Sunday, December 22, 2013

What does the room say?

What does your home mean to you?

1. Shelter?
2. Free wifi?
3. That place where your kids yell at each other.
4. That place where you hang your clothes on the floor.
5. That building your pets own.

Or maybe your home is quite simply and profoundly all the collective things that comprise your heart. This is the time of year to be at home. Whether it’s calm or safety or warmth or family or memories, home can be the very epicenter of comfort. Yet not for everyone. I hope, right now my friend, that home is more things good than not.

No one told me how to make my home. And yet, I figured it out. Most likely all those forts I built as a kid were the prototype. I knew it needed to feel like a nest: warm and dry, encouraging both flight and return. I knew I needed a place to be creative. A place for quiet. A place with plenty of sunlight. A place where my friends felt comfortable too. A place where we could all be ourselves. A place where we could talk about anything and everything we wanted. A place to play. A place for good friends and family to share laughter and ideas and pumpkin bread pudding. A place for the family I created who created me. And a place to say thanks for that and for everything.

There’s a saying about finding all the answers in your room...The roof says “aim high.” The fan says “be cool.” The clock says “every minute is precious.” The mirror says “reflect before you act.” The window says “see the world.” The door says “push hard to achieve your goals.” And so on. But I wonder, what would the whole room say? I think it might say “this is all much much too temporary."

But for happy now and happy today there is you, there is me, there is us, there is we. Home.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

Need one too?
mobilizing for a common cause aka drinking beer with your buds and impressing them with the new bagpipe app on your iPhone!

#tomorrownight

"Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion." ~Scottish proverb

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordfuse (Idiots in Charge Edition)








Every organization needs that person who is vital to its blooming success failure. See Rob Ford. Or this guy and his 22 presidents and vice presidents.

#unreal

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

hmm. I'm just not sure what message someone is trying to send me via the snow on my windshield. Lose your belly fat? Get a haircut? I like your sidelocks? Your head is much much too big for your body?

Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Because waffles.

Forget about lemons and lemonade. Sometimes life just feels like one big old greasy bowl of Sunday morning goop. What’s a person to do about that? I say make waffles.

Waffles just might be the secret to everything. Think about it.

1.      Got too much syrup? Waffles.
2.      Pants too tight? One waffle.
3.      Did your flu shot needle hurt? Prescription: waffles.
4.      Did you miss out on cyber Monday because you didn't even know there was a cyber Monday? (Me too.) No worries: waffles.
5.      Long, long day? Waffles. Or better yet: Irish Cream waffles.
6.      Someone used yet another acronym you don’t know? IDK, waffles.
7.      Table with one leg shorter than the rest? Pancake.
8.      Your best tweet ever is a couple of characters over the 140 limit? Waffl.
9.      Your dishwasher has been inoperable for over a month? Waffles on paper plates.
10.  Bite your cheek? Cream cheese waffles.
11.  Your team loses yet again? Waffles and bacon.
12.  Upset stomach? Gluten-free waffles.
13.  Struggle with math? Mini-waffles plus one knife plus one infinite imagination.
14.  What to cook that annoying someone who consistently flip-flops depending on the topic and/or who’s present? With a wry smile, serve waffles.
15.  Nothing to make for supper? Pretty much that IS the universal signal for waffles.

And finally an inspirational quote, by me, “Keep calm because waffles.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wordfuse (Feline Edition)

Need this? Source
I'm a cat fan. Always was. I grew up with cats: Tig, Mouse & Bigfoot. Even Satan. I get it. Grumpy cat is really quite ingenious. And I appreciate a cute internet cat pic meme. I do. But cat throw pillows? Especially for a mere $71.95? I'm sorry folks but I've reached my catpactity

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

big ass Sharpies 'cause they should be used in a well-ventilated room and they should also probably come with a breathalyzer.

Whoa.

#holeswheremybraincellsusedtobe
#theydomakeawesomefatlinesthough

Monday, November 25, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

promises.

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”
~Chad Sugg

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Particles

Source
I wrote this last November:

Sometimes I stop for a moment. Pause. And then I notice the way the sun illuminates all the little particles in the air. And they just waft by. Suspended. Yet moving. I wave my arm and those particles scatter. I make them move. I shape their journey. Or I think I do.

There are so many choices we make. With experience, wisdom often makes those choices quicker, easier, somehow more manageable no matter the outcome. And they lead to other choices. And so on. Life is meaningful. And all my proverbial ducks line up mostly the way I want. 

It's pure arrogance.

And then. Bang. Randomness. Something so sickenly random happens. No reason. Something unbelievable. Like an aneurysm. A head-on collision. Cancer. Some other bullshit thing.

