Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

No, I'm not being politically correct and avoiding the word Christmas. Merry Christmas, if that's your thing. But if it's not? Happy Hannukah, a blessed Quaanza, Joyous Ramadan, a Sweet and Sacred Yule, or even Enjoy The Long Weekend. Couldn't care less what you call it.

Just enjoy it.

(and, as someone who celebrates Christmas, I am very pleased to announce I will be able to resume regular blogging once a few certain someones unwrap a few certain gifts on the 25th. More on that later.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

RERUN: It's A Wonderful Life

What follows is a post I wrote on my old blog, three years ago this week. Husbandly One developped apendicitis, but because it is a disease of the young (ie, under 30), the hospital didn't think of this as a possibility in my 56 year old Husbandly One until it was almost too late. When I wrote this, I was in shock, still trying to get my head around the fact that he had almost left me , and realizing just how much I truly love him.

Three years later, he is still very much mine, and tonight I am going to watch the movie again, and I will be thinking of him the entire time.

You're my soul, baby.

It's A Wonderful Life

Christmas classic, and my personal favourite. It just isn't the holiday season until I have watched George Bailey grapple with his demons, and then experience his realization of what Life's Blessings truly are.

I watched it alone this year. Watched it at home as I wrapped Christmas gifts, and my love lay sleeping in his hospital room. And as the movie reached it's sappy but sapping conclusion, I wept with thankfulness and joy. Mario's condition deteriorated this morning, and he underwent emergency surgery at 10 am. At noon, he was a groggy mewling kitten. By 8pm, he was a cantankerous old man, in a great deal of discomfort, bitching that he wants to come home. THAT, more than anything, calmed me, let me know everything will be alright.

My blessings are innumerable, simple, and often forgotten. I have a job, food to eat and a warm home to shelter me from the weather. I have a son who loves, adores, and takes care of me with his constant faith and affection. I have good mittens, a comfy coat, and a reliable car when I venture out. When I need to hear a human voice, not only do I have a functioning telephone, I have many people I can call who will be happy to hear from me. I have wonderful memories of the past, and beautiful, sacred dreams about the future. I can stand up and walk right now, if I so choose. I can see and I can hear. I know how to read. I have found the man I was born to love, the man who makes me feel safe, makes my heart skip a beat when he looks at me, fills me with desire when I smell his skin, calms me with a gentle touch on my cheek. I have found a man who feels those same things about me.

It's a wonderful life.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ready to talk about the Camino

And really? Thanks for waiting, I just had to wait until it felt right.

PRE-DAY: I checked in to my hotel in Madrid around noon on Oct 24, after getting ripped off by my cab driver (future tourists, beware!). Kelz had booked us in to the Hotel Europa on the Puerta del Sol, and there couldn't possibly be a more exciting, more convenient, more in the middle of everything base in a thousand years...and it freaked me out. The noise coming from the square outside our balcony was astounding, so many people going in so many directions with so many different goals.... it was truly beautiful to watch from my third floor balcony, the doors thrown open wide to capture every sound, every whiff of the street vendors selling flowers or watches on blankets, or newspapers...but it was very different for this small town girl to leave the safety of her balcony and wade in to this cosmopolitan crowd.

I had eight hours to kill until Kelly arrived, so I took the advice of the front desk agent and took off in the 25 degree Celcius (read: HOT) weather to see the big attractions near the hotel. That afternoon, I visited the Royal Theatre, the Royal Palace (they don't allow photos so I bought postcards), and a local cathedral. Inside the cathedral, I was shocked to see so many people taking photos..... you need to understand that in some regards, I am a VERY old fashioned person, and even as I myself raised my camera to my eye, I felt weird about it: it's a church, therefore you pray, you don't take pictures.

I felt very out of place with my old fashioned hang-ups and my modern beliefs, until I saw a small chapel off to the side inside the cathedral. It was separated from the main church by silent glass doors, engraved on which was the following message: "No tourists allowed. This room for praying ONLY."


I let myself in to this quiet, homely chapel as several other people let themselves out. Outside was all tourists and flashbulbs and noise. Inside was total silence, adoring a simple altar. It was a totally different church and even though I have many MANY issues with my Catholic faith, I was able to get to my knees easily, to pray very simply, "On this Camino, let me see Your lessons...On this Camino, let me see Your lessons..." I kept hoping that something more poetic would come to me, that I could say something "nicer", but no, that's what came and so I went with it.

(MAJOR ASIDE: I have told parts of this story to some of my friends, and spiritual questions have obviously arose from these conversations. So let me cut to the chase and say this: I call the forces that spoke to me over the next few weeks "God" and "angels"... you may call them "energy" or "the gods" or "the mother" or "chi".... Call it whatever you believe, ok? I just use the words that are easiest for me. We all mean the same thing. (Seriously, we DO.)

So I got on my knees and prayed that I would understand whatever my Camino brought me. And when I got up and left the room? The crazy part is that I felt BETTER, I felt more energized, I felt more excited to get started.

I made it back to my hotel by 6pm and then sat in to wait for Kelz. For whatever reason, I had it fixed in my head that she was only arriving at midnight,so when she arrived at 10pm? I was like a little kid. I get to actually lay hands on her so rarely that, when she walked in our door, it seemed like THIS would be the ultimate experience of the Camino, so thrilled was I to see her.

We grabbed at each other and squealed in tones only understood by dolphins, and both tried to talk at the same time, and it all made perfect, beautiful sense. And less than five minutes later, Kelz said, "Let's go out!"

I had been tired. I had been overwhelmed by the noise, by the sheer number of people. I wanted to sleep.

But, hello? We're going out? In Madrid?? I'll race you to the elevator.

We walked the busy streets for an hour, talking the entire time, taking weird pictures (WHY we thought pictures of Spanish garbage trucks were funny still eludes me, but I have about a dozen of them.) before settling down in a street bar...which happened to be the street bar of OUR hotel.


We took the subway from our hotel to the train station (thank GOD Kelz had checked out the subway system on-line, otherwise we might still be there), then spent three hours on the high speed train from Madrid to Leon, both of us occasionally commenting on the scenery along the way. It was a very comfortable time for me....we would both spend long periods of time not talking, but when we had something to say? We said it. And when we didn't? We didn't. Perfect.

We arrived in Leon around 2 pm and immediately picked up the Camino. I can't speak for Kelz, bu that kind of shocked me, how IMMEDIATE it was. I had been dreaming about this for almost a year, I had spent a lazy day in Madrid, I honestly didn't expect the whole vibe of "Welcome to Leon. Start WALKING, bitch!"

But I loved it. I loved stretching each pace just a little bit, the way my thighs were reacting to the exercise. As the kilometers went on, I loved tracking first the cement clam shells in the sidewalk to guide our path, and then the random spray painted yellow arrows. I loved re-adjusting the straps on my backpack so that the fit was better.

And as the kilometers went on, Kelz was quickly made aware of my darkest fear: walking in the dark. No, I'm not afraid of the dark in any way, but my terror was that there would be one, solitary arrow painted on a wall telling us which way to go,and we would MISS it.

As it turns out, after 20 kilometers we reached our very first refugio looong after dark (Thank GOD -- or whoever-- that the last few kilometers of the path were along a well travelled and well lit road). The refugio was somewhat desterted, we had no official Greeter, only three other pilgrims who told us to make ourselves comfortable, surely the innkeeper would be back soon...

Kelz immediately made friends with the three strangers. I don't have her confidence or moxie or whatever it is, so I hung back. They offered us the rest of the pasta they had cooked; Kelz was able to say, "Great, thanks!", while I hung back in shy-person agony, just hoping they would stop being so nice to me. (Yeah, I have "acceptance" issues.)

DAY TWO (Oct 26): (in future, to be referred to as The Bad Day) I can not even begin to explain how excited I was to begin our first Full Day of the excited that I was up by 3:30 am. (a combination of jet lag and displaced Christmas-morning excitement.) Kelz and I hit the trail out of Mazarife at 7:30 am (we were out the door and our room-mates weren't even UP yet...I can't speak for Kelz but I KNOW I felt superior to them.)

So off we marched, on the trail Astorga, 31 kilometres away. We had walked 2o kms the day before, only starting at 2:frigging:pm, so I figured that today? by 1pm? We'd be sitting in a bar with our feet up.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha omigod KILL ME ha ha.

Worst flipping day of my LIFE. Now to be fair, and to put it in context, at the end of the day, we spoke to several people who had started the Camino much further away than we had, people who were already used to the physical demands the Camino places on pilgrims. And even they? THEY said, "Holy shit today was crazy hard."

Yeah, sounds like a good idea for the First Full Day of Walking.

Kelz and I did our own thing, taking our time, stopping at least every 90 minutes for 5 minutes (at my insistance), and then finally arriving in Hospital de Orbigo around 11:30 am. We traversed a PAINFUL cobblestoned bridge (ouch! ouch!) before arriving in the town square. Kelz and I had all the supplies we needed with us, so no need to hit shops. Instead we sat in the town square in the hot sun, peeled off our boots and socks and placed our bare feet on the cold cobble stones. After a few minutes, Kelz donned her flip-flops, but I opted to stay "naked" for our entire stop. We pulled a make shift lunch out of our bags (Kelz in particular being generous with her sharing, having learned from her time in Scotland: "Here, Irma, EAT CHOCOLATE, I know you don't particularly like it but you need to." She was right.)

