Friday, August 31, 2007

I like my legs

A couple of weeks ago, HeartinSanFrancisco tagged me with an invitation to tell ten things I like about me. “ I can do that” I thought, “I am my favourite topic.” I sat down at the computer and wrote… nothing. Or rather I would type a sentence, then delete it, it sounded too braggadocious*. I’ve read other people’s delightful posts on this topic, written with grace and insight. Like HISF's here. But trying to write my own 10 things was uncomfortable. Prickly. Awkward.

Then I got the idea of changing the point of view to the second person. It worked. I couldn't tell you what I like about me, but I could tell Voyager what I like about her. After I had my list, I realized that most of the ten things were variations on a theme. Sure, I’m kind to animals, babies love me, and I have a green thumb, but mainly the list was about spirit. Gumption**. So I decided to just post the first item on the list instead of all ten. It kind of sums up what I like most about me, and anyway, I never follow meme rules well. Here it is, the way I originally wrote it:

1. Voyager, I like your legs. No, not the way they look (though that’s pretty good too, not counting those jiggly upper thighs.) I mean I like their strength. They have hauled you up magnificent mountains, taken you climbing on some gnarly rock climbing routes***, hiked miles, even held up all the way to the bottom of, and more importantly, back to the top of, the Grand Canyon carrying a full backpack on a solo trip. They competently perform whatever you ask of them, no matter what crazy things you put on the bottom of them: skis, snowshoes, rollerblades, hockey skates, a wake board, bike pedals, and occasionally even high heels. Dependable old pegs they are.

Of course this is not really about your legs. What I really like is that you have been blessed with an adventurous spirit, and the courage to follow where it leads you. It is a huge gift in your life, along with the energy and good health (mostly) to enjoy it.

So, what I like about you Voyager is: You’ve got mettle baby!

Thanks for the tag HeartinSanFrancisco. My response time was pitiful I know. But it was HARD!

Think it’s easy? You try it. Go on, I challenge anyone who has not already tried this to write ten things you like about yourself. You can always cheat like me and write in the second person P.O.V.

*Is “braggadocious” not a fabulous word!?

** Gumption is another great word, taken straight from my Grandmother's lexicon. I don’t think I have ever used it before. I wonder what made me think of it. Grannie, if you get internet service in heaven, thanks.

***I no longer rock climb. Complications from heart surgery a couple of years ago has left me with some missing sternum bone and reduced upper body strength. That’s O.K. It opened the door to try other adventures that I don’t need strong arms for. Climbing was fun though, and I enjoyed many challenging hours with adventurous, irreverent climbing friends. My son climbed with me for a few years too, and I loved those days with him at the climbing gym or on the rocks. (But try explaining to a nine year old why the route he is climbing has the name “Early Morning Woody” or “Lichen in Her Panties”.)

Today’s travel destination: Nova Scotia. Notice I did not write “Today’s dream travel destination”? Because it’s not a dream. Our flight leaves tonight. Vacation blogging, coming up!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fiction writers

B and I camped in the rain this past weekend. This is a rare and noteworthy event. Usually we do not venture out to camp unless the weather report estimates the chance of rain as less than the chance we will win the 649 lottery.

So we headed to our favourite spot at Pitt Lake, with assurances of "sun with only a few clouds" from the monkeys on computers, I mean novelists, I'm trying to say meteorologists, at the Environment Canada Weather Centre.

Saturday morning we got light showers. But hey, we are intrepid. I stuck it out reading by the camp fire, teaching the sun umbrella what a west coast umbrella is really for.

B retired to the reading room.

By late afternoon it was intermittent rain. We did manage to cook our dinner in only a spitting drizzle. But after we went to bed the downpour began. Sunday morning we gave up, packed up our soaking gear and soaking dogs, and rode down the lake in defeat. Tails between legs. Ours', not the dogs'. They thought the weather rocked.

Two minutes before we pulled into the driveway the rain stopped and the sun came out for the rest of the day. The weather forcasters were having a good chuckle by then. Probably playing poker to see who would get to make up the next weather report. At least it dried the wet camping gear.

If you ask me officially, I will say I am only a fair weather camper. But I have to admit, it was lovely and cozy curled up with my beloved, listening to the raindrops patter on the tent. And there is a peaceful beauty in the mist soaked mountains.

Today's dream travel destination: I don't have one. Where I was, was perfect. Just a little damp.

