Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tagged on Tuesday

I am not usually keen on tagging -- seems like so many go around that it could take up more posts than the actual blog posts. But my blog pal Carrie (who tagged me) is simply irestistable and this tag captured my interest.

The game is to open your "my photos" folder and select the 6th folder. Then select the 6th photo in that folder and post the photo - with the story behind it. You're supposed to tag some friends and have them do the same thing. (But I learned my lesson with that the last time I "tagged" my blog friends).

I had my fingers crossed that this little game wouldn't have me posting some goofy picture I took of my toes or something ...

Lucky for me, it resulted in a picture of one of my favourite memories ... my daughters threw me a dinner a few weeks before hubby and I got married four years ago. They created a Greek family dinner atmosphere in our back yard and all of the special women (with the exception of one of my sister who lives far away) in my life were seated at the table. Everyone - all at once. It was a very special evening and reminded me of the gifts in my life -- my people wealth.

So thanks to my blog pal Carrie for giving me a happy remembrance.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Moving My Backside - Zumba Style

Just hopped out of the shower -- fresh and clean after my first zumba class. Step-mommy (S-M) asked me to try this exercise class that is a mixture of Latin dance and aerobic moves. The plan was to try the free class before committing...

We arrived early and tried our best to look athletic as we warmed up. People started arriving and S-M pointed out nervously that everyone seemed to have towels with them. That should have been our first clue ....

The Latin music started and the instructors bounced on stage with advice to the newcomers -- try your best to follow along -- just keep moving. Then, with a hoot and a holler, the class was underway. A flurry of foot steps, sweat, frenzied hip thrusts and rhythmic arm movements - between gasps for air and desperate gulps of water - and the hour came and went. It was a little like being on a roller coaster - not strapped in, and we were along for the wild ride. The mostly 40+ ladies were having a ball - swinging and jiggling those hips with wild abandon and hooting out encouraging cheers to us newcomers (the ones with bewildered, panicked expressions and walking alot on the spot).

S-M and I agreed that zumba was great exercise - more fun than running on a treadmill or going to the gym. So we'll be back again -- next time -- with a towel!

And Hubby, I didn't break anything!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Musings from a Sunshiny Day

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
I'd give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way.

- John Denver

Today is not a sunny day - but yesterday was - the most perfect kind of summer's day. This of course called for the lyrics of my favourite John Denver tune. Hubby and I took our ritual walk by the waterfront where the relief of a cool breeze is guaranteed. It is amazing to me how an hour spent by the water with only the sound of chirping birds and the occasional power boat jetting by can calm and relax.

Kidlet is gone for a week with her dad to Costa Rica. Remnants of her packing efforts are littered all over the house. Stuff she was going to take, but decided not to; stuff she removed from her suitcase left over from her previous trip; laundry basket of miscellaneous books, CDs and other STUFF brought home on her last day of school that she intended to put away. Fritz knows something is amiss - her bedroom door is unacustomarily open to let air blow through.

For now the house is quiet and I know that when I clean - it will stay that way at least until her return. Which leaves me wondering ... in years to come will I be sitting in this same spot bemoaning the fact that my house is clean and eerily quiet - and wishing for anything but.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Gratitude Bracelet

I received a very special gift from a very special person; a bracelet from my aunt. My aunt lives hours away, alone in her house while her gravely ill husband resides in a nearby long term care facility. She suffers from phobias and the ghosts of her past that continue to inflict pain. But she is a survivor.

Her television is her connection to the outside world and the telephone - her lifeline - her connection to the people she loves, and who love her in return. We speak often; our conversations are often playful trips down memory lane to times when life was less complicated and more carefree. However at times they take a turn down darker trails that lead to painful remembrances. But just when it seems she is sinking to another low, her voice perks up and she changes the subject ... the latest drama on Dr. Phil; skincare tips she saw on TV; the meal she is preparing; the music she is enjoying ...

Her childlike curiosity, openness, fascination with and interest in others is both refreshing and at times, unnerving. Nothing is off limits with her. Admittedly there have been times when I was reluctant to take her calls -- especially if they came after I was in bed. They were risky - and could mean an evening spent, phone to ear. But she has been much better these past few years. Her supreme gratitude for every minute we spend with her or thoughtful gesture we extend, far outweigh any effort I make. She craves love, advice and most of all, a caring, listening ear.

