Tag Archives: Beach

This is Not a Resolution

pink fleece3Most of you know by now that, other than having a penchant for the “Top 10” of anything, I don’t really make lists. There are no resolutions at the start of the year; nothing in my bucket; and certainly no promises I can’t keep. Having said that, I am always open and ready for suggestions that just might make my life a tiny bit better than it already is. Not that it isn’t great. I mean, here I am in one of the most beautiful places in the United States of America spending my days sipping on a “grande” and evenings watching the sun sink into a sea of remarkably vivid yellows, reds and oranges. But every once in a while something happens that makes me want to change things up a little. And that’s what happened just the other day.

Big surprise. I’m sitting on the patio of my local Starbucks working hard at listening to the interesting conversations going on around me, at least the ones that are taking place between people. Because something I may not have mentioned is that there are a lot of dogs here at the beach and most of them appear to be very close to their humans. So close that for some reason unbeknownst to me (I share my home with a cat, which we all know is a horse of a different colour), the humans here seem to believe their dogs have an excellent command of the English language, and so they talk to them. In full sentences. And sometimes, when you’re listening in on other people’s conversations, that gets just a little confusing. Although none of this has anything to do with my life changing experience because on this day there were no interesting conversations. There was only a very cute little girl.

Let’s face it, with a few exceptions, kids in general are pretty cute. I see lots of them everyday and, other than the ones that live in my house, they normally have little to no impact on my life. But this little girl with her shiny jet black, silky locks, was different. It wasn’t because she was able to amuse herself playing a lonesome game of hide and seek while her parents chatted away at their table. Nor that she was exceedingly well behaved as she patiently waited for them to finish their afternoon delights. There was nothing remarkable about that. Nope. What made this little girl stand out from all others was her extraordinary sense of fashion reflected in her outfit which I am pretty sure she alone was responsible for putting together. Here’s what she wore. To protect herself from getting a chill she donned a purple, leopard patterned, down vest. She sported this over a red striped jersey dress and for added warmth, a pair of apple green leggings. To complete this ensemble she chose a pair of pink striped socks and blue canvas shoes. Although looking very “couture” not one item in this collection of designer duds matched. And she looked perfect.

I’ve said it before so I suppose I’m saying it again. I’m no fashionista but if there’s one thing I know about, it’s matching which, I get, is not all that difficult when your wardrobe consists primarily of black t-shirts and skinny blue jeans. But I do get “dressed” every once in a while and when that happens you can bet your bottom dollar there will be no conflicting colours or patterns to jar the eye on my 5’2” frame. Although my shoes may not always match my purse, mostly because I get up late and who has time to make the transfer of goods from one bag to another, you can be pretty sure they will at least coordinate with whatever else is on my body. Listen, you’re talking to a girl who has 15 watches in a variety of colours, and north of 30 belts so there’s a pretty good chance that those accessories are going to harmonize. I mean how could they not? And while many would say this propensity to coordinate is a “good thing” I cringe just a little as I recall my latest conversation with my hairdresser when, in her attempt to complement, referred to my style as “matchy, matchy”. Translation: “boring, boring”.

Which is why I was so inspired by that little girl on the Starbucks patio that, while not making an actual “resolution” I have decided to change my ways. Of course this is easier said than done as my predilection for dressing in complementary tones is rather ingrained in my being.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like “everything” I wear matches. I mean I have been known to arrive at work with one navy and one black sock but that’s usually because I have put them on in the dark and who couldn’t make that mistake. And I do have a pair of shoes that are designed to be mismatched (the left is different than the right) but maybe that doesn’t count since they actually are a matching pair. Nonetheless, I am painfully aware that to fully meet my goal I’m going to have to put in more than a modicum of effort but there’s always a first step to be taken and I have taken mine. Yesterday, as I got ready for my daily walk on beach, against what was heretofore my better judgement, I chose from my otherwise monochromatic wardrobe, an orange “t” topped by a rather shocking pink fleece. And without a second glance in the mirror, out the door I went in all my unmatched glory.

Now I know what you’re thinking and to put any of your doubts to rest, the answer is yes, as unlikely as it may seem, I really do own a pink fleece.

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Mountain Sheep of the Sea

dolphin2Here’s something you don’t know about me. I like to take pics. Not of me but of other stuff. Truth be told, there was a time in my life that I was rather focused on photography. Even took some classes. I wasn’t great but I wasn’t bad either. Which was fine by me. I liked it way better than my pottery class (obvs I was going through some sort of artistic phase at the time) mostly because it didn’t get my hands mucky. Not to mention, I’m not afraid of the dark so it seemed like a good choice. You see in those days cameras actually had film in them and pictures needed to be developed in dark places. Which is what I did. At least until I didn’t. Because unlike this blog of mine, that hobby had a rather short shelf life. You know, back then cameras, lenses and the associated paraphernalia were pretty heavy and unlike today, didn’t actually fit in a pocket. So it was all a bit of an ordeal really.

