Monthly Archives: January 2013

Oh Canada!

canadian_flagIt’s a very patriotic day here in the United States of America. I know this because in the 9:00 am time slot normally reserved for Ms. Rippa and her new friend Mike, there was instead a parade of celebrities paying homage to the 44th President as he was sworn into office for another four years. And what could be more American than James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful”, Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” which, to this Canadian, sounds remarkably like “God Save the Queen/King” depending on who is alive at the time, or Beyonce doing more than a little justice to the “Star Spangled Banner”? The importance of the day was made clear through the twittersphere where the people shared their profound thoughts about this rather auspicious occasion. A quick peek at #inaug2013 provided a sense of the true meaning of the event reflected in the plethora of “140 characters or less” insightful tweets including “Beyonce’s rendition was so beautiful and so were those earrings!” and “The most interesting thing I’ve learned from the coverage of the inauguration so far is that James Taylor is still alive.” And now with the more formal proceedings completed the focus, I’m sure, will shift to unbridled speculation on what the Missus’ will be wearing tonight along with chatter about her new bangs.

Yet in the midst of all this red, white and blue I find myself feeling more Canadian than ever and it has little to do with the pomp and circumstance that took place today in this nation’s capital. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good party as much as the next person but that’s not what awakened my connection to the maple leaf. No, here in the southern-most corner of California, amidst the sound of the crashing waves and the warmest temps I have experienced in a very long time, I found myself watching a team of my country-people (I’ve opted for political correctness rather than accuracy on this one) challenging a team from my temporary home to the game of hockey, the most Canadian of all sports.

It’s not that I really like hockey or, for that matter know much about it, which is a little odd since I have three brothers, two sons and one husband, all of whom are quite taken with the game. It’s just that, unless you have been living under a rock for some time, you should know that there has been a dearth of ice time due to a disagreement between two groups of very wealthy people who apparently cared more about getting wealthier than about the throngs of fans who have devoted significant chunks of their time and money to the icy sport. So it was a “big deal” when the first game of the season made its way onto the telly and there was nothing I could do but watch.

Ironically, given my most recent post, this particular game was being played by the Ducks and the Canucks, and so it was that the rhyming couplet match-up gave me the opportunity to show my true colours and pay allegiance to my fellow compatriots. Alas, my cheers and admonitions were to no avail as the Canucks went down to heartbreaking defeat. Nonetheless, for a couple of hours I was there, cheering on the Canadian heros and supporting my country in the best way that I could. Just like all those people on the Washington Mall did earlier today. And, lest I forget, Sarah McLachlan did a bang up job of singing the national anthem.

By the way, and in case you haven’t already heard, Mrs. Obama wore Jason Wu and Jimmy Choo. I think this rhyming thing is really catching on.

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Rhyme Thyme

footprintIt’s always an interesting experience moving into a place that’s not your own. When you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, it behooves you to look at something people now call a “vacation rental” because you will save some money and, if you choose right, you’ll get something larger and more comfortable than the 250 sq. ft. room at the Motel 6 which is about what you would likely be able to afford for the two months you plan to be away. Not to mention the fact that you will have a chance to live in a “real” home, albeit one that is owned by someone who doesn’t want to live there or, at the very least, doesn’t want to be there when you do. If this is the case, I might suggest that before moving forward with your plans you take a close look at what’s going on in that neck of the woods during your planned vaca.

At any rate, in the world of vacation rentals the former is much more common than the latter so you are very likely to find yourself in a place that has been comfortably furnished in as generic a manner as possible as the owner attempts to create a decor that appeals to their clientele. And because they push their own design inclinations aside, they figure the best bet is to furnish their digs apropos to its location, meaning that if you are in the mountains your place will have a “modern rustic” look and if you are at the beach it’s going to be, well “beachy”.

Whatever the location, without a doubt, somewhere quite prominently displayed, will be a facsimile of the vista you see when you glance out your window, graced with a rhyming couplet that attempts to capture the sentiment that the facsimile pic should evoke. So I was less than surprised when making my way up the stairs of my temporary home, to come face to face with a too golden hued, stamped on canvas painting of the beach at sunset, clearly purchased at a discount home decor store specializing in the “most wall coverage for the buck”. And to complete the picture (both literally and figuratively) there, mounted on top, was the requisite plaque with these words of wisdom:

Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.

