Zero to Sixty, continued

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

23.  Getting married. My husband, Tim, entered my life like a tornado. He was, and always has been, a force to be reckoned with. Funny, full of life, big-hearted, loyal, opinionated, joyful, energetic, frenetic, and in general a lover of life. I credit him with so much of the good in my life — loving him has taught me how to love myself.

24.  Being there for the birth of my grandchildren. Not in the delivery room! But there afterwards to hold each of those tiny, precious babies as they entered into the world and our family.

25.  Being a mom. I’ve said it hundreds of times — being a mother is the most important job I’ve ever had. And our son, Landon, has made that job such a wonder and a joy. Was I a perfect mom? No. But I gave 100% of myself to the task. It’s easy to look back now and say I should have done this differently, or, I could have handled that better, but, in the moments that were, I believe I was doing my best.

26.  White water rafting. This was something I’d always wanted to do. So, a few years ago, myself and two friends embarked on a trip down the Kicking Horse River. It was the year before the huge floods in southern Alberta and run-off had been extremely heavy with water levels much greater than normal. Our trip was supposed to be category 3 rapids — they turned out to be mostly category 5. It was terrifying! But exhilarating and incredible. We saw some beautiful scenery — unfortunately we weren’t able to take any pictures. Hard to do when you’re clinging for life to the side of the raft!

27.  My first trip to New York. Tim surprised me for Christmas in 2004. We had taken a trip to Ontario to spend Christmas with my parents, which I hadn’t done for many, many years. New York was a fabled place to me at that time. Some magical city that I didn’t actually believe I’d ever get the chance to see. Well, Tim made it happen. We traveled by train from Niagara Falls, New York to Manhattan. We were in Times Square for the 100th anniversary of the dropping of the ball on New Year’s eve. I will never forget the magic of that trip.

28.  My mom teaching me to play cribbage. I was never much good at math — I struggled so much with it in school I felt like an idiot. My mother loves to play cards and whenever she had a few extra minutes you could find her playing solitaire or, if there was a friend visiting, cribbage or rummy. Crib intrigued me. What were these fifteen-twos and threes they were always counting? So, she sat me down one afternoon and taught me how to play. I have loved the game ever since. Really, I love playing any game (except Monopoly and Risk) and I attribute that love to my mother.

29.  Writing my first-ever short story in high school and having my English teacher tell me I had talent.

 

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and. . . I’m 60

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Life has a way of showing you just what you need to see exactly when you need to see it.

I celebrated my 60th birthday yesterday. The day started out like any other — we woke up, we said good morning to one another, and we talked about what we were going to do. With the understanding, of course, that somewhere in those plans was a birthday dinner with family and friends.

My assumption was that it would be our son and his family, maybe my brother and his wife, perhaps one of my other brothers who live a few hours away and a few friends.

When we set out for town in the morning, to get breakfast and run errands, I was feeling emotional — I wanted more than anything not to be having this birthday. What was the big deal, anyway? Sixty, it’s just a number, and I’ve never liked having a big fuss made over me. Why couldn’t we just have a bbq on the deck, open some beer and wine and call it done?

All I can say is thank God I didn’t get my way.

Tim took me to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. The one in downtown Edmonton. We’ve been going there once or twice a year for over 40 years. Crazy. I had expected to see the group I mentioned earlier and I wasn’t surprised when I saw them sitting there. And suddenly, I was happy. Because, this, I realized, was something they were happy to be doing for me.

Then, they surprised me after all. As I was turning around to grab Tim my mother walked up to me and gave me a big hug. Beside her were two of my sisters. I couldn’t believe it. They flew in to help me celebrate this milestone that I’d been treating like a millstone. A little later, after having been fooled into thinking no one else was coming, my youngest sister and my niece from Lloydminster arrived. More tears of joy and gratitude.

It was a wonderful celebration and I can’t explain how absolutely wonderful and special it made me feel. In the big course of things, a birthday really is just another day. It will pass, and then there will be another day. BUT, what yesterday showed me about birthdays is this: it’s not just about you and how you feel about it, it’s about all the people who make you who you are and how they feel about you. It’s about letting them show you their love and being able to show them in return, just how grateful and blessed you are that they are in your life.

