Thursday, April 29, 2010

That's the name of a blog I heard about on the CBC yesterday (Click on the title for the link). As #1,001, I nominate the CBC. They keep expanding my world in the most interesting ways. The author of the blog, one Neil Pasricha,  vowed to find something awesome to write about every day for a thousand days. He's been finding awesome things to blog about since June, 2008. One of his reviewers said:

"A lovingly beautiful blog. It’s like being a three- or four-year-old and looking at the world for the first time again. Read it and you’ll feel good about being human.” (Jim Hedger, host of Webcology, Webmaster Radio)

Neil says there are days when he has to work hard to find something positive to write about -- like the day that his best friend killed himself. The awesome thing that day was #829 -- "Smiling and thinking of good friends who are gone." Most days, the things he finds are sweet and funny, like #981 -- "Wearing underwear just out of the dryer" and #812 -- "When you're drowning and then a dolphin comes to your rescue."

The blog is counting down from 1,000. Today's entry is #516 -- "Picking up something that turns out to be a lot lighter than you expected."

Neil's blog has now become a book. Good for him. I wish him great success. We need -- at any rate, I need -- to be reminded sometimes  just how awesome life is.

I had one of those reminders yesterday. I chatted with a young woman who told me a story.

Sarah had been having a rough time. She had just ended a six-year relationship. While she rebuilt her defenses, she went home to live with her parents for quite a while.  One morning, as was her habit, she went to the fridge and grabbed a few strawberries. Sarah loves strawberries. Suddenly, she realized that for all the months that she had been back at home, her parents had seen to it that there were always strawberries in the fridge for her.

Sarah refers to that as her "strawberry moment", the lightning-like realization that her parents were quietly loving her back to health, the moment when the depth of her parents' love became clear to her.

As I listened to Sarah, I couldn't help thinking of Angie Ledbetter (Gumbo Writer), whose mother passed away this week. Angie knows how much her mother loved her, and that is a blessing indeed. My heart goes out to Angie and her family.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Better Living through Technology

Recently, I bought a Bluetooth device to use with my cell phone, so that when I'm driving, I can still take calls from my husband (or those annoying machine people who want to tell me I've won 1,000 free air miles - the ones that make me swear -- colourfully and quite illegally, I'm sure -- into my telephone).


I'm now getting ready for my trip to England.  I was out running errands this morning, and I had an inspiration. I have Skype on my computer so that I can call anyone, anywhere, as long as I have internet, and not pay cell phone charges (gulp).  In order to use Skype, I carry around a headset with attached microphone. The small and very handy one I bought in Mexico a few years ago finally broke, so I've been reduced to using the clunky ones available north of the border(s).  This morning I thought hey, I wonder if there's a Bluetooth device that I could use with my computer - so off I went to Best Buy. Yes, there was such a thing, but I would need to buy an adapter to put on my computer to make it Bluetooth-friendly. $30.  Okay. So I bought this little USB device about the size of half a Chiclet and plugged it into my computer, went online for the driver, and I think I'm connected now. When I had the device in hand I went back to the Bluetooth department and said okay, what now? By the way, I said, I already have a Bluetooth that I use with my cell phone. Would that work with the computer? Yes, said the child who was helping me -- so it seems that I can now use my Bluetooth to talk on Skype, and I don't have to have that horrid headband squeezing my skull -- or even a wire connecting me to my laptop. What a concept!


After a good deal of hassle, I also found a voltage converter that I think is the one I need to run (or charge) my laptop, hair dryer, Bluetooth, and cell phone while I'm in England. It's about 2x3 inches and weighs just over seventy-five pounds. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I'm trying  very hard to keep my luggage as light as possible on this trip, and I deeply resent every extra ounce.

I'm sitting in The Vault now, staying away from home until my water is turned back on. The city left a notice on my door last night to the effect that they would be working on the water mains, and therefore the water would be shut off for eight hours, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., which is a little baffling. So maybe my water is on again now, or maybe it won't go on until four o'clock. There's no telling -- but I don't want to be at home when there's no water. I keep having overwhelming urges to take a shower or something -- even though I already did that at 7 a.m. Aren't people strange?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

 Pace yourself, Sandra.

Today I felt tired - not bad, just tired. Sleepy. After a stop at the body shop to set up an appointment for poor Bentley, I took a twenty-minute walk along the waterfront. Then I headed for The Vault. I've decided to haunt the place for a while, because it makes me feel like writing - and because they make an awesome soy latte.  Then I went to work, where fortunately I only had to stay awake for four hours.

