Saturday, November 29, 2014

Adventure on the High Seas – Whales, Fish and Bad Hairdos

Many who use the BC Ferries to travel between Vancouver Island and the mainland of coastal British Columbia hope to see some sort of animal-life common to the waters of the Georgia Strait. Whales are always a big hopeful, and only the lucky get to see them enroute. Seeing a seal is neat and even though some might shrug and say, ‘Ah, it’s just a seal,’ no matter how often I see them, I still get a thrill. An even bigger thrill – one I will talk about for days, telling anyone brave enough to listen to my excited ramblings – is when I’m fortunate to see an Orca whale, or two.

But on a recent journey aboard the BC Ferry vessel ‘Coastal Celebration’ I got my wish – and more.

I was out on the ferry deck taking photos when someone shouted, “Look over there!” The few of us brave enough to be out on the windy, rainy deck followed his pointing finger - 3 humpback whales were passing by without a care.

The captain of the ship announced the pod-sighting over the PA system and I leaned with the then-leaning ship to get a few photos – of course everyone stampedes to the windows to get a peek when there’s something good out there. I couldn’t get my camera ‘on’ and pointed fast enough, but the dot in the accompanying picture IS one of the three whales. It was well-worth risking my hairdo in the inclement weather to get the few photos I did.

All too soon the whales swam on their merry way and I ventured back into the safety and warmth of the ferry. I went in search of a washroom to fix my wind/rain-blown hair, and told everyone who’d listen (hello Facebook, Twitter and recipients of my texts!) about the whale sightings, and then went in search of an outlet to charge my phone (I had more messages to send, you see).

But as I wandered by the Chief Steward’s office, I stopped short. I was still buzzing with the excitement of seeing humpback whales, but there was no missing what was just behind the counter. Something so ironic - so unexpected - yet so fitting for the ‘high seas’ on which we were sailing had me stopping to stare in wonder.

Behind the counter two fish tanks bubbled away, brightly lit and clear, while the ship’s officers sat at their desks doing…ship officer stuff.

Two Siamese fighting fish, oblivious to their sort-of-cousins swimming just outside, swam merrily around, enjoying the warmth, pampering and serenity of their personal tanks.

As the ship officers so proudly told me, one was named Woofie, a rescue/lost-and-found fish named after ‘Woo’ the crew-member who found him (or her), and the other fish was named Appie.

The two officers told me the story of Woofie the lost-and-found fish with such love and admiration, I felt a pang of jealousy.

Woofie was found on the BC Ferry vessel, ‘The Spirit of Vancouver Island,’ in June 2014 (5 months before this writing) by a crewmember named Woo. Yes ‘found’ meaning fish in a container and all. I was assured repeatedly that all protocols had been followed in trying to track down the owner of the lost fish. Numerous announcements were made over their PA system trying to locate the owner, but sadly no one stepped forward and the poor little Betta fish was left alone, unwanted and forgotten.

The crew took the lonely little fish into their care. They fed and bathed him (not really) and got him a nice tank. He became the ship’s mascot and all was well. But since that particular vessel is in refit (for maintenance and such) during slow times, only brought out of refit during busy seasons like summer and Christmas, they couldn’t very well leave the poor little fish on his own on the vacant ship. So when the crew moved to the Coastal Celebration for its regular route between Vancouver and Victoria, the fish came with them. He needed a friend so along came Appie, who resides in her own tank because, for those who don’t know anything about Bettas, they can’t be in the same tank together (they don’t get along very well).

The officers finished their story and gave their water-loving crew members another endearing look. The fish-fostering officers also had the decency to overlook my wind-ruined hair, but bad hairdos were far from my mind then (a look in the mirror, later, had me second-guessing my lack of concern). I realized I was as fortunate to hear the story of the little lost-and-found fish as I was to see humpback whales, and fixing my hair could be done anytime.

