Tag Archives: travel

“Random” Passenger

I used to love flying, back in the days when I could throw everything I needed into a carry-on bag and board the plane without getting hassled about my shampoo bottle or *gasp* my jackknife.  Back in the days when they still made airplane seats to fit normal adults instead of emaciated waifs with abnormally short legs.  Back in the days when they still served actual food on board.

Remember how we used to joke about airline food?  Well, the joke’s on us.  If we had known back then that today’s “airline food” would be ten mini-pretzels and half a cup of pop, we’d have shut up and reveled in our good fortune.

And don’t even get me started about security… oh, wait; I’m already started.  Hang on, ’cause here we go.

So you know how the security scanner automatically selects some poor schmuck random passenger for groping and harassment “additional screening measures”?  News flash:  It ain’t random.  It’s specially calibrated to go off like fireworks every… single… time… I pass through it.

Usually it’s not too big a deal, because I always strip to the point of marginal decency before I go through the scanner anyway.  When the inevitable lights and sirens start up, I assume the position, they search/swab/manhandle any luggage item and/or body part that catches their fancy, and then I get re-dressed and carry on.

But last week I got extra-special treatment.  The scanner went off and I assumed the position as usual.  The screening agent must have really liked me, because I received a particularly thorough pat-down – she should have given me flowers afterward; or at least a nice kiss.  I don’t know why it’s supposed to be less ‘sexual’ to get your PTA (pussy/tits/ass) squeezed and fondled by the backs of the agent’s hands instead of their palms; but maybe I’ve just been away from the dating scene for too long.

Anyhow, after my X-rated interlude I figured I’d be good to go… but I was wrong.  The explosives scanner picked up something on my suitcase, too.  That got everyone’s attention.

So in addition to getting publicly felt up, I also won the booby bonus prize:  Having every single item in my luggage removed and laid out so everyone could scrutinize it.  Mom really was right:  Always buy nice underwear.  Even if nobody ever sees you wearing it, at least it’ll look pretty when it’s spread out on the security conveyor in front of dozens of gawking bystanders.

By that point I was beginning to wonder whether I had actually packed some dynamite without noticing; but fortunately they didn’t find anything.

At last they allowed me to get re-packed and re-dressed, and I made it to the boarding lounge with everything but my dignity, privacy, and equanimity.  I left those behind at Security – I guess they had to confiscate something after all that kerfuffle.

Anybody else got “random passenger” tattooed on their forehead?

Book 14 update:  I hit Chapter 25 this week!  The middle of a book is always where I start to question my writing ability and sanity, but fortunately I know by now that it’s all part of the process.  Will… push… through…

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Pickles, Peeves, And Daniel Craig

It’s been one of those weeks.  I’ve been trying to fit ten days of work into seven, and my brain has rebelled.  I knew I was in trouble a couple of nights ago when I dreamed of Daniel Craig.

That might sound like the quintessential female fantasy; but it wasn’t… because of the pickles.  Yes, I dreamed that Daniel Craig was plying me with a plethora of pickled cucumbers.

Freud would nod sagely and point out the phallic significance.  Normally I’d snicker and agree; but the truth is that I’ve been inundated with cucumbers lately, to the point where I’m even dreaming about them.  The garden is going crazy, and every second day I lug in a basket of strawberries, a basket of cucumbers, a basket of tomatoes, and a basket of corn.  And now the beans have found their second wind, too (no pun intended).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that our garden is doing so well.  But I’m also a teensy bit overwhelmed, which means the chances of me writing a coherent blog post this week are somewhere between ‘Nil’ and ‘Not a chance in hell’.

So instead, here are a couple of random thoughts that flitted through my mind this week:

I love food, cooking, and eating; but some days the futility of it nearly brings me to my knees.  I spend SO MUCH TIME (and money and energy) acquiring food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up afterward… and four or five hours later I do it all again.  And again.  Repeat the next day, and the next, ad infinitum.  And it all ends up in the toilet anyway.  Wouldn’t you think we’d have found a better solution by now?