Several times in the last few days, I've been moving things from purse to purse or drawer to drawer, and I've come across messily folded pieces of paper with my handwriting scrawled all over them. When I unfold them, I find that they are timed writings from months ago, things I wrote while sitting on the ferry or waiting for my latte to be served - and although I know they're drivel, I can't throw them away - because you never know. As I walked out of The Vault this afternoon, I heard snippets of two conversations, and my first impulse was to write them down. I didn't, because my notebook had fallen victim to my current need to lighten my load. Now I can  only remember one snippet: A young woman told her friend

"She said to me, I wish I could trade my legs for yours, and I said to her..."  

A man outside the door muttered something, but now I can't remember what. I was thinking that if I just wrote down every one of these snippets that I heard in the course of a day, I could probably weave an interesting narrative out of them. Weight or no weight, I really must put my notebook back in my purse - or just put a sheet or two of paper there, and replace them daily.

Meanwhile, I'm just beginning to hear little voices calling to me from inside my NaNoWriMo story. "Hey, Sandra. Remember us?  We're still here." Then the chant begins: 

"Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting?"

Sheesh. Some characters are just so impatient.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stalking the Elusive Thai....

I talked to Pat (the English friend I mentioned) this morning. I suggested two different Thai restaurants for our lunch, and she decided we should go to the one where I hadn't  eaten before - that way we would both have an adventure. She is staying out in Hammond Bay, so I told her I would pick her up at 12:30 and we would go to Sakira Thai, which is in the north end of town.  I got into Suzie (our old green Crown Victoria) and headed out Hammond Bay Road.

I had to go right past Piper's Lagoon, which is one of my favourite places for sitting, staring into space, and as I had a few minutes to spare, I pulled in there and got my camera out. Poor Piper's Lagoon. The tide was so low, it was more like Piper's Puddle, but the view beyond it was still splendid.
Just north of where I stood is the aptly named Shack Island. I don't know whether anyone actually lives there - I don't think the island has any services at all - but those shacks remain (maybe just so we can remember which island is Shack Island).

I stood for a few minutes, taking pictures, savouring the soy latte I had bought along the way, then went to pick up Pat. We drove up to Metral Drive, where Kasira Fine Thai Cuisine is. After a couple of false starts, I managed to find the place - I really haven't been getting out enough lately - but the extra driving gave us a chance to chat. Pat asked whether I would mind driving up to Coombs, which is half an hour or a bit more northwest of where we would be having lunch, and I agreed readily. I love visiting Coombs.

When we finally found Kasira Thai, we discovered that it is closed on Mondays. Oh, fine. By now we were getting really hungry. I remembered suddenly that there was a Thai restaurant in Parksville, which is on the way to Coombs, so we changed our plans and headed north to Parksville. We were a little apprehensive. I think we were both worried that we would find a "Closed Mondays" sign on the door again, but we didn't. We found the little, unassuming restaurant where I had eaten once before (with Jane, on one of our Girls' Days Out). I think the place is called Bangkok Thai Food. For some reason, its name won't stick with me. I just know how to find it. We enjoyed a lunch of green curry, coconut rice, and a dish with a name about as long as this page is wide. It had cashews and carrots and tofu and Thai basil in it, and I don't know what else. Whatever it was, it was very tasty. I hunted for a website, hoping to find the menu, but as I said, this is a very unassuming little restaurant, and I don't think the owner has heard of the internet yet.

There was one uncomfortable moment during lunch. I ordered green tea with my lunch. It came in a little pot, and I was given a Chinese teacup. Pat ordered "regular", which is to say black, tea. "Red Rose?" said the proprietor. Yes, Red Rose would be fine. Pat's tea came in the form of a cup with a tea bag and water in it. There was also a little saucer on which were packets of sugar and something in the way of creamer. We managed to convey to the proprietor that Pat would like milk for her tea, not White Death, and he brought that, but we never figured out why I rated a teapot and she had to settle for a bag in a cup. Never mind. Apart from that, lunch was very pleasant.

Once we had had our Thai fix, we drove the ten minutes or so to get to Coombs. Coombs is a very small town, famous (sort of) for the market on which there is a sod roof where goats are set to browse during the summer.  At this time of year, the roof is just covered with grass (except one part of it, which is covered with pretty purple flowers). We wandered happily from one shop to another, finishing in the Coombs Country Market, which is full of the most amazing variety of foodstuffs, as well as pottery from Mexico, wind chimes, bamboo screens -- I found packages of little foreshortened clothes pegs, each one sporting a wooden ladybug about the size of a bumblebee. (I didn't buy them. I tried to think of a use for them, but failed.) I did buy a tin of Tieguanyin tea (which I'm sampling right now as I sit here remembering my day).

