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

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…..

 

 

 

 

wait a minute – where’s the cellulite?

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Those ads.  The all-inclusive resort, azure blue waters, all the beautiful people. I can almost feel the soft tropical wind gently blowing the sarong slouched oh-so-sexy on my hips.

Wait a minute……. where’s the cellulite?   Continue reading

he ate my signature

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The phone call totally made my week.  The guy calls and tells me he has a problem.  He says it’s hard to explain.

 He tells me he has a situation with the document he needed to sign and send to me and that he has a new puppy. Ok.  He tells me that he signed the paper and had it on the coffee table and when he left the room the puppy ate his signature; ate the bottom of the paper right off where his signature was. Ok, so of course I asked what kind of puppy it is and he says it’s a black Lab.

Say no more.

Always dangerous, that quiet was, and as if bursting from starting blocks on a track Benjamin gallops around the round oak coffee table waving my new peach satin Victoria’s Secret bra from his mouth with great delight.  Cups flapping on his ears like headphones that can’t get a grip, straps shinning across his nose, he’s clearly thrilled with his dresser surfing prize and is trying with all his might to entice me to join in the chase.  I yelled, I commanded,  and he raced faster and faster around the table reminding me of one of my childhood bedtime story books where the tiger races around in a circle until it turns into butter.  Totally  frustrated, I flopped down in the chair in the living room and decided to wait him out. Let him eat my bra, I was tired of the whole game. Benjamin walked over and with the classic Labrador soft mouth, laid my bra gently on my lap as he looked up at me with “you are my world” eyes. It’s hard to explain.

We take our fancy new RV trailer up in northern BC to remoteness. Rivers, bears and dead salmon.  The spawners that drift up on the bank and feed bears and eagles.  I make a special dinner and set the table in the trailer with placemats, wine glasses and flowers and Mark takes Benjamin out for a pee.  The short leash while walking along the river bank trying to avoid  the dead salmon mine field didn’t quite work as Benjamin found one that Mark missed,  flips over on his back and gloriously rolls  in stinking, slimy rotting fish, legs pumping the air as he shimmies and slides in the goo before Mark can yank him up.  I open the trailer door to a fuming Mark and a putrid Benjamin.  Did I mention that it was raining steady our whole trip? Like raincoat essential rain? Using all our shampoo to wash our stinking dog and all our towels to dry him, we spend the rest of the week convincing ourselves that we’re having a great time as campers do when they’re really miserable in the rain. We camped all summer in beautiful places and weather, but it was awhile before we lost the aroma of wet dog and rotten salmon with notes of Febreeze.  You just don’t pick that up in the fine air freshener aisle.  It’s hard to explain.

As I listened to the guy explain how his new puppy had eaten his signature, the Benjamin stories started popping up in my mind.  I felt a sharp stab of nostalgia.  It’s hard to explain.

 

Photo:  Benjamin – my best friend for many years.

 

 

 

Pedro poops in my yard and other neighbourhood notes this week

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Pedro saunters through my yard on his quarter-mile jaunt up to the neighbour’s house where he snuggles on the soft deck chairs and purrs.  On the way he stops and poops among the dahlias and bachelor buttons in my flower bed. I gotta give that little black cat some creds for his bravery considering all the foxes and lynx around.

A text this week to my next-door neighbour ” Bear on the way up to your place from our yard. Put the snacks away!”  The “snacks” including their Shih Tzu who fearlessly barks at EVERYTHING but might be seen by the bear as a perfectly coiffed fat rodent.

I discovered that I CAN do a sprint worthy of the anchor leg in a relay when I need to.  As Jasmine and I were walking halfway down a long hill the two moose that have been around all winter rounded the bottom of the hill at a “moose lope”.  When they saw us they shifted gears into a “moose canter/gallop” towards us so we turned around and sprinted up the hill and around the corner.  Seems moose lose interest after they make you scurry around the corner.

Angel cookies. These are the big dog cookies that the neighbour always has for Jasmine as we pass them on our walks or to be handed in through the truck window as we drive by. Usually more than one cookie as Jasmine shamelessly flirts and begs.

Note to self: Lady, you live in a cool neighbourhood!

 

 

 

 

 

fall walks

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Fall came in and shoved all the summer pastels to the back of the closet bringing out the golds, the ambers, the deep rust colours. It’s as if Fall knows that gold tone eyeshadow makes blue eyes pop and is using the nearly iridescent gold leaves to show off the dazzling blue sky.

It’s unusually beautiful this year; drier than usual and no storms so far, so the leaves are staying as crisp as the fresh air. Makes for stunning walks and a yard carpeted with gold.

