Friday, December 3, 2010

Bucket List! Numbers 22 and 23 and 24!

22.  Learn to dance the flamenco
23.  Learn to speak Spanish!
24.  Learn to roll the "rrrr's"!

Journeys

It occurred to me today, the way it has occurred to me many times before: I'm alive and am having to take two journeys at the same time.  One journey is one that I Never would have chosen, that of widowhood.  The other is, maybe because of the first one, the journey I can choose where it takes me! Some people in my life had said that it's all about me now.  Frankly, that terrified me!  I love caring for others and I'm used to making one person my soul focus as I had for almost twenty years.  It's all about me. When I look at my bucket list, I realize that some of them weren't easy to list.  They seemed impossible, but I think, maybe that's why I put them there.  I like the challenge of making many of those on the list part of my journey and very much possible!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Days Like This

It's days like this,

       Where the grey of the sky matches the cold gray of the ocean water,
       Where the rain mixes with snow after the sun comes out, briefly promising a new day,
       Where a heart, not ready for the season, wants to shut out the too-early Christmas music,
        and the ho, ho, ho's of the mall Santa making me want to hide.

It's days like this,

        Where the moods of those around can't be shut out,
        Where the self-importance of a few people who earn more than I do,
               can seem to knock me below ground,
      
       That I have to work harder at seeing the blue in the sky,
       The green of the grass and plant life still breathing, and the promise of goals met.

       That I need to look harder into myself to say "Are those people that important?"
       That I have goals and, as hard as it is some days, I will achieve them!




     

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bucket List : Numbers 14 to 21.

14.  Drive a tractor on a farm.
15.  Visit Northern Ireland where my Great Grandmother, Annie Harbottle, was born.
16.  Visit Carrington, North Dakota, where my Grandmother, Violet Hughes, was born.
17.  Go skiing at Whistler (I've skiied before, but never at Whistler).
18. Work as a Library Tech at a library for longer than 3 years.
19. Complete Degree requirements, get BA and then MLIS (even if I'm 80 when I'm done!)
20. Live on a houseboat.
21. Ride a canal boat through Britain and Europe (doesn't have to be fancy, just floats well).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bucket List : Numbers 11, 12, and 13.

I've always wanted to go back to Zambia (or anywhere in Africa) so:

11.  Volunteer at an orphanage.
12. Take a safari.
13.  Place flowers on the grave of my foster sister, Ruth Nakazwe.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bucket List 6-10

6. Get over my fear of snakes by staying in Australia or any of the countries in earlier postings.
7. Get more singing lessons.
8. Ride in a hot air balloon.
9. Hike the Chilkoot Trail in the Yukon up to Dawson City.
10. Sing in a nightclub.

Count on it, I'll be coming up with more.
11-15 coming up tomorrow.

Bucket List

I do not plan to kick the bucket anyday soon, but I have constructed a list of all things (so far) that I want to achieve or try in my life.  I sometimes get diverted but it's always there in the back of my mind.  Here they are, as I said, so far:

1. Ride a camel.
2. Ride a horse (I have ridden a horse...I just want to ride more often).
3. Stay in a yurt for a few weeks and write about what's like.
4. Cut a cd.  (If Susan Boyle can do it, so can I).
5. Ride an elephant (in India or Africa).


I have many others, but I have to go get ready for a dinner party.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Open Your Eyes

I'm still haunted by it.  The sound of voices all over the ICU ward, "Open your eyes, Jason!", "Open your eyes, George" and etc.  I also wanted your eyes to open but who could know the peace that lay behind your closed lids.  I hope it was peace.  After your body became exhausted by it's convulsions, your new heart valve beating strong, you were no longer the man with his bright eyes and beautiful smile.  You left me on Saturday although your body quit on Easter Monday.

I promised I'd move on, as hard as it was.  I was hoping you'd open your eyes and say, "Kidding!"  It would be a sick joke in many ways, but at least you'd still be with me. 

I see beauty all around me, the gorgeous green and blue of the ocean, bald eagles, rabbits and racoons.  I'm finally opening my eyes to beauty instead of keeping them closed, protecting myself against the reality you are no longer there.  You once wondered in anger, "do I make any difference to you?"  Oh, yes, you do and did.  My shell, which was tough and determined to stay on, is coming off and I'm seeing the sun again and it feels warm.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Signs of the Future (title for now)

I was exhausted...but not in a bad way.  I had just came from a workshop called "Learning for Life: Web-based Skill-Building Modules".  It was a job skills workshop that left me both exhausted.and exhilherated!

Most of the workshops that I have or will go to have two times: one, for the deaf and one, (in the afternoon) for the hard of hearing.  That afternoon, the facilitator signed the whole workshop and an interpreter was on hand to interpret Karen's spirited signing and for those of us (only two) who were hard of hearing and didn't understand ASL (American Sign Language).  That will be yet another course I want to take and am already trying (when I can) to practice some of it.

Was there silence in that little room?  Oh, no!  It was actually pretty noisy and exciting.  When you get six people signing all at once(including the interpreter), it's very noisy!  Donna also signed anything I or Joanna wanted to ask or say. 

I looked back and forth between Karen and Donna, trying, alternatively, to listen to Karen and to read Donna's lips.

I'd been to many employment skills workshops since my youth, but nothing, nothing, came close to today's feeling of wanting to be prepared for work.  I felt validated, hearing the stories of other people's struggles with employment; for instance, bosses that don't want to take the time or trouble to listen a little longer or provide what could help the employee perform their job better.  It was also good to hear that I wasn't the only one, where people just assumed I could read lips.  I do better than I used to, but I still have a ways to go and need to ask repeatedly what people say.  Some say "just talking to myself" or "never mind."  They don't help with communication.  I really want to hear what people say.

I still have over a week of more workshops and look forward to them all!  It is so empowering to be around so many great people with different ranges of hearing loss.  The facilitator can drive!  I know, I shouldn't be surprised, but one of the reasons I've held off on getting my license is my inabiltiy to hear some sounds behind me.  If Karen can do it, so can I!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kitsilano High

I am at Arbutus Coffee on Arbutus and West 6th.  I'm sitting on a bench at a wobbly table outside the coffee house.

I'm trying not to get a free high from the fellow around the corner smoking weed.  Luckily, he is away from the main entrance of the coffee house.  Because I am going, in an hour, to the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I don't want to be even slightly stoned.  That stuff is pretty potent--I still smell it. 

My table is right across the street from another old building, probably a store in the original incarnation, now set up as apartments. It has bay windows and has been maintained well by whoever owns it with great respect for the time it was built. 

Talk about a high--I"m looking at a side of Arbutus with a long row of cottage-style old homes, mature trees, and a pinscher cross, who trots happily towards me even though he is on a leash.  He becomes a friendly companion for a short time and I pet him, his intelligent eyes looking up at me.

There are modern apartment buildings in this area as well, but they do not grab my imagination or yearning.  Then again, anything to someday live here, sitting outside a coffee house, feeling high without weed.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Renewal on the Water

Sitting on a bench on Kitsilano Beach,
not wanting to move.
I'm afraid of missing something.

I can't be everywhere; I just want to be here...for the moment at least.

The slapping of balls by palms or fists over volleyball nets (several games at once),
Bare feet dancing and hopping in the sand, trying not to let the ball fall.

The salty, fishy smell of the beach and the people not caring what time or even what day it is.

I don't want to leave this haven in the city, where a young man pulls out his guitar, adding to the music of the sea.


Container ships wait in the bay, companions to the smaller boats --- sailboats, kayaks, and water taxis, and...unfortunately, power boats that scar the smoothness of the water.

Thankfully, I can't hear the ugly, macho-driven speed monsters.
Luckily, the sound of guitar strumming, chatter of power-walkers, and laughter of children are drowning it out!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Walking on Water or Flying?

I cannot truly say what attracts me to this picture. Is it the young man's body as he seems to effortlessly fly across the water?  I watched him for quite a while.  His arms stretched out in different directions, he could almost be a bird in the sky surfing the clouds.  Somehow, he reminds me of the Silver Surfer I'm sure I've seen in some comic books.  He seems like he's holding the sky and the twinkling water in his control.  While I'd never do it, skimming across the small pools of water seem like walking on water.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kerrisdale

I'm looking down West 41st, once again accompanied by the memory of my favourite travel companion, Jason.  No, he's not really here and I truly hope he's at peace. 

At different times over many Christmas and summer holidays spent in Vancouver, he and I walked, hand in hand, down West 41st enjoying some of the little specialty stores and sidewalk cafes.  We crossed the East and West Boulevards (it's actually Arbutus Street, I think, but, in this area, the signs simply say "West Boulevard" and "East Boulevard").

