Suds

A couple months ago the dishwasher said farewell in a noisy, pump failure kind of way. I have no idea how old it is – it is a Kenmore so it really could be close to twenty years old. It was one of the first quiet models available and it has been a standard in our house. I never had a built in dishwasher in any of my childhood homes.  When we built this house some twenty-three years ago, I remember looking at the architect’s sketch of the kitchen layout and the word dishwasher was so exciting! The builder supplied dishwasher only lasted a year or two and then we bought the Kenmore.

The Children have never known life without a dishwasher. The have been schooled, by me, in the art of stuffing the dishwasher to maximum capacity without compromising the integrity of the wash. I have taken great pride in the accomplishment of not washing a single dish by hand following a festive dinner. Toys and light fixtures have been cleaned in that dishwasher. When it stopped working I dismantled the washing arms so that a wash couldn’t be attempted and now it awaits the appliance graveyard.

About the same time the dishwasher died, The Husband and I were planning a vacation. I chose to upgrade the hotel rather than buy a new dishwasher. I went to the local big box and purchased a dish drain board and drip tray. The Children were horrified and believed this all to be a joke until it became apparent that The Parents were out of the country on vacation and they had a sink full of dishes and a drain board.

Full confession: I have not missed the dishwasher. I am oddly comforted by a sink full of dishes that are covered with hot water and a cloud of bubbles. There is a method to washing dishes. For me, it begins with the placement of the dishes. Plates and bowls are stacked in the top corner, cutlery is on one side of the sink, glasses are nestled on top of everything else, pots are left outside the sink. Once the water cools a bit, I scrub the glasses then the plates and bowls, cutlery and finally the pots. Everything is rinsed in with hot water and left to drip dry. The final step is to pull the plug and let the water drain, swishing the bubbles away. The sink is clean and shiny.

Today I did a big batch of dishes while watching the snow fall. The kitchen window overlooks the backyard and there was something fantastic about the warm water inside and the cold snowy weather outside. I have been looking at new dishwashers and I am stunned by sticker shock; I am hard pressed to trade in my drain rack for a thousand dollar appliance.  I am certain that sooner than later there will be a sale and it will make sense to buy the new dishwasher. Then again, you can get a weekend in Vegas for grand…

The Daily Good

It is the first snowfall of the season and it looks like a blizzard out there. The windows are bottom-rimmed with miniature snow banks and the few remaining leaves on the green ash tree have been forced to the ground. The Boy has been called in to work for the first snow clearing day of the season and I am putting out telepathic reminders to The Girl that winter tires on her car does not mean that everyone else has them on theirs. In an ironic turn – The Husband has good weather in the far north and I hope it stays that way until he flies home soon.  Time to turn up the tunes! It is a good day.

Posted in Creative Non-Fiction, Life and Times | 1 Comment

Climbing hills

I’ve been running for about 12 years now.  I started sometime in 2001-ish and it has been a journey of streetlight to streetlight to then time ratios of walk:run to an actual training plan with kilometre markers and hill repeats.  Ah yes, hills.  Why would any sane person expend energy to run up a hill, descend from that hill and then turn around and climb it again three, four, five, seven times?  It seems crazy.  It kind of is.

Hills build strength and cardiovascular endurance – if they are done right.  Sometimes I do them correctly, sometimes I wing it, sometimes I just avoid them all together.  Tonight I embarked on a new course of action that I will call the point to point method.  Step one is running to the hill, the warm up.  Step two is defining the place in the hill where I will apply maximum and consistent effort.  Step three is seeing the threshold and going through that port.  Step four is the hardest; putting that first foot forward.

Recently I have embarked on another avenue of strength building involving self reflection, radical acceptance and a whole lot of deep breathing.  The hills are a metaphor for this time in my life.  I believe anyone who lives in a support role with a loved one dealing with mental illness climbs hills every day.  Today I am grateful for the physical fatigue of running hill repeats as it will calm the mental fatigue I have been feeling and provide a much needed balance.  Tomorrow will bring another path; the hill remains undetermined.

The Daily Good

The robin’s nest is lively!  On Monday morning I could hear faint chirping of chicks and the chirps have become louder each day. Each time Friend Robin returns with food, the nest erupts in excitement.  The nest remains so well hidden I cannot get a clear photo but tonight after my hill run I was graced with a few seconds of watching at least two little beaks straining to reach the worms first.  So much fun to watch!

 

 

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Me, A Nomad? Sure.

Could I have a nomadic lifestyle? Today that answer is yes!  How liberating to be released from the mundane tasks of the every day. To be nomadic wouldn’t you  have to free yourself from the confines of things like a mortgage or a job?  Given the resources and the opportunity I would give it a go.  But I’d want a home base of some kind – just to know how far I went and to make me venture a little farther next time.

