This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, and I’m feeling grateful for just about everything.

Monday morning left me breathless with sheer wonder. After a few days of rain, the sky had cleared overnight and the temperature dropped to about 4°C. The rooftops sparkled with the kind of frost that is beautiful without doing any damage. The sun rose golden in an intense blue sky, and the air was an intoxicating cocktail of moist cedar and distant ocean.

While I sat wrapped in my warm blanket drinking my tea, I was treated to a symphony of birdsong; not the unrestrained chorus of spring, but the sweet and wistful melodies of fall.

Robins chirped and chuckled in the trees, gorging themselves on the last few berries. A finch sang a clear, note-perfect solo. Dozens of juncoes foraged busily on the ground only a few feet away, their tiny ‘chip’ noises interrupted only by the whir of their wings as they took flight to ride the crystal air like feathered rollercoasters. A Steller’s jay took proud ownership of the last few sunflower heads of the season, iridescent blue plumage glowing and crest saucily cocked.

As the sun rose higher, the rough armourplates of Douglas-fir bark transformed into a stunning study of warm light and deepest shadow. The melting frost trimmed every leaf with diamonds. The creek rushed in the background — not yet winter’s torrent, but singing again after its summer silence. The asters and chrysanthemums and rudbeckia glowed bright in the vivid green of the rhododendron garden.

And I sat in this beautiful place, marvelling; and comforted beyond measure.

These patient trees will stand for many of my lifetimes. These mountains were here millennia before me, and will remain for millennia after I’m gone. Compared to their ancient presence, my life is a tiny speck of existence, forgotten in an eyeblink. Nature endures, not only beyond human endurance, but beyond human comprehension. And for that, I am thankful.

I’m thankful to live in a safe home, in a safe country where I have clean air, clean water, abundant food, and health care.

I’m thankful for my husband. He is my rock, the man I can always count on to listen to me, laugh with me, and love me.

I’m thankful for family and friends who, whether we live provinces away or close together but separated by COVID restrictions, are nonetheless only a phone call away.

I’m thankful to be doing a career I love.

And I’m thankful for you, my wonderful readers — you make all my hours of work worthwhile.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Book 16 update: I’m on Chapter 21, nearly halfway done the book! There’s a killer in Silverside, and Blue Eddy has been hiding a murderous past…

Flipping The Bird

It’s a tradition; a universal gesture of fellowship and goodwill that never fails to cause indigestion at the very least and a full-blown coronary at the worst.  I’m referring, of course, to the practice of “flipping the bird”, and it’s something I offer my family and friends at least twice a year; sometimes more frequently.

But they don’t seem to mind…

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, a holiday that centres around eating far more turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie than is healthy or even comfortable.  (But some things are good for the body while others are good for the soul; and a giant feast with friends and family is definitely good for the soul.)

Turkey dinner is a tradition that always gives me a giggle, partly because of the connotations of “flipping the bird”.  When I was growing up in a more innocent time, we always referred to the turkey as “the bird”:  E.g. “I want to get the bird stuffed and into the oven before ten” or “Is it time to flip the bird yet?”

“Flipping the bird” only meant turning the turkey from its front (where it began roasting to conserve the juices in the white meat) to its back (to create that perfect golden-brown crispy skin during the last bit of cooking time).  Imagine my amusement when I got old enough to realize that phrase could mean something else entirely.

And here’s another funny thing about a turkey-and-pumpkin-pie dinner:  The aromas of both turkey and pumpkin pie are instantly recognizable by anyone who’s ever eaten the traditional meal… but the smells that make everyone’s mouths water aren’t even turkey or pumpkin.

So many times I’ve heard people remark, “Oh, that turkey smells so good!” just a short time after the bird (yes, I said it) goes into the oven.  But you can’t even smell turkey until it’s been roasting for two or three hours.  Before that, all you can smell is the sage and thyme and onions in the stuffing.

Same with pumpkin pie.  The flavour and scent of the actual pumpkin are completely disguised by cinnamon and nutmeg and other yummies.  After smelling the pie, a taste of plain old pumpkin would be terribly disappointing.

