TBT – Kamikaze Friends

J&K wedding

I remember this day so clearly. It was the summer of 1994. My dear friends Karen and Jeff got married in the Rose Garden in Stanley Park. There were only four of us there. Karen, Jeff, me and my ex-husband. (We were married at the time). It was a beautiful sunny summer day and we were young and happy and had no cares in the world.

My ex-husband met Jeff through a friend of his. They were going sailing one day and his friend asked if his cousin could come along. When I got home from work that day the three of them were all hanging out in the front yard drinking beer and laughing at Jeff’s titanic impression on the boat that day. “I’m the king of the world” he screamed as he hung onto the front of the bow.

Jeff and Karen met purely by chance. They were both extras in a movie being shot at Nat Bailey stadium. Karen spied Jeff in the crowd and surreptitiously maneuvered her way a little closer to him. Okay, maybe not so much a “chance” meeting. We met Karen a short time later and the four of us hit it off right away.

We had a lot in common. We all loved tennis and played doubles any chance we got. We all loved to travel. We all loved cooking and good food and spent many evenings cooking and drinking wine together. And then there were the Kamikazes. Frozen vodka and lime cordial shooters. I’m not sure why we thought they were a good idea but they were present at every occasion. How many times we headed out to the tennis courts with wicked hangovers I can’t recall. Oh and did I mention that we ended up living right beside each other?

Karen and I were die hard Martha Stewart fans. This was before she went to jail…Martha not Karen. I still have the Martha Stewart cookbook they gave me on my thirtieth birthday. It’s a bit torn up and stained but every time I open it I think of them.

On the day they got married in the Rose Garden by a justice of the peace there couldn’t have been a happier couple. So in love and so happy to have found each other. Both had been married before and endured difficult divorces. As we drank champagne in a horse-drawn carriage we toasted their good fortune in finding each other. And then we did kamikaze shots. It was kind of our thing.

J&K spoons

The horse-drawn carriage took us along the edge of lost lagoon and down the path to the Tea House. That’s when the picture was taken. Karen and I on the lawn across from the restaurant, overlooking English Bay. Considering it was mid nineties I had some awesome 80’s hair going on. Karen, of course, looked fabulous in her wedding dress.

A couple of years later, 1996, the four of us all went to Mexico together. I had just found out that I was pregnant and Karen discovered that she was pregnant while we were there. I still remember how the two of them giggled when they told us how they had gone into a pharmacy in Cancun and quietly tried to find a pregnancy test that didn’t have instructions in Spanish. Our sons were born two months apart.

J&K hammok

In February of 1997 my husband and I split up. Jeff and Karen were in a difficult position. They were still living beside my ex but found it difficult to accept the things he had down that ultimately ended our marriage. They were both there on the day that I moved into my new home but shortly after moved to Calgary. That was 1997. In 1999 Jeff passed away in his sleep.

Our carefree days were over and the realities of a different life set in. Karen’s birthday is coming up next month. I might just need to go out and by some vodka and lime cordial. The Best Thing in Life is beautiful memories and life long friends.

Earth Day 2015

I don’t usually post twice in one day.  Hell, I don’t usually post twice in one week.  But its Earth day and I have had such an exceptional morning that I feel the need to share.

earth

To start, I had a great night sleep last night.  Sleep is an amazing thing.  It can make or break your day.  My daughter has not been a great sleeper for the past few years.  She feels the need to wake me up at odd hours to tell me that she need to go pee.  Despite assuring her that I don’t actually need to know this she insists on doing it.  I am also fifty years old and for any others out there experiencing this you know that night sweats and restless sleep just go with the territory.  So a good, full nights sleep is a bonus anytime I can get it.

Building on that, I made breakfast and, as it wasn’t raining, I offered to walk my daughter to school.  Every Spring she participates in Kilometer Club at school.  Over a month and a half students track how many kilometers they walk and collect ribbons.  We live 2 kilometers from the school and get to walk this beautiful trail in the process.  It’s cool and sunny and the air smells so good at that time of the day.  It’s also twenty minutes of time that we can chat about whatever is going on in her life.  Or not.

