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Archive for May, 2011

Money, Money, Money

“All the things I could do, If I had a little money. It’s a rich man’s world.”

Now we will all be mentally singing along with ABBA for the rest of the day. So, while you are singing in the shower, in your car, and (heaven forbid … well, if you sing like me, heaven forbid) while at work or grocery shopping, I have a great money saving idea for you!

Saving money is quite a difficult thing. There are so many demands on all of our resources (and not just money), and saving seems to be near impossible when ’emergencies’ from auto repairs, to school field trips, to illness, to ‘needing’ a new pair of shoes are always popping up!

Back around mid-January, another mom, wife, and hard-working lady told me of a saving plan that she had heard of on a radio program. She had tried it out, and found it to be quite successful!

Okay now, don’t go planning your retirement on this idea, I am about to share! My name is not Donald Trump! And our ‘estate’ is something that even our kids have asked to not be ‘left’ in our will (they are aware, even at their ages, that there is more debt than wealth there). This plan is more like saving for vacation, or Christmas shopping, or new perfume (I do love expensive perfume), or a weekend getaway, or a new TV, or, or, or … (I can so easily spend it, before I save it).

So, here is THE PLAN … every time you get a five dollar bill … DO NOT SPEND IT! Put it away! Away, as in out of sight, out of mind, away.

It has amazed me how I do not miss those five dollar bills. As a matter of fact, after four months of putting them out of my sight (and wallet), I have amassed $245! If this trend continues throughout a year, I could save over $700! And did I mention this was effortless?! Oh baby, imagine what I could do with $700?! Maybe purchase a new cast iron (faux style) gate or two, for my backyard? Maybe tickets to an Elton John concert (I WILL get to one of his concerts before I die!), or maybe I could buy ONE ticket to an NHL game in Canada (hubby and the kids went to a game in Colorado, back in March, for only $24 each! … kind of makes a hockey-lovin’ Canadian wanna cry … but I digress).

This is easy peasy, people. Give it a try, for just a month … and you will be hooked …

Just make sure you remember where you put all those five dollar bills … you don’t want them to be found decades from now, in your mattress, down at your local thrift store!

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I’ve been humming R.E.M.’s ‘It’s the End of the World (as we Know it)’ for weeks … no, months. Ever since I first saw the signs on my way to Bellingham, Wa. (hum, but I haven’t seen any here, in Canada … maybe our part of the world is not going to end?).

So, only one day left! Tomorrow would appear to be it, the end, the day of judgment … according to a group who is very committed to numbers (my daughter, who hates math and numbers, would say … don’t trust the number people!). So, they are blowing their trumpets and warning the people! AND they guarantee it!

I love guarantees! That is why I shop at certain stores, like Costco and Walmart … they have always been there for me when a product that I have bought at their stores has failed to live up to my expectations. They greet me, as though they have been waiting all day, just to please me (and, other than my beast, there just ain’t another living creature whose goal in life is to please me). They smile, ask if they can help me, and I tell them my story … and they listen! To me! Then, they take my receipt, and open their cash register, and GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK! Because they have a money back guarantee! I love it! But … I digress.

I’m not sure exactly what the guarantee is, that they are offering, but they say it’s the Bible that is making the guarantee.

But I’ve got questions …

If Judgment Day is tomorrow …

-do I need to pay my bills, if they are due on May 22?

-should I get my tithing envelope ready for Sunday?

-do I need to eat my veggies today?

-do I need to shave my legs?

Okay, so I am being rather silly. And, really Judgment Day is a serious, sobering thing to consider. But, to declare a specific date? Is that … Biblical? Now, for me, and maybe you, a verse starts floating through your head about us (the angels, or even God’s Son) not knowing the hour or the day (Matthew 24:36).

And then there’s Revelation … the end of the Bible, considered to be apocalyptic writing. If there is one part of the Bible that can confuse me more than trying to remember what day it is, when my alarm clock goes off in the morning, it’s Revelation! How is it that something called Revelation, can be so … unclear in it’s revelation?

