Dog Days of Summer

Ahhhh, can’t you feel it? That nippish breeze curling up against the backside of the hot dry summer air. The hint, the tiniest of hints that causes a panic flutter deep inside our chests. We are now in the dog days of summer. The. End. Is. Near.

For me, as well as lots of others, I have a love/hate relationship with August.  As soon as the calendar page is turned (yes, we still keep a paper copy) and the dew twinkles at me in the dawn light, I find myself running amok, like a headless chicken, clucking over my list of things to do that haven’t been done because it was too hot. Or, in between those moments, I’ll find myself  standing perfectly still, like a cat stalking a hummingbird, feeling the crisp edge of air tickling over my hot skin, making me realize there is nothing, absolutely nothing, as refreshing as that gentle breeze. And, in those moments, I’ll melt into the easy chair on the patio, reach for my latest whodunit, and make the most of it. List of undone things be damned.

Oh, yeah, I hate those god-awful beautiful moments! images

We beat the record this year for the longest stretch of days without rain — 56 days — hot, hot and in the end, melting days layered with smoke. Smoke from BC’s burning forests  so many kilometers away, blown west to be trapped under our high pressure ridge. Yet, each time someone felt like complaining we just had to think of those poor souls, in the interior, thousands of them, evacuated from their towns, not knowing if they have a home to return to. And we’d shut our mouths, wipe our brows, and talk of other things.

Today, in the middle of the dog days of August, the smoke, for us, has cleared and  we have another day of beautiful blue skies, temps in around 21°C (70°F) and  I still have that list of things to accomplish. But first, Man-Wonder wants to do a short fly-fishing jaunt to the local lake. I think he needs company. Besides, I’m almost at the ending of my book. . . .

 

Ciao for now

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My, my, my — how we have changed.

One of my son’s ex-partners saw a picture of me, in my early twenties, and said, “Wow! You were really hot once.”

Sad bastard eh? Did I mention how grateful I am she is now his ex?

Any way this hot-ness (or lack of) memory popped up thanks to a recent conversation where a young co-worker saw my wedding ring and exclaimed, “Cathie, I’ve never seen you wear your ring before. Why not?”

“I’m fat.”

“Cathie!”

“No, really, haven’t you noticed? And, being fat, I overheat easy and, when I overheat, I puff up like an excited puffer fish. Ergo — no ring.”

She shook her head. Then, after giving me the once over, said, ” I bet you were hot when you were young.”

“Oh yeah.” I nodded, agreeing with her. “I overheated real easy back then too.

She shook her head and rolled her eyes. (Just like my son used to do when he was a teenager.)

“Oh . . . you meant THAT kind of HOT . . . . . .”

I have to admit, mulling over those conversations got to me. Thank heavens for my very own caped crusader, riding in to the rescue.

“I love you just the way you are. ” He said, not-so-wisely adding, “No matter what’s hanging where it shouldn’t — you’re still one hot chick in my eyes.”

(Pah! I think he’s just making sure I keep on washing his laundry and baking his cookies. . . .but he did chase the glooms away.)

And it made me realize just how much our thinking changes as we age. When younger , being in the right places, dressed in the right way was important. We were HOT!  Now, sitting in an almost empty parking lot at six in the a.m., slurping back cheap coffees while watching a Big Geek Daddy video clip on my smart phone is far more important. Especially when dear Man-Wonder reaches over to hold my hand for a moment as he smirks.

“What?”

“Big changes in our lives in the past few years and look at where we are now.” He points around.

I smirk back.

You know, according to statistics, we may exist below what the government calls ‘average’ and while our youthful hotness may just be cobwebs in our memories, we are as rich as we need to be, in the ways most important.

That’s pretty hot as far as I’m concerned.

Ciao for now

 

 

Life is full of it ( . . . life that is)

 

When the weather is warm and windows are open, life in a mobile home park is full. Someone coughs. A child laughs. The laugh morphs into a wail. The wail sends a small dog into hysterical barking. Someone screeches at the dog to shut up. The neighbor cranks up their television. I listen much the way a past generation did with radio shows. Until the neighbor’s wife turns it down.

Back outside someone calls to someone else. Their voices rise and fall as they chatter. One of them gasps. The nosy bag in me pushes me closer to the window, thinking if I cup a hand around one ear I’ll hear what the gasping is about.

