Saturday, August 27, 2016

If you must...

If you must get up before dawn, on the second last summer saturday, to deliver your boy and his buddies to the Camp boat...And say good bye to him AGAIN...



And you need to pick up the last furniture from the Cabin (just beyond Hope)


Then you may as well agree with your beloved fisher-husband to hit the fishing river for a spot of fishing on the way (seeing as you have only watched him fish 4 of the last 6 days)



And you may as well walk the river with him remembering to be quiet and not scare the fish lest you be blamed for their shyness and forever remembered as #noluckNicky



So you don your hastily purchased $15 sandals (as your beloved Teva's just broke after 25,000km or so ) and you head off up a crazy road and down a path with your honey.


But you should know that while the path looks beautiful it is a mosquito infested hell.  They will swarm you and bite you through anything - they will even try to bite your eye but your contact lens will save you - although your eye will feel itchy for the rest of your life.

You feel superior that you - not accomplished in all things wilderness -  will have thought to wear long sleeves in this mozzie gauntlet - until you realise that the millions you can see and slap are nothing compared to the one or two that get inside your long sleeves and wreak havoc. 

The slapping never ends...

You arrive at the river and immediately recall that you asked insufficient questions when the words "cross the river a few times" were uttered.  And you will find your feet in your new sandals will actually be hypothermic after just 10 steps in the river.  Also you may have forgotten that rivers flow and the current can be strong - most especially where it is deep..  You will be thankful your yoga pants convert to hot pants and even more grateful the mosquitos obviously ate everyone else as you and fisher-hubs are alone on the river to witness this fashion nightmare.


You will not drown.




You may as well collect rocks as you go - you may even have a brilliant idea of a little project to do with them.  But you should have thought about collecting on the way back not the way down - also a bigger backpack would have been helpful.  But hey - 10 pounds of stones = extra weight = extra calories burned!


You wonder at your Fisherman whipping that line about and setting it down in the fast moving water.  You concede maybe the mortgage you took on the gear was a good investment.  Especially the waders as his feet do not appear to be hypothermic.



And you see why this is his go to spot.  You get it in a new way.

Although you still don't really understand the appeal of searching for capricious fish in a freezing river in a bug infested forest (and let's not forget Yogi and his friends) So you take to looking for a heart shape rock among the bajillions of rocks - because it won't do to look bored (and really you aren't) or scared (which maybe you are a tiny bit). 



You do marvel at how beautiful the place is - the mountains soaring, the clear water.  All those trees.



You constantly scan the banks for bears who must surely enjoy the views too.

You see a plant growing, blooming, in among the rocks and you imagine there must be a lesson in that somewhere.



As the last crossing appears you draw the line and wave the Fisherman on while you lie on a sand bar - which you actually call a beach - which just goes to show how Canadian you really have become.


You almost have Nap 2016 on the beach except the sun is burning holes in you and there is something grunting and breaking branches in the trees and you realise you're a tad edgy here, alone, in the wilderness.  You nearly pee your pants when a duck plops into the water in front of you and you realise you nature deficit is maybe bigger than you thought.




You desperately try to remember what one is supposed to do if confronted with large wild animals and concede that no matter what you should do, you will likely run and scream.  And possibly die. Alone.  On a Canadian excuse for a beach.



But before your paranoia completely consumes you, you will feel mighty relieved when Fisher guy reappears and you start the long, rocky walk back up the river and then run the mozzie tunnel in a haze of Deep Woods Off  - to no avail.  

When you make it to the truck and dive in, you spend 15 minutes killing the 30,000 mosquitoes that got in with you and it looks like a CSI crime scene in the truck.  But it's your blood and you realise you are still alive so all is well.

And so your last fishing adventure of Summer 2016 will be over.  You have endured, you have explored, you have understood .... and you are grateful for the opportunity and time spent with your fisherman.

So to the cabin you will go to get the queen size bed - and a few other things - .  You will realise that wrapping a giant mattress in plastic to keep it dry was a good idea but one that makes carrying it and loading it a curse-inducing exercise.  And you will have a less fun adventure getting it all home as the mattress decided it wanted to be a kite all the way home.



And so if you must have done all these amazing and crazy things in just one day - then you will collapse on the couch with a beer and know it was an awesome day.

The end.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Vacation for 2.5 Byres

We have had some pretty spectacular summer vacations over the last 2 decades.

My TimeHop app spends most of August reminding me of them.... just last year we were in Maui for goodness sake.

And by we I mean all 4 Byres plus sometimes others too.

So setting out on a our summer vacation 2016 felt very odd to me.

Firstly is was for 4 nights only.  We have very typically vacationed for 2 weeks at this time of year - BUT I'm not complaining  - after this summer 4 nights away seemed like a pretty huge victory.