And then there's no choice. No way to shift the particles the way I want. The sun still illuminates it all but everything looks different now. Particles wafting. Particles drifting. Shockwaves interfere with everything. And I don't know where things go anymore and I don't know where they come from anymore. All the way up to the stars. 

A year has passed now. I continue to search for perspective but I don't still feel this way. Still is the key word here; the search isn't so turbulent right now. At least not for me. Yet talking with a friend a few days ago, for her it is: particles overwhelming, particles everywhere. I listened to her carefully. I felt her confusion and agreed: it doesn't make sense. At some point in the conversation she pleaded, "What am I supposed to learn from this?"

That's it. That's the question. Right there. We all must keep asking that question. Ask yourself. Ask those you trust. And keep sorting it out. Little by little. Day by day. Friends with friends. Conversation by conversation. Because at least together among those drifting particles illuminated by the sun, both beautiful and infuriating, we will see each other and know that at least there's that: we are not alone in all of this.

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards." ~V.S. Law

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

My current temperature is NUTS but what's even more nuts? It's expected to all melt by the weekend. Who's in charge?! Oh right: Brick Tamland.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Things that are most likely the devil:

Take your medicine and assume this position.
Immediately. Take my word for it. 
NarcoticQuil NyQuil.

There's that commercial where the fat guy's wife tosses NyQuil at him and his man-cold morphs into a happy sleep. As a fat guy in need of a cold remedy recently, I consumed the recommended dosage of NyQuil and well, shit happened. What did I learn? Don't drink NyQuil during the day. (Apparently that's DAYQuil.) Don't drive on NyQuil. Don't try to cut vegetables on NyQuil. Don't even walk. Don't do anything. I discovered this the hard way. And by hard way I mean drunk way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Importance of Scars

The picture above my desk:
my older brothers and me.
For a while I forgot about the scar at the corner of my right eye. Time has masked it with laugh lines but noticing it again, the story remains fresh. Pondering it now, I realize time has also changed its meaning. Scars are often secrets but this scar in no way began as a secret. I made sure this scar shouted.

My brothers and I were boarding the bus one September morning during my first weeks of school. My oldest brother's impatience got the better of him and he gave me a push to "help" me up the stairs. I bet I was carrying my lunchkit and maybe that's why I didn't put my hands out to brace myself against the fall? Instead, my face introduced itself to the steps, hence the scar.

I do remember crying, probably more like wailing, standing with my Mom, watching the bus drive away. Equipped early with a propensity for drama, I also remember thinking Is my eye going to fall out? Why isn't my Mom taking me to the hospital?! And why is my brother so mean? And why do they get to go to school considering the fact that I'm the only one who likes to go?!

Despite the hullabaloo, my scar is pretty tiny. And like that saying "when things go wrong, don't go with them," longevity and the loss of my oldest brother has taught me that this tiny scar is actually something huge to me now.

I wonder if my brother ever thought about it again? I wonder if he thought about the time a few years later when I punched him in the nose. I had to stand on a snow pile so I was tall enough. A spontaneous act, I remember feeling shocked that I had actually followed through with that very foolish decision. I don't recall what happened afterwards but I suspect G-rated would not describe it.

Revenge. That was always a problem with my brothers. They were older. They were taller. They were stronger. And worst of all, my heart just wasn't into revenge. Although I was always wary of my brother's negative attention, and I was always quick to tell anyone who would listen that they were meaner than mean, I would forget about my elaborate revenge plots and subplots. Eventually, I realized this may have been what irritated them the most about me. I rarely fought back. Plus, as the classic annoying tattletale, I learned fairly quickly that people would actually listen if I told my sibling war stories in such greatly exaggerated detail that even I couldn't keep a straight face while sharing and thus I turned their torture of me into legends that my cousins Laurel and Jo and I would laugh about until we couldn't breathe.

And thinking about this right now, I realized something: I wonder if this scar made me a writer, if indeed my brothers made me a writer. I needed someone to listen and they wouldn't listen unless I entertained them. That is the bigger thing this tiny scar means to me now. So brother, for this scar, I thank you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

remembrance.

These are my great-grandfather's First World War medallions. After the war he brought a Scottish war bride to Canada, raised three children and lived until his 90s.

I have one childhood memory of him. Due to his quick speech and strong accent I struggled to understand him but I can still hear him bickering with his Maggie, my Great-Grandmother. I can see his lively dark eyes on me as he brought the kettle to his kitchen table, his open toolbox on the chair. He and my Dad talked tools over tea. My Dad smiling.

