Easy-Breezy Sundays

If every summer day was like today, I would be in heaven.  25℃ (feels like 27℃) or, for you Yanks, 77℉ (feels like 81℉).  The sun is shining but are were puffy white clouds passing by, breaking up the blue and momentarily giving breaks from the direct rays. The breeze is warm and steady at 30km/h with gusts up to 39km/h (19mph, and 24mph).  The tree leaves rustle, the birds sing and traffic sounds so far away it is a barley discernable hum.

It is now late afternoon and all the neighbours, myself included, have mowed our lawns; no more sounds of circular saws or hammering or other chores needed, and now, we can sit by our pools or on our patios or right in the grass, having earned our time of respite, and just be one with the world. 

Of course there is supper to be made but I’ve actually planned ahead, sorta, kinda maybe.  The salmon “should” be thawed by the time I’m ready, right?  Plus, supper won’t be at least until 7:00 pm today…  In the meantime, I am catching up on my reading – I am participating in Sammi’s Lord of the Rings re-read.  It’s fun. We read a half-chapter per week, then “discuss” on her blog in her Tolkien Tuesday.  I was behind by four weeks!  Tomorrow we shall be discussing the first half of Chapter 11: A Knife in the Dark.  It’s fun to get the opinions and thoughts of others (we are 4-6 regulars who participate) on each segment.

I was actually serenaded by a robin as I enjoyed the afternoon.  How can one not appreciate that?

The BBQ is cooking my salmon and my rice is in its last resting five minutes.  The asparagus are just about to get some grilling and I may actually be joined by the other residents of this household for supper, like at the same time as me.  Whoa. 

We so enjoyed the different flavours brought out by the barbecue, it had me wondering why I barely used it last year.  I shall definitely rectify the situation this year. 

I’m also wondering why the hell we did not eat outside, especially since at the time we ate (8:00), the non-existent roof on my gazebo (ripped last year and needs to be replaced) wouldn’t have mattered as the sun had moved away from the house.  Much as I love to eat outside, I do not love to eat in full sun and will never understand those who do.  To each his and her own, I say.

*Special note:  I was so enjoying the day yesterday that I finished posting today, Monday 😉 

 

The Little Things – Friday Fictioneers

It’s Wednesday!  And that can mean many things.  Over here in blogland, it means the start of Friday Fictioneers (don’t ask, just know!) Rochelle has dragged, encouraged me to play by ever so sweetly asking me to use my photo.  How could I refuse?  More importantly, why would I?  Should you feel so encouraged, please do add your link to your 100-word story by clicking on the frog below.  G’head. I dare you!

Frog with rose Royalty Free Vector Image - VectorStock

G’head! Click to play!

It doesn’t take much, you know. To be made to feel more than, rather than less than, or worse, inconsequential.  Sure, the big things are nice and all but in the grand scheme of things, those things are just accumulated stuff.  Some stuff you really enjoy. Some you don’t know why the hell you keep except for some misguided sense of obligation.  And, if you are not careful, you lose sight of the things you love most amidst said stuff.

It might be cliché but actions do speak louder.  Small ones.  Big ones.  Ones that make sense only to you.

Stuff and Things and an Update

It’s been three weeks since I last wrote a post.  Oh, there are quite a few drafts with great intentions and little else but other than that? Zip.  The first week, I was basically sans motivation, feeling some sort of ennui, no, not ennui, more of a malaise of sorts.  At the same time, I was actively looking for a job which I’m now thinking was causing more stress than I thought.

The result? My immune system must have been compromised and to celebrate the first day of spring, I got damn COVID. Thank you, son.  After being sick on arriving at work on Tuesday morning, March 15, Iain’s boss sent him home.  He slept all day and had a headache.  The next day, feeling fine, he went to get a test and sent me this picture with the text:

“noooooooooo”.

I respond with : “Fuuuuuuuuuuck”.

And he with:  “so weak. shameful performance” (must be said with Uncle Roger’s accent)

I showed the photo to my boss who said:  “Now you have to go home”.  I thought it was kind of ridiculous, being 4:00 p.m. with just one more hour to go.   Still. I packed my stuff and off home I went where I have been working since. Why, you ask? Technically I need quarantine for five days. Well, let me tell you why.  (Oh, and by the way, Iain took his required five days off and returned to work on Monday.)

Thursday and Friday, work from home.  I’m good with that, especially because I have two job interviews on Thursday afternoon and now I no longer need to find an excuse to leave the office for half an hour.

Friday, take a test – negative. So I am good to go for dinner at my buddy Linda’s for an overdue dinner and a chinwag. We are reasonable this time and I am home before midnight.

