I have hats–lots and lots of hats. Hats for all seasons and all types of weather. My Mom use to knit all of us nice woolly hats for the winter–not that Victoria, BC ever experience long, cold winters, but Mom knits us warm, colourful hats anyway. I love my Mom’s knitted hats because I can squash them into my coat pockets, shake it out and plunk it on my head–easy-peasy with no fussing.

Summer has another kind of hat–light, UV protected with wide brims to shade the face. I have summer hats with big brims, wide brims, air holes for ventilation, different colours to match whatever colour I’m wearing for that day as well as hats with funky patterns to suit one’s mood.

The only downside of hats is “hat hair.” I loved those movies where the heroine whips off her huge, wide-brimmed, flower-bedecked hat and her long, beautiful blonde/bronze/raven/red/chestnut coloured curls, falls sexily down and around her shoulders, framing her heart-shaped face. When I whip my hat off, my short curly hair is pressed around my head with the hair in unsightly clumps—that is hat hair, my friend.

AND, where the movie heroine can finger comb her curls back into its sexy tousled look, my finger combing definitely makes it a rumpled look. The only thing missing would be a scruffy raincoat with a huge hood.

At this stage of my life, I think I am resigned to the necessity of hats and the resultant hat hair. Some of us have that flair for fashion and finger fluffing while wearing hats. The rest of us carry big purses or have big pockets for the brush and comb so that we can still look good when the hats come off. Maybe in my next life time, I’ll come back with the sexy hair that falls down and around my shoulders, framing my big brown eyes–only a quick finger fluff to ensure that perfect hair.

On the other hand, it would be my luck-of-the-draw to come back as a llama with sexy, silky hair that falls beautifully around big, brown eyes and a gentle face; a shake of the head to flip off that hat and the hair is still perfect. . .



For Spackle or Worse

For my 20th anniversary, Hubby presented me with my very own tub of Spackle. Bet you thought I made a typo and meant “sparkle” right?

Nope, I really meant “Spackle” which all do-it-yourselfers (DIY) knows is the queen of fillers for gouges, dents and small nails/screw holes left on the drywall after all the wallpaper is removed.

Spackle is great stuff because it goes on a distinctive pink and as it dries, it turns white. I got to wield a small spatula, gooping the pink stuff on the various parts of the wall, filling in the gouges and nail holes, smoothing it flat before it dried. This was great fun as there was none of the guesswork deciding whether the filler was dry enough to paint over. We only had to watch the bubblegum pink colour disappear to a mere white to know it was paint ready. Bet you’re asking yourself–hey, how did you become a do-it-yourselfer when you should be drinking champagne and celebrating?  To make a long story short, it was casting for a project—actually Hubby was casting for a project and I was merely making an observation.

We still had 1/2 can of paint and primer leftover from painting the bathroom. Our kitchen has a utility closet, closed off by a pocket door. Usually the door is open exposing the wall facing into the kitchen. Both kitchen and utility wall had the same wallpaper.  As I made my comment that I really detested that pattern on the utility room wall, Hubby was already checking it out. Hey, he says–this must be the leftover paper from the kitchen that they slapped on the wall because the other two walls are plain. Before you could say “spackle,” a strip of  wallpaper was lying on the floor.

Wow, I say. Should be easy to paint. . .right? Oops, wrong! As Hubby carefully checked things over, he discovered that if the rack holding the mops and brooms was removed AND the shelving above the washer and dryer dismantled, it should be easy to mostly roller-paint the walls with some brush work on the corners and ceiling lines. AND oh yes, if the washer and dryer could be moved forward a bit, we could paint as far down the back and side walls by the washer and dryer–that could be reached.

I like to think I’m a graceful, lithesome senior who can stretch effortlessly to 7 feet and yoga-fold my body into impossible shapes to paint those difficult places, corners and straight-ceiling lines. The truth of the matter is I’m short, a mere 5 feet and not as agile as my granddaughters, who can bend into a pretzel and do a somersault all at the same time. The real test was painting the primer or base coat. This was like a “test-run” and it was surprisingly easy. My ceiling lines were clean and straight except for the very slight wobble in the far corner which was a bit of a stretch for me, balanced precariously on the washer. The rollers were just the right size to roll as far down the back walls as I could reach and the paint brush did the side walls as far down as I could–the end result being that  the back and side walls looked completely painted where it was visible behind and beside the washer and dryer. The sight of a clean and bright white drywall was an incentive to paint the two coats of final colour as carefully as the primer.

So what should have been a 4-hour paint job stretched into a 2-day session. BUT, in the end, the utility room never looked brighter or cleaner. The only damage was the paint smear on the hip and butt of my shorts when I accidently backed into a wet wall, the paint splatters on my favourite old T-shirt, elbows and knees. I’m not sure how I got paint on my knees but I want you to know, the walls are beautiful!

AND before you asked what did Hubby do—well, he did all the needed prep work of dismantling shelving, moving the washer and dryer slightly, stripping off wallpaper and making things ready for me to goop, prime and paint. It was great team work. . .