And one of my pet peeves:  Stinky soap in public washrooms.  Seriously, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, and MacDonald’s:  Can’t you buy hand soap that doesn’t reek like some unholy combination of burnt transmission fluid, old gym socks, and rotting flowers?  You post big signs reminding everyone to wash their hands, and then you provide hand soap that nobody wants anywhere near their skin.

But… kudos to the PetroCanada at the corner of 17th Street and Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, BC – their soap smells nice.  And BIG props to the Flying J truck stop on Portage Avenue in Headingly, MB for providing GoJo mechanic’s hand cleaner in the women’s washroom – hooray!

Despite my pickles and peeves, I’ve had some wins this week, too:

Our bookshelves are finally finished, woohoo! It’s been nearly two years since I last saw my beloved books. Thanks for all your hard work, Hubby!

The tomatoes have been FABULOUS. That’s one sammich-worthy slice! (This is the heritage variety ‘Brandywine’ – definitely the flavour winner this year.)

Book 14 update:  It was a busy week, but I still managed to get to Chapter 13.  Poor Kane is discovering that fatherhood can be a dirty job…

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“Thorough”. Yeah, That’s It.

Now that we’ve moved to Vancouver Island I’ll likely end up flying instead of driving to visit other provinces.  And that means… *cue ominous music* …I’ll have to rent a car when I arrive.

I hate renting cars.

Despite the fact that our vehicle insurance policy includes full coverage for rental cars, my hand always trembles when I initial the “I decline insurance” box on the rental contract.

I just know that if I crack up the rental car and submit a claim, my insurance company will smugly point out the microscopic print where it says, “Coverage only for green-and-purple polka-dotted vehicles rented on the second Tuesday of the sixth week of any month beginning with ‘Z’.”

And if that’s not enough to stress me out, there are the spine-chilling threats in the rental contract itself:  “If you fail to return the car within 72 hours of the return date you may be liable for criminal prosecution and fines up to $150,000.

I have nightmares about accidentally putting the wrong date on the contract.  I imagine a cadre of malevolent car-rental agents clustered around a large ticking clock:  “Seventy-one hours and fifty-eight minutes… fifty-nine… Seventy-two hours!  Send out the enforcers!  Muwahahahaha!!!!”

And don’t even get me started about the form that itemizes the existing damage on the rental car.  The agent always makes me sign it before I even see the car.  When I object, they wave a casual hand and say, “Oh, don’t worry.  Check over the car before you drive away and if you need to add anything to the form, just bring it back and we’ll update it.”

I always find more damage on the car than what’s shown on the form.

So I make the long hike back to the office.  Car rental agents are trained to flee the area as soon as they’ve handed over the keys, so when I get back the desk is abandoned.  After a lengthy wait and a few calls on the “courtesy phone” (a complete misnomer), an agent grudgingly returns to the counter.

Then they walk with me to the car, eyeball the long scratches on the roof, and say, “Oh, don’t worry about those.  We know those are from the car wash so we don’t need to mark them on the form.”

I argue that the form shows all damage, not just the damage they feel like reporting; they argue that “everybody knows” they never worry about “those” scratches.

At last I prevail and they sullenly update the form and stalk away, leaving me to slide into a car that reeks like a 30-year-old ashtray despite being designated “non-smoking”.  Though I guess technically the car is non-smoking; it’s just that its drivers weren’t.

Then I spend the whole trip worrying that somebody will hit/steal/vandalize the damn thing and/or I’ll run afoul of some other fine-print wording that “everybody” but me knows.

At last I return the car with immense relief, and then spend the next month watching my credit card statement for damage charges in case somebody vandalized the car in their lot after I parked it but before they inspected it.  I can’t decide whether I’m freakishly paranoid or only extremely thorough…

Okay, never mind; I know the answer to that.

But I still hate renting cars.

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Slipping Through The Crack(s)

Every now and then when life gets too stressful, my friends and I head for the mountains.  Our day trips always include good food, window-shopping, a soak in the mineral hot springs, and, of course, gut-busting laughter.