Friday, August 24, 2007


"Oh. My. God." I say, my eyes glued to the newspaper.

"What's up?" replies my son L, who was nearby in the kitchen.

"Listen to this, I'll read it to you."

Acting on a tip, police in [area of Vancouver] found a 360 plant marijuana grow operation Tuesday. It was in the basement of a home in the [xxxx] block of [xxxx] Avenue.

"Holy shit, that's our block!" exclaims L.

"Actually, it's only four houses down. B and I saw all the police cars there Tuesday night, now I know why" I said.

L is quiet for a minute. "Hey Mom, remember that time last year when you came home early and said you smelled marijuana? And you blamed me and my friend Joe?"

I lower the paper and look at L with one eyebrow raised. I know where this is going. I'm sure you do too.

"Well, it must have been the people down the street."

"I smelled smoked marijuana, not the plant."

"Yah, but if they were growing it they must have been smoking it too."

"What, they broke into our house and went into your room to light up a fat one? And I suppose they must be the ones who once planted a pot plant in with my tomatoes?"

L grins at me. With the special, eyes sparkling, cheek dimpled smile he's had since babyhood. The one that makes me want to smother him with kisses, even when he has broken a vase. Or crunched the bumper of my car. Or committed an indictable offence.

Today's dream travel destination: Amsterdam, where my plant-loving neighbours would not have been busted, they would be pillars of the business community.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If I could turn back time

Saturday night we were at an African themed dinner party at a friend’s house.

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked hopefully, poking my head into the kitchen. If I didn't help now, I’d be one of the ones stuck doing the dishes after dinner.

“No thanks,” replied my husband, as he prepared a spicy Moroccan vegetable dish.

“No, it’s all under control,” L said as he slid marinated prawns onto a skewar.

“Sure, can you take this drink out to my wife?” asked D, checking the coconut rice pilaf.

I left the three men in the kitchen, measuring, chopping, sipping wine, and laughing as they put the big meal together. I bet they slapped each other’s ass after a particularly good taste test, just like after a sweet goal on the rink.

A generation ago it would have been different. The kitchen would not be a testosterone zone when dinner was prepared. It was the 70’s, and women were driving the equality train, demanding that men take their share of household work. But most men then had not been brought up learning how to cook. Meal preparation was a mystery. So they dutifully (or under threat of no sex) took on the job of cleaning the kitchen up after meals. My father, for example, jumps up after a meal and heads to the kitchen, where he washes, wipes, scrubs, and packages and labels leftovers with military precision. Every item in the dishwasher goes in its assigned place. (He once accused me of “dishwasher anarchy” when I loaded it.) Dad’s lack of culinary skill is legendary, so he took on the job of chief pot scrubber without complaint.

These days, one person cooks, the other cleans up, just like in the 70’s. It’s only fair. But now, our men cook! They look up recipes, try out new spices, even (gasp) wear aprons. Their enlightened mothers taught them what a kitchen is for. They took mandatory home-ec at school. Men are now liberated from the prison of pot scrubbing and plate scraping. They get to experience the creative side of the spatula. They bask in praise from their dinner guests. They bond over woks. This is a splendid development. My brothers, I rejoice with you in your freedom from baked-on grease!

Oh bullshit. Women were subjugated by men for thousands of years. Couldn’t we have kept men scrubbing all the crusty pans for just a little while longer?

Today's dream travel destination: 1979.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Something stinks here

Vancouver is in week four of a municipal workers strike. Managers are supposedly trying to keep up with some of the most needed city services. I saw one of these managers this morning on my way in to work. He was wearing a vest with the municipal insignia, working hard at:

Picking up the overflowing garbage? No.

Filling in for my friend who works for the city providing physical recreation programs for disabled kids? No again.

Working at the library, trying to at least keep the kid’s section open? Nope.

Cleaning up parks and children’s playgrounds? No way.

Leading the osteoporosis prevention exercise class at the seniors centre? No.

He was doing a much more important municipal job. Collecting the freakin coins from the PARKING METERS!!!!!!

Today's dream travel destination Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, Canada: The first lake I ever swam (well waded and splashed) in. And it has to smell better than here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Chase this old bus baby!

