Tag Archives: travel

The Cat’s Not Dead, Yet

To work or not to work. It may not be “the” question but it is a question nonetheless. And it’s one I’ve been pondering for some time now. As many of you know, I retired (apparently fake news) going on two and a half years ago. It’s true. I got the gifts and the accolades from my colleagues, which included a very public declaration of my aversion to hugging. Timely I’d say on that particularly day. I even gave a “poem speech” as I am apt to do on these type of occasions. So you would think I would have packed my bags, bid a fond adieu and rode off into the sunset. You would think. But, again as many of you know, I took a day off (actually two) and headed back to my desk, albeit in a rather distant location,where I have remained ever since. Because apparently it’s what I love to do. Work. But “the time has come to talk of other things, like shoes and ships and sealing wax” (Thanks LC). Well maybe not that. Ok, shoes. But at the very least one must talk about what to do when stepping away from the almost too familiar daily grind.

As I am wont to do at these times of indecision, I called a good ol’ friend and headed to my neighborhood watering hole (ok, you know where I went) to shoot the breeze and have someone else figure this out for me. It’s the least they can do, don’t you think? I mean I’ve pretty much worked out my life for myself to this point. I think it’s about time that someone else stepped up to the plate and took a swing at the bat. Why let fate take its course when you can plant the blame firmly on someone else? Sure. It might cost you a cuppa coffee or two but if that’s what it takes to absolve yourself of all future responsibility for the decisions you make, it’s money well spent in my book. Just think of it as an investment in your future. And so, there we sat under the blazing sun in the eternally blue skies of Alberta, talking about all things retirement.

The thing I love about retired people is how they manage to put a positive spin on just about anything. Talk to them about money. Let’s face it. More than likely, when you retire you will be living on a few less shekels than what you’ve become accustomed. I know. There are the pensions the government gives out in order to leave enough cat food on the shelves for the cats. And then there’s the dollars you have been saving for nigh on 40 years that you can now start to pry out of that wallet of yours. Nonetheless, you are still likely to come up a little bit short. But ask a retired person about living on less and, dimes to dollars, they’re going to tell you that they don’t even notice the difference. First they’ll rattle on about all of the seniors discounts that are now at your disposal. So what if you can only go to the grocery store on the first Tuesday of every month and the lines will literally be out the door? You’re retired! What else did you have to do? Then there’s those early bird specials at the local diner which are perfect, now that you will want to be home for the 6:00 news anyway. Of course clothes are no longer an issue since you can pretty much wear the same jeans and T for most everything. Afterall, who’s looking at you? And if you decide you need a new frock, just head down to the nearest Bay store, on a Tuesday of course.. At the end of this diatribe you’re absolutely convinced that, not only will you be able to avail yourself of all of the necessities of life, but should Bill Gates come knocking at your door you’ll welcome him with open arms and let him know you’ve managed to reserve a suite for he and his family at the Four Season’s. Gratis.

As important as money might be however, that’s not what you’re really worried about. You really want to know more about what’s going to get you out of bed each day. How are you going to pass all of that time now that you don’t have a whack of emails to go through, people to see, places to go. And here again they’ll pontificate on the wonder that is retirement. Somehow, and apparently this happens each and every day, you get up in the morning and before you know it, the day is done. They`re not even sure where the time goes but somehow between reading the morning paper and watching Peter Mansbridge  end the day with the nightly news (it`s a Canadian thing), time just flies by. Asking for more specifics reaps some rather vague chatter about taking walks, meeting friends for coffee, getting through the stack of books that’s managed to accumulate over dozens of years, the gratifying feeling that one gets from volunteering once a week and that continuing education photography course they should have, would have taken years ago if only they had found the time. This will all end with the now very much overused and perhaps even, somewhat trite “I don’t know how I ever had time to work” followed by what can only be described as a long sigh of gratitude that those days of tedium are over and done with.

