TBT – The Eagles

the eagles

This week Throw Back Thursday’s inspiration didn’t come from a photo.  It came from a conversation I had with my seven-year old this past week.  It went something like this……

“Mom, did you know there’s a band called the Eagles?”
“Yes I did know that. Why do you ask?”
“My friend Gwen told me about them. Are they any good? Would I know their songs?”
“Maybe. I play them sometimes”
“Oh is that the old music you play?”

When did the Eagles become old music?

In the summer of 1975 my mom and dad packed up the suburban and the five of us drove from Vancouver to Colorado. My dad’s aunt had a cabin up in the mountains and we planned to spend a month there hiking and fishing. Flying the five of us there was not an option for them at that time so we drove. In the middle of the summer. With no air conditioning.  Across Idaho and Utah.  In the summer.

On a side note, I often pull this out of my parenting bag when my kids complain about their iPads not working on the three-hour drive to Kelowna. It’s something like the “I walked to school every day in the snow, uphill, both ways” except a bit more up to date.

In addition to no air conditioning (and plastic seats) the only source of entertainment was an AM/FM radio. Those of you who remember AM/FM radio will know that you need to be close to a city in order to get any kind of reception. There are many many long, deserted portions of road between Vancouver and Colorado that are literally in the middle of nowhere. Hours upon hours of hot dry nothingness.

The Eagles had released a few albums in the early 70’s and my sister and I were big fans. We knew their songs backwards and forwards. So as we cruised along with all the windows open we would sing them. Loudly and badly. If pressed I think I may even be able to do it today. It’s probably one of only things that my sisters and I truly shared. I suppose when you are stuck in a hot truck for hours a day you can achieve anything.

“And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’. Your prison is walking through this world all alone”.

As the years have gone by I have continued to love the Eagles. When my fiend Karen told me that her parents had property in Winslow, Arizona I had “Take it Easy” stuck in my head for days. I could picture a tiny desert town. Dusty and hot with old brick buildings. Turns out I wasn’t far wrong.

winslow

“Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me”

If I had to explain how their music makes me feel…….You know how you feel when you’ve spent the whole day at the beach? You’re hot and salty and tired and the sun is setting on the day. Sitting in a beach chair with sand between your toes.  The light is golden and shimmering on the ocean. You’ve got a cold beer in your hand and not a care in the world. That, for me, is Eagles music.

“You can leave it all behind and sail to Lahaina just like the missionaries did, so many years ago.”

Now I listen to the Eagles in my kitchen when I’m baking. The “old” music as my daughter refers to it.  It takes me back to a time that was simpler and slower. When ten-year olds could listen to all of the lyrics on the radio without them being censored. The Best Thing in Life is music that can transport you back in time.

Running. Cheaper Than Therapy.

runners

I can’t remember when I started running. I think I was in my late twenties. Some other ladies I worked with downtown were running at lunch time and I thought it might be fun. Wasn’t everything fun in your twenties?

My first run was, of course, pathetic. I wore heavy tennis shoes, as that was all I had, and made it about a mile before thinking I might throw up. “This is a lot harder than it looks” I thought. I had, of course, had images of myself bounding along the seawall going for miles and miles without a care in the world. Returning to the office glowing from the experience. Refreshed and ready to do it again the next day. Not so much.

Oh right, and the next day I couldn’t move. Or walk downstairs for a week.

My first “race” was the Vancouver Sun Run. This was back in the 1993 when only about 18,000 people ran it instead of the 60,000 that do it now. I had never done a race and had no idea what to expect. I had to pee every 5 minutes for the two hours before the race. What’s that all about anyway? Nerves? Anxiety that I may have to go during the race so just to make sure my bladder is completely empty? Needless to say I did not win or set any records. I did finish it though. And I didn’t have to pee once.

I find running cathartic. There are times when I just put my head down and watch the pavement pass under my feet. It’s my time to think. And not think. So many times I have had something on my mind and running has resolved it. Or I’ve had nothing on my mind and running has brought me inspiration. This blog has relied heavily on my running schedule.