While we were relaxing in the sun and shade, two things happened: First, the civic team of garbage collectors walked by. "Buen Camino, pelegrinas!" the younger woman cried.

I remember thinking, "FINALLY someone has wished us "Buen Camino"!! Her obvious support for what we were attempting made everything else that followed that day easier, it reminded me that we were not trail blaizers, we were only doing what hundreds of thousands have done before us. It only occurred to me, weeks later, that it FELT like I had been walking forever but in all honesty I had been walking less than 24 hours.

Also during our lunch-with-feet-up-under-the-olive-tree, a strange man approached us. Strange because he was balancing himself and his backpack on top of a uni-cycle. I don't think we ever asked his name, but he was from Sweden, he was curious where he could wash his laundry in that town (something we couldn't help him with) and he was insistent that he would not take the secondary path offered in the guides, because it wasn't as traditional as the first. (The idea of a dude on a UNICYCLE insisting on the Traditional Path tickled me beyond belief.)

After our lunch break, Kelz and I took off again. And things started to go very, very wrong.

I need to step back and give some backstory, if it's not clear on this blog: I got ready for this trip. I HIKED. I packed my packpack and walked with it. And then? With the fully loaded backpack? I walked and walked and WALKED. And then I walked some more. And plus I walked.

After about 15 kms, I started to complain. Not loudly or insistently, but I did start to say things like, "Huh. This is funny, at home I felt fine but now my ankle kind of bugs me. Funny, right?"

At 20 kms I said,"Hon, I need to stop for five minutes."

At 25 kms, I said, "OMIGOD I can't keep walking, are these people CRAZY??"

At 30 kms, I was in full on tears-are-a-fountain mode. I was in so much pain I didn't think I would make it to the albergue.

I now need to step back, to use the Distance I have carved from this experience: In the future, I can now tell you that Kelz developped incredibly painful blisters on her heels that day, blisters that plagued her the rest of the way. But she never complained ONCE.

Me, on the other hand? I complained PLENTY about the pain in my ankle. Wah wah wah, get over yourself, I was really THAT bad. Also projecting in to the future, I can now tell you that it wasn't the distance I covered that day that did me in (Wait and see what I did next if you don't believe me!!), it was the type of terrain.

Stupid, loose rocks. I HATE YOU.

But towards the end of the day? When neither one of us could see straight, except through a veil of pain? Weird INSPIRATIONAL grafitti started showing up.

To be continued....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not sure I can do this

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I am growing my hair so I can donate it to Locks Of Love, an organization that creates wigs for cancer patients, particularly children.

Contrary to popular belief, it IS okay if donors have dyed their hair. (Dye = fine. Lightening or highlighting = bleach = NO.) The other requirement is that the donated hair be twelve inches long.

The hair on the top of my head is much, much more than that, I'm just waiting for those wisps on the bottom to catch up (probably ten inches now).

I am soooo close.

For most of my life, I have had long hair. I have flirted with super short two or three times,and loved it at the time, but I always go back to my comfort zone, to hair I can pick up in my hand. That feels like me.

But I hate my hair so much right now that I'm not sure I can keep at this. It is sooooooooo LONG. I look like a freaking drowned rat, and in the past two weeks I have noticed that every time I try to eat and move a fork close to my face? My hair gets on it. Seriously, you guys, it's GROSS.

And now that I have grown accustomed to having long hair? I'm really not sure I can face the once inch shag I'll be left with once the whole Locks of Love thing happens.

I have been working towards this goal for over three years. But now I seriously think I'm going to throw in the towel, say, "I don't care, I want to cut my hair to the shoulders, and some poor nine year old girl with cancer won't get a wig because of it."

I feel soooooo selfish and shitty, does anyone have any advice??

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy birthday, Carleton

I think we all know that my name isn't really Irma. And surprisingly enough, I am not in love with a guy whose driver's license reads "Husbandly One", although that would be very cool. I keep up my thin veil of secrecy because it feels right to me, but I am not obsessive about it. Tonight's post is about my brother, and seeing how I am going to link to his web page at the end, I may as well call him by his rightful name.

Happy birthday, Carleton.

Not in a thousand years could I ever explain the ways I love you. We are only one year and thirteen days apart, so we were always together as children, we got to really HAVE each other in a way our much younger sister missed out on. We have a history between us that needs no explanations, no back story, no discussion.

I remember going to kindergarten with you when I was four and you were three in the Baptist church up the street, the way Mummy used to stand on the corner at 11:30 waiting for us to emerge, and how thrilled she was to see us.

I remember how angry --well, let's not mince words, how unbelievably fucking pissed off you were when I went to grade one the next year, and you had to go to kindergarten without me.

I remember all the nights we begged our parents to let us sleep in the same room. (they wisely usually did.)

I remember one afternoon a year later, when you were going over to Dale's house to play with Dale and Peter. You wanted me to go too, so I did, and the other two boys loudly announced they wouldn't play with a girl and I had to leave. I remember you got in trouble back home for punching Dale in the face....but you didn't get in too much trouble.

Even earlier, out of context, I remember the only time Mummy every spanked either one of us: you were two, and you took off across the frozen pond in early winter near our house in Birch Grove, across ice that was paper thin. Mummy didn't dare step foot on the ice, knowing she would fall through with the very first step, so she kept calling to you in her sweetest voice. You kept giggling and running further out... I can only imagine what terror lived in her heart. Finally her sweet sing-song lured you in, and as soon as you were within arm's length, she turned you over on her knee, your face inches from the snow, and sobbed as she let her worst fear out with each raise of her hand. (You never went out on the pond again, by the way.You may have needed to learn things the hard way, but at least you learned.)

I remember our confusion, but particularly your confusion, when our parents split up. I remember all the times we just looked at each other, each of us unsure what was now expected of us at any moment or in any situation. I remember we had wonderful parents and then wonderful step parents who loved us, and who we loved in return.... but only I can remember that it was the two of us clinging to each other; everything else might change, but we never would.

Fast forward. I remember when we both thought we were grown ups (ha!) in our twenties, I remember you flying from Toronto to come visit me in the Rockies. I remember being so proud that I could pick you up at the airport in a car I had bought all by myself. I remember you asking me to pull off the highway, so you could get out of the car and really LOOK. You were blown away, you just needed to stop and take it all in. "Look how beautiful it is", you said with wonder.

I had lived there for several years, had ceased to see the beauty of what I took for granted. But through your eyes, I really saw the mountains for the first time in years. Thank you for that.

Fast forward. I remember the day after Mummy died in January 2006, going through her closet to pick her last outfit. I remember you taking a pair of her tiny embroidered jeans and folding them carefully. "I want these."

I remember you playing and singing at her funeral, a song that you had written with her in mind, and how your song ended on such a jarring, unfinished note, with the words, "She's listening."

I remember calling you three months later at one in the morning, to tell you that Daddy had died. And I will never, ever forget how you sighed, how the first words out of you mouth were, "How did I know."

Fast forward. I remember standing in the lobby at Toronto's city hall on your wedding day, you were inside filling out the necessary paperwork, when your beautiful bride arrived late. I had never met her, but the white dress kind of gave her away. "Ai", I said gently,"Carleton needs you to do the paperwork." She left without even saying a word to me, intent on reaching you and the formalities, but I already knew this stranger was my sister.

Fast forward. We don't talk as often as we once did, but that is because of mismatched schedules and obligations, not because of a lack of love. We have grown apart geographically, but every time I talk to you, we are once more two little kids, curled up in the same bed, hoping we are whispering quietly enough that Mummy and Daddy won't burst in to the room and separate us so we'll go to sleep.

Happy birthday, Carleton.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot...

Today Son and I put up the Christmas tree. Yes, it's early, shut up. He is only here every other weekend, and it is an important tradition for the two of us that we decorate the tree together, and I wasn't willing to wait til his next visit to do it.

A lot of our ornaments are just ornaments, but there are also several dozen that Are Important. We take our time unwrapping them, and we re-tell to each other the reasons they are significant:

"Look, this from our trip to Disney."
"Look Amah, I made this for you when I was eight."
"This one is the ornament my parents gave me when I was sixteen, the one that started me collecting ornaments..."

Son knows the story each bauble contains --I know this because I check every year, repeat details he may have forgotten or that maybe he was too young to hear before. It is important that he know and remember these stories, because someday these pretty bits will be his. And I can't even begin to tell you how sad it would make me for him to inherit a lifetime of dreams and memories, without knowing what they are.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Still lurching along

YES, I am going to write all about my Camino; I even thought I was going to start writing about it tonight. But I just looked at a few of the pictures I want to post here, and I realized I'm still not ready. It's weird, because I know what I want to write about, and most of it is really just travel details, "today this happened, I saw the following, Kelly said....." but it still all too fresh in my mind if that makes sense. I still need to digest the whole thing.

What I CAN tell you is that my ankle is still messed up. I developped tendonitis in my right ankle on Day Two, and --with a lot of perseverance, stubborness, and tears of frustration and pain-- kept walking another eleven days (look at me giving away the ending, ha ha!) before I had to accept that I had to stop walking, that I was risking hurting myself in a permanent way.

Long story short, I have been back in Canada for almost two weeks, taking it VERY easy, and walking is still a struggle for me, I'm still using the hiking poles I acquired in Spain just to help me get from my desk to the photocopier. Early morning is the absolute worst: I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, grab my poles, stand up.... and then literally stare at my feet, trying to get one of them to take the first step, trying to figure out which foot first will mean the least amount of pain (because it seems to change all the time!).