But despite the fact that the staples of the feast aren’t exactly as advertised, it’s still nice to have a holiday whose sole purpose is to express gratitude for our good fortune.  For instance, I’m thankful for the fact that, unlike our neighbours in the United States, our Thanksgiving is early enough to allow us time to recover from the turkey stupor so we can enjoy it again at Christmas.

Seriously, though, I’m immensely grateful to live in a warm comfortable house with a loving husband in a safe neighbourhood in a safe country.  To have the luxury of complaining that I’ve eaten too much.  To have family and friends who love me despite my oddities.  To be able to pursue a career I enjoy.

And I’m grateful to all of you, my faithful readers, who brighten my days with your witty comments and kind support.  Thank you, everyone!

(And I promise not to flip you the bird… unless it’s a roasting turkey.)  😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

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New discussion over the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  What Makes You Stop Reading?  What unforgivable storytelling sin will make you chuck a book?  Click here to have your say!

Thanks, Technology… I Think…

Fortunately, it was Thanksgiving here in Canada this past weekend.  If I hadn’t been reminded of how thankful I am for all the good things in my life, I’d be seriously cranky.

The night before I left for another 1,600-mile road trip a couple of weeks ago, my computer’s USB ports died, leaving my mouse and keyboard to uselessly mourn their passing.

It’s kinda hard to use a computer when you have no input devices, but hell, no problem.  It’s not like I really needed to finish my last-minute work and pack and get a million other things done before I left.  Technology, you’re a real sonuvabitch sometimes.

But on the up side, I use my laptop to work remotely on my home computer when I’m travelling.  It was as if nothing was wrong the whole time I was away.  Thanks, technology.

When I got home, I spent the better part of a day trying to fix the ports.  No luck.  Sonuvabitch.

But I could still work through my laptop.  Thanks, technology.

But my laptop couldn’t connect to the program I need for my invoicing.  Sonuvabitch.

But that was okay.  Since my motherboard was toast anyway, I decided to replace my aging computer.  I could take my time building my new machine and make a graceful transition using my laptop in the mean time.  Thanks, technology.

Which was a great idea… until I woke up the very next morning to discover my old computer had committed seppuku in the night and was completely dead.  Not even a beep or a blinky light.  Where it got that sword, I’ll never know.  Sonuvabitch.

Computer seppuku. Try not to look at the bloody entrails.

But I had backups, and I had my new hardware.  I could start rebuilding right away.  And it was the long weekend, so I had three whole days free.  Thanks, technology.

Well, sorta free.  Except for the bazillion other things I’d hoped to accomplish after being away for a week.  Oh, and maybe have a day or two off?  Nah.  Not allowed.  Sonuvabitch.

Amazingly, all the Microsoft products installed beautifully and worked first try.  Thanks, technology.

Unfortunately, all the other hardware and applications seemed childishly determined to assert their independence.  One after the other, they:

  1. refused to install; then
  2. installed grudgingly after I spent hours pissing around finding solutions; after which they
  3. promptly broke the parts of the installation that had actually been working before, so I had to go back and fix them.  Again.

I spent three solid days glued to my desk, swearing until the windows melted.  Sonuvabitch.

But I’m thankful beyond words that this is the only thing in my life that’s complaint-worthy.  My saintly husband tolerated my savage mood with his usual graciousness and helped me buy and assemble my components.  I ate Thanksgiving dinners on two different days and didn’t have to cook for either of them.  I was warm and safe and well-fed and surrounded by family and friends.

Now I’m happy in my home office, doing work I (mostly) enjoy on a zippy new computer that’s (mostly) loaded.  It’s all good.

Thanks, but, um, technology…?  You’re still a sonuvabitch sometimes.

It looks like an angel when it’s sleeping…

P.S. I’m still reloading my RSS feeds and digging out from under my backlog, so I haven’t been by to visit my blogging buddies lately.  I’ve missed you – looking forward to visiting you again soon!