On the actual  day of our 20th, Hubby took me out to a spectacular anniversary dinner at our favourite restaurant, complete with flowers, wine, chocolate dessert and a lot  of romance. . .Umm-mm, we still have 1/4 tin of paint and primer leftover, but we are definitely not looking for anymore painting projects just yet. . .


New Beginnings

Retirement is not a word in my dictionary–that is, if I ever had to create my own word dictionary–retirement would never find its way in there.

There is something very final in the word retirement. Perhaps, it’s the connotations in today’s world. After all, if a person has been happy enjoying their work/profession for decades, then suddenly thrust into leaving a job they love because of their age or because of circumstances that forces an early retirement or just an excuse to make room for a younger, less expensive workforce,  retirement must seem like the end of a useful life.

I like to think of retirement as a graduation–a graduation to a life of freedom to do what you have always wanted to do. There is no reason or excuse not to become that full-time artist or writer or craftsman because we did finish school, got a real job and made something of ourselves. We have left behind our footprints and hopefully helped create a responsible world–at least, a teeny-tiny portion of a world where we have helped people and made a difference in someone’s life.

Now it’s your turn. You can seek your rainbow with an adventurous spirit. You can satisfy your insatiable curiosity for knowledge in matters unrelated to your previous working life. This is your time to fully leap into your part-time hobbies or activities that you always thought would be your full-time job when you retire.

Sound familiar? We have all said this at some time or other while we toiled away at our jobs. Now it’s official. You can do all the things you had thought about and regretfully put aside because other things like family responsibilities and life’s crisis made it impossible back then.

And hey, you know that age thing that got you retired in the first place? Don’t listen to those nagging voices telling you that you are too old to climb that mountain or fly that plane. You are too young not to aim for the moon, the stars and the rainbows.

Go ahead. Graduation is for everyone–not just the young. The world is really your oyster now because you have earned the right to grab your dreams and make them come true. After all, you have the battle-scars to prove it. So let’s raise that glass of bubbly to a New Life and New Beginnings–it’s waiting for you.

(This is dedicated to two good friends who recently retired after working a total of 82 years between them.)


It’s Good For You

Some people thrive on exercise. You know, the hard physical sweat of toting those bales and lifting those sacks. Being the 21st century, this is equivalent to the various metal monster gym machines that tests your physical abilities to the max.  Me? I’m the gal that loves anything stimulating the mind. If I can find an exercise that’s fun, stimulates the mind and gives a good work-out, you’ll find me there.

I’ve signed up for Jazzercise, Line-dancing, Golden Zumba, Burlesque-fit, Hawaiian dancing, Taoist tai-chi and the latest dance trend, Nuline dancing. All of these choices were fun and not at all like a dreaded exercise class.  I really enjoyed my “work-outs” as it also tested your memory in remembering the sequence of moves. They were all challenging and entertaining.

Recently, I signed up for the Yang style of tai-chi—learning 22 moves in 6 sessions. The lady registering me typed the last digit wrong and I found myself in a Qui Gong class instead. The brochure described Qui Gong as “These gentle, flowing movements combine breathing, movement and concentration to increase strength, flexibility and endurance while relieving stress.” Participants were further informed that Qui Gong was similar to tai chi, but easier to master as the movements were simpler. Well, here I was and I decided to give it my best efforts.

Glancing around the room, I noted there were 30 adults/seniors ranging anywhere from 55-80 years. I decided to stand near the oldest person in the room. This strategy would supposedly make me look more co-ordinated, especially if the elderly senior looked as if a puff of wind would knock him over. We chatted and his name was Ben. Ben was 82 and loved Qui Gong.

At first, the breathing exercises, movement of the arms and shifting of body weight did feel like tai-chi, even reminiscent of a hint of Hawaiian dancing. As the simple moves and holds progressed to more serious moves, Qui Gong felt like isometric core exercises with a dash of yoga thrown in.  If done correctly, it was like a “stretching” workout. Ben was doing it fluidly and effortlessly.

The instructor came over to assist me.

“I’ll support your arms above your head while you relax your body.”

Sighing, I stood straight. raised my arms above my head, bent my knees into a comfortable “sitting” position, relaxed my midriff by breathing through my belly button, tucked my chin onto my chest while fiercely concentrating on remaining loose and pliable. Then still gently supporting my arms straight above my head, the instructor whispered in my ear, “And don’t fall on me.”

Well  for goodness sakes, who can  hold that pose without laughing? I went home and glumly told my Hubby, “I will never make it as a monk.”

And he replied, “I hate to tell you this but women can’t be.”  Thank goodness. . .


The Little Things in Life

Over the years, I’ve found that it’s usually a series of little things that have a way of making you pause and savour; even pause and contemplate the oddities or action of that particular moment that captures your attention. If you’re receptive to noticing the little things, you may find that there are several occurrences during your busy day. My favourites are the little vignettes that springs up to make life interesting. And even if you find them annoying, hey, don’t sweat the small stuff—just let it go and remember to keep breathing without popping your blood pressure.

