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Posts Tagged ‘East Coast’

My family has been so good to me this past year. They have all forfeited the opportunity to visit our extended family on the East Coast, so that I could go and see my parents, as my dad was experiencing health-related issues.

But tonight, when the jet plane is leaving, I will not be on it.

Hubby and daughter number two will be heading to the far East (Canada style) tonight. It has been about four years since they were each there, and that is at least two years too long.

There has been much excitement and planning, telephoning and texting, and social media communicating between Canada’s two coasts. It is a short visit, so strategic planning is a must if they are going to get everything accomplished that they are hoping to achieve.

The main focus of their trip is family. There is a graduation to attend, grandparents and parents to hug, sleep-overs to attend, biscuits to eat, people to visit, and sarcastic East Coast humor to participate in.

My hubby and daughter have the ‘look’ of East Coasters. Hubby has the ruddy complexion and freckles of his British heritage. Our daughter has the red hair and freckles of Anne Shirley (aka. Anne of Green Gables).

Although our daughter has lived her entire life in Beautiful British Columbia, and hubby has lived more of his life away than there, they will be constantly asked if and when they (we) will move back home to the East Coast.

It is a question that always makes me smile. It reminds me of the pride of those who live there. It reminds me of how much they would love for our lives to intertwine more regularly. It also makes responding difficult, for our response is not the one they desire most to hear, it is not even the one we desire to say. But it is the honest reality that we have chosen for our family.

Our lives are on the west coast. We made a promise to our children, when our oldest was only six, and our youngest not even a glimmer in his father’s eye. Our promise was, and is, that we would provide opportunity for them to experience ONE school community. And that we would trust that God would allow us to fulfill that promise to our children.

Thirteen years later, we are only five school years away from fulfilling our promise. It has not been without sacrifice; financially, professionally, personally OR from the perspective of our distance from our extended family. But it was, and is, in our hearts, minds and souls, the right and only way to go.

So, although our hearts live simultaneous on opposite sides of a country and continent, we continue to move forward. Believing that our sacrifice, and that of extended family, will be worth it in the lives of our most precious investment, our children.

 

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Woohoo! I walk out of a quickly filling big box store, just nine sleeps to Christmas day, and snow flakes are starting to fall from the pregnant clouds. I am in the right place!

I have been humming “I’ll be Home for Christmas” since my son and I boarded the plane on the west coast, heading for the east. And now I get to hum “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (okay, confession time, I have been humming that since November first … but, I digress).

It is so good to be here, at the home of my birth, as the Christmas season is in full motion. I get to see my parents, my brothers and their families, other family members, friends and old familiar places.

I am discovering that the one way that my mom and I are not the same is Christmas decor. She LOVES it! I usually twiddle my thumbs all Christmas day, hoping my family will let me take the tree down on Boxing Day (it often comes down around the New Year … sigh).

For instance, there are snowmen EVERYWHERE around her house! They are in every room (the bathroom could be called the snowman room (kind of makes you wonder if that is where snowman ‘poop’ came from. She could have a store, and make a mint, just by selling her snowmen.

Then there are the Christmas dishes (sets, mugs, glasses, serving dishes) that fill her china cabinet. There are not enough family members to utilize all of them.

Then there is the tree … I feel inadequate just sitting in the same room as her Christmas tree. It is … perfect! It looks better than any tree in any store that has been professionally decorated! I would not even post a pick of mine on the internet!

I do love how my mom hangs on to things (some things). My mom has on her refrigerator a nativity that she has been putting on her refrigerator for (we added it up) over thirty-five years. It was on a bag of “Ben’s” bread. Mom used her sharp eyes to cut each piece out perfectly (she is the queen of the line, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time” … therapy is the only cure for that one … just sayin’). Then she wets each piece and presses it to the fridge, in a perfect line.

All joking aside (otherwise my mom might send me packing for defaming her 😉 ), the time here will go quickly, I am sure. It is such a blessing to be able to be here at this time of year. Nostalgia is reigning in my mind and heart! Now if the snow would just hurry up and show my son what a real snowstorm is!