Cue the dreamy music….
In my dreamy version of the nomadic lifestyle, I approach a fork in the road and turn left to the non-dusty dirt path where I glide effortlessly over smooth footing. My amazingly beautiful long chestnut brown hair glistens in the dappled sunlight while my flowing gown of white silk floats around me like a cloud. The Husband would await my arrival at a linen draped table under an oak tree in the meadow.  Deer frolic in the distance. We feast on a delicious, healthy whole food meal prepared magically by a kind soul who saw fit to be generous with his bounty of free range organically farmed goods.  Then we relax in a hammock and enjoy the sunset as it twinkles away on a horizon of crystal seas while we discuss where to go tomorrow.  Perhaps down the other path this time.  Ready the llamas for a trip!
The needle on the record player skids across the vinyl….
 

Come on.  I’ve been up since the crack of ass, working.  After work I drove to the store to purchase groceries, where I proceeded to wander around like a lunatic because I forgot the list and couldn’t remember what I went for.  After ten minutes my basket contained steak, mushrooms and multi-grain cereal.  Finally I gave up trying to remember the real list and drove home, hoping that I would have enough energy left to cook.    Upon arriving home I was reminded by The Boy that I forgot bananas. I then reminded him the he knew where the store was.  It was soon after this exchange that I feasted on the impulse purchase of a mini-tub of chocolate peanut butter ice cream which was certainly never on the list.  Now I hope that the sugar high doesn’t get in the way of my sleep, because I need to sleep and get up at the crack of ass again tomorrow.  And the husband?  Well, he is in college, living in a condo in student residence, studying for an exam for career part 2 .   We refer to the condo as the ‘vacation retreat’.  It is not a retreat, not even close.  It is good fodder for another post though.   So – it is two homes, eight hours apart.

What the H.E.double.hockey.sticks hell is going on?  It is part of a plan.  Will it lead to the nomadic lifestyle?  Sweet muther.  Who knows?!  What I do know is that today the steaks turned out ok and I should have bought the skinny version of the ice cream.

The Daily Good

We have a bird’s nest in a tree in our back yard!!!  The nest is in one of the self-seeded green ash trees that line the east side of our deck.  I can barely see the nest which is good because it means the dogs and the horrid magpies haven’t found it yet either.  I’ve been trying desperately to get a picture but I cannot easily do this and I don’t want to scare it off. I know it is a robin.  When I’m in the kitchen I can see the bird fly in and out on a quest for food and drink. I’m so excited! I have no idea what else is in the nest but it is a great adventure!  Thank you Friend Robin.

Friend Robin looks like this.  Kind of scruffy!

Friend Robin looks like this. Kind of scruffy!

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The Natural World – Yes Please!

Daily Prompt:  Describe your first memorable experience exploring and spending time in nature. Were you in awe? Or were you not impressed? Would you rather spend time in the forest or the city? 

My first real memory of being in nature is me at four or five years old running through an immense meadow of grass far far away from my home.  The reality is that it was probably an undeveloped lot within site of my mother’s kitchen window  – but it felt HUGE! I felt free!  These flowers always remind me of that meadow:

Castilleja_coccinea_plant - A flower from my childhood.

Castilleja_coccinea_plant – A flower from my childhood.

 

Perhaps it is no surprise that my favorite running routes are on paths near to water and well within nature.  I am so blessed to live near a provincial park where I can tour on dirt, shale and even paved pathways.  On truly special days you can see coyotes or deer or even a moose.  It is special to me.

A shale pathway in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

A shale pathway in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Good 

We are frequent visitors to the dog parks within our city.  Today we headed out for some fun.  It was hot!

Jessie, Patti, Pepper

Jessie, Patti, Pepper

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Daily Prompt: No Longer a Mere Mortal

I love that this Daily Prompt is also my return to this blog.

How lofty to think one would be deserving enough to be immortal.  A do over? Mulligan? Where to begin?!  On one hand, doesn’t a person need all the experiences and life lessons to become who they are? On the other hand, it sure could save a lot of time and (potential) heartache by cutting to the core a little quicker.  What would I change? With out a shadow of a doubt I would have paid heed to my inner voice much sooner.    It surely would have steered my direction down a few different paths.  I’ve always been an honest person and I would hope that I would use my immortality for good.   It really would be tempting to set up a few things though…ahh…there’s my inner voice telling me not to do it.

The Daily Good

I have a week of Daily Good to report but I will focus on last Friday.  Calgary began flooding on Thursday, June 20th, 2013. Our beautiful rivers became liquid monsters – consuming everything in their path.  While my home is not close to flood zone and remained perfectly intact, I have a story to share.