Whenever I can, I try to do a daily power walk. This is usually a 5 kilometer fast-walk that takes me through neighbouring streets, the Village and Bowker Creek Park. Sometimes I head in another direction that takes me along a scenic water view, million dollars estates with its lavish landscaping, the Marina with all its sail boats and yachts docked neatly side-by-side and a golf course that’s divided by a busy street. I find that when I walk, I can see things that are easily missed when I’m driving my car. Today I witnessed the mini-drama of a Dad teaching his 4 year old daughter to ride her bike. “Pump your legs, Carly. You have to keep moving your legs so your bike can keep moving too,” he encouraged. As his daughter got into the rhythm of biking, he casually let go of his hand steadying the bike. A moment of shocked silence and a happy shriek of, “Daddy, I’m biking all by myself!” For a parent, this would be a definite landmark, but for a casual passer-by, this is one of those little things that reflects one of Life’s  happy moments.

I love stopping at different coffee-bars because each place has its own unique quality of coffee beans. And of course, each place has its own unique assortment of home-made pastries that goes with a good cuppa. I decided to pause at the Marina, the half-way point of my scenic water route. With my coffee in hand plus a warm sausage wrapped in flaky pastry, I sat at a small outdoor patio table, enjoying the warm sun and watching the dockside activity. At the next table, a young child of about three years, sat between her grandparents. The couple were enjoying their coffees and sharing a plate of French fries with the toddler. Their obvious joy and delight of having their granddaughter for a brief period was evident on the couple’s faces. Grandpa picked up a French fry, dipped it into the small dish of ketchup, popped it into his mouth and chewed with gusto. The tot’s eyes grew wide with wonder. Grandma passed a small piece of French fry to her granddaughter who carefully imitated her Grandpa by dipping it into the small dish of ketchup and popping it into her mouth, chewing with enthusiasm and apparent delight. Grandma was about to pass another French fry to her granddaughter, but a seagull waiting greedily for his moment, grabbed the French fry with his beak and triumphantly flew away. Seeing both her grandparents laughing at the antic of the seagull, the little girl laughed too. This was such a delightful family scene for it was impossible not to smile at the toddler’s introduction to French fries and scavenging seagulls.

My homeward route took me past the Scented Gardens. This is one of my favourite places to pause for each  season brought scented flowers and fragrant shrubs for the enjoyment of people with low-vision and/or no vision. For those with vision, the colours, combined with the scents, creates a pleasant interlude. Whoever planned the garden made sure the scents were mere whispers, not cloying; it tantalized as its faint perfumes drifted by.  It remembers a time past when people actually sat and enjoyed a beautiful garden.

Life’s simple pleasures are often little things that are taken for granted, unnoticed,  yet there for anyone to enjoy.

The Flower Count

One of Victoria’s quaint annual customs is the “Flower Count”,  held in early March, usually two weeks before Spring officially arrives. The idea is to have volunteers and anyone with time on their hands, counting each bloom that pops out of the ground and officially entering it as part of the flower count. Those of us who abhor such boastings are pessimistic enough to feel the same bloom was probably counted five times by other volunteers.

Victoria was often the first to send their daffodils and tulips eastward. These blooms proved that Victoria had the mildest climate in all of Canada as well as the mildest winters. We seldom saw snow that lasted more than a day. We do have a lot of rain which is where the term “liquid sunshine” and “galoshes weather” comes into play.

But braggarts eventually do get their come-uppance. I remember one March, just as the flower-count got officially underway, the first snow-flakes began their lazy dance to the ground. Within a few hours, the bare pavements were covered in snow and the first signs of panic hit the City. Volunteers scurried frantically to make sure each flower had been counted and registered, including every daffodil bloom on the farms.  The snow kept falling and people began their slow migration home. Buses ran late; taxis were rarely seen empty; cars slowly and cautiously inched along the snow-covered roads. Victoria drivers are not good at driving in snow, even if it was newly fallen. The next morning, there was exactly 1-1/2″ of snow on the ground that had frozen over during the night. Victoria drivers are even worst driving on ice. There were three times as many “regulars” waiting at the bus-stops. By the end of the day, the snow/ice had melted and a light rain washed away whatever snow remained.

And the flower count continued.  That year was one of the best totals ever. . . .




This post “From the Laundry Room” has been reposted to “Chocofigbee”–Tracy is my “soul sister” for nibbles at the computer. . . .

From the Laundry Room

I might be addicted to Wintergreen Life Savers.

I wasn’t aware a person could become addicted to Life Savers, save the rainbow candy ones. I thought wintergreen was safe, but I now have mint burn on my tongue because I’ve been eating handfuls of these suckers every day.

I’m trying to escape the “just one more” death spiral that usually only happens with Tootsie Rolls.

It started out simple enough, I have two jars on my desk—one for Jack’s treats and one for my treats. I sit at my computer a lot, so I need something light. As much as I like the concept of keeping M&Ms or Tootsie Rolls at my desk for those times I just want something sweet, that is not how I am made. Remember the jelly beans?

If I were to put anything remotely yummy in that jar, I’d have to refill it every night and size up…

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