A long band of green space in the middle divides the boulevards and an unused (at least by a train) track runs down the middle amongst the greenery.  Only children and walkers use this now.  What is it about train tracks that make it irresistable to me and others? 

Going down the streets off the main road, mature trees stand majestically.  I walk by where my sister and her husband once lived while still living in Vancouver.  The street and area is still beautiful with character houses--some being renovated.

As usual, I feel Jason's actual absence, but am determined to enjoy it and dream for the both of us.  I sit outside a cafe, nursing an iced mocha and watch people going back and forth, feeling happy and energized as time goes by. 

A lone feather, at the time I'm writing this has landed on my foot. Vancouver has a great many birds, especially seabirds so I don't react at first, but it's alone.  Who knows?  I remember once Jason told me he wanted to come back as an Eagle!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fire Clouds in the Sky

I was walking with my mother on Crescent Beach tonight after my math class.  The sky over the ocean as the sun is going down is capable of such change.  No two sunsets I've seen over the water is ever the same.  On the way to the beach, Mum pointed over to the ocean and said that "it looks like the sky is on fire!"  and it did!  Colours of bright red and orange lit up even the sides of houses and cottages almost like a huge fire.

In the sky, I noticed that when the light hits it, actually looks like an ocean above the ocean with waves and ripples.  A pointy orange cloud looked like a volcanic mountain in a distant sea far above the ocean (if that makes any sense).  A whole new world seems to exist every night depending on placement of clouds and sun.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vancouver--Bloom off of the Rose?

I discovered something yesterday--while I still love Vancouver, I realized it couldn't always give to me!  That sounds selfish, I know, but I was hit with a heavy fit of depression and was thinking: why aren't you cheering me up, Vancouver? I was, and still will credit the city for inspiring good feelings in me; however, I know that I have to bring something to Vancouver as well!  It inspires me to write!  I need to write!  I can't wait for it to glow and inspire in order for me to write.  I need to do it!  I was expecting Vancouver to cure me of loneliness, grief, and hopelessness.

I don't know how many of you know Evita! (the musical), but there is a fabulous song in it when Eva Duarte-Peron is arriving for the first time in Buenos Aires and she sings how she's looking forward what it can give her.  She also talks, in a song before, that she wants to "B A part of BA Buenos Aires"!  While I have no intention of doing what Eva did to get to where she got (slept her way up to first lady of Argentina, I admired her spirit of putting herself out there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Dream On"

When does dreaming AND wishing end?
Does it ever?
To find the balance of dreaming and actual doing is what I dream most of.

"Dream On", many say in this society with sarcasm dripping like tar.
I could stop dreaming what I dream or I could take it as a dare.

Better yet, "Dream On" is a not-so-gentle nudge to balance dreaming and doing or to consistently work towards it.

City of Beauty-Two Poems

Busy city
Crowds, traffic, beauty.
Parks
(My attempt at Haiku).


Waterfalls and cement
Compatible--in a strange way.

Green grass topping Coal Harbour Centre,
People sunworshipping on top.

Skytrain flying over Vancouver
Burnaby, New Westminster, and Metrotown.

Views of ocean and mountains
...and industry.

Majesty and manufacturing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stone Bridge

I want to fly free,
To learn to stand alone and fly alone,
To learn not to care what others think.



I want to fly free,
To learn love all over again,
For me...for others...maybe, someday....
Is already here!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Step One and THEN Step Two

Oh, the things you need to do before you get to where you want to be.

I need to live with my mother and step-father until I'm settled - with a permanent job and place of my own.  It feels, at times, like I never will again walk into my own living room or kitchen.  I know I will but I want it tomorrow!

I'm impatient these days, wanting to perform step three before I finish step one.  In a sense, I am starting from scratch again.  For over twenty years, I was part of a loving twosome.  Though I moved to the coast last fall, I needed to get my bearings, both literal and figurative.  I needed to learn to see the coast as a new resident, not just as a tourist that I've been for so many years.

Tomorrow, I go to Adecco for a job interview.  I'm nervous, but practically bouncing up and down with excitement and impatience.  I want to do the interview now!  I want to work towards the independence I've worked so hard to develop and need to re-learn now as a "single" person.

I'm going to school now and need to complete  the math I quit in high school.  Not being strong, at all, in mathematics, I quit math in grade 10 out of a sense, then, of hopelessness and frustration.  Now, in order to get into a Bachelor of Arts program in English, I need to not only re-acquaint myself with mathematics, but to persist and maybe even learn to enjoy it.  To quote a cliche, I always seem to want to put the cart before the horse.

Step One before Step Two; crawling before walking.  Remember!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our Girl, Sirrah!

Our Girl, Sirrah!
Written by Patti White

Your ears point forward, your tail waves happily back and forth as you poke your nose
through a space in the fence.

I only got to know you for 3 weeks
And I could never leave for a walk with you without my camera.
You took my breath away
And put me under a spell, where I didn't dare miss anything--at least that's what I was afraid of.

It seems you sailed over a fence, effortlessly.
I don't know where you are for a little while then see you run up to me, as if to check where I am just as
much as I'm looking for you.

I see you, now, at the side of a handsome, dark-haired gentleman.
He's on his knees and cuddling you around the neck the way I always loved to do.
He died before he got to meet you, but now, I do believe you're together.
Your mouths are both open in joy as you both collapse in the grass.
You roll onto your back, exposing your tummy and he rubs it, the way you loved it
when we all did.

You watch over your whole family from your place just above the house.
Nothing, no dog, can take your place in their hearts or mine.

In your short life, you took care of all of us
And I'll remember your gentle, soulful eyes and ways both playful and graceful.
Thank you, Sirrah, for being more than man's best friend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Coastal Gloaming

Scotland has a famous song that is still sung today although I haven't heard it lately.  "Roamin' in the Gloamin'" speaks of the most beautiful time of the day. Twilight, or the gloaming, has always been one of my favourite parts of a day.  After I got off the bus in Ocean Park, the sun highlighted the many colours of the trees and flowers as if someone had suddenly decided that the green leaves had to be a bit more of a golden shade and the purple rhododendrons had to be more purple than they are during the day.  Tulips stood up, proudly, in many different colours even brighter than in the middle of the day.

I always love being near the ocean and today I didn't go down to the beach, but there's a view before the bus turns on Thrift Avenue in White Rock.  Sparkles of white appear like diamonds among the turquoise and blue of the water.  I've seen the sun go down many times on the beach and can well imagine the many who go down just to look at the sunset with the sun beams sprayed out between a few of the clouds just before the sun goes down.

I know that I must sound horribly saccharine right now and I know I'm about to go into a major cliche, but here it goes: always take time to smell and look at the flowers!  I used to hate that clliche but I'm amazed at the times where I"ve stood still like I've been struck by lightening taking in the early evening smells and colours.

Jason White with beautiful White Rock sunset. Two beautiful things! How lucky!

How easy it would be to say that your memory is distracting me from the future. It would be so easy to say "I can't do it anymore!" When you were alive, you pushed me to be the very best, giving me loving encouragement! You would never let me give up or play the victim card. You push me forward still, though I find myself with tears in my eyes from time to time. I made you a promise and I'm going to keep it, sweetheart! I told you I'd keep going even if it hurt! It was a promise that was difficult to keep, but keep it, I will!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wedding on the Beach

What a perfect spot to get married.
Crystal lights on the water lit by the sun,
Family and friends, arm in arm, as witnesses.
Seagulls flying overhead!

May your marriage by long, happy, and healthy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gift of Hearing

I originally wrote this article about 5 or 6 years ago, but have added a few changes.

Several years ago, I learned I was hearing impaired.  I had been given an amazing gift.  I know, for many, it wouldn't feel like a gift.  Sometimes it doesn't even to me.  It still is, though.  Here are a few examples of what I've experienced before I was tested and try to imagine:

...watching a television with bad sound.  You see the people talking, moving their mouths, and pick up a few words here and there.  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to hear what they're saying, it's more like a hum or expressive mumbling you hear.  You can only fully hear a few words.

You're in a meeting and again, the odd words seem to make sense.  The rest are, again, more of a mumbling hum.  Someone turns to you and asks what you think.  You feel thrilled to be asked; however, there is a sense of embarrassment as well.  You know you were focusing.  You know that you weren't really thinking of anything else, but you've missed out on the main reason for being at the meeting at all.  This could also be a class you were in.  Your teacher picks you out of the whole class and asks you for an answer to her question.  You look at her blankly and she says, in front of the class, "Someone Wasn't Listening!"  The class laughs.  Unfortunately you did hear the teacher that time or at least the obvious gist.