Still, there HAS been definite improvement, in the last few days I have been able to go short distances without the poles. If things keep getting better, then I will let nature take its course. As soon as I feel that progress has slowed too much, I will consult a doctor here in Canada. In te mean time, I'll keep icing my ankle, taking the wicked strong ibuprofen I was prescribed in Spain, and looking forward to long walks once more.

Next post....Camino stories and pictures, I promise!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So it was my birthday

Turned forty the other day.

I can honestly say I was ready for this, I was actually looking forward to this based on the personal high I was still riding from my trip to Spain. Woo HOO, I'm FORTY!!! I am ready to celebrate, ready to laugh at myself, ready to spend time with those I love, ready to start this next part of my life.

My son gave me a hug and a book. Hug was the best part.

And I'm pretty much done telling you what happened on my birthday, because that was pretty much it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm baaaaaack

So hard for me to believe my trip to Spain is over. My fabulous, perfect, not-what-I-expected, amazing trip....which I will tell you all about, but right now I am fighting both my jet lag (just got home late last night) and nursing my poor right ankle, which I injured on the second day. Yeah, looooooooooong story there, and the reason there are walking poles in the picture above.
Anyway, so far today I have taken my drugs, iced my ankle, taken a nap, had more drugs, currently have my foot up with an ice pack....I think there may be a pattern here!
I can't wait to tell you all about the trip, and show you some of the great photos Kelz took. For now, though, I think another nap is in order.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane


I leave this morning and I can't even begin to tell you how I feel. I mean, I am excited beyond all reason, but I also won't be able to relax until I physically lay eyes on Kelly. See, I arrive in Madrid Saturday morning, she arrives late Saturday night, then we leave by train for Leon the next day (she has our train tickets). My biggest doom and gloom fear up now has been, "Omigod, what do I do if Kelly doesn't show up??"

Crazy, right? Ha ha, silly girl.

Just got an email from her. She is currently in Scotland, on Iona, and will be leaving Iona today IF the seas are calm, because the ferry doesn't sail in rough weather. So, umm, there is this teeny tiny iminiscule not worth talking about chance that she could end up stuck in the land of Kilts. Which is not the same thing as "not showing up", I would just wait for her in Madrid until she got there....but it's enough uncertainty to put me in a tail spin.

My SECOND doom and gloom fear up to now has been, "What if I get hurt right before I leave??"

Crazy, right??

Yeah, yesterday I fell arse over tea kettle when I tripped over a bag of garbage outside (long story). We were rushing out of the house and next thing you know I am flying through the air. Husbandly One let out a shout that probably woke the neighbours, but I was okay. It took an hour for my hands to stop shaking, mind you, but I was okay.

My THIRD doom and glom fear has been, "What if I packed too much and it's too heavy??" But I knew that couldn't be true, I have been crazy diligent about what goes in my pack. I have two lightweight pairs of pants and that's it..... until I decided to splurge and bring a pair of jeans. Jeans are NOT practical in any way, but I am most comfotable in them and I figure I deserve one teeny tiny splurge, right?

And now I'm eyeing my bottle of face moisturizer, which I did NOT plan to take and wondering exactly how cool I am with the idea of coming back as Leather Face. Hmmm, might squeeze that in. And hell, surely taking a third pair of panties won't make a difference....

I have to stop doing this or I'll end up taking ten extra pounds of crap I really don't need.

Well, that's it for now. My flight leaves in six hours and I have no idea when I'll have internet again, but I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I am 100% ready for my trip to Spain on Friday. Seriously, I am READY, I could literally get on the plane tomorrow by simply grabbing my fully packed bakpack and travel purse.

Except that I haven't called my bank and credit card company yet, to let them know I will be using those cards overseas. Must do that.
And I forgot to pack my first aid kit. Must get to that.
And then I realized I don't have "after walking" shoes for the evenings. Must buy those.
And this bird's nest on my head? Really must get a haircut.
Hmm. My gray will show more. Must dye hair.
Oh, and I haven't photocopied all my ID, in case there's an emergency / theft. Must take care of that.
Oh, and my Mum gave me a vial of my father's ashes for me to scatter in Spain when the spirit moves me...I CAN'T FIND IT. Must, must, must, must, must, MUST find that.

Today at work, so many well wishers were excited for me. Seriously, these men and women are THRILLED that I am doing something so crazy, so exciting and different. And I want to feel like they do, I want to be on cloud nine TOO.

So I suppose I better take care of these dumb details tomorrow, so I can be excited, too!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm still here!

Gah, have been so busy. Plus, going through a bit of a rough patch with Husbandly One (nothing major, calm down, just normal couple stuff) so have not been near the laptop in days.

Am still walking evey day, and I leave for Spain in six freaking days. SIX DAYS. The stress is unbelievable but as I said before, the stress somehow seems right. There is this side of me that thinks that the MORE emotional baggage I can take on this trip? The more I will leave behind when it's over.

I will of course update the blog when I can overseas, but in the mean time, you may want to check out what Kelly is up to.... Kelly and I are meeting in Madrid on Oct 24 to start the Camino, but she has already started on her European hiking tour, currently in Scotland. Once we are together, it will be interesting to me how she sees (very differently, I'm sure) what I see.

I am on a grand adventure.
I'm not very happy about it right now, but I DO know it will be grand and it will change me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Always me

In case you ever have to decide whether or not to invite me out in public? For the love of all that is good, holy, and sweetened naturally, DON'T. I am bad, bad news.

Six years ago, I had to attend this big ballet gala. Very, VERY heavy. I told my staff exactly where I was going: "I have to go to the ballet so don't call me between 7 and 10 pm."

And, silly me, thinking that the WARNING was strong enough, went to the ballet without turning off my phone.

During the most passionate pas de deux I have ever seen, my purse went BRIING!! BRIIIIING! BRIIIIIIIIIIIIING! I dove on top of my purse, but the damage was done. Entire rows of ballet afficianados whipped around in their seats to make sure I was aware that I had broken the ONLY rule of live theatre.

I was the Official Ballet Loser of 2003.

It is six years later, it is 2009. I have changed careers and no longer have thirty staff members who want to reach me 24 - 7. Surely NOW it's safe to go to the ballet, right?

Did I mention we have this pedometer challenge at work? We record our steps and I am passionate about it. Only problem is that I wore a dress to the ballet, and so had no real waist band to which I could attach the pedometer, so I attached it to my nylons under the dress.

While I was making nice-nice with other ballet goers, it came off my nylons. And plopped to the floor from under my dress. I hissed to my friend Ron, "Pick it up, PICK IT UP."

This poor man, stooping on to the theatre floor, to retrieve some object that ten other people HEARD fall out of my dress.....

Really, we'll all be much happier if you don't let me outside. And ESPECIALLY don't let me go to the ballet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The question of attire

Yesterday I picked up a sports bra and some wool hiking socks, the last two items I need for my trip.

Have never worn a sports bra in my life (because, hello, they're for sports) so I wasn't 100% on what to expect and therefore only bought one for the moment. I wore it on my walk home tonight and I lurves it, it is so unbelievably comfortable, even though I do have this weird flat uni-boob action going on. I will definitely be going back to buy a second one.

The socks, on the other hand....still not sure. I bought two totally different pairs yesterday -- both LADIES, I might add, and couldn't wait to try them on at home. (Why can't you try on socks before you buy them?? Why are they always sewn shut to the packaging?)

The first pair, the ones I thought would be the sure winner, were freaking huge. I mean, I don't think I have ever met a woman these socks would fit in my entire life. I tossed them at Husbandly One, he at lest will be able to use them. The second pair fit me perfectly, but on my walk home tonight I found them to be quite hot. I may try a third kind before I make my final dcecision... but the potential wasting of more money makes me cranky.

Ehn, whatever. Go big or stay home.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I leave on my trip to Spain in just over two weeks, and how I feel about it seems to change daily.

A few days ago I was in freaking out mode, and sent a panicky email to my best friend: "Omigod, are we NUTS? Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway? We're going to diiiiiiiiiiiiiie! Die of blister related injuries!"

By the time she received the email the next day and wrote back to try to calm me down, my mood had changed. "Screw it. We are going to OWN this thing. Bring it on!"

Sigh. New day, new mood. I'm just....quiet. Granted, I am currently more scared of this journey than I have ever been, but still, it's quiet. I know I am doing this, there's no turning back, but I am scared scared scared. What if I fail? What if I get hurt? What if I don't have the spiritual epiphany I am hoping for? What if Husbandly One doesn't miss me? What if....

These questions, and about a million more, keep running through my head. But, you know what? I think this is part of it. I think doubting myself in a calm way (as opposed to frantic freaking out) is something I'm supposed to do, something that will ultimately make the end result sweeter. It isn't pleasant, but it also feels right.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Work stuff

First, a word on how my department works.

The sales managers (there are two of them) negotiate contracts for large numbers of bedrooms (anything from 16 to 300 per night) and function space. Once it is signed, the sales manager is out of the picture completely, it gets turned over to a conference services manager (there are three of us). The CSM then actually plans the meetings, arranges for the audio visual, suggests custom menus, matches wines perfectly, upsells to more expensive "insert anything here", deals with whatever emergency comes up, and sees the client through to the end. WE are the ones who get the letters that state, "I couldn't have done this without you!"

