #mistakes #growingup #work#badbosses

parchment paper and panty liners

When parchment paper evolved from it’s previous iterations into the product we buy today in big fat twin roll packs at Costco, it became a kitchen staple. My kitchen staple. My cookbooks (yes some of us have the basic Betty Crocker everyone got for wedding shower gifts almost fifty years ago….) never mentioned parchment paper. It was just grease and flour or use foil.

Now! Well as I lift a cake out of the 8×8 pan in it’s layer of parchment paper I love it! And taking the parchment paper off the pan after oven cooking pork chops – what magic is this? The pan isn’t even dirty – no grease no nothing. Don’t even need to wash it.

Reminds me of a travel blog I read that recommended the use of panty liners to reduce (eliminate?) underwear laundering as you travel. Yeah, I never quite bought into that one…but still….as I put the pork chop pan away unwashed…hmmm…

goosie

I caught a glimpse of you staring back at me as I walked by the bevelled mirrors of the china cabinet today.  I saw you in the window off the deck last week.  I heard your voice as I changed the voicemail message on my phone.  But not really, because you’re dead.

I know you’re dead because Step-sister left a message on my phone telling me so.

I called her after I listened to the voicemail several times with the message of three flat words telling me you died today.  I asked “what happened?” She said you had your death all planned and her part of the plan was to manage the telephone tree and call me to notify me and there is no more information for me. That ended our call. 

I get it that you died.  She told me. I talked about it with our brother after she called and that was the end of anything to do with your death.  Step-mom never mentioned it, no obituary was in the local paper, no nothing. It’s as if the telephone tree notification was all that was required or expected.

So yeah, I catch glimpses of you which are really my reflection. And I hear your voice which is really mine. After all, genetics are a strong force that can’t be erased; can’t be denied.  You and I had the same eyes, the same walk, the same voice which creeped me out the first time I heard your phone message and thought it was me talking. You could say we weren’t close. You haven’t been to my house for over 30 years, and it was only a few times before that even though you drove by many, many times. I stopped at your house once and you were overjoyed to see me but that faded as the “we don’t want you in our lives” step-family contingent took you over again.  

I don’t know where you are. Maybe that’s why I keep dreaming about you.  Are you buried in a grave? Are your ashes spread in some flower bed? What happened to you? And why didn’t you tell me, who shared a room with you through your childhood night terrors, who shared a Mom with you, that you were dying? Why wasn’t it in your plan to tell me goodbye? I ask the reflection in the window but there’s no answer.

I remember Dad calling you Goosie where you were little, taking me back to times of matching dresses with sashes tied in the back, a shared room and being my sister.

#grief#death#family#sisters

typing with a bandage on my thumb

So, what happened to your blog? Yeah, I was asked a few times and I guess my response was that I was thinking about it…. Sometimes life gets in the way – whatever – and just needed down time.

Covid, work-from-home isolation, no travel – it all piled up to a one-foot-in-front of the other Netflix existence and then suddenly the world opened back up. A couple trips, some sand and beaches and dancing to Cinco-de-Mayo in the streets and it feels like I’m alive again.

Then….. along comes a message to “come cuddle some Borzoi” and just like that the house is full of joy. Meet Lena. I know, we said with retirement (in 12 work days!) and after mourning our Jasmine – no more pets. No more dogs. So we got Lena. A 13 week old Borzoi bundle of zoomies, long naps and very sharp puppy teeth; ergo the bandage on my thumb as she missed the chew stick and bit through my thumbnail. Ouch! We’ve got the “sit” down pat and are working on the “no bite”.

In a conversation with my brother in February he told me his last kitty was gone. Freddie was around forever and now gone. No more pets, no more animals he said. I echoed his words and it was like a pact we made to save ourselves the sorrow of losing another friend.

When my profile picture showed me with a puppy, I got a text right away from my brother with a picture of two little orange striped kittens. Seems that very week he went out and found some joy to bring home too. As he later said to me “pets make our lives better” and I agree.

