Tuesday. . . Grrr!

My old chair and a bunch of poppiesThis is a photo of the poppies in my front yard from last summer.

I am sick.  This cold Ethan gave me is a doozy.  I feel entirely like crap.  I wish I could stay home from work and plod around in my pj’s all day, but, alas, I cannot.  Damn responsibilities!

The Grrr above is because Montreal lost in overtime tonight.  Not that I’ve ever been a big Habs fan, but I really wanted two Canadian teams in the playoffs this year.  So, all our hopes are hanging on Vancouver.  My God it would be sweet to see them take the trophy!

It’s funny, I haven’t been this excited or involved in hockey for a long time.  But watching the Vancouver/Chicago series and a couple games of the Montreal/Boston series has got me all geared up.  It’s just pure, nail-biting, let out a scream now and then, fun.  Go Canucks!

Unbelievably, it seems, we are near the end of April.  Come next Monday there will only be two months left of my work year.  Summer is just around the corner.  Although. . .

. . . there is still snow in my front yard.  Hopefully, not for long, though.  We got a small rain shower tonight, and if the gods are good there is more rain in the forecast.  That should make short work of any remaining ‘white stuff’.  Then I can get out and start cleaning things up. That is, when I am over this damn cold!

Checked my rose-bush yesterday — it has lots of colour in the wood and I could see the starts of buds.  That made me smile.  Also, my rhubarb is starting to emerge, and I can see poppies leafing out.  So, within a month I should have a few bright and cheerful yellow poppies nodding in the garden.  And right behind them should be the anemones.  Maybe I’ll go buy some spring bulbs and get them in the ground — grape hyacinth, glads — stuff like that.

Well, I have work I need to get to, and I want to be in bed by 10:30 tonight so I better get a move on.

Easter Monday

Okay. . . here goes.

First, I had a wonderful weekend with my grandchildren.  3 children, 2 nights, 3 days and a ‘special’ weekend to boot!  Gramma and Grampa did okay.  We saw a movie — Rio! in 3D — I didn’t care for it, Hailey liked it, Timothy just kept saying “ooh, that’s close!”  We saw the Easter Bunny on Saturday afternoon — it was not as warm as it was supposed to be — only 8 degrees Celsius — so we didn’t last too long.  The kids had fun though.  Ethan found a puddle

Ethan and his puddle

and that was his main enjoyment.  Sunday, the Easter Bunny arrived and there was a mad rush around the house to find ‘eggs’.  It was all just too much fun.  We had our Easter dinner around 5 o’clock and then Landon, Jenn and my little pumpkin heads left for home around 7.  Grampa and I did huge exhale, surveyed the wreckage and then promptly plunked ourselves down for a well-deserved rest.

While plunked we watched The Amazing Race.  I was so upset that the cowboys, Jet and Cort, were eliminated last night.  They did not deserve to be gone this soon.  There was a lot of underhanded crap that went on — the other teams conspiring against them — Flight Time and Big Easy who were my second favorite team have just slipped to the bottom.  I think that from now on I’m going to root for Zev and Justin.  After all the cheese sauce Zev consumed in Austria he deserves to make it to the finals!

A remark on the Biggest Loser franchise — I am very disappointed in it.  However, I love the show The Biggest Loser.  This year is my first time watching it start to finish and I find the people competing on it amazing.  I’m in tears or close to tears nearly every week watching their struggles and their triumphs.  It is such an inspiration to watch these people change their lives.

The franchise leaves a lot to be desired, though.  I went on-line to check out the Biggest Loser website thinking I might be able to get some decent low-fat, low-cal recipes.  As it turns out you have to pay to join.  I nearly fell off my chair.  The message constantly given on the show is that they are invested in trying to help people change their lives, lose weight and adopt healthy living attitudes, and yet, the one vehicle available to most people, where they could get info to help them fight their problems is off-limits unless they can cough up $4/week.

I can easily afford the $4/week, but I won’t sign up.  I have all the diet and excercise information I can use, and then some.  But I just find it extremely hypocritical of a show that purports to be helping Americans fight obesity that they’ll only help those who can afford to pay for the help.  So, a big raspberry to The Biggest Loser franchise.

