Sunday, September 18, 2016

Where We Were

We were at the second half of our yearly Okanagan family vacation, and what a fun journey it had been! My husband, two sons and I stayed in the family cabin on Missezula Lake in Princeton BC where we boated, fished, sat around the campfire. Perfect! The weather was nice but not too hot so no one got sunburned and I managed to add a few freckles to my collection. I wrote while the men fished and kept-up my morning walks while they slept – I even found bear scat near the lake one morning; it was fresh, which is more scary than gross.

After a week there we then headed north-east to Kelowna to stay with family as my husband and archer-son were participating in the BC Outdoor Archery Championships. An archer myself, I bowed out of the competition (note the weird word-play), as I was going to spend the time with my other son who isn’t an archer – much needed one-on-one time given our busy lives. I had planned something BIG for us to do, and although I was unfamiliar with place I had in mind, I could only hope my idea would be successful.

Big White Mountain ski resort is about an hour out of the busy city of Kelowna. The weekend we would be visiting would be the last weekend it would be open for summer visitors before closing for winter preparation, so I was keen to take advantage of the mild weather for a day trip to the resort. I had called ahead to see what summer activities, if any, would be available and was told one of the ski-lifts would be open for rides up the mountain. I figured at least it would be something neat to do; something we don’t normally do at home.

We dropped-off the archers at the tournament, with me nagging them to wear sunscreen. The temperature was predicted to get to the mid-twenties that day – sunburn weather for sure. It was already warm that morning and we were wearing shorts, but I had had the instinct to bring pants and big coats – just in case.

Good thing I did because by the time we got up there, our ears popping all the way from the elevation, we were glad we brought warm clothes. It was foggy, a bit drizzly, and everyone was in toques and winter gear – a sharp contrast to my sunscreen-wearing-nagging I had only just done an hour before. With teeth chattering we got changed, and made our way through the resort to the ski lodge to buy our passes.

The staff were lovely and helpful, although very truthful. I was told that the ski lift was only a seven minute ride up – and went only halfway up the mountain. My shoulders slumped in disappointment. I thought it would be a longer ride and not only halfway up. The fare was round trip, so we had the option to ride up AND down, or ride up and hike down. Then I was warned that it was very foggy up there, so seeing any of the view would be next to impossible. Oh – and it’s cold.

Heart heavy with disappointment I paid the fare. We were there, we were gonna do this, and we were gonna make the best of it. I was determined.

So out we trekked to the ski lift, our excitement building despite the warnings. Who cares? We thought. This was neat – this was fun – and we were doing something different!

Me in my graceful ways and of having no ski-lift-riding experience stumbled and fumbled my way onto the revolving ski-lift. My son was embarrassed, and the Aussie-accented attendant thought I was nuts, but I made it on and off we went.

Before we knew it we were high above the ground. There was some sort of marathon that had started earlier in the morning, and other than the few people we could see in the distance making their way down the hill toward the resort, there was no one around. Up and up we rode, us taking multiple photos and selfies. We were excited at our adventure, and no matter what we found – or didn’t find – and the end of the ride we knew we were still gonna have a great time.

We passed through trees, the ground below covered in big white boulders. The fog wasn’t too bad on the way up, and I had a bit of hope that we might see something grand at the end of the ride.

The fog thickened towards the end of the ride, but that didn’t matter. We decided we would explore whatever was there then head back down. No problem – the ride was fun enough!

Without too much drama I managed to get off the ski-lift chair, and we stumbled our way through the fog to a map of the mountain. A mountain-rescue guy was there waiting for the last of the marathoners and he mentioned to us it was only 2 degrees! And to think we were wearing shorts on the ride up! Added to that he mentioned that snow was in the forecast that night. But despite the cold, I kind of didn’t believe him.


He then took us over to a fence and pointed down. “See down there?”

“Um, I see fog,” I said. I was worried the elevation was getting to his head and wondered if I should call in another mountain rescue guy for him. Our ears DID pop on the ride up, and I was starting wonder how high we really were.

“That’s a lake,” he said with a smirk, “if you can believe it.”

Hence the sign reading ‘Rhonda Lake’ to the left of us. You could not see a lake whatsoever, the fog was THAT thick.