I had lunch recently with an old friend from university days. She embarked on a deliciously gossipy tale of a mutual acquaintance of ours who works in her company. A few months ago he began a liaison with a coworker. The fellow and his coworker were frequently away on business trips at the same time, and rumours swirled. But the whole thing came to a head, so to speak, when the secretary of one phoned her boss's hotel very early one morning and the other answered, rather breathless. Busted. The wife found out, the marital shit hit the fan, and they are now choking through the first course at the divorce buffet.

What, you think I shouldn't indulge in this sort of gossip? That my lunch time would be better spent at the latest art gallery exhibit? Screw that! I was riveted, salivating for every detail. Best lunch date I've had in ages.

But I also found it unsettling. Usually when I hear tales of philandering acquaintances I think, "Well that doesn't surprise me." I can usually predict the skirt (and trouser) chasers. But this one surprised me.

I found myself pondering what makes a man risk everything he used to cherish (and maybe still does) to go after an illicit sexual dalliance. If dangerous adventure is the lure, why not go trekking in Afghanistan? Or join a nudist ice hockey club?

I can't ask my husband this question, because any husband with an ounce of sense who values his testicles will reply with the SC (spousally correct) answer. "Sweetheart, I'd never dream of it. Even if Angelina Jolie suddenly appeared naked in my bed. No, I mean, I wasn't thinking of Angie or anything, it's just an example." Blah Blah foot-in-the-mouth blah.

So I asked a male, married, dear old friend of mine for an honest answer. We are the same age. On the wrong side of 49.

"You know," he said, "There was a time when I would have been very tempted. Actually was tempted. In fact went a little further than tempted. But now, at my age, it would be like a dog chasing a bus. What the hell would I do with it if I actually caught it? The whole idea just makes me want to take a nap."

Great. I've reached the age where inertia will keep my man from straying. Note to self: Cancel that plastic surgery consultation. But wait, my man is five years younger than I am. He may have the odd bus chase in him yet. Excuse me while I go out to buy a sexy neglige. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure I'm that bus.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Life lesson at the parade

I spent the last three days at the tiny community of Lindell Beach on Cultus Lake, BC. For 55 years this community has held a regatta on the August long weekend. It included a parade of decorated wagons, bikes and kids.

With a marching (sort of) band.

There were water sports, contests, and even fireworks. B, with our friend Cathy, made the finals in the egg toss contest.

It was a great time with friends and family.

But the moment I will remember most came at the end of the parade, when I overheard a young boy complaining to his dad that his bicycle was uncomfortable. The father's advice to him could apply to riding a bike or, well, life:

"Son, relax, and ride sitting back on your bum, not forward on your willie."

Today's dream travel destination: Whitby, England. Where a slightly more famous regatta is held every August.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The wedding suit

It was late Saturday afternoon when I finally finished my errands and got back home. I had been all over town, to the grocery store, to Hop On produce market off Marine Drive, the garden centre, and several furniture stores looking for bar stools. It was hot. I quickly changed into gardening clothes, and looked forward to a peaceful couple of hours planting, pruning, watering and weeding.

“Hey Mom,” my son called out just as I began deadheading the marigolds. “Did you hem my pants yet?”

Shit. I had promised him I would hem the pants on his suit, because he had to go to a wedding the next day. I said farewell to the marigolds and went back inside.

“Oh and Mom, I need new shoes to wear, I only have white runners.”

“What happened to your old black shoes you wore when you worked at Safeway?”

“I lost one.”

How does someone lose one shoe? I’m not sure I want to know. So I changed out of my gardening clothes and we went out to buy shoes. Then I got down to the business of hemming.

The suit, the only one my son owns, was a hand-me-down from his dad. My son and his dad are about the same height, but my son wears his pants slung way low, held up only by some invisible force field. Thus the need for hemming. The first time my son wore the suit was at his dad’s wedding two years ago, where his grandma stapled up the hem of the pants. Fortunately the suit is kind of silvery grey, so the staples were not too obvious. But this time he would have a proper hem. If they were ordinary pants, I would have told him to hem them himself, he knows how to use the sewing machine. But this lovely old hand tailored wool suit needs a hand sewn invisible hem, way beyond his domestic skills.

If I do say so, my kid looked very handsome as he went off to a cousin’s wedding the next day, in grey pinstriped suit, crisp white shirt, jaunty maroon handkerchief in his jacket pocket, and shiny new shoes.

I wonder if my son’s father realizes the suit, the one he gave our son to wear at his second wedding, is the one he wore when he married me. 23 years ago.