Monday, March 28, 2016

Things I will miss

It was only a few days but we used them well.  

Here are some of the things I will miss about Spring Break 2016

1. The absence of the alarm

2. Brunch. With bacon. Always.

3. Midday walks with Allan and Spanner

4. Sitting on my sofa in the afternoon sun

5. Reading good books too late at night

6. Back-to-back episodes of "Fixer Upper" on the couch with Spanner and others 

7. Having 4 Byres

8. Puttering around the house and garden and getting a few things sorted out

9. Doing groceries in the middle of the morning (I hate going after work!)

10. Sitting in the kitchen with the french doors open

11. Long conversations with Masters Man about his research and writing

12.  Unstressful meal prep

13. Music playing all day

14.  Tringles 

15. The constant comings and goings of teens

16. Cider.  At lunch.

17. Time to think, wander, dream...

Now to hold on to some of these through the sprint to the Summer... maybe not Cider at lunch?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

It is likely some sort of life lesson that on this solemn day in my faith I ended up filing the taxes for the three wage earners in this family.

It's a task I find extremely stressful and this year with wacks of tuition to account for it was especially so.  Turbo tax is kind enough to keep a running ticker of your refund (or lack thereof) as you go through.  

I started with thousands in the red.  

And managed to claw my way back to a tiny bit of black after using every last deduction I was legally entitled to thanks to the promptings of the annoyingly cheerful little lightbulb on the tax software who kept popping up with "warnings" to direct me to ever more complicated calculations.

So while I fueled up on coffee and the family kept a safe distance and I tried to swear infrequently...I was relieved to see that things turned out much as we expected they would.  

And once I had filed it all - packed away all the papers in the relevant file...I sighed a huge sigh of relief.

Good Friday indeed.  

Wait.... Good Friday is not about taxes but it is about debts cancelled.

I was struck that my personal debts, for my wayward living and daily falling short of expectations, for my own behaviour were cancelled, turned from red to black, by the immense sacrifice made today on my behalf.  

The hymn linked below is synonymous with Easter for me - I am sure my fellow Epworthians and Anglicans will share similar memories... That green hill was far away but it's relevance is here, today.  

I'm grateful.

There was a Green Hill far away

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Boats and Quotes

“To reach a port we must set sail –
Sail, not tie at anchor
Sail, not drift.” 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“I spent uncounted hours sitting at the bow looking at the water and the sky, studying each wave, different from the last, seeing how it caught the light, the air, the wind; watching patterns, the sweep of it all, and letting it take me.
The sea.” 
― Gary PaulsenCaught by the Sea

“There’s nothing––absolutely nothing––half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” 
― Kenneth GrahameThe Wind In The Willows

“If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble.” 
― E.B. White

“I feel there is something almost sacred about building a boat ... It is almost like creating a living being, a boat seems to have a soul and character all her own ... It requires more thought to give a boat a good name than it does a child.” 
― John GuzzwellTrekka Round the World

Monday, March 21, 2016

We sailed the seas...

It was brief but it checked lots of boxes.

Our mini-break.

The hotel we were so excited to return to has changed hands and was a little less than hoped but
still a much enjoyed hot pool and king size bed experience.  Followed by a lovely walk in the neighbourhood the next morning with Mount Baker looming large and clear although it's in another country and many miles away.

David survived St Pats on Campus with Lindsay and enjoyed hanging with the Uni peeps and attending 3 classes with her on Friday before we scooped them up and headed for the ferry to Salt Spring Island.

Being on or close to the water is such a joy for me.  I really can't get enough of the boats and the ocean and the mountains.

Whenever I book a vacation rental on AirBnB or VRBO or even directly with the owners from a listing, I am usually holding my breath as we arrive hoping that my highly developed detective skills have not missed a glaring fault with the place.... we have had a few "incidents" in the past but this time things were almost exactly as I hoped.  No surprises.  The quaint tiny cottage was perfectly set up by a thoughtful owner which made for our easy enjoyment. PHEW.  The added bonus of it being a  fully sustainable little farm we were on with an array of colorful chickens producing colorful, organic eggs suited us to a T...and on a tidal inlet...and with eagles in the tree across the water.

The weather cooperated mostly and I felt the warmth of sunshine on my face a couple of times...once on this beautiful beach where I could have spent a great deal of time...and Lindsay contemplated dropping out of University and becoming a Salt Spring Hippie.

We explored a bit, found the cheese company and sampled cheese and the kids played with the kids.

Wandered in towns and villages, visited a winery and took a beautiful hike through the forest to a beach.

We sat under ever changing skies in the hot tub and talked of all manner of things.

We cooked and ate well and enjoyed long stretches of down time.  Movies were watched. Books read.

And then it was time to leave.  Two ferries.  One goodbye (if only for a couple days).

And now home with a very happy puppy that was well loved at home by his new fans Erik and Ana.

