Living in Other Countries

Since W refuses to get himself even such a simple thing as a passport, I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever leave Canada for a holiday, never mind actually move away and live in a different country.

My one experience going across the ocean and travelling for a couple of weeks in England and Scotland doesn’t make me much of an expert on what it’s like to live there year round. Scotland in the fall was beautiful, but I expect their winters might be just as drab as the ones we have here. Good thing our other three seasons are delightful.

Even living in another part of this country is a stretch, although both of us are from Ontario and our siblings are there. Now our kids and grandkids are Albertans and it would be very hard to go off and leave them behind. Living two or three days drive away from them makes 6 hours sound like nothing.

And if we moved away I would miss the jackrabbits. Tonight on the way home I was stopped at a red light and watched one of them dart up the lane to my right and then zip left across to the far sidewalk (with the green light) in front of six lanes of traffic. Crazy rabbit.

I have no idea why there are so many of them around, but there’s one that periodically visits our backyard. He’s no cute little bunny. Kind of homely actually, with his long face and long legs and mottled grey-brown fur. He’ll look a bit better in the winter when he turns white, but then he’s harder to see. Which is the whole point of course.

Too bad I don’t seem to have any real point for even bringing up the subject of hares in the discussion of living in another country. I was just kidding about missing them. But I felt like posting a white-tailed jack-rabbit picture, so I did and there it is.

These topics are just suggestions to get us talking, right? Tomorrow maybe I’ll work cloudberries into whatever we’re supposed to be going on about. I’d sure hate to move somewhere and never see another one of those.

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When I’m At My Best

Well it’s not first thing in the morning, that’s for sure. Especially if there’s some reason why I must get up and get ready and get going. Talk to me after I’m showered and dressed and have had my coffee if you value your life.

And it’s not last thing at night when I’m tired and drained and can’t keep my eyes open. You shouldn’t trust the accuracy of anything I happen to mumble at you when I’m half asleep and nodding off.

And I know it’s not in a crowd, or surrounded by negative thinkers or when there’s an undercurrent of stress in my day or when I’ve over-committed to too many things and have no idea how I’ll handle any of them well. Or when I’m being rushed. Having to hurry irritates the hell out of me.

I’m at my best when I’ve had enough sleep and am well rested and alert.

I’m at my best when I don’t skip meals, when I drink lots of water, and eat nutritious healthy foods and snacks, get enough protien and just say no to sugar in all its refined and sneaky disguises.

I’m at my best at work when the expectations are clear and realistic and the methods to meet them are of my own chosing. I’m best one-on-one for problem solving, when I have time to really listen and empathize and decide what we need to do to make things better.

I’m at my very best when I can relax with no distractions and focus and concentrate; when I can engage myself fully in the things about which I feel passionate.

All that being said, here’s how things are going so far today. It’s my day off so I slept in. Then I had to rush around and try to make myself look half assed presentable for the furnace guy who got here twenty minutes early. So I haven’t showered yet. I’m sorry he had to experience and cope with that, but it’s his own damned fault. I made coffee and I’ve managed to consume two large cups of it. I made my breakfast in the blender – juice, yogurt, frozen fruit and protein powder. I’m drinking it now. I just wrote a cheque for the furnace maintenance, and now that that’s done and he’s gone and half the morning is as well, I’m reading this over and deciding that due to all the interruptions, it perhaps is not my best work.

Too bad. I’m going to go shower now. Do your best to deal with it.

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Losing Touch

You don’t know what’s going on

You’ve been away for far too long

You can’t come back and think you are still mine

You’re out of touch, my baby

My poor discarded baby

I said, baby, baby, baby, you’re out of time

(The Rolling Stones)

Do you have any friends you regret not keeping in touch with?

Nope.

If we lost touch with eachother there’s no doubt lots of reasons for that and I don’t have time to dwell on why.

Regret is a useless emotion and a waste of time. It will make you crazy.

So cut it out! Stop, right now, or you’ll end up regretting your regrets.

I’m trying to concentrate on the people who are in my life today so there won’t be any reason for regrets tomorrow.

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Home Is…

The obvious and fair solution to the housework problem is to let men do the housework for, say, the next six thousand years, to even things up. The trouble is that men, over the years, have developed an inflated notion of the importance of everything they do, so that before long they would turn housework into just as much of a charade as business is now. They would hire secretaries and buy computers and fly off to housework conferences in Bermuda, but they’d never clean anything. ~Dave Barry

Home is a key on my laptop between delete and end.

Home is what I click on when I’m lost on a website so I can start again.

Home is a base where I’d start off batting, and strive to end up back there safe.