Also it was pretty close to home - it needed to be en route to pick up Mr D in Kelowna so it had to be on either Hwy 5 or Hwy 3 or close.  It turns out this huge Province we live in is so beautiful and there are so many, many miles to explore and discover - we covered only a couple more valleys and lakes but our hearts were once again grateful for the wide open spaces and the breathtaking beauty so close to home.





And there were only 2.5 of us in the car.  Allan, me and Spanner.  This is new territory in itself.  Finding a place that allowed mr puppy face to come with us was a feat.  And then there were just 2 of us to plan for, pack for, cook for.   Our prescribed destinations leant itself to fishing - Allan's favourite pursuit and being remote and disconnected would force me to slow down a while too.




And so we rolled out with a surprising amount of gear - fishing and dog related mostly - and we arrived at our destination which was pretty close to what we expected , if a bit too close to the highway for my liking.  This time of year is tough for catching fish but not for spending hours on the water in beautiful spaces in their pursuit (although I won't deny I was pretty relieved when a trout or two finally took the fly!)




I spent quite a lot of time with Spanner walking and sitting watching lakes.  I also read three books and did some cooking in less than ideal conditions.  I love driving new roads and that was certainly satisfied although both a lake swim and a nap elluded me. 




To our relief we found we did have things to talk about even if, as it has been since 1997,  it so often revolves around our children.  But we also talked about our work and Al's studies and what the future may hold. 

It was good to have slow time, time to chat, time to explore remote places and wonder together at the beauty of it all.  

It was good.

And it was good to get our David today as heartsore as he was to leave camp - they were pretty sad to see him go too. 
We stopped on our way home at the Cabin to help my parents pack the last of the furniture and for them and David to say their final goodbye.  



And then we were home - David got a big surprise  - a project the 3 of us worked on while he was gone - more in another post - and we Byres4 sat down to sushi for dinner together.  

My heart is very happy.  

A blessed few days - a close to home, close to heart vacation.  

I'm holding out for more Byres4 vacations in tropical destinations but I am also content to know that Allan and I can move into a new phase of travel together when the time comes.

And - for the record - Possum is a lovely, if slightly eccentric, lady afterall. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gathering - a verb

IThe last few weeks have been a season of gathering in my life.  

Gathering people, gathering things,  gathering moments....gathering myself.

Allan spent most of the summer gathering new knowledge and he did it with good grace and inspiring dedication.  On beautiful summer days he sat at his desk and read and wrote and now is reaping the reward of a few study free weeks with a couple more A+'s in the bag.  Before Year 2 starts but this time the end is in sight.

Lindsay has spent the weeks gathering things for her new suite in Victoria.  She became adept at finding bargains on free and bidding sites on FB and gathered many useful and lovely things as well as being gifted quite a lot!  She painted and refurbished items and then we had to take it all apart to get as much as possible in the truck to take a load to Victoria.  



Lindsay also gathered lots of new experiences as a Senior Leader at Summer Day Camps and many retail shifts (not all of them pleasant) and some new friends this summer.  One special new friend (but that is all I can say).

David gathered heaps of new friends, a great work ethic and servant heart at camp.  He grew up in himself and in his faith.  He also gathered a wicked tan and some muscles! I get to gather him up soon and bring him home for a scant 48 hours before he is off to serve at his beloved Anvil.  There he will gather another year and return to us a 17 year old ready for Grade 12.



I was delighted to gather up my parents at the airport earlier this week after their 10 flight epic adventure in Africa and England and Ireland where they gathered treasured time with friends as well as wonderful memories of amazing places.




Spanner has had me gathering up his hair by the handful..... he has been chilling at home a lot and taking long walks with us.  He loves the long trail at Iona beach where he is rewarded with some off leash ocean antics that are a joy to behold, followed by a bath at home which he tolerates.  And for days after I gather sand off my hardwood floors.




We have gathered with various groups of friends over the weeks, lovely to connect and catch up and share life together on long summer evenings.  Friends are such an incredible gift and my heart is ever so grateful for my friend-family. 


I have gathered many miles, some sunsets, a couple sunrises, a book or two, new places to eat, a home decor project or two, lots of time with my girl and Allan ...I even watched TV twice! The 2016 nap still alludes me but I am hopeful 4 days in a cabin at a fishing lake may facilitate that.




So I am gathering things for a quick getaway with Allan and Spanner enroute to get our David.  We'll be in a cabin by a lake - rented to us by a lady named Possum (it'll be fine - right?  right?) No matter what it'll be quiet and for that my weary self is most grateful.  