On the theme of diets. . . I have embarked on the Brown Rice Cleansing diet yet again.  I have been fighting some kind of bug since the middle of March.  It started with jaw pain and an earache, progressed to a bladder infection (thanks antibiotics!) that plagued me through my trip to Arizona, then another bladder infection a week after I got home, now I have canker sores under my tongue and now a cold (thank you, Ethan — Gramma still loves you).  Obviously my immunity is down, so I’ve got to get in to see my naturopath who is amazing, but in the meantime I’m going to set things to rights by getting rid of toxins, etc. by eating brown rice, fresh fruit and veggies for the next week.  No sugar, no salt, no fat, no processed foods.

The first time I tried this diet I thought I would die.  Now, I actually look forward to it.  Somehow, though, I don’t think the diet will be enough to solve my overall health problems.  I need some expert advice for that.  So, hopefully I can get in to see Dr. Richmond soon.  Sorry if all that was a little TMI.  Needed to get it off my chest.

I’ve got a busy week ahead so I hope I’ll be able to keep up with my blogging efforts.  I try to make it every day, but it’s a bit hit and miss at the moment.  Getting on to a computer this past weekend, for instance, simply wasn’t going to happen.  But I’m okay with that — my excuses were just too cute to ignore.

Well, I think that’s about it for now — have a great day everyone.

Good Friday morning

Sunrise, Sedona

Morning Has Broken

Cat Stevens’ falsetto
on a loop playing inside.
My eyes flutter, open wide.

Please, a half-hour more;
but the sun gently peeking
tempts, and I’m up seeking,

Meaning and coffee.
The latter, black and strong,  first,
because — well,  I guess I’m cursed.

There is no black bird,
no new-day song spoken;
It’s just me who’s awoken

To greet the new morn’.
Cat’s gentle refrain
now a whisper as day begins again.

© Kathy Larson 2011

Sunday evening

Had a terrific weekend.  The surprise birthday party for Tim went off without a hitch — except I thought the guest of honour might not show up!

There I was with houseful of guests, many of them Tim’s friends from work — some of whom I barely knew — and my husband MIA.

He had gone to watch our granddaughter in a TaeKwonDo competition for the afternoon and I expected him home around 6:30.  Our son Landon was entrusted with getting him back here, but Tim certainly has a mind of his own and so decided he needed to go to Wal Mart, then needed a drink once they got back to Landon’s, then he needed to ‘relax’ and watch some TV — he can be very difficult to manage, I tell you!

When they finally got here at nearly 8 o’clock, he was rather perturbed because there was no place to park — he hadn’t clued in that all the cars in our driveway and lining the street were cars he should have recognized.  Needless to say, he was greatly surprised by all the noise coming from the house, and when his 3-year-old grandson handed him a flashing “it’s my birthday” sign.

We had a great time, nice to see old friends and make a few new ones.  I had cooked, chopped, sliced and diced practically all afternoon, but was still concerned I wouldn’t have enough food.  As it turned out it was just right.  We had a few leftovers, just enough to keep me from having to make supper tonight, so it was all good.

It had been ages since we’d last had a party.  I don’t think we’ll wait so long to have another.

Cheers to good times, good friends and family!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Well, we got hit by a doozy of a Spring storm today.  The snow started about 9:30 this morning and it’s still comin’ down.  The winds have been ferocious.  It’s all supposed to be over at around 3 a.m.  We’ll see. I’m definitely not holding my breath.

When I got home from work my driveway was snowed in.  So, I parked in the only clear spot I could find, went and picked the garbage bin up from where it had got blown over and trudged miserably into the house.  The shovel knocked questioningly against the wall as I walked past; I didn’t bother to even glance in its direction.

Instead, I got a blanket and a pillow and I curled up on the couch for a nap.  It was lovely.  For about half an hour, then I was awakened by a strange noise.  It sounded like something being knocked against the house.  I thought maybe a downspout had come loose but when I checked, nothing.