After we marvelled at the thickness of the fog he waved his arm toward a trail and indicated we could go for a walk, and that beyond that trail was the peak of the mountain for those who like to hike. My son and I are the adventurous types (despite my problems with ski-lifts), and we figured we would see how far we could get.

Off we started, zig-zagging our way up the side of the grassy hill. This was no mountain, I thought. It felt all so very hilly and Sound of Music, us traipsing through the stubby grass and shrubs, the forest-like trees long gone. Up and up and we went, and soon the terrain dramatically changed, the grass fading away to white rocks and boulders. We were not on hill, but a mountain indeed!

My son and I grinned at each other. This. Was. Cool.

Just then it started to snow. Like ACTUAL snow. Half of my family was an hour away getting sunburned on an archery range while we were traipsing up a mountain reminiscent of the Swiss Alps while snowflakes fluttered around us.

We kept going, our excitement driving us forward. We can’t go back now! It was hard to breathe, talking making it worse, and again our ears popped. By fluke my son had bought hiking shoes the day before. I was only in my runners, but I was determined to keep going. The terrain got rougher and the boulders got bigger, but I didn’t care.

The fog thinned a bit as we got higher and higher, and then we were hiking along-side a cliff, a thoughtfully placed sign indicating CLIFF warning us of such. We finally saw Rhonda Lake and it was then we realized how truly high up we were.

The trail was getting harder to keep track of, but I soon realized that sporadically places orange painted rocks were trail indicators. We wondered if the peak was near – it hard to see in all the fog. It snowed off and on, and the branches of the scrubby little pine trees that dotted the side of the mountain were covered in icy-snow blown sideways. Soon the little orange rocks changed to true BC journey indicators – orange painted Inukshuks guided us. The traditional meaning of the Inukshuk is ‘someone was here’ and ‘you are on the right path.’ WE were there and we WERE on the right path.

There was no one around – just us – it was heaven on earth, and then about 45 minutes since starting our hike up, we truly DID find heaven.

Suddenly the fog lifted a bit and we could see a peak – a TRUE peak. A pyramid of rocks had been piled up by past hikers signifying the true top of the mountain. We barely started rejoicing our mountaineering accomplishment when the fog fully parted and the mountain range below us showed how high we really were.

Speechless, excited, amazed, enthralled, humbled, and blessed – those little words barely describe the enormity of what we felt. We had done this together, mother and son, doing something we had never been before. There were no city limits to see, and not just a bunch of rolling hills to see, either. Pure, unaffected mountain ranges and valleys surrounded us. I would later learn that at 2, 315m (7,595ft), Big White is the highest mountain of the Okanagan Highland and of the Beaverdell Range. No wonder our ears popped so many times on the way up – through the drive, the ski-lift, AND the hike. No wonder the ice on the tree branches of the few little trees up there was frozen sideways – it got windy and cold up there! The only wildlife we saw were a few little white mountain-ish birds fluttering by, as well as the biggest chipmunk we had ever seen. The sun warmed us for a moment and we reveled in the warmth, the view, and the serenity and peace that only a hike up a too-high mountain can give.

Then the fog rolled back in. Our show was over, and we knew we better start the semi-treacherous hike back down. After some water, we made an offering to the pyramid peak and each placed a rock to say WE WERE THERE.

We started our ascent following the Inukshuks. We were sad to have to go - We didn’t want to leave. Going down was much easier of course and we remarked over and again how thankful we were we had done this, and how unexpected it all had been. It snowed again, but we were too excited to notice how cold and tired we really were. We made it to the ski lift, I stumbled back on, and rode down the last half of the mountain. More people were venturing up by then, and we were (however selfish it might seem) glad we had arrived early to be able to have the experience to ourselves. They say it’s the journey and not the destination – how true that is - but the company I was in was the best part.

(Note: my archer-son and husband each won a gold medal in their respective divisions – it was a winner of a day for us all!)



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Left Hander's Day for the Right-Handed

August 13 was Left Hander’s day. A unique and special minority, left handers are celebrated and revered with their own day – and rightly so! 1 in 9 men and 1 in 14 women are left-handed – they’re rare, but they ARE out there if you look hard enough. As a kid my friends and I always wanted something different than what we already had – typical kid stuff – and it was usually what the ‘popular’ girls had. If you had straight hair, you wanted curly, and vice versa – or whatever the trend was at that time. Only the cute, popular girls had braces, so you longed for the glint of metal on your teeth. Left-handed kids were deemed SUPER special – despite knocking elbows with a right-handed person when desks were side by side. They got special scissors, they held their pencils at different angles, and teachers would always make a big deal of them being ‘special.’ We all longed to be that special person, if only for a day (despite trying to be like everyone else the rest of the time).