Here’s what I know, that I know … whether the world ends tomorrow, or not even in my lifetime …

– God is in control … I am not

– In the end, God wins! And, therefore, as his child, so do I

– I need to live today, as though I have many tomorrows … God didn’t put me here just to wait for Judgment Day, He put me here, because He has purpose in all of my days

Always be ready!

You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.”

Matthew 24:44

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The Walking Stripper

Hello, my name is Carole, and I am a stripper.

(now you say, ‘hello Carole’)


But, it is true. And the stage I strip on? It’s the pathway I walk. Now, don’t head to my local trail to see if it is true? (if you know what I look like, this will make you NEVER walk that trail again). I am a seasonal stripper … winter, spring and fall. And I am only a stripper under certain cool weather conditions (the monsoons of the Wet West Coast).

So, here is my repertoire …

I hate to be cold when I walk, and, as I’ve been aging I feel cold whenever I start a walk. So, I wear layers. There’s the under layer (the ‘unmentionables’), followed by a long sleeved breathable shirt, followed by a hoody, followed by a water-proof jacket, followed by a toque, followed by mitts or gloves. And that pretty much covers it … or me.

When I start walking I am cold. It doesn’t seem to matter what the temperature is, when I start out, I am cold. So, I am wearing all my duds, and am zippered up as high as the zipper will zip. And, I usually tuck my hands up, into the sleeves of my jacket.

After about 10-15 minutes, I am feeling my blood flowing! So my hands emerge from my sleeves, and my zipper get unzipped, but only a respectable amount … I don’t want to be thought of a some kind of loose, hussy, walking stripper.

Now, if it is raining I am limited to how much I can strip. After all the water-proof jacket is my only protection against the dreaded wet. But, if it is simply cool out, my whole attire has the possibility of being eliminated.

So the mitts get pocketed … as cold as my hands can be, they also warm up to toasty at a pretty quick speed. The toque gets pocketed at the same time … I do admit to rarely wearing the toque (as I am a ‘head sweater’), but thought it added to the story 🙂

After about 20-30 minutes of walking I am fully warmed up! My muscles have given up and started to work (without stiffness, pain, and crying out for mercy). It is now time to remove the jacket, and tie it firmly around my waist. Then the zipper on the hoody falls to that respectable place (just above my cleavage, well that’s what is was before I got old … now it’s more like the great divide … but I digress).

It doesn’t take long before I am over-heating again (this phase usually makes me think of mid-life hot flashes … and hope that a cure is discovered before they actually affect me). So, feeling less respectable, the hoody zipper gets lowered below ‘the girls’ (the ‘great divide’ is experiencing flooding with all this increase in body temperature).

By now, I am at the halfway point of my walk, and am sure I am leaving the sweat equivalent of a trail of breadcrumbs. So, as my beast is squatting to release her excess fluids, off goes the hoody! And, along with my water-proof jacket, it gets tied around my waste.

Now, despite all my stripping, I am a sweaty mess! And, I now look like a pack mule!

Definitely not what you think of when you hear the word stripper!

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Ya gotta play this song while reading this one … mood is so important!

No, seriously, play the video … it will put you into my brain … (and what an adventure that could be).

Everything was perfect! The sun was shining (a May miracle, after something like 26 days of rain in April), the temperature was just right, my beast was eager to go (she’s always eager to ‘go’), and not one bone or muscle in my body was turning on me. This was the day that I was going to conquer the Fort to Fort Trail … all of it … alone (despite the bear signs).

I smiled for the entire event (except when slow walking dog owners wanted to lollygag and let our dogs sniff and lick … they slowed me down), even at people who didn’t want to smile or exchange sunny pleasantries (seriously people, if the sun is shining in the Lower Mainland, we have something to smile about ).

