Category Archives: Informative

Planning…It’s a Trip.

Who would have thought that this shallow gal would spend not hours, not days, not even weeks, but months planning for a trip that won’t take place for quite some time.  Better yet, who would have thought she would revert to her ‘60s vernacular, using “trip” as in “Hey Man. That far out tie dye caftan you’re wearing is a real trip! I’d pick up some threads like that if only I had the bread.” Well you wouldn’t think so but here I am doing both. Mostly planning though since honestly, I don’t really talk like that. Anymore. The thing is, of late, most of the trips we take require a rather minimal amount of planning and organization primarily because we have returned to the same place for the past 8, 9, or could it be 10 years. And when you do that, once the first year is under your belt, the rest is gravy really. Pretty much a slam dunk. You book, you pay, you pack, you fly (or foolishly decide to take a road trip) and in the twinkle of an eye you’re making your way along the beach to your favourite Starbucks where you sit, sip, sun and watch a very familiar world go by. Simple. So you would think there’s no real reason to mess with a good thing. And there isn’t. Until there is.

So here’s what happened. A very old friend (he’s actually not any older than I am but I have known him for a very long time) and I got talking about where we go and what we do when we get there. Seems he and his wife have a grand ol’ time in the south of France where the croissants are buttery and the coffee rich and dark. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I somehow started thinking about doing what we usually do somewhere else. I mean, why not? And that’s how we got to where we are now. Planning a trip that’s entirely different from the trip we usually take. Now you would think that would be a “good thing” which of course it is, but it’s also just so freakin’ hard. (Oops, those ‘60s are rearing their ugly head again.)  Which is why I have been spending oodles of time planning. I know. You’re wondering what could possibly take so long and be so complicated? Well thanks for asking ‘cause I was just about to tell you. 

First things first. That big, old, red workhorse of a suitcase of mine has seen better days so I’m thinking if I’m going to venture into the fashion capital of the entire world I better get myself something a little more stylish. And practical of course. Who knew that shopping for a suitcase these days means more than deciding on black or red? Drop down to your local luggage provider and you will be shocked, like I was, when you see how much there is to figure out. Hard or soft. Big or small. Two wheels or four. Lightweight, extra lightweight or “won’t be able to lift it off the carousel” weight. To make matters even worse, there is definitely potential for me to pick up a little number that could pretty much double the budget for the entire trip. Back home to do some research only to find out that no matter what, there’s a pretty good chance at some point on this journey of mine I’m going to end up dragging my case “sans une roue” along those ancient cobblestone streets. Gotta tell you. The jury’s still out on this one. 

Should I ever find just the right suitcase I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a place to park it. The thing is, there are just so many of them out there. The last time I embarked on an adventure like this, finding a place to stay was easy peasy. (Not sure where that came from. Trust me. I have never said “easy peasy“. Never in the 60s; never now). But it was. Since there was no real way of knowing what was out there, the best one could do was find some hotel chain with a 1-800 number and give them a dingle. Room booked. Maybe there was something better. Maybe not. How would you ever know? But now. Now the world is your oyster and all it takes is a keystroke or two to have access to thousands of possible places to rest your head, what with everyone and their brother renting out spaces. Not only that, “the google” lets you walk around all of the surrounding blocks which truly is the next best thing to being there. Possibly better. And just in case you’re still not sure, there are several hundred people who will let you know exactly what they think about your potential home away from home. The problem is, with all this choice it’s hard to make a choice. Which is why it seems to be taking so long to do so.

Ok. We might also be a “little” picky.  But who would argue that location is really, really important? No one. It goes without saying that if you are going to be somewhere for an extended period of time you need a full kitchen, preferably with four burners. Give us a break. We cook!. Which is why we also need a dining room table with reasonably comfy chairs. Washer and dryer. How else will we stay neat and tidy?  You’ve got to agree there’s nothing like enjoying your morning coffee on a sun filled terrace. Bedside tables and lamps. Where else will you put your glasses at night? A walk-in shower is simply accident prevention at its finest.  And is it asking too much to have a cushy couch for relaxing after a full day of sightseeing? I don’t think so. Clearly you now understand why this endeavour is taking up so much of my time. Of course you do. 