But for whatever reason, being a sales manager is considered a step up the ladder from CSM, which I have always thought ridiculous. We do two different things, there is no easy way to hold one up to the other and say one is more difficult. (Aside: cough cough, MY job is harder. Because after I plan all the big conventions? I also have my role as sales manager, negotiating contracts for the other bookings that are zero to 15 rooms per night. Plus, ya know, I need to know about wine and stuff.)

Regardless, our corporate sales manager has resigned. I am not considered a stupid person without potential at work. So this afternoon, my director came to me and said, " thinking about applying for Angela's job? It's a step up and you'd be good..."

And I said, "WHEN will you people get it through your head that I don't want to be a sales manager??? This is the third time we've had this conversation over the years.I don't think it is a step up, I like what I do, I don't want to do that job unless you really feel it is in the hotel's best interest that I do."

"Gawd no, I'd freak if you left catering. But I'm obligated to ask."

Which means I am considered the strongest candidate, which IS super nice to know, but UGH, leave me alone, let me do what I love.

Wow, I totally sound like a spoiled prima donna, don't I? I guess there's no way I can explain how much I feel that my CHOSEN profession is sometimes viewed by others as something I "settled" for because I couldn't get the "good" job.

I HAVE THE GOOD JOB. So thanks for the compliment, but now leave me alone to do it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I heart my pedometer

This afternoon I received an email at work, officially informing everyone that we are participating in this month long walking fitness competition cool thing. The two organizations who spearheded this are giving out 20,000 free pedometers in different cities across Canada, how cool is that?

Anyway, I signed up and set my daily goal at 7,500 steps, which is either the "You're not quite a couch potato" category, or the "you're almost an in-shape person" category, I forget which. (Okay, the name of the category is more positive than that, but the lines? I read between them.)

I put in on at 2pm, and after work I went out for a 45 minute walk. (I totally cheated and didn't take my backpack.) Got back to the house and hello? 8829 steps.

Thinking I need to raise my daily goal a bit, but really, I had no idea how many steps I take in the run of a day, I have a desk job for heaven's sake.

I logged my steps after the walk and it turns out I have today's high score for the hotel! Of course, I am the only one who posted seeing how this only starts officially in three days...but let me have my moment!

Friday, September 25, 2009

This afternoon I was in the human resources director's office. He is a good friend, and he said, "Look what I've got!" A big box containing 200 pedometers.

Picking up a pedometer is one of the (many) things on my list of things to do before I leave for Spain, so I said, "Gimme."

"No no, you get it on Oct 1st."

"No really, Ron? GIMME. And what's Oct 1st?"

He gimme'd (like I say, good friend), and then explained the entire hotel will be doing this exercise challenge thing for the month of October: everyone will be given a pedometer, and everyone will log their steps.

"If I can email you, can I still participate when I'm in Spain?"

Of course.

"Then, dude? I totally WIN."

Yes of course you do, but maybe we don't need to tell everyone else that quite yet?


I dont walk very much in my normal work day, it's true. But I am walking home from work every day (7 kms) and once I hit Spain? Average of thirty km's a day. And I'm sure that equals a crazy amount of steps...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wait, that's not what I meant!

Another true story, from the soon to be released book (okay not really), "It Could Only Happen To Me."

This morning, in an unusual fit of Trying To Be A Grown Up, I called my credit card company.

Already I need to break in to my own story to say, really? How can calling a credit card company EVER end up well???

But I called them to let them know that, although I had received my letter with my super secret new PIN, I haven't received my new card. And, umm, seeing how my present card expires in nine days? Me wantee.

"Well, Ms. Floresta, our records show the new card was mailed, so if you haven't received it, then I am going to cancel it right now. We will issue you a new credit card number and you will have it within 10 business days."

I was impressed. Thank you, credit card company, for acting quickly and protecting me. Sure, the new card will arrive a few days after my current one expires, but after today I don't really have a need for the card for the next two weeks, so I'm good...

...Actually, WHAT? Did you just say you are cancelling my renewal card, or did you just cancel my credit card? The one that is in my wallet?

"Yes, I just cancelled your current credit card account, so the card you have is no longer valid. You should receive---"

Yes, but as soon as I get off the phone with you? I was going to book a flight! And a train ticket! In Europe! UN-CANCEL IT.

"I'm sorry Ms. Floresta, now that you have reported the problem, we can not re-activate the account, for your own safety."

Yes, but I don't have a problem NOW, I have a problem when it expires NINE DAYS FROM NOW. Put it back! Put it back!

"Blah blah blah-dy blah Ms. Floresta blah blah, no."

Ugh. Sooooo not cool.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another step

Yesterday, I loaded Son in to a rental car (Husbandly One needed our car, here at home) and drove three hours to the closest Mountain Equipment Co-op. You need to understand that, for those of use who have spent ANY time in the Canadian Rockies, MEC is like Mecca, we all worship at its' outdoor altar. My quest? A backpack to get me through three weeks in Spain.

Immediately upon entering, the lovely Martha became my guide. For over an hour, she showed me different backpacks, loaded them with 20 lbs of weight, and then adjusted different straps to ensure the best possible fit.

They all hurt. She gave me eight or nine options, and Every. Single. One. HURT. Omigod, they hurt soooo bad, I thought from my research on the Interwebs that the weight should fall on my hips (the way you would carry a baby on your hip) but they ALL seemed to be pushing on my lower back. But because they all did that to me, I thought I was the one with the unrealistic expectations, maybe I just needed to pick the one that hurt the LEAST and live to learn with the pain.

So I picked the backpack that hurt the least, and walked around the store for five minutes. And I realized that, not only could I not carry this all day? I couldn't carry it around the BLOCK. And omigod, the pain in my back, the pain, the PAIN.

Guys, I can never explain to you how I felt. I am such a failure that I can't even stand the pain of SHOPPING? I suck, I am a sham, I am such a low low low LOSER.

My StepDad then said, "Forget it, I'll take you to a different store." Which turned out to be this totally obscure indepentent store on a busy street, crammed in to this teeny tiny space. And I thought, "Yeah, NO."

My sales associate there, Dave, met me when I hit him with the following statement: " I have just spent the last hour in the most humiliating, dis-spiriting shopping experince of my life at MEC. I had a great person helping me, but apparently my body shape is not within their realm. PLEASE HELP ME."

(And, gentle reader, please note: am 5'3" and weigh 130 lbs. I am NORMAL.)

This angel direct from the Almighty asked my permission, and then put his hands in my shoulders. He asked permission again, and then put his hands on my hips. And without asking permission (ha ha) he then ran his hands from my hips to under my arms. "Yeah, I have the pack for you."

FIRST pack I tried on fit me like a glove. I was almost orgasmic over how good it felt, after my torture at MEC. I was literally giddy: "It fits! Weight is on my hips! I love it! Leave me and the bag alone together now..."

But Dave, my newly beloved Dave, was all, "Pshwaw, I know you're happy, but I need you to try a few other ones to make sure, for real."

And I was all, "I will make love to you here, now, for real. Pshwaw."

Long story short (and the whole story actually doesn't involve me bumping uglies with some 24 year old stranger) I bought a fantastic backpack. It's like it was custom built for me. And everytime I look at it? I want to cry, I love it so much.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm nuts, right?

Listen, I am NOT a Suzy Homemaker; I wish I were, I wish I gave a flying fig about dust or perfectly folded underwear or shining my kitchen sink. It's just not ever going to happen, no matter how much I truly admire people who live that way. But for me, in my own life? I have made my peace with a certain level of chaos. Meh.

Tonight I needed to trim a piece of raw pork. I had the cutting board on the counter, pretty much over the area where my utensil drawer is. I opened the drawer to get out a knife, and failed to close the drawer completely. Next thing you know, I cut a long slice of fat off the side of the meat...and it plopped directly in to my open utensil drawer.

Now, even I could see the piece of meat landed squarely on my forks; it didn't even touch the cutlery divider thing. I could have picked up the offensive meat, then washed all the forks, and moved on. But all I could think was, "AAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH! Panic! Mayhem! Gross squishy flesh full of gross raw meat diseases!"

I literally took out every single thing in that drawer (including the cutlery tray itself and some fondue forks that were wedged UNDER the tray) and washed it all in hot soapy water.

Because really? Eww eww eww eww.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I actually applied for my passport; I hear that you need one to be admitted to Europe, who knew.

In my typical bald self, I called my three guarantors and said ( I could have asked, to be polite, but whatever) "You are my references, deal with it, and in case any one asks, don't forget my eyes are blue."

Last night, I asked Husbandly One if we could go to Halifax today, so that I could go to Mountain Equipment Co-op and get fitted for a back pack. His response? "Meh, maybe next weekend."


He does support me in this, by the way. He doesn't understand it, but he wants me to do whatever makes me happy; in that regard, he is the most fabulous husband a girl could ever ask for. I just wish he took me a little more seriously.

Maybe that's the problem, maybe he thinks that I will plan and plan for this, but that at the last minute I will say, "Wah, it'll be too hard so I'm not going. Instead I'll stay here and do the laundry and make your dinner. Wah!"

I am out of shape. I am ill equipped. I have no business embarking on this trip.

But I'll show him. More importantly, I'll show ME.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So this is my life

A random assortment of thoughts at 11:40 pm on a Wednesday night. (Go to bed already.)

1. I have the coolest kid ever. Ever. On our camping trip, he totally stole my book, read over my shoulder when I managed to pry it away from him, and I was forced to fashion a rustic hey-we're-out-in-the-woods-so-here's-part-of-a-paper-napkin BOOKMARK for him. The book in question? Bill Clinton's autobiography.