Saturday, go for a fantabulous 45-minute run/walk. I am feeling fantastic.

Sunday. Wake up sick.  Take a test:  negative.  Hmm.  Okay then, must be a head cold. Or a sinus thing because my head is ready to explode and my head is full of, well, let me leave that to your imagination.  I text my boss, apologizing for disturbing her on a Sunday evening and tell her that there is no way I can go in and that I am also taking a sick day.  I took three.

However, Monday, I was supposed to go for another interview – in-person, this time. I contact the placement agent and tell her no way can I go.  She asks me if I can do a Teams meet and I say, I think I can make it through one of those (rather sick but can manage to not cough or blow my nose for half an hour…)  I was supposed to, originally, go for a site visit with the people I interviewed with on Thursday but had to cancel that, obviously.

All is well. The Teams interview goes so well, they send me an offer!  Well, how do you like them apples?  Problem is, I cannot respond as the first one I had on Thursday really interests me and I cannot make a decision without going for the site visit. (Plus, I didn’t really want the one offered as it was, once again, a position obliging me to sit at the reception. Non merci.)

Random photo – Hanging with the cats

My agent asks me if I think I could go for a site visit on Wednesday morning.  I say yes (probably should not have but decisions need to be made!)  I make sure I touch no one and nothing and my mask remains in place.  They are just as welcoming as I felt during our original interview.  I thank them for the visit, ever anxious to get back home and into bed but wait!  I have yet another interview at noon!  Bloody hell.

The interview goes well but I have the feeling the potential boss is one of those hard-ass women who says (too often) how open her door is and how she arrives with a smile and leaves with one.  I have the distinct feeling of. Nope.  Which is fine and dandy because Clemex, the company I interviewed for on Thursday and visited that morning?  They make me an offer that surpasses the one I got on Monday. Woot!

I call my boss on Wednesday afternoon, after I got the offer and break the news to her.  She takes it well, is not surprised but is happy for me as she knows the company cannot really offer me anything challenging at the time.  I promise to her to try to update all the administrative documents so that the next person they hire has something to go on.

I work from home Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday, (it is now March 26), my sister invited me over to watch her daughter, my goddaughter, Ariane, play volleyball in the Canadian national championships.  However, she asks me to test myself again just in case.

I feel you, Omelette!

Dammit.  Positive.

So this past week I have been working from home, trying to train someone on some of my duties via Teams and wishing this persistent cough will just leave me the hell alone. As long as it’s present, I cannot go anywhere!

I now have my last three work days ahead of me, with a lunch planned for Wednesday and I don’t even know if I will be able to go in!  I have this frog in my throat with an occasional unproductive cough, still.

*** UPDATE ***

Had to go to the pharmacy to pick up dye for my daughter today and decided to get myself a cough suppressant and a COVID test.

Great news!  I am now officially negative.

One last thing. I participate in a Facebook Photo Group and last week the theme was reflections.  I discovered this one taken last year and Wow! How had I not noticed this when I took it?  It’s what actually inspired me to write this post.  Well, the original plan was to simply use it as inspiration for a poem.  It is, after all, NaPoWriMo month, so why not a little poetry to end things?

 

Fighting through congestion

One thought begets another

A sleepless night, once again

Path has since cleared

With gratitude

Looking upwards and outwards

Where new beginnings

And challenges await

 

Winter Whites and Blues

Frank J. Tassone hosted Haibun Monday for dVerse yesterday. He wants us to get seasonal in honour of winter.  Those of us in the northern hemisphere might be just about done with the white stuff and cold but hey, it does have it’s beautiful moments. Should you want to try your hand, just click here and add your link.  All jokes aside, I do love winter – not as cold as we’ve had, thank you very much!

There is something special about waking up to a fresh blanket of snow.  Bleary-eyed, you crawl out of bed, not really ready to face the day (or maybe you are). You open your blinds and catch your breath. While you were sleeping, nature was laying down a gift.  All is covered in pristine white and the skies are as blue as they can only be in winter.

Now energized, you check the temps and dress appropriately to go out and get a better view.  Away from the noisy streets, as you make your way, you feel the silence grow louder the further you go.  The crunch under your feet is now muffled by the layer of fluff, your breath comes out in plumes and your jacket crinkles as you walk.  While the sun is shining brightly, it is stingy with its heat.  But you don’t really mind as you’ve dressed accordingly and while slight, you do feel the lightest of ray of kisses on your exposed cheeks.

Ah! If only all of winter were so!  But alas. That is the part of the gift of having four seasons.  We must enjoy the best of them while we can.

