First Camping trip of 2017

There’s been a lag in my blogging.

You see, there was Mother’s Day at my parents’ place…

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Orchids for my mom – her favorite color is purple

And then there was the business trip to Vegas the morning after where I saw just snapshots of Vegas during short lunch breaks, between meeting to meeting or the most I saw of the actual Vegas strip, my ride in the cab back to the airport…

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View from my room

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The Mirage Atrium

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Las Vegas airport – butterflies

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Las Vegas strip – on the way to airport

It was a crazy week and I’m questioning how I survived. But somehow I managed to survive. A part of me questioned if I was really going mad when I decided to take a red-eye out of Vegas Thursday night so I had time to pack and go camping for our Victoria Day long weekend starting Friday evening.

At the time, I regretted it but as soon as I arrived at Balsam Lake Provincial Park and we set up for our campfire, all was good.

I looked up at the stars as the sky was crystal clear that night and said to my husband, “This is what I needed. I came from Vegas, a busy week where there was constant bright lights and big noises all the time… to this! Quiet. And the only bright lights are from the campfire and the millions stars above us.” What a difference, to come from one crazy world into another one so opposite it’s difficult to believe they both exist on the same planet.

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Hobbes the Dog guarding our site from dangerous wildlife – like birds and squirrels

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My belated Mother’s Day gift

Knowing the week before wasn’t ideally a great mother’s day for me, my husband and daughter saved my present for after our first brunch in our trailer. I saw this book a couple of months ago and had to get it – Glamping with MaryJane. I immediately put it on my wish list and now, my wish has been granted.

I love the style and sass of this book but more importantly, as we will be a proud owner of a 20 foot trailer next summer, it gives all the essentials in taking care and maintaining one’s trailer. As well as how to make it a home away from home with stylish decoration and craft tips.

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Our traditional steak dinner over the campfire.

And hubbie got creative – using our tripod from our outdoor cast iron dutch oven, he fashioned some chains to a round bbq grill so the steaks could cook further away from the flames. It worked. That’s all I can say – it worked very well!

We did do a 1hr hike on the Saturday but since it rained all day Sunday, we went to a friend’s cottage 20 minutes away (after sleeping in, having a late brunch and doing some chill-out time in the trailer – it’s a small trailer but it’s still nice to chill out in it). I finally got to meet his two kids (both in their 20’s) along with the daughter’s boyfriend and another friend. So odd to be sitting there among the “young folks” but I enjoyed it very much. The boys were so kind they even gave me a hug good-bye! I assume I passed their ‘coolness-test?’

Monday, we left right at check-out time, trying to enjoy our stay as long as we can as the rain let up and gave us a comfortable temperature. Heading back to the city, we had several  hours left before the end of the day to clean-up and relax a little. Aside from the rain, it was a successful first camping weekend – and we’re off again for a 2-night camping trip in a couple of weeks!

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Hobbes the Dog was so pooped the last night of camping – he feel asleep on his back (he rarely does this)

Give Child Marriage the Finger!

Yesterday, I wrote about the privileges of attending such a personal event as a memorial or funeral service – one where I had no deep connection with the deceased but was initially there to support a good friend.

I want to continue talking about my friend’s mother – this remarkable, active woman whom even in her more later stages of dementia followed global issues surrounding women’s rights and equality. Whom, even in her final days where she was bed-ridden and extremely weak, gave a strict warning to her new caregiver, never to call her a girl again. She said, “I am NOT a girl. I am a woman!”

She spent countless social working hours going to homes of women in need of support and help. She raised 6 feminist children – now 2 men and 4 women. Her grandchildren have also been influenced heavily by their late grandmother’s views.

It was the one granddaughter whom told a funny anecdote of how her grandmother was ranting about some a-hole driver who cut her off. She said, “I gave him the finger!”

The granddaughter, shocked, asked, “Grandma… you really gave him the finger’?”

“Yes! I did!” And to show what she meant, she illustrated the gesture to her grandchild.