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Mr. Bear was out doing his fall fattening up and climbed over the fence onto my sundeck to chew a hole in the garbage can feasting on remnants of rotisserie chicken. Can’t really blame him for that – I’ve had much the same inclination to chew through a pizza box after catching a whiff of hot bubbling cheese on pepperoni pizza. Still, I don’t want to run into him again so the garbage cans are secured in the pump house for now.

The sound of a chainsaw singing its way through dry pine and the smell of wood smoke drifting by like the faint contrails of a jet off to somewhere….feels like picking the last of the crab apples to make beautiful clear jelly.

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As we rounded the corner on the homeward stretch of our walk, we ran into Young Buck. He said “Hey, how are you?” in quiet deer talk.  He said ” haven’t been around your place since I ate your spring tulips, but I’m out looking for a bedding down place under your trees for winter.  I always liked your yard”.  He and Jasmine stood for a minute looking at each other and I told him to go back into the forest until hunting season is over and he bounded away in disappearing in the trees.

I love fall in the north.

only so many barks to give

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Molly comes out to bark at us every day as we walk by her house.  She roars off the porch with the determination of a much younger very much fiercer guard dog running along her fence line beside us as we meander down the hill.

I noticed lately that her bark is much quieter than it used to be; almost like the whispery voice of an old lady that we need to lean in close to in order to hear what she’s talking about.  And while Molly starts out with a big bark when she sees us, she only barks a few times quietly in conversation with us as we walk by.  It’s like she’s saving what she has to say; she only has so many barks to give so she makes them count. At least that’s my theory with Molly’s barks.

A little over a week ago it was my birthday.  I am between the age of “yay!!! it’s my birthday and I want everyone to know it” and the age where the server in a restaurant brought me a senior menu and explained in a loud voice (although she didn’t know of my deafness) that it was senior day and so forth……. BTW I ordered a steak from the regular menu.   Continue reading

stuck on a rock

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I’m stuck! Help me!!

The thing is, my little friend Buddy, you aren’t really stuck.  You got up there; you tippy-toed through the water and climbed up on your perch, tail wagging and smiling until you realized where you are.  In the middle –  surrounded by – feeling abandoned and helpless.

The only thing worse than the feeling of being stuck with your feet in metaphorical quicksand as you struggle to move, to make decisions is to watch someone you care about struggle with being stuck.

But…. we’re human and terribly imperfect klutzy beings so we laugh.

When I was seven years old I decided to climb the huge cherry tree in our front yard in Oregon City.  I climbed, and I climbed.  Oh, I was a nimble little monkey scooting out on a big branch and surveying the yard from my lofty perch as I gorged on plump Ranier cherries. Then the lightening bolt of terror hit me. Suddenly the fun drained out of my adventure and I was paralyzed with fear and couldn’t move. I couldn’t scoot back to the trunk and shimmy down; I could only sit on the branch and hang on with sweaty palms. I yelled at my big brother to go get Dad to help me.  Of course big brother laughed and my moment was saved from time immemorial only because we didn’t have the ability to snap pics and text them to our network of friends. Dad eventually came out and all he had to do was lift up his arms and hold me as I slid off the branch which was barely above his head. To hold me in his arms until the panic subsided and he set me off on my next adventure full of confidence to climb again when I found the next tree to explore.

Being stuck is so much a state of mind; in a tree or on a rock, and the best we can do is offer arms to catch and hold long enough to set us free.

The swift water rescue team is on the way Buddy, as soon as your Mom stops sending me pics of you stranded on your rock and wades in to get you.

 

 

i’ll give you a daisy a day, dear

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Our walks give us a changing mural as plants step forward to flourish in their short moments in the summer sun.  We always look forward to the daisies dancing in the sunshine along side the fireweed and purple clover.  They are the smiles of the group.

Such is our delight in wandering in the untamed “country” as opposed to the city.  Sure they have beautiful flower beds carefully tended by city workers, but we prefer our hikes where we discover wild raspberries and the pretty golden fox that flirted with us today.

I’m reminded of my friend who appreciates the “wild” and lives nestled in some hundreds of acres of wilderness that he explores with sled dogs in the winter and llamas in the summer. On a visit to a gated retirement city where snowbirds from Canada flock to in the winter, he told me the community was so manicured that he was pretty sure the few wild rabbits around there were bathed and fluffed up to be picture perfect and not really so wild.

Delighting in the exotic-to-us fresh oranges picked from the tree, he verified that there is indeed a tipping point in how many fresh oranges a person should devour in the novelty of the moment.  Much like me with fresh pineapple in Maui.  That tipping point.

But back to our daisies. Summer in the north of Canada is magical. Not manicured. Not managed.  With a growing season measured in weeks and daylight staying around until well past bedtime urging plants to show their stuff, it’s just magic.