With each passing year, our conversations grow more authentic and I have come to realize that I get as much out of our calls she does -- maybe more. She reminds me that I am important to her, and that I can make a small difference in her life. In return, I get the unconditional, enduring love of a strong, resilient warrior woman who shares my blood.

She sent me a bracelet, tightly wrapped in brown paper, with a note enclosed. She called it a golf bracelet, but her note said it was to express her gratitude for me always being there for her. I call it my gratitude bracelet. And I shall cherish it, my heart filled with gratitude to have it - and her.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance

Today is the last day of school for kids in our region. Kidlet finished her exams on Monday and had the rest of the week off to decompress. Next year at this time, hopefully, we will be watching her graduate from high school, puffed with hope and dreams.

There are others for whom it isn't as straight forward. They drop out before finishing their diploma. Parenthood; illness; finances; addiction. Life gets in the way of their dreams.

Today my colleagues and I watched with pride as the young intern from our office received her GED (High School Equivalency Certificate) diploma. We had watched her work towards this goal as she worked at our office, mothered two small children and planned her upcoming wedding.

There is something about that processional music that gets to me -- my eyes well up and a plum sized lump lodges in my throat rendering me speechless to the delight of my co-workers. Witnessing people achieving their goals is overwhelming and emotional for me. Everyone had a story - the young Colombian man so grateful to be in Canada; the teenager battling his mental illness; the young unwed mother wanting to be a good example for her child; the middle aged black woman who declared "it's never too late to make your dreams come true" as she tossed her grad cap in the air with wild abandon. They each have their reasons; each have reached an important milestone.

They stood there in perfect rows of black robes posing for the picture - grinning, clutching hard earned diplomas - optimism and excitement washed across their faces. We stood back, proud and silent witnesses. Today, everything seemed possible.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

After the Rain

The sky darkened quickly and the sudden cool breeze that blew in was the opening act. Rumbling thunder made it official -- the arrival of a summer thunder storm. The kind that blows in long enough to pick up the humidity before making a quick get away.

It's been sweltering hot the last few days [not a complaint; just stating a fact.] -- the wet, sticky kind of hot that has us dropping to our knees to give thanks for the miracle of air conditioning. I love it though ... it brings me back to those long, endless summers of my childhood and restless nights spent not sleeping on top of the covers, cooled by squeakey fans lodged in open windows.

The storm put on quite a dramatic show. Claps of thunder. Unpredictable flashes and forks of lightening, and a torrential downpour.

Then - as suddenly as it started - it was over. Clouds drifted off, scattering across the sky and within a few minutes, the sun was poking through the cracks.

I love the "after" storm. The air is fresh and smells earthy. All is renewed. All heaviness erased - forgotten.

It's a fresh start ... after the rain.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Was Lost - But Now is Found

It should have been easy. Hubby is a creative whiz and I was plotting to suck some of his genius out for myself. I had this notion of personalizing my blog to reflect my sparkling yet deep personality. It had to be special -- even a little grandiose. What can I say ... I'm turning into a little bit of a blogger diva. He sat patiently by my side as I proudly showed him the new header I had build in my Photoshop Elements program. The corners of his mouth turned up ever so slightly, wise enough not to break out into a full out laugh.

[Hubby] "As long as you like it - that's all that's important". (Translation: Yuck!)

[Me] "Well, it does need a little more work -- I was hoping you could suggest some changes - and then make them".

So he went to work customizing the rigid, Blogger template as I gently supervised over his shoulder. He mumbled under his breath as he worked to square off the corners, extend the width, etc, the whole time expounding on the pitfalls of templates and how he likes to create his own designs. Somehow between me reaching over his shoulder to open other windows and hubby previewing his changes - we SAVED the testing site and then promptly LOST the original - customized widgets and all.

Hours of lost work flashed before my eyes and hubby tried to make a quick retreat to the cave. It could've been ugly ... it could've ended badly - but it didn't. We found a fix to retrieve my original content and I found a temporary layout that suits me fine.