Oh the troubles and dramatics of childhood!

And where 40 to 50 years ago left-handed kids in school were reprimanded for writing WRONG, nowadays we celebrate and embrace the special – with a special day AND a website! http://www.lefthandersday.com/

So now that I’m seemingly/supposed to be grown-up, although I DO have days where I wish my hair was something other than what it is, for the most part I’m happy with who I am. I never got braces (kids hate them, I know, but I still think they look cute with them), and I write with my right hand; no special scissors or tools required to get through my daily life. I do have moments where I see a movie stars’ lips or much-photographed trademark mole and I have a twinge of green envy. ‘They’re sooooo special....’ my 10-year-old self secretly, wistfully moans.

BUT I’m mature, content and rational and I accept who I am, what I am, and how I am.

As a kid I wasn’t a sporty person – I’ve been a ‘creative’ all my life – so I never had issues with needing special sports gear, should I have been born left-handed. I was relatively stress-free to my parents (they would argue that, I think) – they didn’t need to run around town looking for left-handed scissors or baseball gloves. I wasn’t special, I was just ‘me’, and I was doing fine just the way I was. I eventually married and had kids – one kid writes with his left hand and plays sports with his right, and the other kid both writes and plays sports with his right. I love them both equally. Scissor challenges aside, no left-hand-sport-equipment-needs challenged us and life carried on without a second thought.

Until I picked up an archery bow two years ago – specifically an Olympic-style recurve bow – and my right-handed world changed.

You see, there are right-handed bows and left-handed bows. The TRULY unique can shoot with both left AND right-handed bows; the epitome of ambidextrous. But the ‘hand’ of bow you shoot with has nothing to do with what hand that is your most dominant – or the hand you ‘write’ with.

It’s all to do with what EYE is most dominant.

If you are left-eye dominant you shoot left-handed, but hold the bow in your right hand (drawing back the string with your left). If you are right-eye dominant you shoot right-handed, but hold the bow in your left hand (drawing back the string with your right).

And as it turns out I’m a left-handed archer – a somewhat rarity in the archery world.

This discovery shocked and confused me to the core. My 10-year-old self so longing to be ‘special’ back in grade five rejoiced! LOOK AT ME! I AM special!

Yet at the same time I couldn’t understand how I could be left-eye dominant as my left eye is the more blurrier of the two. But I was soon told my blurry eye was due to an ‘age’ thing and that it has nothing to do with eye-dominance (I’m forty-something-years old - so much for my 10-year-old self). I had to stop over-thinking things (as I so often do with everything) and accept the fact that I was not who I thought I was.

Because what I was now was a left-handed archer who was also a right-handed writer.

Although I have very much enjoyed doing this archery thing – something I would have NEVER EVER imagined doing before – doing so has come with its own challenges. Sure I am ‘special’ – my 10-year-old self secretly glows with pride when someone comments ‘Oh! A lefty archer, huh?’ and then go on about how ‘rare’ we ‘lefty archers’ are – but I would soon realize I should be careful what I wish for. Everything comes with a price.

Many of the bits and bobs that go with a bow is specific to what hand of bow you shoot; meaning certain left-hand bow equipment will only fit on left-handed bows and not on right-handed bows. Archery companies often have equipment on sale – but it’s usually right-handed bows and their accompanying equipment. Why? Because there are more right-handed archers than left. Archers swap, sell and hand-down gear to fellow archers, whether it be they have outgrown what they have or because they are upgrading their own equipment. But much to my dismay it’s usually right-handed archers doing the wheeling and dealing and my left-handed archery-girl-self can’t benefit from any of it. Left-handed archers rejoice when they meet another ‘lefty shooter’ and often moan the struggles faced in being so ‘special.’

So where I am thrilled beyond thrilled to not only be practicing a different and historic sport, AND finally get to be UNIQUE and SPECIAL, it turns out that being left-handed is not as easy as I thought. Be careful what you wish for.

So for now I will embrace who I am, JUST THE WAY I AM, enjoy my new-found activity, and embark on a quest to have Left-Eyeball-Dominant Day become a national holiday. With presents, of course.