And Dad, I know you were there, too. I had a dream last night that I was lost and in trouble. You helped me out, helped me find my way to safety. Everywhere I looked were dimes, bright, shiny and new dimes. They were pouring down from the sky and as I gathered them up I felt you smiling down on me. I love you. I miss you. Thank you for our family.

Zero to Sixty

This Friday –May 11th — I will turn sixty. I’ve been a little preoccupied with that fact for a while. For a whole bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is my own mortality. I think, like most people do, that I fear dying mostly because I fear I haven’t lived.

So that got me thinking some more: what has my life, to this point, been?

Have I danced? Have I lived with gratitude? Have I embraced every moment of the life I was given as if it were my last?

Yes. And, No.

In sixty years I’ve done a lot. To celebrate this personal milestone, rather than wish it weren’t happening, I’m going to create a list of sixty things, memories, accomplishments from my life.

Here goes.  In no particular order.

  1. When I was fourteen I attended my first real play. With two of my cousins — Deborah and Susie. Our Uncle Bing was a foot soldier for Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at the Shaw Theater in Niagara on the Lake.  Thus began my love of live theater.
  2. At sixteen I travelled by train from my home in Manitoba to NOTL to go live with my grandparents.
  3. My dad ‘teaching’ my sister and I how to do the dishes properly — at least once a month. He’d hear us bickering — which was on purpose — and come in to find out what the problem was. Then, he’d take over — “let me show you how this should be done”.  We’d just stand back and let him do our job. Thing is, the lesson stuck.
  4. Going for a ride in my boyfriend’s best friend’s Mustang. We would cruise up and down the streets listening to Aerosmith while our respective others were cheating together on us.
  5. Cruising down Portage Ave. with a different boyfriend listening to T-Rex sing Bang a Gong as loud as we possibly could.
  6. The first live concert I ever attended was BTO — fronted by Bob Seger. I will never forget him singing Turn the Page. BTO? Barely recall them.
  7. The first time I kissed a boy. His name was Charlie. We didn’t have a clue. But we learned!
  8. Roller skating with my aunt Val — who is only 9 months older than me. I would walk in to St. Catharines from NOTL to meet her and we’d go to the rollerdrome not far from my Aunt Sheryl’s house. I was never very good at it, but boy did we have fun.
  9. Falling in love with The Bay City Rollers and wearing everything plaid.

To be continued. . .

  1.  At eighteen, flying for the first time, by myself. I went to Calgary to visit my then boyfriend.
  2.  Having the courage to be rescued from an abusive relationship by three girls I did not know. One of them would become my best friend. We would live together for four years and attend each other’s weddings.
  3. Ate smelts. My grandfather — Grampa Jack — took me to the annual smelt fry in NOTL. They were delicious! I’ve never had them again, but it is a fond memory. Doing this small thing started me on a path of not being afraid to try new things.
  4. Meeting Tim Larson, a cute red-headed bus driver in Edmonton. He used to come in to the 7-11 where I worked nights and bug the hell out of me and my co-worker. I was his second choice for a date, but lucky for him, I said yes! LOL.
  5. Giving birth to a beautiful little red-headed boy. I had fantasized about a blonde haired baby, but when I saw that gleaming copper. . . Love was all she wrote.
  6. Finding out after years of feeling like a failure because I had not formally graduated high school, that I actually had — and that I had waaay more credits than I needed for a full diploma. When I think about that now, I just shake my head.
  7. Enrolling in University. Majoring in English Literature. I LOVED going to classes and only wish that I’d had the same determination to finish that I did to start. I keep telling myself that one day I will.
  8. Working as a Census Coordinator for Statistics Canada. It was a huge job, with tons of responsibility. I learned so much doing this job. It made me proud.
  9. Winning the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize in 1996 for my essay A Place to Call Home. It took a long time for me to realize how important this really was.
  10. Skydiving. My best friend, Sandi, talked me into it. I was scared to death, but I did it. We had about 4 hours of ‘jump school,’ then they took us up in a little twin engine plane and forced us out. Literally. BY OURSELVES. Another reckless adventure that I’m lucky to have survived. I’m glad I did it, but I would never recommend anyone do it the way we did. To this day I can still recall that feeling of being snapped upward when my chute opened.
  11. Having my first piece of writing published in a national magazine. And cashing the fat cheque that followed.
  12. Writing an essay on the motif of stairways in The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. It was my course final, and it was brilliant. If I say so myself.