Roche Trail

Once I dropped her off I headed home to quickly change and get to Bootcamp.  My friend has started up classes in our area that utilize the local trails and nature to kick our winter butts into shape.  She is so good at motivating us and making it fun at the same time.  About half way through she mentioned that at her early morning class (6:30am  is way too early for me) they had seen two owls in the trees.  Sure enough, they were still there.  They were chasing this poor chipmunk up and down the trees trying to get a snack.  It was so cool to see and it gave us a well needed break from carrying rocks up a steep hill.

owl

Once we were completely exhausted and our legs couldn’t make another step I followed her back to her place to pick up my lunch.  Another friend of mine, who is a holistic nutritionist.has started marketing her salads in a jar.  Every Friday she emails out a menu of salads.  You can order and pay online and then pick them up after bootcamp.  This week I chose….

Basil’iciousKale Salad:
Ingredients:*Kale,*Carrot,*Soaked Brown Rice
Dressing:*ACV, *EVO, *Fresh Basil & *Parsley, *Garlic, Sea Salt & *Pepper

Serving Suggestions: Makes a great side to any protein main or just mixed it all together with some left over Wild Salmon or Freerange Chicken.

kale salad

So here I am sitting at my computer enjoying a clear blue sky, tired legs and a full tummy.  So many of the Best Things in Life and its only 1:00.

backyard

Being Judgemental

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I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page this week and at first I thought it was cute. But then I really started to think about it and it made me a bit sad. It made me sad because it’s so true of me and how I irrationally dismiss people that I maybe don’t click with. I’ve mentioned in past posts that I can be a bit judgy, and I totally own that, but really, it’s probably not a great thing to admit. Is it?

The definition of judgement is the evaluation of evidence to make a decision.

The problem is that whole “evidence” thing. For me, the evidence is my own opinion and that isn’t always based on fact. I like to think that I’m a good judge of character but the reality is that there is most likely a whole lot that I don’t know about people and their circumstances before I judge them. I remember listening to a customer service seminar when I worked for Starbucks. They talked about how you shouldn’t rush to judge a customer as being rude because you never know what is going on in their life. Maybe their child is sick and they have been up all night looking after them. Maybe they themselves are sick. You just don’t know. Yet, we all do it. Don’t we? Is it really just me?

Take for example right now. I am sitting in the viewing area at my daughters gymnastics club as I type this. There are two women sitting beside me discussing what a poor job the interior designer did on one of their Whistler condos. A. You have a condo in Whistler. B. You have an interior designer. C. Your son is running around pushing other kids and leaving a trail of organic corn chips while you discuss this. Consider yourself judged.

Judgement, I’m guessing, has been around forever and a day. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” had to have come about because people way back then were judging right? And there’s the whole Scarlet Letter thing. I would have a huge J for judge on my chest if I had live back then. And then there’s the witches. Poor misjudged witches.
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My problem is compounded by the fact that if I don’t like you, make no mistake, you will know about it. I can’t smile and make small talk with somebody that I don’t care for. No matter how hard I try. This has included (but is not limited to) co-workers, the lady at the wine store, sports teammates and random people in the school parking lot. If I could just judge people quietly in my head it might be different. Unfortunately though, I can’t, and I have been know to shoot a stink eye at those that say……park in the yellow zone. Just sayin’.

I like to think that I don’t let my judgmental nature be seen by my seven year old daughter. Okay, it’s probably slipped out a few times when I refer to the nice person in the car in front of me as incompetent for not being able to navigate a parking stall in less than six tries. Did I mention that I’m also not very patient? I don’t want her to be judgmental.

You see, being judgmental means that you, in turn, must assume that everybody else is judging you the way that you are judging them. And that creates insecurity. And that is bad.

I guess in a round about way I’m trying to say that I need to work on this aspect of my personality. Not only for my daughters sake but for mine. Oh, and for the unfortunate people who I don’t care for. LOL. The Best Thing in Life is being able to laugh at yourself.

TBT – Private School

Yes, I went to a girls private school. Before you go thinking that I come from privilege and all that, I have to tell you how it came to be.