There have been times when I have hated running. Wondered why I ever started. It’s hard, there’s no denying that. And sometime your head just isn’t in it. I’ve gone through times when I have gone running (begrudgingly) and cursed every step of the way. “This sucks” being the very least profane of them. I have been known to scream “just shoot me now” as I push up a hill. But if I leave it too long between runs my husband gives me that look. That “go for a run before you rip somebody’s head off” look.

So why do I do it? Running can be a lot of different things to different people. It can be painful, invigorating, boring, sadistic……the list go on. Some hate it, some love it and some tolerate it. I personally have a few reasons.

I love to eat good food…..and wine
I tend to get to far into my own head
It’s cheap (after your pay for the $200 runners twice a year)
I can do it anywhere

What will I do when I can no longer run? It has happened a few times for short periods of time. A few weeks. But I’ve known there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. A time out there when I will get to run again and I’ve found reassurance in that. But to never ever run again? That’s a scary thought for me and my family.

I still don’t consider myself a “runner”. I’ve always thought that runners were people who trained and actually come close to placing in the top ten of races. People who wear those cute little shorts and use glide to avoid chafing. Chafing? Pretty sure I’m not going fast enough to chafe anything. Why can’t I be a runner. I run. Don’t I? So that makes me a runner right? I should go for a run and think about this some more.

The Best Thing in Life is that I can, just like that, go for a run.

The Adventures of Elvis and His Monkey

I am considering starting a new blog.  The Adventures of Elvis’s Monkey.

Fifteen years ago when my son was three years old a friend gave him a stuffed monkey. He didn’t care much for it.  It sat in his room for a while.  It got packed in a box and moved with us.  Twice.  And then it sat in his room some more.

As soon as he was big enough our cat, Elvis, adopted the monkey.  At first he would just play with it.  Throw it around and chase its tail as it flipped and flopped on the hardwood.  He’s loved it so much that its fur has worn off in spots.

Elvis is now twelve years old and still has his monkey.

This morning the monkey was on the green chair in the den where Elvis had slept last night.  It was there when I left the house.

When I got back to the house three hours later the monkey was upstairs in my unmade bed.

monkey

Sometimes when my husband is at home alone working, he hears Elvis moving his monkey around.   He holds it in his mouth and drags it up or down the stairs.  But not quietly.  He kind of talks to it while he’s doing it.  He cries with it in his mouth so it comes out as a a muffled meow.  It’s actually really pathetic.

I wonder what Elvis is thinking?  “Come on little buddy, lets go have a nap upstairs.”

I wonder what the monkey is thinking?  “When is this cat going to leave me alone?”

I bet they have some stories to tell.

Five Things I’ve Learned So Far About Renovating a Bathroom

bathroom

I’m getting a new bathroom. Well, actually my kids are getting a new bathroom. (Not the bathroom above, that is way too fancy for them) Our house is over thirty years old and I’m guessing that the second bathroom upstairs has never been renovated. While the lovely yellowish linoleum has been easy to care for through two young kids, it is time for a fresh new look.

The problem is that I know zero about renovations and my husband is knee-deep in organizing an international sporting event, so he is no help. This is just one of the many times that I am grateful to know somebody. When I talked in my first blog post about knowing so many passionate and talented people, I didn’t realize how handy it might be.

My friend is an interior designer. She and her husband designed and built the house they now live in. My project isn’t quite as involved or expensive as that. It’s only a small bathroom. Basic vanity, toilet and tub. How hard could it be? Apparently pretty hard because I didn’t seem to be able to get it done on my own. We are still in the early stages of planning and ordering but here is what I have learned so far:

1.  If they tell you it’s going to cost x amount of dollars, you can pretty much add 20%-30% on top of that when all is said and done. Not because they don’t know what they are doing or are trying to rip you off. It just happens. You suddenly realize that your 30-year-old window will look like crap with your new bathroom. Add $. If you are ripping up the floor anyway shouldn’t you put in radiant heating now? Add $. Yes, the cheaper vanity is okay but the more expensive one will last longer. Add lots of $$.