I wanted to continue on the numbering from day to day, but for some reason WordPress does not allow that feature. So that brings the total of memories/accomplishments to 22 thus far. Until tomorrow. . .

Hodge-podge

The weather has remained spring-like — I can actually go out in sandals most days. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much rain so nothing is greening up or growing.

The river broke last Wednesday. It was amazing to see. I spent a day out just watching and taking pictures. Walked almost 11 km I got so caught up in watching the ice flow.

 

 

 

I am missing home right now. knowing that it is Spring and that my yards will be clear of snow I want to be there to get them cleaned up. I’m trying not to get too anxious about it, but . . . There will be time at the end of May. I’ll be home for about a week and I’m going to work hard to get everything ship-shape for the summer.

I’ve been trying to focus on my writing a little more these days. Working with my Aunt (ha,ha – she’s barely 9 months older than me) we are putting together a book of family recipes and stories. We have so many great stories in this family and it would be a shame for them to be simply forgotten. And when are stories told the most? Well, when you’re eating, of course. Though these days just about any recipe can be had by a simple click of a key, it would be nice to have family recipes preserved and handed down in written form.

Also, I’ve submitted a piece of poetry to a local magazine. Haven’t submitted any writing in soooo long. It was a bit scary. But now that it’s done I’m contemplating my next submission. There’s nothing quite so motivating as jumping in with both feet and saying ‘to hell with it!’

Tim and I got out for a motorcycle ride last Saturday. First of the season. It was incredibly windy, but a nice ride. We stopped at the Wood Bison lookout point near the Syncrude tailings ponds — I know seems kind of oxymoronic — but, hey this is Fort McMurray. While we ate our lunch a woodpecker – a pileated, I think – came by. I spent about a half an hour taking pictures of him. None turned out that great, but it was good practice.

 

 

Across from our apartment on what I call an island, but I don’t think it actually is, separated from us by the Clearwater River, lives a momma black bear and her cub. At first I thought she had two — might have been a different bear — lately I’ve just seen the single cub. I really hope that nothing happened, and that there is a mother out there with her two babies just happily foraging for grubs and goodies in the woods. Anyway, when I got home the other morning from my aquafit class I happened to see something big and black in the tops of the trees across the river. Dismayed, I thought it was garbage bags and got the binocs out to get a closer look. Lo, and behold! it was the momma and her cub up in the tree. I watched them for a while, amazed that they could be up in those skinny old trees like that. Then I decided to go across the street and see if I could get a decent picture. I couldn’t, but here it is anyway:

 

 

Well, I think that about sums up all the excitement in my life for the past week. I’m just a ramblin’ gal. Cheers!

April 24th – Spring has sprung!

I just got back from my daily walk. It is a beautiful, although extremely windy, day here in Fort McMurray.

The amount of dirt in the air is incredible. Thank God I wear glasses! And further thanks that I’m going to the pool tonight. That’ll get the grime gone for sure.

Here are a few pictures from the day. As you can see the river hasn’t quite broken up yet. It is actually looking pretty ugly. Up close and along the banks the water is like mud. The melting snow is black and sludgy.  I’m not sure, but I think the water level has risen a tiny bit.

Further downstream, near the bridge things are looking a little better, but not by much.

We need a good, cleansing rain to freshen things up. And start the trees budding.

A good community clean-up is in order, too. I’m going to check the municipality’s website and see if there’s one scheduled.

