Monday, December 19, 2016

Saved by Boots

‘These boots were made for walking’ – and indeed they were.

And although I would love to hear the stories my little hiking boots could tell, I think its best at this stage of their life to give them a well-earned rest. It’s time someone told THEIR story.

A long time ago in a generation and time barely remembered, I was a naive little 14-year old. I had signed up for a 50-mile hike in the interior of British Columbia with my Air Cadet Squadron - a group for youth interested in aviation and outdoor adventures – and I truly had no idea what I was in for. And although my dad was keen on my participating in such an adventure, I think he was a tad worried how his first-born daughter was going to fare. We would be hiking in and around 70-Mile House in the interior of BC and mostly along either paved or gravelled roads. Even though it was in the summer we had to prepare for all kinds of weather and all kinds of terrain. A skinny little body and tiny feet not used to such long travels required some proper hiking gear.

So we went on a shopping excursion I would never forget. How nervous my dad was about my venturing into the wilds of the great wide world was evident in how he shopped for my adventure. A large frame backpack, rain gear, army surplus water canteens, jackets and a camouflage boonie hat was only the start of my hiking gear. Every tool, gizmo and gadget was needed - with spares for back-up, of course. Today’s ‘Survivor Man’ would be proud.

But the most valued and still-cherished piece of hiking equipment he got me were the best kind of hiking boots money could buy. My dad knew if I was truly going to survive the wilds of BC, good footwear would be my greatest weapon. Those boots cost a pretty penny but it was a smart investment at the time - and an investment neither of us realized would go on as long as it would.

They looked nothing like the other kids’ boots. I had never owned a pair of hiking boots before but I knew what REAL hiking boots looked like, and these were not them. My teenage self thought they looked weird. I remember the store clerk – an outdoorsy kind of guy with bushy hair and just-as-bushy beard – recommended I treat them with wax. So I took my weird-looking little boots home and upon the advice of the bushy-haired store clerk I melted on layer after layer after layer after layer after layer of leather-preserving, water-resisting, ice-deflecting, bear-repelling, protective wax with a hairdryer. If my face got sun-burn, wind-burn, or frost-bite my feet, at least, were gonna be well-preserved.

But I’m not ungrateful for my dear dad’s compassion and care for my well-being. The parent I am now understands his apprehension of letting his child out in the great wide world.

And those boots proved to be the best bit of equipment I could have ever had. Their non-typical hiking boot shape was for a reason: my dad got what he paid for.

Because within two days of our hike along the back roads of 70-mile house everyone was limping and whimpering due to the most horrible blisters I had ever seen – everyone except me. I wore two pairs of socks which I changed regularly; tube stocks layered with army-grey wool socks. My feet stayed dry and blister-free. I came home in one piece and 20 lbs lighter, yet heavy with memories and experiences I would relive for years to come.

And I still have the boots to show for it.

And they still fit.

And I still wear them.

After that 70-mile hike, I wore them on another trip with the cadets, but that adventure found us in sub-sub-zero temperatures where we camped on snow and frozen cow-pies (true story). Where some kids suffered frostbite, I returned home unscathed.

I wore them through my 20’s and 30’s, and now my 40’s. My sisters have even borrowed them. Those boots have been camping and hiking all throughout BC, through lakes and rivers, through snow and ice. They sat in the back of the closet in the early years when my kids were babies, but were dusted off when those same kids were old enough to get pulled around in a sled in the snow. Then when those same kids were too old for me to pull in their sleds, those boots took me hiking in the woods with my kids happily trailing along.

My kids are now, sadly, at an age where hiking with mom is SO not cool, which means I’ve gotten older as well. Those boots I once thought were not cool are now the coolest, and securest, thing I know – they save me from slipping and falling in the snow and ice. Tripping and falling when you’re 45 years old is a heckuva lot different than when you’re 14 – more body parts tend to get destroyed.

So this winter when the snow and ice made an appearance on our usually mild temperature Southern Vancouver Island, my boots were ready to go. On a Friday the week before Christmas the threat of a another few centimeters of snow dared to show up in the forecast. Everyone was in a panic; grocery stores were in near-chaos with everyone buying amenities for the great rare snowstorm that was supposed to hold our rainforest island under siege for a few days.

I was ready. I had my boots.

But the day before the storm I was overcome with my own panic.

Just like my 45-year-old body is starting to come apart at the seams, so was one of my boots.

The sole was separating from the rest of the boot.

This could not be!

I was going to save those boots as they have saved me! Determined to hold on to this bit of history and nostalgic gift from my dad, I hustled to the cobbler and showed them my precious 31-year-old boots. I had told my dad of my plight. He was in tears about it all. "But I paid good money for those boots!" Don't worry, Dad, I mentally vowed as I made my way through the door of the shop. I will preserve your good name!

“Can you save them with some super-super-super-sonic glue?” I begged the cobbler as I held out my boots. “We are due for another snowfall and I NEED them! These 31-year-old boots are my LIFE!”

And a few hours and $15 later my Vasque boots that have stood the test of time – much better than my body has – were back in action and ready for the snowstorm...