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One night in a bar in Revelstoke (a small mill town in Central BC) my dad was having drinks with a client who worked for an up and coming logging company. While I’m sure my dad was not completely sober, his client was, from all accounts, three sheets to the wind. Nobody’s sure why (or they’re not saying) but the client decided to give my dad an envelope with a fairly substantial pile of company stock in it. In the coming months the company boomed and voila, we all got sent to private school.

Contrary to popular belief not all girls are sent to private school because they are rebellious hellions. Sure, some are, but….well that’s another story. I was just entering grade nine and I hated it! For the first few weeks I would come home every day and cry. By the start of October my mom said that if I still hated it at Christmas time that I could go back to my old school. Four years later I graduated from Crofton House School for Girls.

It had everything a good private girls school should have. Tartan skirts, navy blazers, ivy covered walls, bad boarding house food and a stern Head Mistress.

Her name was Miss Addison but she was affectionately known as AD. Looking back, she wasn’t really that bad, but in the moment, she was terrifying. I remember one weekend my girlfriend, who was a boarder (she lived at the school) was staying with me and we went to a party together. The party was awesome and she went back to the school on Sunday evening. Monday morning we both got called to the headmistress office. Somehow she had found out that we had not only gone to the party but had been driven by a friend of mine and not my parents. A big no-no for a boarder. How she found out we never knew but we got a stern talking to and were shaking in our Oxfords by the time we left.

The ivy covered walls that surrounded the ten acres of grounds served to not only keep us in, but to keep others out. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. For example, there was the time that a dozen barely dressed grade twelve boys from Point Grey High School found their way into our morning prayer assembly. I can’t imagine why my parents disapproved of me dating one of them?

crofton girls (2)

That’s me, second from the left in the middle

With only 49 girls in my graduating class we were all pretty close. Sure there were cliques and the obligatory hierarchy of popular girls, but at the end of the day we all participated in school pranks and went to the same parties. And let me tell you, private school girls can party. If parents were sending their daughter to Crofton to get them away from drugs, sex and alcohol they were making a huge mistake. HUGE.

I often get asked if I feel that a private school education was worth it. For somebody like me? Yes. I was an average student who really didn’t care much about school or grades, but at private school I was forced to work harder. There was no coasting through. You worked hard or you dealt with the consequences. For me, the most important part of a private school education was not the grades or the college prep. What Crofton House taught me was how to be a better person. Okay, so maybe being able to eat grapes with a fork and spoon (thank you etiquette class) isn’t a valuable life skill, but being able to speak in public and respect authority, among other things, has served me well.

I have so many incredible memories (and some blackmail worthy photos) from my four years at Crofton House. Girlfriends that I get together with after over thirty years and still laugh at the things we did. The school itself has changed quite a bit but the motto has not. Sevabo Fidem. Keep the Faith.

An English woman, a Scot and and an Irish woman walk into a pub

moving truck

An English woman, a Scot and and an Irish woman walk into a pub. No really, they did and it’s not the lead into a bad joke, it’s how I researched this post.

For as long as my husband and I have known each other (17 years) we have been talking about moving. We love living on the West Coast but, for my husbands work, opportunities are pretty limited here. First it was Memphis, then Boston, then Seattle and now Ottawa. Or maybe Seattle again. None of these discussions have come to fruition yet but it could happen any day and I want to be prepared. While I completely support him and his choice of work, I have never lived anywhere other than the North Shore of Vancouver (other than a couple of years working in Banff) so it’s safe to say that I’m a bit apprehensive of loading up the moving van and starting over. With a young daughter.

So I asked some friends who have made big moves with children to meet me for a drink so that I can get the skinny on what it takes to move, not just to a new city, but to a new country.

(This is where the joke line comes in)

I have to say, I got a bit more than I bargained for though.  The conversation ran from moving to kids to traditions to religion to shopping and sports and back to moving. As I struggled to keep up with three different accents and three different stories, I got some great insight into what moving with a family is all about. But I also got a bit of a lesson on what it means to be an ex-pat. Each of these three women has moved from the UK to Canada either for work or for a better family lifestyle. “If we didn’t have kids we would still be living in London.” And make no mistake “I am going home (to Scotland) to die.” Clearly they love their home land.