Where did this ridiculous little 13 year old freak come from? I have no idea. All I know is that I love him more than should be legal, and I love the fact that I never know what he will do next. MAN I love that kid.

2. Why is my dishwasher full again? There are three people living in this house, and we cook one meal per day. So how is it possible that I unloaded the machine of clean dishes yesterday, but had to run it (completely full, by the way) tonight after dinner? Well, I can save you all from trying to figure it out: it's because my 24 year old StepSon hoards dirty dishes in his room like he is afraid tomorrow will, in fact, be TEOTWAWKI, and so he better have a stash of dirty glasses hidden away, so that he can gnaw at their crusty goodness when there is nothing else to eat, EVER. And when he realizes that today is not the exact day we will be forced to comb the mountains, looking for stranded Chilean soccer players? Then he brings the dirty dishes up.

3. Apparently sarcasm is a bigger part of my psyche than I realized.

4. I received in the mail my official carnet to walk the Camino. Okay, so carnet is a French word for something I need in Spain (think abot that for a minute)...and I have no idea what the English word for it would be. I suppose it's a kind of pilgrim's passport; only pilgrims who are registered to walk the Camino are allowed to stay in the hostels along the way. Many sub-thoughts arose from its arrival here:

a) Why is it Wham green? Seriously, I have not seen this exact colour since 1985.
b) Is there a better friend anywhere than my beloved Kelz, who applied for this carnet on my behalf and is walking the Camino with me? The fact that she did this firmly solidifies her role in our friendship, which is the role of The Grown Up. Left to my own devices? I would never even be CONSIDERING this trip, let alone being organized about it enough to do jack squat before we get there.
c) Did I mention the carnet has my name and address in it, all clearly hand printed in calligraphy? Some lovely religious person took the time to write out all that info with a fountain pen. I could stare at it all day. I am at peace.

5. HOLY SHIT, I HAVE TO GO TO SPAIN IN SIX WEEKS???? No no, that can't be right. Surely I still have months and months to get in shape. And learn to speak Spanish. And, uh, buy a backback. And get a passport.

6. Hold me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Autumn approaches

This weekend I have

-- put on fleece pants. Not cotton shorts, FLEECE PANTS. And have been happy to do so.

--Gotten a blanket out of the closet, and fallen asleep on the couch under said blanket, following Senator Kennedy's funeral. And was pretty happy to do so. Seriously, I have had enough of summer, of temperatures so high that I wish I had never met Husbandly One, just so that I wouldn't have to get in to the same bed with him.

--Looked over my tomato plants, crying, "Why? WHY??" when faced with yet more shiny green fruits. Dudes, in two days it will be SEPTEMBER, and so far I have harvested three tomatoes. The hundreds of green ones in my garden mock me, I tell you, they MOCK me.

I mentioned to Husbandly one the other day that, if we were counting on my garden to feed us through the winter? Not only would we starve, we would have starved BY NOW.

Sighs, brushes dirt off self, and stands up.

This was my first year trying to do something truly useful with my garden, to move beyond the occasional salad from the backyard. Just because I failed (abysmally) doesn't mean I won't do it all again next year.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So, so sad

As you may recall, I participated in an archealogical dig of a pre-Deportation Acadian village just a few weeks ago.

I have pledged the rest of my life to a man who wasn't even born in Canada, he is from Portugal and chose to become a Canadian citizen in his thirties. My brother married a lovely girl from Japan, who chose to call Canada her home. Both Husbandly One and my sister Ai are exceptionally proud of their new country, and I am willing to bet that they know more about Canadian history than most native-borns do.

So is it so strange that, given the context of my family, and where I live, that I, as an English person, have come to identify with our French community, that I feel like an honourary Acadian?

Two weeks ago, I participated in an archealogical dig of an Acadian village. This is actually the fourth year that the dig was open to the public, and it has been well received by the people who actually KNEW about it, but it seemed like the general population had no idea what important work was being done.

A week after I participated in the dig, it made the front page of the newspaper. Glowing coverage, talking about how important the site is, how much we as Canadians will learn about our history by excavating this site.

The very next day, the site was desecrated.

Some LOSERS with metal detectors, under the cover of darkness, went out to the site and dug out anything they could find. What they hoped to find I will never know; it's not like the Acadian PEASANTS had a lot of gold and silver laying around.

But these unknown ASSHOLES showed up and destroyed the the site, by digging arbitrarily wherever their metal detectors told them to dig. They plowed through clearly identified layers of soil, layers that helped the archeaologists date items. They destroyed the chronological stories that the site had yet to reveal, just because they hoped to unearth some financially valuable treasure.

When the story broke, my friend Yvette tore in to my office. And stood inside my door with tears running down her face. She actually is Acadian, and so she personally mourned this loss of an opportunity to understand how her ancestors lived. Her tears cut me like a knife.

I am English. Specifically, I am Scottish. But oh, in the hour of her pain, I WAS Acadian. And I am Acadian now. How fucking DARE you touch "my" history.

How dare you.

O sol de l'Acadie
Protege vos enfants
Qui sont ici debout
Qui le seront toujours
Vive notre Acadie!

And this has nothing to do with anything, but it still makes me feel better. kd lang singing Leonard Cohen's "Halleluah".

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to the real world

Our camping trip to Mount Carleton Provincial Park was fabulous. The three of us spent a lot of time hiking, canoeing, staring in to our campfire, stargazing....and, on the second night, lying on our backs in the tent at 8pm while a massive thunderstorm raged overhead (it was awesome).

(Son's view from the middle of the canoe!)
We got back to our house late Friday afternoon, and almost immediately started getting read for Hurricane Bill, which was expected to hit our area Sunday morning. On Saturday morning, I went to the grocery store to pick up supplies for a few days; around 5pm, I returned for a few little things I had forgotten and was shocked to see that they were completely sold out of bottled water. (I had bought mine that morning, thankfully.)
Sunday morning, I woke up to gusting wind and lashing rain. And then, umm, about an hour later it just turned in to a rain storm and by 3pm it was all over. Totally not a big deal.
Granted, my town was not in the direct path of the storm and I knew we would get off easier than other areas. Still, even in the areas that were hardest hit, those areas that lost power or had roads wash out, the damage was -- in comparison to Hurricane Juan a few years back, which whomped out collective ass -- far far less than people had feared. And for that I am grateful.
In other news, I went back to work today. Sigh. Husbandly one is still off for another week. SIGH. Stupid "real world".

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My vacation so far

I finished work on Friday, and then about a dozen of the managers were treated to a great dinner, in thanks for our work on the two concerts this summer. The restaurant in question was an hour away, in the middle of NOWHERE, and fabulous; they are only open three days a week and they were packed. I ate far, far more German food than can possibly be good for a person and I loved every bite.

Towards the end of the evening, my Chef called me over to talk to the owners of the restaurant, "This is the girl I was telling you about!" It turns out the restaurant raises and processes most of their own meat, they make their own sauerkraut, they makes all the breads.... Anyway, Chef wanted to display me as an exhibit of a "normal" suburbanite who still wants to LEARN traditional skills. He was trying (brilliantly) to point out to the owners that there could be a whole new revenue stream for them, just teaching people like me the things they take for granted.

The owners seemed interested in the idea, but questioned what I wanted to learn. I said the first thing that popped in to my head: "I want to learn how to kill and butcher chickens."

I don't think they expected THAT, but the very friendly female owner looked at me and said, "Great, come on Monday, I have forty birds to get through and you're more than welcome."

And she MEANT IT, she wasn't looking for me to pay her, she was honestly telling me that they are butchering on Monday and I am welcome to come and get very, very dirty.

Of course, I can't actual GO this Monday, but I am not going to let this go....Chef is friendly with the owners, and I will follow up on this for sure. I am so excited!

So that was yesterday. Today, our Outdoor Club participated in an actual archealogical dig -- for real -- put on by Parks Canada at Fort Beausejour. Yes, we spent Acadian Day actually excavating the site of an Acadian town, pre-1755. It was very, very emotional for all of us (even for me, as an English person, and Husbandly One, who wasn't even born in this country.) The archaeologists who led the dig were wonderful, were able to explain so many things to us....and by the end of the day, we had uncovered lots of animal bones and teeth, several sewing needles, a name seal, some jewelry, some pottery fragments... it was mindblowing.

Parks Canada offers Public Archaeology programs in many locations throughout Canada, it is DEFINITELY worth checking out.

We had planned to leave on our camping trip tomorrow, but it turns out we won't be leaving til Monday morning. Man oh man, I can't wait....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


We are going camping on Sunday and I can't wait.

Husbandly One learned long, long ago that I literally must retreat to the woods at least once a year. I need to be outside, I need to be without electricity and cell phones, I need to stare in to a fire, I need to get soaked in the rain, I need to go three days without a shower, I need to get bored, I need to eat Jiffy Pop, I need to just STOP.

Tonight I picked up a few odds and ends that I know we will need for this trip; later tonight Husbandly One is going to drag all of our equipment out of the garage and in to the livingroom so I can go through everything. Because we have plans for Friday and Saturday, tomorrow I will buy whatever I decide we need for five days in the woods (note to self: get Jiffy Pop), and then Sunday off we go.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gluttony is a deadly sin for a reason

I have no idea how many escargots in garlic butter it is actually advisable to eat, but I assure you it is NOT eighteen.