2.  There are a LOT of different toilets to choose from. “I just want it to flush” I naively said. I didn’t know how many different types of toilets there are. Floating toilets are very popular right now for example. Somehow I narrowed it down to two or three and then I was stumped. I had already picked a rectangular sink so my friend pointed out that two of the toilets had rounder tanks. I should choose the one with the more square-shaped tank so that it continued the shape of the sink. That is the kind of thing I am paying her for.

3.  Colours come in many colours. White tile is never just “white”. It’s cloud or ecru or steel or egg. Grey slate flooring comes in many shades and can range in price from reasonable to ridiculous. Of course the one that is exactly what you want is always the ridiculously priced one. And the colour you choose is usually the one that was discontinued last year.   There may come a point where I just close my eyes and point.

4.  Interior designers are not all created equally. One of the many advantages of using a designer is that they receive discounts from the suppliers you will be using. The discounts can range from 25-60%. Some designers keep that discount quiet and you pay the full price while they keep the difference. Think of it as their insurance in case anything goes wrong. Others take a portion of it. Others (like mine) pass the entire discount on to you.  Love that.

5.  Contractors don’t have to be crooks. Contractors scare me. I will admit that right from the start. You hear so many horror stories about contractors that seem legit or even are legit and then totally screw you. And there you are stuck with a half done project and a huge bill. Knowing that my friend has used this contractor before to build two houses is a huge relief. They actually went to high school together so they have a history and a trust that I would never be able to reproduce with a complete stranger.

I’m sure that there will be more to learn in the month ahead as we rip everything out and see what is underneath. The whole process is a bit of an experiment for me really. A testing ground, if you will, for the rest of the house that is also stuck in the ’80s. The Best Thing in Life is learning from a pro….who is also a friend.

TBT – Where It All Started

As I sorted through my box of photos and tried to decide which would be my choice for Throw Back Thursday, it struck me that I have had a good life. Not extraordinary, but solid and well-rounded. I’ve travelled, I’ve had (and still have) many good friends, I’ve had some adventures and I’ve grown up in a stable environment. While my early years probably may not be interesting to anybody but me, its my blog and I can write whatever I want. That’s just the kind of girl I am.

So here’s how my life got started…..

pregnant granny

When my mom got pregnant with me she already had two kids. Three year old twins. A boy and a girl. She herself is a twin so the odds were pretty good that it would happen. Why she tested fate by getting pregnant again with me, we will never know. The picture below was taken when my mom was about seven months. I’m not sure where it was taken. They lived in West Vancouver at the time so I’m guessing it was somewhere in that vicinity. How cute are they?

hospital

I was born at Lions Gate Hospital, as were both of my children. Why mess with something that works? I’m pretty sure that the flooring is still the same as it is in this picture though so they may want to think about some updates. According to my mom I was the perfect baby. Quiet and smiley. I liked to sleep. Some things don’t change.

first brithdaybirthday group
Looking at these pictures of me on my first birthday are bitter-sweet. They were taken in the dining room of the house I grew up in. My parents sold the house a couple of years ago and I kind of miss it. The view through the trees out to the water. The old style windows that opened up to a fifty foot drop. Looks like my mom made my cake that day as she always did. The flower floating in the brandy snifter is something my mom always did for special occasions.