Of course, the conversation can’t come to an end without some talk about travel. It seems to me that for most, this is really what retirement is all about. Once you’ve wrapped up the daily 9 – 5 you are apparently now free to travel the world. There are places to go, people to see.  And so it was that I sat and listened to my friend wax eloquently about the exotic destinations he’s visited, the wonderful food and wine he consumed, and the beaches he has relaxed on, with nothing better to do than sip Margaritas and watch the evening sun slip through the sky. Who could ask for anything more? So I was not surprised that when he stopped to take a well deserved breath, he noticed the look of dismay on my face. The conversation that followed went something like this:

My Friend: “What?” he said. “Have I not convinced you that this will be the best time of your life?”
Me: “Don’t get me wrong. This all sounds great.
My Friend: “What is it then? What’s the problem?”
Me: As enticing as the walking and the discounts, the coffee and Peter might be, I’m really most interested in the travelling. But, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to do that.”
My Friend: Why not? You’re still young! You have the time, the money and the energy. What’s going to stop you now?”
Me. “Well, it’s none of those things. It’s just that the cat’s not dead yet.”

I don’t know. Maybe I better just keep working.

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Shallow and a “Little” Scared

prairie-roads-1220316Well enough time has passed and I think I can talk about it. You know by now that, come January, we gravitate to more moderate climes. In past years we have done so using the most efficient if not, admittedly, the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation and it takes about 5 hours, give or take an additional hour or two in some airport lounge along the way. Flying may not be my favourite activity but barring extended and extensive periods of turbulence (in which case all bets are off), deep in my heart I’m pretty sure that when I board that airliner I’m going to debark safely at my intended destination. But that was not the case this year. This year one of us said to the other “so how about we drive down south?” to which the “other” foolishly responded “good idea”. Because while this “other” doesn’t mind hitting the road, especially since we are doing so in the cutest little buggy ever, she (that’s me) really only likes to drive the blacktop when the sun is shining and the roads are clear and dry. And believe me, that was not the case on any of the seemingly many days we spent making our way down to where the turf meets the surf. Which, and this is not an “alternative fact”,  made me just a little scared mostly because I happen to like being on this side of that pearly gate.

Now people are going to tell me there are lots of things to be scared of that are much worse than driving in the rain, ice and snow in a tiny little car. Like spiders. Lots of people seem to be afraid of spiders. I’m not sure why. To me spiders are just little creatures, with lots of legs, who make quite lovely and intricate homes for themselves. Ok, I suppose they do use those homes to catch unsuspecting other bugs who unwittingly venture into their webs and, I imagine, quite unceremoniously become delectable morsels to be enjoyed for a late night repast. But unless you’re my friend Wade who has chosen to live among some of the more treacherous members of the species, you’re probably not going to suffer any harm from an encounter with that Daddy Long Legs who decided to take up residence in your basement. Certainly (and this is from my perspective) it’s not worth stomping out his rather precarious life when we know full well that doing so will no doubt result in the proverbial downpour I’ve mentioned above. At least you won’t find me making that trade-off any time soon.

Then there are clowns. I’ve mentioned this in the past but that’s no reason not to include them here. Some people are afraid of clowns. So much so that there’s even a name for it. Coulrophobia. You can look it up. This fear I kind of get. Let’s face it. There have been some pretty scary clown like figures around in our time. Like the Joker. Not the nicest guy and unless you are a superhero of some sort, probably not one you want to bump into when taking the garbage out at night. And more recently, those people who for some unknown reason decided it would be a hoot to dress up as creepy clowns and scare the bejeezus out of little children.  But let’s put those aside for a moment. Most of us encounter clowns under happier circumstances. Like at a birthday party, or the circus, or even at the rodeo, which, if you ask me, has much scarier things going on than clowns. These are happy clowns. They do tricks, hand out balloon animals and generally do their best to make people laugh. Given the choice, I’d rather watch a clown slip on a banana peel than find myself sliding my way through a sea of black ice.