Last Friday my place of work became a temporary evacuation centre for approximately 300 seniors.  These folks were whisked out of the comfort of their beds, rooms and familiar surroundings to be carted across the city to higher ground.  They came to rest in the middle of a recreation complex made of bricks and glass.  It was heartbreaking to see the steady stream of seniors in wheelchairs coming through the front doors, confusion etched on to their faces, frail hands clutching a clear plastic bag containing medical information and medicine.  On the back of the wheel chair was a quickly gathered care package and maybe a purse.  Some folks did not know where they were – the cruel evidence of dementia. Some were crying.  All were frightened.

There was a circle of care around these people.  The circle consisted of municipal coordinators, health care providers and wonderful care givers.  And then the volunteers came. All through the night and into the next day, firemen, paramedics, care givers, nurses, doctors, even a pharmacist came to help on their own time.  In the early hours of this event, volunteers went to buy socks and sweatpants with their own money because a recreation centre is cold.  Truck after truck filled with medical equipment and supplies showed up.  A semi-truck of cots arrived near midnight on Friday and it was emptied and disbursed within minutes. Hot food appeared for the seniors and the circle of care providers.  Throughout the day, night and next day the building pulsed with a steady hum of organized chaos.

So, what is the Daily Good found within my story?  It is bearing witness to the character and compassion of strangers who became a team for a cause greater than themselves. It appeared to be a seamless and coordinated effort.   Fortunately, the seniors were moved to appropriate lodging by midnight on Saturday. Every last piece of equipment was removed and the entire facility came to rest.  Silence echoed in the empty space.  However, the spirit of those thirty-six hours will resonate loudly for a long time to come.

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No risk, no reward.

Daily Prompt: What are you more comfortable with — routine and planning, or laissez-faire spontaneity?

Oh, and this topic on a Friday!  Bonus.

Googled: Spontaneity.  Result from Merriam-Webster online: 
1: the quality or state of being spontaneous
2: voluntary or undetermined action or movement; also: its source
 

1) On being spontaneous.  Well, because I am a Gemini, I have two versions.  My practical, logical side screams with fright and hides under the bed at the thought of being spontaneous.  My fun-seeking, throw caution to the wind side says ” Let’s go!”  My reality is somewhere in the middle with calculated risk equalling a suitable reward.  Have I veered off in either direction?  Yep.  Has it been ok? Mostly.  I think sometimes we think to much…

2) Voluntary or undetermined action or movement.  Ahh.. yes.  For me, this may reflect the times when times of frustration or weakness overrule logic.  Example #1:  Run a marathon with an injured hip.  What could possibly happen?  Result: further injury, not lacing up the running shoes again for a year, “monkey” off the back.  Example #2:  Implement “Cake Friday” at work as a means to embrace the awesomeness of cake and foster workplace camaraderie.  Result:  renewed need to begin running again…

The Daily Good:

Today I woke up at 4AM.  This is not a good thing for me as I am not a morning person. However, rather than tossing and turning and clock-watching; I embraced the cold, snowy, foggy darkness of this ridiculous hour and began my morning routine.  So far, so good!  The coffee was delicious, slow-cooker is prepped and a possible late afternoon nap penciled in.  TGIF!!

 

 

 

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To Give or Not To Give

Daily Prompt:  The Letter L.

Charity begins at home.  Did you hear that growing up?  I did.  I went to work for a not-for-profit and now every day has a chunk of charity in it.  give

I am often frustrated by charities.  When you dig a bit beyond the surface of some, their operating costs and what those costs consists of frighten me.  On the other hand, the cost of not supporting fundraising is just as scary.

The not-for-profit I work for often puts on fundraising drives with a shoe-string budget.  From the perspective of organizing such a production, it becomes very taxing trying to stretch twenty-five bucks into a superstar event.   Somehow we get what we need but at what cost?  Spirit and drive of staff?  Perhaps.

On the other hand, I receive unwanted “gifts” from a research charity that I have given my hard earned money to.  Each time I receive my “gift” I make contact and ask them to stop.  They do not.  I did not donate to them this year.

Is there a happy medium?  Do “givers” want to be recognized?  Does more operating cost mean a better outcome?  I’m not sure.

*end of Daily Prompt challenge*

The Daily Good

I am so happy to say that I went on a walk-about today and saw a new café being in the finishing stages.  Full disclosure:  I have been stalking the area for the last couple of months – waiting.  This little café will be operated by a fine woman who is one of the hardest working, honest folks I have had the pleasure of knowing.  After an unceremonious end to her longevity with her employer, she picked herself up, dusted herself off and moved forward.  I cannot wait to have her lunch special next week!!  I will be telling everyone that she is back and better than ever!  Victory!!

