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:

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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’.

Haircut or Hair Smut?

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RULES ON HOW (not)TO GET A HAIR CUT

#1: You spot a new hair salon and because it’s located between a small engine repair shop and a gas station you think it’ll be reasonable.

Don’t.

I did that. And, even though they had these amazingly comfy massaging shampoo chairs, my ‘trim’ cost $45.00 and looked like it came from one of the lawnmowers in the repair shop.

#2: If a low-cost franchise salon is your next choice – proceed with caution. Even if you luck out and find a fantastic hairdresser, assume you’ll face a waiting list each visit.

#3: Now, if you are prepared to wait — don’t bring your partner along unless there is a coffee shop close by. Otherwise waiting becomes the enemy.

#4: Okay, let’s say you’ve ignored rule #3 — Please don’t let the enemy force you to take unwise action. Like tossing caution to the wind and going with the only available hairdresser who looks like she’d like to be somewhere else. She may be a nervous trainee. Or new to the country with only a meager grasp on the English language.

#5: So, say you’ve gone rogue and ignored #4 too — Trust me when I say — question that wide-eyed stare from the hairdresser when you tell her to ‘cut it two fingers high’. And, for god’s sake, make sure that you use show & tell with your fingers. Show her the two fingers are stacked, not side-by-side. (And don’t assume it’s normal that she mumbles in her native tongue the entire cut).

#6: Here’s the biggie —Don’t even for a single heartbeat think you can trust the gods-that-be enough to lean back and relax with your eyes closed. No. No. No. Eyes open, brain in gear.

#7: Second to last rule is more a peep of warning to the partner you took along —Do not smirkingly offer her your baseball cap when she comes out. Especially if your next ‘trim’ is due and she’s your hair cutter.

Yes, I am that childish. . .I didn’t want to be the baldest head in the mobile.

But it’s all good because . . .

#8: Hair grows.

 

 

 

 

Toilet tripping

Okay, not really tripping over a toilet. But I did drive past one, then back up to take a picture of it.

Why?

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Because it was wearing a garbage bag!

I get that someone would put a working toilet out on the side of the road. If they don’t need it, someone else might. But then I wondered if maybe it wasn’t a give-away. Maybe it’s a friendly DIY outdoor toilet — you sit, you pull the bag up around yourself and go about your business?  Or are the owners of the toilet merely trying a fresh approach to building up their compost pile?

Not sure I want to know.

Maybe they are trying to get rid of it and thought wrapping it in black plastic would make it more attractive. Less chance of any dirty grass or gravel attaching itself to the sticky old wax ring on the bottom of the toilet.

Euuuwh. Maybe we’re all better off not knowing.

But after seeing that toilet I wondered what interesting toilet talk I could find online.

Did you know there is a ‘National Toilet Day’? Yep! November 19th. Plus I found some bits of humor worth sticking on any bathroom wall:

  • Bare Bottoms Welcomed Here!
  • NOTICE: Replacing The Toilet Paper Roll Will Not Cause Brain Damage !
  • This Is A Do-It-Yourself Bathroom. No Maid Service Available.
  • “Maybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet.” ~  Chuck Palahniuk
  • “You know an odd feeling? Sitting on the toilet eating a chocolate candy bar.”~ George Carlin
  • “Today, the degradation of the inner life is symbolized by the fact that the only place sacred from interruption is the private toilet.” ~ Lewis Mumford
  • “The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.” ~ Ronnie Barker
  • “Poop humor is fun. If you do the toilet scenes well and commit to them, they can be really, really powerful.” ~ Sandra Bullock
  • “Today you can go to a gas station and find the cash register open and the toilets locked. They must think toilet paper is worth more than money.” ~ Joey Bishop

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That’s it because I gotta’ go now. . . . like right now. . . .

Ciao

 

 

Highways, Byways and the Hump

A few mornings back I stepped outside between the ebbing moon and the rising sun. THe sky was still that warm rich deep blue and the air held that odd thin blanket of warmth just before the dawn chills it away. An old time urge pinged through me like a tiny live wire.

Time for a road trip!

(Okay, truth time — since we live on an island and are limited to just how far we can roam, calling it a road trip might be stretching it — it’s more like a wheelie small road-run.

But the urge was there and so, with moon-madness coursing through my blood I hustled into the bedroom singing “On the road again . . . can’t wait to get back on the road again.”

You’d think I’d know better after twenty odd years of marriage.

First off, I know I sound like a tin-earred dog with laryngitis and I know it’s not the best way to wake someone up. And secondly, scaring the bejesus out of Man-Wonder and making him shreak isn’t funny. (it was). So, it’s no wonder all I got was a few well worn curse words and a suggestion that I could just take my singing and hit the road. Alone.

So I did.

And it was glorious! Hardly any traffic on the upper highway, and without my ‘no’ man beside me, I was free to cruise along at my own speed. Which I did until I decided to drop down to the old highway that runs runs along the east side of the island and is dotted with small villages and all the side roads one can handle. And I found a few dillies!

The choicest one I almost missed. It started out as a paved road lined with nice houses. Nothing special and I was about to cop a U-ee when I realized the pavement was ending near this old railway crossing.

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Nowadays, there are lights, drop bars, ‘do not cross’ lines, and assorted whirly-gig type thingys at most crossings. This felt simple. Easy. Enough.