I went out for a wee work thing the other day, and I only ordered an appetizer (mainly because I didn't want to be there all bloody night.) But of course we were in one of the hotel's restaurants, and the kitchen apparently knew the escargots were for me, because instead of sending out six perfectly innocent snails, they sent eighteen. I slurped those puppies back in no time flat, and if my server had then brought me more? I would have eaten them, too.

But four hours later and I still wanted to die (had felt this way since about number sixteen). My mouth kept flooding with this weird buttery sensation, and if I had burped garlic one more time..... oh but MAN it was worth it.

Well, that's over

The AC/DC concert was a huge success, all around. There was fabulous weather, a larger than expected crowd, a FABULOUS show (so I was told....I was running the VIP tent and was inside it all night and therefore didn't see a thing.)

There were a few scary moments for some of our operations, particularly after we closed some of the bars, and then an almost-riot behind my tent at the end of the night when people were tring to find their way out of the site. It is very difficult to explain without a diagram, but my tent and the Grandstand vending tent were located in a corner, blocked on all four sides by fencing. People came pouring out the grandstands in to our dead end (instead of turning slightly to the left and easy departure points) so the crowd started backing up in our tiny corner...and a fight broke out...then some more guys got involved...then some chick went in punching...then SHE got hit (probably by accident, really) and twenty more guys jumped in....

It was TERRIFYING, and the whole thing unrolled in about twenty five seconds. My friend Tammy was running the Grandstand tent, and turned to me and said, "Go get the security from your tent NOW."

I ran like I have never ran before, and had them over to her within 30 which time things were slightly calmer. Tammy, my loud mouthed, deep lunged Tammy, had stood at the edge of chaos and bellowed, "I HAVE CALLED THE RCMP AND THEY WILL BE HERE IN TWENTY SECONDS." Which, uhh, was a total lie, but it totally WORKED, they started breaking up immediately.

Give me a chick with a set of healthy lungs over a dude with strong arms any day, lol.

But really, I don't want to focus on the few negative things that happened, all in all it was a great concert for everyone.

Let me go backwards for a minute.... the concert was Thursday, so on Wednesday the managers and a crew of line staff went over to the site for set up at 8 am, we were finally done at 9:30 pm... which is quite early, believe me. Concert Day, I was back on site at 8 am, and only finished working at 5:30 am the next morning. Husbandly One and I made it back to our house at 5:40am, and at quarter to six in the morning, with the sun coming up, I cracked myself a beer before going to bed at 6 am, only to be back in the office three hours later. Concert Planning is a two month methodical process for Husbandly One, but actual Concert DOING is an insane three day period for the managers (including him) and one hell of a long day for the 800 staff we engage for such an event.

But the day after the concert? Soooooo the best day of the year. It's a day when very little work gets accomplished in the offices, we all kind of wander around and listen to each other's stories, get to recount our own. It brings us all together and I love it.

I'm just glad we don't have to do it again for another year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fifty two hours to go...

This is it, kids, we're in the home stretch.

Tomorrow afternoon, we go over to the AC/DC concert site to set up our operations. Thursday is the concert itself, and by 2am Friday it'll be over over over. Except, you know, for all the stuff that won't be over, all the accounting, inventory, and follow up stuff to do on Friday and Saturday.

I am actually pumped to do this one, I feel great and looking forward to a kickass day. But yeah, I am still looking forward to that moment fifty two hours from now when it'll be over.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bloody Oz

When I put the Kitty Sticks in the garden, Husbandly One laughed at me. (Kitty Sticks are brochette skewers, impaled in the garden every four inches or so to keep cats out of the garden bed.)

All through the summer, I watched our cat Oz loll about in the front flower bed...because I had not placed Kitty Sticks there, they're just FLOWERS, what do I care?

This afternoon, I looked out the back window on to my vegetable garden. Apparently I left one corner undefended by Kitty Sticks, because there was the cat (possibly the World's LARGEST Cat) sleeping like a king in what should be my onion bed.

I ran outside and attempted to shoo the cat out of my garden. He just looked up at me, punch drunk from the smell of my onions and tomatoes, his expression clearly saying, "Hey lady, what's your problem?"

I went all horror movie on him: "GET. OUT." At least he reacted to that, and I was able to plant six new skewers in the hot soil previously occupied by his ass.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just. Can't. Take it.

You know it's funny, I am almost 40 years old and I have never had an air conditioner that entire time, until one fateful (read: reeeeeeeeally BAD) summer three years ago. I snapped, and went out to buy a window model that I made Husbandly One install that night when he get home. I was so hot, so miserable, and when he finally had it installed and turned it on, I got on my knees and pulled up my t-shirt to its life giving, chemically based, cold. I was a happy girl. Not a very dignified girl, but a happy one none the less.

This summer, the weather has been strange and cool enough that I haven't thought about the air conditioner at all. Until now.

It is August 2nd, 8pm. It is still 34 degrees Celsius. I just cooked dinner. Then I did the dishes, plunging my arms up to the elbows in to steaming hot water. And I literally can not take this heat one minute longer.

Husbandly One just dragged the behemoth up from the basement, in a minute he'll have to set up the stepladder outside (our lvingroom is quite a distance off the ground) and get StepSon to come help. I have already done my part: locking the cat in to our bedroom so she doesn't escape while the window is wide open. (Hey, I do my share around here, too!) And within the half hour? My heat related suicidal thoughts will be but a memory...

(oh, and a major star of our dinner tonight? Green beans from my own backyard. I put the water on to boil so I could steam them, and then went out to the garden with a collander to collect them. From on the bush to on the plate took ten miuntes, and you really can't ask for fresher than that. Life is good.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My lovely Saturday

So far today I have pickled cherries and carrots. (No worries, those ARE two separate things.) I love looking at the hot jars, spying the floating produce inside the brine, waiting for the SLURP-POP that tells me the jars have sealed sucessfully.

Life is simple. And Life is good.

And here is my beloved Ashley MacIsaac, doing what he does best.

Namaste, everyone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do not touch

I forget how much I love my sister and brother. It sounds silly, but it's true.
I mean, yeah, of course I love them all the time, of course. Of course.
But put the three of us together in the same room for an hour?
I LOVE those two people in a way I could never explain.
God help you if you hurt them in any way, because I will be coming.
Do not touch.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gardening makes you hope

I was just out tending to my tomato plants. After my pathetic pea harvest, I am looking to my beautiful tomatoes to solace me, to provide me with more food than I can possbily eat. Which is why I spent twenty minutes picking off flowers.

It is so hard, you look at each flower and imagine the fruit that could grow from it. But no, some of them have to come off or the fruit will be crowded, you end up with tons of stunted tomatoes instead of a reasonable number that grow to their full potential.

I am still learning, though, and as I removed flowers tonight I realized I had not been as strict about removing side branches as I should have been....getting sunlight in to the centre of my tomatoes seems questionable at best, at this point. Good thing I have made up my mind that this year is purely a Learning Year, I am free to screw up as much as I can, I am free to make major mistakes. Next year I will have a frame of reference, I will have my gardening journal to help me. I will make major mistakes next year, to be sure, but I won't make the ones I made this year. Eventually, according to my plan, I will have made every possible mistake there is to make, and then I will be ready to do this for real.

But still? Gardening makes you hope. I look at the bright green fruit hanging from my plants, and instead I see dark red heavy globes. I look at my bean plants, which are putting out dark green, worm sized beans, and I imagine them heavy in my hand. I let my fingers play over the foliage of my garlic, and imagine them growing stronger, larger, and more pungent below the soil.

I accept freely that every single thing I planted may still be a disaster, that my entire harvest for 2009 could actually be those two cups of shelled peas in the freezer. Don't care. It makes me hope.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oww Oww Oww. Darn it.

Quite a few months ago, I mentioned that I was actually going to vegetable garden seriously this year. I said something like I would start small, and I would start with low expectations, but at least I would actually DO it.

I didn't know my expectations needed to be THIS low.

I just picked the bulk of my first pea crop and then shelled them. Oww oww oww my thumb nails hurt. Me no likey shelling. My harvest? The harvest I looked forward to storing in my freezer and pulling out all winter long?

Two CUPS. They weigh 314 GRAMS, which is what, half a pound? Less? And I planted what, over a hundred pea plants??

After I cried over my tiny pile of peas for a minute, though, I smartened up. What did I do wrong? Was it the soil? Was it the horrid weather? Was it because I went organic and therefore have lower yields? Was it the variety? What can I learn??

I decided to go ahead and prepare the peas for freezing, even though there is only enough there for one meal, because learning to freeze them properly is part of this, too. They are now safely blanched, frozen, and sealed in a vaccum bag. We will try them in a few days, see how cooking time varies from "normal" frozen peas, see how much we enjoy the flavour. All part of the learning curve.

And I just spent two months growing what amounts to $1.00 worth of peas from the grocery store. And my thumbs REALLY hurt, did I mention that?

Not giving up....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Glad THAT'S over

See, a mere twelve hours later and my funk is totally gone, so nobody get too excited over my morbidity. It happens. You wait it out.

Husbandly One has popped in to work for an hour while I sit here and listen to the rain. "Will the sun EVER come out again?", I asked him before he left, totally serious.

"I really don't know, dear," he replied, again totally serious.

To say that summer has been cancelled in my part of the world is putting it mildly. How my poor, struggling garden has survived so far is anyone's guess. Everyone I work with is still winter pale, no suntans to be seen on anyone. And our lawn grows and grows and grows, without enough dry weather for us to actually cut it. Surely August will be better. We deserve it.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Which is not the same thing as being alone.