Home is a verb when I’m homing in.

Home is where I can’t be homesick but I can be home sick.

Home is my refuge, my shelter, my nest.

Home is not just a place, it’s the people I love.

Home is in my heart and a memory in my mind.

Home is a workplace.

Home is the best place to get a good night’s sleep.

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Albums I Listened to Growing Up

I was a teenager in the 60’s, so there was lots of good stuff to listen to. I joined the Columbia Record Club, fulfilled my membership obligations and promptly cancelled. The music I picked was all over the map, because what I lacked in quantity I thought I could make up for in variety. (Yes, I am rolling my eyes here too.) I had a little portable record player (it was probably pink) and I wore it out listening to the same albums, over and over and over.

The ones I specifically remember are:

Johnny Rivers (Tracks of My Tears)

The Righteous Brothers (Unchained Melody)

The Best of Motown (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Lionel Ritchie, Four Tops, Smoky Robinson….the list is long.)

Gene Pitney (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) (I’m serious – I thought it was an awesome song)

The Rolling Stones (Satisfaction)

The Beach Boys (Good Vibrations)

Donovan (Mellow Yellow)

The Animals (House of the Rising Sun)

The Troggs (Wild Thing)

You may have noticed that my list does not include the Beatles. I didn’t like them. I thought there were other British groups that were way better. Like Chad and Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, and Hermans Hermits.

Sigh. I was just a kid – what did I know? I also liked Roy Orbison and Neil Sedaka. And the Turtles. And those guys who sang Wooly Bully.

I never listen to this stuff now on purpose, but if any of it is ever playing on an oldies station, betcha I know all the words and can sing along.

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Reality Show

“Reality Show” is an oxymoron. Sounds like it should be unscripted drama by ordinary people. The truth is, most of these shows are set in exotic locations where the people are placed in abnormal situations. They are persuaded to act in specific ways. Scenarios, events, conflicts and challenges are carefully chosen for them. People tend to act more emotional and crazy than they normally might, just to get extra camera time. Many of them are humiliated. Then the whole thing is selectively edited to make an entertaining story for the tv audience. How REAL is that when it’s all said and done?

Even for the makeover shows there has to be something completely pathetic about your appearance or your life situation or your home to qualify. Is my wardrobe deplorable enough to get me a spot on “What Not to Wear”? Is my house so dilapidated or my decorating skills so crappy and godawful that “Trading Spaces” might consider me for an episode or two?

Well I hope the answers are no to both of those questions, but who knows. Hopefully I am never in the position where I care to find out. I’ve got no marketable tv talent and very little desire to participate in some glorified soap opera.

I’m living my own reality, and trust me, it’s not bizarre enough to be on tv.

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Travel Lessons

My number one best travel lesson for everyone is: don’t go anywhere. If you take that advice seriously, there’s really no reason for you to read the rest of this.

However, if you find you MUST get on a plane or take to the road or cross a perilous big ocean, I’ve got words of wisdom for when such circumstances cannot be avoided. Or for those times when you temporarily lose your sanity and choose to take a trip on purpose.

Glue your passport to a body part. It’s the only completely sure way there is of knowing where to find it at all times. Make a check list of everything you will be upset about if you forget to take it. Have some kind of an itinerary. But be fully prepared to suddenly not want to pay the slightest bit of attention to that. It’s your holiday; you can do whatever you want.

Keep things simple. Pack light. Slow down.

Relax and pay attention to what’s happening right now, right before your eyes. Be where you are. Stop stressing over some distant destination. After a few days of rushing around trying to take in every recommended tourist attraction, you’ll be more than ready to throw that guidebook in the garbage.

Take a dependable camera that isn’t likely to die on the trip before you do.

If you’re very lucky, you will have a travelling companion who doesn’t annoy the hell out of you; if that isn’t possible, go it alone. Just remember that wherever you are and whoever you meet along the way, kindness is universal. There is joy to be found in the simplest places and in the simplest moments.

There is always a good reason to come home, otherwise we’d all be nomads with credit cards living in hotels. Top on this list is probably that you spent way more than you thought you would, and now you’re out of money and must get back to making more of it so you can blow it all on your next excursion.

You may forget about half of the things you saw, but you won’t forget the people you met and the things you learned about how they live their lives.

And this is a hard and bitter truth to accept, but the fact is, not everyone back home is going to pay rapt attention to the 1,556 photos in your travel album no matter how enthusiastic you are about explaining each and every one of them in minute detail.

Embrace the silence and the stillness and the peace you didn’t appreciate until you took off on your wild adventure. Enjoy the memories.