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Having spent a week in my childhood home in New Brunswick, this summer on my own, I had ample opportunity to consider what it is that defines the province, and it’s people, for me since I am no longer ‘one of them.’

Really being or not being ‘one of them’ is a good place to start. Even though I have been ‘away’ for nearly twenty-one years (and about half of my life), if I were to return, I would be viewed as from there. Whereas a person who has lived there for the past twenty-one years might be viewed as from someplace else, or ‘not from here’, or even new. This is a reality that I was very aware of while I still lived there, and it is reality for any small or predominantly mono-cultural community. Even a small culture within a larger one. It is why, in a larger metropolitan area similar people groups come together. It is just one that has always amused me, when I go back for a visit (and, of course every visit includes at least one query of “so when are you moving back?”).

On another note, chivalry is not dead in New Brunswick! I do not think that I opened a door to a store or other business the entire time I was there. One day I was entering a McDonalds restaurant when a guy ran past me and opened, not just the exterior door for me, but the interior one as well (I contemplated asking him if he could follow me to the restrooms, so that I didn’t have to open those doors either).

Then there was another day … when I was going to McDonalds again (really I did not spend my entire vacation at McDonald restaurants … I was simply enjoying a coffee and free wi-fi). When I was at the paying, I asked my server if there was an outlet where I could charge my computer, while accessing the wi-fi. She said, “yes there is one, but … Joe is sitting there. As soon as your coffee is up, I will go ask him if he would move to another table.” I did not respond, because I was moving her words around, and around my head, trying to figure out if what I had heard, was indeed what she had said.

Sure enough, off she scurried to ‘Joe’s’ table! And Joe was more than willing to unplug his charging computer, and move to another table, so that I could plug mine in! My head was swirling with wonder … When I finally came to my senses, I suggested to Joe that if he wanted, he could stay right there, and we could share the table (and the outlet). And so he did. And so we two strangers, sat across from each other charging, and typing, and sipping on our coffee, with periodic comments about the weather.

And, speaking of fast food restaurants in New Brunswick … can you say oxymoron? There is nothing FAST in New Brunswick! The day I was at McDonalds, when the guy was opening any door in front of me, there was a lineup of at least twenty people inside, and the cars were around the restaurant, and to the road on the outside. And the employees had the deer in the headlights look … you know looking at the problem in front of them, and not moving a muscle to get let the traffic pass.

Part of the slow service (everywhere) is that New Brunswickers are a very social and friendly people. They will chat your ear off as you are paying for a purchase, asking about your day, where you are from, why you are there (as a former resident of the province, let me tell you, their motivation is not all about being friendly … they are nosy as can be and … you are not from there).

If you are in New Brunswick (or, really, any province from Ontario east) you will notice bilingualism everywhere. Every sign on the road, every government publication, every service from business to public, is available in both English and French. New Brunswick became Canada’s first (and still only) officially bilingual province in 1969 (a very good year 😉 ). The francophone community makes up about one third of the population of the province, with most being Acadian. But, my knowledge of french, in this bilingual province, is far more commonly known there as franglaise … a little french and a little english combined … it makes understanding both languages so much easier 🙂 .

I now live in another province with (unofficial) bilingualism (multilingualism) … but, it is far more related to where the province is going than where it has been. There are no ‘official’ indicators (signs, publications, etc.), but multiculturalism abounds. So, it is always a bit strange when it is everywhere I look while visiting New Brunswick.

There is one more thing I think of when I think of New Brunswick … 80’s music. I am not sure how it happens, but every time I go there, I end up having a rental car thats radio is set to a station that plays hits from the 1980’s. And, every time I am there, I do not really notice the radio station until I have been there for a number of days. I expect that I do not notice because I moved from New Brunswick in 1990 … so the sounds of Kenny Loggins, or Phil Collins or Billy Joel ‘fit’ that environment 😉

I love the salty smell in the air. I love the rolling hills. I love the horizon that goes on forever. I love the red-hued mud of the Bay of Fundy. I love the constant breeze. I love the seafood. I love the covered bridges. I love the sunrises. I love the red autumn leaves. I love the feet of snow, accompanied by the bright sunshine, in winter. I love the sounds of people speaking franglaise. I love the people. These are the things that define New Brunswick, for me … they are they things I miss, and the things that feel innately familiar when I am there.