Well I better split. But before I go there’s one more thing. If I have to say so myself, this is gonna be one outta site trip.

 

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Oh Deer!

Sorry to be so late but I have been busy. You see I’ve been planning a trip we may or may not take in the rather distant future. But since we are thinking about it, I thought it would be a good idea to sort out where we would go, where we would stay (I’m kinda partial to 5 stars), what we would do, and how we would get there if we actually do get there. The thing is, thanks to the “Google” and all of its terrific tools, by the time you figure all of these things out you’ve pretty much made your way through each and every town you plan on visiting. I mean I’ve seen nooks and crannies that I probably won’t be able to find once I arrive, if in fact, we do arrive. And in case you are thinking that all of this could be for naught, well it’s not. Because even if we don’t go on this trip that I have literally spent hours and hours researching, my time has not been entirely wasted since it has given me a rather legitimate excuse for not doing what I really should be doing at this time of the year. Gardening.

I’m quite sure I may have mentioned this once or twice in my past writings, and if so, I am mentioning it again which I don’t think is unreasonable given the longevity of this blog. Heck, if you were talking to me face to face it’s entirely possible that I would tell you the same story twice in one hour. I’m afraid I’m way past the age where I can track what’s been said to whom or how many time I’ve said it. So bear with me one more time when I tell you that, and I say this with reverence to those who do, I don’t really like gardening. And now that I’ve said it, if you don’t mind, please keep it to yourself as it has occured to me that in my new (relatively) neck of the woods it’s a sentiment akin to blasphemy. This, of course, is based only on my observations and the fact that almost everyone I meet seems to be able to identify each plant we come upon by both its common and scientific nomenclature. I, on the other hand, simply use colour as my primary identifier as in “it was the pretty purple one with the green leaves”.

To be fair, I was quite optimistic about having a change of heart when moving from the tundra to what comes as close as anywhere in Canada to a mediterranean climate. Let’s face it. Conditions here are different. First of all you actually get to plant your flowers in the “real” Spring, not the redefined one that starts after the snow melts sometime in early June. You can do so with the confidence that there will be no early summer killing frosts that cause you to transform the sheets on your bed into a virtual tent city on your front lawn. Not only that, there are few worries about midsummer hail that instantly transforms those gloriously beautiful roses you’ve coddled for the last month into tumbleweed. And there are actually a few more than 73 days of warmth and sun to allow those tomatoes of yours to ripen on the vine rather than on your kitchen counter. So you would think, wouldn’t you, now that I am here and no longer there, that I would be happy to get a little dirt under these nails of mine. But it’s just not so.

The thing is, and it should have twigged the first time I ventured out to get my tulip bulbs but it didn’t, there’s a different culprit here that, as they say, takes the bloom off the rose. Or perhaps more accurately, the tulip. I admit I could have paid more attention to the fact that, in my search for the perfect bulbs there were many marked “deer resistant”. But come on. I live in the middle of the city. A hop, skip and jump from downtown. Surely to goodness there are no forest creatures ambling down my street. At least that’s what I thought until one morning when I looked out my window. There he/she was, staring right back at me with what I can only imagine was a very satisfied grin. And as a shallow gal I believe I said the only thing that I could say. “Oh dear, there’s a deer”. Yep. Right in the middle of my garden was a little deer munching happily away on my tulips. The ones I had so carefully planted all those months ago. The ones that had just emerged from their winter slumber and were ready to bask in all of their colourful glory. And so it was that before my very eyes my garden had turned into a 5 star Michelin restaurant for critters. The only thing missing was the bone china. Now I know what you’re thinking. I used to think that deer were cute too. That is until they landed in my front yard and ate all of my flowers. Now I only wish they would come back to pick up the check.