The group birthday shot includes my aunt and my godmother. My godmother passed away about twenty-five years ago but she was a lovely woman. She was kind, made awesome cookies and loved a good giggle. My aunt, unfortunately, I don’t see any more. She and my mom and dad had a falling out about fifteen years ago and she refuses to speak to them or anybody in our family other than my sister. LOL. My sister looks totally bored. My mom’s hair? Nice.

bum on beachbum with hat

It didn’t surprise me when my daughter exhibited a strong love of being naked. She had come by it honestly. I, apparently, did not enjoy being clothed either when I was little. The first picture was taken at Boundary Bay Beach in Tsawwassen. There are more. Many more. In particular there is one of me lounging by the side of somebody’s pool wearing nothing but a white flowery swim cap. I’m saving that for its own post.

england
When I was eighteen months old we all went to England. The pictures was taken at my grandparents house. The house was called Hook Cottage and it had a huge English garden full of fruit trees. I love that my dad is wearing a tie even though it was probably just lunch with my grandparents. Very English.

Well that’s my trip down memory lane. The first couple of years of my life on a page. I’m grateful to have had such a nice start. Not everybody gets that. The Best Thing in Life is happy beginnings.

I Made My Bed

messy bed

As my seven year old was getting ready for bed last night I realized that I hadn’t made my bed that morning. So I made it. Then I realized that I would be getting into and messing that bed up in an hour or so. (Ya I go to bed that early sometimes ) Anyway, I wondered if that was weird. Wouldn’t most people just crawl into the bed as it was? If my husband had been home he would have rolled his eyes, shaken his head and left the room.

Is it possible to have a lesser form of OCD? It’s not so much about dirt or mess….okay it’s a little bit about the mess….but it’s mostly about everything having a place. I like things to fit into a spot and I like them to go back to those spots should they be moved. I love organization. I’ve said that before. But this is a bit more than just being organized. It doesn’t keep me up at night….much. I just like to know where things are should I need to find them. Who knows what could be lurking in that unmade bed?

I like my towels folded a certain way and when I put them on the shelf the round edges need to be pointing out. I don’t fold my daughters undies I stack them. Two stacks. Old ones and newer ones. When I hang up my pants they all have to face the same way. My Tupperware drawer is actually organized. All the time. There’s a certain spot for pasta sauce in the pantry. In my fridge the orange juice goes in front of the milk. On the right top shelf.

Wow, writing it out makes it sound even weirder.

I spent many years in a pretty controlled relationship. I remember once we had just had our walls painted and finding myself with some free time I decided to hang all the pictures back up on the walls. My then boyfriend came home shook his head and promptly took them all down and re-hung them. I was young and in my head I thought “well I must have put them up wrong”. The reality was that the pictures were just fine. Just not precisely where HE thought they should be. They weren’t in the spot he thought they should be. I don’t want to be that person.

But I think maybe I am a bit different. I’m not a “you can’t do anything right” kind of person. But I am a ” I like things my way” kind of person. No really I am. Ask my husband.

If I could go into my daughters bedroom after a play date and put things back in the proper place I would. Not because I’m upset that it’s a mess but because…..well just because. I see you shaking your head. I don’t actually do it. That would be weird. I just think about it. Because you have to let go. You have to accept that even though somebody does something differently, doesn’t mean that they do it wrong. No, really it’s true. I didn’t believe it at first but it really is true.

So The Best Thing in Life is that I don’t seem to be worried so much anymore what people might think of me and my odd quirky habits. I’ve made my bed and now I need to lie in it.

A Boy Becomes a Man

dirty laundry

This past weekend I taught my son to do his own laundry. Well, I tried to. Yes, I know, he’s eighteen and should have been doing it himself for a while now. I have no good excuse really, other than he spends half his time at his dad’s house and well, it’s just been easier for me to keep track of his clothes this way. Lame excuse, but it’s all I have.

It went well. The concept of sorting seemed to confuse him a bit but once we got past that I think he caught on. I still have my doubts as to whether he will actually remember to go back and move the wet clothes into the drier. There’s a big empty space of time between washer and dryer that could suck him back into the vortex of YouTube videos and Game of Thrones episodes. He will learn. Damp socks and underwear are no fun.

He’s already pretty good at feeding himself. Given the right ingredients he can actually make a decent meal. FYI – Having a girlfriend is a huge incentive to learn how to cook. Apparently teenage girls swoon over boys who can cook. I don’t think a boy cooked for me until I was well into my twenties. He has been making his own school lunches since he was in grade six. I did get some pushback on that one.