Using the information engraved on these medals, I now know the details of his particular military service. No wonder all the tool talk.

Unlike my great-grandfather, the stories of many men, just like him, ended on fields in France and elsewhere. What a great waste of men and women war is and yet another great waste of humanity without their sacrifices.

"Peace is the virtue of civilization, war is its crime." ~Victor Hugo

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

?
defining clean.

The other day, I could hear the washing machine sloshing so I investigated to discover it seemed to be busy washing nothing. My first thought was typical: our washing machine is possessed. My second thought was that my wife forgot to put the clothes in before she started the cycle.

Intent on teasing her, I mentioned it the next day and before I could toy with her she explained that she was "washing the washing machine."

What?!

That's a thing? She confirmed it; I kid you not. But why would a washing machine need to be washed? And then my mind exploded like popcorn: how much wash would a washing machine wash if a washing machine could wash wash?

Thankfully I held inside this jibe (albeit a witty jibe) since I could tell by my wife's demeanor that there was nothing unusual in her mind about this practice of washing the washing machine and furthermore I should be thankful (and am thankful) that her way-too-high standards maintain a high level of germ-free-edness in our life together. I could have shared that "I suspect that this idea was created by the same people who invented wooden calendar frames and a variety of other useless products and practices," but I refrained and dare I say, I "washed my hands" of the whole thing. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

One last thing: I apologize if you indeed own a decorative wooden calendar frame. In all fairness, they are likely very, very useful especially in apocalyptic type situations where one needs emergency firewood.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

At least for a while.

I cleaned my almost grown son's room:

dinky toys
balls
pencils sharpened down to a cm
marbles
rocks
cords
candy wrappers
lego
pennies
tools
elastics
bebes
bottle caps
batteries

The whole room was a junk drawer.

I couldn't let everything go, even stuff he wanted to let go of. I need it still. At least for a while.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:




















My son and his buds are "repairing" this jeep and this was how they decided to transport it from point A to point B. Teens.

#safetyfirstlast
#frontallobeissues

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It will soon be over.

For an introvert, even a pseudo-extrovert-introvert like me, Halloween is nuts. Oftentimes, I enjoy much of it, but I must keep reminding myself that it will soon be over.

For those of you likewise inclined, today I hope for moments of peace among the chaos. That and lots of chocolate.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tightropes

If you look at it the right way you can see the whole world is a garden.” Frances Hodgson Burnett

I can see that. Maybe it’s naive. Even irresponsible in some ways. Yet I really can. But I don’t expect everyone to see it that way.

It’s like skydiving. I don’t want to do that. Some may think this assertion is just sensible but others may consider it cowardice. Sure sure it’s apparently safe. And exhilarating and a bucket list experience and inspirational. And so on and so forth. It probably is. But I’m not doing that. I’m just not.

However, I AM going to watch everyone else skydive. I will be a little angry about their foolishness and maybe even a little confused too. I will wonder, my face furrowed: why do you want to die this way? But I will cheer for them. And maybe shed a tear of relief when they land safely. I will cheer because I like to see other people experience moments like these. There’s something I find so exhilarating about witnessing dream-achievements. Is anyone else like that? Any other extreme risk-taker-fans who are totally good with that being enough, without jealousy, without regret? I know you’re out there too. But I get it. For fear of being judged too tame, we don’t much advertise.

I guess there was that one time I rode an insane roller-coaster. And once I...(despite some prolonged brainstorming, I couldn’t think of anything else crazy to list here.) But this doesn’t mean I haven’t taken serious risks. It depends on how one defines risk. Twice I’ve pressed restart on my career. Like a lot of people who live in Alberta, long ago I risked moving far far from home to come way way up here near the top of the world and Santa Claus and that truly was the risk in my life that made all the difference. Even now I risk sending these words out to you. Are these risks so minor in comparison to climbing Mt. Everest?

Maybe. Maybe not. It depends. I have learned that we can never really know how far another person pushes himself even when we can’t perceive exertion. In other words, what we perceive as victories for ourselves and for those who might be more plainly daring is debateable. Some tightropes are virtually invisible. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

pushing boundaries.

This is a red velvet cake crouton. Cake croutons? What a genius idea eh? It's from a yogen fruz dessert I had about two weeks ago. Anyway, I found it in one of the new shoes I bought that day. It's still good right?

#thankspaige

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

the home-made beer-pong table that showed up in my backyard.

Maybe this was my teen son's shop class project?

#hmmm
#yeahno
#twistedtea?
#ingenoity?
#imightconfiscatethisanduseitmyself

Friday, October 18, 2013

Yes. Yes they do.