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It was a dark and stormy night … well, actually it was a humid and sunny afternoon … but it doesn’t really matter, because the foreboding inner feeling was the same.

I was in a shopping mall, doing a little shopping for a few little trinkets to bring home to my kids (okay, trinkets might be the wrong word … it just has connotations of a grandmother who is obsessive compulsive about little ornaments and ‘do-dads’, and her house is littered with them … providing ample opportunity to spend hours each week dusting, polishing and moving from place to place … but, I digress), when, all of a sudden I got an urge to pee (and, anyone who has given birth knows that an urge like that only means one thing … making it to the bathroom on time is like living with a ticking time bomb … never knowing just when, or how cataclysmic the explosion might be).

As I visually sought out those classic symbols of the restroom … the next step up from stick people, one wearing pants, and the other a dress, I fought to not allow my fear of the unknown get to me. I needed to maintain my composure and dignity, and not go off running through the mall like a maniac, yelling ‘I gotta pee, where do I go to go?’

And there they were, the mr. and the ms. (I wanted to say mrs., but thought that might not be politically correct … although I am not sure that singling out women by a dress or skirt is very politically correct), hanging from a sign on the ceiling, like a beacon from a lighthouse, as the waves of … well as the waves were quickly surrounding me. But, my agony would not be relieved as soon as one might think.

Sure enough, finding the sought-after sign was not the end of my urgent problem, but the beginning of a new one.

As with many times in the past, I was in a public place and had to walk past the mens washroom, down a maze-like corridor with twists and turns (and often burnt out light bulbs) just to relieve my post-pregnancy bladder. As I make the turns I am sure that I will leave more that just a carbon footprint. I am also sure that there will be some pervert lurking around the next dark corner.

Have you ever noticed the locations of men’s restrooms and women’s rest rooms in public places? It has been my finding (after a lifetime of active, full-bladdered research) that, almost exclusively, womens restrooms are a further walk than the mens rest rooms.

What exactly are the designers and builders of these fine establishments thinking? There is a part of me that whispers every time this happens … ‘probably designed by a man.’ Whoever it is that is doing the designing and creating of public restrooms, needs to start doing the designs while their bladder is full … so that they can design from a position of need.

And speaking of sitting down on the job, really is there anything on this Earth that can provide as much instant pleasure and relief, like emptying your bladder? And really, this is why bathrooms are poorly designed … because the act of emptying ones bladder is so wonderful that, when it is over, the trail that led there is forgotten, until the next time that it strikes again.

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The day began as most have, while visiting my parents. I awake at least a half hour before my alarm goes off … despite not feeling rested, and having awakened numerous times in the night. As soon as my mind awakens, so does my bladder … and it’s an urgent awakening (how does that happen? You are sleeping comfortably, but as soon as your mind awakens to the day, your bladder is doing a 911 call).

After a shower, tea and homemade biscuits (tomorrow I will start the day with coffee and a ten mile hike, to try to work off these biscuits), we were off to the airport.

Gone are the days of ‘super packing’ your suitcase with whatever would fit … now they weigh your bags, and not just to save the backs of the luggage handlers … but also as  money-making scam (I am sure the airlines public logic is in keeping with being more environmentally responsible … but I still see it as an airline money-maker, otherwise more conservative packers would be offered a rebate from the airlines). All of that to say, I was required to do a bit of re-packing of my goods, and was sad to not be able to bring back the entire case of Simply Crispie (www.topfundraisers.ca/chocbars.htm) chocolate bars … sorry kids!

After tears filled our eyes (but, we are far too … mature to let them fall …), I entered airport security. A friendly security gentleman asked, before I was even able to breath yet, how I was doing today … all I could respond was ‘tormented’.

I passed through security, boarded my flight to Montreal. There I waited for over two hours … texting hubby, emailing, writing, people watching. And then on to my final destination … Vancouver, BC.