...that never came.

But my boots, at least, are ready for another 31 years.

And I am too – I hope.

For product information about the best boots - and the only boots - I will ever own, visit

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Where Has the Time Gone?

In just a few weeks, we’ll be changing our clocks for Daylight Savings Time – again. Didn’t we just do that? We just did all that in March! It’s October already? Time sure flies!

So in order to save time – and daylight - we’ll be going backwards an hour; as if we’re trying to have one over on the sun. It’s all very confusing, but it’s nothing to do with going back in time or ahead in the future.

The bi-yearly time-changing event that occurs in the fall and spring is a hotly-argued topic with many questioning the necessity of it at all. It is felt that the original reasons for changing our clocks forward or back twice a year are longer relevant. Times have changed; the world has changed. Where many countries opted out of partaking in Daylight Savings Time, Canada opted in around 1908. The various reasons for opting in or out are plentiful – too timely to explain them all here – but the root purpose of Daylight Savings Time was to get folks up and at ’em earlier in the day, in relation to sunlight availability and energy saving. Confusing? It is to me. If I was a scientist I could probably explain it but I’m not so to save confusion for us all I hope you’ll visit:

Daylight Saving Time 2016: When Does The Time Change This Fall?

History of Daylight Saving Time — DST

Not only does trying to understand it all greatly confuse my already sleep-deprived mind, but when we lose or gain an hour it throws me off so much I feel as though I have jet leg. Oh how I wish I could blame jet lag on feeling out of sorts during the few days following the time change! It would mean I would have hopefully been somewhere fabulous.

But alas, no fabulous cross-time-zone trips are in the future, or were in the past, and all this worrying about time coming and going and whizzing by has me exhausted. Quite frankly, I just wanna go to bed - on time and only have to get up when I have had enough sleep. That’s what being forty-something will do to you, I guess; time flies by too fast and then you lose sleep from worrying about all that you have to do in the time you have.

In trying to understand not only HOW the time change works and WHY we do it, never mind trying to deal with the gain/loss of an hour, I’m exhausted. All this hour-changing is the last thing I need to worry about. It’s bad enough I don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. And then I worry because the so-called adult I’m supposed to be still has to ask her mom whether to turn the clock back or ahead and hour before bed. And then I STILL worry throughout the night about the time change as I’m afraid my clocks’ alarm will be off and I’ll be late for work – which really wouldn’t matter because I would have likely been awake most of the night worrying anyways!

I guess I should be happy to have something so seemingly trivial to be worried about. If all I have to worry about is Daylight Savings Time, then I truly DO have it good. And with that profound perspective comes the realization that time’s a’wasting and I know we must keep moving forward and keep perspective about such matters. There truly ARE a lot worse things out there I could be worried about.

I recently listened to a radio call-in show specifically about the time change and the relevance of it. Callers were mad! But why get so mad? Why spend all that time on hold only to talk about the time change and the hour you potentially ‘lose’ for half a year when you could be doing so many great things with that 20 minutes you spent on hold. (You don’t really ‘lose’ an hour – things just get shifted back or forward.)

With all this worry and sleepless nights in wondering about the sun’s appearance and the clock, I was reminded that perspective IS key – time is so ‘short.’ ‘Time’ is so much more than a dictated time change. That same time, no matter what season we are in, is ticking. We only have so much of it so make the most of it, I say. Stop arguing and hug someone. We’ll look back on this one day and laugh about it, I know, but until then I’m determined to make the most of the now – leave the past behind, don’t worry about the future – and keep my eye on the clock.

And really - I was surprised we were at a time change already when it just felt like we JUST had one. Where did all the time go between last March and now? What have I accomplished? What haven’t I done? Who haven’t I hugged, loved, acknowledged or spent time with? And why?

As the next time change approaches I hope I can turn myself around and make better use of the time – no matter whether we are in Daylight Savings Time or if it’s ended. Time will still be around, no matter whether we have ‘gained’ or ‘lost’ an hour in our sun-filled day. But you can’t get it back, all that time that has passed. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Time will still keep on ticking – make the most of what time you do have and go for whatever you can squeeze into as much time as you can. I know it’s all very cliché, contradictory and mind-boggling, but I can’t waste any more time on it all; I must run. Must keep going. November 6th is right around the corner....

Tick tock…..

Monday, October 17, 2016

Contradictory Cranberries and Stuffing

It’s that time of year where many folks are cooking elaborate and/or not-so-elaborate seasonal meals. First is Canadian Thanksgiving in October – the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in November – and the colder weather all around is perfect for cooking traditional turkey dinners. It’s during this time when Christmas baking plans starts to swirl around many culinary minds. I used to bake a lot, and I used to be more adventurous in my cooking, but lack of time and energy has me slowing down. Whether cooking a hopefully-edible entree or baking a sugary treat, my time restraints have me looking to cut a few corners here and there, all while trying to stay ‘traditional.’ My men of three don’t seem to mind what I do or don’t do – they are truly grateful and thankful for whatever food I have in the house.