My daughter.
Not long ago I signed a petition about the Canadian $50 bill. The new polymer version of our $50 bill features a boat. The old $50 bill featured the “Famous 5,” a mostly Albertan group of women who, in 1927, started a petition to be legally recognized as “persons.” For Canadian women, this triggered tremendous status growth. By removing the Famous 5 from the $50 bill, there are, at present, no longer any Canadian women featured on Canadian currency.

HUH?

I have never understood why women must fight for equal status with men in any area: leadership, politics, careers, whatever. In those purposely blind eyes of the law both sexes should have the same rights, responsibilities and privileges, In every which way. To me that’s justice. Plus it just makes sense. Therefore, it seems like a no-brainer that there would be just as many Canadian women on our currency as Canadian men.

It’s about contribution. Don’t women contribute just as much to society as men? That question is pretty much rhetorical but in this case, I think it demands answering. And what’s the answer? YES. YES THEY DO.

Anyone who denies that is an idiot. I mean come on, ever heard of babies? Obviously that example pretty much trumps everything but let’s focus on contributions that traditionally haven’t been used to negatively stereotype women. So here’s an odd little quiz. What makes it odd? I am going to give you the answer before I ask the question: ALL OF THEM. That is the answer. What’s the question? According to Mental Floss magazine, women invented which of the following?

1. The paper bag.
2. Monopoly.
3. Windshield wipers.
4. Disposable diapers.
5. The dishwasher.
6. Alphabet blocks.
7. “Invisible” non-glare glass.
8. Signal flares.
9. The circular saw.
10. The computer.

Note number 10. Kind of a big deal, isn't it? Incidentally, the woman who invented the computer worked alongside someone else: a man. Just look what we, as equal partners, can accomplish TOGETHER. It's like George Carlin said, "men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it."

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sometimes?

Sometimes there are events that cause fear to rumble across the world. It’s unnerving. And unsettling. Yet often, those things are just ripples. Ripples are not waves. And they do not start tsunamis. Earthquakes do. (I might be pushing the limits of this metaphor but somehow this makes sense inside my pea-brain.) Let me explain.

What I think I’m trying to say is this: worrying about the state of the world is natural. I caution you about living in that state though. Feeling the ripples is inevitable. Just watch the news. There’s a lot of distress. It can be overwhelming. But imagining a tsunami is on its way is unhealthy. Sure, we all imagine the worst sometimes. It’s easy. Fear has a way of smudging up all that light shining through our windows so much so that we can’t see past our own fears. The Beatles said it so well: “yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away oh I believe in yesterday.” But was yesterday so much better? Are things really so much worse now in this world? Maybe not.

In fact, maybe, just maybe, this is the very, very best time EVER to be alive? Why?

1. We still have gasoline.
2. Nature. We still have it too.
3. iPhones.
4. Skype or facetime.
5. Pausing live tv. (Years ago, only superheroes could do that.)
6. Babies. People just keep having babies.
7. (Other people’s) babies are hilarious.
8. Some of us don't live in the United States where politicians are so disconnected from reality that they claim the right to shut down their democracy, put people out of work, waste millions of dollars and call it democracy but we still get to watch this gong show with the rest of world and laugh and shake our heads and feel deservedly superior. (Sorry U.S. friends but this is just nuts.)
9. The future. Imagine it. For example, what new ways to eat waffles will they invent next?
10. Most likely there are still more great surprises to come than there are annoying surprises like hair in your food.

Re: #10. Think about that. There are still more surprises. There truly are. Not long ago I boarded a plane from Germany to Italy. On that plane was my university roommate. We hadn’t seen each other for over a decade and we had no idea we were both traveling to the same country.

Wow.  Just wow.

Appreciate here. Appreciate now. Feel ripples but don’t imagine tsunamis.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tufts

We have this weird cactus. We've had it for over a year. Last summer it grew the strangest buds. They looked like thistle-tufts that were about to go to seed. Like grey cotton balls after they visit their hairstylists gave them all some sort of mini mohawks. Like tiny Truffula trees without their trunks. (Dr. Seuss would have loved this cactus.) Sadly, they also reminded me of creepy baby mice. 

And then it got even weirder.

They blossomed. This long arm reached out from that grey fuzz on that cactus and then a day or two later it bloomed this white lily type flower. It looked like paper origami, petals cut very carefully. The smell? Like the softest whisper of the most alluring perfume. I’m not sure I've smelled much better than that smell.

After a day or two: gone.

Cut to over a year later. We forgot about this cactus after its odd blooms. Then one day we noticed it in another room. My wife suggested we throw it out. It was no longer round and full. It had shrunken and wrinkled a bit. I’m the one in the family who keeps the plants alive (or revives them after neglect) so I protested and by protested I mean I gave it approximately a measly ¼ cup of water and put it on my desk.

