Lois.

8 07 2019

She was more than a bit long in the tooth, to say the least. A bit grungy, a bit worn.  A lock that needed persuasive urging to open. A tinge of long-ago smoked cigarettes greeted us as we opened the door to our weekend getaway AirBnB in Surrey. Lois The Motor Home was the 1980’s rode-hard-and-put-away-wet version of a unique (so we thought) funky and inexpensive place to stay after we dropped the kids off at their own place as we prepared for a fun and epic festival and shopping-filled weekend away.

Jill and I looked at each other, and burst out laughing as we entered the old motor home parked on a beautiful property just on the border of Whiterock. It was quiet and forested, with a hot tub and pool for us to use whenever we wanted. When we mutually decided to book it, we thought, Hey, what a fun adventure…. “camping” in the city!! Why not?!

We unloaded our car and set about planning our days ahead of us. This was when we discovered the owners didn’t exactly hold up their end of the traditional AirBnB bargain of supplying the basic necessities of… well…. normal life.

No toilet paper. Two towels. No garbage can/bags. No dish soap. Minimal dishes. Nary a broom to be found. NO BOTTLE OPENER.  Jill messaged the owner with our concerns and someone brought us two rolls of TP and some soap with a couple squeezes at the very bottom to do dishes with.

But hey, sometimes you’re faced with these situations and there’s not much else to do other than laugh about it and deal with the status quo. We made due at the time. The next morning we found the shower head was more intent on facing the wall instead of, you know… OUR ACTUAL BODIES. The water puddled on the floor under our feet with no way of being absorbed because… you know TWO TOWELS and all. The fuse blew every time we tried to blow dry our hair. We laughed about our smoker’s lung after breathing in that stale smoker smell.

We weren’t there all that much for the first two days. But on Saturday, we realized we were running low on TP and our towels were hot soggy messes. I went to the owner and asked him for more toilet paper and a couple more towels, so at the very least we could have something on the floor to mop up the leaky shower.

He looked at me with an odd expression and (I SHIT YOU NOT) said “But I already gave you two rolls.”

I placed my hands together in an effort to prevent myself from punching this dude in the face and finding some sort of calm within a prayer pose and said, “Yes. But you see, we’re girls. We need more than two rolls. And more towels too. That would be extremely convenient if you could provide this for us.” I gave him a smile that I hoped relayed more of a hopeful message, rather than a murderous one.

He looked vaguely out of sorts and offered to wash our towels for us after admitting he had no more toilet paper.

That was the moment when I knew I wanted to write the AirBnB review. I’m still penning it in my mind as I write this post.

He luckily scrounged some more TP for us and two fresh towels were laid out for us upon our return that day.

But you know, all in all, these are the sorts of adventures that can either ruin your trip or make your trip something to remember. Jill and I are both pretty easy-going gals, and we sure as hell laughed a whole lot about it. Maybe some people would have been horrified and demanded a refund while seeking modern comforts. But to me, we both survived and the memories and laughs we shared together are more precious than gold.

But, for the love of all that is good in this world, at least provide adequate toilet paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 ways

13 03 2019

A couple years ago when Dan and I went to Puerto Vallarta (our first real holiday, just the two of us, since having kids), we went to Yelapa for the day. We met a couple on the boat and chatted with them a few times during our excursion.

At one point, after we were pleasantly pickled from a couple of (AMAZING) margaritas on the beach, she mentioned that she was Finnish and that when they were married, they chose to involve both languages for their vows.

So I said “Mina rakastan sinua” to her and her mouth dropped open. We both then laughed and laughed.

You see, a bajillion years ago I had read an article in some stupid teen magazine that was “Ten Different Languages To Say I Love You”, and I have remembered almost every one. 34-ish years later.

French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Finnish, Russian, Swedish.

(I have a tendency to store meaningless tidbits of random information in my brain, yet struggle to remember where I parked my car when I went grocery shopping.)

Anyway, she was quite amazed that I knew how to say I love you in Finnish, and, quite wryly, she also confessed that her own husband had difficulty remembering the phrase to say to her during their vows. He tried his hardest to defend himself but given the circumstances he conceded defeat.

 

 

Forgive the spelling, this is how I remember it:

Je t’aime

Iche liebe dich

Ti amo

Te amo

Wah eye ne

Mina rakastan sinua

Ya lyublyu tebya

Jeg elska daj

 

 

 




Wait for it…..

9 12 2018

In retrospect, perhaps it was some sort of comedic karmic comeuppance when I said that we were lucky to have avoided any major issues with flying in the last few years.

