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

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

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

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”.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

cardboard box forts and things I’ll never know

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The summer before I started first grade was marked by moving to a new house on Woodlawn Avenue that came with a barn and a field that adjoined the property of a new elementary school being built. My school. King School.

My older brother, me and a loosely formed gaggle gang of neighbourhood kids spent August swimming, riding our bikes around and spying on the construction workers finishing up the school.  Our recon missions weren’t un-noticed and as the workers unpacked desks and furniture  they chatted with us and let us drag the large cardboard boxes across the school yard to the field behind my house.

Each of us got own box and working like a team of ants we wrestled them into place in the field.  From there we each decorated our cardboard box forts as our own drawing in crayon and cutting out windows as we set up our little village. KEEP OUT! signs on the forts of the older kids, and colourful scribbles on the rest.

The big kids, those 8 year olds, got the prime fort placements away from the spiders’ nests and dips in the field and soon social networks were established within the fort village.  I had to share my fort with my 4-year-old sister who most times was more of a pest than a compatriot. When one of the big boys invited us into his fort and asked her to lift up her shirt and he would let us stay, she started to pull up her t-shirt and I said “no” and we ran away not sure of what was wrong but feeling like something was.

Steve, the next door neighbour kid who came with the story that he was in an accident when he was little and had to wear a tight belt around his middle or his “guts and gizzards would fall down and he would die”.  Something I’ll never know.

The kid who lived catty corner to us who was from Pakistan and gave me a little brass camel that I still have.  How did he end up in Oregon City with his family from so far away? Something I’ll never know.

The old  man two houses away who never trimmed his hedge giving the yard the ominous look we needed to spin stories about him being scary.  Every Halloween he dressed up in a floppy green rubber Godzilla suit and became over six feet of stumbling lizard terrifying us all. He also gave out the best candy. What did he do when he wasn’t Godzilla?  Something I’ll never know.

I started first grade without first going to kindergarten.  My brother went to kindergarten.  Why didn’t I? My parents never told me and it’s something I’ll never know now.

The answers and explanations to many childhood memories disintegrate into time like the cardboard box forts becoming soggy, folding in on themselves and tearing apart with the fall rains. Who cleaned up our cardboard box forts after we left our village in the field and stepped into the school year? Something I’ll never know.

 

 

reflections in the bridal shop window

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Walking to work every day I pass by the bridal shop on the way to and from my office.  I stop and check when the dresses in the window change and I wonder if they’ve gone off to walk down the aisle or to the marked down section in the back of the store.

I took a picture one day with the intention of writing a bit of a bitchy blog post about it.  As bitchy as I am when I talk about my wedding dress. Bitchy to say all these years later that I made my own wedding dress and had no one; no mother to care. So, that’s what this post was supposed to be.

But it’s not.

You see, a couple of days ago as I hurried up the block on my way to the parkade after work , I saw a lady stopped on the sidewalk looking in the window at the dresses.  Something about the lady and how she was looking in the window slowed my march along the sidewalk and I stopped beside her.

We stood side by side quietly looking at wedding dresses. Me, fresh from work with the dress, details like fancy nails and lipstick, briefcase and designer purse, and the lady slightly stooped over in a faded looking beige sweater, short bowl-cut shaped grey hair with a few soft whiskers on her chin.

I said “they’re lovely, aren’t they?”  and she said “yes, they certainly are”.  For some reason I blurted out that I’d made my own dress and it wasn’t lovely like these and I told her I ended up throwing it out last year because I hated it so much.

The lady said “oh my dear, that’s sad”.  She said “I still have my dress after 56 years and still love it. It’s turning a bit yellow now, but still beautiful”.  With our faces bathed in the soft tulle, satin and lace reflection in the window I  said “and I can see you 56 years ago as the beautiful bride you were.”

I continued on my way warmed by her smile reflected in the bridal shop window.