Anyone with loved ones who live away from where you live understands my ‘tormented’ response to the security personnel. Each farewell you are tormented with two realities. One is that your life is not where their life is, and the other is that each farewell could be a final one.

It is then that I am acutely aware how far the east is from the west. It is not like we can drive there in a day, or fly there in a couple of hours … we cannot even fly directly there from where we live. It takes planning, and effort to get together.

This day was really heavy for me … leaving always is. And I am not expecting it to get easier or lighter anytime soon. Because we live in such a large, such a vast country … and as the plane touched down on the west coast … nine and a half hours after taking flight from the east coast I was so very aware of how far the east is from the west.

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Day three on the east coast, again meant spending some time at a certain coffee shop, for their brew and their wi-fi. Now wouldn’t it just be hilarious if I come to the east coast, home to a total of eight locations (province wide), and I get hooked on Starbucks coffee? I live in an area with a population of only about 94,000, and there are eleven locations (at one intersection there is one on three of the four corners).

On these two days I have had lunch with another sister in law, helped my mom learn how to order digital photos from an in-store do-it-yourself kiosk, had a wonderful walk and dinner with a friend that goes back to elementary school (and really, I did come all this way to see her 😉 ), and taken many pictures of houses and scenery that will be used in a future post.

Since I am at my ‘growing up’ home, spending time with my parents and extended family, I have been doing a significant amount of ponderdering family dynamics, and extended family relationships. I can and have griped about my family (and I am confident that similar griping goes on, in my absence, by them about me … after all “I took their grandkids away from them … ” GAG!).

But, a few years back a bit of reality hit me. How I treat my parents, how I talk about my parents, how I show love (or not love) to them and for them … is seen and heard by my kids. It is the example of how to love your elders that my kids will learn the most from. I can tell them how to love their elders, I can show them how to love their elders by how I love other people, but what they will learn from (and parrot) most keenly, most naturally, is what they have seen and heard from me, about my own parents.

Yikes, that is pressure (after all, it is my kids who will choose my care home for me when I am old).

And not only is it pressure, but, sometimes it is forced (kind of like when our own kids say and do things that truly give us understanding of why some living creatures eat their young, and we have to love them anyway … I think you hear what I am saying). It is forced, almost … a command, like a commandment (similar to the one about parents not exasperating (Ephes. 6:4) or embitter (Col. 3:21) their children … just sayin’).

All joking aside, it is a commandment … the fifth (Exodus 20:12), as a matter of fact it says, “to honor your mother and your father, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Now I don’t know what land God is giving to me … I have moved a few times, and I expect there are a few more moves to come. But I am not sure that ‘land’ in this context necessarily means land. I think that maybe it means place, location, culture, context … family.

” So that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” … Personally, I have days where I really do not care if I live ‘long’, but knowing that those days are given to ME by GOD … well that just makes me not want to waste a single one. Each day is a gift, and tomorrow … well we do not know if that one is being ‘gifted’ to us, until we get there. So, each day, I feel I need to remind myself that the the land or family I have been given (by God) is temporary, and I do not know how long it has been given to me for. And so, I need to be sure I am utilizing and making good use of each gifted day I get with my family. I cannot waste a gifted day holding a grudge (not that I haven’t done that, and won’t do it again, and again … especially with hubby … in the future). How my family feels about, or treats me, is immaterial … I am responsible only for me, and how I honor and respect the gift given to me by God.

Now, some people have, lets be honest, terrible families, terrible parents. Maybe there were abuses, neglect, abandonment. Maybe your parents were only a good example of what NOT to become. Honoring such a parent seems to be impossible, even cruel. But the command is not to honor your parents IF they didn’t embitter or exasperate you. There is no if (it also wasn’t to exasperate and embitter IF your kids don’t honor you … just sayin’) in the commandment.

I am not saying that ANY person, of any age should subject themselves to harm in any way, to obey this command. What I am saying is that sometimes, honoring that sort of parent is to not follow their example … parent differently, love differently, live differently … and don’t do to them that they have done to you (in case you didn’t notice, that is the ‘golden rule’ worded differently).