I wandered about the house listening carefully, it seemed to be mainly focused in the living room where I had been sleeping — of course.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that it had to be the whirlygig thingy on the roof.  It sounded as though it was turning with a great deal of difficulty.  No doubt because snow and ice was impeding its progress while the wind struggled mightily to make it turn at a thousand miles an hour.  All in all it was annoying.  I had no choice but to get up and figure out something to do with ground turkey for supper.

I made comfort food.  It was good.  I read more of the third book of the Millenium Series — The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larrson — while I ate it.  It was good.  Then I did the dishes.  That wasn’t so good, but it had to be done.  Then I poured myself a glass of port and read some more.  Better.

Tomorrow is Friday, I’m glad.  It’s been a long week.  I’m looking forward to a good weekend, some fun with friends and possibly an end to this damn snow!

It’s chilly tonight. . .

In true Alberta fashion the temperature dropped 15 degrees in 24 hours.  This morning when I went out to jump in my car it was actually snowing.  Not much, mind you, but it was snow.  The awful, styrofoam pellety kind.

Along with the colder temps has come wind.  Lovely while I was on supervision at lunch today.  The sun was shining, but the air was cold.  Still, I enjoyed being out in the fresh  air.

This province can make you crazy.  So, what I’m doing is thinking about my recent vacation to Sedona, Arizona.

Once upon a time Sedona was a little western town in the desert.  People raised cattle and horses, tried to grow peaches and apples, and generally eked out a living in desert-like conditions the best way they could.

Then, along came Hollywood and the place got famous.  Now, it’s a major tourist destination.  The town is full of hotels and shops.  In fact, you could say it’s the world’s largest outdoor mall.

But what’s really special about Sedona is the red dirt that it’s built on and the red rock formations that surround it.  It is an absolutely beautiful little spot.  We spent four days there in the warmth and sunshine, wearing shorts and sandals and swimming in the outdoor pool.  I loved telling people we met that ‘back home’ there was still four feet of snow lining our driveways and sidewalks.

Of course, because this was a holiday, we did tourist-y things.  We took a Pink Jeep tour into the canyons — what a blast!  The scenery was gorgeous and the view from on top of some of the formations was spectacular.  We checked out Boynton Canyon and the vortex there — I didn’t feel anything — my husband says he did.  All I felt was silly for thinking that when I stood where the vortex is supposedly strongest I would somehow be magically imbued with health, strength and positive-ness.  Hmmm.

We went at sunset to take pictures of Cathedral Rock; we were just four of many dozens doing the same thing.  There was a really snooty professional (?) photographer there as well.  He hogged the best spot — or, so he thought!  My intrepid husband had scouted out a great location further on up the creek and from there I was able to get some phenomenal pics.  I think they’re rather good, anyway.  Don’t know about mister-look-at-me-in-my-photographer’s hat-and-matching vest, but I don’t really care, either.

Then, the highlight of my trip — a hot-air balloon ride over the red rocks at sunrise.  It was truly wonderful.  We floated alongside the rock walls and then drifted ever higher until the rocks were quite far away beneath us.  We saw deer running through the scrub  and birds soaring on the thermals.  It was quiet — except for the occasional really bad joke from our pilot and the constant clicking and whirring of digital cameras as we tried to capture the essence of a perfect morning aloft in early morning sunshine.

Our time in Sedona had to come to an end — there were jobs that two of us had to return to.  We set out back home via I15 North through Page, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

I thought Sedona’s landscape was beautiful!  Zion National Park is unbelievable in its beauty.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay and explore, but we’re decided we’re returning.  How could we not, when we know the beauty that is there?

Another highlight of our trip was the couple of stops we made at the Grand Canyon.  The Canyon can reduce me to tears simply from the vastness of the place — it’s just so hard to grasp that such a place exists.  I can never look out upon it without thinking about the pioneers who came across this chasm in the wilderness as they searched for safety and new homes and can’t help but wonder what they thought when they saw it.  Were they awestruck by its beauty, majesty and power, or were they disheartened by loneliness or despair when confronted by the immense challenge before them?

