Is This Love?

“I love. . .” are rather meaningless words when applied to a favourite book, piece of music, a place, designer clothes and/or desired object.

I confess that I do use the “love” word a lot. When it’s applied to a person, that person means a great deal to me. If I applied love to a triple layer, dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate mousse filling, it means I really, really enjoyed every bite of this decadent dessert, down to its final dark chocolate crumb.

I think “love” is a greatly over-used word that we tend to apply because it conjures up a warm, fuzzy feeling of being treasured, valued, adored. But, dark chocolate is an enjoyment, Las Vegas is fun and Gucci is a pleasure, even though we tend to use love in describing them.

It seems a good deal of time, the “love” word can easily be exchanged for “enjoy” and “like,” unless it refers to someone close to you or feels important to you.

Love loses its value when used to describe the red Ferrari, the beautiful sunrise/sunset, the spectacular fireworks or the memorable barbecue.

We all know the things we treasure and enjoy, but let’s save the “love word” for the person or persons who deserve to hear it.

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A Canadian Day

Today, July 1st, is Canada’s 150th birthday. When you think about it, it’s not a very long history–not like our neighbors to the south, the United States of America or Britain, Italy, France and other European countries. Every country has had a turbulent history and each leader has taken the path he thinks may be a better one. Canada has a young leader, who faces the many challenges of the 21st century, both external as well as  internal. He is making his place in the history books, hopefully a good place of his own, in his own footsteps.

A country is made up of multitudes of people; people of all races, cultures, beliefs. They are the strength of a country. The First Nations people had settled here first and would be the earliest Canadians. Most of us have come from elsewhere, if not directly, our parents and/or grandparents did. It took courage and fortitude to come with nothing and to make a new life facing massive discrimination and hardships; to start new generations, each better than the one before. As a 3rd generation Chinese-Canadian with a 4th generation stepson and 5th generation grandchildren, the road has been much easier than for my grandparents and parents. Our children and grandchildren will forge ahead, facing their own challenges and smoothing the path for succeeding generations.

As a Canadian, we are proud of what we are, what we stand for, what we believe and fight for. We are real people–professionals and non-professionals–just regular folks found everywhere that makes up this enormous country. We have a social conscience, moral obligations and we are the foundation that  forms this young nation of ours. We enjoy our freedom of speech and value our right to vote how we choose. We are becoming more tolerant, patient and forgiving, but we are still learning and growing.

No family is perfect and nations are the same. Despite the flaws, I am proud to be a Canadian because the good things  far outweighs anything  bad. Hopefully we are learning from our past and changing in a positive way for the future. It is a slow process. Today is a day to celebrate our progress.

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada!

 

‘Shrooms, Dandelions and. . . .

When Hubby and I lived in our little house, there were two things I vowed to eradicate each year—mushrooms and dandelions. Seemed easy at the time; just pull out the darn mushrooms and yank out the darn dandelions.  But, have you noticed? Life is never easy and simple solutions are a definite challenge. After every heavy rainfall, the mushrooms had bigger colonies. It was now an invasion as the mushrooms had proliferated. They covered one-quarter of what was once an immaculate, healthy,  lush, green lawn. It looked like an alien invasion of sprawling domed “rooftops”–some were little creamy buttons, some were an orangey hue with a  black rim and two or three were frilly and enormous.  All were doomed. After all, I was the person with the big trowel.  When I was done, the lawn looked cleared but now had multiple craters, dotting its immaculate green. Ever the optimist, I had faith the lawn would be pristine once again, but. . . . .

Dandelions are amazing. I’m convinced they were part of prehistoric times when the cave women fed brontosaurus steaks and “greens” to her family. Even as centuries passed, dandelions survived.  AND, using every gadget known and unknown to Man for dandelion removal, the pesky weed kept coming back. After a month or two of vigorously digging up the roots of the yellow invader, more popped up elsewhere on the lawn. Our little house sat at the beginning of our street and was in the best location to attract all the seeds released by the dandelions’ fluffy heads. In the end, my only comment is that dandelions are indestructible. Like the mushrooms, they are a tenacious invader. I think this is my punishment now, because as a child, I loved blowing the puffy, feathery heads that distributed the dandelions’ seeds everywhere. Our house was a magnet that attracted the seeds, from all directions, to find its home on our lawn.

Aside from mushrooms and dandelions that plague our West Coast lawns, it’s astonishing the expense that homeowners pay to grow an immaculate, show-stopper, green and lush lawn. Once it’s achieved, it has to be cut and/or trimmed, fed a nutritious diet, watered regularly and then cut and/or trimmed again.

If we ever move to another little house, I’m going to make sure we have those decorative  paving stones in lieu of a lawn and the “garden” will be enormous planters that will contain picturesque blooms. No more worries over ‘shrooms and dandelions!