It was the index finger. 🙂

Now, to back track a bit, I have been following a specific campaign from Plan International’s ‘I Am a Girl’ called Give Child Marriage the Finger!

This was just too much of a coincidence… Over the last few months, with the Women’s March, there’s been heated conversations of whether or not protests have any value to actually cause change. Well, I don’t know for sure – but if it gets the conversation going, I’m all for it.

Here I was at a memorial service of an active and passionate feminist, listening about how she gave some one the ‘finger’ and this campaign pokes fun in the same light, taking the obscene gesture but this time, it is the wedding ring finger. Which, adorned with a black rubber ring which says, “End Child Marriage” represents a fight to end forced marriages of girls whom will basically have no freedom but a life of slavery where she is physically and sexually abused, forced to have children before she finishes developing, and taken away her rights to have an education and therefore a life she would like to have. Which in the end, has been proven, would benefit the economy if she stood a chance for a normal life.

I held back from making a donation before only because I wanted to do more research – I wanted to be sure the money would be put to good use (and not in the pockets of a CEO or VP who makes a 6-figure salary ‘running’ the organization).

Going to the memorial service, hearing about this remarkable lady’s life and that story of her giving the (index) finger, it was like the universe was telling me something. And it’s moments like these where you do not question things. You see them for being far more then just mere coincidences and you do what your heart knows is right.

I quickly made my donation – and then spoke to my husband to see if we can do more than just a one-time payment. But this first donation was in memory of my friend’s mother. It as my way to extend her legacy and spread her goodness of everything she believed in and stood for.

This is what she would have wanted – for others to pay it forward and lead by example as she had until her 89th year on earth.

 

So I Went to a Funeral Yesterday…

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Spring is blooming everywhere!

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day. Doug came home from his shift in the morning, we had our Saturday brunch, got ready and dressed for a friend’s mother’s funeral across town, came back to the east end to the store and back home for just an hour, then went up north to my parents place for dinner.

Honestly – I wanted to just stay home yesterday but everything turned out nicely. Even the funeral.

I mean, who likes going to funerals? We do, though, right? We want to support our grieving friends. I believe it is even more so for ourselves than our friends.

The person who passed away – I didn’t even know. I might have met her once when I attended her late husband’s funeral a few years ago – also their to support my friend. I knew about her though. My friend has always had a way with words which summed up the description of both his parents very specifically.

Anyway – her funeral, like her husband, was more of a memorial service. No casket. Some flowers and a lovely photo but a very minimal display. What the memorial service was mostly about were family members who stood up and gave a heartfelt and memorable eulogy in celebration of the person’s life.

As some one who had no real connections to the deceased, I found myself extremely grateful to have witnessed such a personal event. After all, other than my friend, I was nothing to the rest of the family. My being there would not have made a difference.

Yet being there, I felt it was more a privilege. I was able to extend the memory of this remarkable woman further – to be another anchor of her existence on our earth while she was still here.

And I think this helped her children and grandchildren seek closure. Not directly from me per say, but from all the attentive and listening ears whom were present at the memorial service.

When we came home, I told Doug, my husband, this is what I want. I don’t want a dreary funeral when I am gone. I don’t even care to have it at a funeral home. Rent out a generous space at a pub (one of the ones we frequent), invite all our family and friends, have some speeches and then get pissed drunk while celebrating my life!

That is all I want. My soul would then rest in peace.

“Well… the truth is… actually… I’m in love.”

You know that scene from Love Actually? The one where the stepfather is trying to now be THE parent after the son’s mother dies?

And then the next scene we see these together, they have the following dialogue:

DANIEL: We can definitely crack this. Remember, I was a kid once, too. So, come on, it’s someone at school. Right?

SAM: Yup.

DANIEL: And what does she/he, feel about you?

SAM: SHE doesn’t even know my name. And even if she did, she’d despise me. She’s the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she’s heaven.

DANIEL: Good. Good. Well, basically…you’re fucked, aren’t you?

I loved how the father did not make any assumption of his step-son’s sexual orientation. Why would he assume Sam is straight when they have never had this talk before?