Here’ something else you might not know about me. I haven’t always lived “out west” (as we like to call it), hailing originally from what some people refer to as “the East” but what most of us know is really the central portion of the country. It’s true. I am a product of the biggest city in this nation which doesn’t really need a mention right now since it has had so many mentions of late and mine would probably just fall through some sort of crack. At any rate, the reason I tell you this is because, when you grow up in a big city you become accustomed to a particular way of life, one that includes concrete sidewalks filled with hoards of people who, at the end of each work day descend from their glass encrusted, high rises (each one taller than the next) to their underground transportation tunnels for the crushing ride home. This is not the land of wide open spaces which might help to explain my fascination with the mountains and the sea. More importantly, it explains why I was so taken with the cows I encountered on an elementary school field trip to a farm, that I brought home, in my little polaroid, a heap of close-ups of their cute little faces. No pictures of my friends or my teachers or even the farmers. Just the cows. Which, I might add, my parents had to pay to get developed. But let me continue.

It shouldn’t surprise you that when I found myself living virtually in the foothills (we delude ourselves just a little in the place I now call home) of the majestic Rocky Mountains, I was drawn in by all of the splendour and majesty of those big rocks, not to mention the four-legged inhabitants therein. Now in case you have never had a chance to do so, here’s what happens when you drive through one of our National Mountain Parks. The first thing is all the cars in front of you are going to slow down in part because the speed limit tells them too but also because everyone knows that when you drive through the park you’re going to see animals. If you’re really, really lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of a mountain goat or maybe a moose. If it’s the right time of day and the berries are abundant, you might notice a bear lumbering in the bushes beside the road.

But dimes to dollars, no matter the weather, time of day, or cycles of the moon, at some point along the way you are going to run into (hopefully not literally) a flock of mountain sheep. When you do, all those slow moving cars in front of you are going to pull over and stop. Almost simultaneously each and every one of them is going to take a camera out of their pocket and start to snap away because that’s what you do when you see wildlife in their natural habitat. At least that’s what I did each and every time I went to the mountains. The result being a photo album full of pictures of mountain sheep, all looking the same because the reality is, they just do. So really, if you can get one good pic of one of them you can set your camera down and call it a day.

Which brings me to my most recent visit to the beach. It’s a funny thing what a little time will do. Of late I’ve had a hankering to resurrect my interest in photography, so much so that I bought myself a nifty little number that lets me take close up shots without the bother of changing lenses. So I’m walking along the beach and look out just in time to see a herd of dolphins (it’s correct and fits with the theme but you can look it up if you like) frolicking in the water. Admittedly, even with my zoom it’s a little harder to catch a pic of these guys, mostly because they are jumping up and down in the water and not standing at the car window hoping for a carrot. So mostly, as you snap away, you’re going to get pics of the water where the dolphins “were”. But if you persist you will get them, over and over again. Which is what I did. But as I download my shots onto the computer, it suddenly hits me. These are the mountain sheep of the sea. And no matter how many pics I take they’re all going to look the same. Because they’re dolphins and they just do.You’d think I would have learned.

Well, at least these days I don’t have to pay for the processing.

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questionsStill not dead. But I have relocated to my little oasis by the sea which could, but really doesn’t, explain my rather extended absence. The problem is it’s rather laid back here by the beach so one can get just a tad complacent. The nice thing is that there’s no sign of the polar vortex which is probably good since it appears that the blame for it is falling smack on the Canadians and being one, I would hate to be held accountable. Besides, how would I explain it? What would I say? “I’m sorry. Somehow our cold managed to get through your border. Where’s the NSA when you really need them?” Probably best for me to just stay out of this one. You see, I like it here and I want to sit back and relax for awhile. Which is mostly what I do except when there are decisions to be made.

It’s not that making decisions is foreign to me. I spend a good deal of my waking hours deciding between one thing and another and, if I have to say so myself, I’m not half bad at it. Of course most of those decisions take place at work where, as important as they may be, they rarely have a direct impact on my life. But here, each day I find myself faced with one personal dilemma after another. Imagine, if you can, having to decide which way to turn when you step on the beach. If you decide to go South it’s only going to take you 40 minutes to walk to the Starbucks. But along the way you’ll have to navigate through dozens of frolicking dogs (perhaps the happiest dogs in the world) who at times will momentarily mistake you for their owner, coming dangerously close as they rid themselves of the excess seawater they have acquired chasing their ball into the waves. However, if you go North you will walk along one of the most beautiful and peaceful stretches of sand this side of the Rockies. Unfortunately, it’s going to be round about an hour and a half before you find yourself sipping that latte and, if your timing is off and you hit high tide, there are going to be some shoes to dry when you get home. So there’s decision number one.