So there you have it. The reason that despite my move to the gardening capital of Canada I am spending my real time planning a theoretical trip.  Maybe I should add a stop in Amsterdam. I hear they have some lovely tulips there.

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Road Trip!

For those of you who have been with me for the long run, or who may know me face-to-face as we like to call it these days, you are most probably aware that I don’t really like to fly. And that’s putting it mildly. It’s not that I don’t fly. For awhile there I was flying about once or twice a month, most often with the aid of my “mother’s little helper” (for those who don’t know) which, coincidentally, I typically got from my Mother. When I decided I could take on the task “cold turkey” I spent a lot of hours telling the person who was unfortunate enough to have randomly selected a seat beside me, that I used to take drugs to fly but now I get through the ordeal by talking incessantly to whoever it is that was unfortunate enough to have randomly selected the seat beside me. Realizing that wasn’t my best moment, of late I have resorted to minding my own business and plugging into a RomCom that I have hopefully seen less than four times in the recent past. It helps, but I readily admit that I still have a rather fragile relationship with the concept of flight. So it might not surprise you that the recent air tragedies have made me more than a little jittery about getting back on that horse even though I suspect the WestJet flight attendants have dropped the “let’s get this Boeing going” quip from their “welcome aboard”. The problem is I still, at times, have to travel, which means I have been giving some very considered thought to what could be reasonable alternatives to get me to where I need to be. Which, might I add, can be just a little challenging and involve one or more modes of transportation given that I now live on an Island.

My first thought, as I suspect would be the case for any true blue Canadian, was to get on a train. To be honest, if I had a bucket list (which I don’t) this might be one of the things on it. Crossing Canada on a train. Of course I first have to get on a boat, and then a bus followed by a subway to the station but, while perhaps a little cumbersome, still seems quite doable. Provided I can pare down my wardrobe to fit into one carry-on as the prospect of schlepping a full size suitcase up, down and over whatever obstacles I might encounter is not, at my age, exactly enticing. But I’ve heard the scenery is spectacular, at least until you hit the prairies. Then it’s not. Never mind. The food’s good, I can watch Schitts Creek and if I play my cards right I can snag a cabin for one. All this for just north of 3500 dollars. Yeah it’s a tad pricey but it only takes four days to get from here to where I need to be. Wait. Let me say that one more time. Four days.  Four very, very long days. Watching Schitt’s Creek. Ok, I’m not going to do that and I’m certainly not going to take a bus (I didn’t even have to research that one) so where does that leave me? You guessed it. Road trip! Although I have to be honest that I’m a little hesitant from the get go about this one too.

For some people a road trip is everything they have always dreamed about. You know how it goes ‘cause you’ve seen it on the TV. The happy couple loads up the bright, shiny, new SUV, buckles the kids into the backseat, loaded iPads in hand, and sets off on the adventure of a lifetime, with smiles the likes of which rival those in the whitest of white toothpaste commercials. They travel along the ocean byways, sun shining brightly in the deep blue sky with nary another car to be seen for miles. Along the way they stop at all of the interesting and fun “off the beaten track” places, become immersed in the local customs and cultures, meet the most engaging people, and always manage to find a quaint B&B that serves mouthwatering meals in a dining room with unobstructed views of the sun setting over the ocean. You can almost hear the waves and feel the breezes as you watch this spectacle from the comfort of your Lazy Boy. Makes you want to run upstairs, pack a bag, grab the family and get your own show on the road. Except we all know that’s not how it really goes. Especially for a shallow gal like me.

You see, for a shallow person a road trip, as are most things in life, is not about the journey. It’s about the destination. When I get into a car I want to get where I’m going and I want to get there fast. Mostly because a “real” road trip almost always includes wicked weather, long waits in world class traffic jams (have you ever driven through LA or TO ?), enough fast food to have a significant impact on your cholesterol count, and a series of hotels that remind me to heed my Dad’s bedtime advice to “sleep tight and not let the bedbugs bite”. Sure there are viewpoints and little out of the way artisans to visit but that would mean stopping and the last thing I want to do when I get in a car is stop. I won’t even talk about the restrooms one encounters along the way even though at this stage of the game those are the stops there’s no getting around. And now with all the texting and talking and general inattention paid by your fellow commuters there’s no guarantees. Not that there ever were. It’s just these days I don’t really like the odds. Road trip? Not if this kid can help it. 