One thing I DO try to always do at this time of year is make cranberry jelly, preserved and sealed in a canning jar. I love doing it and have done so for years, and the one year I couldn’t make it I felt as though I had truly dropped the ball in my domesticity. Things just didn’t feel quite the same without it, as though I was ‘missing something.’

The recipe I use is from one of the ‘Company’s Coming’ line of cookbooks. The little cookbooks are my go-to for simple, corner-cutting, down-home easy cooking. This simple jelly recipe has no added pectin and I’ve never had it fail – knock on wood. I have made it so many times I have the process down pat; even in my time-limited life I can manage to get a batch done. But to be honest – and many would scowl at me as if having bitten down on a tart cranberry – I can’t taste the difference between mine and canned. Okay, MAYBE mine tastes a tiny bit better and is better for you (no added preservatives, etc). Canning aficionados will likely send me hate mail now.

But time restrictions aside I go through the ‘work’ of making it because I love doing it - so for me it’s not ‘work.’ The simmering of the fruit, the separating of the juice from the pulp through a sieve, the re-boiling of the juice with sugar, and then the sealing/processing - I love doing it all. Even waiting for each lid to ‘pop’ signalling each jars’ airtight seal gives me a kick.

Many would say ‘Gosh, Lisa – here you are complaining about lack of time, but you STILL go to all that effort and work (and don’t forget sweat) of doing all THAT? Why not just go buy a can of it and be done with it all?’
Yes, it’s all so very contradictory of me, but there you have it – I’m a major contradiction, and I know it. But there’s something so down-to-earth about the whole process - so back-to-basics, so down-home, so…old fashioned – that it makes me love doing it all the more. It’s as if I have a deep-seated need to retain some sense of tried-and-true from-scratch cooking. I make enough jars for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinner, as well as a few to give as gifts.

My men of two teens and a husband love it and as I watch them hungrily scoop massive spoonfuls of the jelly onto their dinner plates I wonder if they think the turkey-accompaniment is a relative of Jell-O and they’re getting to eat dessert WITH their dinner - a sinful treat to be sure.

And every year at this time when I say I’m making turkey dinner, their first question is always, ‘With your cranberry jelly?’

And before I can answer, ‘Yes’, their second question is, ‘…and with lots of Stove Top© Stuffing?’

And when I answer yes, they dreamily sigh in relief and gratitude and ask, ‘When’s dinner?’

Yes, you read that right. The not-made-from-scratch stuffing that everyone knows by its’ brand name – of which I so readily promote as I love it, too – is what they want. They politely ‘like’ my homemade stuffing – Grandma’s is better, of course – but what they really, really want is Stove Top Stuffing, right out of the box.

So I get 6 boxes, enough for leftovers and then some. If I run out of their favourite I might have a mutiny on my hands and after cooking all the other fixings all I want is peace.

I know it’s all very contrary. Why have a whole turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes and vegetables – all lovingly peeled, diced, boiled and so on – as well as the homemade-from-scratch cranberry jelly, only to (seemingly) ruin it all with instant stuffing from a box?

Because it’s what they truly want. It makes them happy, and if it makes them happy, it makes me happy - plus making the stuffing-from-a-box save me a whole bunch of time. And it’s just us for dinner – we don’t invite the Queen – so who cares? Who cares if our dinner plates look like one big contradiction? And who says you even HAVE to have ‘certain’ things at certain seasonal meals.

But the 6 boxes waiting on the counter the day of the big dinner makes me giggle at the opposite-ness of it all – at the contradiction of having stuffing from a box alongside home-made canned cranberry jelly.

Life is full of contradictions. Yes, some corny clichés can make my pumpkin pie curdle, but sometimes cliché’s are there for a reason – and many are true. But at least I am fortunate and lucky to live a place where I CAN have contradictions – that it’s okay to have them. And where I’m thankful for the freedom to have these contradictions, I’m also thankful for the means to have so many choices in what I get to cook. Homemade stuffing or boxed? Store bought jelly or homemade? Pumpkin pie or cheesecake? Although we might not have the means to have as fancy as a meal as others, there is nothing wrong with what we DO have – and many don’t have any at all.

Most folks might gag at not only having boxed stuffing but also at the sheer ‘un-proper-ness’ of it all. Who cares? Even if we had spaghetti on Thanksgiving, at least my family was having a meal together, never mind a meal at all.

So bring on the contradictions, I say, and be thankful we can even have them in the first place.

Oh – and just to add to it all: I keep a can of store-bought jelly in the back of my cupboard, just in case. You always gotta have a back-up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Banned Books Week - September 25 to October 1, 2016

Banned Books Week is from Sept 25 to October 1, 2016, and is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read - anything and everything in between, especially books deemed unorthodox or unpopular. To learn more about banned books visit and

My other writing self also writes teen fiction and my young adult book THAT NIGHT is published by Evernight Teen Publishing. To honour and celebrate Banned Books week, all ebooks at Evernight Teen are on sale (discount at check out). Hope you'll stop by!

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!

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 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