At many points in my life, I've found it hard to see my hearing loss as a gift.  After years of experiencing situations such as this, I finally had my hearing testing in 1990.  I had been tested as a child. However, in those days, it was believed that you were either deaf or not.  There was NO grey area.  Tests kept coming out negative and I often heard "Nothing wrong with her hearing," they said, "she's just not learning well."  My marks in school were horrible.  I withdrew more and more into myself because it was easier than being around people I felt had perceived me as being stupid.  Some even outwardly said it.  As said earlier, I finally got my hearing tested (my husband waited for me in the lobby).  I was asked, as I was again today, to push a button whenever I heard a different sound in a variety of volumes and frequencies.  I then had to repeat words I heard through the earphones.  It turned out I was suffering from moderate to severe nerve deafness.  I could not hear different sounds the way they were meant to be heard.  Today, I found I was picking up very few words starting with consonants.  "D" and "T" sounded exactly alike.  I was hearing words along that were inappropriate for different situations or conversations.  I would wonder why people were laughing, but realized that my answers were totally out of sinc.  Sometimes, I would unintentionally hurt some one's feelings because they felt I was either ignoring them or criticizing what I thought I heard. 

Hearing aids were researched.  What would be the best solution to my problem?  I was fitted, at one time, with one hearing aid, thinking that was all I needed.  Later I purchased, with help from family (the hearing aids cost $2,500 per ear!)

I decided, once I realized what was happening, that I wanted to upgrade my English marks.  My marks were horrible in grade school, but, there I went, to summer school, tape recorder and binder in my arms.  For the first time in my life, I was getting "A's"  I was actually almost at the top of my English and grammar course.  I got 100% on an exam on Hamlet!  Something was happening and I was happy!  With my little tape recorder, I could play over and over again what my instructor was saying until I picked up the words and compared them with the notes on paper.  I really couldn't believe those were my marks!

Jason, my husband, got a job in Calgary (we were in Saskatoon at the time) and there, I decided to go to school.  I'd always loved libraries and heard there was a post-secondary technical school with a program in Library and Information Technology.  I started slowly, with just one course and then built up to several in one semester by the end.  I was absolutely terrified.  Even though my confidence had risen and I knew it was possible to get good marks, I worried that maybe it was all a joke on me.  I had had a very bad experience going to a college in Kingston, studying Early Childhood Education and had become deeply depressed, eventually having to drop out.  Would I go through that again?  No, I was a different person.  Jason encouraged me and stood by me and I knew that I was different as well.

Like the high school upgrading courses I did, I knew, despite my nervousness, that I would do well here too.  Again, I went to school, tape recorder, books, and binders in my back pack.  I was nervous, but because I now knew there were resources for me, I felt free to enjoy learning.  I graduated from SAIT with a diploma from Library and Information Technology with high marks.  Two years after my husband's untimely death, I'm going back to school again--this time to work towards a degree in English.  Despite hearing few words, I love words and reading.  Finding out I had a hearing problem can be a royal pain still and it doesn't always feel like a gift, but, I now know what I can do as opposed to what I can't!  I still struggle with Math, which I'm needing to upgrade, but, now, I'm learning patience!

Time to View the Trees and Boats

I was riding on the bus into Vancouver today and, because of an accident ahead, the bus was moving turtle-like along highway 99.  At times like that, I start out feeling a little anxious.  I was supposed to meet a friend and then go to get some hearing tests done.  My inconvenience was eclipsed, of course, by the inconvenience and trauma suffered by the family at the side of the road with the police.  It didn't look like a huge accident, but the family's day was already ruined.

Before I knew of the accident, I took a deep breath and looked outside the window at Deas Slough.  Despite the word "slough", it's actually a lovely body of water and I was fortunate to see several teams of rowers steadily moving their boats through water and leaving v-shaped wave patterns behind them.  It relaxed me, looking at those rowers. 

Before the bus reaches the place where we can see the slough and cafe, the light through the trees acts like a beacon showing the way to a place of calm.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Little Roo

This isn't in Vancouver, but Adelaide, South Australia. I saw you across the room and fell madly in love with you. I thought at first you were a toy that a man had put in his napsack for his children. Then, your ears flickered and you moved your little head around, taking in all the sounds, smells, and sights of the bookstore. Hard to believe we were in a bookstore. I had only two days before I returned to Canada and once I held you, I teared up, not wanting to let you go. You were so beautiful and I wanted to hold you forever! I thought your hair would be course, but it felt amazingly soft.

 I wouldn't have been surprised if you were terrified. Once everyone realized that you were real, you were surrounded and you wanted to pull your head back into the backpack and baby blanket that had become your pouch. According to the man who'd become your full-time caregiver, your Mum died on the highway, leaving you much too young to venture out of the pouch. You needed her warmth but you had to make do with an artificial pouch. By now, you'll probably be almost full grown. I dearly hope you are safe and warm--and free! I pray you will not be a victim of cruelty and stupidity, but feel the love many felt for you while you were in captivity.  If you are still in captivity, I can only trust that those who are taking care of you will watch out for you while you discover the world.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

UBC

One of the truly most gorgeous university campuses in Canada has to be the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  A mix of modern and historical buildings stand on campus.  One of the buildings I'm talking about is the Irving J. Barber Learning Centre.   From one side, you get the picture of an old stone manor house with beautiful bay windows (perfect for the coast) and an arched doorway.

I walked around yesterday and found the campus buzzing with activity as it always seems to be whenever I visit.. It was exam time but also managed to be party central.  I saw several students walking around with cotton candy or hot dogs.  Tents were erected everywhere with bands and booths promoting different causes and activities. Like I said in so many other postings, there seemed to be happiness everywhere I went.  Of course, I can't speak for those who are stressed out by exams or unhappy for any reason. 

UBC seems to be a university that encourages good health and exercise.  You get the fresh sea air, the trees that are green year around no matter how cold it could be, and flowers (especially tulips and rhododendrons) in the spring. The Pacific Spirit Trail is a popular walking and hiking trail and there are several beaches close by the campus.  I visited two of the libraries on campus and was impressed by the large windows, comfy seats for students to study on (all of them used by conscientious students).  I hope that someday, when I've completed some of my upgrading courses, that I will not only work, but attend UBC as a student.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Roots of Math Phobia

I'm taking a break from my math class for fifteen minutes (along with my instructor and classmates) and what's going through my mind is a question of where my fear came from.  Frankly, I don't know.  I had a memory today where I was still in grade one.  My teacher pulls out the math booklets and my six-year-old stomach contracts.  I don't throw up, but each day I dread that time of day (I think it was the afternoon) where she gets us to put away our reading (my favourite activity) and she pulls out the arithmetic.  I was able to do arithmetic and I often did my work even though I dreaded it (like I had a choice).  To this day, though, I cannot figure out where this math phobia turned up.

I actually enjoyed math these last couple of days.  I still wish I didn't have to do it, but, once I get going and grasp a concept, I"m okay.  I get tested, though, and the familiar old ache returns.  Someday, I'll find the answer!  I'll get it done!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dreaming of Giants

Sitting on the bus on the way into and back from Vancouver, I'd look over at the mountains.  Vancouver's surrounded by them.  Yesterday, they were so clear, big and snowcapped, I almost wanted to walk right over to them.  I felt like a child, imagining myself taking giant steps over to them, grabbing a handful of snow, and tossing it as far as I could.  Of course, they are further away than they look and I'm sure it would take a whole day just to walk to them.

Still, the clarity and cool air yesterday made them assessible, somehow, and I didn't want to stop dreaming.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Birds in the Wind

Today, the wind kicked up the waves.  On the pier, I stopped for a moment, watching a young (I think), grey sea gull trying to fly against the wind and NOT succeeding.

She lifted her wings ready to take flight.  She would get up in the air and the wind would push her backwards almost in slow motion.  Then she'd land, lift her wings again and try and try again to get a little further and each time she'd appear to be flying backwards.  She paused on the sand and then tried again.  I couldn't watch much more as it was painful to see this little seabird try to achieve what seemed impossible.