A couple of weeks ago we made another jaunt to Banff, a day I cherished since I know I’ll miss my friends and our road trips after Hubby and I move to the coast.  We managed to complete the hour-and-a-half drive acting like actual adults:  Chatting and exclaiming over the scenery that remains spectacular no matter how often we visit.

But then (as it frequently seems to happen when I’m involved) we reverted to the mental age of thirteen.  To protect the guilty, I’ll identify my companions only as J, L, and Swamp Butt.  Yes, there’s a good reason for that nickname.

Here’s how it started:  In the restaurant at lunch, Swamp Butt and I claimed the banquette seat with our backs to the wall while J and L chose chairs across from us.  I had just settled in when a sudden movement made me glance over toward Swamp Butt… who was canted away from me at a steep angle, ass pointing in my direction while she muttered something about ‘the crack’.

Apparently the look on my face was priceless, because J and L burst into uproarious laughter.  By the time Swamp Butt managed to explain that she was only scooting over on the bench because she’d been sitting on ‘the crack’ between the banquette cushions, we were all in tears of hilarity.

Which primed us nicely for what happened later.

After a lunch of rich food and beer followed later by a gigantic dinner and more beer, Swamp Butt was living up to her nickname.  We managed to maintain a semblance of composure while she walked along crop dusting the streets of Banff, but just as we got into J’s vehicle for the drive home she cracked off another fart that clung like a vile cloak when she got into the vehicle.

Gasping, gagging, and giggling, we all powered down our windows and rode out the stink.

It was late, and we subsided into tired but happy silence on the drive home… until halfway back to Calgary when the quiet was broken by the sound of Swamp Butt’s window powering down.

In the next instant the rest of us simultaneously slammed our windows open, causing another paroxysm of laughter; especially when the sudden burst of highway-speed turbulence sucked an unsecured shopping bag up from the floor.  I snagged it just before it soared out the window, generating a volley of badinage about what a ‘crack’ team we are.

Swamp Butt didn’t let any more slip and we all made it home unscathed, but it’s a testament to the power of aversive conditioning how quickly our reflexes developed.

And it’s a testament to the power of friendship that our day will become yet another funny shared memory that binds us together regardless of geographic distance.

These precious friendships will never slip through the cracks… despite anything else that may slip through ‘the crack’!

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Highway Thru Hell

Hubby and I are on the road again in the first part of our adventure in moving to the west coast.  It’s been, um… eventful.  (And I’m writing this very late on Tuesday night, so please forgive any mistakes.)

Our property purchase closes this week, so we decided to come and spend some time wandering our new place and deciding where the house will go.  And some brilliant person who shall remain nameless… (Hint: She has long red hair) …said, “Hey, this is a perfect opportunity to put my ’53 Chevy on the car-hauler trailer and pull it out to the Island before the roads get bad in winter!”

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So we loaded the Chevy onto the car hauler and packed the truck with the oddments the moving companies wouldn’t take (including our giant houseplants) and set out to drive the whole shebang over multiple mountain passes to the coast, where we’d catch the ferry to Vancouver Island.

Easy-peasy, right?

Naively, we considered:  Should we drive it in one day, or break it into two?  Well, let’s break it into two, just to be on the safe side.

Uh-huh.

We immediately discovered, much to our chagrin, that our car-hauler is an old long-necked U-Haul type for which stabilizer bars were never made.  If we exceeded 90 km/hr (55 mph), it developed an oscillation that required an instant slow-down or it threatened to fling us off the road.

Okay, fine.  Two days.  Not exceeding 90 km/hr.  We could do this.

The first day it took us 9 hours to get to Kamloops.  The second day it took us 15 hours to get from Kamloops to Qualicum Bay where we’re staying.  It’s supposed to be a 13-hour trip in total from Calgary.

I took the first shift as driver.  Let me just say, navigating an unstable 41-foot truck-and-trailer down hairpin curves on an 8% grade is not something I’d care to do on a regular basis.  (Read NEVER AGAIN.)  Particularly with a 5-foot-tall flowering hibiscus tickling the back of my neck.