Blanket of white snow

Blue skies and crisp air delight

I’m ready for spring

 

 

Just Roll With It

“I try not to make plans. Because, even the best laid plans etc. etc.”

Author: Brent Spiner

My plan for Sunday was rather easy.  Get up (always a good way to start the day), have a coffee, eat some breakfast, have a second coffee, then get my heinie outside for a good walk.  Upon my return will deserve a nice bowl of my veggie soup, take a shower, prepare supper, pick up my mother, enjoy our meal, drive her back, relax and go to bed.

As Sundays go, it started off nice and slow.  Slept in until 9 (never mind I was awake from 2 till 5).  Stoked the fire and made myself a cup of coffee.  Got onto the Interwebs to catch up on my readings.  Ate my bowl of Raisin Bran by 10, continued reading and next thing I knew it was past noon.  Well, dang.

 

If I was going to walk for any reasonable time, I’d have to eat sooner.  Continued reading and commenting and whatnot and then around 1:30-ish, had a small bowl of soup, then dressed up to go out.

Shovelled the back porch and along the back of the house up to the side gate (must have all exits free from snow, in case). Once that was done, grabbed my camera and was off.

After the cold we had on Saturday, Sunday felt positively balmy!  Off I went in the direction of  my willow, planning to keep walking until I reached the discovered secluded walkway.  I got to the first park and decided to take a pic of the play area as this week’s theme in my photo group is “a touch of blue”, and there is blue on the monkey bars.  I slid-shuffled across the skating rink, passing by a lady who was clearing the snow off the rink.  I took a few pictures then noticed a flash of something on my camera….

“No card in camera”.

What. The. Fuck?  What an amateur move! I completely forgot that I had taken a few pics of the sky from my living room window the evening before, uploaded them into my computer. Where I left the card. Sonova–

I grumble and take out my cell phone to snap a couple pics.  Would have been a grand day with the camera as the day was beautiful, for sure.

However, there was no way in hell I was lugging my camera bag without being able to take pictures!  Get a sore back for nothing? No.  So I turned around.  As I crossed the park, I thought, hey, all is not lost, I have lots of time. I shall go home, change and go back out for a run.  Once I turned on the next street, the wind in my face determined otherwise.  The day was bust. I just wasn’t feeling it, anymore anyway.

So I took my shower then slowly started preparing my supper. It was nice to not feel rushed.  Chopping and sautéeing and browning. It’s when I feel the most zen.  Just as I was putting my coat on to leave to pick up my mother, Iain’s CAA arrived to boost his car (dead battery).  I told him that, since he had to drive his car to get his battery full, it would be a wonderful idea if he could go and get his grandmother.  He agreed.

We had a lovely and simple Sunday dinner.  To be repeated!  I made my “Chicken à la Tuscan à la Dale” – one of those recipes that I actually wrote down.  (Years and years ago, Mick asked me to please stop winging it and write things down so that I could potentially repeat the good stuff.)  Of course, I never follow it, but the fact that I wrote it down means that I potentially remake it sorta-kinda the same way (ish).  It just so happens I was looking for this recipe to share with someone else – and ended up not doing so coz I never did get around to sending out Christmas cards in which I was supposed to include a recipe on a 3″ X 5″ index card; said index cards that I actually bought for the occasion and will be potentially used next year – so it was top of my mind when I asked Mom if she wanted dinner.

Plans are great and all but hey, when they are broken, doesn’t mean all is lost!

 

 

 

 

Done and Done and… What’s Next?

I am, in general, an excellent starter.  Finisher? Not so much.  Not that I don’t finish anything – each of my parents and my grandmother got a needlepoint I made for each of them.  My grandmother has one because she had the bright idea of taking up needlepoint but instead of buying herself a nice little 4″ X 6″ as a starter, bought a big-ass one (like 18″ X 24″ or is it 24″ X 36″). She figured her granddaughter (me) would teach her how to do it.  Easy-peasy. After doing one one-inch square (too tight, by the way), she gave it to me with a “I don’t have the patience for this!” So I did it and then gave it back to her for Mother’s day. My mother’s contribution was to pay for the framing.  She wrote on the back “To be returned to Dale upon my death”. Well, Mémère died twelve years ago and my aunt lives in the house now.  When she tried to give it back to me, I told her to keep it.  When she sells, we’ll determine what to do with it then.

