Saturday, May 31, 2014

Doing (the) Charleston

Adventure Girl is turning 50 so you know what that means -- girls' trip! We chose Charleston for our five-day adventure for its heat, southern charm and history. The mojitos, fish tacos, and crab cakes were the added flavour - the bonus!

My two gal pals and I have been keeping a regular commitment of dinners, trips and socializing for more than twenty-five years now. We call ourselves the "dinner club" but we are so much more to one another -- sisters from other misters! We move together as an easy pack - we know one another's quirks and characteristics and solve our differences with playful banter.

Charleston is a wonderful city steeped in history and baked in exquisite cuisine, Yum! We ate our way across the region, taking a day to drive to Savannah with a pit stop in Hilton Head. Rather than write a travelogue here, I let my pictures speak for themselves.  Next milestone trip: 2018! Gotta start saving!!

Drayton Hall Plantation

Leave em rest - slave graveyard

Gas lanterns

Boot scrapers from the 1700's

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pay Day

My day started out a little rough yesterday. As I drove down my street a bird dropped from a tree above and I killed it with my car. I was heart sick all the way to work. The attendant at the drive through coffee shop tipped the cup as she handed it to me leaking little brown droplets all over the sleeve of my white jacket. And by the time I reached the front door of my office building to realize that I had left my security card in my other bag, I was starting to wonder what lesson I was supposed to be learning...

I'd had enough and decided to turn my day around. Or maybe it turned me around...

A few months back I tossed my name into the hat for the manager's position that had opened up with my boss's retirement. I debated the decision to attempt a return to management; part of me afraid of failure, the other part afraid of not trying. And so after three months and two intense interviews later and a few more weeks of waiting, I learned that I had won the competition. Monday I leave the comfort and safety of my cube and move my mess and disorder down the hallway to the stark and empty office that was my boss's. 

I have no illusions. It's not easy transitioning from peer to leader in a team, but I work with the best (some of them just don't know it). We'll go through it together, as a team.

And the tingles of fear and anticipation remind me that I am alive with much left to learn and more boundaries to challenge. I am also reminded of why it is important to keep dreaming...

What's that saying-- be careful what you wish for?  *smile*

Dreams really do come true.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Winding Down

It was better than expected.
Nature's soothing balm for the soul.
From brittle stark, fresh tender buds of brilliant green emerge, slowly unfurling to face the sun.
A simple reminder that life begins anew; opportunities abound.

Message received. And as this weekend, the first vacation of the season, slowly recoils and winds down, I also wind down, grateful for the rest, ready to face all that awaits. Another week of living fully, and in the moment.

And I whisper a quiet prayer of thanks.

Prelude to Summer

What a difference a week can make. When we were up at the cottage last weekend the landscape was dull and beige with not a hint of green in sight, nothing - with the exception of the evergreen trees. It was as though springtime was in hiding, camouflaged as November.

With the first long weekend upon us, the weather forecast was not promising with very cool temperatures and high probability of rain expected. Hubby and I debated whether we should stay or go north to  the cottage. We both needed a respite from busytown and threw caution to the wind.

To our disbelief the highways, typically jammed on a Friday of the long weekend (or any Friday for that matter), were free and clear. We soared unencumbered to our place of peace.

The first night was a frosty 3 degrees Celsius - and that was inside! We plugged in the heater and stoked the fire and with the help of my wool socks and fleece, I finally got warmed up.

Saturday was a little cloudy and chilly but by late afternoon the sky cleared and it warmed up. Today was spectacular. The lake sparkled like a bedazzled blanket of blue and the sun shone all day high in the cloudless sky. Even the buds on the trees were coaxed out of hiding, and by the end of the day, you couldn't help but notice the greenery showing through. We ate our dinner out on our deck as the blue jays, chickadees and other birds and squirrels serenaded us. The lake was quiet, devoid of the usual cottagers.

Hubby and I took a drive into the nearby village of Magnetawan and gave Fritz a stroll. With the area having a harsh winter of frigid temps and over seven feet of snow, the water levels are high wherever we look. Rivers run freely over the dams crashing into already saturated lakes. Boat houses sit low in the water and trees stand in ponds. I snapped a few shots to share. Hopefully over the next month or two the water levels will reside and the trees can recover.

We are so fortunate to have this retreat, this chance to commune with nature and be inspired by its glory. All in all it was indeed a peaceful weekend and an exciting prelude to the summer ahead.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekend to Remember

Yesterday was "opening day" at the cottage. The residuals of an exceptionally long, bitterly cold winter were everywhere: heaps of tree branches and dead leaves on the deck, a few downed birch trees laid out like fallen soldiers, and shades of grey and beige draping the vistas. There wasn't a glimpse of green anywhere to be found... not a bud or hint of leaf.

Hubby dropped the water lines in and did battle with the pump to coax water into the taps and toilet. If that wasn't fun enough, Hubby wrestled with the dock and 300 lb ramp to get us afloat and the canoe nicely secured. The only thing missing to complete the picture were our red Muskoka chairs.

I dodged the cool grey of outside by making up the beds and restoring the coziness of our rustic little cabin. We wrapped up our mission to open our cottage in advance of the upcoming long weekend in short order and then headed home, up the stark laneway and down the highway to the city. Until next weekend...

Today was brilliant! The sun shone high in the blue skies and the girls came home to spend Mother's Day with me. They came wearing wide smiles and bearing baked goods. Nutrition and moderation went out the window as I "sampled".

Some Mother's Days have been better than others... sometimes I get mired in the missing of my own precious mother and I can barely muster a smile. But the past few years have been better. My love for and appreciation of my girls has been larger than my grief. And it feels good.

It's been a weekend to remember, as well as a good reminder of the riches in my life and the good things to come. I hope you all had some sunshine today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Strangers on a Plane

I didn't know her name. But this older lady with short hair - the gray peeking out from the bottled auburn colour - was sitting in seat 5C - my seat. The flight was packed with not a seat to spare. She moved over into the middle seat, repeating her apology in her sing-song Newfoundland lilt.

I didn't know her name. But this lady in the seat next to me, with her hands folded nervously in her lap was a grandma. Her son and his two kids were sitting ten rows back and they were all headed to Fort McMurray to visit her other son and his family. She doesn't travel much by plane -- just a trip or two to Toronto is all.

I didn't know her name. But I learned that the dusty rose hope-inscribed scarf around her neck was given to her by her daughter ten years ago -- after she passed the five year clear milestone for breast cancer. I learned she only had one breast left and that we shared the same neck scar from our thyroid surgeries.

I didn't know her name. But I know that she misses the husband she lost two years ago. And that she has nine sisters and eight brothers to visit when she gets lonely.

I didn't know her name but I held her hand as the plane landed and bounced to an eventual stop. I helped her find the sleeve to her coat. And I wished her safe travels as we departed.

We met as strangers on a plane. I didn't know her name. But I wish I did.