So for now, Lifepixels is sporting a new "do". It's not grandiose. It's not customized and is not entirely my personality - but it is fresh, green and sparkling (well, maybe it is a little like me ...)

[Almost forgot to thank hubby for letting me pick his creative brain - again. XO]

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hello Summer

crystalline salt water in the pool
warm enough to slip into without hesitation
sun beating down on my SPF45 lotioned body
floating lazily on my back, eyes closed
mind vacant for but a moment
heavy sigh - slow release
and I know
summertime is finally here.
hello summer.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One of a Kind - My Dad

To me as I was growing up, he was a large man, cutting an imposing figure. In fact he was larger than life ... interested, involved and excelling in everything - sports, politics, education, the outdoors, gardening, building. I believed there was nothing he couldn't do. And there wasn't.

After he retired and had less outside demands on his time, to our delight he turned his focus an attention to his family. He had always included us (his kids) in his adventures, however we had to share him with many. Retirement and a shift in his priorities was a gift to all of us.

That doesn't mean he stopped dreaming and having adventures. In fact he had a whole other life after retiring from teaching - in Canada's Arctic. He has a passion for life and learning - a desire to explore and understand - whether it be the burrowing owls he finds on the sidewalk or the plant life on the tundra. He is a work in progress ... a continuously evolving spirit.

People would describe him as talkative, energetic, thoughtful, passionate, loyal and open minded. He is that to all who call him family or friend. He is also that to many who call him neither. He has a giving heart and hand. He has a desire to make the world a better place. He walks the talk. He is our living example of how to live and how to give.

So Dad, thank you for being so much to so many - and for being my North Star. I love you for what you have done, who you are and who you are becoming.

[More about my Dad.]

Dad and his dog Buck at his waterfront! cabin on the tundra (67th parallel).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

More Hugs n Stuff

Fritz our schnauzer must be getting older. His once love-you-from-a-distance attitude has softened considerably. Now he chooses to snooze close by - in fact with his head usually laying on my feet or like tonight, his head on my shoulder. He has abandoned his favourite sleeping spot under the coffee table for the back of the couch, lodged deeply into the cushions with nice and easy access to shoulders to rest his head. He definitely needs more physical content and affection.

Maybe he's not so different from us humans. As the years pass, don't we also crave more, close contact with the people we love and care about? Aren't we more generous with our hugs and kisses? the mailman doesn't count It's the gift that aging delivers: appreciation for the right things/people. Our priorities shift a little more from the self centred column to the I know what's really important column. And that's a good thing ...

Fritz's head is weighing heavy on my shoulder, and his rhythmic breathing is lulling me to sleep. Time to turn in. Did you feel that? It was a big hug goodnight!

PS - You gotta love my drugstore cheater reading glasses ... Kidlet caught me in my most attractive post work, not-expecting human interaction get up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Slumber Party

Another birthday. Another milestone. Another reason to celebrate. Adventure Girl is the youngest in our trio of Three Amigos, so we try our best to mask our envy as she slowly creeps to where we already are -- older! It doesn't help that she looks more youthful now than she did 10 years ago. Great skin!

Wine. Nachos. Fruit. Cheese. PJs -- afterall, it was a slumber party. Wine. Leave room for the pulled pork on a bun. Shouldn't have filled up on all the appetizers. Presents. Half a season of Sex in the City. Didn't remember it being so graphic. Wine. Pulled pork. Should have passed on the nachos. Cake - chocolate or vanilla? vanilla More Sex in the City. But not for all of us --Someone was already slumbering. Yup, we're definitely getting older.

Adventure Girl is marking her birthday by ... what else ... going on an adventure! She'll come home aglow and wide eyed with animated stories of people she met, and tales of her mishaps and marvels.

We've been celebrating our birthdays together - the Three Amigos - for twenty years now. We have shared it all - the best and the worst of times, and one thing has remained constant -- our enuring commitment to one another. As we toasted Adventure Girl's birthday we raised our glasses one more time -- thankful that the trio is intact ... a little older, wiser, wrinklier ... but intact.