Oh well. Looks like I’ll be back in those friendly skies sooner than later. Better give my Mother a quick call. I’m thinking she might have a little something to help me out.

 

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I’m with you Marie!

As a shallow person you might expect that I would be inclined to wholeheartedly embrace the latest and greatest trends and crazes that have popped up sporadically over the past few decades. Seems to me that makes some sense. I mean following the crowd simply to avoid the “Fear of Missing Out” should rightfully be an integral part of a shallow person’s disposition. Embedded in the DNA. But not this shallow gal. To be frank I have lived a life that, while not exactly dancing to my own drum, does try to avoid falling prey to the flavour of the day. Just ask my sister-in-law. She’ll tell you I wore my high-waisted “Mom” jeans long past their due date. And now that they appear to back in style there are none to be found in my closet. Go figure. You’re talking to someone who has had the same hairstyle not just for the better part of this decade but the preceding one as well. At any given time it might have been in vogue or not. Honestly, I wouldn’t know or really care for that matter.

To be fair, I did wear a cowboy hat (no, I wasn’t the only one) for the better part of the ‘60s but never was there ever a pet rock, beanie baby, cabbage patch doll or Tickle Me Elmo in my home. I have steadfastly resisted both the Instant Pot and, more recently, the sou vide cooking crazes and I have not once entertained going on the Paleo diet. Not convinced yet? Well perhaps this will help. I can’t recite even one sentence written by Deepak Chopra or Malcolm Gladwell nor quote anything by Maya Angelou. Mission accomplished, I would say. So you can only imagine how shocked I was last week when I found myself falling lock stock and barrel for what just might be the the most popular cultural phenomenon of our time. Perhaps not our whole time, but at least for the next 6 months. And unless you have been living under a rock, as apparently I was until about two weeks ago, you will know that the only thing I can be talking about is the “life changing magic of tidying up” by the one and only Marie Kondo.

I know. It surprised me too. I mean who would have thought that tidying up could be so captivating? That devising a new way to fold a T-shirt would inspire a bevy of devotees to swear their lives have truly been transformed now that they no longer stack, but rather “file” their clothes away in the drawer. But perhaps, like me until recently, you don’t know. Haven’t heard. So let me explain. Ms Kondo has taken the world by storm with her books and a Netflix show that encourages all of us to divest ourselves of our possessions that no longer bring us joy. We do this by handling each and every item we own and deciding whether or not it sparks joy in our lives. If it does, great. If not, out it goes. Just like that. Well not exactly. Because this whole process, from start to finish is rather spiritual. So before we start we say a prayer to become one with our home and then we thank each and every item, before we toss it of course, for having been a part of our lives. I suspect for good or for bad. Which might not always be easy. Not sure about you, but I won’t get much pleasure from thanking that old skirt of mine for pointing out that at some point in my life I actually had a 24 inch waist. Or the sad reminder(s) that I never should have worn horizontal stripes. Ever. Or the stark reality that I actually wore a cowboy hat for the better part of the 60s. Nonetheless there’s something about this approach to life that appeals to me. Because it’s simple.

That’s right. It’s just so simple. And that’s why I can wholeheartedly get behind this current craze. You see, as a shallow person I don’t really like to dwell. On anything. If I can find an easy way to make something happen, well I’m gonna jump on that. Especially if it means making my life oh so much better. I mean let’s face it, meditation can take up a good part of the day and exercise, well that’s a never ending story. But this. This you do once and bam! You’re done. At least that’s what Ms Kondo tells us. Unclutter our spaces and we unclutter our minds, lives and (admittedly this is just my take) our very souls. So, if throwing out a few shirts, tossing a book or two and shredding some long forgotten papers is going to bring me joy and transform my life, you bet I’m going to jump on that bandwagon. Sign me up. I’m with you Marie!