Man-Wonder clears his throat. I look over. He’s staring at me, one eyebrow raised, Vulcan-style. I slouch back down thinking I should feel guilty but I mostly feel annoyed because I love to listen to conversations. There’s something so distantly-intimate about that momentary peek into another’s life. Sometimes I am envious at what I hear but mostly I’m grateful for my life and what’s in it.

Grateful that:

  1. I’m not a child, preteen or teenager nowadays. Once, way back when, was enough thank you.
  2. That, the cancer threatening the life of a neighbor isn’t ours.
  3. My day off from work is filled with things like soap-making, reading, sketching and gardening.
  4. That I have six garden beds brimming with life, blooms and happy bugs.
  5. That sketching in my book belongs to me and I don’t have to show anyone, ever. That’s liberating!
  6. That the people I work with are a freaky tidal wave of emotions and personalities which I enjoy immensely.
  7. That, after a grueling 10 hour inventory job, That instead of collapsing around a table in the store’s lunchroom, I wander out back of the store and find a small patch of grass with a lovely little tree in the middle of it. I plunk myself down; whip off my socks and shoes, wiggle my toes, and laugh as a ladybug tickles its way up and over a foot. I coax it onto a finger and carefully return it to a blade of grass. Then I watch a bee buzz from clover blossom to clover blossom around me. By the time the boss finishes her part and we are ready to head for home, I’m as relaxed as if I’d had a couple of snorts of ‘Tennessee Fire.’

(Thank heavens for grass. I mean the fresh green stuff, not the dried brown kind. . . though that stuff has valid points to it too!)

  1. That, after 21 years, my husband still seems pleased to see me when I come home. And, I’m still happy to see him too.
  2. That a simple supper can be as filling as an expensive restaurant meal. It really depends on the state of mind while eating it.
  3. And finally, that I still have two good ears for all the juicy conversations calling to them. (At least when Mr. Throat-clearing Eyebrow isn’t around. . .)

Love is . . .

Boy, it’s been awhile! My new (okay, maybe five months is not so new anymore) ‘crazy job’ has been draining my energy faster than the battery in my smart phone. But thanks to a wonderful four days off (in a row!) some energy has leaked back in.

The first day I woke up revved and the hobby room was torn apart and put back together in a much nicer way. Day two I rested the aching muscles while reading two whodunits. Day three was washing floors, laundry and baking (I won’t count the soup I made that turned out so disgusting). Day four (today) was for more reading while I rested the new sore muscles (who knew there were so many freaking muscles in the body?). I also realized how much I’ve missed writing. So while spitting out bugs (see below) and catching a couple of smiles from Man-Wonder I decided to write my version of what love is.

. . . you see we recently celebrated our 21st (or 221st as dear Man-Wonder is prone to say) and here’s hoping the next 200 are as rare and ripe as the first.

LOVE IS. . .

  • Him still offering his arm to me when walking along the street. Love is understanding that the level ground arm offer is good manners. The heading-uphill arm offer is his way of making sure I make it! (And is it rather more polite than his first 20 years of uphill help which was dashing behind me, grabbing a handful of butt and yelling “git ‘er going hun”).

 

  • Me willing to sit amidst a thick cloud of midges (harmless he calls them — not-so-tasty I call them when I forget to keep my mouth shut) while he practices his fly-fishing casts from shore.

 

  • After years and years of marriage, both of us realizing, at the same moment, how daft our argument is and busting out laughing instead.

 

  •  Him telling me I’m beautiful, and me not telling him he needs to either have his eyes or brain examined.

. . . In other words, love is finding the best friend in each other and remembering to honor that.

Ciao for now from the West Coast

 

 

 

 

 

Teeny tiny things and big thoughts

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Going back to work has taken precedence over everything else these past three months. Everything has had to fit in around THE WORK SCHEDULE. And it’s been crazy. This travelling around to do store/business inventory is not for normal people. Not for excitable souls either. It’s not for anyone who likes ‘regular’. It’s a goofy job and it suits me just fine.

But its newness has worn down enough to let my mind wander back to the things I’ve neglected. Some things like cooking and cleaning aren’t missed, but the early morning sketching or the late night writing and especially the full night of sleep without some freaky dream about counting are missed big time.

I find as I’m coming out of that give-‘er-all mentality I keep wandering into the hobby room to wipe the thin layer of neglect off the laptop case and my art bag. Often it’s followed by a long, pitiful, deep sigh. I miss my old companions.