Our other stop at the GC was along the South Rim, called the Watch Tower.  It is a replica of the towers built by native indians as lookouts for danger or wandering herds of buffalo, deer, elk.  It serves as a way station and (what else?) a gift shop, but it is a lovely structure.  Made of stone, built like a small lighthouse, it is decorated inside with Native Indian art and motifs.  There is a very narrow and steep staircase that winds up along the wall to the top.  Unfortunately, it is not open at the top you have to look out through smoky, scratched glass, so it’s a bit of let down after you manage to huff and puff yourself all the way up there.  But, the art and hand-made furniture and carvings is worth it.  Really.

Half way up there is a door that leads to a viewing platform and from there we got some amazing pictures of the canyon.  If you ever are lucky enough to get to the GC make sure you go to the Watch Tower, it’s well worth the visit.

My husband and his brother, Rick, did the ultimate tourist adventure — they took a helicopter ride over the canyon.  They both said it is something they will remember always.  One moment they were over land and trees and the next the earth just dropped away and there was nothing but canyon walls and a canyon floor far, far below them.  It took their breath away.

When I go to the GC next time, my plan is to take mule ride down to the bottom and then take a river raft ride through the canyon.

But right now, I’ve got to contend with a forecast that includes below zero temps for this weekend and possibly lots of snow.  Oh yeah, Springtime in Alberta.

April 11th — Spring has sprung

The road to . . . everywhere

I think, Amy, that you sent me a very strong message today.  Thank you.

I had sought some advice from Amy, aka SoulDipper, about why meditation was so difficult for me.  In her answer she replied that it was hard and then offered this:   “The reason it’s hard? You need to practice it and do it faithfully. It is so worth it!”

I heard something else in her answer, something I desperately needed to hear.

Lately, well, actually it’s been for a long while now, I’ve been struggling with what it is I’m actually doing with my life.  I’ve been doing a lot of running away —  from myself, my goals, my dreams, my expectations.  It’s like I got to this point where I said I can’t do this anymore, I just want to do nothing.  And that is exactly what I’ve been doing.

I’ve had some tear-filled moments of desperate self-pity and soul-wracking self-doubt; nothing I’m proud of, believe me.  It got me nowhere.  Only more confused, really.

So, I picked up a few books and read.  I dabbled in my personal journal, cleaned my house, started cooking again, and planned a vacation.  All of it about running away.  Avoidance.

Last night I decided to check in on some friends and see what was up in their lives (their blog-lives, anyway) and I was wonderfully surprised at how everything was pretty much the same as when I last checked in nearly a month ago.  They’ve been living their lives, posting their posts and sharing their pictures, thoughts, humour and wisdom.  I felt immediately comforted.  And sorry that I had let myself slip away.

Then, while reading Amy’s post I felt moved by what she had written about loving and forgiveness.  As I read on I was struck by her words about the importance of meditation and the peace it can bring to one’s life.  I wondered why it was that I couldn’t meditate.  And the next thought I had was about how this was just one more thing I had failed at.

So, feeling sorry for myself — again — I added ‘can’t meditate’ to my list of things tried but not accomplished.  Then I posted a reply and asked Amy if it was my own fear preventing me from being successful at meditation.  My answer was right there in my question, but I failed to heed it, if I had I probably would have hit delete.  Thankfully, Amy said exactly what needed saying.

I fail because I don’t practice and am not faithful.  It’s got nothing to do with anything but me and my efforts.  For years I’ve been saying how I’m going to achieve success as a writer, and for years I’ve been failing.  But, instead of doing something about it, I hid behind excuses.

I know I get overwhelmed with other problems, with the expectations I have of myself and others (those can be SOOO unrealistic, believe you me!), with my job, my Union responsibilities, my family, my yard, my house, my spare time or lack of it, with impending retirement (HA!), and the list goes on, and on, and on. . .  but the truth is if that I want to be the success I wish to be then it is all up to me.  I must practice daily and do it faithfully.

Thank you, Amy, for your wisdom and your kindness.  I’m so glad I chose last night to ‘visit’.