Welcome Lena and kittens. You make us happy. And welcome back to my “random thoughts” blog.

the fish book, war and the virus

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Someone started the fish book the year the boat was built. Dad was six years old that year and I can imagine him hanging around Grandpa’s shop listening to the Uncles as they hammered and glued and put the boat together. In a weird time shift, see me at 6 years old in the shop at our house in Oregon where my Dad was building  his own boat.  Mahogany.  I remember;  the smell of planed wood and many coats of varnish.

Continue reading

the rabbit hole of insomnia

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I’ve wrestled with insomnia since I was very young.  When I was 7 years old my Dad got me a child-sized wicker rocking chair and set it up outside my bedroom in the lighted hallway. Continue reading

shopping in virus times

 

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I’ve been away for awhile – life as usual – for awhile.  But now…..now nothing is as usual.

I’m working from home and fortunate to be doing so while so many have no work to go to right now. However; the work from home set up is not without some stressors.

It became evident quickly that my fancy-dandy Mac wouldn’t work with the system I needed and unless I quickly became a computer tech I was out of luck.  So……. I went shopping for a PC laptop.  I had to have it; I had exactly 4.5 days to learn a new job, with some 30 hours of online training (I know, do the math – it didn’t fit) learn a new program and get to work and my employer was not providing equipment. Crisis times call for crisis measures and I want to do my part.

Dashing into the empty city I found the computer places closed and with only a drug store that has a reputable computer department open.  I went in to awkwardly stand across the room from the sales guy and explain what I need.  He came up with the great idea of hey! how about a refurbished Lenovo? It will handle your requirements and not cost you an arm and a leg.  Well, $500 of an arm and a leg.

I took it. Rushed home to get on-line and try to catch up.  I yanked the “refurbished” tape off and “unboxed” my new to me Lenovo.  I opened the laptop and WTF! there were crumbs in the keyboard!  Someone’s sandwich leftovers refurbished….. In order to enter the Windows 10 code I needed to turn the laptop over to read the number.  Two keys fell off in the process and the code wouldn’t enter. I tried to get the keys to fit back on as I hurriedly tried to connect to the training I was missing.  Just trying to make it work for the day.  Just get through it. After charging the battery up fully, I unplugged the laptop and carried it into the other room with the message battery low – plug me in now or lose everything.

So long story shortened; I took it back. Got my money back.  Went to the computer store that was now open and bought a new PC for substantially more $. I won’t tell you I handled the stress ok, because I didn’t.  I cried. The pressure from work was huge.

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On my way home I stopped at Walmart to grab a cable to connect to my extra monitor.  The store has made considerable effort to manage shopping with huge red arrows on the floor directing traffic through the aisles and distances marked off at cash registers.

Are people blind or just plain don’t give a damn “it’s not meant for me mentality”? As I follow the red arrows up the aisle, they come from THE WRONG DIRECTION and walk right up as if social distancing was a concept beyond their grasp.

I found some help in the tech department with a close-talker young lady.  As I kept backing up and moving off to the side, I can excuse her for being too young to remember Seinfeld and the “close-talker” episode, but social distancing? Hmmmmm.

We dance around as I show her a picture of the connection I need and she shows me a cable and says “you need the female connection”.   I show her the picture again and say, “no I’m thinking I need one with the poking out ends to go in” and she says “Oh! I get it the male; the poking out thing!” Ah, yes.  Sadly they had none in stock.

Any shopping in virus times compels us to take a saunter down the toilet paper aisle.  Empty of toilet paper, but a couple boxes of scratchy looking tissues that we all have in the cupboard (just in case) and a lot of paper towels.  Maybe the populace has discovered that paper towels and septic systems are not a good match.

Tired of the whole frustrating shopping experience from laptops to cables to toilet paper,  and major stressed from work requirements, I turned around at the end of the aisle and there in front of me was a whole cooler of Haagen-Dazs!  Talk about strategic end of aisle placement!!

Well played, Walmart.  I bought it.

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