Him: I don’t have to do this at my dad’s house.
Me: That’s too bad buddy. Make your lunch.

I suppose I could just keep doing all this stuff for him. It might be easier in the short-term. Realistically though, one day I won’t be around to pick up his dirty socks or the towel he leaves on the bathroom floor. I won’t be around to make him breakfast or a snack after work. He will need to know how to do this stuff himself. He will, eventually, move out. Won’t he?

I’ve always known that I wanted him to be self-sufficient. I don’t want him to be the thirty year old man that doesn’t know how to boil water. But what’s more important is that he needs to know that HE can do this stuff. He needs to feel independent. It’s actually not that much different from when he first went to the bathroom on his own. He needs to do it alone and I need to trust that he will. (We are still working on the toilet flushing component of this by the way)

It feels like it’s one of the last steps towards independence. A last-minute check before he becomes a man. A man. My son is a man. A man who can make his own meals and wash his own clothes. No, no. I’m not getting sentimental and weepy. Okay, maybe a little.  Really I’m proud and happy that we have made it this far.

The Best Thing in Life is that I still have my seven-year old daughter to fulfill my need for someone to mother. She doesn’t know it yet but she will be helping to ease me into the whole empty nest thing.

What if…..

Somebody asked me a question last night. Why didn’t you move to Memphis? I gave my standard response and moved on. Later that night I thought about it a bit more. What if we had moved to Memphis? Our lives would be so different. I’m happier now that I have been in years. How did I get here?  What if my life had been different?

What if I had found out about the affair before my first wedding? We wouldn’t have gotten married. Boy would that have made my mom and dad happy.

What if I we hadn’t gotten married? I wouldn’t have an eighteen year old son who surprises and confounds me almost daily. That would have been one of the biggest losses in my life.

What if we had stayed together? Oh good god that’s a scary thought….no matter how you look at it.

What if I hadn’t lost my job and taken that temp position? I wouldn’t have met my husband? Where I sat on the bus to Seattle, where I sat in the bar, where I sat at the basketball game….would all be irrelevant.

What if we had actually bid on that house on Orlohma Drive? And got it? We wouldn’t have had the opportunity to look at the house we live in. And what if we’d never had the second chance to buy it? I love this house.

What if we HAD moved to Memphis? We would live a very different life than we do now. Would I have big southern hair? Would I say y’all a lot and drink mint juleps?

What if we had stuck with our decision not to have any more kids? Duh? We wouldn’t be a complete family. Thank god for that trip to Disneyworld. I’m pretty sure that’s when my husband decided that we needed some sugar and spice in our family.

What if I hadn’t continued to run?  To stay in shape and be active?  I wouldn’t get to enjoy all my backyard has to offer.  Running the trails of Mt Seymour is a privilege and a joy.

What if I didn’t like going to the park? I wouldn’t have met the amazing women I now call my friends and their equally spirited daughters. What would life be like without their constant whirlwind of activity?

What if my husband had taken that job in the valley and not chosen to work for himself? Sure we would have avoided a bit of debt, but how happy would he be? It’s been a tough go but sometimes it’s better to look at the long range picture.

What if I had decided to continue to work instead of focusing on my family? For starters I wouldn’t be writing this post. Pretty sure I’d have more grey hairs and empty wine bottles. Hard to say at this point but I’m pretty sure it was one of my better decisions.

What if I had chosen to ignore how crappy I always felt and just chalked to up to old age? Sure, I would still be enjoying all the yummy (albeit bad for you) foods that I used to eat, but I’m happy I have the support and knowledge of great friends (again) that got me through to the others side.

Life has taken some twists and turns in the past twenty years. I wouldn’t change one of them. They got me here. To a happy Saturday afternoon in my kitchen, listening to music and watching my daughter do handstands in the back yard. The Best Thing in Life is……..living it.