Zero to Sixty, continued

architecture buildings business city

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!

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.

 

August 3 & 4th

Day 216 and 217 — Tim and I hit the road for Lethbridge and a visit with Rick and Connie.  we’re going to spend a few days with them before the family reunion next weekend.  We’re going to go up to Beauvais with them for a few days.  Ah, to relax in the mountains by a lake!  Can’t wait.  Then, we’ll come back to their place and get ready for everyone else to descend.  Looking forward to a fantastic time with family.

Yesterday, we went to Coaldale and visited the Alberta Birds of Prey centre there.  (Will post pictures separately)  What a great place!  Loved how they had the birds displayed — some are in large enclosures, but they tether the big birds on perches in the open (under shade, of course) and it is wonderful to be able to see them up close.  We were lucky enough to hit the place at the time they were going to be exercising one of the bald eagles.  His name was Lincoln, and he was magnificent.  The handler — a volunteer — as I believe everyone working at the centre is was very engaging.  He invited kids to give a couple of the eagles a shower after Lincoln was done flying, and then told us about Spirit, a golden eagle.  Spirit was blinded by a shotgun pellet.  Brought into the shelter as a young bird he’s been there for 13 years.  I would have to say that he is probably the centre’s mascot.  He picked Spirit up and invited everyone to get their picture with him.  He is so tame and gentle that you are able to put your face right up to his.  Of course, I had to do that! 

I highly recommend that if you’re in southern Alberta you stop in Coaldale and take in the birds of prey facility.   Just watch out for the circling flocks of seagulls — I left with a not-to-nice souvenier on my white t-shirt! 

 

July 31st – August 2nd

Day 213 – 215 — We’ve had a few very lovely days here in Bon Accord.  And it looks like the long weekend is shaping up to be a gorgeous one.

I managed, finally, to get all the weeding done.  Yay! Yay! Yay!  I sat under my lovely pergola for the first time last night and enjoyed the fading rays of the sun after a late dinner.  I made the most delicious spinach salad I’ve ever had.  Don’t want to boast — well, that’s a lie! — but, damn, that salad was good.

On Wednesday I decided to pick up my grandkids and spend the day with them — to take a break from the monotony of chores and day-to-day.  We went to the spray park in St. Albert where they had a grand time.  Ethan was enthralled with the skateboard park next to us and I have fears that as soon as he’s big enough he’s going to want to try what he saw.  Gives me fits.  Afterwards we had popsicles and ice-cream as we sat in the sun waiting for them to dry off.

Then, home where I made them tacos for supper.  We were having fish tacos. None of them have ever had fish, so Grandma decided to try it on them.  I LOVE fish tacos — my new favorite food.  Has been for about a year now.  Anyway, they loved the fish, just not on tacos.  They’ll get there, eventually.  But I’m glad I was able to introduce them to something new.

On Thursday I went and got my haircut.  Quite a bit shorter than I have had, and I love it.  Something new for the new me.  LOL.  Followed my plan to find a little coffee shop and sit and write for a couple of hours.  Tried out a place called JAX coffee on 50th street.  Very nice.  Excellent food and service.  I would recommend the wonton soup if you decide to give it a try.  Got some good writing done.  Fleshed out a poem, which I think is going to get entered into a contest when it’s done.

I am feeling full of positive vibes.  I know it has mostly to do with the summer and the removal of work stress, but I’m determined to hang on to them.

Oh, yeah — I’ve registered for courses at Concordia again.  Marching ever forward.

July 30th

Day 212 — A better day weather wise.  Not hot, but at least warm.  I spent the morning doing — what else? — housework.  Then, in the afternoon I did this:

My Ford Edge -- all cleaned and shiny!

My Ford Edge — all cleaned and shiny!

 

It took me about 5 hours but that baby is nearly show-room clean!  Inside and out.  Although I enjoyed the process of cleaning it (I’m wierd like that) I have to say that I’ll never do it again.  It took much to much time and my back and shoulders were killing me when I was done.  Next time, I’m taking it in and paying the $100 to have it done.

So, yeah.  That was my Tuesday.

July 29th

Day 211 — It was a work inside kind of a day.  Very cool again, but at least some sun.  Am working on some writing projects (which I will stay mum about until I’m confident that I’ll actually finish them) and just in general did house-stuff.

The pergola is all but finished.  We just need to do some of the fine details and then it will time to move furniture under and enjoy it.  I am thrilled — and, as I said before, it is beautiful.  My husband does good work.

Had dinner last night at my favorite pizza restaurant — Famoso.  A new one opened up on 97th Street near 153rd Ave.  I still think my favorite Famoso spot, though, is the one up on St. Albert Trail near the theatres.  For some reason the atmosphere and the pizza are just that much better there.  All the same my margherita pizza with Italian ham was delicious!

July 26, 27 & 28

Days 208 – 210 — It’s 7:47 Monday morning.  It’s going to be another cool day here in Bon Accord.  The weather we’ve had this past weekend made me feel like Fall is coming.  Saturday the high was 18, Sunday 16 and today — 17.  I took a look at the long-range forecast praying that it was going to get better, and, it does. Starting tomorrow there is a warming trend.  And it looks like it will last straight through the month of August!  Yeah!

It was so cool yesterday that I wore jeans, a long-sleeved denim shirt and a vest to work on the yard.  Tim wore a heavy sweatshirt while he worked on the pergola.  The sun barely peeked through all day, and it put me in mind of all those stupid dooms-day stories where the sun is blocked out by clouds of radiation or dust or whatever and the earth becomes a cold and miserable ball of straggling humanity that burns whatever it can find in effort to create warmth and comfort.  And there is no rainbow, ever.

Yes, I know.  A little drastic in light of a few days of cool, rainy weather.  But, still — this is July!  It’s supposed to be hot and sunny!  I’ll put on those jeans again today, finish my yardwork and be glad that tomorrow the sun will come out.

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