I could use a new bow ;)



For info on how to determine your dominant eye, please visit Archery 360. They can explain it better than I can. While you're there, you can watch an archery how-to video by multi-Olympic Silver medalist Jake Kaminski - he's pretty cool.






Thursday, July 14, 2016

How to Photograph a B17 In the Rain - And Survive

As I waited in anticipation at the ferry terminal in Victoria, BC, the raindrops from the overcast sky above speckled my car’s windshield. My dad was coming from Vancouver for the day and we had BIG plans. I leaned forward in my seat for a better view of sky above. White and grey clouds resembling antique, mottled aluminum threatened to ruin our visit. When Dad was in the car moments later, we planned our day and vowed not to let any rain ruin our time - all in the name of photography.

We were about to get up close and personal with the B17 ‘Aluminum Overcast’ bomber that was staying at The Victoria Flying Club during the Father’s Day weekend. The 65,000 lb vintage bomber built in the early 40’s was in town on one of its many stops during its North American journey. Ground tours and short flights were being offered in the spirit of keeping military history alive. It would be a perfect photo opportunity for my dad who specializes in aviation photography.

As we sped to the airport and planned our photographic attack, it was hard not to keep our eyes to the skies. We knew the old plane wouldn’t be flying quite yet, and we knew ground tours were only allowed at specific times. I would have loved to be able to send my dad up for a once-in-a-lifetime flight, but the costly flight was a bit beyond my tiny wallet - a tour of the plane would be better than nothing. We would still be spending time together and that was all that mattered. With another glance up at the sky my dad, the knower-of-all-things aviation and weather-related, wondered that with a “ceiling of 1000 feet broken, and visibility 8 to 10 miles” if the old plane would even go up. We hoped to get some photos of the plane taking off.

The light drizzle of rain had stopped by the time we arrived at the airport, but we weren’t allowed up close just yet. It was about to take-off for its first flight of the day! We made it on time!

We quickly readied our cameras and took a few shots of the plane from the viewing area. After the pilots and guest passengers were settled inside the plane, the ground crew hand-cranked the props a few times to initiate oil flow to the engines. Then in anticipation everyone stood back and waited. It wasn’t too long before the props started to move on their own, picking up speed with every rotation. Oil-rich smoke billowed out from the engines creating a picture-perfect shot. CLICK CLICK CLICK went our cameras and we waited in anticipation for the plane to start taxiing out to the runway. More great photo opportunities were on the horizon!

But just as the old plane started taxiing down the runway the rain started up again – and not like a drizzle as before. Dad did get some footage of the plane taxiing out, but all too soon the rain forced us to the semi-protective overhang of airport building. As rain trickled down our necks as we protected our cameras tucked under our coats, we worried that our fun day was about to be a washout.

We soon learned that tours would, indeed, be available to us later in the afternoon. There was hope! Dismayed but not to be outdone we went back to my house, dried off our gear, and after a cup of tea we headed BACK to the airport. This time the rain had stopped but the clouds still threatened from above. Our determination to get great photos would not be over-shadowed by any finicky weather.

Back again at the airport we unloaded our gear and set up our cameras. Hadn’t we just done this before? we chuckled. By then we could approach the plane: under the wings, between the props, under the fuselage, and behind the tail we skulked about with our cameras. A mannequin depicting an airman sat at the ready in the tail gunner. These planes were definitely designed with lanky young 18-year-old in mind. The tiny close-quarters of the ball turret gunner and the tail gunner made me cringe. I wasn’t claustrophobic, but I could only imagine sitting there for hours at a time would make anyone eventually hate small spaces.

Finally it was time for our tour! I climbed up through the hatch into a crawlspace behind the bombardier then pretzeled my body in the cramped space to wait. The other visitors in the plane had to move along before I could crawl through to stand up behind the cockpit. Both my dad and I are not exactly accustomed to crawling around such tiny planes so it was a challenge, to say the least, but I was determined to see us through the tour. Finally there was enough room for me to crawl/shuffle/inch forward until I could stand. Then my dad, too, made his way up through the hatch and through the tiny crawl space to stand beside me behind the cockpit. We did it! We survived the tiny obstacle course!

But our adventures weren’t over yet because….