The summer will race to a close and soon the routines of Fall will return but my bucket will be full from the gatherings of memories from the Summer of 2016 stored up in my heart.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Love Story

It was Saturday afternoon, late-ish

I was covered in paint, sweary and sweaty... Tired.

My phone binged with a text.

It wasn't meant for my eyes but it gave me a clue.
I heard a muffled phone conversation as I rolled and rolled the paint. 

A few minutes later my sweetheart stood next to me, plans made for a dinner in the city at a hard to get in to French Restaurant.

A surprise (sort of ;) ) 

One hour to depaint myself in the shower and get as presentable as I get.

No time to read reviews, do my hair, fuss about clothes...

And a totally perfect evening unfolded .. Seats at the bar of a very Parisienne place, a glass of bubbly, pate, outstanding duck confit salad, creme brûlée.


Time together.

Time to chat.

An hour or two away from our world.

I felt like I had a vacation.

I felt loved. 

#summerhighlight
#luckygirl
#itsthesmallthings


#lovestory 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mountain Tops and Valleys

After a pretty hectic week at work I was ready to hit the highway and get out of Dodge. 

Which lasted for maybe 20km until we met up with the other 50 million people feeling the same way and heading in the same direction. UGH.

Bumper to bumper highway traffic with the slow lane crawling along - no accident - just traffic - makes me crazy in a not-helpful-sweary sort of way.  It's the utter helplessness of the situation.  You feel sure the adjacent lane is going faster so you finally make the switch and smugly zoom exactly 3 car lengths ahead of the car you were behind .... for 5 minutes before they move on up the highway ahead of you.  I was a little punchy by the time we got to Hope and more than ready to get over the pass to the cabin.  Fortunately my spidey senses were on alert and I did not get caught in the massive police operation on the other side of the pass that netted more people and impounded more cars than I have ever seen.

Once through that I was all but claiming victory when we finally exited the vehicles at the Cabin. 

Until we noticed the very low hanging wires from the cabin roof and followed them to a 50ft Fir tree resting on them.  

Great!

Long story short we got hold of BC Hydro and they were dispatched from Chilliwack  - on the long weekend - so they arrived 3 hours later and within an hour we were up and running.  



We were there to pack up the cabin which is sold and transfers on Aug 30th.  It has been our home away from home for 20 years.  So many memories and stories.  To pack it into boxes seemed so disrespectful somehow and yet it's sale was what we wanted and needed - our family having outgrown it.  We told and re-told the stories of the items as we took them off the walls and out of the closets and we laughed and remembered. We played the Dead Dog Cafe one more time and laughed in all the usual places.  It felt tender to be be held by the cabin one last time - to watch the sway of the giant trees and see the dappled sun rays through the forest.  We cleaned up spider webs and mouse nests and let go of 20 years of cabin stuff occasionally smiling at the number of one item we amassed - like we could never remember if there was a good can opener so we might as well take another one up.




It was good and hard and happy/sad to go through the closets and cupboards.  We donated some things, dumped others and brought home boxes for my parents to sort through when they return from their grand vacation abroad. 

And as Lindsay and I closed the red cabin door and turned the key one last time we had a little cry. We said farewell to a good friend, who has been part of our story for so long...grateful and a little heart sore.





In between all of that Allan got in a lot of Masters work and a spot of fishing and Lindsay and I booted up to Kelowna (2.5 hours away) to visit our dear boy.  

The drive was spectacular - I do so love this country - the wide open spaces, the mountains, the valleys, the trees, the lakes...... we drove a secondary road and was the only car for 55 km..... ahhh .. so good for my soul. 




And SO very wonderful to see that tall, tanned boy.  The long, hard hug was worth every mile traveled.  His leaders told me how special they think he is, full of leadership and integrity and willing to work very hard.  It was amazing to see the kids all cleaning the camp - David didn't leave until all his tasks were done. 





It didn't take me two minutes to realise he had a nasty cold but I was more than surprised that minutes after ordering the burger he so badly wanted he literally collapsed in the restaurant.  I ran next door to the drug store and we got some meds into him but he could not hold his head up.  I googled medical clinics only to find they closed in a few minutes.  We packed up his uneaten lunch and put him in the car, aircon on, and drove for an hour while he slept.  He woke slightly perkier but we kept things low key and delivered him back to his dorm for some more rest and drove home feeling very anxious about him.  Fortunately he saw a Dr today and is on meds for a sinus, throat and chest infection. 

So glad I was there and happy to have seen him even under less than great circumstances - Lindsay did manage to squeeze in her first winery wine tasting and purchased her first bottle of wine from the lovely Quails Gate (Where I may have purchased a few more than that).




We drove home with Adele and the Dixie Chicks and the golden light of the day on the hills and mountain tops. 