Let me tell you something, though. Talking to your kid about crushes and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships is not easy. Not easy at all. And it’s not that, I, as a parent, have problems talking to my 13-year old girl about it. It’s the getting her to open up to me part that’s not easy.

She’s at this age where everything is embarrassing. EVERYTHING! And she’s developed this physical tick in response to most of what I say. Some people call it the ‘eye-rolling syndrome.’ I just call it annoying.

The thing is last night, at the pub where we watched the Toronto Raptors kick ass in the NBA playoffs (see? I told you I like basketball more than hockey), I got to talking about what’s going on in her love life.

And I sort of pulled a Liam Neeson-Love Actually thing. I said, “So last year you liked so and so. What about this year? Do you have a crush on a boy… err… or girl?”

“Mom,” and of course she says this while rolling her eyes.

“What?”

“I’m not… you know.”

“What? Gay?”

“Right.” More eye-rolling.

“Okay – well, I didn’t want to assume! There’s nothing wrong if you are you know?”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore…”

I probably screwed up that conversation. In fact, she is probably mortified – and hence will be in debt in the future from all the expensive therapy sessions I will have caused her.

Confessions No. 13 – Hockey

Oh… I am going to admit something so very, very taboo.

I hate hockey.

There, I said it. Yes, I, a Canadian, who does a lot of Canadian stuff like camping, hiking and apologizes a lot even if I’m not in the wrong, does NOT like hockey. Which, as a Canadian stereotype, is very un-Canadian-like and is something I would never admit at any sports bar or pub for fear of being chased out, hunted down and stripped of my Canadian citizenship.

This is not something new. Growing up, I actually thought I was just weird. That maybe I’ll grow out of it. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to love it. Years passed by and I still can’t stand the sport.

I think this realization really was brought out when I was down in Phoenix for my first business trip with the new parent company. They took us to a really high-end bowling ally. Until then, I didn’t think “high-end” and “bowling ally” could be used in conjunction with each other. But this place was NICE! Too bad I can’t bowl.

Anyway, they made sure the TVs were on the hockey game. It was the play-offs. Toronto Maple Leafs were not in it – Montreal Canadians were, though. And as most of us were from Toronto, they said, “Hey, you guys must all be happy to see a Canadian team in the playoffs!”

Now, the Americans from my company, are not big into hockey, either. Even though the NHL is pretty huge, from what I gather, in the states. But they have more options in sports than we do – especially when they are much more supportive of their college sports. I wish we were more into our college sports teams. Seriously – they put our school spirit to shame!

Anyway, I did know one thing I was really proud of… what is worse as a Canadian to admit not liking hockey, is no where near as bad if I were to support my rival team. I know that being a Torontorian, if I’m going to cheer for a team, it had better be The Leafs. And NOT the Canadians. Unless I want to be chased, hunted down, stripped of my Canadian citizenship AND skinned alive.

I then admitted to them, the Americans, that I am not really into hockey. I felt, at least, it was safe to say this to them. They really didn’t care, right?

They looked at me dumbfounded. They said, “Well, you’re an anomaly!”

Am I? Am I really an anomaly JUST because I do not like hockey? Honestly, it wasn’t until the Americans pointed this out, that I really felt like I was out of place. I mean all my friends like hockey. ALL of them. My husband’s family, too. Not so much my family but they are excused since they immigrated over to Canada.

There must be other Canadian-born people out there who do not like hockey. Seriously!

Maybe I should form some type of support group or something.

[On the side note, while on a whole I’m not a very big sports fan overall – I mean, I’d rather go to the museum or art gallery than watch most sports – I am an Olympics fan and will watch both men and women’s hockey during the winter games. I also have a list of other sports I would much rather watch over hockey and they are, in the following order: baseball (I’m actually quite dedicated to The Jays), curling (yes, I like curling, okay? and that can be argued as being very Canadian), soccer and basketball. I’ll even watch lacrosse and rugby before hockey. Oh – and this sport called Hurling. Yes, I’ll even watch hurling over hockey!)]