Tag Archives: travel

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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It’s About Time!

So I”m thinking that you’re thinking at this point I have abandoned the blog. I’m quite sure that you remember it’s the time of year I have to either “put up” or “shut up” and I’m thinking that you’re thinking I finally decided to save my 24 bucks for something more important. More rewarding. Something that requires a little less work. Like going to a movie. These days I’m pretty sure you can still munch on a large popcorn while watching a newly released flick at your local cinema for somewhere in the vicinity of 24 bucks. Although you’ll probably have to bring your own beverage. Anyway, if that’s what you’re thinking I’m afraid I have to tell you that, like it or not, you’re wrong. I haven’t abandoned the blog. I just haven’t been writing it. There’s a difference.

What I have decided to abandon however, is time. Not time in and of itself. I mean that would be entirely different. And, at least in my mind, not something I look forward to. No. What I’ve decided to abandon is the concept of time. And you should know this is not a spur of the moment thing. I have actually spent quite a bit of time over the past few months thinking about time. Which is not surprising because, quite frankly, trying to understand this rather elusive construct takes, well as you can imagine, a great deal of time. Now I know what’s going through that mind of yours. You’re wondering why a shallow person such as myself would spend so much time thinking about time. Well the truth of it is, time has a rather significant impact on all of our lives, mine included. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that, given my current state of affairs, what with being recently retired and all, that I would spend at least some of this free time (is anything really free these days?) thinking about this most perplexing of ideas.

Let’s face it, this whole time thing can be very confusing. Think about it. You’ve got 10 minutes to do something. How long is that? Well it really depends on what you are doing, doesn’t it. You might be slugging your way through an exam, trying to finish the, as always, unreasonable number of questions that have been posed to you. At some point you look up and realize you have half an exam to complete and only 10 minutes left to impart all of your wisdom. It’s happened to me and I can tell you that 10 minutes goes by pretty darn fast. But here’s the thing. Now you’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on your way to a really important meeting. You have 10 minutes to get there (which isn’t much time) and all you can think of is this is the longest 10 minutes you have ever spent in your car. This particular 10 minutes seems like an eternity. See what I mean? It’s confusing.

Or how about when you go on vacation. You know there are only a few weeks before you leave but somehow they seem to move at a snail’s pace. One day takes longer than the next. You know that plane ride to paradise is just around the corner but the corner doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. And then it finally happens. You get to your destination. The one you were looking forward to for so, so long. The one that you scrimped and saved every penny for over the past year. The one that in the blink of an eye, is over. I mean it seemed like just yesterday you got on that plane to leave and now, here you find yourself already on the way home. Where did the time go? How is it that those same three weeks that took so long to get through before you left, seem to fly by when you’re having fun? I ask you. How can the same unit of measure seem to be so entirely different depending on what it is you are doing?

As if all of this is not mixed up enough, we (as in humans) decide to walk right in and mix things up even more. Which is why twice in every year we change our time. First we lose an hour of sleep, then we gain an hour. That’s of course if you are in fact, asleep. If you’re like me, you’re usually totally awake during this artificial manipulation of time and you find yourself wondering if you really do need more than 24 hours a day to get things done. I can answer that for you. Probably not.

Now you can see how, through all of this thinking, I have come to the rather obvious conclusion that time, in and of itself, is simply a frivolous human construct that places artificial constraints around what we do and when we do it. So no, I haven’t abandoned the blog. And I am quite confident that I will be back, if for no other reason than to get my monies worth for yet another year. I’m afraid however, I just can’t tell you when that might be.

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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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