Moving to another city within North America may seem like a momentous change for me, but realistically not a lot would be different. Perhaps some differences in local terms may pop up. For example, on the West Coast you spend the summer at the “cabin” but in the east you spend the summer at the “cottage”. Really, a first world issue. Moving to anther country can bring vast differences. Religion, while for some an important part of life in Canada, is woven into everyones upbringing in the UK. One of my friend’s son hasn’t been baptized yet and she thinks that when her mother finds out that she may just stick him in a sink full of water just to make sure he’s covered.

“You have to do what you have to do”.

While life in Canada has its traditions, hockey for example, nothing can compare to the rich traditions of the British isles. It’s what one of my friends misses the most if she stops to think about it. “Shared history” is something that can not be reproduced when you start fresh in a new place. A ceilidh, I learned, is a traditional social gathering which usually involves Gaelic music and dancing. And telling somebody to “stick it up your jumper” is not a term of endearment. John Lewis is a store not a person. And real hockey isn’t played on ice, it’s played on a field of grass.

“Moving from the UK to Canada was less traumatic than moving from Scotland to England”. So, I learned, it’s not really about how far you move but how different the area you move to is from what you are used to. Yes, things will be different and you will miss the “shared history” of where you have come from but if you go with reservations and close yourself off, it can be horribly lonely. If you go with an open attitude and are willing to put yourself out there and meet people and experience new things, then it becomes an adventure. Especially with kids.

“They will be looking to you for help in adjusting and if you are anxious, then they will be too.”

As usual I have gone into writing this post with one thing in mind and come out with insight into, not only that subject, but far, far more. I have a new respect for these women who have let behind a comfort and history in order to move their families forward. I know that if it comes to that, I will be able to do the same. The Best Thing in Life is having inspiring women to help you along the way.

Coconuts on the Tide

coconuts 2

Life is like an empty coconut shell on the tide.

Each day the tide takes you out to sea and you bob around.

Some days are stormy and you have a tough time staying afloat.

Some days are fair and you relax and enjoy the sun shining on your face.

Some days you just bob along seemingly without purpose.

And every night the waves bring you back to shore. Safe at home until the next day.

What I’ve Learned From Being Sick

I don’t get sick very often but when I do it’s usually pretty epic. This past few days for example. It started out as the sniffles on Tuesday but by Thursday morning there was no denying it. I had the flu. Achy body, fever, congestion, sore throat, headache the whole list on the NyQuil bottle was covered. So I have been in bed now for three days and it sucks. I hate being sick. It’s unproductive and irritating. It has, however, taught me a few things this time around.
I am replaceable. I hate to admit it, but it is true. When I did finally acquiesce on Thursday and crawled into bed, I thought about the long list of things that were supposed to get down this weekend. Typically when I am not feeling 100% my husband strongly suggest that I take it easy. I then shrug my shoulders and do stuff anyway. But this time my body was not going to let me. These past few days my husband has totally stepped up to the plate. I am quietly thanking my stars that he was even home this weekend. He has been dance mom, Easter bunny, music teacher, chef and pharmacist. Oh, and he makes the best hot water with lemon and honey ever.

I am not immune. At some point yesterday my son actually came home. Between work and friends he hasn’t been around much lately except to sleep. I managed to corner him though and this is how our conversation went.

Me: What did you eat yesterday?
Him: Um, a burger for lunch and (long pause) I think maybe Chinese for dinner?
Me: Well you’ve got to eat better or you are going to get sick.
Him: Like you?
Me: What’s that supposed to mean?
Him: Out of the four people who live in this house you are the healthiest and you’re the one who is sick. That’s a bit ironic don’t you think?
Me: Don’t you have to go to work?

He was right though. It was sadly ironic.