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Book Recommendation

I’m sure not EVERYONE will find this one funny, and I don’t recommend that you read it to your kids. But it’s a lovely little stress reliever for every parent who has been driven up the wall by those endless bedtime routines.

I’ve got it on my kindle, so I’m missing these lovely illustrations.

I forget how much I paid for the version without pictures, but the price is well worth it either way.

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The Willow Is Green

Huh.  Here I am again, supposed to be tucked up in bed reading my kindle but I’m not.  Wouldn’t it be nice if I did this every night before turning in, summarizing my day with some sort of inspirational enlightening message, kind of like a Zen quote?  Just agree with me that it would be pleasing to read something like that, and don’t go expecting it to happen or anything.

I dearly love my days off, especially when I spend them at home doing relatively useless but nevertheless very time consuming things.  Today I sanded a wooden salt and pepper shaker shelf that I brought home from camp.  I got inspired while I was there, staring at it in all its tacky varnished glory.  The part that hangs on the wall is a flat circle, with a semi-circle shelf attached across its centre at right angles, and in the middle of this piece is a guy wearing a chefs hat and apron, also at right angles, so that he appears to be holding up the shelf.  Man, why didn’t I take a picture of it before I took it all apart?  I think all I’ve inspired here might be the beginnings of a migraine.

So, picture this guy glued to a round circle with a semi-circle shelf at his neck and his hand supporting it.  Seriously.  Who thinks these things up.

Anyway, this shelf was hanging close to the wood stove, and the salt and pepper shakers sitting on it were plastic which got too hot and became slightly more interesting mis-matched shapes.  We threw them out.  Once I get the wooden pieces all refinished and the chef painted and everything put back together again, I’ll go searching for some new shakers.  Maybe in the shape of mushrooms or cupcakes.   Or cows.  The sky’s the limit.  I have no idea what chefs carry around on trays but I’m thinking pizzas might be too flat and boring.


Well that is entirely enough fun for one day.  Tomorrow it’s back to the sweat shop.  Right now it’s kindle time.  What is the sound of one hand clapping? (Zen Koan).  In case you were still waiting for that Zen moment.

Hotest Hot Vs. Coldest Cold

Which one is worse? Worse for what? They’re both the worst for different reasons. Extreme anything is always worse than things in moderation. Extremes tend to make people extremely cranky. Would you rather build a snowman on your front lawn or a sandcastle on the beach? Crank up the heat or crank up the air conditioning?

I don’t like the cold and the snow and seeing my breath in the air. I don’t like how the snow crunches under my feet at 40 below and how the house cracks and groans and how the furnace won’t stop running, and how the heating bill (and the heat) go through the roof. I don’t like winter driving on ice and how sometimes it feels like my tires have frozen into squares, and scraping off the windshield and stomping the snow off my boots and putting on and taking off layers of bulky clothing and still having popsicle fingers and toes.

What I do like about extreme cold is looking at it from the inside out (with a furnace that never stops running of course.) A warm fire and some candles burning, a cozy throw, a good book, a hot drink. I’d be happy to spend the entire month of January every year here inside my nice warm house and never venture out into the freezing cold at all. I don’t like it when my nose gets cold and my eyeballs freeze and my lungs hurt.

I guess I’ve never really experienced extreme heat for very long, since way up here in the frozen north we’re not even sure we know what that is. For a few days one summer our temperatures reached 45 degrees celsius. That’s well over 100 fahrenheit. And too damned hot. Especially for sleeping. Unless there’s a turbo fan pointed directly at your head. When I fly to Ontario in the summer the heat and the humidity seem somehow much worse than our dry windy heat here in the west. It definitely does unfortunate things to my hair.

Everyone at work has been complaining lately that they’re keeping it way too hot in the building. It makes us tired and lethargic. We yawn a lot. We feel strangely moist. Ewww. Not sure what will happen when the cold weather actually sets in – perhaps we’ll be slow cooked. More likely they’ll shut the heat right down to minimum and we’ll be wearing woolen scarves and ear muffs and gloves huddled at our computers shivering ourselves to death.

What’s the BEST thing about extreme weather? We get to COMPLAIN our butts off about it. We get to form fierce opinions about what we hate. We can strike up conversations with complete strangers because they’re sure to commiserate. Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Bitching about whatever it is never gets old. Poetry for the masses.

Give me extreme fog and drizzle with intermittent bursts of misty sunshine. Right now I can’t think of anything bad to say about weather like that. I can breathe in that atmosphere and it feels good on my skin. And everyone’s hair will look like hell, so the state of mine will cease to matter.

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