There is something positively WRONG, with gray haired folks whose faces look like the prunes they ate for breakfast … wait! Maybe that is it … they forgot to eat their prunes! Anyway, there is no excuse for wearing your grumpy pants when you are old … heck, the way I feel at my semi-archaic age, if I can even get out of my bed, when my head is gray, I’ll be smiling. Wait, thanks to advances in hair color … I will never be gray … I love this reality! But I digress ….

So, it was a glorious day, and it was full of wonder (beyond my not having to call for an ambulance or a UHaul to carry my sorry butt home).When my walk began I simply marveled at the beauty of the sun, the sky, the beautiful houses along the Bedford Channel, the chirping birds, the rapidly blossoming trees and bushes.

Then at one point, a smile crossed my face, as I saw a trail of dandelions along the path, as a child might leave them as a reminder of which way to go when returning from a adventure … pure WONDER! Who has not, as a child, done that? Or watched, as your own child leaves such a trail? And it is not something that the child has to be taught to do, they just do it because it comes natural to their lovely little minds. It is beautiful, it is imagination, it is wonder … personified! Really it is amazing the delight I was taking in that trail of dandelions, considering how I seek their demise on my (moss covered) lawn.

Not long after that … another little wonder … a cute, fluffy, little brown bunny sitting on the side of the path … not for long though, as my beast noticed it too, and the only wonder going through her mind was which part to eat first! (at this point I was regretting that the girls and I had been teaching her tricks with … marshmallow … bunnies … she LOVES marshmallows, and the bunny ones were on sale, post Easter … now I felt the only trick she had really learned was that bunnies taste good). Again, I digress!

There were other moments of wonder too. The birds singing … I think they were the ones from Cinderella, definitely not the ones from Shrek, although, if I were to sing TO them … (this, my singing, could be a future blog entry) I also saw one robin, so heavy with the weight of her babies, she could barely fly over me.

Spring and wonder … they just go together!

And all of these beauties, all of the ‘awe’ in God’s creation ushered me through the trails, as I sweat, heart-racing, lungs pumping to my goal. After two hours, and (according to my pedometer ‘app’) about 7km, I had done it! I conquered the Fort to Fort, all alone.

Well alone, minus the beast, the nice people along the way (and the grumpy ones), the bunny, the birds, the dandelions … okay, not so alone.

I did my Rocky Balboa dance (thus the music I forced you to play in the beginning … you could … play it again, Sam). I grinned even bigger than before. And I REALLY needed a shower!

So, creation full of wonder, next stop, the Grouse Grind … and, again, my prayer will be … ‘please no bears’.

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I was so sure that my bear fear was overcome, with taking on walking in the (civilized) wilderness. But, alas, not so.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl (that would be me). Now this little girl was a blank slate … in the beginning. But that blank slate got written on … in the form of little kid songs, and poems and stories.

bear

The songs …

‘The Bear Went Over the Mountain”, “The Teddy Bear Picnic”

The poems …

“Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear”, “Round and Round the Garden”

The stories …

“Goldie Locks and the Three Bears”, “Yogi Bear”, “Winnie the Pooh”

Notice a ‘theme’ here? BEARS! I am convinced that they are haunting me … on my walks, in my dreams, and in far too many blogs! And here I go again …

So, it is a beautiful evening. The sun has peeked through the rain-drenched clouds to provide a perfect opportunity to walk my favorite trail. My beast is ready, as always, to walk, and sniff and … poo! My fine-tuned muscles are ready for a good one hour work-out (there’s LOTS of sarcasm in this comment … in case you couldn’t read it). I am ready, in every possible way.

This time, because I am now fearless of the ‘bear signs’, I start at the, more wooded, Derby Reach end of the trail. And my beast went wild! It always throws her off, in an exciting sort of way, when we walk in a ‘different’ place, or do anything out of the ordinary. There are new sights, new scents, and new, unpredictable living creatures to want to chase and eat (like geese, instead of the bunnies at the other end of the trail). But, I digress …

So, off the beast and I go, for our exercise at sunset.