It was a lovely and gentle way to welcome Spring and take a deep breath.  We left much to explore for when we we shall.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Change of Plans

It's Spring Break.

My timehop app reminds me how we usually feel at Spring Break.

We usually feel like fleeing.


5 of the last 8 years we have hit the road as the final school bell tolled.

It's true we have had a warm and sunny winter but the last two weeks have hurled a lot of rain and wind our way and my cells know there is sun somewhere and they are on high alert.


With 2 University Students in our family of 4 who do not get Spring Break my sun cells are out of luck.

We are not heading south.

However despite no vacay time and budget of close to zero thanks to tuition payments I hatched
a crafty plan to a) leave home b) leave the dog c) have a break d) have an adventure e) have all
my peeps all to myself for 3 whole days!


We set sail on our cruise ship ferry on Thursday and like all responsible parents we are sending David to have a UVic experience with his sister..... on St.Patricks Day!!  Yikes.

Allan and I will check in to our fave hotel and soak in the hot mineral pools on the oceans edge for one kidless night.  I think we are both literally hanging on until we don the fluffy white robes and wander down to the pool and sink into the warm water and sip a beer.

We don't even care if it rains.

On Friday we pick up the Uni kids after class and head off on a small ferry to Salt Spring Island to this delightful cottage for 3 nights. It has an ocean view and a hot tub we intend to sit in and watch the stars.

We haven't spent a lot of time on the Gulf Islands so this checks a few boxes in the exploring and discovery department.  It is merely a coincidence that this particular island has it's own coffee roasting company.

Lindsay is ready for some home cooking after her longest stretch at UVic without coming home so we have a meal plan that satisfies her top requests - so steak, steak, steak and rice.   And we plan to do some walks, some naps, some reading and lots of hanging out and chatting and catching up.

It won't be Disney, or San Diego or Monterey or Laguna but it will be just right for us, for now.

And if the sun shines with a tiny bit of warmth my cells will do a little happy dance.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


I was gifted a month of free yoga at Christmas. 

Somehow I just couldn't find the time to get there with soccer and teaching and Allan's schedule.

But soccer is over and my nights have freed up somewhat and I have been going to yoga.
I go to two classes of Restorative Yoga - both start at 7:15pm and are gentle and lovely, dimmed lights, blankets, music, good, long stretches, lots of deep, slow breathing.... 

And meditation.

Which is where is all kind of falls apart for me. 

And also why I need to go so badly.

It is no revelation to anyone that I have a very busy mind.  


So while I can sink into the various poses, stretch my very tight muscles, feel the tension and knots unwind... I cannot, for any length of time (say a minute or so) keep my mind from wandering.  

One of the instructors is so good at the guided meditation and I try SO HARD to stay with her.  This week we were to focus on a tree, a beautiful tree.....well... just deciding on which tree took me a few minutes... leaves or no leaves?, on a hill or on the river bank?, tall or short?, symmetrical......OK OK.... I finally had a tree I could live with.

We were to breath in deeply - the tree was giving us fresh clean beautiful air and then as we exhaled we filled the tree up with breath.... lovely..... except my tree suddenly seemed inflatable and every time I breathed in its air it collapsed.... and when I breathed out it reinflated.... it was both funny and a bit alarming...Then I got competitive with the tree - I breathed out every last drop of air in my lungs to make it big and beautiful and vibrant but then I didn't let it give me too much air - I didn't want to be over-inflated  - I wanted to give it more.....until I realised I was in a breath deficit and feeling a bit woozy (I  also remembered that trees and humans are not inflatable - DUH).  All the time I am having 50 thoughts a minute about the tree, my own state of mind, the papers I have to mark, the emails I need to send, the things on my to do list, the fact I realise I have odd socks on, the lady with the heavy breathing across the room, kicking myself for eating chickpea salad for lunch... I find myself silently chanting "tree, tree tree" just to keep my mind on the tree.

Despite my best efforts and the reminders from the Yogi to keep paying attention to the tree I am distracted, to say the least.

But the harder I try, the more I sink into the rhythm of my breathing, the more fleeting moments I do actually manage to stop my mind... And I feel very free in that moment.  To be free of my anxious internal dialogue for even a few moments is restful and unusual and something I want more of. Which will clearly take a miracle practice.  A lot of practice.

I have taken a couple other classes and some are truly hard - a very challenging work out and a sad reminder of how inflexible I am physically.  It's a caring and lovely community of folks, embracing of all sizes and shapes and ages.  I still feel a bit awkward not knowing all the lingo and the poses and the protocols but I'm getting it slowly.

I still live for the final relaxation part of every class when stretched muscles relax and my mind is finally slowing down and the full belly, lung breathing has enlivened all my cells....the quiet (save for the gentle snores of some) moment when all I have to be do is be.

And then a gentle return to the world.  

I don't know how long my yoga journey will be but I am trusting it is what I need for now - physically and mentally and even spiritually as I use the time and space to breathe prayers for myself and others.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing my tree again on Wednesday.