 

 

 

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Other than garbage this is all the colour we’ve got right now.

 

 

River update – April 19, 2018

You can see that the ice is getting ready to break up. It’s got an opaque quality to it. Sadly, I’ll probably miss the actual break-up as we’re heading back to Bon Accord for the weekend. Ah, well.

I’m so looking forward to going home – even if it’s only for a couple of days. I’ll get to see my grandkids! And their parents, lol. I miss them, too.

I miss my house, my yard, my bed, my everything that became’ home’ over the past 28 years.

I’m getting used to life up here in Ft. Mac, but it will never be home. For now, it’s an adventure and I’m trying to make the most of it. Someday I’ll be able to say: Remember when we lived in Fort McMurray? And I’ll have stories to tell.

That’s pretty awesome.

Wow! Finally a really nice day.

As I said before I am going to post pictures of the Clearwater River that runs behind the apartment building Tim and I currently live in.

Here are pics from April 14th and 15th.

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The first and third pictures are from April 14th, the second and fourth from the 15th. It doesn’t look much difference, but trust me there is.

Today it was so nice that I wound up taking my jacket off and walking in just my t-shirt. Feeling the sun and the soft breeze on my skin was wonderful.

Here’s a few impressions from my walk today. I walked down to a place called Waterways. It’s in a rather precarious spot if you ask me – really close to two rivers, but it is quite a lovely walk.

First, I spotted two ducks! A mated pair checking out the ditches. I tried to get a picture but they spooked and flew off.

Then, a teeny black bug flew into my glasses.  Completely startled me.

Next, a little boy with a big rock. He was under the bridge with his parents. I’d heard someone tossing rocks as I approached the bridge and wondered who it was.  Seeing  this little guy struggling to carry his rock, then stopping every few feet while he contemplated throwing it, only to change his mind and grapple it back up into his arms, then toddle off after his calling parents just made me smile. A sure sign of Spring.

Then there was the disheartening sight of all the garbage covering the ground that the melting snow has revealed. Ah, Spring!

And, lastly, the one sign of Spring that I could do without – the gagging smell of thawing dog shit.  I love dogs, I really, really do. I just wish they had better owners.

 

Just a little rant. . .

It’s been a while. But I’ve got something to say and this is quite likely the best place to say it.

I wish to GOD that people would stop posting all those melodramatic posts about what it means to be a mother.

Don’t get me wrong – I know being a mom is a tough (tuff) job – but come on people! It’s not like you’re working in the salt mines or digging ditches in 100 degree heat all day!

The tone of all these posts that get circulated on the internet is that somehow being a mother is akin to being in shackles and that there is absolutely no respite or appreciation or compensation for the job.

I call bullshit!

I don’t get why all these women who wanted a home and family are now so bent on getting attention and recognition for their ‘sacrifices’.  It wasn’t a sacrifice — it was a choice. A choice women since the dawn of time have made. And they made it knowing that it would change their lives. Mostly for the better.

Despite all the mewling and whining and ‘woe-is-me’ out there, I believe most women who have been mothers or are mothers just get on with the job of being mom. That includes being wife, housecleaner and chief bottle washer. They get up each morning with a smile and greet their families without the marks of self-flaggelation upon their backs.

You don’t see a gazillion weepy-penned articles or posts about what it means to be a dad.  If all these women crying the blues think they’ve got it so bad, think they’re so under-appreciated and under-valued, why don’t they try being the dad for awhile. Gain a little perspective, then talk about sacrifice.

I was a mom. I loved it. Not every day did I love it, but 93% of the time I have to say, I completely loved my job. To me, it was the most important thing I could ever do in my life. Raising a child, teaching him, guiding him, providing for him. I chose that, no one forced me into it.

I was lucky, I had a husband who worked full time while I stayed home. Occasionally I worked at a part-time job when we wanted extra money for holidays or some big purchase. But mostly, I got to be at home – a place I took pride in, a place I felt blessed to have, a place I knew was my responsibility to keep clean and maintain as a trade-off for being a stay-at-home wife and mother.