Nope, no oranges to pick here, but enough daisies to “give you a daisy a day, dear and love you until the rivers run still and the four winds we know blow away”.

A Daisy a Day  – song by Ernest Tubb 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wild strawberries today

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The wild strawberries are ripe.  Little splashes of red winking at us as Jasmine and I wandered on our walk today.

I used to pick wild strawberries and make jam.  It took hours to pick enough  to make even a few jars of jam and it was a labour of love for Mark who appreciated the effort and loved the jam. There was time.  Time to spend long afternoons picking wild strawberries, saskatoons, blueberries and after a hike up to the abandoned mine on the mountainside, prized huckleberries.

There was time.  In Hazelton we had two television stations…..on a good day.  Letters and updates – contact with friends and family came by way of letters in Box 84, South Hazelton. If we were home to answer the phone we did and if we weren’t home the phone just rang and rang. There were no voicemail messages, no robo calls, no text messages. Term papers were typed on a manual typewriter. There were no ear buds keeping us plugged in and it was just the quiet;  the sounds of the river, the birds and the occasional bear crashing through the woods in search of the same berries I was after.

Now my  phone is in my pocket on my walks and listen to CNN on my bluetooth hearing aids as I walk .  I snap pics of Jasmine just to text to Mark as he is at work.  I watch television shows chosen from hundreds of channels and movies on demand. Work follows me home with laptops and cell phones and doesn’t end with an 8 hour day.

Today my heart hurts because someone I knew only from television and books took his life.  We’ve become interconnected with strangers in intimate ways sharing dreams and sorrow in ways I never could have imagined all those years ago.

Today I am a bit scared at being called back for a second more intense MRI with all that can mean again in ways I never could have imagined all those years ago.

Today I feel frustration, helplessness and anger watching the shit-show the selfish, spoiled child running the USA is spreading around our world in ways I never could have imagined all those years ago.

I’m not saying it used to be a better place all those years ago, but there was time to pick wild strawberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that Wednesday feeling

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This happened:  It was a great day of co-presenting a couple sessions with a colleague.

This happened:  My friend had a snake in her office!! No, not a pet; a wild terrifying snake. Well, it was terrifying to her and it would have been a big NOPE for me. I would have  had to find a new place to work.

This happened: A co-worker shared a photo of her new baby goat that made everyone smile….lots.

It was a Wednesday feeling all day.

I must have a nap in the sunshine with an egg carton for a pillow.

from the passenger side window

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I feel like I’ve spent the past five weeks looking out the passenger side window at the world.  I’m not used to having to ask for help or what’s worse, needing help. And I’ve had to call up my Mother’s words “Susie, be gracious” rather than growl at the helpfulness of those around me.

The great thing about a broken leg is that it heals.  The not so great thing is that it takes time, crutches, walking boot casts and learning to navigate……not so great.  As I say to people who sympathetically look at me “it’s just not as much fun as it looks”.

My first week back at work (which in hindsight was at least a week too early) I hobbled out on my crutches with my armpits on fire – because well…… using crutches was a new experience for more than my legs – to my car parked conveniently in front of my office. My car parked in what had turned into a melted, then frozen, then melted  and frozen again lumpy mess of snow/slush/ice four feet wide and curb deep. Not to discount my terror of falling on the ice yet again since that’s how I ended up in this situation,  I was ready to cry until one of my colleagues basically lurch-carried me across the moat and tucked me in the driver’s seat of my car. (It’s the left leg – so I can drive 🙂

Every day until a week ago when I got off my crutches my colleagues escorted me out. Even when I said “nah, I’m ok”. The same colleagues who grabbed my coffee and carried it to my desk.  “Susie, be gracious.”

And shopping? My Daughter-ish person shopped for me and found me an awesome backpack since I discovered a dangling purse was more of a hazard than a convenience. Mark has been doing the grocery shopping and I’m liking the variety and sometimes surprises I find in the fridge. It sounds weird, but it’s hard to give up the control of being the one who buys the food but it’s been the good part of the whole experience.  I did have to tell him “no more Pecan pie since my fitness level consists of lurching around from place to place which I don’t think burns Pecan pie calories very well.

All in all, it’s been a real struggle and makes me more than thankful for usual good health.  I’ve been bored not able to do much and while I’m at work, it’s really very hard – which I won’t admit – because my leg hurts.

Mostly I feel like I’ve been looking out at the world, not able to do much in it and missing inspiration. Mostly it’s been a time of trying my patience with so much.  Mostly it’s been a time of gratefulness for the amazing support of family and friends even when I get a little growly.

And being grateful is good. There’s some inspiration for me.