Ok, I know. There are plenty of people in this part of the country who will tell you there are way scarier things than spiders or clowns or even driving in the rain. The fellow who has taken hold of the reigns in this neck of the woods seems to have sparked a whole new level of fear amongst the people. In many cases they are scared because they don’t really know what he will do. Then there are those who are scared because they do know what he will do. Certainly women are scared they will lose control their bodies. Immigrants are scared they will have to leave the country they love and call home. The LGBTQQIP2SAA (I do my best ot be inclusive) are scared of losing the rights they fought so hard to obtain. Some people will tell you they are scared that they will no longer get the facts but rather something called the “alternative facts”. Others think the “real” facts will be scary enough. Everyone is scared about how the world will react to the policies that are designed to keep America great again. You don’t have to hit me over the head. Millions of people right across this world of ours are marching in the streets to let us know just how scared they are. I can honestly say that, even though I’m a shallow person, it has become quite clear to me that at this moment in time there is no shortage of things to be scared about. 

With that said, I’m starting to think that maybe driving in the rain and snow isn’t so scary.  I’m also starting to think that perhaps I should be more than just a “little” scared.

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Dreams Just Might Come True

empty boxI had a dream. Not that kind of dream. The kind you have when you’re asleep. Actually I’ve had lots of dreams. Not sure why, but it just seems to be one of the things that I do. I suppose lots of people dream but, and this is just something I’ve been told, not everyone remembers their dreams. As a matter of fact, apparently some people never remember their dreams. But I do. And for those of you who do too, I’m guessing that like me, every once in a while you sit through a rerun. I believe they (and by “they” I mean those who spend their time studying this particular phenomenon) call this a “recurring dream”.  And the funny thing is, these recurring dreams seem to recur not only in one mind but in many minds. Perhaps it’s that “collective consciousness” thing Dr. Jung goes on about, but for whatever the reason, whenever the topic of recurring dreams comes up in conversation, (and come up it does) dimes to dollars more than one person in the crowd has had the same one.

Like the exam dream. The one where you show up to the final exam and realize, at this most inopportune time, that not only have you not prepared yourself adequately for the challenge but you failed to attend any of the classes on which you are being tested. Not even a one. To make matters worse, you didn’t even bring a pen. Or the travel dream. The one where you fly, drive, take the train or bus to some place far from home only to discover that you forgot to pack your bags and there you are in the middle of some strange city or town with nothing but the clothes on your back. If you’re lucky you find out that you brought your credit card, which helps to mitigate the predicament you’re in but, nonetheless there is that initial feeling of, what shall I call it, helplessness that overcomes you. Kind of like when you forgot to study for the exam.  Now I don’t profess to have an explanation for these dreams but I’m sure they have some sort of purpose, some lesson to be learned. Fortunately, and for the most part, these are not the kind of dreams that come true although I suppose in some cases they could.

Then there’s what I like to call, the box dream. You’re smack dab in the middle of a big move. As a matter of fact, the moving van is parked right outside your house, the burly guys (or gals) making their way up the front step. The house is full of boxes but, and this occurs simultaneously with the first knock on the door, much to your chagrin you notice they are all empty. None of your stuff is actually in the boxes and they’re here, right now, to take them away. There’s nothing left to do but panic. Suffice to say, that’s the dream I had last night. Now despite the reference above, I’m no Jungian scholar but I’m not sure it takes one to interpret this dream for me. Because, you see, right now I should be packing. The whole house. All 30 years of it. Putting each and every little thing that I want to keep into one of the many boxes that have been strategically scattered throughout the house. And what am I doing? Obviously, I’m writing the blog.

It’s not like I have a made a commitment to post to this blog on a regular basis. Au contraire. Of late my posts have been rather sporadic and that’s ok with me because I always said I would write when I had something to say. And let’s face it. There’s only so much you can write about being shallow and I’ve been doing this now for three years and then some, so a slow down of sorts is to be expected. But today of all days, with the big move looming and the house in the kind of disarray that belies the fact that nothing constructive is actually happening, I decided this, of all times, was the best time to sit down, yes in my chair, to write the blog. Mostly because right now, it appears to be the best justification I can come up with for my procrastination.