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So I am, the minute the days warm up just a tad more and the sun hustles its magnificence up about an hour earlier, out the door with my sketch bag. As for the writing — I think a few walks in the warm spring sun will help the juices bubble again. Especially when I see those teeny tiny mushrooms under the trees. Something about seeing them always open the mind’s eye to a world of teeny tiny people with a big problem.

Tiny people . . . fairies . . . things that go bump in the night. . . Oh my!

Come on sun, this goofy broad needs a long walk. . .and a few mushrooms.

mushroom 2

The strangers we work with

Take a bunch of strangers; ask them to rely on each other and most times they will congeal into a functioning, working group of friendly acquaintances. Maybe they will be uncomfortable. Maybe they won’t.

Like the one, I recently joined.

It surprises me how well we meld together when the personalities and lifestyles are so different. Within our group we have:

  • A young woman who exudes this wonderful exotic and energetic vibe. She runs a karaoke business  and, in her spare time, plans and executes burlesque shows.karaoke
  • Another young woman, pregnant and due any day, sparks up her face with rings and bells and gothic-ish eye make-up. She has another heavy load. It’s called Aspergers.
  • One shy peach of a fellow suffers from Autism.
  • Then there’s the older geezer who was a pianist on cruise ships for 23 years.pianist
  • There is a former taxi driver from Vancouver. Things can get wild when she’s the designated driver. . .  fearful
  • Can’t forget the elf of a fellow with a natty sense of humor who carves beautiful things from driftwood.
  • Or the teacher of English,teacher freshly back from 10 years in China.
  • As well as scads of college/university students popping in and out, working for extra monies.

I could go on but this small portion shows what I love about this group. Variety that most times wouldn’t work together but in this weird job does. Watching this group interact can be as entertaining as going to the movies — only here I’m being paid to watch.

Yah for the humans! We are such a fascinating study.

On the road . . . again . . .and again . . .and

 

2017 began with one major difference. After 13 years of not working outside of the home, I got a job. Travelling around Vancouver Island, the smaller gulf islands, and the lower mainland, doing inventory for a large assortment of businesses and stores.

It’s a whole lot of counting, which I like, and they are paying me to count — which I really like. Plus there’s the entertainment that comes when a wild assortment of individuals is corralled into a team and when one is sharing a hotel room with someone they’ve just met.

Well, hell, what could be more interesting?

The job also requires, ladder-climbing, lots of squatting,ache-2 kneeling,ache-1and some serious ache-3 stretching. All things this body hasn’t been used to — meaning a whole lot of aching going on. Especially during a day off when there’s no git-er-done adrenaline to hold it back. It’s akin to opening a cage door and letting a herd of shaggy wild buffalo loose to stampede over everything.

But, as crazy as the job schedules can be and as much as the body aches, I like this job.

The one thing I haven’t liked is the time spent travelling, in the company van, or on a ferry somewhere in the Strait of Georgia. It has already pushed me to admit my old-school flip phone is no longer enough.*Sigh* Pushed me to acknowledge upgrading so I can text hubby, play Majong, or write during those down times, instead of nodding off until a pothole, or loudspeaker, jolts you awake again.

So what have I been doing during the last few days off?

Studying cell phones, phablets and tablets until my brain feels like ten-day-old warmed-up Jello. To combat that I went poetry hunting and came across this sweet itty poem by Alan Benjamin:

in the rain.png

Let’s count the raindrops

As they pour;

One million, two million,

Three million, four.

 
I fell in love with it for two reasons: not only does it describe the weather around here but it felt like I’d just taken a delightfully big breath away from death by technology drowning.

Yah for sweet simple!

 

 

 

Yummy and Redneck-y . . . does it get any better?

Every year, like many others, the urge to create something Christmassy hits in November. This year I found the perfect creation thanks to my old heroine, Martha Stewart.  (I still have a single legged one-direction sprinkler from her company. Man-Wonder hates it, I love it. Even after the leg broke I continued to use it. . . but when the . . . oh, never mind. That’s another story for another time. Right now, it’s about Christmas.)

So. there I was perusing her magazine when what to my wonderous eyes should appear but an advent calendar with a woodsy twang. Red peg-board. My cabin-in-the-bush heart sang. Man-Wonder’s didn’t but he went along with me because time teaches many things. Off we went to the lumber store. After I finished sniffing the lumber we bought a 2′ x 4′ piece of peg-board and holly-jolly red spray paint.