Happy Birthday Adventure Girl.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Turning Up the Heat

Wish I had a picture of hubby's controlled-anguished face as he ate his dinner - and tried his best to hide the fact that he mistakenly used red hot chili powder (the kind we buy for our Indian food) in his new chicken rub recipe. He had even generously added some to the rice before discovering how spicy and hot it was. Where did we put that fire extinguisher?

He was apologetic from the get go. When I walked in the door, he headed me off at the pass and told me that the juicy barbecued chicken on the plate was SUPER spicy. I love heat -- but the chicken tested my limits. We both giggled our way through dinner ... neither of us wanting to be defeated by the heat. Our noses ran, we drank ridiculous amounts of water and sweated our way through the meal. But we made it! Hubby thought a big bowl of ice cream would be an appropriate remedy ...

I was just grateful to have dinner cooked for me ... and hey, it doesn't hurt to turn up the heat once in a while. Now pass the kleenex will you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hairy Scary

Age is only a number one that keeps getting fatter. Age is only in your head and on your thighs, and around your tummy. You're only as old as you feel now that one scares the heck out of me cause lately the list of aching joints and creaking bones seems to be getting longer by the day. I am pretty vocal about my comfort with getting older. Frankly it doesn't bother me at all ... I love myself more with every birthday and there is lots more of me to love. Pretty much I am happy to be alive.

But something I never expected was the upkeep involved. I consider myself a low maintenance gal ... I've never plucked my eyebrows so why start now, my nail biting precludes manicures, my hobbit feet mean I don't show them so no pedicures either, and I can be showered, hair washed and blown dry, dressed, mi,imal makeup slapped on and out the door in under 25 minutes. But then things started happening. Tiny little spider veins started appearing. The Celtic curse (rosacea) took up permanent residence on my face who needs blush! and then of course, stray white hairs started cropping up on my chin. Yikes! And you know it's a common problem cause they are showing commercials for female face razors. Sign me up!

But as always, there is the gift in adversity here ... aging hormones have replaced my bone straight, baby fine, thin hair with thicker, full bodied wavy hair. And I am just starting to get some stray grays tell that to my misguided chin hairs. So tonight, as part of my quarterly maintenance and upkeep, I spent 2 hours in the chair getting my hair highlighted and cut. And you know what? I feel great - in heart, mind, spirit!

Now tomorrow one of my dearest friends is having a birthday and she'll have the love and support of her soul sisters to usher in her milestone -- that and a few glasses of wine and a couple of seasons of Sex in the City. Now that could be scary....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life is Full 'er Up

Life has been busy ... full to overflowing. So tonight I am going to take a little break from blogging and get a good night's sleep. Oprah says getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep a night is essential to good health. And she should know ... Dr. Oz told her.

Nite all.

PS - Pass on the glass of water if you want an uninterrupted night of sleep! : )

Monday, June 15, 2009

Creativity - MIA

The day has been a long one. Creativity is stubborn and cannot, will not, be summoned upon demand. No, she has a will of her own ... she teases, she danced in circles, drawing in close but at her fickle nature stays beyond the fray, just slightly out of reach. At times, mostly when I least expect it, Creativity will flow effortlessly through me, generously and authentically. But she refuses to be a servant to my will. She will come if invited, but not forced, and if a place is prepared for her. When I am immersed in the sweetness of nature, Creativity seeks me out.
When at last we have a meeting of the hearts, something wonderful is born.

Today, Creativity was on vacation and I was on my own. I'll have to have a word with her.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fill Up My Senses

Sleepy, lazy morning - with the sun bursting through and flooding our kitchen with golden light. Finally - the most perfect of summer days. Double perfect - it is Sunday morning. I can't wait to bask in the day so I grab my coffee that hubby made me (he's adorable), slip my feet into his oversized running shoes and head outside to inspect the beauty and progress of our gardens.

The pond is alive and vibrant. The sage is bathed in purple blooms and the peonies have erupted into a fuchsia collage. I lean back in my chair, eyes closed, and breathe deeply. The sun warms my face. With every breath I take my senses are filled ... hey, just like the John Denver song ... you fill up my senses ... but I digress! I hear a bee buzzing close by. The little boy across the street is squealing as he plays with his brother. I can hear the dog across the ravine barking. A plane roars overhead - and I integrate the drone into the medley serenading me as I revel in the peace.