 

 

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A week in review…sort of

I’ve been looking at the Daily Prompts over the last week or so.  Each one has inspired me.  However, I have not been able to put more than ten words down without it becoming a jumble of nonsense.  Complete lack of focus.  And so, I begin the summary version of a few of the daily prompts of the last week.

No Thanks.  A place I would never want to visit.  Hmm… I do not think I have one of those.  I mean, every experience builds you up, right?  Even the ones that are challenging will surely provide you with growth and learning.

Places.  Beach, mountain, forest?  Yes please!  All of it.  I am blessed to be able to see the mountains every day.  We live close to Fish Creek Provincial Park.  It lies within the city limits and you can imagine being in a real forest.  And the real forest is only a short drive away.  The beach?  Well, OGG is a six-hour flight.  I will go again, soon.

Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Buffalo Nickel.  First coin I find, what was I doing that year?  1991.  That was a year!  I moved to YYC, got married, bought a house, started making plans to be a grown-up.  Still here, same husband, same house, still wondering what to be when I grow up.  Ha ha ha!!!

Seconds.  Describe your favorite meal.  I admit I am an emotional eater.  So the favorite meal will vary on any given day.  Food always tastes better when paired with laughter, though.  (Unless circumstances bring you to a wedge of brie, a small jar of fig jam and the perfect crisp cracker – that is something to be treasured all by yourself).

A final note on my week:   Life has a funny way of sending you in different directions.  On the outside things may appear the same while on the inside you may be gutted like a fish.  And even if the changes which impact you are positive, perhaps it is not what you expected or planned for.  The key, for me, is acknowledging and accepting the changes and challenges that have been put before me and looking forward with openness.  And so I tell myself – Snap Out of It! Life is good. Pass the brie.

The Daily Good:

Yesterday is The Daily Good that is today.  Today is a snow storm in YYC – it is ripper!!  It is not unusual to have this happen in March, our biggest snowfalls (in my memory) happen in March.  There was a time when I would relish in the story of running through a blizzard, but not so much now.  Yesterday, a couple running friends and I did our long run in snow-free conditions along the river in Fish Creek.  We had fog and a cool temperature and the smell of snow was in the air.  It was glorious.  It was a Weekend Good!

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What is normal? Daily Prompt response…

Many of us think of our lives as boringly normal, while others live the high life. Take a step back, and take a look at your life as an outsider might. Now, tell us at least six unique, exciting, or just plain odd things about yourself.

Things about me….

Coffee – back away until I’ve had mine.  Fresh ground beans please.

Invisibility – my preferred superpower.   I like to observe folks and it is awkward when they catch you watching them…

Honest – Yes!  Isn’t it easier to be honest than to create a diversion to circumvent an issue?  Who has the energy for that?  Not me.

Fashion – Thank goodness I wear a butt ugly staff t-shirt for work.   And yes, you can wear Birks with socks in the winter.

Loyalty – I am fiercely loyal to those I care about, to a fault.  I am deeply wounded when I am slighted by those I have let get close to me.

A sense of humor – I have one.  How else would I get through life?

The Daily Good:   When I sit at my writing desk, I look out into the top ten feet of the green ash tree we planted some twenty years ago.  Today I looked up to see a Northern Flicker Woodpecker stop by to perch, for a moment, in the winter-naked branches of the tree.  (I only know it was a Northern Flicker Woodpecker because I spent 45 minutes on the internet researching Birds in Calgary).  Such a handsome bird!

A Northern Flicker Woodpecker. Very handsome.

A Northern Flicker Woodpecker. Very handsome.

 

A bonus Daily Good is that from this view I can also see a flock of pigeons sitting on the grouchy neighbour’s roof.  It appears that they roost there often – the brown roof top is fairly white and yet it hasn’t snowed for a time.      …ahh…Karma…

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Sunshine & Angry Hair

I had an Angry Hair run today.  Overall, the run was good, even if a bit…jagged.  It is a loop run that I have pounded out many times.  The beginning (and end) involves climbing then descending a pedestrian overpass to cross a major roadway.  There have been times when I have been woefully defeated on the upward climb, even in the beginning.  I do not like running hills or undulations of any sort.  But today – victory!!

During my run I was thinking about the Daily Post writing prompt today asking about when was the last time someone said that they were proud of me.  Good lord.  I have absolutely no idea…but thanks for asking. And what a strange thing to ask!  It feels odd to even think about; akin to fishing for compliments (which I am NOT!! doing).  I almost need another run just to clear out this idea.  Or a piece of cake.  Cake will work, too.  Happy Friday!

The Daily Good:  Well, it is February 15th, in Canada and I ran outside in short sleeves!  Goodness knows we will pay for this reprieve from winter but what a glorious midday adventure it was!

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