…in order to get through the rest of the plane from nose to tail we would have to inch our way through the bomb bay. It wouldn’t be the 5-foot drop to the ground through the open bomb bay doors should we trip that would be our undoing, but the possibility of getting stuck trying to get through that could be a problem. We would have to walk across a horizontal beam barely 6 inches wide flanked by vertical support beams barely 20 inches apart.
With a deep suck-in-your-gut breath and camera gear carefully passed across the bomb bay to a waiting tour guide, we each inched, squeezed, and scooted along the beam and between the supports. There were some tense moments where we each wondered if we would be stuck there forever, but with a promise to God to be pure of heart forever should we make it out alive, we finally made it through the bomb bay to the radio room! We looked at each other and nervously chuckled, ‘Phew – good thing we didn’t get stuck,’ and then proceeded to take a few photos as if nothing had happened.

Because we're cool like that.

We continued through the radio room to the main cabin, admired the guns, and then stumbled out the back door. Dad and I took many memory-cherishing photos, but what had us bent over laughing on the runway was the forever-memory of us making it out of the B17 bomb bay alive. Barely.

See? We never let a little rain bother us after all.

For more information about the B17 ‘Aluminum Overcast’ Bomber visit Experimental Aircraft Association

Friday, May 27, 2016

Tupperware® List

I took a week off from my too-busy day job. I had months of catch-up to do – household organizing and cleaning, computer stuff, writing-related fun things to do, general sewing and mending – and basically I just needed some R&R. I knew I would be busy, but I was also going to make time to rest. So I made a list – a long list, despite my desire to find time to rest. It consisted of stuff I needed to do as well as stuff I wanted to do. I knew if I didn’t have a list, nothing would get done and I’d end-up going back to work feeling like I hadn’t accomplished anything. My week off wasn’t about going away on a trip, nor was I thinking I was going to write a novel in a week. I just needed a break to catch-up.

I was determined to complete that list, yet I gave myself permission and allowance that I might not get everything done. I’m a busy momma – there are just only so many hours in the day! Heck, the week before I was so busy I had to write a note for myself to remember to make a list, and THEN I even jotted down a few things to remember to put ON the list, just so I wouldn’t forget

So determined was I to stay on track and finish the list, I eloquently told my husband that I had a list of things I needed/wanted to do during my week off. It was my subtle way of saying ‘don’t bug me.’ I assured him I’d make time for him, of course, but I knew if I didn’t clearly state my intentions for the week early on, I’d get wrapped up in other projects around the house. It sounds mean of me, I know, but I had to create and set balance for my time – for me and for my family. I would still be there for my family – I always would – but I needed to step back from everything and catch-up a bit. I gave him a few examples of things on my list, just so he had an idea of what the purpose of my week-off truly was to be. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I was gentle yet I was firm and ready to stand my ground should any misinterpretation of my intentions arose.

After a moment of thoughtful reflection he said, “So you kind of have a Tupperware® List.”

So mildly geared-up I was for any resistance that I immediately assumed he was insinuating my needs and wants were trivial little things that could be tucked away in a random plastic container. My feminist hackles rose at the thought he was implying my list was merely housewife-worthy things to-do, a woman’s place in the kitchen with her Tupperware®, and all that.

I took a deep breath – in through the nose, out through the mouth, as I didn’t want to start off the week in a squabble over metaphors – and calmly said “What do you mean Tupperware List?” I tried to keep the sarcastic drip in my tone at bay.

I’m a better actress than I thought as he clearly didn’t detect any froth in my calmly-spoken words. “Well, you know. Some people have a Bucket List of huge things to do – climb Mount Everest, go to space, visit the Great Wall of China – you know, things like that. But your things – smaller in scale yet still very important, easier to do and more of them - are perfect for a Tupperware container. They are things you want to do, but just not as big as typical ‘Bucket List’ things. And instead of a Bucket List, it’s a Tupperware List.”

Oh. So that’s what he meant.

I turned my head in shame. Serves me right for being a little snot, hinting at him to not ‘bug me.’ Here I was ready for a battle and generally being an assuming-the-worst cow. I was no better than a pesky little fly.

And his idea was brilliant. A Tupperware List. It made complete sense! A Bucket-type List for tangible and doable day-to-day, everyday-items.