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Some things change…some don’t

Just in case you are wondering, I may not have written anything for awhile but I’m still here.  Which is not so unusual. I mean I’ve always written this blog in fits and starts. Mostly fits but you have to admit there is a consistency to my sometimes longer that expected absences. It’s not because I’m so busy. It’s just that after 5 years it’s not always easy to come up with an idea. Something to write about. Which is about the same as it’s always been. Or at least for the last few years. But I’m also still here. Here in my home on this little Island of mine. If you have been following along for awhile you know that around this time each and every year I make my way down the left side of those United States of America to spend time at the beach. And you know how much I love being at the beach. Which, I can only imagine, leaves you wondering why. Why I’m still here. Well it’s just that while some things stay the same, others do not.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m good with whichever way the cookies crumble. Because sometimes having things stay the same is a good thing.  Like our Bandit. I know you hate to ask at this point but our cute as a button kitty, now in the 20th year of making our home her home, is doing just fine.  Well about as fine as an almost 20 year old kitty can be doing. Granted, while she spends a good deal of her time sleeping in her bed, my bed, the guest bed, really anywhere she pleases, when awake she is still as loving and cuddly as ever. So what if she can’t hear a lick? She’s happy almost all of the time and that’s what really counts. Suffice to say, she’s the same and we’re happy about that. Even if it means that other things are not. You see, the older she gets the harder it is for us to leave her, hence the change in our plans this year. I suppose this is a  prime example of how some things stay the same while other things don’t. Which of course, as oft happens when it comes to writing this blog, got me thinking about more things that have changed, and haven’t

Coincidentally, (and I’m sure it was since I don’t think the Facebook people have the ability to actually read my mind, yet) my dear online friends (some of them are real too) started to post pics of themselves from today and some time before today. Actually 10 years before today to be exact. And before I could say jack robinson everyone and their dog (literally) were posting “then and now” pics of themselves. It was a “thing”. The “10 year challenge” and who isn’t up for a challenge? Particularly one that doesn’t involve climbing, running, jumping or pouring ice cold water on oneself. At first blush I figured it was best to sit this one out, at least for the time being. I mean, did I really want to put my 10 year younger self side by side with my now much older self? If I did, what might people think? Heck, what might I think? It seemed to me that as long as you can fool some of the people some of the time, that’s good enough. And since the last photo I posted on “the Book” was of me and my 103 year old Mother, I was already doing pretty well in what I would like to dub the “30+ year challenge”.

And then it hit me. The shallow gal knew exactly what to do. Of course I should post a pic. It just had to be the right one. You see, I quickly realized  that the people who chose to participate in this exercise were people who actually thought they either looked better or, at the very least, the same as they did 10 years earlier. I mean, why else would anyone subject themselves to the kind of scrutiny that such a pic in Facebook is sure to bring? Especially now that the “haha” emoji has become an option. Let’s face it. Who’s going to post a pic of themselves that highlights 10 years of neglect? Hello everyone. I’d like you all to see how much I’ve gone downhill over the last 10 years. Not gonna happen. The solution was clear. All I had to do was find a 10 year old pic where I was not at my best, and pair it with a really good current pic. Problem solved. The hair, the eyes, the smile. Everything appears to be the same. Unfortunately, you can’t fool all the people all of the time and the neck never lies.  Because, and you probably know this already, some things simply can’t stay the same.

Now I have to skedaddle. As it turns out it seems we are going to make our way to the beach after all and I have a few last minute items on my “to do” list. For starters I need to clean the house, figure out what to take, iron, pack, go to the bank, book hotels, get the cat some food, and probably another 40 or so errands I haven’t thought about yet. I’m leaving pretty soon so I suppose I should get started. Yeah, I know. Some things stay the same forever.

 

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