Humans on the pier and on the beach almost made a game out of letting the strong winds push them forwards or backwards and it was hard to walk a straight line with the gusts.  I looked back at some of the birds flapping in vain against the wind.  Maybe the young gull was playing a game too!  Who knows?!  Before I saw her, two other seagulls flew over me, flapping with every effort and making it down on the other side of the pier.  I could almost imagine them: "Race you to the other side!" one would say, and the other would say, "we'll see about that!"  So many different kinds of life out today yet a similar seeming struggle against pressure pushing you in the opposite direction.  Like the little seagull, we can only hope we're strong enough to push through the wind.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Guitars and Sea Air and Freedom

It seems wherever I go now, I hear the gentle or passionate strumming of a guitar.  Yesterday, I was going up the escalator at the Bridgeport station and I looked down and saw two young men jamming while waiting for the bus to take them to the ferry.  I almost wanted to go back down that up escalator just to hear them.  In Ocean Park, there is a gentleman who sits in different areas near the library who sits and plays a gorgeous tune everytime I hear him.  Thinking he was busking, I almost put some money into his guitar case and he smiled and said "no."  I've seen him since and he and I often say hello to each other or just smile. He was just playing out of love.

There was a busker last Saturday at Granville Island who was playing and singing and making some money, but what he did was add to the already positive feelings surrounding the market.  People sat and ate their lunches, drank their coffees, or just sat enjoying the complimentary senses that made the environment so beautiful.  Guitar and seagulls: a quite harmonious duet or quintet, depending on how many seagulls.  I love to go there and I never feel bad at the end of a day.

I love that people are pulling out there guitars more and more, whether for bringing in money for themselves or just playing for the joy of it.

Keep strumming, people!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hugs from Jason

I was cold last night, wrapped in my sheets and blankets.  I thought I heard a knock on my door so I went to it and there you were--only for a moment.  Suddenly I felt a warmth that sheets and blankets couldn't have given me.  You wrapped me in your arms for only a few minutes and I remembered your bear hugs as only you could give them.  I awoke, realized you weren't really there, but, who knows, maybe you were.  Thank you for that, Sweetheart!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two Pigeons

Two pigeons are waddling back and forth along the rounded window ledge.  One is rather small, yet also chubby.  He is followed by a very well-fed pigeon who moves whenever the smaller moves.  I truly do not know the sexes of the pigeons, but it almost seemed to me like she (for the sake of this posting, the pigeon is a she) was a nursemaid, watching his every move and then fluttering her feathers and shooing him the other direction on the ledge.  Then again, the larger one could be excited by the smaller pigeon, but I'm getting into rather adult territory here.

I'm looking down onto the corner of Robson and Homer Streets and wonder what the pigeons see.  Their shit is all over the ledge and I wonder if they do see humans as potential targets.  Oh, well.  That's me reading too many Far Side Books.

Watercolours

The windows of the bus fogged up.  I used my hand like a windshield wiper, trying to see through the moisture.  As predicted by the weather lady on CBC, it was pouring rain.  I love the sun and miss it when it isn't out, but there is colour to be seen even in the rain.  the trees and farmer's fields are different gorgeous shades of green.  I wish I could paint like my mother, but I realize that I can paint with words and am discovering whole new colours and shades that come into my life.

The bus goes over the river and the water glitters with different shades of blue and green.  As we enter highway 99, Mud Bay comes into view.  Mud Bay is actually mud flats where birds rest and feed. Earlier in my ride today, the bus turned onto a street where the ocean was in close view.  I could see the white caps and loved how the white shone like the sun.

It's supposed to rain for the next ten or so days.  At least it was a warm rain.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"You are on the Right Path"

Until recently, I really didn't know the meaning of Inukshuk.  I like the Inukshuk all the more because I like it's meaning:  "You are on the right path" or "Someone was here."  The curved path surrounds the Inukshuk on English Bay.  Whether I plan to go to English Bay on any given day or not, somehow I seem to be going there more often.  It's a comforting symbol, seeing it towering over the beach, much more meaningful and beautiful than the more modern man-made skyscrapers nearby.

Phobias (especially MATH)

I've spent almost 48 years in a state of fear or should I say fears.  They are crazy, irrational fears, most of them.  Some were rational fears, I think from situations in life I had to face up to and make decisions despite these fears.  I'm no different from most people on this planet.  Everyone struggles with stomache tightening, dizzying, scream-inducing phobias of some kind.   My worst fear (along with death, snakes, etc.) is MATH!

Some of my fears I fought through as I knew I had to get to a specific destination.  I knew that I feared moving to the coast--feared moving without Jason period.  I moved from our home to an apartment on my own and feared being alone.  That fear didn't end, but I grew to love my little apartment.  The next step was leaving Calgary.  That was supposed to be one Jason and I did together!  I did it, though, despite my fear I was deserting him and realized I still have him when I'm on the beach.

I'm fearing not finding work.  That's still true, but the coast is a HUGE area and I fight past my shyness and hand in resumes anyway. 

I'm heading back to school--hopefully.  To get there, I need to pass a MATH test to qualify for entering the Bachelor of Arts program.  MATH!  That's a four-letter word!  I have to do this as I want, desperately, to get into university and I haven't done MATH since high school.  I had a major MATH phobia since grade 1.  My stomache would feel sick everytime I saw the teacher pull out the math booklets  It became a self-fulfilling prophecy: I can't do math!  It didn't help when I had to go up to the board and do the problem in front of the entire class as I went through the grades.
#
   #  +   (for the moment, I'm really not swearing).

Right now, I'm surrounded by scrap paper, pencils, a math textbook and have a MATH website (at this point minimized) on my screen.  I'm experiencing something I wish I had experienced when I was very young: I'm having some fun!  If I can get through this and get the majority of other on-line math quizzes correct, I might at least do a good fifty percent.  Okay, maybe more.  The point is, my stomache is tight with good excitement.  Yesterday, I almost didn't want to leave my computer.  I was doing multiplication of fractions and integers and other things I can multiply.  I had a few questions that I had to look at again, but I did some more and got more right.  I'm not saying, for a moment, that I'll never freeze again when called upon to answer a question related to MATH, but the worst of it is getting past me. I might have to go back to the basics, but that's okay.  The fact is, I'm enjoying myself with Math for the first time in a very long time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

White Rock Reminder of War

I saw a train go by the White Rock beach last week on the way to Vancouver.  That's not unusual.  What was unusual was the cargo and people's response to it.  On at least three large flatbed cars sat army tanks and jeeps.  Inside the coffee house, many got up to see the train.  I sensed curiosity and also a resentment towards that particular cargo.  I really hope it wasn't just me, but even if it is, the tanks were unwelcome. 

There is a sense of paradise to the White Rock waterfront.  Many played with their children, walked along the wet sand as the tide was far out that day.  It was warm and ice cream cones were a favourite snack to eat along the promenade, pier and beach. 

It just didn't fit.  I was glad that the train went by so quickly.  I know war exists and I know that many of our young people are over fighting and trying to save the lives of innocent citizens. Most places I've lived in had army bases.  I know that war exists and that many cannot escape the bloody carnage they see every day.  I am one of many who have, on occasion, said "well, they know what they're getting into."  I'm sure we cannot imagine what they see and deal with every day, but I still say, "Bring them Home! Bring them home so that they can see the ocean or the prairies or the mountains!"  Don't let them have to watch again and again as a brother or sister-in-arms gets carried away in yet another airfield ceremony.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dream

Last night I dreamed I was searching for you.  We had been at an event in a big, green park.

I called your name, frantically, terrified of not being able to find you.  Everyone else made their exit but I still could not find you.  I climbed hills, looked around the trees, and then heard the sound of children laughing!

I looked down into the valley and saw you, cross-legged, children surrounding you, even climbing over your lap.  Some had their little arms tight about your neck.

Your eyes twinkled and you laughed your belly laugh and you weren't even tired!

My heart broke, knowing you were no longer with me, but, at the same time, lightened, seeing you healthy and without the burdens (diabetes and otherwise) that often proved heavy on earth.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Math

To anyone thinks they can escape math, you can't!  I have a qualifying Math exam on Thursday and have to study it until then.  Oh, why do I need math when I'm going into a BA program in English?  Oh, Well.  After this I will be having more posts related to Vancouver and coast.  Until then, study, study, study...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Patterns

The pier and breakwater almost look like an arrow, pointing a way to a new journey or maybe a sunken treasure! The patterns I see on the beach are irregular and in different sizes.  It suits me, I think.  I'm not putting myself down when I say that I am a little odd.  I'm always looking for things that don't exactly match!  More interesting that way!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Promise of Spring

Spring is coming!
I can't wait to see what colour this will be when it blossoms!  Good to think of when things get me down!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons

Lessons that are hard and slow to learn
Are those where you cause pain to someone you care about
Just by not listening or not giving the benefit of doubt.

Easy to judge and get hot-tempered without hearing the rest.
Easy to walk away and abandon when we don't understand
Why a person makes the decisions they do.
All too easy to abandon before hearing the whole story.