I’m sure you realize this by now but, just in case, as a shallow person I don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about shallow people as a “collective” or about the possibility that we have a shared set of characteristics. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t know any other shallow people. It’s just that, even though I now have 83 followers, or as I prefer to put it “just under a hundred”, not one of them has actually approached me to say, “Hi. I’m a shallow person just like you”. And I hate to be presumptuous. But I’m thinking that if they did, one of the things we would discover during our likely brief encounter is that, just like those shared dreams, we too would have some things in common. And more than likely, one of the things we would have in common would be our propensity to procrastinate. No psychological theories here to fall back on. It’s just a feeling I have and now I’ve said it out loud. Shallow people, on the whole and based primarily on my own experience, have a tendency to procrastinate. Which right now, in my case, is rather problematic because you see, while many people live their lives hoping and striving for their dreams to come true, I am a tad worried that the one I had last night just might. And at this stage of the game (as my Mother likes to say), that would not be a very good thing.

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Big Deal or No Big Deal

100 birthdayThings happen. Some good, some not so good. But just like the inevitability of death and taxes, every morning when you wake up you gotta know that sometime, somehow during that day, something is going to happen. It may not be something spectacular, or important, remarkable or even memorable. Truth be told, it might be something rather mundane. But come hell or high water, you can bet your bottom dollar that something, anything really, is going to happen during your day.  As a shallow person I do my best not to dwell on most things that happen, particularly the “not so good” things. As a matter of fact, this past week I had one of “those” things happen and while I have been known to rant, on occasion complain and more than every once in a while worry, the one thing I tend not to do is whine. Which is why I will refrain from going into the details of that “thing  that happened” here. What I will tell you is that it got me thinking. Mostly about the nature of “things” that happen. And here’s what I’ve come up with.

The way I see it, things that happen mostly fall into one of two categories. There are things that are a “big deal” and other things that are “no big deal”.  It’s not complicated. If it’s a big deal, you deal with it. If it’s no big deal, best just to get over it. Both you and I hope that the “big deal” stuff is all good but, while I hate to be the one to break this to you, it doesn’t always happen that way. Sorry about that. Of course there are some things that float from one category to another.  If you’re anything like me, there will be things that you thought were a “big deal” until you wake up the next morning and realize that, in the scheme of things, they weren’t. And if you actually were me, you may not even remember the “big deal” thing the next morning. Which is a good thing, especially if it was one of those “not so good” big deal things. Which brings me right back around to what I’ve been thinking about.

Most of you know that the past few months have been pretty busy for me and when life gets busy there’s a tendency for more things to happen each and every day. So last week when, in the middle of everything, I found myself 40,000 feet in the air for about an hour and a half there was little else to do but think about all of the things that had happened over the past few months. And since I was thinking about things that had happened I figured, why not spend this otherwise vacuous time in the air determining into which category each of the things fit? After all,  if my theory holds true and there really are two options into which everything can fall, it should be a breeze. Besides, the lack of horizontal hold on my rather minuscule TV was proving to be more than annoying and I needed a distraction.  So with no further ado, and much reverence to the very recently retired Mr. Letterman who right now is very likely riding a horse somewhere in the middle of Montana, I bring to you a segment I’ve decided to call “Big Deal or No Big Deal”. You can probably figure this out without my help but, just in case you haven’t been reading as carefully as you should, it goes like this. I think about things that have happened, or are about to happen, and decide whether they are/were a “big deal” or “no big deal”.  It’s just that simple. Here we go.

#1 Selling my house: Big deal before it was sold, no big deal after.
#2 Buying a new house: Big deal. My Realtor thinks so too.
#3 Packing up my house: No big deal. Unless we continue to procrastinate at which point it could turn out to be one of those floaters.
#4 Buying all new furniture: Wasn’t a big deal until I discovered modern Italian furniture. Now it is.
#5 Moving to a new city: No big deal. I’ve moved cities before. So what if that was 37 years ago? Ok, maybe a bigger deal than I think.
#6 Moving the cat to a new city: I’ve driven her the 5 blocks to the Vet. Gotta go with big deal on this one.
#7 Mr. Letterman’s retirement: Probably a bigger deal for him than for me.
#8 My retirement: Only lasted two days. Really no big deal.
#9 The NDP Government in Alberta: Would have been a big deal if it weren’t for #5 above. On second thought, still a big deal.
#10 My Mother’s 100th birthday coming up this September: Might as well stop here ‘cause that, my friends, is just about as big a deal as you’re ever going to get!