We visited the square where all the huge statues are set, higgledy-piggledy, the Buddha (just outside this photo) bumping elbows, as it were,with a giraffe, Kwan Yin casting a wary eye at an advancing lion. Coombs is a bit of a mystery.

Meanwhile, the rain had started falling in earnest, so we decided to head home. I dropped Pat off and went home to get ready for my Tai Chi class. I had tried once before to attend a class since my accident, but my back wasn't up to it yet. This time, I was fine. A couple of Tylenol, an ice pack, and a cup of tea have eased what discomfort I felt. I was pleased and proud to get through the whole class without wimping out. 

I'll repost this now - Blogger gobbled up my post when it was only half finished. I think my laptop is possessed.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cleaning house

 A word of apology - I just went in and found eight comments waiting to be moderated. It's an oddity of Blogger's system that although it tells me I have comments waiting, it doesn't show me when they came in -- or am I just missing the date?  At any rate, with your permission, I shall not try to figure it out. I'll just say thank you to everyone who sent messages of concern and support while I was in my Quasimodo mode. You remind me how important this community is to me, and how much I've missed our daily visits -- both here and on your blogs.

As a token of my gratitude, I present this bouquet of roses. I hope you like them. I found them at Webweaver.

I did go to work today, and then Jane and I went out to play. We had a very pleasant walk along the waterfront, punctuated my my grumbling because I hadn't brought my camera along (weight concerns) and there were some lovely flowering trees and shrubs to be seen -- not to mention all the sailboats whipping around the harbour in the stiff breeze. Every one of them had its spinnaker up, and the sight reminded me of Albuquerque during the hot air balloon festival - reds and yellows, turquoise and black. It was very cool.

We walked through the downtown and stopped in at The Vault for cappuccino and tea. The Vault is  the coffee house where I spent time during NaNoWriMo, and this was by way of a pilgrimage. The coffee was delicious, and the proprietor was ever so slightly grumpy. Nothing had changed.  ;>)

Then we went to the north end of town, checked out the new dollar store, bought stickers for the grandbabies, and came back downtown to have dinner at Gina's Mexican Cafe, where the colour just kept on comin'. Dinner was delicious. I was trying to remember how long it had been since I ate at Gina's. Way too long. Ten years, maybe? The cafe sits on the edge of a cliff, at the bottom of which is a service road. The cafe's parking lot extends right up to the edge of the cliff, and I can't imagine parking a car in it. I'd be peering out the window all through dinner, expecting to see my car go plummeting over the edge. We parked a block away and walked over.

Tomorrow, I have my Thai lunch with Pat. I am feeling altogether spoiled.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

 What a Wonderful World...

It was getting pretty bad, you see, this thing I had come to think of as F.o.B. - Fear of Blogging. Fear of Blogging was only the beginning. After a while, I couldn't follow Twitter or Facebook, and my e-mail inbox was bulging.  Full-blown Cyberphobia. Stop it, you silly woman, I kept saying to myself, but my scolding didn't make a difference.  Totalfeckineejit asked me to come up with a poem for his anthology, (OMG. Was that a month ago?) and I promised in good faith to try - but I couldn't do it.  Whenever I tried, all that came to mind was a first line:

Once there was a woman who fell into a well...

and, well, that way lay a whole lot of self pity, which, as you are probably thinking, would be the last thing in which I should be indulging (any more). I could picture the eyes of my followers all rolling in unison (which was an odd picture, by the way). So...

 Meanwhile, the world kept on spinning. My car is a total loss for sure. The volcano in Iceland (the one Jon Stewart nicknamed Kevin) has stopped, or at least slowed down, its belching, so folks are flying in and out of England -- which bodes well for my trip.

And speaking of belching, this whole boring drama culminated in my coming down with the flu a couple of days ago. It was horrible, but it was short. I lost four pounds overnight. And maybe there's something to the idea of purging. Somehow, I feel better now.

My first clue was when I was at work yesterday. I opened the dinner I had prepared and packed - a stir fry that included pieces of Thai basil. I tasted the basil and said - right out loud - "What a wonderful world, to have a flavour like this in it."  When I heard myself say that, I knew I was on the way up. Today I've kept right on climbing. This is what I did today, before work:

I took my camera out for a ride and photographed my favourite dogwood tree. It is bedraggled and long past its best, admittedly, but I got out there and took its picture.  The ornamental cherry beside it is in better condition.  The main point of the exercise wasn't really the photograph. It was the exercise itself, the putting one foot in front of the other and walking a block uphill from the parking lot to the trees in Bowen Park, soaking up sunshine along the way, breathing.