After the first 3½ hours (at Golden, BC), Hubby took his turn.  Of course, the road immediately became wider and flatter, and the next day even the infamous Coquihalla Highway (the location of the reality show Highway Thru Hell) only offered a few short stretches of 8.5% downgrade on nice wide sweeping turns.  But it didn’t matter – by that time we were so anxious about the possibility of more hairpin turns and steep grades that we were both vibrating by the time we made it to flat ground at Hope, BC.

Then we thought we’d make the 3:10 ferry over to Vancouver Island.

And we would have, except for the traffic accident that kept us parked on the TransCanada Highway for 30 minutes… allowing THE ENTIRE MIDWAY CREW OF THE PACIFIC NATIONAL EXHIBITION to get in front of us.  Which used up all the deck space not only on the 3:10 ferry, but also on the 5:20 ferry.  We finally got aboard the 7:30 ferry, which, after loading, unloading, and some more driving, got us to our destination around 11 PM.

Gee, maybe next time we’ll try to do it in one day.  Ya think?

But we’re finally safe and sound on the Island and looking forward to our bed tonight.  Thank God we’re flying back instead of driving.

And at least I got some pretty pictures:

 

A train tunnel near Salmon Arm, BC, from our truck window

A train tunnel near Salmon Arm, BC, from our truck window

Mara Lake

Mara Lake

Coming up on the Port Mann Bridge, Vancouver BC

Coming up on the Port Mann Bridge, Vancouver BC

On the Port Mann Bridge

On the Port Mann Bridge

The 5:20 ferry leaving... without us

The 5:20 ferry leaving… without us

On the ferry at last!

On the ferry at last!

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Self-Driving Auto-Paranoia

A couple of days ago I discovered an article about how and when a self-driving car should be programmed to injure or kill its passengers.  It’s an alarming proposition, but it’s actually a valid point:  if the car has to choose between wiping out ten pedestrians or only its driver, simple logic says it should choose the lesser number of casualties.

But the realization that my future vehicle may be plotting to kill me makes me just a wee bit mistrustful of technology.

Or, in my case, more mistrustful of technology.  I’ve never been good at leaving my safety in the hands (circuits?) of inanimate objects.  (Or even animate objects, for that matter.  I’m a lousy passenger even with a human driver – I spend as much time watching the road as the driver does.  But that’s another story.)

My point is, I’m suspicious of any electronic device that wants to make decisions for me.

Take my GPS, for instance.  The lady inside my GPS can usually get me where I want to go, but she’s not always good at it.  When we’re in unfamiliar territory, Hubby usually drives while I navigate.  Theoretically the GPS should be all we need, but I never go anywhere without a paper map; partly because my GPS has a tendency to announce “Low battery!” and/or lose its satellite connection at critical moments, but mostly because I don’t trust it to choose the best route.

I can set it to ‘faster time’ (which is usually dog-slow) or ‘shortest distance’ (synonymous for ‘via goat-paths and dodgy neighbourhoods’), but there’s no setting for ‘common sense’.  So, after a few forays through dense forest on steep roads no wider than our car (though, as the GPS insisted, that road was technically ‘paved’) our trips have become a power struggle between the GPS and me.

The GPS lady says, “In… two hundred metres… turn left.”

And I say, “Ignore that.  It doesn’t know what it’s doing.  Keep going straight.”

Hubby, like all husbands with a modicum of self-preservation, silently follows my directions while the GPS says in snotty tones, “Recalculating.  In… one hundred metres… make a U-turn.”

Me:  “Ignore that.  Keep going.”

GPS (getting cranky):  “Recalculating.  In… three kilometres… TURN LEFT, IDIOT!”

Me:  “Ignore that…”

Given the choice, I’d rather have an up-to-date paper map and only use the GPS to pinpoint the location of the nearest Dairy Queen.  (And don’t get me wrong; that’s a critical function.  I need frequent ice cream breaks when I’m on the road.)