Sigh. . .Multi-tasking

Multitasking is not a new thing for most of us, but women have fine-tuned this act to its highest level.  I have read Writing-World’s Moira Allen’s article on the subject, (http://www.writing-world.com/coffee/coffee78.shtml), and found myself nodding in agreement. Yes, yes and yes. Did that, done that. How else does one get through the research, writing, filing, printing, emails, etc. while doing the other mundane chores of laundry, cooking, grocery shopping and oh yes, most important of all, keeping Hubby happy? However, I didn’t think there was such a fine line between real multitasking and simply doing a multitude of tasks. I think Life is a big multitasking activity. The end result is supposed to give us extra time to do our anticipated leisurely,  fun-times—right? After all, how else can we squeeze out a few more precious hours to do what we want to do.

As an example, today I’m doing laundry, baking cookies and writing out my grocery list. These tasks are accomplished while the wash is doing its various cycles, the cookie dough is being mixed and plonked onto cookie sheets. As the first batch is slipped into the oven, the wash is tossed into the dryer. And while the cookies are baking and the laundry is in the dryer, I can scribble out my grocery list. By that time,  the first batch of cookies are out of the oven and the second batch is popped  in. I still have 20 minutes in the dryer and 18 minutes for that last batch of cookies, time enough to check my email. By the time the laundry is folded and the cookies cooling, it’s time for a trip to the supermarket for meal fixings for the next two days while thinking of something for lunch for Hubby and I.  After lunch, we’re off for a walk to clear our minds and see what’s happening along our walking route. We meet a beautiful Norwegian Elkhound, two mini-poos, a gorgeous Irish setter and an aloof English sheepdog–all walking their owners.

Home once more, I check the time–2 whole hours before its time to cook dinner. Glorious! I dive into my den, settle into my comfy chair, open my latest work-in-progress and. . .yep, you guessed it,. . .blank! My brain was taking a nap.  Yes, I did multitask and managed to save two whole hours to craft my fiction,  but my creative brain went on a holiday. Nonetheless, I did canoodle around with the computer and added two pages of inventive nonsense. The point being that I did put something down on paper. Perhaps, the beginnings of another story. I like to think my file folder of “Great Beginnings” is bursting with great starts that will eventually evolve into great stories.

Tonight I will make sure my pen and pad are close by when I go to sleep.  I’m  positive I will be zapped awake in the middle of the night with some inspiring bits and pieces that I will want to remember in the light of day.

Multitasking is helpful but creativity is an elusive muse. I’m convinced it takes more than an hour or two of saved time to capture its essence.

(Originally posted on Red Room, edited and reposted on Chocofigbee. . .)

Marcie

When I was 9, my friend Marcie convinced me that just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean you have to be girly all the time. To prove her point, Marcie let loose the best Tarzan yell ever at the Mall. This was also the time I was supposed to be more lady-like to set a good example for my little sister. With her big blue eyes, curly mop of red-hair and freckles galore on her face, Marcie let loose another Tarzan yell that would have brought a tribe of apes and a herd of elephants to her side. Though we were both tiny in stature, Marcie was so totally opposite from me in behaviour and personality, that I always marvelled how we remained such good friends.

My home was a 10-minute walk to school. My route took me past Marcie’s house and we would meet up to walk the last 2 blocks together. Clifford was the school bully who terrorized all the kids, especially the younger ones who were smaller. After school, Marcie and I were his “targets.” Clifford would follow us both because he had a crush on Marcie and he made sure Marcie got home safely. After that, it was my problem as Marcie wasn’t around to help me. But best friends know a lot and Marcie wasn’t blind to Clifford’s bullying ways.

I carried a skipping rope and was coordinated enough to walk, skip, dance and jump while working my rope. Marcie taught me the rhythm of double-rope skipping. My brother taught me the art of self-defense.  The school bully taught me self-confidence.

As Clifford followed me down the street, calling out insulting names he learned at home and yelling spiteful threats, Marcie had slipped out her back door. She was following along through her neighbour’s back yards, hidden behind their cedar hedges. She could hear all of Clifford’s hurtful words.

My hands tightened around the knotted ends of my skipping rope as I turned to confront Clifford. Marcie popped out of Mrs. Mack’s front gate to stand beside me. Silence reigned as the school bully faced the “love-of-his-life” and his “target.”

Kids have their own codes for survival in their journey towards adulthood. Bullies have their codes as well. Marcie had three brothers who had taught her a lot and she had seen what they did to the bullies in their lives. My brother taught me a lot too. Silently, we faced Clifford. Marcie didn’t have to say anything—her look of disgust and disapproval said it all. Without a word,  Clifford retreated.

I like to think all bullies have a weakness. Clifford’s was being confronted and he wasn’t prepared for that, especially not by someone he had a crush on.  At the age of nine, Marcie instinctively knew this. If she had told her brothers about Clifford’s crush on her, they would have laughed him away, making him Marcie’s enemy.  But Marcie also knew that if she ever told her brothers what a bully Clifford was, they would have taught him a lesson, never to be forgotten.

The other day, I was thinking of Marcie and our long friendship.  I had just received a letter with a photo of Marcie’s daughter with her  14-months old toddler—both had big blue eyes, a curly mop of red hair and freckles galore all over their faces. I wondered if Marcie ever taught them the Tarzan yell. . . .?