Now normally when I walk into my local coffee haunt the words “nonfat, no foam latte” roll off my tongue. No thinking, no wondering. It’s just that simple. But once in a while something happens that puts a chink in the armour. This year, in the United States of America only, (could it be that polar vortex?) I managed to secure a mug that allows me to get free espresso drinks for the month of January. But while I’m saving a bundle there is a cost because there are decisions to be made at the end of this road. So many choices when it’s all free. Do I want caramel? Hazelnut? Perhaps a splash of vanilla? Is this the day to try the new drink of the month? And if I go for one of these concoctions do I really need the whip cream that comes on top? What used to be so easy has become a complex problem. A conundrum of sorts. I’m beginning to think I need a decision-making matrix just to get a drink.

So by now you’ll understand why I am “decisioned out” and turning to you to help me fulfill a promise I perhaps prematurely made to you last year. If you recall, having completed the environmental scan of the local donut shops I committed upon my return to focus my attentions on the “froyo”* establishments. That wouldn’t have been a problem had it not been that, no sooner had we arrived at our temporary abode we found ourselves enjoying perhaps one of the best pizzas I’ve tasted in a long time. I probably have never mentioned this but pizza happens to be my favourite food. So much so that it was all I craved when having my second son who, perhaps not surprisingly, followed in his Mother’s footsteps and could not only eat, but also spell “pizza” before his first birthday. But I digress. While munching on what can only be described as an upscale, health conscious pie, my partner in crime suggested that we spend the remainder of our time sampling the various pizza joints in town in a quest to determine the best. Not a bad idea if it wasn’t for the fact that of late I have managed, through much hard work, to reach my target weight and there is no amount of exercise that will allow me to sustain that while ingesting copious amounts of froyo and pizza. I can do one but not the other. So I’m leaving this one up to you. Decisions…decisions! Next time you visit sunny SoCal do you want the inside scoop on pizza or froyo? The ball is in your court.

*For those of you who don’t get out much “froyo” stands for Frozen Yogurt. For this purpose we are talking about the recent phenomenon that has resulted in a multitude of franchises and independents offering up this frozen delight topped with everything from fruit to nuts…literally.

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This Land is My Land

CaliforniaIf you’ve been reading this blog for as long as I’ve been writing it you can’t help but have noticed that I have kind of a love/hate relationship with folk music and all of its trappings. Ok, perhaps hate is a too strong a word. It’s more of an “I like the music but not so much the going to see the music” thing really. Especially now. You see folk music tends to be a phenomenon that is particularly appealing to members of my era which means that most of the people surrounding me at any given concert are also from my era, give or take a few years which at this point in life becomes rather irrelevant, not to mention too difficult to discern. So what’s the problem? First, let’s face it. We don’t all look as good in our Levis as we apparently think we do. Then there’s the realization that each and every time I’m in a room with my peers I feel as though I am confronting my own mortality. Can’t really put my finger on it but I’m guessing it makes the realities of life just a little too vivid, and certainly more than any self-respecting shallow gal is wont to think about. So trust me when I tell you that it is somewhat of a struggle for me to reconcile my thoughts with my subsequent actions. This time however the tickets were bought, I was over my cold and there was no turning back.

So once again this past weekend I found myself sitting amongst a crowd of folks who were chowing down on their plates of perogies and cabbage rolls (if I were them I’d take it easy on the sour cream) waiting for the night’s entertainment to begin all the while thinking to myself how much things have changed and how much they haven’t. Because for as long as I’ve been listening to folk music it has been pretty clear what these “folks” are going to be singing about. If you’ve been known to take a bet, and I know some of you have, you can put your money on the table that there’s going to be a song about love lost and love found, not necessarily in that order. At some point you’ll be “goin’ down the road” and whether it wends it’s way through the gritty downtown streets of El Paso or the snow-capped rocky mountains likely depends on your country of origin. There’s going to be songs about dreams, for times past and times to come and very likely a protest song or two about a war, or an injustice or possibly eating meat. Before the night is out, if your entertainer is worth their salt, you’ll be singing along to a chorus of “we shall overcome” or something written by Woody Guthrie. But as I sat and listened to the opening act that night it occurred to me that more often than not somewhere, mixed in with the dreams and love and protests and singalongs, there’s going to be a song about California. Which I have to say surprises me just a little bit because California has never really struck me as a place that people who are otherwise introspective and often profound would want to sing about. Before you get too excited, it’s not that I think California is some kind of mecca for shallow people but I do spend a fair bit of time there and it seems to be a pretty good fit. And you gotta admit it’s a tad laid back and there are pockets of, how can I put this gently, complacency. Though who can blame them? They’ve got the ocean, the mountains and some of the best weather in the United States of America. What’s to complain about?