I love being alone; crave it, actually, as it helps me recharge my own emotional battery. Lonely is totally different, it feels like no one has ever loved you or ever will.

When I feel lonely, it hits me whether I am by myself or surrounded by a dozen people. It is not a good feeling, it makes you feel insignificant and small.

This type of mood hits me very, VERY rarely. And it passes very, VERY quickly.

But it is horrid while it lasts.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I love my new neighbours

I do, I do, I DO.

While I was out weeding the vegetables this afternoon, I struck up a conversation with the young family who have recently replaced The Perfect, Victory Garden, Looking Down Their Noses people who used to live across our back fence.

This young family, Justin, his wife Nadine, and baby Evelyn, are so happy to be in our neighbourhood. And are so hopeful about their little vegetable garden.

As I leaned over the fence, aquainting myself with them, possibly forging a friendship, I looked down at their garden. AND REALIZED I KNEW MORE THAN THEY DID. Holy moly, they didn't even pinch any suckers off their tomato plants. They have NO CLUE what they're doing. But at least they are trying.

I love them.

(And once I know them better? I will offer some helpful garden advice, it just didn't seem like the right thing to start telling them what they're doing WRONG, the very first time I talk to them!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


After a spur of the moment decision made at midnight Friday, the next morning saw me, Son, Mum and Sister heading to Halifax for the Paul McCartney concert. (See? Title is punny. Ha ha.) We picked up my Step Dad at his house, and we all hit the concert grounds around 3pm.

Very appreciated for this outdoor festival of 50,000 people was the fact that you could bring folding chairs if you were willing to leave the front of the stage for those who were willing to stand all day, and set up half way down the field. We were willing, believe me.

Son has been exposed to all kinds of cultural situations before, but at 13 has never attended a rock festival, let alone one where there were three times more ticket holders than live in my town. At first he seemed disinterested in attending, it all sounded lame to him. Once we got there, though, he got in to the spirit of it, enjoyed walking around and exploring with my sister, liked the opening acts, and well, by the time the night was over, he kept exclaiming over and over, "I just saw a concert by a Beatle! I just saw a concert by a Beatle!" He says he is going to keep his ticket forever, and made me buy him the Sunday paper this morning so he could pore over all the coverage.

He knew most of the tunes, even if he didn't know the words. He surely must have learned them last night based on how loud his female relatives were singing. He saw his mother jumping around, dancing like a maniac.... and I think that shocked him, in a cute kind of way. I know he thinks I am "cool" in a very unorthodox sense (none of the other moms know how to do the obscure things I do!) but I don't think it ever occurred to him that music could overtake me that way, that I could be youthful and spontaneous in such a setting. Because, after all, I'm just a MOM, right? And Moms don't dance wildly in a field under the stars.

This one does.

(To be fair, I DID also spend most of the day before Paul McCartney finally hit the stage curled up in my chair, reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". That is the Mom he is used to!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Scenes from your typical dysfunctional family

The scene: around 6:30pm, I realized Husbandly One was only barely awake, and struggling to stay that way. It is a testament to his exhaustion that, when I suggested, "Go lie down for an hour while I make dinner"? HE WENT.

About fifteen minutes later, there's a knock on the front door. Our dog (not so affectionately nicknamed "BarkBark") went ballistic.


For the record, I would like to point out that I have never -- and would never-- raised a hand to any animal. But I would also like credit for all the times I wanted to punch the dog in the head and DIDN'T.

Whatever, I raced downstairs to answer the door before the dog woke Husbandly One. Some young man wanting my 24 year old step son. Step Son came up from the basement to receive this caller, and they both went downstairs. And, for whatever reason, proceeded to yell at each other. No, I don't mean they were angry (they were very glad to see each other),I just mean the visitor flopped down in our family room while StepSon retreated to his bedroom. So they had to yell. A lot.

Just when I had reached the end of my tolerance, and was about to head to the basement to tell them what was what, StepSon bounded up the stairs to grab some of our beer. Harumph.

He looked towards the closed bedroom door, then back at me. "Your father is sleeping, can you two keep it down?"

StepSon: "I haven't seen Joey in a year!"

Me: "Fine, just stop yelling, your father is trying to sleep."

StepSon: "But Joey brought his guitar, he came over to JAM."

Me (not proudest moment): "I don't give a shit if he came over to tell you he has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. KEEP IT DOWN."

StepSon: "FINE. And hey, when you make dinner? Put me two plates aside."

I have never -- and would never-- raised a hand to a human being in my life. But I WOULD like credit for all the times I wanted to, but didn't.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Behold the unbearable cuteness

Look at the one, perfect ground cherry that is forming on one of my plants. I can't wait to eat you, my little darling.

The opposite of cuteness, of course, is the STATE of my ground cherry plants. They are not one iota bigger today than when I planted them weeks ago. Observe my horticultural shame:

Yes, that is the entire plant. It was very root bound when I planted it, so I tried to sort all that out at the time. Apparently I failed.
But wait, there's more cuteness!

Look at my lovely, out of focus, immature pea pod! They are all over my pea plants, and I am so excited to harvest them in a few weeks. Last night I brought a pod in to Husbandly One, and squealed, "Look! Food! I grew it! Eat it! Bask in my glory!"
He ate the pea pod, declared it delicious, and then said, "So, what, that pea pod cost us about $250?"
Shuuuuuuuuuuut uuuuuuuuuuuuup.
In other news, this past weekend Son, my Step Dad and I went to Liverpool NS to the Sherman Hines Museum of Photography. This museum has the largest museum collection of MacAskill photographs in the world, just over thirty images.

(Yeah yeah, out of focus again. I know already.)
Anyway, I really enjoyed their display, and spent a lot of time marvelling at his amazing photography. But I couldn't help but do some basic arithmetic, and I realized that between myself, my brother, and my Mum? We have MORE. Bwah ha ha.
(MacAskill lived next door to my paternal grandparents in the Forties, and gave my grandmother over twenty photographs. We have all expanded our collections since then.)
(And yes, I am bragging about our collections. But this will only impress you if you are in to early 20th century Canadian photographers, ha ha.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oh my sweet holy moly what the heck was THAT.

Happy Canada Day, by the way. I love Canada, and I hope you love it too, even if you aren't blessed enough to live within her protective arms.

This morning our water heater crapped out. Guess how many water-heater-related people are willing to come to your house on Canada Day? If you guessed NONE, you win!!

Tonight after dinner, I did the dishes by boiling a pot of water on the stove before dumping it in the sink and adding soap and cold water. I KNEW all those camping trips would pay off in "real life" eventually.

Then I examined my own personal hygiene. I didn't get a shower today, and I have to go to work in the morning. You know, before the water heater man comes.


I figured the easiest thing to do was take my shower tonight, while I have the luxury of enough time to cower in the corner of the bathtub, trying to avoid the liquid darts of ice, as opposed to tomorrow morning when I would just have to take the abuse due to a lack of time.

So, I took the shower. It was not pretty. It does not help that I have very long hair, so after I shampooed, I had to stick my head under the freezing water for a looooooooong time to get all the soap out. I did NOT "condition" it after that. And as a matter of fact, we'll all just have to hope that the shampoo rinsing down my body cleaned all the rest of me, because there was no WAY I was intentionally directing that spray of water on to my girlie bits.

I can't wait for the heater man tomorrow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I forgot my favourite part of yesterday!

I was in my corporate tent towards the end of the night. BonJovi was on the stage, but I was trying to close and count one of the bars so I was a tad busy, not paying attention to the concert at all.

So I'm counting bar tickets and trying to concentrate, when I hear them start Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".... only my favourite song on the planet.

I have no idea where on the multi-multi-acre site Husbandly One was when they started the song, but he immediately got on his gator and drove down to the corporate tent. Apparently he asked several of my staff, "Where's Irma? Where's Irma?"

Finally he found me counting the bar in a far corner. I didn't see him approach, but suddenly I felt his hand on my shoulder and he said, "He doesn't sing it as well as kd lang, does he, dear?"

I laughed and agreed that no, he doesn't. He squeezed my shoulder, winked at me, and took off back to work. I hadn't seen him in ten hours, and I didn't see him again for three hours more.

But when my song was played? He felt the need to share the moment with me.


One down.

The BonJovi concert is over. Next up? Catering for 70,000 at the AC/DC concert in August. But at least we made it through the first one, had a bit of a warm up for the chaos yet to come. (yesterday's concert was "only" about 20,000 people we had to feed and water.)

Among our many operations yesterday, I helped run the VIP tent of 250 people. Whereas most of our staff wore jeans and concert T-shirts, those of us in the VIP area were expected to "dress up" a bit, meaning black pants and logo'd golf shirts. And in my case? High heels. No, I wasn't expected to wear heels, but other than my hiking boots and sneakers, I literally do not own a pair of flat shoes.

I started the day off at 9 am in sneakers for set up time, but by the time the gates opened at 12:30 I had put on my Big Girl Shoes. Our tent had a carpeted floor, but in addition to walking around there for eleven hours, I also had to do a fair amount of walking across a field to the separate tent where our kitchen operations were located. Did I mention I was in heels?

Good. Because the funny part of this is that, although my feet were killing me by the end of the night, the didn't hurt anywhere NEAR as bad as they did at the Eagles concert, when I worked all day on flat shoes.