But antagonizing my GPS is probably a bad idea, because the new cars will have them built in.  And if a hostile GPS triggers the ‘kill-the-driver’ algorithm, I could be in serious trouble.

On the surface, the self-driving car seems utopian:  I could be snoozing or reading or snacking while my car takes me safely and efficiently to my destination.  But in reality I’d probably end up sitting in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel, simultaneously watching the road and keeping a wary eye on the car in case it tries to kill me.

But maybe I’m just paranoid.

Or maybe that’s not a ‘maybe’…

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And speaking of technology… there’s a new discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Aydan’s Tech Gadgets – Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em?  Click here to have your say!

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Zen, Shmen.

Sometimes a lifetime of voracious reading is an advantage; other times, not so much.  On the upside, as long as I have a book (or newspaper or magazine or propaganda pamphlet or even a shampoo bottle with text on the label) I’ll never be bored.

On the downside, having a bottomless well of trivia in one’s brain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I know what to do in just about any situation, but it’s not always practicable to do it.

For example, I know how to make a gas mask out of an empty bleach bottle, a bulletproof vest out of Bibles, and a deadly weapon out of a newspaper.  I sincerely hope I’ll never be in a situation where I need these skills.  But if I were, I suspect that the chances of actually having an empty bleach bottle, a stack of Bibles, or a newspaper are slim to none.

In the non-lethal side of my reading, I’ve also absorbed a startling variety of random information:  Business and marketing and writing tips out the ying-yang, of course; but also fascinating factoids on everything from neuroplasticity, Buddhism, and quantum physics to Wicca, time management, and mindfulness meditation.

The latter two came to mind last weekend while I was broiling in my car at a dead stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  There’s something about a traffic jam that ratchets my blood pressure up to Vesuvius levels.  It’s part claustrophobia and part resentment over the waste of my all-too-scant ‘spare’ time.

The time management books tell me that sitting in traffic is an ideal time to plan to-do lists and so forth, but I think they underestimate my powers of concentration.  (Which is a polite way to say I’m incapable of driving and thinking at the same time.)  If I started plotting Book 12 while sitting in a traffic jam, I’d blink back to reality two hours later still parked in the same place while infuriated drivers honked and swerved around me, spewing invective and flipping me the universal gesture of fellowship and goodwill.

Or how about Zen and mindfulness?  I should ‘be in the moment’.  There was no emergency; I wasn’t late for any appointments; and there were absolutely no negative consequences that could result from my slowdown.  I should just breathe.  Relax and enjoy the downtime.

Zen, shmen.  I knew a detour that would take me to my destination via the back ways and save me oodles of time!

Or not.

In the traffic jam, I had noticed that the black minivan ahead of me had a distinctive set of those little family-caricature decals on the back.  When I finally made it to my destination half an hour after winding through a series of convoluted back streets, guess what I saw in front of me?  That same damn minivan.  Apparently it took precisely the same amount of time to inch through the traffic jam as it had taken me to follow my complicated detour.

That took a bit of the shine off my triumph, but not as much as you might think.  I’d rather be actively driving than sitting in traffic for the same amount of time.  And at least nobody yelled or flipped me off.

Zen traffic meditator or complex detour planner – which are you?  And what’s the most obscure thing you’ve learned lately?

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New discussion over at the VBBC:  Blue Eddy:  Man of Mystery.  What do you really know about Eddy?  Click here to have your say!

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The Spandex Menace

I just got back from another road trip, and I feel it’s my duty to warn everyone about the threat I discovered while travelling:  stretch pants.  They may feel comfy, but the truth is that those spandex tubes are plotting against our health and fitness.

Oh, they conceal their evil intentions well enough.  They call themselves ‘exercise wear’ and pretend to encourage us in a healthy lifestyle, but all the while they’re sabotaging our efforts.  In fact… (call the tabloids, ‘cause this is hot stuff) spandex actually nourishes fat cells.

How did I determine this, you ask?

Through rigorous scientific observation and testing, of course.  After all, have you ever known me to jump to a conclusion or engage in hyperbole?  Never in a million-zillion years!