We flew from Cancun into Calgary last Saturday, after a delicious week of turquoise blue Caribbean water and hot Mexican sunshine, lazy cribbage games and indulgent drinks imbibed before noon. It was a lovely getaway.

Our plane landed in Calgary a half hour early, thanks to some tailwinds. Lucky for folks living there, but now some of us had a 4 and half hour layover to kill before jumping on the plane to Kelowna. All in all, though, not a big deal. But then, as we made our way to the gate to get ready to board, the announcement came over the speaker that our flight was delayed 30 minutes. I could see the collected eye rolls of various passengers as we all plugged our phones in and tried to find something else to kill the bonus time.

Finally! The little Dash 8 arrived and I watched with amusement as the harried passengers offloaded and raced to make their various connector flights. It was cold and snowing that day, so I imagined that was partly the reason for the delay.

Finally after 45 minutes we were allowed to board. The ground crew de-iced us and the plane was ready to go…. but then the pilot announced that she was told there was an exterior panel issue that they needed to fix before we took off. Back to the gate we went, to wait for another ground crew to come and fix it all up….with a few exasperated sighs and seat shuffles that bespoke of most people’s frustrations.

Oh, wait. Did I tell you the best part? We had an active farter on board. One who, for whatever reason, thought it was entirely acceptable to drop rancid air biscuits every 5-10 minutes.

So, while we waited for the repair and then another de-icing, this furtive gas-passer continued to torture us all with what I can only assume is the raunchy results of a gastric inability to deal with Mexican food. Beans, beans, the musical fruit, and all that, I suppose. I sat with my scarf over my mouth the majority of the time. Tentatively I would gauge the air and find it safe, only to be lambasted yet again with another malodorous cheek squeak. It got so bad that one fellow sitting behind us announced that “Now would be a good time to use the facilities if anyone has to go”.

I believe this if the first time any of us had to deal with turbulence on the ground before. The tension and anger was simmering tangibly among us. I seriously considered auctioning off my little supply of Ativan to the highest bidders before anyone decided to lose their proverbial shit (pun entirely intended).

Finally after two hours of sitting in that tiny little plane with a lone wolf letting trouser trumpets fly, the pilot announced we were ready for takeoff. I have never felt such mutual jubilation in a group of tired, annoyed and disgusted people in my life. The rest of the flight continued uneventful, and apparently the guilty tooter had ridden him (or her) self of the intestinal issues and no further sphincter sirens were emitted.

 





Within the grace of saying goodbye.

30 10 2018

I wasn’t necessarily overly “close” to Naomi, but the reality of knowing this authentic soul is that when you knew her, when you spoke with her, when you got to hug her, you felt so enveloped in her love that you honestly felt like her best friend.

She departed from this earthly level of existence (something tells me she’d love this explanation) and left behind a rich tapestry of folks left reeling from this loss. Far be it from me to appropriate the grief from those closest to her, but let me tell you, in the standing room only space of her memorial today, I looked around and witnessed a gamut of human beings whom she touched on many levels.

In any funeral, memorial, or celebration of life there are messages from the loved ones left behind that we hear and bear witness to. And as I get older, these messages resonate more deeply, more richly. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Tell the ones you love that you do love them, deeply. Hug whenever you can. Be kind. Take that time to call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Reach out and attempt healing if your souls have disconnected, because you guys… life is short, it’s so short and so goddamn precious.

Last night, as I was almost ready to crawl into bed, I got a message from a lifelong friend. In the form of a meme, it summed up the truth of connection. It came at a serendipitous time, as I was grieving for her family and thinking of today’s service. I am so guilty of not reaching out, and staying in my nice comfy hidey-hole of my life that I let opportunities pass me by to even just say hi. We get wrapped up in our crap, time slips by and before you know it, it’s been days/weeks/months/years since we’ve spoken and connected.

But thanks to the silver linings of things like today, we can breathe deep and remember what is so truly important. Not the stresses at work, not the cost of gasoline, not the argument with your partner about laundry.

It’s us. ALL of us. The tapestry of relationships that weave our lives into a rich blanket of connection. It’s dancing and laughter. It’s tears and arguments that resolve into tender forgiveness. It’s moving beyond our attachment from a desire for revenge and retribution, but rather to a humble acceptance of our human fragility and strength.

In her way of being a connection for so many, she has proven today that she has the power to unite. The message I received loud and clear this morning was that we are all here for a short and sweet time and we need to: Breathe. Hug. Love. Laugh. And dance. Don’t forget to dance. And don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It is when you are that, that you are most human.