And today we decided to beat the traffic so we rose early, banished the remaining cobwebs and had an easy run home.

A great BC Day long weekend of highs and lows on the highway and in my heart.



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Budget Blues

I wonder if CEO's in big ol' mahogany boardrooms on high floors with expansive views agonise over their annual budgets the same way I do.

I think probably not.

I'm only the ED of a medium-ish non-profit but on this day that I present my budget for the year starting in September, I am utterly conflicted and feeling vulnerable with my less-than-extensive financial background... they didn't cover managing 2.5 million dollar budgets in my Social Work degree.

I have been staring at multiple spreadsheets and numbers and inputs and considerations and financial statements for days - my eyes are actually physically tired.  My brain is frazzled, terrified of accidentally deleting a formula in excel I could never fix, trying to make line items add up and make sense....

But really it is my heart that is most exercised. 

Not to completely appropriate the cliche of a bleeding heart non-profit leader BUT there are real people behind all these numbers.  

People I care deeply about and for whom I want to do well by. 

I want to pay my incredible people decent wages and offer them good benefits.  But, in this user-pay system, that means asking for more money for the service itself...from families, many of whom are already struggling to pay what we charge in fees now.  Knowing that for every $20/month jump in fees a family could loose their child care. 

It's finer than a fine balance - it's a social fabric balance we really cannot afford to screw up. 

There are times I think this is all a mugs game and I cannot change the world here - I can't live my dream of affording it all - those numbers just won't add up.

But then paradoxically I am reminded that I need to make those columns add up, I need to get that bloody minus sign to take a hike, because this work is worthy... it is needed...it needs to happen.

It's my job to make it so.  

The buck literally stops here (actually come to think of it I could use a few more bucks to stop here anytime now).

So my ED pants are on. The spreadsheets are done.  The columns add up (sort of).

Fingers crossed someone is happy at the end of today.

PS: I won't burden this post with my thoughts on why Early Childhood Education should be publicly funded but trust me....it should be.  And not just for my sanity. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

smh

smh - "shake my head" text lingo

That is about all I could do as the news from around the world came flooding in the last week or so. 

cmeo - "cry my eyes out" or bmh - "break my heart"  are likely not commonly used text abbreviations but give this crazy world a few minutes and you just might see them cropping up. 

So much to be so sad and daunted by and feel so hopeless about.  

In my many steps walked I have prayed for all of it.

And for me.

What should my response be?  what should I do or say?

I find big feelings stirring watching the drama of "Black lives matter" being subverted to "All live matter".   I grew up with white privilege and the power and pain it brought me personally.  Many times I literally longed not to be white.  Or I longed not to be judged just because of the colour of my skin.  I wanted to be known for who I was not how I looked because how I look makes a difference in this world -  a difference heavily in my favour. 

Of course all lives matter - DUH - if that were not a universal principle then the world would descend into anarchy and worse.  Instead we guard life, we celebrate life, we work to have lives of meaning and we dream of lives of peace and health and prosperity.

But Black lives, in many places and clearly in the USA, matter more right now.  Because they are under disproportionate attack.  Not for who they are or what they do but simply because they are black skinned.  We  - the privileged people of the pale skin - must stand up and be part of the solution here.  To deny your immense privilege through zero effort on your part is only to choose to stay part of the culture that continues to be driven by fear and mistrust based on nothing more than colour.  

It is such a complex issue and we have had some very deep conversation in our home and circles of friends and this blog post is no solution - it's just been striking to me that my life in Apartheid South Africa - and the luck I had of being brought up to understand my privilege - is a lesson lost on many today.  It is not lost on my children now - I can't afford for them not to understand, at some level, the luck of their birthright, country of citizenship and all the other benefits afforded them.  

I carry these weighty thoughts around with me, thinking for long stretches of time, contemplating actions and reactions - sometimes trying to think about other happier or more mundane things and sometimes wallowing in the pain I know others are feeling.

These last few Sundays I have found myself alone.  Allan writing papers, Lindsay working, David away.  I hate going to church on my own.....I don't really know why... but I do ... so I have planned my Sundays to keep me moving, to practice a little self care for my body and my mind and my heart. 

I have walked miles, gardened, had a pedicure, done the groceries, cooked, cleaned, baked... Surprisingly I find myself emerging a little as I do these things on my own.  I have found space and the return of some creativity, some rest, enjoyment of the time....my prayer life is better, my self-talk more positive and my life feels a little more balanced.

So while there have been many moments that "bmh" and I have "cmeo" and "smh"..... there are also many affirming moments, moments of joy and connection and LIFE.  

From me, on this self-care Sunday, to you..... wrestle with the hard things and be humble and graceful and embrace your story and take care of your heart.... we need each other.