Here’s how I figure it:

I’m normally a jeans girl.  Whether I’m digging in the garden or working on a car or banging together some ridiculously over-engineered carpentry project, jeans provide practicality, comfort, and protection.  But when I know I’m going to be sitting in the car for hours at a time, I change into stretch pants.  So last week I put on the spandex and hit the road.

Well.  Let me tell you.

After six days, I donned my jeans again only to discover that my butt runneth over.  My muffin-top has grown into a dinner roll.  And the only possible culprit is (you guessed it) stretch pants.

I mean, really, it couldn’t have been anything else.  I was eating my usual three meals a day plus one dessert.  Maybe the meals were approximately double my normal portion; but six days shouldn’t make that much difference, right?  I even skipped my four o’clock snack most days, so I’m sure I should’ve been losing weight.

And eating a giant ice cream cone every day couldn’t have been the cause.  Ice cream is a dairy product, which is healthful.  Health food couldn’t possibly make me gain weight.

Plus, all that time in the car was hard on my nerves, and everybody knows stress ratchets up your metabolism.  I should have been melting the pounds away.  It’s simple logic.

But I didn’t.  So it must have been the fault of the stretch pants.

Those bastards clung to my body for six straight days, whispering sweet nothings to my fat cells and feeding their egos until they swelled up like little pillows.  Then the fat cells invited all their friends over to my waistline and had themselves a party.  The friends invited more friends, and pretty soon the whole place was overflowing.

Now, like disapproving parents, my jeans have returned to the scene of the party to evict the interlopers.  So far they’ve only succeeded in squeezing them up and over my waistband, but I hope if I call the calorie police right away they’ll be able to banish the last of the stragglers.

But meanwhile, no more stretch pants.  Take it from me, those suckers are the enemy.

Remember, you heard it here first!

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New discussion over at the VBBC:  Stemp Then And Now.  How has Stemp changed the series, and how has it changed him?  Click here to have your say!

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Coastal Cogitations

I’m on vacation this week!  We’re on Vancouver Island, and I’m enjoying both the change of scenery and the change of pace.  My senses seem sharpened by the glorious sea air that smells so good I could make a meal of it.

Sometimes the enhanced sensory experience is wonderful; sometimes, erm… not so much.  Here are my observations to date:

My paranoid writer’s mind never quits. Doesn’t this look like a concealed camera to you?

hidden camera

It’s in the ceiling of our hotel room and the rest of the knots are solid, but not this one.  And you guessed it, it’s right above the bed.  There’s even a shiny thing that looks like a lens inside the knothole.

Suspicious as always, I stood on the bed and poked my finger into the hole.  All I could feel was plastic vapour barrier, so I’m hoping that’s the source of the gleam.  But if you happen to discover amateur porn videos featuring Arlene Cherry on the internet, please don’t tell me.  I’d really rather not know.

Pacific loons are the Fonzies of the ocean. Clad in sleek black, they kick back casually on the waves, far too cool for the rest of the seabirds.  When they dive, it’s with a laid-back ease that makes the mergansers look like skinny little punks who are trying too hard.

I love good oysters, but there’s nothing worse than a bad oyster. And once it’s breaded and fried it’s impossible to tell the difference until after you’ve eaten it.  You don’t want to know how I discovered this.  But, as the saying goes, “This, too, shall pass”.  And it did, quickly.

‘Moving’ right along…

I can’t decide whether I like the ocean better…

…in the sunshine when it’s blue and beautiful:

blue ocean

Or under cloudy skies when it looks like molten silver:

silver ocean

I love it when it’s stormy, too, but we’ve had beautiful weather the whole time we’ve been here so I didn’t get to photograph any big waves.  Maybe next time.

I don’t know this for certain, but I suspect that the designer of the Hyundai Elantra’s seats sneaked into my house while I was sleeping, measured every inch of my body, and designed the seat contours specifically to torture me. (Fortunately the car rental company exchanged it for us, or I’d be in serious pain right now.)