I am impatient. Not really a huge surprise here but none the less. Okay, everybody gets sick. It’s okay for a day. But as day three stretches on I am pretty much over this. I can Skype with my husband when he’s in Europe but they still haven’t come up with a pill to take that makes you better in an hour? As much as I dislike it, and as disgusting as it is, the 24 hour stomach flu is so much more efficient than what I have had to endured this week. Everything comes out and you’re done. Why does getting better have to take so long? Doesn’t the flu know that I have stuff to do? Yes, this is what it has come to. I am comparing illnesses based on their efficiency.

Most importantly while being sick I have learnt that it doesn’t matter where in the house I choose to sleep, the cat will still try to sleep on my head.  The Best Thing in Life is a warm furry friend to make you feel better.

TBT – Easter Memories

I found this picture of my sister, brother and I all dolled up for Easter church.  (I’m the one in pink if you hadn’t guessed.)

easter

My earliest memories of Easter are of my mom getting us ready for church in pastel coloured dresses with white gloves and white wicker purses covered in fake flowers. Even though we were the Christmas , Easter and Thanksgiving only church family, my mom ensured that when we did go, we were dressed appropriately. I remember her inspecting our hands to be sure that we didn’t have any chocolate on our sticky little fingers. In those days the Easter Bunny came very early in the morning and left a beautiful egg on our breakfast plate. Hollow in the middle and decorated with our names in royal icing. “How did that bunny know our names?” I wondered. I learned later on that my mom was actually the bunny and would order the big chocolate Easter eggs from Woodward’s department store.

When we were a bit older the best memories are of Easter Sunday bonfires. It was Spring, the weather was getting better and my mom and dad would have been working in the yard to get ready for the summer. The yard waste needed to be disposed of and, for us,that meant a great big bonfire at the bottom of the yard. Usually a couple of other families would come over for the day and there would be a dozen kids standing around the fire roasting hot dogs and burning marshmallows for lunch.

Yup, that’s when destroying the ozone, processed meats and sugar were all good.

The big draw for the kids was the tire swing. A large tree stood at the top of a grassy hill and dad had hung a rope from the tree and then attached it to an old tire. When pushed properly you would swing out over the hill and hang 20 feet over the back lawn. I can not even count the number of times I fell off and had the breath knocked out of me. How none of us ended up in the emergency room is a mystery. Every year we had a contest to see how many of us could get on the swing at the same time without falling. Again, can’t believe we all live through it every year.

And then there was the egg hunt. The only acceptable candy was foil wrapped mini chocolate Easter eggs, mainly because they could withstand being tucked into crevices and hidden under logs or rocks in the garden and could survive being transplanted by squirrels if the hiding had been done the day before. Frantically we would search for those little eggs in every inch of that 3/4 acre space. I remember hitting pay dirt at the bottom of the tree that my sister fell out of when she broke her arm. I guess whoever was hiding the eggs got tired and dumped the last dozen or so in a hollow at the bottom of the tree. Score!

As the years passed and my sister, brother and I each got married and had our own kids, things changed. Nobody goes to church anymore, bonfires are now prohibited and the tree that held the tire swing died and the swing was lost. That may have been a good thing as my mom and dad ended up with six grandsons who I can say, without hesitation, would not have been as fortunate as us in not getting injured. But with that change and those grandchildren came different traditions.

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I’m not sure how or when it happened but at some point the chaotic search for foil covered Easter eggs in the garden became an Easter scavenger hunt. The Easter egg hunt evolved into my mom and dad creating elaborate clues that took the grandkids around the house and garden. The little ones had pictures to follow and usually an older cousins to help them out. The older ones had the task of not only following the clues but deciphering Granny’s handwriting. If you stood on the front doorstep you would see them standing scratching their heads, looking at the clue and then suddenly tearing around the side of the house when they realized that “Minki’s Flowers” meant the patch of daffodils that bloomed every year where my mom and dad had buried our dead cat’s ashes. (creepy yes, but really pretty.)

Easter at Granny and Poppas

Now the house where all these memories originated stands empty and the yard is a series of little holes where my parent’s friends have dug up my dad’s lilies, roses and yes, the daffodils. We will all go on to create our own Best Things in Life and memories for our kids around the holidays in our own homes. I can only hope that they are half as good as the ones my parents created for us.