I love you all. I really do. And to Naomi, thank you. Thank you for your lessons we all were blessed to receive today and above all thank you for YOU (and those two bald eagles circling above the church after your service. I stood and watched, breathless and aching for your family).

xo

K

 





And so we mourn.

19 09 2018

In retrospect, my blog posts always seem to have the same essence and theme. My lake, my friends, the seasons. It’s a rich flavour, a repertoire I feel isn’t overly tiresome, and yet I find myself second guessing myself every time the mood strikes to write for fear that it might seem redundant to some.

Nevertheless, I pondered the last few days about this and decided to write on!

The sunlight these days is low. It shines differently, doesn’t it? A deeper yellow, a brighter cast. It’s warmer in its glow and cooler in its warmth, such a strange dichotomy. It shines on the waters of my lake, seemingly enticing me to plunge in, but my soul and my body know the chill and coolness it hides in its sparkling invitation. Yet I feel like I should, just one more time. Strip down, run in, let those waters enfold me in a brisk embrace, flooding me with icy affirmations.

The leaves are turning. It’s earlier this year, don’t you think? Given the fire season and smoke and cool weather that hit us in mid-August, I am not surprised. Even the last few weeks in September have denied us those hot days and crisp nights. The worst fire season in BC’s history has taken a toll in everyone’s experience. Beach days were cut short, camping trips dampened. No evening campfires. Long walks disrupted by lung-choking smoke. This demoralized me. This demoralized everyone. It evoked a deep sadness within my heart and soul for all of us. We live all year in sweet anticipation of these Kootenay Summers and to be denied even a few days of its offerings, to be denied the heat, the sun, the pure intense bliss of it all, it’s like the loss of a love, a summer fling cut short, a too-soon breakup of an intense love affair that takes your breath away. And so, the natural progression of the changing of the seasons was cut short and shoved almost violently in our faces.

But I digress. Above all, the moments that come along to gift us sweetness are always here, present and ready to whisper lovely reminders in our ears. As I left this morning on my early morning run, the coolness of the fall-ish air enveloped me. My dog was giddy, as usual. Yes, I was cold, but the air. The air was like a vitamin-infused oxygen bar all around me. I ran and I breathed in, nourishing every cell in my body.

So we mourn this loss, as we should. The loss of those days that shine like diamonds, as laughter echoes into the dusk and holds us to the promise of one more summer. Those diamonds, they sparkle and beckon. But we need to remember that there are also pearls, that glow within from a cool golden hue and allow us to revel in being present no matter what. And it’s time to don a different jewel, to wear it with gratitude as the season turns.

 





You know, it really it is the little things

5 07 2018

I woke up this morning with the anticipated July sun finally beaming in through the windows, and after my coffee and shower, I egged on my dog Jed to get him all riled up for his morning walkies. Well, could you blame me? He was laying outside my door, completely splooted (google it) out with his front paws crossed in anticipation, his brow furrowed as if in consternation about whether or not he’d get to go romp before breakfast. Hint: he always does.

He was delighted as always, performing cutesy spins and giving his high fives as I asked him if he “wants to go for a walk”. We headed out into the early morning, the air gently warm and the crows announcing our journey with raucous caws.

Sometimes we run. Sometimes we walk. There are times when I intersperse lunges and jump squats to make sure my arse doesn’t sag too much. But whatever I do, Jed comes with me. Tail high, prancing with pride. Isn’t it sweet to give your dog what he loves the most?

We did a quick route this morning as unbeknownst to him, he was heading up the mountain with the birthday girl and her dad for a day of ATVs, fishing and hiking. As we rounded the corner home, I stopped to pick a few sweet peas for a birthday bouquet and happened to look up as I began to head home. There in the sky, hung like a mobile over a baby’s crib was a giant Blue Heron. She (he?) was straight as an arrow, neck folded in, legs extended. The moment stopped as I just stood there to watch this creature soar over me. Beyond the twitter of chickadees and zzzz zzzz zzzz of the hummingbirds and the sweet songs of the swallows, this giant of flight was silent. I stood. I watched. And after this bird passed over me, I finally breathed deeply and regained my venture home when I noticed two bald eagles soaring together. My breath stopped again. The two birds circled around together, hanging briefly in the updrafts of the air below. Not a wing was flapped. They were close enough so that I could see the white feathers of their heads and the rich brown of their bodies. Jed stood patiently by as I stood still again, trying with all my might to absorb the beauty, the peace and the simplicity of this moment. After a few second they dispersed, perhaps spying a fish or two rising in the waters below.

I know it may have looked silly, but I clasped my hands in a prayer pose in front of my heart and breathed a word of thanks. To who or what, I’m not even sure. But the gifts given to me, simple and sweet, were too good to not be grateful for.