From whales outside to fish inside, it was quite an adventure on the high seas that day, one I won’t forget soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Favorite Skirt

Just a few short months ago (three, as of this writing) we were running around in our bikinis – those of who can, that is (not ME!). Summer was in full-swing with everyone in shorts and tank tops, some (like me) were complaining about the heat, and winter coats were collecting dust in our closets.

And all too soon, because ‘time flies’ and goes by faster than we can blink, those winter coats were dusted off and yanked out of hibernation. Old tissues found in the pockets from last year were thrown out, and the lucky who found a fiver in amongst all the tissues have already purchased a chill-chasing pumpkin spice latte.

Fall and winter is my thing – hot, sweltering summer months are not. By July I’m sick of all the sweating and I long – LONG – for the cool, crisp winter days when I can bundle up in my coat and scarf in the day, my favorite blanket bundled around me on the couch at night. I go through the same thing every summer – I can’t wait for my cool-weather winter clothes. I look forward to the fall fashion trends – in August I drool over catalogues featuring the latest wool-blend skirts, modern chunky/comfy sweaters, and functional yet fashionable knee-high boots.

But I’m no fashionista – comfort, functionality and affordability are my style. The nature of my day-job has me hopping – when I’m not running from floor-to-floor in an 11-storey building, I’m crawling under desks pretending to be a computer techie and untangling computer wires hoping I don’t unplug the ‘wrong’ one. So year-round ‘relaxed business attire’ works for me – black pants and a comfortable top. I dream of all the fancy fashions I would like to wear – one day – but for now, comfort and functionality are where it’s at. I’m a busy momma.

But this past summer, despite being pro-fall/winter, I decided to cut loose and take my chances with ‘change.’ I wore skirts and dresses almost every day. Time IS ticking by and one day I won’t be able to wear the knee-revealing skirts I can get away with wearing now. I was making a statement – what ‘statement’ I didn’t know – but I was going with the ‘enjoy it now’ attitude. Why save something ‘for that special day’ when that ‘special day’ might not come and I never get to use it/wear it/enjoy it? (footnote – wearing skirts and dresses this past summer proved to be not the wisest choice when I tripped and twisted my ankle right in the middle of downtown Victoria giving everyone a ‘free show’ (if you know what I mean) and scrapping both knees so bad that my panty-hose had be chiselled out of the gashes in my knees. Gross, but true).

So given my job and my busy lifestyle any ‘girly clothes’ I choose to wear have to be comfortable, easy-to-wear, and fidget/fuss/adjustment-free (if you’re a girl, you’ll know what I mean.)

While on my ‘summer-quest for girly-clothes,’ I found the perfect Lisa-friendly skirt – a ‘skort.’ For you non-fashion folks, a ‘skort’ is a skirt with a pair of shorts attached underneath. And you know what that meant for busy, non-fashionista, non-fussing Lisa? (It’s about to get graphic here, folks!) It meant I didn’t have to wear a slip because of the built-in shorts underneath. It was just a pull-on skirt – no buckles or buttons, no tucking or adjusting. It was like wearing shorts every day to work and I didn’t have to worry about flashing anyone while a/falling down in the middle of a downtown Victoria sidewalk, or b/while crawling around under desks.

I loved it – LOVED IT. I loved it so much that I – GASP – sometimes wore it twice a week! I went in search of another four just exactly like it but in different colours/patterns/fabrics. But alas no others were to be found, and I had to settle for waiting all week when I could wear it.

But just when I got used to being really ‘girly’ the weather turned cold, and frost-bite on my legs wasn’t working for me. My long-awaited fall/winter clothes/coats were pulled out of the closet, and my favorite skirt is holding their spot in the closet – until next year. I’m happy it’s cool and brisk these days, but oh how I am missing my favorite skirt. Only seven months, weather-dependent, until I can wear it again.

Unlike those winter coats, my favorite skirt I can only hope and pray still fits next year has no pockets. Sadly, I won’t be finding any fivers.

Thanks for reading!