With the peg-board, and some found doweling for pegs painted, I was ready to hunt down little muslin bags.

Bah! After figuring out the price for 25 bags, my inner Grinch sent me home to make my own. Only once they were made with numbers painted on I still wasn’t satisfied. They looked  . . .naked. So out came the embroidery threads and each wee bag got its own picture.

I hung the bags and realized the board itself looked unfinished, like it needed trimming. A nice Christmassy braid — that’s what it needed.

Have you ever braided long, like 2 zillion foot long(it felt like it) strips of fabric together? OMG! Man-Wonder ended up standing behind me and unraveling the tangles as I braided — mostly to stop my flow of dirty words.

In the end the trim looked great. But I still wasn’t 100% with the bags. Maybe bobble-locks on the drawstrings would perfect them out and, luckily, I had a  bag of them in the hobby room. Unluckily, they were black. . .

. . .Back outside, on a ladder, between our carport and the neighbour’s hedge I strung a string of bobble-locks and sprayed the bejesus out of them (and here’s hoping nobody notices the white overspray on the rhodo leaves before spring).

But, yeah, those bobble-locks did the job so that meant one last thing to do —fill the bags. It almost broke my heart when I learned that Jack Daniels doesn’t make their Tennessee Fire in teeny-tiny bottles. There went the daily snort of Christmas cheer.

Next best? Candy. JuJubes. Gummies. Alsorts . . . (Though my stinky subconscious did force me to throw some nuts into the mix for value.)

Finally. Finally. All was done on Nov. 30th. Just in time.

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We’re calling it our Christmas Diet.

Yum!

 

 

What I’ve had my nose buried in lately

There is a little book called The Hidden Life of Trees. Written by Peter Wohlleben.

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Yep. A whole book just about trees. It’s quirky when you realize that a tree was used to make the book but, if I was a tree, I’d have given my life proudly for the wisdom within those pages. What a fascinating educational study this author has gifted to us. His quiet humour roots through his words. Here’s an example of a few of his chapter headings:

  • Street Kids
  • Community Housing Projects
  • The Language of Trees
  • Tree School
  • In the realm of darkness
  • Burn out

I know I will never look at a tree in the same way nor will I ever walk into a forest in the same careless way. Within a forest, hell, within a tree, there is such an amazing world of diversity. Only with a much slower heartbeat. There is an urgent reason for our species to lighten our footprint upon this earth and, as far as the world of trees is concerned, Peter has done a remarkable job of showing us why.

Peter has an easy going style of writing and he pulls you in to the world of each tree. You almost expect them to talk. They do — only not in ways that we can hear.

Pity.

I believe this book should be mandatory reading for EVERY school child. And, if we could figure out a way to get each adult to read it, so much the better. This was one of those books I hated to put down and really hated to finish it.

 

 

Charmed to Death

You know, most of my life I’ve battled some level of being overweight. Battled — won some battles, lost others. It’s said that fat is unhealthy. Yet, I’m healthy. According to the doctor. Which makes fat-busting even harder. Frustrating. Irritating, Disheartening.

Until the other night. There I was, lying in bed, in one of those bliss-like states, where the brain drifts about like seaweed beneath ocean waves, when my mind took a sharp right into the world of quantum physics. I was seeing how all things are nothing more, or less, than masses of vibrating energy. Our bodies, our cells,  even our thoughts = vibrating energy. That old expression, ‘I think, therefore I are’ took on a whole new level of meaning in the convoluted mess mass that is my brain.

I saw myself struggling against myself in diet. I realized that every time I thought about getting shed of my fat cells, every time I was preparing myself to fight, those little squishy yellow pillows of fat were girding themselves for battle. I wanted them gone and they sensed annihilation. Energy reacting to energy.

Which means that, at the very moment I decide to diet, I may as well go bang my head against a wall!

But what if I decide to love each one of those little buggers? What if — I make a habit of throwing mental hugs and kisses at every one of my fat cells. Continually. Keep them in such a blissful state of mind they won’t realize I’m leading them down the road to extinction. In other words, charm them to death! I’ll even throw in a handful of Ju-jubes once in a while just to keep them off guard.

The time to put action to the words of one of my favorite quotes is upon me.

You know—sometimes I love myself so much, I could just kiss me’.

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