No matter how devastating the damage, nature will eventually recover if it gets the chance. I was lucky to have visited Cathedral Grove before the big storm of 1997.  It was still majestic after the storm, but the mossy grotto beneath the towering trees had become a brighter place criss-crossed with the massive trunks of the fallen giants.  Now, nearly twenty years later, I’m happy to see that it’s slowly returning to its green and shade-dappled glory.

cathedral grove

mossy tree

And best of all, the trilliums and daffodils and camellias are in full bloom, along with cherry trees, magnolias, tulips, hyacinths, forsythia, and just about everything else.  I could keep snapping photos all day long, and the scented air is divine!

trilliums

daffodils

camellias

What’s blooming in your neck of the woods this week?

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P.S. We’ll be on the road today, so I won’t have a chance to respond to comments until we’re back this evening.  “Talk” to you then!

P.P.S. If you haven’t had your say on the format for the Virtual Book Club yet, please click here to offer your comments.  The Book Club will start next week!

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Un/Lucky?

Last week I got together with four friends for our annual overnight in Banff, the most beautiful tourist trap in the Canadian Rockies. We had a great time as always… but I couldn’t decide whether my luck was good or bad.

I was still fighting this rotten cold, so that was bad luck. But I’m certainly lucky to have friends who like me enough to put up with me even when I’m diseased!

At the Douglas Fir Resort, we checked into our giant 3-bedroom, 5-bed suite. For a while we sat on our balcony with drinks, enjoying the spectacular mountain view. Then, since I was likely to wake everybody by coughing up a lung in the middle of the night, I moved into one of the private queen rooms with an ensuite bathroom.

Lucky, right? Well, yes… until I realized there was no window, only a skylight. Not so lucky if you’re claustrophobic. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that the first thing I did was clamber up on the vanity to see if the skylight would open.

Nope. Bolted shut.

I comforted myself with the thought that if I was sufficiently motivated (say, by flames licking up the crack of my ass), I could smash the glass with the wrought-iron lamp and hoist myself up and out of the skylight. But luckily I wasn’t forced to test my escape plan.

Next stop was the Grizzly House for fondue. Pricey but delicious, it’s an evening’s entertainment as well as a meal. Unluckily, one of our fondue burners began to belch gouts of flame like a deranged dragon, but luckily one of the heroic waiters swooped in to save us before the flames reached the paper placemats. Those guys have nerves of steel and fingers of asbestos – he reached through the flames, turned the burner off, and whisked it away; all within seconds and without a change of expression. Wow.

The next day we went to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. I made a potty stop in the changing room, and just as I sat down my sunglasses slipped over the back of my head. I felt them hit my back. Then I felt them hit my butt. Then… *clink*

I thought, “Oh, please, tell me they didn’t fall into the toilet!”

Yep, they did.

But luckily I hadn’t used the toilet yet.

So I squeamishly fished the glasses out and scrubbed them with copious amounts of soap. Settling them back on my face still seemed a bit gross, but I got over it. But their run of bad luck wasn’t over yet. After we got back from the pool, they fell again… onto the concrete floor of the changing room.

Smash. Frames go one way, a lens goes the other.

But the lens didn’t scratch or break and I picked it up and pressed it back into the frame, where it has stayed ever since.  So that seemed like good luck.

And speaking of good luck, the food was amazing! Buttermilk pancakes with apple compote, candied walnuts, and vanilla cream for breakfast at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge; cheese fondue, bagna cauda, prawns, lobster, scallops, elk, ostrich, and alligator at the Grizzly House with a fruit-and-chocolate fondue for dessert (yes, I was in pain afterward); and even a BeaverTail (I managed to fit that in between my ice cream cone and my candied apple). Yum!

And driving back to Calgary in the eastbound lane of the TransCanada Highway on Friday afternoon, we considered ourselves supremely lucky to not be part of the bumper-to-bumper westbound traffic.

So in the end I had just enough bad luck to make my good luck seem even better. And that makes me feel lucky indeed!

How was your week?

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