I don’t get how the women in these posts and articles feel they need all this validation. They’re constantly bemoaning the fact hat their husbands come home and question them about what they did all day when they walk in the door to chaos and no supper. Well, I question that, too.

What the hell are they doing all day? Surfing Pinterest for the next great birthday theme so that they can impress all the other whiny-mommies? Or, perhaps it’s searching for butt and ab exercise routines that can be done in under 20 minutes? No, more than likely it’s for smoothie recipes to help them lose weight.

And, if it’s not Pinterest, then they’re probably on FaceBook or Twitter or just texting to complain about how hard their little lives are. Meanwhile their kids are being ignored, the house is a mess and they don’t get why their husbands are  no longer attracted to them.

It’s time for women to stop acting like martyrs. Time for them to step up, do their job, and do it well. Time for them to stop begging on social medial for respect and acknowledgement. Nobody, except movies stars and athletes, gets to do that.

You’re a mom — get used to it.

 

June 7th, Saturday

It’s early, I was up before 6:30 this morning.  So much on my mind.

Foremost this:  what is it that the Universe is trying to tell me?  What am I supposed to be waiting for?

Lately, it seems that no matter what I try, how hard I try, there is no success.

I believe, I really do, that things happen for a reason.  That if something is meant to be, it will be.

A good friend always tells me that I didn’t get whatever I was aiming for because there is something else, something better waiting for me.

I am seriously beginning to doubt that.

I know I have skills, experience, talent, enthusiasm, drive and determination.  I present well.  People seem to like me, seem to admire my work.

Not enough to give me the job, though.

It’s embarrassing and a little demoralizing. It makes me doubt myself. Makes me wonder if it’s because I’m OLD.

I’m in my mid-50’s.  I don’t feel OLD. I still feel pretty good.

Sure, I don’t have the vast stores of energy I once did, and I often find myself thinking that it’s okay to just let things slide, because I’m so conscious of time and that it’s starting to run out.

I think about my grandkids. They’re 9, going-to-be 7 in a few days and going-to-be 5 in a few months. Another 10 years and they’re going to be young adults. I’ll be in my mid-60’s then.

Will I still be chasing pavement then? Will I still have this sense of having not accomplished enough? Will I still be seeking validation?

It’s not a great way to wake up on a sunny Saturday morning.

Sunday, March 23rd and apart from the sunshine you wouldn’t know it’s Spring

I know that I tend to gripe about the cold.  I can’t help it.  Despite having lived my entire life in places where winter is the longest season, I just can’t get over it.

Friday was the first official day of Spring, and the forecast for next week?  Expect January-like temperatures.  The projected high for Tuesday is supposed to be a balmy -18 degrees Celsius.  Yay.  Can hardly wait.

I’ve been keeping my bedroom window open at night in the misguided belief that it’s NOT THAT COLD, and THE FRESH AIR WILL DO US GOOD.  What I got for my troubles was a sore throat and a sinus cold.  Yay, Again.

We had a good lot of snow this winter and last week most of it melted.  Creating lovely, goopy, slimy mud pits everywhere.  The street I live on in my idyllic little rural community are not paved.  They are gravelled.  But, I was happy that the snow was gone out of my driveway, and that at least I could see the gravel again.  But, then, the local idiots decided that tearing up and down our side street and four-wheel driving through the muck in their Mazda hatch-back and sore-excuse for a sports-truck would be fun.  They made a grand mess of the road and the boulevard.

Yet another sign that Spring has arrived.  And, here’s another. . .

The husband took matters into his own hands and went after one of them.  Talked to a dad of one of the boys and told him the police would be called next time it happened.  Barricades went up the next day.  Hope the two are related.  The traffic has been a lot more sedate since, however.

Now things are frozen again.  I guess we’ll see what happens when Spring decides to stick around.

I can’t wait for Spring to really arrive.  I’m thinking it might be for real somewhere around Easter.  Until then I’ve got Pinterest.

 

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