I’m using ‘Tupperware’ here as a proprietary eponym (for more on propriety eponyms, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_trademark). My husband wasn’t meaning at all that my to-do list wasn’t worthy or less important or frivolous in a little-housewifey way as I had so thought. Oh no. He was just equating the importance of my to-do list to that of the much-important little plastic containers, often referred to in a general sense as ‘Tupperware.’ I swear by Tupperware the brand, and would never trivialize their product’s quality or importance in our lives. He was using the word Tupperware in a generic term.

I told him he was brilliant and we went on with our day, and subsequently my busy week. I was able to balance my to-do-list-completion-time with time spent with him and my boys, all while completing my list and adding in a few extras along the week. Staying focused, determined, yet balanced made the week much more productive than I ever thought. Having an understanding husband made it all the better.

And the extra bonus? He gave me something to write about, too.

For Tupperware® product information, to find a consultant near you, or to become a consultant yourself, visit www.tupperware.ca

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sidetracked

I had been carrying around a card in my purse to mail to a friend. For almost two weeks I always had it with me, but I just couldn’t get around to buying a stamp. Something was always sidetracking me from the simple task of stopping at mail depot in the drugstore by my house on my way home from work. Just a few steps over from my usual route going home through the center after work and badda-bing, badda-bang, I could get the stamp, mail the card, and all would be right in the world.

But in my busy life – teens to referee, houses to clean, meals to organize, general chores to do all while working outside the home – I kept getting blown-off course and forgetting my important errand during my rush and daily grind.

And then one day it happened. I had time – I was of sound mind and disposition from my usual busy panic – and I remembered to get that stamp. So after the bus dropped me off at the shopping center near my home after work on a Friday afternoon, I made my way to the drugstore. Just as I was almost there, I happened to glance back and noticed firefighters standing in front of the grocery store collecting donations for a charity. I felt guilty passing them by, but I was well across the parking lot before I noticed them. I vowed to donate next time I was by.

I picked my way through the parking lot of the shopping center, keen to stay away from the sidewalks that would lend to window-shopping and distractions. Sure it was a bit risky that busy Friday afternoon making my way through the chaotic parking lot, but I was determined and focused. I had one thing on my mind – get across the lot to the drugstore, get that stamp, and FINALLY mail that card.

The mail depot at the back of the store was busy, so I bought a stamp from the front cashier. Proud of myself for FINALLY getting the stamp, I went outside through the automatic doors of the store, eager to get to the mailbox just outside. My head was down as I busily shoved my wallet in my purse with one hand and gripped the stamped card in my other. I was determined, focused and pleased with myself for finally have carried out such a simple task!
Just as I stepped through the doors into the hot afternoon sun, I heard a man’s voice cooing gently just outside the doors: “There you go....watch it now, careful....there you go....”

Before I could wonder if someone was kindly cheering me on in this great postal feat, I looked up to find one of the firefighters from the grocery store guiding a mother Mallard duck and her babies across the parking lot. The firefighter, along with another shopper, held back traffic to protect the young family as they made their way towards the sidewalk.

Just as Mom and babies climbed their way up and over the curb of the sidewalk, everyone (the babies, not the growing crowd of onlookers) decided they had had enough. Too pooped to go on they suddenly all huddled together and as one downy, fluffy mass plunked down for a rest. I couldn’t blame them: heck, I was tired from walking all the way across the parking lot, myself!

After patiently waiting a beat or two their mother gave a loud QUACK and up they rose in one fluffy mass. For a second Mom seemed to ponder which way to go and the firefighter and I looked at each other in question. Going one way up the sidewalk would only lead them further into the shopping center, while going the other way would take them out of the center and in the direction of the pond. They had a long way to go, still, to get to the pond, but all we could do was our best as crossing guards and ensure their safety across the nearby busy street. So I followed along shepherding them in the right direction, while the crowd of duck-enthusiasts oohed and aahed and snapped photos, parading behind the little waddling duck parade.
‘Stay away from the drain!’ I exclaimed as they each hop/stumbled off the sidewalk just beside a storm drain and onto the road. We blocked traffic once again, steered them away from another storm drain, and then watched with relief as they hopped up and over the opposite sidewalk and then made their way under a fence through someone’s back yard.

Where did they come from? It’s a quite a big parking lot, the nearest ducky pond is too far away for the seemingly freshly hatched babies to have travelled all the way up to the shopping center. And why were they choosing that moment to pick their way across the parking lot? Why then? Why there? They didn’t belong in the parking lot! Had they got sidetracked? Had mother and father not quite made it to the pond in time to nest their little eggs? Had they been too busy window shopping to do their chores and failed to ready their home in time for their little brood?