Sunday is one of my most favourite days, and morning - my favourite time of day. I am grateful for the moments to pause and if even for only a minute or two, fill my senses with all that surrounds me.

Now turn up the music will you ... it's my favourite John Denver tune.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Relay for Life

Hope is alive and well and faith restored. And no, I am not talking about Obama. Last night I grabbed Fritz and wandered up to the high school for the Relay for Life opening ceremonies. Kidlet and her pals had a team of superheroes (their costumes) and were participating with more than 600 other students, to help raise awareness of, and money for cancer. The inner field of the running track was converted to a tent city, local bands entertained the crowd with their mostly own material, the air was electric and the excitement was palpable.

I sent Kidlet back to her friends as the ceremonies began and I tried to get Fritz to walk off some of his hyper-ness. As we wandered up and down the makeshift "streets", I couldn't help but smile at the personalities of the individual "camps" ... a Harry Potter pillow, a Sailor Moon pillowcase, someone's special blanket, various beloved stuffed animals, posters of loved ones lost to cancer ...

I could hear the speeches of the four students who told their stories -- of loss and of survival. As each student took the stage, the crowd was hushed, many faces contorted in sadness and tears and some had expressionless, faces frozen in stunned shock. There was a moment when one of the girls speaking stopped mid sentence, voice clenched with grief .... dead silence. The crowd waited just a moment before slowly breaking out into supportive applause.

It moved me beyond words. The sight of the future custodians of our world, experiencing - demonstrating - the goodness that can be achieved in solidarity, in the joining of hearts and minds.

Fritz and I bid Kidlet a fond goodnight - she even kissed me in front of her friends without apparent embarrassment. As we made our way home Fritz and I agreed that nothing makes us more hopeful than the beauty of youthful action ... Relay for Life is really a Display of Life.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What a Beautiful Morning

[cue music]

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got this
wonderful feeling
Everything's going my way.
This is exactly how I feel today ... and I don't even have the day off! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Thought Of You Tonight

I thought of you tonight ...

That crinkled, tired slip of paper with your handwriting on it caught my eye. The cherished proof of you preserved ... safely tucked under the sheet of glass on my desk. Between the fading blue ink and the bleeding cursive writing, the words are getting more difficult to decipher.

I slipped the note out from under its protective shield and like so many times before, I slowly snacked on each written word. I imagined you sitting propped up on your pillows, glasses sliding down your nose, lips pursed in concentration as you wrote out your lists, thoughts, or quotes that you wanted to remember. You would write it out twice -- the rough practice copy and then the "good" copy. You have no idea how grateful I am for that habit ... for now I have copies of precious notes you composed and gave away. More of you to hold on to.

I thought of you tonight Mom, like I do so very often at this time of night. And here is what you wrote to keep yourself focused and firmly planted in positive while you fought to live:

I affirm that the Love of God,
the indwelling Spirit,
is within me, right here, now.
Willingly I open myself to the free flow of Life
and I accept that I am guided and led
every step of the way.
I am quiet and I listen to the still, small voice within.
Joy, Harmony and Guidance are mine
today and every day.
And for that I give my thanks.
And so it is.

And so it is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Way We Were -- And Still Are

A retired company president; business development executive; CFO; HR executive; technical operations executive; and me (public servant). That's what we are now -- but 16 years ago we were work colleagues on a management team in the same cable TV company.

The work was challenging, the hours long but it is the fun we had that I remember most. Whether dressed in gorilla suits or as a drag queen (that was the president - and I have the pix to prove it!, lip synching to Frank Sinatra at the national convention or serving up tacos to the staff - every day brought something to look forward to and laughter was guaranteed. And isn't that how it should be?

We were bonded by genuine mutual affection and admiration ... but that doesn't mean we tiptoed around one another. Heated debate and strong opinions bounced around our management meetings, voices would get excited and louder - and as it is with friends, it usually culminated with us all going out for lunch. The teasing was relentless -- starting with the president who I thought was a dead ringer for Gandhi ... and told him so. Then we had Master Baker Bob (say it as fast as you can - 3 times) whose homemade muffins earned him his nickname.