Oddly enough, despite a beautiful evening, despite a perfect trail, despite the fact that this particular evening was the first respite from the recent monsoons, the trail was … quiet … empty … almost … uninhabited!

But that way A-OK, because I was footloose and carefree (if you watched me walk, you would probably add clumsy)!

So we walk to our ’30min. mark’ … a little walk, because I had to go pick up my swimming daughters. We paused to take in the view, the springtime scents, and for beasty to do her ‘business’ (and yes, I had a poo bag). And then we turned back to where we had come.

About half way back to our starting point, I started to notice that my beast was … shirking (I’m not sure if ‘shirking’ is a real word, but Dr. Seuss used it, so I’ll trust his authority). Now my beast is a bit of a … wimp, and shirking is not something new to her (unless a cat walks onto our property … then, heaven help the window she is aggressively trying to break through), but this was … different.

The hairs on the back of my neck felt as though they were going to puncture through my shirt. My heart was pounding so hard that my upper ribs ached. And it was pounding so loudly, I could hear it over the birds … wait! There were no birds chirping … other than my heartbeat, there was no sound … at all.

My fearlessness was gone. Then I started to smell something, something putrid, something awful. I remembered hearing that you would always smell a bear before you would see it … oh no, my fear, could it be coming true? Could there be a bear near the trail I was walking on? Could there be a bear near … me?

I decided to quicken my pace! My beast decided she wanted to not move at all! How dare she turn on me now?! And let me tell you, the way she was acting, I was very aware that SHE would not be my protector!

I paused, looked deep into the wooded areas ALL AROUND ME … I heard NOTHING, and, thankfully, I saw nothing … but, wait … off to my right there was … something … just a dark form, but it was something …

Then I started to have a one-person conversation … with myself …

Okay, Carole, do not panic …

What do you mean do not panic? I’m about to be the lunch at a teddy bear picnic!

Remember what you are supposed to do if you see a bear in the woods …

RUN!

No Carole, think …

Okay … run FAST!

Carole, breath … now think …

(this monologue, dialogue was good, as it took my mind … and my eyes … off the dark form in the woods)

Okay, um … ‘avoid bears’ … that is my main goal!

And …

Um … look tall and don’t be frightened … are you kidding me? That is impossible!

Carole, focus …

Okay, um … play dead? Seriously, this cannot possibly work!

Carole, what kind of bear is it? A grizzly or a black bear?

What? Do you want me to see if I have a bear identification ‘app’ on my iPhone? How do I know what kind of bear it is? Heck, where is it? It’s gone! That’s it, I don’t care what I am ‘supposed’ to do if I encounter a bear … I’m running!

(my ‘other’ voice is drowned out as my life flashes through my mind)

I run, for what seems like forever, and at speeds that even the Bionic Woman could not achieve. My beast is resembling the Bionic Dog!

And then, I feel something, on my shoulder, and hear an awful growl … I’m … gonna … die … It’s got me in a bear grasp … I cannot get free … I kick … I squirm … it won’t let go …

And then, I open my eyes …

It’s my hubby, back in Canada, back in our house, back in our bed (after far too long), arms around me, whispering in my ear …

“It’s okay, Carole, it was just a dream, you’re okay … stop kicking me!”

It took me a minute to realize that I was dreaming …

Welcome home Hubby 😉

“Old Bear slept and dreamed,

dreamed and slept.

When he finally woke up, it seemed to him that no time had past,

since he fell asleep.

He yawned and he stretched.

He poked his head out of his den, to see if it was still snowing.

He blinked, and he blinked again,

and when Old Bear walked out into the beautiful spring day

it took him a minute to realize

that he wasn’t dreaming.”

Kevin Henkes from “Old Bear”

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All day this song has been going through my head …

I’m not sure if it was watching the recent Royal Wedding, or hormones, or, simply enough is enough … I want hubby back home!