So, at the risk of sounding a little territorial I have to say that there are some boundaries being crossed here. Think about it. There’s no shortage of things in this world for folk people to sing about. I mean let’s face it. There are plenty of wars to protest, injustices to decry and meat eaters to convert. If all else fails, surely to goodness there’s a song to be sung about the “one percent”. But us shallow people, well we don’t have a whole lot in this world to focus our attention on. But California. This land is my land. You know I don’t like telling others what to do and I really hate to sound presumptuous but I would like to pass on a piece of advice to all of the aspiring, singer/songwriters out there. Here it is.

“You ain’t gonna find a cause at Hollywood and Vine.
So I’ll stay off your streets if you’ll stay off mine.

Wow! Now that I’ve said it I think it would make one heck of a chorus.

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bootsIf you have been reading the blog lately you know that I’ve been spending a bit of time at the beach where the temps are considerably warmer than those of the city in which I have for some unknown reason chosen to spend the last 35 years. Ok, I’ll admit there have been some very good reasons to reside in the far north but none of them include the weather during what is normally a long and unforgiving winter. Just like the shallow blog, my hometown has a mantra and, should you decide to visit during one of the six months of winter you will invariably hear someone reassure you that it’s a “dry cold” and the only thing you have to do to keep from freezing is “dress for it”. And dress for it we do with our hats and scarves and marshmallow down coats that make even a model figure appear somewhat rotund. Oh yes, and there are the boots. Never venture out into the icy winter without your boots lest you risk having your behind (or worse yet, your head) unceremoniously hit the pavement, or the even more horrific experience of being able to see but not feel any of your toes.

Now let’s be honest. There’s no denying that not every day in my southern paradise is quite as toasty as I might like it to be. I do however have to give my head a shake when I overhear declarations about it being “freezing” outside as technically that would be 32 degrees fahrenheit and in reality the mercury seldom dips below 50. And I chuckle just a little when I picture these same people venturing out into the -30 celsius world that I have come to know all too well. Having said that, there have been times while walking on the beach that my ears start to tingle and the cool breezes cause me to reach into my bag and pull out the fleecie I brought with me, “just in case”. But it is far from frosty. Which brings me to what’s been bugging me just a tad, so I’ll explain.

Understand please that one of the primary benefits of my journey to the south is the ability to rid myself of the bulky and less than flattering outerwear I am forced to don for the better part of 6 months. It’s the never ending “putting on and taking off “ that adds considerably to the time needed to journey out and I long for the days when I can step outside without the interminable search for the always misplaced left glove. So it is with some wonder that I question the clothing choices of my Southern California coastal neighbours.

Make no mistake, I’m no fashionista although I do my best to keep up with the trends and will admit not only to owning four pairs of Toms but also to a new found passion for J.Crew cardis which I believe elevates me somewhere in the vicinity of Mrs. Obama. As a shallow person however, I do on occasion find myself critiquing the fashion choices of others and let me tell you, there’s plenty of room for that here. Because it appears that no one has figured out that down vests and sheepskin boots have no place on the beach. To be fair, I’m thinking I should forgive the down vest thing because they probably got carried away while in the Patagonia store picking up some vibram water shoes and simply couldn’t resist the array of colourful puffy things hanging on the rack. And once in a blue moon it does cool down enough at night to slip one over a long-sleeve Tee.  But the woman wrapped in her sheepskin coat, wool scarf and knee high boots sporting a straw sun hat, well that is just wrong in so many ways.

It’s the Uggs though that are truly bothersome. I simply can’t find any good reason for anyone, at any time, to think that there is one single justification for wearing Uggs on the beach. For those of you who are not as fashion forward as I am and may not be familiar with this product, Uggs are an Australian creation, apparently acquired by the Americans of late, that have taken the North American continent by storm. They are short and frumpy looking and do nothing to elongate the leg. Most importantly, and this detail is not to be missed, they are lined with sheepskin which, they tell me, makes them incredibly warm and cozy. And that’s what makes Uggs, if you insist on wearing them at all, perfect for the cold and snow. But the day the snow melts and the ice goes away is the day the Uggs come off. Period. If they were a fashion statement it would be “don’t wear us on the beach, and especially not with shorts or leggings”.  And stop trying to convince me that they are great because they “breath”. Your feet breath too so why not let them revel in the warmth and comfort of the beautiful, soft sand.

You see, I have a theory that the reason Uggs are so expensive for those of us who need them is that those of you who don’t are buying them all up thereby escalating the price. So I’m imploring you to give us northerners, and your feet, a break and stop wearing Uggs on the beach. Honestly, I’m not saying this just because it’s a cruel reminder of what we face upon our return home. For us its just as much a safety issue because without our boots we’ll be slip sliding all over the place . Trust me, even if you should be so unlucky as to accidently stumble and hit your head on the sand, it’s not going to hurt all that much.

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