I could go on and on. And I did - last night when we all met for dinner. It's been 16 years since we've all worked together - the hair is a little greyer and there's a little less of it, our features are fuller and softened with the few added pounds (not everyone), and we are a little mellowed with time. Yet a few times a year we still meet to retell the same stories, tease and chide each other and catch up. (Ever see the movie Same Time Next Year?)

How many grandkids is that now?
Still married? Still single?
What's this Twitter?
Your son is how old?? Played any golf? Kids still living at home?
How many cats does that make now?
But most of all, the sentences start with " Remember when ...."

I swear my sides hurt from laughing so much. If laughter is therapeutic - then I'm cured! Over the years I have come to appreciate that this work environment with these special people was unique, a twinkle in time - a gift. Thank you.

We care about one another -- we did then - and we still do.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Meatless Mondays

Green, green, what does it mean -- to me, us?
We are lucky in that our community has a green conscience and they make it easy to be eco-responsible. They make home composts and rain barrels available at a low cost and they provide green bins to residents to collect food scraps as well as the beloved blue boxes for recycling. As a family we delight in flattening cans, gathering cardboard and even tin foil for the bins. We really need to get out more. The downside is the unsightly stainless steel compost bowl heaped with veggie scraps that is perched on our counter until it is emptied every day.

There's nothing quite as appetizing as the wafting aromas from the fermenting organic material when you are cooking. That'd make anyone green. Hubby has really gotten with the program and I noticed over the past few months that he has really stepped it up --even chasing down dryer sheets, toilet paper rolls (wait til it's empty please) and used tissues. We even replaced our paper towels usage with a slew of white bar towels. It's a mission to only put one garbage bag to the curb every two weeks.

Now we're starting a new tradition in our house -- meatless Mondays. And it was his idea. He is really taking an interest in the health of our planet and coming up with all sorts of ways we can help reduce the harm we cause. He suggested that we start with meatless Mondays to ease our consumption of meat. That clapping is the sound of cows high-fiving and chickens clucking all over the planet.

Nothing is more attractive to me than a person with principles, who is living them. I am enjoying that feeling when you are united in purpose, as well as in love.

Now that being said - that compost bowl looks like it needs emptying.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not Easy To Be - or See

Getting old is an achievement. And there are wonderful examples all around me of people healthy enough to be living well in their older years. Some are not as fortunate. They require more care than they can get at home or more than the people they love can give. My hubby's grandmother is one such person. Nana is suffering from dementia Alzheimer's and lives in a long term care home. She is 96 years old. She leans heavily on the walker she depends on for stability, her eyesight is a little cloudy and her hearing is as good as can be expected for a person her age.

Today I joined MIH on her visit to Nana. We signed in, declared that we had our flu shot, took a squirt not a sip of alcohol sanitizer and headed up to find her. It was close to noon hour so we started in the almost silent dining room. She was sitting at a table with three other ladies -- all of them with eyes closed, gently dozing as they waited for their lunch. tug at heart string

These visits are not easy for MIH -- Nana's Alzheimer's is progressing and she has difficulty remembering people and pretty much anything else. Her eyes popped open at our touch and she looked at her daughter - bewilderment and confusion sketched on her face -- until I called MIH by name. At the mention of taking her out for lunch, she practically bolted out of her seat with a blast of energy and enthusiasm reserved for winning bingo.

This tiny little person's reality has changed drastically [understatement]. Memories of her early years are more alive to her than anything. Her joys now come from small pleasures ... a nice cup of coffee; a cream filled donut her eyes light up with that one; or a warm hug and kiss. Today she was describing how she had gone to church downstairs - like she has done religiously for more than 70 years - and felt "out of it". She couldn't remember the rituals nor the people in the pews. Her look drifted off and she said, in a very resigned, quiet voice, "it's hard to know what to do, really". another tug

These visits are heartbreaking for MIH. Her mother never remembers them, and sometimes she barely remembers her own daughter (MIH). Nana always insists on walking us to the elevator and with a final hug you wrestle to keep your composure as the doors of the elevator slowly close, and Nana disappears from sight. tug, tug

I assured MIH that although Nana won't remember the visit, the laughs we had and the treats we devoured, the time spent was not in vain. For a few hours this elderly little woman's sentence to misery was suspended, and she experienced the joy you can only get from connecting with the ones you love. On the way home in the car, MIH commented that it seems tragic that life can take you from marrying, raising a family, and losing your spouse - to ending up in a facility, simply existing.