He left on March 22 (my birthday, but I’m not bitter …), with our youngest two. They drove to Florida (?????), as part of his sabbatical. After just short of four weeks our oldest daughter and I flew (we are much smarter) to Florida to spend a week with them, and bring home our younger daughter. So, now I’ve been back (without son and hubby) for over a week, and I’ve had enough!

I loved sleeping alone … for the first few weeks … no snoring (or, at least no one to tell me I am snoring), no news programs at bedtime (only DIY Network), no middle of the night traipsing to the bathroom (there’s no one there to startle me, while he’s doing the traipsing … and seat warming), no house-awakening sighs, because the dogs breathing woke him up (maybe because the beast is sleeping on his side of the bed?).

But now, I am not loving the solo bed experience … no one to warm my eternally chilled tootsies, no one to explain the news to me (really I do get it on my own, but I like how he tells it, better than Lloyd Robertson), no one to kiss good night (although the beast does love to hug), no one to say … I love you …

Separation has been good. And I even recommend it! And, honestly, we needed it. It has been … a … year(s)

So many things get in the way of loving each other. But mostly it is our individual, independent, focus that keeps us from concentrating on striving for ‘us’. His job, my job, his responsibilities, my responsibilities, even ‘our’ kids. But if the pyramid (and I’m not talking some Amway pyramid scheme) of our priorities is out of whack, then everything crumbles.

As I sit here, I realize that we give lip service to how God is no. 1, our marriage is no. 2, our kids are no. 3 … but where do we spend our time? Matthew 6:21 says, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I guess you could even substitute ‘treasure’ with time (where you spend most of your time, that’s where your heart really is), or money (where you spend most of your money, that’s where your heart really is), or thoughts (what you spend most of your time thinking about, that’s where your heart really it). Either way, I know I have been a hypocrite in what I say is my treasure, and where I spend my time, my money, and my thoughts.

So, hubby …

“I miss those blue eyes

how you kiss me at night,

I miss the way we sleep

I miss the way we breath

I miss everything about you

After all the things we’ve been through

I miss everything about you” …

There’s more I miss … but mom is probably reading this one! 😉

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It wasn’t my fault … really!

Like a good girl (can I still call myself a girl, while hiding gray hairs under regular highlighting treatments?), I packed a poo bag into my hoody pocket, before heading out on a walk on the trail with my beast. But, something so unexpected, so terrible happened …

The day started out so perfectly! The sun was shining (a miracle really, as the monsoons and cooler April weather, had gone on for over a week straight), there was fresh snow on the mountains (cooler weather and monsoons down here equal fresh snow up there), it was cool (but not so cool that I needed my toque), the beast was excited (she’s a dog, she’s always excited to walk … well, except during the monsoons … we are kindred spirits!), and I was ready for a brisk exercise (so I could burn calories, and, therefore, eat more later).

And off we went. I walked the regular distance in record time! (probably had something to do with the fact that my beast, literally, pulls me up the hills … I love her!)

Then, about three quarters of the walk done, she starts pulling to the side (where the grass was). So, I loosen the leash so as to allow her the freedom to find her perfect ‘port-a-potty’ site.

She squats.

I put my hand in my pocket to retrieve ‘poo bag’.

I frowned.

I put my hand, further into my pocket (there was no ‘further’).

Nothing.

Panic set in.

Dog is still squatting.

I hear voices, in the distance, coming closer.

I break into a cold sweat.

What will I do … with the poo?!

I yank the leash attached to squatting beast.

No poo on the ground.

I sigh, relief!

We walk for almost twenty minutes more. The beast in distress with each step (remember she had been in squatting position, so, she is now spending 20mins. ‘turtling’ … you know how a turtle’s head moves in and out … enough said).

We reach the van. I grab another poo bag out of the glove compartment (I think of it more as a catch all compartment). I take beast to fresh, green, lush grass.

Beast sniffs grass.

Beast looks up at me.

I say, “poo beast”.

Beast looks up at me.

Beast sits on fresh, green, lush grass.

Crises averted!

20 Hours Later …

Beast finally poos, in our backyard …

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