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.

With Relief the Evening Did Not End Up Like Jar Jar Binx

I must admit, even though this past weekend had very little downtime, it was so much fun!

It got me thinking – you know how you are looking forward to something and there is a tendency to build it up in your head? Like a new person you are dating that you put up on a pedestal in your mind to the point where there’s no way that person could ever live up to your high standards? Or when they came out with Episode I, II and III after decades of the last Star Wars episodes and you’re totally psyched to watch it opening night. Yet what crap did we get from it? Jar Jar Binx!!! I’m still scarred from the whole experience.

Leading up to this past weekend I was looking forward to everything we planned on doing, especially the get-together we had with two separate groups of friends. I started to get a little anxious, though. Was I building it up to be too good to be true in my head?

Friday night, we met the two other couple at The Crow’s Nest. I was psyched for this evening. First of all, it was Friday night. We normally stay home Friday nights and for the most part we are happy with being home bodies. But sometimes, it is nice to go out for drinks with friends after a crazy work week (and what work week isn’t crazy?) I’m becoming more and more aware we are not in our 20’s. Still, we’re also just in our 40’s and isn’t the 40’s the new 30’s? Are we not a little too young to stay home EVERY Friday night? It was an excuse we used when Chaeli was little but what is our excuse now? Secondly, I had wanted to introduce Doug to one of the husband’s for a very long time. Finally, while I knew both couples separately (and they know each other), it was the first time we were getting together as a group. The potential for a good time was considerably high.

Many things could have gone wrong, socially that is. Doug might have not liked husband from couple A (or vice versa). The group dynamic might have weakened if all were together. A drunken man might have come up to me in the end and not let me leave.

Oh wait – that did happen. Luckily, the drunken man’s more sober friend, pulled him away and guided him safely to a cab. He was trying to tell me I was pretty – I think. I don’t know. It was difficult to understand him since he was slurring his speech and talking in half-sentences. I don’t, by the way, take this as a compliment and I say this knowing people will tell me to take it as a compliment. The truth is, he was drunk. Drunk people do not think or see clearly. Through really blurred vision maybe I did look smashing! More to my point, I was afraid he was going to throw up on me. I know stuff like that generally happens in the movies but with my luck, it’s not completely improbable.

Anyway – it went well. Very well. All had a good time and like I predicted, Doug got along with his now new acquaintance.

The whole evening made me think, though. As we get older, it’s not easy making new friends. Maybe it is for some. My best friends, Ada and Hoa, seem to constantly make new friends. It might be because they get out there and do a lot of active stuff. People who are that active have high energy. People who have high energy have energy to meet people and make an effort.

Still, after talking to Ada and Hoa, we came to the conclusion – new friendships can not be forced. There’s still a natural path that needs to take place. It still has to feel somewhat effortless. The only effort is getting oneself out there to meet new people but after that, it’s  either a friendship that will happen or it won’t.

This then got me thinking of all the past acquaintances I have met since my 20’s – there are still a handful I remember of wonderful people I just seemed to hit it off with. And through no fault of either parties, we never stayed in touch. There are some regrets on my part – I have found myself, once in awhile, wondering how they are, what they are up to, what they are doing in life. Shameful, but I can’t even recall their name (maybe just their first). I remember them though. Their face, a conversation, where we were… Perhaps this is a lesson in life. It’s not a bad thing to keep ourselves open and available for a connection.

In such a big and fast world with so many people around us, it can get quite lonely if we do not make these connections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the friends I have – I speak both in quantity and in quality. It’s just that once in awhile, I wonder if I’m holding myself back from a pretty damn cool friendship waiting to happen.

My Birthday – Take Two!

My 44th birthday was not what I imagined it to be. And I’m not picky. Believe me! I’m the less-is-more type of person. Some birthday wishes from good friends through whatever means they prefer (Facebook, email, text, etc.) puts a smile to my face. A quiet day where I can have my own loose schedule – allowing time to read, go to the gym, do yoga and then chill out in front of our Christmas tree listening to more Xmas tunes as a way to preserve and lengthen Christmas which comes and goes faster and faster each year for just little longer. Ending the day with dinner with my extended family is somewhat of a “requirement” but if it’s like the take-out sushi we had yesterday at home I can be okay with that.

Except that on the way home from the gym, a man cut-me off and then at the right lights, came out of his car and started yelling at me for having my left signal on all the way he was behind me on the highway. Of course, it wasn’t me. I know which driver was doing that because I was behind the guilty driver. Point is even if it were me, I had every right to honk at this road-rage-of-an-asshole because I had to break in order to avoid him colliding his car into mind. And he had no right to yell at me and then hit my side-rear mirror with his hand. Hello? Who was pulling the illegal move? That’s called assault. If I had recorded it all with my phone I’d have a solid report at the police station right now.

He was also driving like a maniac on the highway. At one point he rolled down his window and waved what looked like an alt-right support flag at me (I could be wrong but I am certain it was definitely not a ‘lets be friends’ flag). Older, middle-aged, white-haired man, with a white beard, black rim-glasses, short (of course) and I would say in his late 50’s to mid 60’s. He’s not the first that fits under that description to target me (and probably many other women like me). I suppose they feel justified in trying to make up for their small penises in whatever way they can.

Anyway – after that scare, I felt my birthday could not get any worse.

Until… my parents, aunt and uncle arrived.

I spent the evening hosting people on my birthday who just wanted to monopolize the conversation with how horrible their 2016 has been… and about who is dying. Or who has died. Or one negative shit after another.

The only one who didn’t grade on my nerves with my father who at one point between all his napping said, “It could have been worse.”

I love my family. But I didn’t need that. Not on my birthday. Not on my time off. As I said, I’m a simple person. If all I had was a quiet evening with my husband and daughter, either doing something like watching a new Blu-ray I received for my birthday or just doing a whole bunch of nothing together, I would have gone to bed content.

So I woke up this morning with a plan. I told my husband and daughter that I’m asking for a birthday re-do. I would very much like, I asked them both, for a birthday brunch. With coconut waffles and a birthday candle in the middle of my waffle. And then later, after digesting with my current fabulous read I intend to finish soon – “Life After Life” – I will do 90 minutes of yoga as my only workout today. And then who knows what else – maybe something, maybe nothing. So long as I don’t have to see anyone outside my own household, I will be happy.

Fuck having to celebrate one’s birthday just on one’s birthday!