Oh, and speaking of going for a ride, this is something I saw along the road. Actually, Jane and I spotted it the other day, but I didn't have my camera with me. This is just down the street from my house, and it makes me very curious. Maybe it's destined to be just part of the collection growing in this driveway, but maybe there'll be a horse living in the back yard before long.
While I was in the park, taking photos, my cell phone rang. It was Pat, an English friend of ours whom we will be visiting near London at the end of May. She told me that she is in Nanaimo, and we made arrangements to have (Thai!) lunch together on Monday. Not only was it good to hear from my friend, but it was good to have proof that people are indeed flying out of Heathrow.

Then I went to the bank and to the insurance agency, where I renewed the insurance on our second (also bedraggled and well past its prime) car, so that I'll have something to drive over to Vancouver on the 5th.

Then I went to the cable company and paid for this month's and next month's service, so that I don't have to worry about it while I'm away.

Then I went to the supermarket, and finally I came home to make my lunch and pack a dinner to take to work.

Considering that there have been days recently when I had to force myself to get up and brush my teeth, I've had a Really Busy Day.  And I feel great. I'm actually excited about my trip. I've started my checklist:  Passport. Ticket. Money. Camera. Laptop. Books.  The way I figure it, as long as I have these essentials, everything else will fall into place. They sell toothbrushes in England, after all. And underwear. If I forget anything, I'll just buy it over there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

 Posting from the Land of Nod

This is my current schedule:  work--sleep--work--sleep..(rinse, repeat). My back hurts, but not too much. I am doing the sensible things (chiropractor, muscle relaxers, ice) as necessary, and otherwise practising Mind over Matter. I haven't tried going back to Tai Chi yet (a two-hour class seems like way too much at this point), but I am working, and that's my main concern. I hired somebody to mow the lawn, so it isn't glaring at me every time I look out the window.

I'm still waiting to hear whether our car can be repaired. The appraiser must have seen the look of horror on my face when he said the words "total loss."  He is trying to find a way to keep from writing the (perfectly good, except for that big boo-boo) car off.

Robin seems to have settled in well in England. I thought he was being rather uncommunicative until I found out that he wasn't getting my e-mails. I found that out when he called to ask why I wasn't writing. After we hung up, it occurred to me that my e-mails might be going into his Spam folder. Of course, his phone wasn't turned on when I tried to call him back, so I called his brother and asked him to follow up. Robin does have access to The Turtle, so my posting here will serve a dual purpose. Make that a triple purpose. It may help me get out of my funk, too.

Meanwhile, an Icelandic volcano is spewing stuff into the sky and grounding all the planes in and out of England. I'm still nearly three weeks away from my flight, so I trust it will have settled down by then.

And meanwhile, the dogwoods are out in all their splendour. I drove around town yesterday in the course of work, drinking in the sight of them, glad that my trip to England didn't coincide with dogwood season . I seem to have lost the 10,000 or so photos of dogwoods that used to be in my computer, so I guess a photo session is in order.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Spring song

I think Spring is here. It seems to be riding in on a herd of wind/rainstorms, but when I walked to the grocery store yesterday, in between gusts, I saw a dogwood in bloom. It was one of the native trees, the ones whose blossoms start out a deep yellow-green and then move into whiteness over the next few weeks. It was a comforting sight, that tree. There have been blossoms for weeks - daffodils, crocuses, grape hyacinths, tulips, forsythia, cherry blossoms - the cherry trees downtown came into bloom and were losing their blossoms almost before I noticed them. When I saw that, I panicked a bit -- realizing that I was so self-absorbed that I was letting an entire precious Springtime pass without taking the time to notice it, without lifting my eyes off the ground in front of me. But now there's the dogwood. The dogwood is my totem, and it will not be ignored.

Robin called from England this morning. I was at the office, looking out at snow-capped mountains over on the mainland, listening to the wind. He said it was warm and sunny in Devon, and he was just getting ready to go for a long walk. He didn't even mention his flight, so it must have been uneventful. That's good. If there's any time in my life that I would like to be bored, thank you, it's when I'm 30,000 feet in the air.

Fingers crossed here. I have a Tai Chi class tomorrow, where I'm going to try submitting my beleaguered muscles to a couple of hours of gentle stretching - sort of like this (or not).

Then I think I'll head to the theatre to see Alice in Wonderland -- a reward for my efforts.

I hope you have all had a lovely Easter day -- complete with chocolate rabbits.