As usual, I have detoured to China on my way to New York…

So. Back to the reason for this post. Today marks my 365th day, like, in a row (sorry, David, had to steal it!) of doing my 10,000 steps per day.  10K steps.  Every. Day.  The funny thing is, I didn’t decide when I started this on January 3, 2020, to do it for one year.  I actually decided to start it on a Sunday (simply to avoid starting it on the first of the year), and merged it with the 68-day challenge they do at work, which started on the Monday.  Two birds, one stone.  But then a funny thing happened.  The last day of the work challenge came and went and I was still on a mission.  I don’t know when hey, let me try to do this for a whole year came to be but suffice it to say, that it did. And I did it. I had my cheerleader and co-participant Marc, who actually had been doing 10K per day for months before I started and just joined in, determined to keep me company till the end. Thank gawd.  There were days where his “Go, Q, Go” was the difference between planting my butt on the sofa and getting out there.  I like to think there were days where I did the same for him.

I’ve gone from running in intervals of one minute run/one minute walk, for 10-16  sets to one 1:45 run, one minute walk, for 10-16 sets or plus.  I have also gone from doing increasing (by fifteen seconds) intervals starting at one minute run up to one two minutes and back with one minute walk in between each to 1:45 up to 2:45 and back with the one minute walk between each – that makes for a 47:15 total run/walk Pretty damn good as I was never a runner. 100 metre sprint? No problem. Run just to run? Not so much. So this gradual increase has been something I’m rather proud of.  I shall not be quitting any time soon and shall keep trying to increase my run times.

I’ve been chased by dogs and almost run over by absent-minded driver doing an “American stop”. I’ve run in the rain and on snow and in ridiculous heat and pretty frigid cold.  I’m still rather surprised at myself, that I did all that, tell you what.

I had a little minor surgery on my back to remove a chunk of fat called a lipoma on December 15th.  The surgeon asked me to not run for a few days.  Which turned into two weeks because the weather just wasn’t conducive to running – I don’t do slush/ice/snow which hides ice/ridiculous cold, etc.  So I walked outside and marched inside while watching episodes of shows.  Sometimes my steps went way over the goal and other times I just barely made it. I’ve had a few times where I prepare to go to bed, check my steps and gasp! Still have 1500 or so to go… March, march, march! Then sleep.

Saturday I was finally able to run, opting for the 1:45/1:00 X 14 sets for a total of 40 minutes 45 seconds (all my runs include a 15 sec prep and a two-minute cool-down.)  I also had to change routes as the only place I was pretty much guaranteed asphalt was on the main drags – not a pretty place to run.  Not a pretty day at all. We haven’t seen the sun in ages.

There was a lot of internal dialogue going on. A LOT.  The first set I thought, this is gonna be hell.  By set number five, I was convincing myself that I would go to six and turn around. 12 sets was nothing to be ashamed of.  By the sixth, I saw I was a ways from the overpass so why not go to seven as planned? It’s not like I would have to run up the damn thing. The photo does not do it justice. It’s the type of slope that even by bike, you want to speed up before the climb because by the top, your thighs are burning.  The voice in my head changed to Marc’s.  “You’ve got this, Q.  Last run day. FINISH STRONG.” I lost count for which set I was back on my return.  The Universe’s way of encouraging me to just keep on.  No point in quitting now.  When I hit the curve, I knew I’d soon be seeing my street. Yay! One more hurdle and done and done!

January 2, 2022, was my last day of my challenge.  I was awakened by the incessant sound of snowploughs going to and fro. First the streets, then the sidewalks, then my driveway, then the streets again…. I got the message and got out of bed!  A couple coffees, a late breakfast and I bundled up and headed out just as the snow was slowing down.

Almost as soon as I stepped out, I found myself in a snow globe.  What a perfect day to end my challenge!

What’s my next challenge?  Not sure yet. Will keep you posted!

 

Hot Chocolate (and Toast)

One of Mick’s Coca Cola mugs, worn down, much loved

I was reading Pam’s wonderful Christmas tale, “The Last Christmas Gift”.  Do please go and read it here … it might help explain my sudden inspiration to “pen” this.  Pam’s story was so beautifully written that I found myself sitting in the circle she described, drinking my own cup of hot chocolate or coffee, or both, that I stopped reading and went to make myself a mocha coffee before returning to her tale.

Fry's Cocoa - Baking Cocoa (227g) – GoJava TorontoMemories were now evoked of the times my mother made for us, and that I later made for my kids, hot chocolate, using real cocoa from the yellow and red Fry’s can, sugar, and a small amount of cold milk to create a smooth, mud-like texture before slowly adding the hot milk while stirring it all together.  No lumps guaranteed if you make it this way.  Sometimes there were marshmallows, most times not.  Mom wasn’t into instant anything, except Minute Rice, but that was only for her rice salad, never anything else.