Lessons learned.

15 05 2018

My sister asked me the other day if I had written about my son’s ATV accident yet. I said that I had thought about it, but hadn’t really and truly sat down to hash out my thoughts and emotions after that crazy experience. It takes time to process, anytime there’s a trauma involved with someone you love.

All in all, his injuries weren’t THAT serious…. I work with docs who work in the ER and so upon getting the call (while coming home from an amazing weekend in Spokane) learning that Nick had a pneumothorax after the quad rolled on him, my brain automatically heard one of my docs say “OK, that’s really no big deal” in my brain. A punctured or torn lung…. I mean yeah, that’s scary shit, but in some weird way, my autopilot kicked in and I just focused on driving home, knowing it’d be ok. I’m not generally a crier either so no tears were shed. I just drove, intent on getting home to see my boy.

I arrived at the hospital to see my son in the trauma bay, a bit doped up still from the ketamine and morphine he was given during the chest tube insertion. He informed me that he had been “trippin’ balls in another dimension” and we took silly selfies while he laid there in a collar, hooked up to all sorts of machines.

The days that followed were a roller coaster. We had hoped he’d be discharged within two to three days, but unfortunately, after the first chest tube (which I swear to god was the size of a garden hose) was removed, his lung collapsed again, leading to another chest tube being inserted. Nick’s usual upbeat and sarcastic demeanor was crushed as we learned it may be days before he would get home, with a small possibility of a thoracic surgery if it didn’t heal… that meant a trip to Kelowna. So fingers and toes crossed, we waited.

Oh right. We waited. We waited for the nurse to come in to talk to us. We waited for x ray to call so Nick could get yet one more to see how his lung was doing. We waited for the doctor to come and see us. We waited for x ray results. We waited. And waited. And waited. Day in. Day out. We waited.

We filled the time by chatting, by being silent, by stealing tidbits of sleep here and there (Nick in a bed that was a foot too short for his 6’3″ frame and me crooked up against the wall, curled up in a horribly uncomfortable chair). We waited and listened to Nick’s neighbour cough and hack and snort and fart all hours of the day, we heard him having loud conversations in Italian with his wife, that sounded suspiciously like balls-to-the-wall full-on arguments, but as they were interspersed with bouts of laughter, we all figured it was just a typical Italian conversation. (We christened him Luigi and spent a lot of time giggling at the cacophony of sounds emanating from various orifices of the old feller in the next not-very-soundproof-room). We waited with Nick’s lovely, wonderful girlfriend, who filled up the room with her sweet love and tender devotion for him. There were nights where she and I didn’t get home until 10 or 11. Indeed, we put in a few long 8-10 hour days, making sure that he had some semblance of company to keep him from being bored to tears.

In doing all this, this bedside waiting, I learned something. I learned that no matter who tells you in their heartfelt and earnest loving way to “Please let me know if you need anything”, when you are in the thick of dealing with any sort of crisis, you don’t really have the ability to reach out, you don’t have the foresight, and you don’t really think of it.

I had a lovely friend show up one day with chips and treats and hugs galore, and while Nick was sleeping, we sat and chatted. And this very thing came up…. How lonely we were…. how alone we felt. You see, she lost her mom a couple years ago and so she really and truly knows what it’s like and right then and there I realized that I too was (not so much guilty as it is no crime, but more of an honest human reaction) not present for her during her time of deep and soulful need. I should have just shown up while she was at her mother’s bedside. Shown up with tea or soup, or silly magazines, or even just a hug. I remember feeling nervous that I would be intruding on them during that terrible time, I worried that I didn’t have the right to be there. I didn’t want to bother them. I didn’t want to step on toes.

But what we went through opened my eyes. Even though it was a small blip in the grand scheme of things, my heart opened up in a new and delicious way. My lesson gleaned from this was to learn how to be a bit more present for those I love in this world.

So. Don’t wait for the call if you know someone is sick or hurt or grieving. Show up. Show up with a juicy new book. Bring a laptop with a movie downloaded on it. Show up for five minutes with your smile and if you don’t bring anything, just bring at least seven or eight hugs. Because hugs are the best.  Bring a sandwich. The patient and loved ones might be hungry and not willing to leave in case they miss the doctor. And besides, hospital food really, really sucks. Send a text or call if you can’t be there. It matters so much. So so much. Your smile, your presence can will be the difference of making a crappy day a little brighter. You might be the silver lining to an otherwise really bad day.

Because you are. You are a bright silver lining.

We all are.

xoxo