Under the Pier



After searching in the morning for work and editing resumes on Friday, I headed down to the White Rock beach. 

I walked under the pier for the first time ever.  All these years of visiting, I can't believe I've never gone down onto the beach, with or without Jason.  I was making my way along the pier (on the top) and looked down.  The tide was out quite a ways that day and, before I knew it, I was walking, almost sinking, slightly, on the wet sand.  I stopped and just stood there, watching other people farther down the beach.  I dug into my packsack and pulled out my camera, loaded it with yet another film, and walked towards where the water settled into little pools. 

It felt strange being below the pier.  The thumps overhead of people walking and running on the pier had a sense of music to it.  I'm sure it didn't matter to the seagulls that I was there, knowing they were used to people sharing the space.

The sun was warm and it was lovely seeing the birds in the shaded pools of water, some just floating, others splashing themselves and ducking underwater for a quick fishy meal.

Since I'd only lived in land-locked provinces (except for Kingston, which was on Lake Ontario), I had never seen barnacles up close.  There was a strange, ugly, beauty about the crustaceans the way they attached themselves to anything (eg. boats, posts of piers, etc.).  I want to read up on them further as I heard Charles Darwin had studied them. Also, I had forgotten that they were actual living creatures (an embarrassing confession).  Now that I live near the ocean, so many things to see.  My mother told me that the crabs start coming out before long and eat the barnacles.  Soon I can look forward to seeing starfish feeding on them as well.

The sand had amazing patterns with lines here and there that snaked themselves North to South; rippled hills of sand from many tide cycles.  I'm sure I'll go to the water tomorrow and see the ripples in a different pattern.  I could see the delightful temptation of people of all ages wanting to tramp down the hills of sand.  Other sections were totally smooth, almost perfect from not being stomped on  I tried not to step on the numerous small shells that were imbedded in the sand.  Perfection also came in the form of a beatiful and complete rose.  I'm sure it had been tossed in memory of a loved one.

I'm amazed at how much I miss when I don't look closely at something.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

From Broadway to Point Grey.

I got happily lost today and discovered a new coffee spot.  Cafe Zucchero, on the corner of West 4th and Bayswater is delightfully friendly and full of character.  Framed photos of Italy decorate the walls.

I actually haven't had coffee here yet, as I was hot and needed ice tea.  I know, without a doubt, that I want to be back for cappucino or any "cino"

I'm sitting at a table, looking across the street on Bayswater, seeing gorgeous pink blossoms on a tree in front of the area's many character buildings. 

There are a couple of tv's in the place, which is not a crime, but no one is looking at them.  Maybe it's just me, but people seem to just want to come chat with the delightfully friendly baristas and experience the ambience (and yes, have coffee).

After I had my cold drink, I walked around the area, trying to find another branch of the Vancouver Public Library.  There are many beautiful tree-lined streets including Baklava Street--oops!  I meant Balaclava Street (always food on my mind).  I had been down to Kitsilano Beach earlier and discovered part of the seawalk past the Kitsilano pool.  I had found Cafe Zucchero, accidentally, because, I just had to see what was in Point Grey.  Many of the homes and apartments in the area were wayyy beyond my budget, but I can always dream of having an apartment in the area (or maybe a room the size of my closet).  The tide was out and was just coming in so I thought I needed to find a place to have something to drink (any excuse).  I walked up yet another gorgeous street--Trafalgar Street--full of character and blossoms, not to mention dog-walkers and joggers.  Posting this, I realize that I'm going back to what I really wanted my blog to be about--Renewal on the Water!

White Mountain Ice Cream

My mother once had a townhouse only five minutes from the White Rock beach. On the corner of Vidal Street  and Marine Drive is a great place called White Mountain Ice Cream.  Nice thing about this place, besides the ice-cream, is that it's open year around.  If it was freezing outside, you could get yourself a delicious hot chocolate or a coffee (brewed or cappucino--whatever your desire).




No matter what the time of year, you could also order ice-cream, as I'm sure you got from the title of this posting.  In the winter, of course, there would be fewer choices, but still a fair variety.

Jason and I, almost from the time we got off of the plane, absolutely had to go to the seaside and we had to, as my loving husband used to tease me about, go to White Mountain Ice Cream.  Of course, we also had to go in the early morning pretty much as soon as we got up.  Any excuse was a great excuse to go to White Mountain Ice Cream. 

Being in land-locked Alberta, Jason and I would be desperate to be near the ocean as soon as we could.  Mum would often laugh as, even when it would be pouring rain, mixed with snow, we'd wrap ourselves in layers topped with a raincoat and head to the pier and then White Mountain (or vice versa).  Most often, we headed to White Mountain first, picked up our ice-cream or coffee, went down to the pier, fiound our favourite bench, and then sat and inhaled the sea air as if we'd never smell it again.  We'd listen to the chatter of both the gulls and the people who would go out onto the pier. 

After Jason's death, I made a pilgrimage--yes, as far as I'm concerned, eating ice-cream is a spiritual experience--I laughed as I saw on the board "Chocolate Monkey".  I truly had never seen the flavour there before but I had to have it.  I'm such a chocoholic that Jason would tell me it was time "...to get the chocolate monkey off my back".  It was absolutely delicious!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day is Done


"Day is done, gone the sun; from the lakes, from the sky...all is well, safely rest..."  I don't remember all of these lyrics but I'm finding it's a song I'm wanting to remember.  I want to put away any disagreements and any stresses and worries.  Not an easy thing to do when you're a habitual worrier like me.  I'm having to learn how to put the day and it's bad moments to rest, how to not let it keep me awake all night.  I also am in a place now, geographically speaking, where I can daily be reminded of the beauty of the day.  There's something in everywhere I've lived that had something so peaceful, I could look and memorize it in my mind.  Funny thing, though.  Night comes and the old worries pile in.  Not a very restful thing.

I watched the Canadian Hockey team win gold, today.  Mum, Andy, and I went down to the White Rock waterfront today.  Red everywhere.  Cheers and whoops in the air.  The water was clear with only very small ripples.  Forgive me if I sound very new-agey right now, but if I could just focus on that water and the smiles I saw on most people today, my chest would unclench and my neck and head would go down to where it feels light.  I've never been a big sports fan, especially hockey, but I felt buoyant and cheerful.  These past few weeks, I have met some amazing people, many who I may never meet again, from different countries.  It's so easy to lose touch with the good, to be what I'm really not: a pessimist!

Day is done!  And it was a wonderful, sunny, and positive day. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Musical Inhibition--NOT

I was riding downtown on the bus today and a young lady of about 18 was riding in the seat in front of me.  She had a huge napsack next to her.

From the time we got on the bus to the time we arrived at Bridgeport Station in Richmond, she was gently bouncing side to side in her seat to the music she was listening to.  It's not the first incidence of people riding and listening, but I smiled as she seemed to be totally with the music.  She wasn't bothering anyone and I could only hear a few tingles of rhythm coming from her earphones.  She looked at the gorgeous scenery going by and her sense of rhythm didn't stop.

I am a music lover, myself, but, at almost 48, I still find myself freezing in action if I'm drawing attention.  I'm not used to not caring what people think.  I'd like to do a good jive or jiggle in public. not caring if anyone's looking at me.

Maybe it's a matter of timing--I almost knocked a few restaurant patrons off of their feet in my need to be uninhibited.  It was an excellent song from the 60's  that required a good "swim" move, the one where arms alternatively take turns crawling to the music.    I thought my girlfriends were right behind me, but, instead I almost "crawled" back into a very sweet young family.  I apologized and was glad they only had a smile and laugh for me.

That was one of my moments lacking in inhibition.  It was fun.  I just have to learn to do it without almost injuring people around me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Accepting and Giving Compliments

What is it in our society that many of us are not great at accepting compliments?  I and many others will often say, "Yeah, yeah!", or "this old thing?", or brush it off as if the ones in our lives give only empty flattery or compliments. 

I can only speak for myself.  I hate to hurt feelings.  I try to see the best in others and hope that, because I'm not an overly blunt person, people will not see me as dishonest. I also give compliments easy because I do see many good things in others.  At times, it has been taken as sheer flattery instead of sincerity.  I could never be a judge on "American Idol" or "Canadian Idol"  as it seems to ask people like me to be harsh and cut down the hard work and practice of those who've put sincere effort into what they do.  I won't tell someone they're brilliant if they're not, but I won't tell them they're crap either!

When I went downtown one day, I saw some old leaves and twigs and right among them was what I saw in this picture!  Gorgeous blossoms!