Why is it that things that take just a bit longer to make, meaning you had to wait for it, taste so much more?  To make this come-in-from-the-cold treat all the better, Mom served it with buttered toast.  And that’s another thing, what is it about afternoon or nighttime toast smells and tastes like it comes from a whole other dimension?  You can’t even compare it to the toast served with your eggs and yet it’s the same product.

Now I’m mad at myself for not making a toast to go with… then again, it’s not late enough in the afternoon to justify it.  I think this is my cue to go out and get my 10K steps.  There are only seven days left for me to be able to say I did it for one whole year.

For the Canadians and Brits and the areas in the States that celebrate, Happy Boxing Day!  For those with no holiday, Happy Sunday!  I hope you have been able to take time away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations and over-eating and just be.

 

Not All About the Wine – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday, my peeps!  Yes, Wednesday can often mean Friday Fictioneers – we do like to twist your minds with that one.  This week, our fearless leader, Rochelle, has snagged her own pic as prompt.  How do you like them apples?  Well, I do. And if you do, too, why don’t you write your own 100-word story with beginning, middle and end and link it to the lovely frogette below.  G’head, it’s fun, not to mention an excellent way to learn how to trim the fat from our writing.

Fun frog with glass of wine Stock Photo by ©julos 63978267

Come on! Click!

They clinked their glasses with a “Salute!“, a smile, and a sip of wine.  Their regular get-togethers were an important part of each of their lives for various reasons.  The usual “We gotta do this more often” stated by one were always agreed to by the others with a resounding “Yes!

Everyone is so busy and it sometimes takes a valiant effort.  But we make it happen.  For our sanity.

“We should do this in Italy!” said one.

“Ohmygodyes!” the others chimed in.

“Can you imagine?”

“I’d like to more than imagine.”

They all sighed.

“Let’s start planning.”

“For real!”

 

 

Tinsel

Quadrille Monday for dVerse and I’m actually posting on the same day?  Will wonders never cease.  It must be because we had to use the word Tinsel…

 

 

Silent Night plays while
tears stream down her face
like tinsel cascading from the branches
of a Christmas tree

 

Where the silver strands hang on
hers roll off her chin
disappearing into her shirt
over her heart

 

It is but her yearly ritual
Remembering

 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks… and Pie?

I do this to myself all. the. time.  I get a prompt in my inbox and I think, “Oh yeah, baby, I know what I’m gonna write”. And then some annoying person comes and asks me for a stupid pen or lead for their pencil or whatever. And so I have to put it aside.  And then two days pass by, nothing written, and a new prompt shows up and I think, “Oh yeah, baby. I know exactly what I’m gonna write…” And then. I gotta send out a box… Well, you get the idea. I have come to realise that work is getting in the way of me doing what I really want to do. And it is NOT fetching office supplies (supplies, by the way, that they could get all by their own damn selves if they just walked into the supply room room which is not ten paces from where I sit).  But I digress with my impromptu mini-rant.

So Last Monday, dVerse was Haibun Monday – Giving Thanks.  I know where I’m going with that one.

And then on the Thursday that followed, dVerse was Pie Poetry – didn’t have to be related to Thanksgiving, though it was the ‘Murican Thanksgiving, of course.  I gots me pie stories to tell…

So here I am the following week, having written three (four?) other posts with this one still hanging out in drafts.  I almost left it in drafts to die a slow death but then decided, nope. Let’s go crazy and actually finish it!  So I decided to mush the two prompts together, somehow.

Giving Thanks With My Family Pie

My family means the world to me.  And I’m talking the whole gang:  from my grandmother, to my parents, to my aunts and uncles, to my sisters, my cousins, down to nieces and nephews, and my children.

Many are sadly gone now but they left their mark and they deserve a place at this table, in this peculiar pie.

No matter the situation, either one of us is a phone call and a drive-past-the speeding-limit drive away, urgency dependent, of course.

The birth of a baby, the death of one.  An injury sustained by a saw or a skull-cracking fall takes but one phone call, and the invisible director has called “Action!”.

It’s not only in moments of distress that we come together.  We join in celebrations: shopping for prom/wedding dresses, attending each other’s children’s recitals and games. And yes, we can even travel together!

They’ll call me on my shit, tell me I look like shit, give me shit, tell me my decision was shit.  But here’s the thing; so will I when they merit it.

They’ll celebrate my victories, tell me I look fabulous and let the world know they are proud of me.  Just like I will for them.

My family is a complex pie (it’s not even round) made up of varying slices (they’re not even, even) that you might think shouldn’t work together, but do.  Maybe they don’t all belong on the same plate, (some are savoury, some are sweet, some are spicy; all of them tart and not a few of them nutty) but they definitely belong in the same meal.

Holidays are fine

To give thanks to those we love

But every day’s best