Truths

Have you ever considered stuff you have learned on your own—without your Mom or best friend telling you? Let me tell you a few things I have picked up and/or suspected, as I stumble through Life.

I have long suspected there truly are fat mirrors and skinny mirrors.

What, you didn’t know this? Yes, there are such things as mirrors that can make you look fat or skinny.  Ladies, haven’t you noticed that trying on things in the change room convinces you that your body looks fabulous in whatever it is you’re trying on?  That’s because the store has installed skinny mirrors in these rooms. Once you get your treasures home and try it on in front of your bedroom mirror, reality hits because at home, we all have fat mirrors. How else can we explain why the fit is just not as fabulous as we initially thought when we were at the store.

Don’t you just love it when you had the most perfect meal in a classy restaurant? The service was impeccable. The meal was absolutely delicious and perfect. The dessert was totally awesome. Plus your dining partner was entertaining and enjoyed every moment too. So you go back with your best friend and the lunch service, etc. was just as great as the previous dinner. Then all of a sudden, you have unexpected company from out-of-town. They are “special people” and that calls for a great dinner.  Of course your reservation got lost, but there is a table in the back corner, between the swinging kitchen door and the hallway to the washrooms.  That night, the fabulous chef is off duty so there are a few menu choices that are not available, including the restaurant’s “signature” dish.  The service is lacking a certain “spark” as the wait-person is not a chatty person. The lesson learned?  I have learned not to gush over a fabulous restaurant because as sure as God made little green apples, it disappoints when you want it to be perfect. At least the company enjoyed themselves and found the evening most entertaining.

Bakers and bakeries must have their “off” days too.  How else to explain that the fabulous, light-as-air chiffon cake with the dark chocolate mousse filling—the cake that’s the crowning glory for the bakery—should suddenly have a vengeful,  yet creative Grinch in the kitchen.  His heavier-than-lead cake is now a brandy-soaked cake drenched in fresh raspberries with a chocolate mousse topping and raspberry coulis drizzled on the side.  This was actually quite decadent with its generous quantity of brandy, but we really wanted our light-as-air chiffon cake with the dark chocolate mousse filling.

AND, how about parking spaces?  Have you ever driven around the block a dozen times, hoping that someone will move their car just as you come along and can dive right into that suddenly vacant space?  I have.  Just as I drove past for the fourteenth time, someone was just entering their car to move out.  I hurried around the corner to slowly come up to that newly vacant spot, when one of those diabolical half-cars, whipped past me and zinged into the space big enough for two of them.

Makes you want to go back and have another piece of that brandy dessert. . .

Much Ado About Something

Mikey, my best friend’s youngest son, came storming through the front door, dropping his school bag with an angry thud on the hallway floor and declared in a very loud voice, “I’m never going back to school again—school sucks!” And with that announcement, he ran upstairs to his bedroom and slammed the door.

“Oops,” Kathie said in the experienced voice of a mom with five sons. “I think there was another crisis at school today.” And she gave me a wry grin.

“Remember how we felt about math and physics?” Kathie sighed.

“How could I forget?” I grinned. “I always felt, what’s the point of calculating how long it would take a pool to empty if 50 gallons a minute was pumped in and 30 gallons a minute leaked out? I had no ambitions to work as a pool girl.”

“It’s liters in Canada now, not gallons,” Kathie automatically corrected me as we both laughed.

“Remember all that stuff we had to memorized and write about? I spent an eternity doing a project on Rhodesia, but now that country is called Zimbabwe.”

“My paper was on Ceylon, known for its tea plantations and colourful stamps. Now it’s called Sri Lanka.”

“I got some cute little tee-shirts for Deena the other day and noticed it was manufactured in Myanmar. Where the heck is that, I wondered?  Well, for goodness sakes, it use to be Burma. When did that change?” I asked.

“See, that’s the point I’m trying to make. We spend 12 years in school and half the stuff we will never use in  our lifetime. All that geography we memorized, well, it isn’t pertinent now with wars being fought and borders being changed and new names, for gosh sakes!”

Kathie and I automatically reached for another piece of Triple Fudge Brownie. Silently savouring the rich, dark chocolate flavour, we looked at each other and smiled.

“Well, I’ll take Mikey his glass of milk and a piece  of this brownie and see what the crisis is at school today.” Excusing herself, she went to check  on her 7 year old son.

As I was debating the merits of whether or not to have another teeny piece of brownie, if I worked longer on the elliptical, Kathie was back, looking dutifully serious. Then her face changed from “serious Mom mode” to her usual cheerful self.

“Will Mikey return to school tomorrow?” I  asked.

“It’s a girl,” Kathie said grinning. “Little Suzie, down the street, has a crush on my son. And I had to tell him that when he’s older, he will look at girls differently. However, right now he thinks reading is boring and girls are icky.”

We looked at each other, muffling our laughter. Countries and borders  can change,  but little boys still remain the same. And, so do little girls.