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You Can Dress for It…So What!

Not so long ago I found myself in my old hometown for a short visit. Since I come and go relatively frequently I wasn’t really anticipating any surprises. Sure, the big city always seems to get a little bigger over time, but then so do I. And I have come to understand that getting ensnared in the ever expanding “rush hour” (which seems to be a rather gross misnomer given that it encompasses most of the hours of the day) is simply a new (for me) reality. Besides, most of what I do while in town is visit family and nothing can ever surprise me on that front. As you can tell, I’m pretty much prepared for anything. Except maybe the ice cold blast of air that confronted me as I stepped out of YYZ. When the heck did Toronto get “this” cold?

Now you and I both know I’m no stranger to the cold. Let’s recall that I’m the one who spent 38 years in the “Gateway to the North”, where temps were known to hover around -30 (that’s celsius) for weeks at a time. Metric or Imperial, that’s cold. Without getting too graphic, at -30 every feature associated with your face freezes pretty much as soon as you step outside. Those tears of regret you shed as you try to remember why you ever came here in the first place, will quickly form icicles on your cheeks. If you are foolish enough to think your fitness still matters, you will arrive home from your morning run very much resembling what I can only imagine the abominable snowman would looks like if the abominable snowman actually exists. Believe me, I know cold. And yet there are people who insist on living in a state of denial by proclaiming to those of us who “came from away” that it might be cold but (are you ready for it?) “you can dress for it”. Sure you can. But so what!

Let me explain. For those of you who are less familiar with northern climes perhaps I should describe what it means to dress for the cold. First you put on your “base layer” which is simply a fancy word for the long-johns your Mother always wanted you to wear and you never did. Now the layering really begins. You see, in most cases while it’s cold outside it’s warm and toasty inside so whatever you decide to put on to stave off the cold will have to come off shortly after reaching your destination. So some combination of shirts, light sweaters, and, of course, heavy sweaters will be in order. You can decide how to shed these as you thaw. Optimally your pants will have some kind of lining and be large enough to fit over that base layer of yours. People say the camera adds 10 pounds. Well just imagine what this outfit will do. Nevermind. It’s -30. YOu’ll get your figure back in the Spring.

Now you’re ready for the outside layer. You’re going to need a rather substantial down coat with a decent hood. These days that should set you back about a grand. Whatever you do give a pass to that little number with the fur. trim It might be warm but those icy stares you’ll get will pierce your very soul. It goes without saying that you’ll want a pair of sheepskin boots, preferably one or two sizes larger than your regular shoes as they will need to accommodate those extra thick, woollen socks someone bought you when you mentioned you were moving “up north”. If you’re really lucky, once you manage to get those on,  you’ll still be able to walk

You probably think you’re done, but you’re not. Attention must now be paid to your head. I know. You bought that coat with the hood but it’s not going to be enough. A hat is a must, preferably one that covers the ears. Forget about the couple hundred dollars you just spent on your “do”. That went by the wayside the moment you picked up that toque with the lovely pom pom on top.  For your hands, mittens work better than gloves although once on there will be very little you can do without taking them off again. Finally, you’re gonna need a scarf. This one’s a little tricky. The problem is, to keep you warm it will have to be long enough to cover as much of your face as possible. But here’s the problem. When the warm air from your mouth and nose meets the frigid air in which you are walking, it’s going to freeze. So get ready. At some point in your journey your lovely, long, warm, scarf is going to turn into what is essentially a block of ice. It’s not pretty but there’s really nothing you can do other than grin (if you still can) and bear it.

Ok. So now you’re dressed for “it”. You walk outside and, whoa! You’re still cold. Of course you are. It’s 30 effing degrees below zero! (My little bro’ taught me that). What did you think would happen? So here’s some unsolicited advice from a shallow gal who knows. Do what I say. Take all the money you were going to spend on that little outfit of yours and hightail it down to your favourite beach town. Because you know what? You can dress for that too. 


It’s that time of year again

bus seatsI know! It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? The thing is, I’ve been a little busy lately. As a matter of fact, right now I’m writing to you from just about 38,000 feet, listening to my fave chanteuse, Ms. Brandi Carlile, on my way to yet another conference. Which, if I do say so myself is quite an accomplishment since, not so long ago the only way I would get on one of these things was with the help of my “little white pill” and you certainly wouldn’t want to be reading anything I wrote in that state, even if I would have been able to write. I’ve come a long way in more ways than you can imagine. Because, if you have been reading this blog carefully you’ll know that around this time last year both me and the President of the United States of America had quite a lot to celebrate. One year ago, give or take a few weeks, Mr. Obama was reelected and I made my way into yet another decade (you don’t really expect me to tell you which one, do you). And, if I can speak for the both of us, the year has had its ups and downs, perhaps less for me than for him. After all, most of the web stuff I’ve developed over the past year has actually worked.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been smooth sailing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I have a problem with getting older. Quite to the contrary, I actually think it’s a “good thing” given the alternative. As a matter of fact, I’ve managed to save quite a lot of money this year by taking advantage of all the discounts that have very recently been made available to me. Let’s face it, I’ve always enjoyed a good hotel but now I get to enjoy it 10 to 15% more, most of the time. And shopping has become a bit of a treasure hunt, what with all of the potential savings to be had on Tuesdays, my new favourite day. If only the sales clerks could remember to always ask me for my identification. It’s a funny thing the cycles of life. For years I hoped no one would make me take my pic out of my wallet to prove I had reached that all-important age of majority because really, how much more mature was I going to be once I did reach 18? But now I’m quite distressed when they take my word for it that I actually meet the requirements for their “special” prices. Which brings me to the one thorn in my side, fly in the ointment, wrinkle in an otherwise well thought out plan.