Maybe I actually do have some hidden potential to become a chick, who knows.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Here we go

First of the two outdoor concerts we are catering is tomorrow. We only have to "feed and water" 20,000 people this time, the one five weeks from now is expected to be 70,000. So this first one should be no big deal right?


Except I have been here before.

And I know that Concert Day is more fun than I can ever explain, and I know it is harder on all of us physically than anything you can imagine, and I know what it's like to slowly peel my shoes off in the deserted concert grounds at one in the morning, to look out on the sea of garbage that was left in the field by the ticket holders, to finally crack a beer for myself after cracking a few thousand for people with cash in their hands. I know how proud you feel at 1:00 am, so proud that you made it through. Most of the hourly staff are gone by that point, so you pass a few words with the other managers, and laugh at their stories from the day, because we made it through. No one ever seems to know exactly HOW we made it through, but we did. Together.

Then we put those shoes back on, put the beer down half finished, and go back to loading equipment in the trucks. We are so tired we can't even see straight, but by 3 am you would never even know we had been on the site at all.

We are good at what we do.
I am proud of every single member of our entire team.
I love how good we all feel at the end if a crazy, crazy Saturday.
But I am not looking forward to how I KNOW we are all going to feel come Sunday morning.
And this is the "easy" concert this summer.

Wish me well.

Can't wait for the difficult one, ha ha. Crap.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No. WAY.

Michael Jackson died?


What the hell....

You know, tonight I planned to write about my garden (big surprise). Then I found out that Farrah Fawcett died, and although I'm not a huge celebrity watcher, I do watch a bit, so I thought I would proably mention something about that. (Which I will still do: Premature death is always sad, but at least she had the blessing of having two people who loved her, with her at the end. We should all be so lucky.)

But I just turned on the TV and omigod. Michael Jackson.

It isn't his death exactly that makes me sad. What makes me sad is the horrible life he had, the horrible compulsions that haunted him, and now he has no opportunity to get well and/or redeem himself. I don't know if he was a spiritual person, but I hope he at least tried to get right with whatever Power he believed in, because I think he has a lot to answer for. I also think he never grew up, never really understood that ferris wheels and giraffes and compulsive shopping don't bring any real happiness.

On the other hand? Remember the seventies and eighties? Remember when he amazed us all, when he was the biggest star in the world? I mean, the man possessed mid blowing talent.

And now his life feels like a waste. I can't really explain what I'm trying to get at, because I don't even think I know what I'm getting at. But the whole thing feels sad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Didn't see that coming

Did a quick six kilometre hike (more of a walk, really) with the Outdoor Club tonight. The rain has finally let off (for now...) so it was sunny and quite humid. When I got home, both my feet hurt and I had a blister.

To which I say, "Huh?"

I wore the same hiking boots, and the same type of socks, that I always do, and I have never had an issue with my feet before. Any one have any idea what happened? At first I blamed it on the high humidity, but I don't know if that makes sense because, hello, I go hiking in the rain. And I only walked about half of the distance I'm used to, so I'm stumped.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three posts in one day?


I love Husbandly One with all my heart, but I'm not some dewy eyed newlywed, ok? I KNOW this man. This frustrating, procrastinating man.

Oh waaaahhh, we have the Big Concert in six days, waaahh, I have so much work to do.

Yes, you do. You also deserve a moment's peace, never mind an actual day off. We both know that all you can reasonably expect right now is a moment.

So when you came home from work at 5pm on Friday? I was shocked but pleased. You did absolutely no work on the concert that evening, despite the multiple times you mentioned, "God, it's in a WEEK, I'm not ready."

And when you didn't do a $%$$# thing on the concert Saturday? I thought, wow, dude is really using his down time and charging his batteries, good for him. Yet you again told me, "If I don't get some work done today I'm hooped." Yes, well.

It is now Sunday at 10:40 pm. You have whined about how much you need to do, off and on, for the last eight hours. You are currently watching boxing on TV while playing soccer on the computer. "So really, DEAR, how's the concert coming??" And you look at me like I'm not even speaking English.

You are my heart and soul. You give me more joy than you will ever know. You make me feel safe. You make my heart sing.

But I KNOW you, you procrastinating loser. Earlier tonight, you even set out to clean the bathroom, rather than get your REAL work done. I grabbed the sponge and spray bottle out of your hand, told you I would do it instead, and I swear I thought you were going to cry. It is now three hours later, and you still haven't done any work. And God HELP you if, between now and the concert, I hear one more single complaint out of you about how far behind you are.

I love you. You're an idiot.

Happy Father's Day

I love you, Daddy. Wish you were here.

A hike in the rain

Another great hike with the Outdoor Club today. It seems that only the HardCore Members come on the weekend hikes, as they are the long ones. Today we did 12 kilometres in the rain (hey, nothing stops us).

This is two of us three, today we became the Blue Women Group. (I provided identical rain ponchos for us all.)

All three of us, sans panchos, when the rain let up. (but check out the bottom of our pants, there was a lot of buschwhacking, a lot of puddle jumping, and a few misses!)

I found the very first strawberies of spring.

Great day, and we proved that you don't need to stay home just because it's raining. A little bit of water never hurt anyone.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday thoughts

-- Man I love my little vegetable garden. I swear my pea plants are bigger every time I look out the window. Many of the blogs I enjoy keep track of their harvest in terms of overall pounds of produce harvested. I strongly suspect that, at the end of the summer, I'll tell you something pathetic like, "I harvested four whole pounds!"

And when I do that? I will be so proud of those four pounds. Me, making food. Amazing.

-- Remember those pickles I made this srping? They are technically ready to eat now but I can't bring myself to crack a jar because omigod, what if I did something wrong and they're full of botulism and I have one bite and my Son has to grow up without a mother?

-- Must make progress on the whole "Don't let imagination get away from you" thing.

-- In the summer I am allowed to wear open toed shoes and skip nylons at work. Seeing how it is already a million degrees and only mid June, I appreciate this relaxed dress code. But it also means I have to keep my toenails polished and my legs shaved. Girlie stuff. Am this close to going back to black nylons and pumps.

-- I caught a guy checking me out today. It was pretty funny, but still pretty nice.

-- Which reminds me: Husbandly One has a very attractive "figure", doesn't have an ounce of fat on him, and has an ass that would make you weep. But the man IS almost sixty, everyone's metabolism slows down eventually, and in the last few months he has developped this little pot belly that I adore. I can tell he's not really thrilled with this change in his body, but I think it's the cutest thing ever and can't keep my hands off it. Besides, now his tummy matches mine.

-- StepSon just hit me up for money so he can go to the corner store and buy some food. I pointed at the full fridge with one eyebrow raised. Turns out that the type of groceries we buy aren't manly enough for him to take as his lunch at a construction site. I gave him some money, because the laugh he gave me was worth the ten bucks.

-- Have a crazy day at work tomorrow, appointments (including some across town) booked back to back to back. Why do I do that???

-- The group of people I have lunch with every day are amazing. Oh, I suppose to the outside observer, we are all giant freaks of nature, but I love the fact that today's topic of conversation was "Top Ten Narrators". I don't know how we got on the subject, but we all, men and women, started listing our favourite voices. (Mine include Morgan Freeman and Richard Dreyfuss, and Liam Neeson if it's the right subject.)

I'm weird, I know. I just love that I have people around me who are willing to be weird too. Another topic briefly touched upon today was, "Is There A Bigger Freak Than Tom Cruise?" And the whole thing started because I said I had watched We Were Soldiers last night, how much I love that movie, and how it's from a time where it was still acceptable to like Mel Gibson. That drunk driving, adulterous, anti Semite. I long for those simpler days.

And that's all I've got for today.
And I bet you're glad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You go, girl

(okay, that's a cheesy post title, but you don't know why I said it yet. Please reserve judgement.)

This evening our Outdoor Club at work had an event. We do one big hike each weekend that begins in teh morning, and some kind of walk at midweek that begins around 5:30 pm; the midweek walk tends to be about 4 kilometres, and tends to be on easier trails, so that we can bang the whole thing out in time to still get home for a late dinner and not have to worry about navigating the deep woods in the dark.

"Membership" in our group is very fluid as we all have different schedules and responsibilities. And because I had previously missed a susbstantial hike, I hadn't yet walked a trail with Serena, an occasional member.

When I go walking or hiking, I do not mess around, I move quickly and efficiently. I recognize that this is not everyone's style, and that is what is so great about this Outdoor Club: we are respectful of each other. So if one of us sets a pace that is challenging, the slower members work hard to maintain that pace. And if it becomes obvious that some are faltering, the faster ones slow down. Nothing is ever said, it is instinctual.

I am a strong walker. I go fast. The ground tonight was NOT a nice, level path, so it took a lot of concentration to avoid tree roots and jump mukky spots, but I kept my usual pace. I kept turning around, to make sure everyone was at least still in view. They always were, Serena always bringing up the rear. Keeping up, but just barely. I would try to slow a bit and she would say, "No! Keep going!"

Did I mention that all I was carrying was a small bottle of water in one hand? And that Serena was carrying twenty five pounds of squirmy one year old son on her back?

It reminded me of my best friend Kelly. Waaay back in the day, when we lived in the Rockies, she used to push a double stroller, containing her two toddlers and a diaper bag, 4 kilometres straight down a mountain to my house. And after the play date was over, she would push that same double stroller with two children in it 4 kilometres straight UP a mountain to go home.

My admiration for these women knows no bounds. I could never pull off the physical feats they do.