24

I've never been a numbers person, so I try not to think of numbers having signifance, especially where sadness is concerned. 

I used to love the number "24" as it was the day I was married on June 24, 1989.  I still try to see that number as positive.  Unfortunately, it's also a number I now want to avoid.  The 24th is also the day Jason died after a long weekend with his body fighting against itself.  His brain wasn't working, but his heart kept beating with a new valve.

Every month, I don't go, "okay, tomorrow.  I'm going to be depressed tomorrow because it's the 24th."  I've had good "24ths" since Jason died.  It's only a month until I face the second anniversary of Jason's death and I already feel heavy-hearted.  But, I won't be laying in bed as it is tempting to do.  I'll get a "meatball marinara" sub--footlong and watch a movie he especially loved.  I'll work on my writing and go down to the waterfront with the beautiful promenade and pier. 

Why does a number seem to come to mind even though I have so many positive memories of another "24"?  I can use this day to let the clouds hang over me or I can Thank God for the gift of having him for the time I did.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From Lonsdale Quay at mid-day.  There were boats from Russia, Greece, and Korea in the bay that day.  The smoothness of the water made me want to hop aboard one of the ships to see where it would lay anchor next.  I had a delicious spanakopita while I watched the beauty of the water and the city.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beauty and Chemistry

The whole place could've been empty and they would've just looked at each other while skating.  The routine was thoroughly romantic with the stolen glances, the winks, and the whispered thank-you from Moir to Virtue were just for each other.  As far as I was concerned, they skated beautifully, not just because of their years of training together, but of a love and respect for each other that can only make their already beautiful routine perfect.  Congratulations Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir!  You made Canada proud but you also made us fall in love with you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ski Anticipation

I've been totally enjoying the Olympics and today had to top it--so far.  I watched the Men's Alpine Skiing event today.  While I felt that the run was entirely too icy, I actually felt myself holding onto my chair as the men went down.  It did something to me I didn't think I'd feel again for a long time--Exhilaration!  I wanted to feel the snow and air on my face and the anticipation of wondering if I'd make it down the hill without breaking my neck.  I can't speak for the skiiers, but I almost felt that I wanted to be there, not competing but going down the hill.  Of course, my hill would probably be the second shortest hill on the mountain..

I was never a big sports person as I've often struggled with vertigo, depth perception, and balance.  Hypo-thyroidism when I was small did not help as it affected my muscles and hamstrings.  Gym class from elementary school to junior high was a trial for me from beginning to end.  However, when I went skiing, I couldn't help but love it.  I'm amazed I can say that, as my earliest and most embarrassing memory of skiing, in grade 4, had me hooked on the fence waiting for someone to get me off.  My glasses were all foggy and I was amazed I wasn't crying as my friends swept by me down the hill.  There was also those horrible inventions: the rope and the t-bar.  I hated those with a passion.

In later grades, I again took to the hills.  While I slipped and fell a few times, I didn't end up on the fence. I was determined that I was going to enjoy myself.  I loved going up the chair lift and found it easier to get off of than the t-bar.  I learned, in one lesson, how to ski without my poles!  Again, my favourite word these days--exhilaration!  I haven't skiied for over 30 years, but hope to do it again.  I think I will.  I don't know whether it's that I want to prove myself after all those years being teased about my lack of co-ordination, but I'm finding myself wanting to enjoy things I've either not done or haven't done for a long time.  My mother laughs as my list of things to do (bucket list?) seems to get longer. 
If there is any hint of self-pity, forgive me, but I'm also realizing that maybe my fear of many things has held me back from testing myself more.  Who knows what I'll do next?  Come soon for my list!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Masochism and a Busy Day in White Rock

I was on a small shuttle bus that went down Marine Drive past the water.  Being the time of the Olympics, I thought I'd stay off of the big bus that went from Crescent Beach to Bridgeport Station in Richmond as I believed it would be crowded.  I meant to stay on the bus and just adore the view I love so much.  What happened?  I got off.  I can never just go past the water.  The tide was out and it looked like you could almost walk half-way to Mayne Island.  Okay, that's too far, but children were splashing in the water and chasing seagulls, a young couple was kissing (I walked past them) and a group of young people were bouncing a ball around.  It looked like something you'd see in the summer.  It's not summer, but a gorgeous Saturday.

I decided to scrub Jason's brass plaque clean as the elements always seem to fade it sometimes.  With a piece of sandpaper, a glass of water, an sos pad, and a soft cloth, I lovingly polished the plaque so that it gleamed in the sun. 

I went for an ice-cream, as Jason and I often did, and went to eat it on the pier.  For once, I actually didn't take any pictures.  Somehow, I almost felt like I didn't need to.  I felt peaceful and happy.  The promenade by the water was crowded today, making me wonder what the vacationers in the early part of the twentieth century felt like.  I know that there wouldn't have been many cars in those days but White Rock was one of those places people would come to each summer, many to quite large "cottages".  Also, people would get off of the train in White Rock or get on.  The beautiful train station is still here.  The money from the plaques many people had placed here went towards the maintenance of the station, now the White Rock Museum and Archives.


I don't know why I always do this, but I always either have to walk up one of the steepest streets in White Rock or down.  Today I walked up and prayed that my knees and ankles wouldn't surprise me  and collapse.  I also hoped that my lungs would hold up.   I puffed my way up anyway.  It actually wasn't that bad.  I puffed, but, when I got to the top and looked back down at the water, the pier, and the many people enjoying it, I felt invigorated.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Granville Island Seagull

You landed on silver (or would some say you were gray?) wings and I'm happy you came to me.

After your elegant flight to the ground, you waddled your funny way to me, hoping for anything I had in my lunch.  Sorry, buddy.  As soft as I am and lovely as you are, you just had to watch.  That was my chicken wrap and caesar salad.

Fenced from the Flame

I, too, wish I could get closer to the Olympic Flame.  A large fence has been put between it and us.  I would like to scream and shout at those responsible for this, but I also feel I need to comment on another amazing thing that is out of reach.  Stonehenge was once at the fingertips of those who wanted to experience the power of the ancient stones.  Now, we can still see it, but graffiti and vandalism has scarred it so that no truly respectful person can get near.

I would like to say I trust everyone, but, despite the good feeling towards the Olympics, there will be those who can't let anyone enjoy the sight or the moment. If the fence and "No Trespassing" sign go, can anyone guarantee that someone won't try to destroy it out of anger or on a drunken bet?  How many more things will be out of reach because ignoramuses can't keep their hot little hands off of other people's pleasures?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I wanted to start this off with how I wanted to take the head off of every mannequin wearing sexy lingerie, or how I tear up still when I see cards for "My Sweet Hubby".  Both are temptations. 

Mostly, I want to, as lonely and sad as I feel today, talk about the love I've felt for a man I loved for 20 years.  Jason and I did celebrate Valentine's Day.  We exchanged cards, we went out, dressed up, and placed roses in a vase on our kitchen table.  Valentine's seems sad, though, in other ways.  It's become so commercialized!  I say Yes! Have a romantic night, but don't just have it on Valentine's Day.  Love for each other also means being there through thick and thin.  Yes, that is cliche, but it's true.  You also love each  other when one of the partners is vomiting hopelessly from stomache flu on your tenth anniversary, suffering pneumonia together on Christmas Day (yes, we both had it at the same time!), sitting at the bedside of the other in the hospital, visiting doctors together and hoping that the mole you have isn't malignant melanoma (it was).  It's holding hands and holding your loved one when there's fear.

Love is also laughing together as you realize that, as poor as you are, you really can get a free hot dog at the Ford dealership and meet Nicky Fordinsky (interesting experience).  Jason and I didn't get through 20 years together without clashing.  We made it a ritual, every day, to tell each other we loved each other, even when it was done through clenched teeth.  We were both good yellers! But we ended the days, most days, saying "thank you for the day".

I'm not a love guru, by any means, but, because of some of the hard times and good times, I've had to rethink how I viewed Valentine's Day.  I was given a Valentine's Card this morning by my mother.  I felt horrible because I didn't give her one.  My reason was, as I said earlier, I avoided the Valentine's Card aisle.  I was lucky to have someone in my life romantically, but I've also learned how to see my family, friends, and, even people I've never met, with love.  I truly hope this doesn't sound overly saccarine, but it hasn't come easy.  Even now, as I fight tears over Jason, I want others who have never felt loved to experience it, whether it be romantic for a time or romantic growing into something deeper.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thoughts for someone I never met.

I saw a torch with a beautiful flame today.
Cheers from the crowds, a blanket of red and blue over the crowds, warm spirit everywhere on a crowded Vancouver street.  I really couldn't see a frown anywhere in that great wall of people.