They had gotten sidetracked, somehow, but Mom was focused and determined to get them all back on track, even if it meant making their way through a chaotic parking lot.

But wait! Who was I to talk of getting sidetracked and not stay focused?

Because as I made my way home relishing in seeing a fellow busy mom hustling about her day – even if it was a duck – I realized I still had the card in my hand. I had forgotten all about it and never mailed it. Sidetracked, AGAIN! I had a lot to learn from that mother duck about staying focused and getting back on track.

I never knew if they found their way to the pond. As I made my way to my own home I kept watch for the sidetracked little family and listened for the juvenile ‘quacks’ and chirps of the little babies accompanied by the occasional instructional QUACK! QUACK! from their mother hurrying them along.

So despite me failing in my mission and NOT mailing the card, I had been part of something good. I helped to get someone else to get back on track.

And it was Friday the 13th, at that. Go figure.

(And yes, I did eventually go back to the shopping center later that night and mail the card AND donate to the firefighter’s charity)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Thing About Spring...

We made it – we survived another winter. Spring is here on the West Coast and I’m loving it. It was just what the doctor ordered to pick up my spirits after a dark winter.

I’m specific about what seasons I like. Hot and dry summers are not my thing, and even though I’m lucky because the winters here are mild – salt and ice scrapers only sometimes make an appearance – everything gets so colourless and blah. I’m more of an autumn person – the cool, crisp afternoons where the sun skitters through rust-coloured burnished leaves is my favorite time of year. In a close second to autumn comes spring – a zillion colours are around every corner, and there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air, in everyone; we are leaving dark, drab winter days behind.

Spring is a time of beginnings and birth. Everywhere you turn something is growing, blossoming, and regenerating. Lambs run amuck through their fields, mallard ducklings start to waddle across busy streets, and cherry blossoms pose for countless cameras. It’s a time of starting – kind of like starting fresh.

But this year I’m looking at spring as a time for ME to re-start and re-set myself. With it being only just three months into the new year, I figured it’s a perfect time to look back and review the goals and resolutions I made on December 31st . Have I veered off a course I tried to set for myself? Have I achieved anything so far? Or had I simply forgotten what I had intended on doing this year, and allowed external factors to deter my plans? I’m not putting pressure on myself – too high standards and too much pressure can only lead to disaster. But it’s easy to forget about those little goals set at the new year when the novelty of resolutions wears off.

And I know because I’ve done it.

So I’m checking-in with myself and if needed, starting anew. Again, no pressure – but I’m taking the time to re-visit and re-assess what I’ve done or tried to do this year, and maybe start again. Heck, we were fortunate to have a leap day this year (happens only every four years, you know), so it’s an added bonus! It’s an extra day this year for us to accomplish the great things we can all do if we set our minds to it.

We started fresh and new on January 1st, but life is life and we all get busy and forget about these great things we said we were going to TRY to do this year. It’s never too late to start something new – to change. But for some of us who had vowed at the new year to do this and that as well as BE this and that, sometimes we need to sit back part way through the year and see where we’re at. And why not do it in spring, the ¼ mark of the year, when everything is blossoming, blooming, and starting new?

The first day of spring this year was on Sunday March 20th and even though it rained a bit, that didn’t dampen anyone’s springy spirits. On that rainy day I pulled out the list of goals – or ‘intentions’ as I am calling them – I had written out in the new year. And I was pleased with myself. Some things I had actually been unconsciously doing all along (that’s what writing them out does – cements them in your head), and some things I had forgotten about. Seeing those ‘intentions’ – both accomplished and newly ‘remembered’– was just the kick-start I needed. The year is young, all is not lost, and there’s plenty of time to accomplish what I set out to do. Sure I hadn't started a few things yet – and that’s okay. This is what spring is for; a second chance to start fresh. Slowly but surely I'll get there.

So while many bulbs are just starting to poke their way up and out of the dirt – the same bulbs that were in the ground last year and are now taking another chance at another fabulous year of colour and beauty – I too will also be starting anew and taking another chance at doing what I set out to do: to have a fabulous, colourful, beautiful year, and no matter what the season.