And I’m glad I kept going. Just past the tracks sat this abandoned house, still up on blocks. The front door was hanging wide open, as if inviting the encroaching grasses in.

012.JPG So, did the owners decide it was all too much and gave up? Or did the movers park it in the wrong place and nobody could remember where?

 

I was still thinking about the house when as I rounded a corner and came across this sad-looking greenhouse that appeared to be sinking into ground.

010.JPGIt made my soil-loving, plant-raising mind go all twitchy. . . What a waste!

Just aways down and across the road from the greenhouse sat this sign propped against a fence.

007.JPG Was Carter still making baskets?And how much business could this dead-end dirt road produce?

Further down the round and one more corner I came face to face with this tall oddball fence.

002.JPG Vivid fall foliage cascading over panels of aqua, grey and yellow (the yellow being out of frame) and three pieces of farm equipment stand guard in front of the fence. So who was this end-of-the-road, farmy-arty show created for?

So many questions for such a short road but I loved it because it more than satisfied that what creates an urge for a road trip.

But I still wasn’t quite ready to head home so I headed across island. Up over ‘The Hump’ (which is a really big hill, or a really small mountain, covered in old growth trees and officially called Cathedral Grove), then down the backside and into a town located at the end of a long inlet on the island’s west side.

Port Alberni is a mill town with a lovely waterfront area called ‘The Quay’.  Where one can find great art, excellent coffee, and a shop that brags it has the best doughnuts on the island.

They do too!

All in all, a sweet little road-trip with an even sweeter Man-Wonder style (don’t ask) hug at the end. Does it get any better?

Maybe.  But only if someone could convince that doughnut shop to move to Nanaimo. . .yummy

 

 

 

 

 

Both ears wide open

 

A family member dies unexpectedly. Someone drops in for a stay. Family members begin popping in. A change from our usual simple way. We’ve become engaged in daily visits, talked way more than normal and heard how others face, and deal, with the issues in their lives.

During one of our early morning trips to the coffee shop. Time alone, just Man-Wonder and myself, I’ve come to realize what this summer has been teaching me.

listen

To let the grieving say what’s in their hearts instead of rushing in with words because I find their pain uncomfortable.

To be an empty bucket with ears to someone is struggling to find their place in the world; instead of a bucket overflowing with good advice.

To let someone talk through a shitload of anger and frustration without getting all tangled up in their angst.

The art of listening. With both ears and brain fully engaged. To focus on the words coming, to hearing what and where those words are coming from instead of half-listening because my brain is busy creating a response. Really listening.

Someone, somewhere, I forget who or where,  wrote, ‘Listen to the silence around the spoken words and you will understand better.’

The funny thing — as I learn to be quiet and listen — there’s this lovely sense of harmony. Something I’ve been chasing after most of my life and all I had to do was sit down and shut up.

Huh. Who knew eh.

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Big lake, little lake

Two mini canoe adventures so far this summer. And three creepy-interesting things to share.

The first was a three-hour paddle around Quamichan (Qualm-itch-in) Lake. There we met a most curious damsel fly that decided it was going to rest on my hand, which left me trying to one-handedly open the container and grab the camera. Man-Wonder watched me for a moment before commenting that I might as well stop groping around since we’d left it on the table.

Seriously? I’ve got this beautifully prehistoric looking insect visiting and I can’t capture the image? I’m pretty sure the strong vibe coming from  my imagined head-smack  sent any lurking fish far away and deep. And probably the reason all hubby snagged onto that trip was a waterlogged twig and two weeds.

And, sort of speaking of noises — we were introduced to a couple of new ones that day. As we approached a cluster of reeds we were greeted by a chorus from the invading species of monster-sized bullfrogs, with their croaks that sound like something sitting in tin cans and twanging on rubberbands. Then they let loose with what I can only describe as something sounding like a herd of miniature elephants trumpeting before they attack. Personally, if I was a female bullfrog and that was the male’s mating call . . . I’d jump down the throat of the closest hungry blue heron! Euuuh.

As we paddled away from the raucous bully-frogs we hit a portion of the lake filled with algae bloom. Probably caused by sprayed fertilizer from a farm by the lake. I thought the brilliant green bloom was spongy until I tried to scoop up a drifting hunk. It slide through my fingers like wet cotton candy.

Creepy in an interesting way. . .

A few days later we were on an early morning paddle around a little lake close to home when  Man-Wonder spots something unusual at one end of the lake. We paddled over to check out what turned out to be a solid skim of dying chironomids (aka midges).

IMG_2517 (Not sun reflection at the top of the picture — just bugs)

While Man-Wonder studied the bugs I did a quick watercolor sketch of the shoreline. And, then, in a moment of creativity (and because I was at the back of the canoe and not being watched) decided to scoop up a bunch of the dead (tiny) bugs, dabbing them into the water part of my scene. A touch of realism and, later at home, once the carcasses were dry, I would seal them in place.

Yeah, it seemed like a good idea  . . .

Which lasted until we got back to the very warm truck and I was showing off my cleverness and one of the bugs came alive. Then another. And another!

“Oooh, zombie bugs.”Man-Wonder said, laughing.

SLAM!

I am glad chironomids are so very tiny. It saved me from having to see the looks on their teeny-tiny squished faces when I reopened my sketch book.

Really, even though I try to respect most creatures, I wasn’t about to share the ride home with the little buggers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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