MIH is a devoted daughter and Nana is blessed. I couldn't help noticing (and photographing) others who are not so fortunate.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Warm, breezy air, clear blue skies and sunshine ... a rare sparkle of the day. We headed to the lakefront for a walk in the park. Fritz studied us anxiously as we tied up our shoes and followed us to the door. Looking up at us with his best pathetic puppy face and widest eyes, his nubby little tail wiggling, I used the magic word -- park. This triggered an spasmodic episode of epic proportions with leaping, twirling in circles, and yelping. We were off!

Apparently alot of people had the same clever idea. Everywhere I looked I saw heartwarming scenes: children laughing as they hung from climbers; dad's throwing balls with their kids; lovers cuddling on park benches; families spread out on blankets enjoying picnics; elderly couples strolling leisurely arm in arm; kids skipping rocks on the shoreline; people walking dogs - dogs walking their owners. Newlyweds posed lovingly, flirting with the camera as their milestone day was captured.

We live in one of the most picturesque towns in the country and hubby and I try to make a point of soaking up its beauty every chance we get. I have a special love of the water and one of my favourite things to do is to sit lakeside and watch the boats as they come and go. I feel a pull to the water and as long as I was old enough to do so, the river or lakefront is where I headed when I needed to think or clear my head.

I had my camera with me of course and the day and the setting was perfect for photography. When I saw something worthy of a shot, I simply handed hubby the leash and the bag of poop (he loved that) and snapped happily.

We capped our day with a dip in the pool. A walk in the park and a dip in the pool --- doesn't get better than that!

The fruits of my labour ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Taking the Plunge

I am declaring it's official -- summer has come to stay. In staunch denial of any chill in the air or stalled summer weather Hubby and I christened our pool. We donned our suits (well I did -- hubby improvised with cotton gym shorts) and took the plunge - figuratively and literally!

When Hubby suggested the after work swim, I reserved my answer until I tested the water. Hubby and I have different ideas of what constitutes warm, hot and cold. Basically everything to Hubby is "too warm". I on the other hand am always cold and have the dog sitting on my feet. Timidly I dipped my foot into the water. I cringed. The air was chilly and the water didn't feel much better. Hubby had his exasperated face on - warning that he didn't know how I was going to ever swim in the pool because the temperature was already over 82 degrees. I decided to bite the bullet, and walk on the wild side. "Let's do it!" That being said -- where the heck were our suits?

I walked proudly to the pool, head held high, fearless and determined. I dropped my towel and - holding my breath - walked without hesitation into the warm (ha!) water. Hubby was already playing Flipper. To my surprise, my aires were needless -- the water was indeed warm and soothing and it didn't take long to exhale all of the pride, determination and courage I had summoned and simply r e l a x. Any cares I had dissolved and I could feel myself being wrapped in that old familiar blanket of peace.

Moral(s) of the story:
Ready or not, take the plunge.
Just say Yes!
Store your swimsuit in a place you will remember.
Try your bathing suit on before swimsuit season; or get on your knees and give thanks for super stretchy fabric. I did.
Swimming makes you feel like you are on vacation -- but cheaper.
Bonus: salt water makes your feet soft!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

All in a Day's Work

I leave my Dad alone for a day and he builds himself a pegola -- with a little help from my brother. He's like that -- he gets an idea for a project and then tackles it heart and soul until it is completed. I swear he is a thirty-five year old trapped in an older man's body.

He is a person who soaks every hour of each day of life for all its worth. He gets good mileage on his years - he stretches a day farther than anyone I know.