If your parents were mean-spirited … don’t follow their example

If your parents were abusive … don’t follow their example

If your parents neglected you … don’t follow their example

If your parents abandoned you … don’t follow their example

Sometimes being a different adult, being a different parent, being a different son or daughter (to them) than they were to everyone around them, is the best way to honor them (along with yourself and everyone around you).

All that said … I want to ensure that each of my ‘gifted’ days is utilized honoring, not abusing, abandoning, neglecting or abusing. Because that is the model I want my kids to grow up seeing as, not just good, but normal.

I have a feeling it might have more benefit than just teaching my kids something good. I think, I hope, that the greatest benefit will be that I come to the end of my days with no what ifs, no regrets (or at least fewer). And maybe even a better understanding that my parents were once MY caregivers …

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Today we went to the Hopewell Rocks ( http://www.thehopewellrocks.ca/ ). I vaguely remember going there last when I was about ten years old, and , although I remember thinking it was cool, I do not really remember much else. And so it was high on my ‘to do’ list for this trip.

It is a cool place of red stone, magnificently formed ‘flowerpots’ (often called this because they rise out of the sand and stones, many feet into the air, with plant life growing on top of them), fossils and tides that rise and fall as much as fifty feet, two times each day. It is believed that it is the location of a mountain range that surpasses the size of the western Rockie Mountains. All that to say, it is a beautiful place of wonder.

My dad and I met my brother, his wife, her son and friend there. It was as we were walking through the wooded pathway that I was reminded just how very treed New Brunswick is (it is the Canadian province with the highest percentage of trees per square km … so really, there should be more tree huggers here than in BC). And not only treed, but moss covered trees … so hauntingly beautiful (Dad thinks they are spooky). And not the green stuff on trees in British Columbia, but a dry white-gray moss … it almost looks like the tree is graying.

At the end of the trail is the metal staircase that leads you to the ocean floor. I am confident that it was the same staircase that had been there when I was there as a child. It is narrow, and the ability to see through the stairs to the bottom keeps many peoples heart rate up (I heard countless numbers of people giving others the advice to ‘don’t look down.’)

Once you are on the ocean floor, to say you feel miniscule is an understatement. The floor that you walk is is more stoney than sandy. And it is red’ish in color. It is easy to see the usual heights that the tides bring the water to, by the wear of the rocks all around.

There are crevices that are marked to not trespass into (and I certainly don’t know of any that might have trespassed 😉 ).

When we arrived there was a guy playing beautiful music, and we discovered that he was there with others planning  for a wedding in the weeks to come. What a perfect, unique and beautiful place for a wedding to remember … for the couple and all of their guests.

I was glad that I wore runners, as the beach was not easy to walk on. But others had also been wise, in wearing sandals that allowed them to walk out onto the mud nearer to the water. The mud of the Bay of Fundy has always made me think of quicksand. It just looks like it could swallow a person in moments.

At high tide, (every twelve ‘ish hours) the beach is cleared of people and filled with muddy water.

Once we left there we took a rather long and curving road to a place I had never been to before (my dad says he had never been there before either). It is a place called Cape Enrage (http://www.capeenrage.ca/) and it has nothing to do with a woman with PMS. The lighthouse there has been there for over one hundred and fifty years (imagine that friends from the west coast, where everything over fifty years old gets torn down). Thanks to the progress of technology, and specifically GPS, the lighthouse is no longer in use (since 2000, when it was decommissioned).

It is another beautiful place where tides come and go at amazing rates, and geological finds are readily to be found.

There is a contest going on, and if you go to http://www.new7wonders.com you can read about this contest, to, by popular vote, contribute to the new list of the 7 Wonders of the World. The only Canadian entry, of the twenty-eight, world-wide, is the Bay of Fundy.

I know I am maybe a bit prejudice 🙂 but I do think it deserves to be among the world’s seven. If you agree, I encourage you to go to http://www.votemyfundy.com and vote! It is that easy, and kids can vote to.

Truly this was another wonderfilled day in New Brunswick!

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