Now I hate to be cynical in the presence of such profound thinking but the truth of it is that unless you have some kind of debilitating dementia, which trust me, I hope none of you ever does, then this kind of goes without saying. I mean I walk on the beach everyday and I can tell you that there are only a few hours between low and high tide at which point any footprints that you made will in fact, be washed away. To give you some context here, it’s about the same amount of time it takes me to walk to the Starbucks, sit on the patio for a leisurely coffee, and then walk back to my new home and even those of you with memories worse than mine can surely lock something into your brain for that long. Which makes the verse more than a little trite, and might I be so humble to say, just a tad shallow.

It’s got me thinking however that just about anything could be put to verse and placed on one of those plaques for display in an appropriate room. Just think about it. In the kitchen you can express your thanks for your good fortune with “Around this table we all will eat, a bounty of vegetables, grains and meat” hung strategically at the table. Or when entering the living room you can be reminded that “Together we can relax and watch TV, or rent a movie for a small extra fee”. The bathroom is a little trickier but who wouldn’t find solace in “If I keep on trying it is my belief, that sooner or later there will be some relief”, with the corresponding pic of course.

I’ll stop there because I think my point I did achieve, so without further ado I’ll take my leave. But if this post has inspired you in any way, it is a game we all can play. So add your ideas before you go, and do your best to make them shallow. Because if they are good and not too forlorn, perhaps a new business has been born.

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By the Deep Blue Sea

my_sunglassesI’ll be the first to admit that I’m struggling a little here. Most of you don’t know this but I hate the cold which is more than a little ironic given that many, many, many years ago I moved from a somewhat moderate Canadian climate to one of the coldest cities in the country. That’s why, now that I am entering my more golden years, I chose to spend at least a portion of the frosty season in the southernmost part of California where the temps fall well within my rather limited comfort range and the livin’ is easy. It’s pretty nice here, what with the miles and miles of sparsely populated beaches that provide a sidewalk both north and south to possibly the best ocean view Starbuck’s patios this side of the Rockies. And now that you know this you’re perplexed and wondering what the heck I am struggling with. Well let me tell you.

I know you’re thinking that this part of the country in particular is a mecca for those of us who subscribe to the shallow way of life because, from all that we see and hear, that’s what we know to be true. I mean this *is* California, the centre of blatant and unabashed consumerism and the birthplace of those “Housewives”. Well I was with you on this one, that is until I got here. The first inkling I had that my expectations were not to be met occurred on the morning after arrival when I embarked on my inaugural visit to Costco, making my way along Coastal Highway 101 past the surf shops and the local pizza joints. The vistas are truly spectacular so it would be easy to miss the small sign, but not so much the temple like archway that serves as the entrance to the “Self-Realization Fellowship” as you journey from one beach town to the next. If you haven’t heard of it, this organization (can I call it that?) was founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda and it’s purpose is to help people “realize and express more fully in their lives the beauty, nobility, and divinity of the human spirit” which I can confidently say is anything but shallow and probably also explains the existence of the “Swami” cafe, and the “Swami” taxi company along with the fact that there are more yoga studios than I can comfortably count on all of my extremities. And that’s just the beginning.

As I navigate my way through the streets I begin to notice I’m a bit of an anomaly in my somewhat larger than I prefer carbon emission rental vehicle, being significantly outnumbered by the plethora of “Leafs”, “Prius’ A, B, and Cs”, “Smart Cars” and various other hybrids, electrics and heretofore never seen environmentally friendly options with which I am unfamiliar, not surprisingly so since I hail from one of the largest oil producing provinces in the world. And while I don’t really have a beef with environmentalists I’m not all that thrilled about having the prime parking spots set aside for them while I do battle for the few remaining ones at the back of the lot . Not only that but it’s a veritable “Tour de France” what with all of the bikes sailing past in their designated lanes.

Returning with my oversized packages of just about everything I breathe a sigh of relief as the familiar green umbrellas come into view and I hold out hope that things are going to take a turn for the better. At the Starbucks, where by all rights I should have been sitting beside overly tanned and too blonde dudes and dudettes saying surfer stuff like “hey bro, that was an awesome ride” and “Cowabunga! Eddie would go”, I instead find myself sharing space with a group of business types making arrangements for a session on team building with a woman whose qualifications are not limited to but include, being a member of a world class mountaineering team that won a championship climbing competition somewhere in Borneo. To be honest, it’s a tad disorienting and I’m already finding myself shopping at places like “Whole Foods” and “Sprouts”. Next thing you know I’ll be walking into the holistic healing centre located right next door to my temporary digs to see what they can do about the blisters I’m getting from all the walking I have to do to get from my car to the store.

So there you have it. I’m going to do my best to stay the course but I’m beginning to think I might have to wear my shades and baseball cap in an effort to generate some Babs sightings just to be sure that I have something to write about. Because apparently the ocean isn’t the only thing that is deep around here.

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