While we all happily cheered on the torch, you fought for your life and lost it within seconds.
A whirlwind of emotions swept through Vancouver and the world.

A celebration continued on despite the tears in many eyes, a steadfast team walked solemnly with heads held high even though you were not there and was supposed to be.

I don't know if you were ever a spiritual person,
But I can't help but feel you were there with them tonight.
You'll be there when your team competes for medals,
Smiling and encouraging your team mates.
You'll also be there if they suffer disappointment, encouraging them to get up again.

I didn't know you, but you're someone's son, brother, and best friend.
I'm so sorry your dream ended like this.  I heard, in some movie years ago, that when people die, they still never stop inspiring others. 

My deepest prayers and condolensces go to the family and team-mates of Nodar Kumaritashvilli, who died so horribly today.  If I have gotten his name wrong, please let me know.  I've never met him, but my heart breaks for him and his loved ones.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Job Hunting in Vancouver

I'm finally getting over a miserable head cold which, I think, started with a job hunt in the rain.  I'm not a doctor so I'm not really sure, but it didn't help.

I headed out on an overcast day a few weeks ago.  There was still sunshine when I left White Rock Centre and I felt all ready for a good day actually pounding the pavement.  I was wearing shoes I believed were comfortable and my resumes in my little daytimer/briefcase.

By the time I got down to Vancouver, it was raining.  I thought: that's okay.  I have an umbrella and I am wearing a good raincoat.  I had lunch first as I needed energy and I was a little cold.    The rain was steady but not pouring by the time I headed to where the school was.  I walked up Heather Street for a few blocks and got to the school. I had to press a buzzer in order to get in, which is understandable in this time we live in.  I went up to the counter to smile and greet the school secretary who said, "Bon Jour!"  She seemed very nice so I said the same thing and then handed her a resume and told her I was interested in a job at the school.  I knew a few scattered phrases in French, but it would not prepare me for the fact it was completely French Immersion.  I have absolutely NO problem with French or French Immersion, but I realized I had wasted my time and I should've really not skipped French in junior high school. 

The rain did continue in a steady way.  It became a steady downpour! My shoes were soaked and my feet were cold.  If I had been smart that day, I would have thought, "you are soaked already.  Go for a coffee then head home."  Another voice said, "take a taxi.  There's one on the corner.  You won't spend much as it's only a few blocks away from the next school."  I really don't hear voices, folks.  I just ignore good gut reactions from time to time.  I saw a bus across West Broadway and got onto it.  I knew it went down Broadway to UBC so it stood to reason I could get off very close to the next school I wanted to apply at.  Well, the bus drove and drove.  I thought, this is a long trip, but there are only a couple of stops from here.  The bus dashed past the street I wanted to get off on.  It went 4 blocks past.  The rain only got worse.  I got off the bus, snapped my umbrella back into position and stomped, as best as I could, towards the street I missed.  Again, reason entered my mind and said, "Give it a rest, White!  You're soaked!"  By this time, I was so drenched and frustrated, I was determined to get this resume in at all costs.  I could imagine walking up to the front desk and saying "HERE!  Hire me, damn it!  PLEASE HIRE ME!  I got there, smiled (hair stuck to my forehead), handed my amazingly dry resume to the secretary and said, "Hello. I'm very interested in this position."  I actually hoped that she would see what I had gone through to get to the school and pass on the resume to the administration of the school.  I would get hired because they would feel I showed great fortitude.  No, I think I just looked wet. 

I knew my mother was planning on visiting friends nearby.  I couldn't reach her so I left a message for her saying that I was going to Starbucks and would then head home.  I ended up going to Blenz across the street as Starbucks was being renovated.  I ordered my coffee and plopped down into the chair.  By the time Mum and my step-father arrived, I was almost laughing over the whole day.  I must have looked like some totally crazy woman.  There wasn't a dry piece of clothing on me or a dry hair on my body.

Moral of the story: listen to your instincts!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

High School Past

I just came off of Facebook.  I had come across, thanks to Facebook, some people I knew in high school and have become friends with them again.  I went for years thinking I wanted no part of high school reunions.  The fact is, when I got beyond my own self-consciousness, I learned about how some of them came through life, what they did, how they felt about high school.  Okay, that last one.  I know how I felt, but how could I know what dreams didn't come true for them or did come true!  Did they also shiver when doing verbal presentations?  Hide in the bathroom so that the one they had a crush on didn't see them in an awful top your Mum insisted you wear?   I feel, no matter what we experienced in high school, the person we are now still has that kid in us but we can now truly hold our heads up high.

I answered some rather inane questions: If you could go back to high school, would you?  No, not really.  Who did you go to prom with?  No one!  Were you more popular than this person?  No. Etc. Etc.  Frustrating thing was, I did answer them for over an hour.  What was in me, I wonder, that made me sit like I had glue on my seat and on the monitor.  Some did make me think, others brought out the smart-aleck attitude I DID NOT have in High School.  It was kind of fun being silly, serious, smart-alecky, even a little rebellious.  I also enjoyed writing, even in short responses, how much I cared for the people I knew then and know now--many who are the same. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Little Silver Companion

I no longer have you, but somehow I've been able to keep going and see beauty around me.
Somehow, I could catch, in a snapshot: memories, objects, life.

I went out for a long walk by the ocean today.
I was feeling empty without you.  I looked into my packsack, hoping to see my little silver companion.
It wasn't there, but at home.

How could a little silver camera be such a comfort for me when you're no longer around? 
Somehow I always hope that when I get a picture developed you'd be right there smiling in one of the shots--maybe even making a face!

I went out for a long walk by the ocean today.
I realized that I needed to trust the memory in my heart,
Imagine your gentle voice and laughter, even without my little silver companion.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trees on the Beach.


We are all individuals,
Some bending over with the wind, others standing strong, and others spreading out as if we can gain strength almost llke an upside-down umbrella.  Isn't it interesting how, even in the same vicinity, nothing takes away from the beauty of the others, even if some look a little creepy and not as easy on the eyes as others.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blue

I didn't know there were so many gorgeous blues in this world.  I snap a picture on the deck of a ferry, get it developed and it looks like a dream, almost mystical!  I know there is a story here! The skies are amazing when they open up and pour a palette of my favourite colour in the world--and before the day closes.
Could I maybe stage a mystery, pirate story or a romance aboard the ferry?  Perhaps soon.  For now, I'll just look at it before I sleep.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mother Nature's Rest Day

Mother Nature has declared today a Rest Day.
She's lowered her clouds like shutters, obstructing the view of the Gulf Islands.
She's calmed the waters of the sea, making a gentle waterbed for gulls and pigeons to rest on
And has provided fish for sleepy eating.

Mother Nature has declared today a Rest Day from the fierce winter storms that blow the ocean into tantrums.

Who doesn't feel sleepy with a gentle, but steady rain?
We need to listen to her and see the rain as an invitation to just be still.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Granville Island--Five Senses Rejuvenated--Part II

Granville Island ignites your senses so much that to really focus on any one sense is cheating the experience.  Smell was a strong and delicious one and often a fishy one.  However, they all overlap here.  You smell the fudge and candy in the market but you also see its mouth-watering creation.  You smell soup, but see the fresh, colourful, and delicious ingredients that go into the soups, stews, and chili. 

Beyond smell and sight, you hear different languages being spoken and people calling out their orders.  Children squeal out in delight at seagulls or out of frustration that their parents have to do "just one more thing" before the family can go outside and feed the gulls and pigeons, not to mention chasing them. 

You can't go without eating (of course) and the market, not to mention, the WHOLE island, is filled with a dizzying array of tastes.  I guess you could decide not to eat there, but it's all there in front of you: fish and chips, Thai food, Italian food, ice cream, specialty coffees.  I sat with a veggie burger and it was delicious with caesar salad on the side.  The trouble with eating there, in many ways, is that the gulls and pigeons also know you are there especially when you're sitting on a bench outside.  I had one very cocky fellow, a beautiful and silver seagull, waddle over to me and just stare at me eating.  He literally watched every bite I took.  He'd cock his head this way and that, hoping for either a piece of bun or salad.  Patient guy, he did walk away but came back as if to say, "so, have you had enough?"  No, I must say I was quite selfish.  I was also listening enraptured as a young man with long hair was playing classical guitar.  I found the whole scene quite moving.  No one seems in a hurry when they are outside eating, watching the boats, or hearing beautiful live music. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Granville Island--Five Senses Rejuvenated--Part I

Today, I went to Granville Island.  Feeling slightly discouraged from job hunting, I felt I needed to go somewhere that was ALIVE with energy and stimulation. 

