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 severalĀ  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)

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.

Easter Weekend 2017 was EPIC!

And I say it was epic because, as usual, we hosted Easter dinner for my family. This year, however, we outdid ourselves.

No. Seriously. I think we raised the bar. There’s no way we will top what we did this year unless we win the jackpot and fly my entire family to Hawaii, first class and hire high-end catering with only the most expensive vintage wine.

Oh yes… followed by a private Polynesian dance performance. And massages on the beach for all!

It’s nice to have her old enough to help now.

The menu consisted of:

Italian Spring Salad – tossed with Bocconcini, Heirloom Tomatoes and Prosciutto

French-cut Marinated and Grilled Lamp Chops

Smoked Rainbow Trout

Roasted Leg of Lamb

Grilled Asparagus

Tri-Colour Sweet Potato and Bacon Casserole

And everything turned out PERFECTLY! Plus, I paired dinner with an amazing Shiraz from Australia. It helped it was 15% alcohol level.

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I love finding boardwalks in the middle of a forest!

To back up, the weekend started off with a 1 hr and 20 min hike. It was semi-challenging due to all the constant up and down climbs. However, very much worth it because, well, as you can see, we needed to start working off our dinner even before we ate our Easter dinner the next night.

Overall, it was a wonderful long weekend!

But what made this year’s Easter shindig of ours was epic was the following conversation:

Dad: When marijuana becomes legal next year, can you get some?

Me: I suppose. Why?

Dad: I want to try it.

Most excellent!

Scrubbing our Space and the Odd Found Treasure

As mentioned, we’ve been spending a few hours every Saturday to sort, organize, clean and chuck. Scrubbing our space, so to speak.

It’s not the most exciting thing but it’s a necessary evil.

The nice thing is, we are finding some ‘lost’ and ‘forgotten’ items we need and have been looking for. But happily, we’re recycling or donating 97% of everything we are going through.

I asked to call it quits today after about 3.5 hours. I had enough. And so, my husband and I cleaned up, got changed and practiced some yoga together. Then we poured ourselves our choice of beverage – beer for him, sparkling cava for me – and just sat in our living room to unwind.

During this ritual, I unearthed some bags and boxes of things we had tossed aside many years ago when Chaeli was young and therefore had no energy to deal with whatever mess we piled up in our storage space (out of sight, out of mind, of course), I found a single CD which is of great importance to us. It was, after all, the one audio short story called Dave and the Bike by Stuart McClean.

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Stuart Mclean: April 19, 1948 – February 15, 2017

We first heard this story during one of two of his live concerts we were fortunate to experience – it was part of his annual cross-country tour before Christmas. And it was starting to become our tradition. Not every year, maybe, but we had hoped every 2-3 years. The third time we bought tickets – with best friends – never happened. It was back in 2015. We were notified the tour was cancelled due to McClean’s health problems. We soon learned he was battling skin cancer. Earlier this year, he lost this battle. May he rest in peace.

While my husband worked on his model train village (currently putting together one of the buildings his future train will pass by), I popped the found CD and pressed play. As soon as Stuart’s voice was heard, my husband laughed out loud and said, “Right on! Oh – I’m going to cry…”

I know I’m so very late in writing about our beloved, Canadian author, yet I do need to document how much impact he has had on our lives. He welcomed us into what I can only described as a fictional living room – one of which felt so real to many of his readers. The Vinyl Cafe was home to Dave, Morley, Mary Turlington, Kenny Wong (from the Kenny Wong’s Scottish Meat Pies store) and so many more. A fictional family with fictional friends in a fictional neighborhood. But of a community that could be real – to many of us, not just us Canadians.

And so we sat there, laughing our arses off while not just taking in this short crazy story we’ve heard so many times in our home and during our many road trips, but also remembering the good times we’ve had brought on by McLean’s stories, shows, books, podcasts and so on.

Thank you, Stuart. You gave us so much.

You will be missed.