You’ve heard it before. The boomer generation has redefined aging. Well why not? We’re a big group of people and that’s what big groups of people do. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’ve managed to convince the rest of you that “60 is the new 40” whatever that might mean because I’m afraid most of us can barely remember 40. Nonetheless, I’m going to come right out and say that I’ve done a pretty good job of staying fit, at least enough that I can still do 5 long ones on the treadmill without causing any serious damage. And when people who haven’t seen me for quite some time proclaim, “you haven’t changed a bit” I try my best to believe them. Which is why I found my recent experience on the Tube (you recall it was not all that long ago I was wandering the streets of London) just a tad concerning.

As a Mother of two fine young men, I know it was incumbent upon me to ensure that my sons were aware that, finding themselves seated on any type of public transportation meant they needed, at all times, to be prepared to relinquish their seats to someone older and perhaps wiser than them. It’s the right thing to do. Period. Well other Moms, you and I may have made a mistake. You see, on my most recent travels, almost without fail, as I stood comfortably and securely holding on to the poles provided for just that purpose, some young man would politely tap me on the shoulder and say “Ma’am, please take my seat”. And while I knew his Mother would be proud I, on the other hand, was just a tad mortified. Because up until that very point in time I was happy in my illusion, content to think that I really “hadn’t changed a bit”. But that one act, that innocent and generous gesture, that simplest of requests, that one thing, in and of itself, burst my bubble and made me realize that no matter how much I want to believe otherwise, to those who don’t know me, I have changed, likely quite a lot. And in that moment, my otherwise smooth ride became just a little bumpy.

So Mr. Obama, it looks like we made it through year one and as you begin the second year of your term I wish you all the best. As we both continue on our journeys, here’s hoping the ride will be a smooth one from here on out. Although, if you don’t mind me saying, I’d like to think that my term will last a whole lot longer than yours.

Before I leave, a quick thanks to my little bro’ for the idea for the post. It helped unblock the writer in me and now you can blame him for this one.

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I Mean What I Say

beach_chairsI know, I’m a day late and a dollar short. Well actually I’m about a week late, (although I continually remind myself that I never professed to have a posting schedule) and, let me tell you, way more than a dollar short since leaving for my extended sojourn on the beach. But that’s the thing about words. They don’t always make clear what we are trying to say. As a shallow person I like things to be pretty straightforward so when I find myself trying to navigate through the murky world of ambiguous language I get a little cranky. Let’s take this little “dollar short” saying for instance which apparently has nothing to do with money. According to “Wiktionary”, which I am sure ranks up there somewhere between Oxford and Webster, the meaning of the phrase in question is “Action that was taken too late and is too feeble to be of any use.” Well if that’s the case, why not just say so? Why make me start worrying about my bank account for no reason whatsoever? Which leads me to believe that perhaps we should all take note of Horton’s sage advice and try harder to “say what we mean, and mean what we say”.

Lately, during my long walks on the beach, I’ve been thinking about this very thing; how words can have multiple meanings and how confusing that can get. Take the word “edge” for instance. For some reason I’ve been thinking about that one alot. It seems to me that people can be “on edge” which isn’t usually a good thing because it means something not so great is going on in their lives. It’s really hard to talk to someone who is on edge because they are not focused on what you are saying. And you never know for sure how they are going to react because they are not feeling like “themselves”, another rather perplexing concept since for all intents and purposes they still look an awful lot like who they are. While they are on edge it’s good to “be there” for them, which doesn’t mean you actually have to be with them but you should be if they call you and ask you to come by. The good thing is you don’t have to worry too much about them jumping off a bridge because they are only on edge, not “on the edge”. Which is an entirely different thing.

People who are living “on the edge” are more inclined to take risks that are outside most of our comfort zones. Turning back to my trusty online wiktionary I discover that these are people who “have an adventurous or perilous lifestyle; behave in a manner which creates risks for oneself.” And apparently this sometimes works out for them and sometimes doesn’t as the second definition provided is: “To be caught in an economic or societal situation which one did not choose, which threatens one’s well-being or life, and which causes distress.” So if you are that way inclined, I would proceed with caution. Unless you are one of the disciples of the “Living on the Edge” organization whose purpose is to “help Christians live like Christians”, which may not be quite as risky or distressing, although I can’t say for sure. Of course being on edge might prove to be preferable to being “edgy” which means you could be “on the edge between acceptable and offensive”. Honestly, given the choice between “distressed” and “offensive” I’m going to have to go with the former.

But none of this is really why I have been thinking about the word “edge” these past few weeks. The real reason I’ve been dwelling on this four letter word is that each day, as I walk on the sand I am acutely aware that I am literally standing on the edge of the continent. As I look out to the west there is nothing but ocean. Granted the edge ebbs and flows slightly with the tides, but it’s never more than a few steps away. In the evening, I watch the sun disappear as it makes it’s way below the edge. And every once in awhile I see a boat approaching from beyond the edge.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know that globes don’t have any real edges so I’m not overly concerned about falling off the edge. But I gotta tell you. If this was 1492 there’s no way, no how that anyone is going to convince me to get on one of those ships. Which probably means I’m not a “living on the edge” kind of gal. Yet here I am. Go figure!

And while I’m talking about words I want to send a few good ones out to my friends, and the best property managers ever, Liz and Bruce. If you happen to be travelling over to Vancouver Island and need a place to stay, you’re going to want to give them a call at Victoria Prime ‘cause they will take great care of you. And I’m not just saying that because they have done a bang up job of managing my little island abode. But they have, so I can promote them because it’s my shallow blog and I can do what I want to. And they read it and think it’s funny. So this one’s for them.

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