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Rules are Made to be Broken

red nail polishI strongly dislike nail polish. It’s not the colours, or the smell or even the fact that using a toothpick to painstakingly paint little pictures of stars, flowers or hearts on 10 teeny, tiny canvases seems like a rather frivolous waste of time. Nope, it’s not any of those things. The reason I strongly dislike nail polish is because, strange as this may sound, I’m a little claustrophobic and when I put polish on my nails my fingers can’t breathe. That’s right. For some reason, which I suspect will forever remain unknown, nail polish does that to me. So I do what any reasonable and clear thinking human would do. I don’t wear any, ever. Which is why you will probably be surprised when I tell you that I am, right now, attempting to remove some glossy, red paint off of my thumb nail. All this because, if I can put it this way, curiosity appears to have killed the cat. But here’s why.

I’m cleaning. This is not your run of the mill “a little dust, a little vacuum” kind of clean. Right now the entire family is in the midst of a knockdown, drag-out fight against clutter. And we’re about 30 years too late. Do you have any idea how much junk four people can accumulate over 30 years? Well I do. And to put an end to this guessing game, let me just tell you, it’s a lot. But what has to be has to be so without further ado the time has come for us to rid ourselves of the treasures we have somehow managed to accumulate over these many years. Because, as you may have heard, we are moving. Soon. And we simply can’t take all of this stuff with us which I believe is a reasonable, and rather easy conclusion to have arrived at based on the fact that we have less space in the new place than we have now. Not a whole lot less. But less all the same and, to add some insult to the injury, that “less space” comes in the form of no basement. And we all know that the basement is such a handy place to put all the stuff that you don’t really need but hate to part with. Which I am afraid has caused some, but not all of the problem we now face.

The most difficult part of this whole exercise is figuring out what to take and what to leave behind. That’s figuratively not literally since the person who is replacing us in our home probably, and I say this with some confidence, would frown upon us doing so. Now if I was the kind of person who played by the rules I most likely wouldn’t be in this pickle. I mean I’m a big fan of reality TV and, at least for a while, there were any number of shows dealing with the organization of “stuff”. So I am no stranger to advice on how to manage this whole thing. I know about the “keep”, “donate” and “discard” bins. And I can’t count the number of times I have heard that, perhaps now overused and almost impossible to abide by rule, “one in, one out”.  Let’s face it. I don’t always buy something to replace something else. Sometimes I just buy something because I like it. And maybe, just maybe, I like all the other ones I have that are like “it” too. Sometimes I need an “extra” one of something. Like a spatula. Who doesn’t sometimes need an extra spatula? Or something in another colour. Maybe I bought a green T-shirt. That doesn’t mean I can throw out a blue one. Does it? I rest my case. One in, one out simply does not work.

I suppose that’s why I now find myself wading through a plethora of stuff, which wouldn’t be so bad if I could at least follow that “touch things only once” rule. But when you come upon things that you haven’t seen for a very long time, sometimes you get distracted. Which seems to be the case, even for a shallow person like me. Call it nostalgia or call it whatever you want, but sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses. Like finding pictures of your kids when they were really, really small and spending a little time remembering the days before they could walk and talk and stay out all night at the bar. Or coming across a rock you brought back from a camping trip you took years ago because you liked its colour or shape, and thinking back to how much fun it was to sleep in a tent and cook hot dogs over an open fire which you had almost forgotten you ever did because they very rarely allow you to do that at the Hyatt. Or finding a little bottle of nail polish that you never even knew you had and deciding to try it on because you are curious to know if it still makes you feel claustrophobic. These are the times you discover that rules really were made to be broken. Unfortunately, what t has also made me discover is this cleaning thing is going to take me a lot longer than I thought.

Photo credit: Disco-Dan / Foter / CC BY
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