Granville Island is synonymous with energy and stimulation of all five senses.  Though I had a difficult moment where I saw what I thought was a look-a-like of Jason, it didn't take long to wipe the tears and take a breath. While I took that breath, I was amazed I wasn't overtaken by the variety of smells that hit me when I went into the market to find something for lunch.  The minute I went in, I smelled fish.  No kidding, really?  Fish in Vancouver?  It wasn't unpleasant in any way, although I don't know that I'd bottle it up any day soon for perfume (eau de crab?).  As I walked down the aisles of Granville Island Market, the smell of coffee was also strong.  Now that was a wonderful smell!  If I didn't already have my daily coffee ration of a grande cinnamon dolce latte, I'm sure I could've have floated very happily to any of the vendors that were selling it.  If you're not sure what you want, the market can be confusing with so many delicious choices (eg. Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, Thai, etc.). Curry was a strong draw for me, it's earthy scent almost making me immobile with indecision. There's a brewery in another building, but I haven't yet experienced it.  The smell of baked goods and candy would've attracted Hansel and Gretel.  Fudge is actually made right there and you can see them do it.  The sweet smell will remind you of how you need to jog the next day (well, I do).  There are so many things to smell that I can't list them all.  With my veggie burger and caesar salad in my hands, I go out onto the large walkway and eating area.  I perch on a somewhat damp seat and proceed to eat, inhaling the gentle sea air.

I leave it at that for now as I'm getting hungry again just remembering it.  Too late for coffee...hmm.  Dream of fudge...hmmm...dream of going to the gym...but what a life!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter in White Rock--Remembering the scarf.

I just can't help but be drawn to the West Coast.  Not everyone feels that way--especially in the winter.  It rains a lot during this season and it does get dark with clouds. Many miss the snow they would get in other parts of British Columbia or in every other province in Canada. I do not miss the snow!  You don't have to shovel rain!

The nice thing about the Coast is that, if it snows, it doesn't last long--Jason and I were thrilled one Christmas that a beautiful snowfall came Christmas Eve day and then was gone by Boxing day.  Some people, who have lived here for a long time, might disagree with me on this, but it rarely feels cold.  Yes, the cold moisture can leave you feeling chilled; but, it rarely gets below freezing.  You never feel like you can't move even if you have a few layers between you and your raincoat.

 I don't know how many people have seen the movie, "Christmas Story".  In it, the youngest boy in the family is being dressed by his mother in so many layers of sweaters that he can't put his arms down.  I felt like that last winter.  It was -25 PLUS a WINDCHILL that brought the temperature for a few days down to -35.  I think it could've even reached -40 at one point.  I remember having an undershirt and...and a dress shirt, sweater, scarf, hat...etc.  I could barely move and struggled to figure out how I'd not only get to the train, but get my HUUUUGE mits inside my purse to get my keys out.  I'd put my winter scarf back on over my nose and my glasses would steam up.  Then they'd FREEZE.  Not only did I look, sometimes, like a bear walking upright with arms in the air, I couldn't see anything.  There had to be an angel watching that I didn't walk into any posts.  Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much.

My glasses rarely steam up out here; though, with the changing climate, we could have another series of freak winter storms where the snow and cold lasted longer than West Coasters are used to.  I'm still new and I know that the lower mainland and the islands suffered horribly for a couple of weeks.  It could happen again. The most anyone really seems to need here is an umbrella, raincoat, rain boots, fleece, and--scarf.  It is beautiful out here, though, enough that people will sniff the air and get dressed in their shorts.  When it's sunny and warm, you tend to forget you're still in the winter.

 Everyone wears a scarf out here.  It's a popular accessory everywhere in the world now, but so far, I think there must be a law that makes it MANDATORY to wear one here.  There should be a sign on everyone's front door (on the inside) that asks, "Are You Wearing your Scarf?".  Since I've been living with my mother and step-father, I seem to have attained at least 3 new ones (one of them a purple boa style).  It sounds very minor, I know, but I actually hate wearing scarves, especially winter ones.  I always worry about being strangled (I have no idea of how I died in a past life) or that my glasses will get so steamed up so I can't see.  Out here, it's more the strangulation factor I think. Seriously though, do NOT let your scarf get too near an escalator!  On that note, I think I'll wrap this for now, as I'm getting kind of wound up.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter in White Rock and the Coast

White Rock is a four season municipality.  While busier in the summer to the point, sometimes, of being over-crowded, Marine Drive is a special attraction even in the winter. Being on the White Rock beach in the winter, you see how hardy people are.  Storms whoop up a great fuss in the ocean with large waves and rain.  While not as popular for storm-watching as Tofino, people of all ages layer their winter clothes and head out.  Even with the wind whipping their raincoats, the moist air causing zippers to be pulled higher and scarves wrapping around necks, people love to go to the pier.  The best place is at the end of the pier. 

It's almost like a game as the waves defy the breakwater sometimes and spray the people who insist on staying where it's windier. 

Seagulls fight against the wind, seeming to hover in space, flapping wings with amazing strength through the relentless gusts.  There is a kinship between walkers as everyone who comes out is celebrating the noise of the wind whaling, seagulls crying, and the size of waves.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moving On (originally Introduction 3)

Jason underwent open-heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve in June, 2007. After surgery, when he was given permission to travel, we headed to Vancouver in the summer. Jason wasn't able to go far very long without needing rest, but I could already see signs of his energy returning. I could't help but smile after we got off of the plane in Abbotsford--Jason already seemed energized and commented on the sea air. That summer, Jason and I went beyond dreaming and started to plan a future to live at the coast. New hope came as Jason's new valve did its job making us read more andmore about Vancouver, encouraging us to believe how healthy it would be for us to live there.

Unfortunately, Jason suffered his first stroke 8 months later and died March 24, 2008, after suffering a massive stroke while still in the hospital. I thought that was the end of the story--as a matter of fact, I was certain of it...

After a year of pain and numbness, which still threatens to freeze me from time to time, I faced the need, as many who've lost a spouse can imagine, to start living and working on a "new normal"--whatever that is. I spent ten days of a summer holiday in Vancouver with my mother and step-father. They showed incredible hospitality and kindness, but I felt no joy. I felt incredible pain, but there was no significant enthusiasm for places I loved. I was almost afraid to love Vancouver. Chapter's Bookstore? ABC Comic and Book Emporium? Big deal. All I could see were "ghosts" that seemed to resemble him. I couldn't happily bounce down West 4th Avenue as I had done before. Strange thing was: I still loved the coast.

One day, while walking in Ocean Park (a village in South Surrey), I just literally stopped walking and sniffed the air. It was January and the air was crisp but not cold. i felt like I could breathe I think from that moment on, I was destined to live there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Move

I went into a fever of excitement, a sense that I was finally going make something happen. Again, like I originally did with Jason, I looked at real estate ads, checked rental rates, and searched the want ads on every part of the West Coast. I began to make it my mission to research the city I loved so much. I wanted to live again. Realistically, I felt that it would still be a year or two before I could even think of relocating. I completed a term position as a school librarian just after the anniversary of Jason's death and started sending resumes to positions in Calgary, thinking it would be good to start work and save money when it was time to move. I did still love Calgary. I no longer liked the winters, especially in 2008/2009. I also found I no longer felt desire to be in Calgary at all. As lethargic as I felt, I spent more and more time on the computer, seriously looking up rental rates and starting to see what I could get for work on the coast. These activities kept me from retreating into a deeper shell which would keep me from socializing with even my closest friends. In the middle of the summer of 2009, I phoned my mother, telling her I had seen some computer courses at Vancouver Community College that I could take. Oh, I knew that there were courses in Calgary, but wanted any excuse to move near the ocean. After two days on the road over the mountains, we--my mother, my step-father, and I--arrived in Surrey. I wasn't used to the idea, after living in my own home for many years, living with my mother, but I was thankful to be there. It was a gift of residence which allowed me to save money while I got settled. While I was eager to get on my own feet, I was desperate to explore! Between moments of grief and mood swings, I went into Vancouver with camera, film, pencil and notebook stuffed into my daypack. I boarded the 351 bus over the Bridgeport station and then went downtown. I was a free agent even though I was uncomfortable with my own company after having such a wonderful travel companion in my husband. As I looked around, I felt the tension begin to seep out of me as Vancouver's beauty mixed with with ocean and mountains, began to fill me. Even with the city's busy-ness and hard concrete, the early architects of Vancouver knew to utilize the ocean to make it attractive even on rainy days.