And then a few weeks ago it began to grow. Seriously grow. Three or four centimeters at least so far. And it’s changing shape, no longer round and squat but taller and thinner, a green triangle. I’m kind of jealous in fact. And one more thing: it’s covered it tiny tufts.

Two things about our freaky little cactus:
1. What the crap is this thing?!
2. Don't ever give up. Things do change.

(I have been afraid to believe #2 for a long long time now. But I think, mostly, some days, here and there, even though I am probably wrong, I'm starting to believe again. I hope the same for you if you need the same hope, I do.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

this stance.

Do it. Do it at least once a day. Don't wait. Do it now. It just automatically makes a person feel better. Guaranteed.

#thanksmac
#twoarmsupworkstoo

Monday, September 23, 2013

Things that are most likely the devil:

what we just found in our garden.

We are definitely not farmers. Believe it or not that freak show propped up against our toaster and hissing like a...(Ok, ok. It's not hissing but it looks like it would hiss my face off if I let it.) is an ear of corn.

Yup. Delicious corn. But our corn is ugly as shit. And quite frankly, terrifying.

It looks like corn grown by The Children of the Corn or corn grown by The Hills have Eyes kids. (I don't recommend clicking these links.)

At least I have a Halloween costume idea now. And a new character dancing through my nightmares.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

wearing two different socks to work.

In my defense, they're pretty close though. Same colour. Siblings, just not twins. Therefore, I am not old (nor am I nine or less).

#keeptellingyourselfthat

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wordfuse (Comeback Edition)

Don't you hate it when someone points out your so-called "glaring" ignorance or even your mild misunderstanding? Like how was I supposed to know the Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters. Ok, maybe there's 13; I still haven't sorted this all out.

That's why there should be (and now is) a word that one could use as a comeback to be said quietly so as to mask that the retort is loaded with passive-aggression. Not that I'm condoning that sort of behaviour. Nobviously.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wow.

Chronologically, it's nearly autumn. Yet temperatures range from the high 20s to the mid 30s. This is rare where I live. There's a lot of buzzing. It's like September didn't get the memo about Fall.

Despite everything that's so so wrong with it, sometimes the world just grabs you by the lapels and turns you toward it until you lift your eyes and connect and then it whispers, pay attention pay attention to this. See the beauty? See the wonder? See the surprise? And so you do, you just absorb the everythingness just when you thought you had seen it all, just when you need it and all those things you wanted more than you could possibly have, well they fade away again and for a while you can see things as they truly are then gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

At least for a while.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

daring to eat the food at a dive.

#livedangerously
#fishtacos
#withmangosalsa
#whoa
#sosogood
#thisisnottypicalwhereilive

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sometimes

Sometimes we are like cabbage.

We stink. Seriously. We really do sometimes. In more ways than one. Think about it.

Also, like cabbage, we have so much potential when we're planted. And despite so many obstacles we grow. But we have all the scars to prove it: damn cabbage butterflies and their maggoty-worm babies. And thus we can be really bitter too.

Or not.

And like cabbage, there's something just so beautiful at the core of almost every one of us if only we can shed this skin and open ourselves up to the sun and stop being so damn afraid of everything about this messed-up, devastating, dazzle-bonkers wonder-of-a-world of ours.

But then what? How does the series end? We end up coleslaw.

Bummer.

Still, if you think about it--coleslaw, like life, is darn tasty stuff when you can get it and while it lasts.

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself." ~George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Circus

Find your circus.” ~Jessica Hagy

We humans seem to always be running

There are things people run FROM in life:

1. Big spiders.
2. Liver and onions.
3. Buckley’s cough syrup.
4. Public speaking.
5. Not feeling wanted.
6. Obnoxiousness.
7. People who tell us the truth.
8. Overdue bills.
9. A job we hate.
10. Waiting in line.
11. Negative people.
12. Violence.
13. Racism.
14. War.
15. People who swear to do something about everything that’s wrong but they never do.
16. People who lie.
17. Cleaning toilets.
18. Mice.
19. Diets.
20. And countless others.

And there are things people run TOWARD in life:

Ice-cream, cute people, the beach, the liquor store, etc, etc...Too many to count. But above all...that which doesn't feel like work. And what does that add up to? Your “circus.”

Dear people not yet grown-up (age 18-81), 
Have you determined what your circus is yet? Find that enjoyable thing and those enjoyable people living their dreams and then you’ll find your circus and then the running won’t seem so exhausting anymore.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

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