At 72 he walks a little slower, his joints are a little stiffer and arthritis is his constant companion. Yet he shows no signs of slowing down. He loves to have dreams, plans and projects. He's a man in motion. Wish we could bottle that.

He inspires me to live more fully and wring the most out of each day, although I admit that I don't have a fraction of his energy and drive. Case in point -- I'm writing this from the couch. I look around my place and have a feeling borderlining on overwhelmed. Think clutter and disorganization. You could write your name in the dust on my coffee table. And it doesn't help to have Fritz the hedge loving schnauzer shedding his cedar branches all over the house. So much to do and I've let things slip around here the past few weeks. But I guess that's what the weekend is for ... but not if it's sunny and hot.
If I work Dad-style I can get the place in order -- in short order. It's all in a day's work.

And Dad -- I love the pegola!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Say It Nicely

It's not only what you say - it's how you say it. I've said this a million times or more I'm sure.

This is a concept I have tried to instill in my girls, and I firmly believe it to be true. Words have a power of their own without the need of added belligerence, rudeness or hostility.

You know what I mean ... you lovingly call your kid's name (like only a mom can) and they answer "what???", fully charged with indignation and impatience. Excuse me for caring! Or someone hollers angrily at you that you jumped the line (inadvertently of course) - when a simple "excuse me, the line starts back here" would suffice.

You can disagree, share a strong opinion, deliver bad news, express disappointment or anger - all in a respectful manner - no shouting or hostility required. I've had to say difficult things like "I'm letting you go" , "your performance is weak and needs work", "I hope you'll understand if I don't return your calls", and "I felt abandoned by you". In each case - although I was uncomfortable delivering these messages - I did it with kindness and respect, knowing that the person receiving them could be angry or emotional.

We need to be able to speak our truths, to clear the air and to be authentic in our feelings and opinions. That being said, we have to also remember to be polite, respectful and empathetic when saying difficult things, and let the words express. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Just say it nicely.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


It's so much fun to help others spend their money ... and that is exactly what I did tonight. My artist friend is getting ready for her rafting trip on the Colorado River she is taking in a few weeks so we went shopping in a very earthy outfitter store. An eager sales associate proved just how complex it is to choose the most appropriate hydration system, personally explaining and displaying every option imaginable. She was just trying to buy a water bottle. He wrapped up his spiel by suggesting the ultimate option of a hydration pack that you wear on your back. This is after my friend already complained about the water bottle being too large.

The final chuckle were the banana guards stationed at the cash register. I had never seen such a thing and truth be told, I felt guilty even touching it. While I quipped inappropriate jokes about its likeness to [censored] the sales girl with a straight face told me she not only owned one, but used it every day. I just hope it was for her bananas.

Ended our little shopping expedition with some delicious Asian fusion fare. Better fusion than the confusion we started out with earlier ... and it wouldn't be Asian without the fortune cookies. But then again, I don't need a cookie to tell me how lucky I am to have great friends ... and a great life.

Today's take away -- a humorous if not awesome stocking stuffer idea -- no batteries required!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Letting Go

Letting go of that over which we have no control ...

I am learning to do this better with each passing year. I am a little bit of a control freak and a fixer ... and I tend to get frustrated when I can't resolve / solve something. I am relentless in my attempts to make it right. Then the day came when I hit a wall -- a disease in my mother that I couldn't fix. By her example I learned to take full control of what I could (her care) and let go of what I couldn't (her illness).

I've encountered friends and family who suffer with alcoholism and I learned that I couldn't control their drinking - but I could choose my response and participation in it. There was a time when I would spend countless hours on the phone listening and coaching an inebriated soul on the other end who - next day - couldn't remember the call. I would forgo my children's bedtime stories to "help". I was missing the part where the drinker had to decide they needed help.

I came to realize that my bid to be a helper was actually somewhat egotistical -- I was deriving self importance while letting my priorities slip. What was that about - a deep seated need to be needed -- or make a difference?

Life has a way of delivering unordered tragedies, roadblocks and hurdles. They are tests. We should expect them. And the question is not "why" - but rather "how" best we can handle them, or help others to do so. It is a choice we can make ... and that is something we can control.