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.

 

 

 

 

 

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…

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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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apple pies, geese and those subscriptions

 

IMG_8780.JPGThe past couple days I drove 800 kilometres (that’s 500 miles for the unconverted) to make pie. From scratch.  From picking the apples to perfecting the pie crust.  A dozen pies.

Why would I do that? It’s the time of year when we balance the ripening of the apples with the hunger of bears fattening up for winter.  The time of year when we harvest and bake and preserve for our own winter fattening up.  IMG_4715.JPG

Why else would I do that? Because it was a time spent in my son’s kitchen side by side as we peeled, cored, sliced and baked for a day.

My friend said it seems like a lot of work when you can just have pie delivered right to your door every week or month if you want.

Yes, in this age of subscription services we CAN have virtually everything delivered to our doors.  On my drive I listened to the radio ads touting subscription services for clothing, razors, dinners and tampons.  Tampons. It said for those times you are in need of a tampon the subscription service will be there.  Really?  So, you find yourself in need of tampons, you check the delivered boxes on your porch and find the dog toy box of things your dog won’t play with, your fridge filter replacement  that you forgot you ordered, a subscription to the oh so handy kitchen sponge replacement.  Oh so handy…. in this case….. maybe? Oh for the olden days when we could just pop into the store and pick up tampons when needed.

As we enjoyed fresh-baked pie and a glass of wine, we watched the Canadian geese “goose stepping” up from the lake to rest on the neighbour’s lawn.  I was fascinated by watching them up close and followed their schedule for a couple of days.  They headed out to the water in the early evening and at noon the next day started coming toward shore in groups of 15 or 20.  After they all gathered, with much honking and noise, they headed up to the lawn. They will do this for a few days until they head off further south. Year after year, they come back.

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Nature’s subscription service for all of us and we didn’t even have to sign up and give a credit card number. Berries and apples every year; bears to watch and wonder at, geese flying in and out again.

Go outside. Smell the fall air.  Listen to the geese. Pick some apples. Make some pie.

 

 

goat whiskers and things my mother never told me

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I have a birthday this week.  Birthdays remind us of aging of course, and with this comes some questions I have for my mother.  Like, why didn’t you tell me?

As I sat across from a colleague at a business meeting a few years ago I was mesmerized by a freaky inch and a half long hair on her chin  waving in the gently blowing HVAC breeze in the little room.  My mind wandered from the budget variance agenda to wonder how she lived with that? Like does she blow dry it? Condition it? Does she not have tweezers?

Goat whiskers, my Mom called them. But she didn’t tell me they grace us all as we age.  She didn’t tell me that tweezers will be your new best friend in a few years.

My Mom said that if you slept in your underpants you would grow funny.  I am not sure if that’s ‘Ha Ha funny” or “weird funny”.  I may have dodged that bullet.  Just sayin’.

I was introduced to face cream and moisturizer at an early age. Many, many thanks for that Mom. I remember overhearing (or eavesdropping as us kids so often did) my parents talking about a friend of ours “she needs to wear a turtleneck or hide at Thanksgiving”.  A comment I thought uproariously funny at the time. Not so much now.

Elbows, for some reason were super important. It seemed that potential husbands would flee with horror at the sight of elbows peeking out like bearded dragons from the 3/4 sleeves of the peter pan collared blouses we wore.

Maybe it’s not fair to say my Mom never told me.  After all, we all age and change and morph into versions of ourselves we may not be ready for.  The grace is in accepting that it will happen, and fight to preserve what we can  or wish to. The grace is in staying healthy; taking control of what we can. The grace is in being happy with the here and now.

And as my friend says ” carry a pair of tweezers on your key chain”.

that time I lost the Vagina Monologues

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As I pulled into the dealership to have my car serviced last week I automatically reached out and turned the volume on my radio off. I suppose so the service guys wouldn’t  have to listen to my Sirius CNN at mega volume to compensate for my deafness.  After all, I drive alone most times so my cable news addiction can remain my secret. But then again, there’s the time I lost the Vagina Monologues.  Continue reading

shaking it off

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Those things, you know…the things that you have to shake off. Do they bother me? Those things? Of course they do but there’s no one at the edge the lake with a big fluffy towel so I’d better learn to shake it off.

I went in to get a colour correction.  That’s fancy talk for fix the gold streaks in my hair that look like streaks of “oh no…..not a good look”.  I went to a new stylist because I wanted a change; came out with hair so blonde it looks like doll hair. A cross between yellow yarn Raggedy Ann hair and bombshell Barbie synthetic hair.  A friend of mine said “I wouldn’t have done that” when she saw me.  Well, I did it and actually kind of like rocking the blonde again for a change. Doll hair and all.

My friend said to me ” don’t you worry about your brain tumor?” Interesting question which I suppose requires more than a yes or no answer. Well yes, I worry about it just before it’s time for the next MRI to check what it’s doing.  Besides making me deaf, that is.  Yes, I worry about that.  Do I worry about it otherwise? Not so much. The hearing aids work and I get by. For now.

Standing across the counter from the cell phone lady, I explain that I need a new phone and want to review options and all that stuff with the phone plan thing. Because there was background noise and she was talking down at her computer I couldn’t hear her so I moved around the end of the counter and said “I am pretty deaf and need to stand closer to hear you”. Great. She spent the next five minutes explaining my plan to me by YELLING at me very slowly. People in the store were all watching her yell at me as I backed up around the front of the counter.  I wanted to yell back “I’M NOT THAT DEAF”,  but she was trying so hard I didn’t have the heart to.

This is the time of year that no matter how long I’ve lived away from there, I get homesick for Oregon.  On my way to work early in the morning the air might feel like Oregon, or it might smell like Oregon. A tiny pang of homesick. It’s not always practical to pack up and chase homesickness so I buy Rainier cherries. Well, we called them Queen Ann, but whatever you call them, they taste like Oregon. Shaking it off.

These things that bother  – I can usually shake them off and find some joy and even a smile in doing it. Even if sometimes that wet dog smell lingers…..