Sometime Tuesday morning, as the coffee is poured….
“It’s a beautiful day…sunny…warm. Shame not to be out in it.”
“Yep. But I guess it’s down to the cellar … still a lot of work down there.”
“Hm. And it really does need to be done. Of course, we need to replace the front doors before it gets too cold outside, too.”
“We don’t even have doors yet! Are you saying we should go buy doors today instead?”
“No. Just sayin’… “
“Cause I think you’re right, we probably should drive into Prince George for doors before SweetEsther goes into storage for the winter.”
“That’s a convincing argument, and it sounds right to me. But driving to PG twice in one week?”
“But this time in the Westfalia!”
“But it’s not for fun. Not like playing hooky or anything.”
“No, or course not! This is just to get doors, the responsible job to do today. And the van is the best way to bring them home.”
“Right. This is about being grownups and making the responsible choices with our reno time. For sure.”
Jump in van. Breath deeply of the old Westy smell. Feel the rumble as her 36-year-old 4-cyclinder engine clumsily comes to life once again. Turn up the tunes (hello FM 95.9 the GOAT!) and settle in for a long and peaceful drive through some of the most beautiful autumn vistas. Everything is better when we’re on SweetEsther-time!
We live in a world where any stupid thing you do could end up as a meme on social media somewhere. I think about this often because I make a lot of embarrassing mistakes, do a lot of stupid brain-dead things. I’m just like that.
I’ve reached an age where I’ve finally learned (mostly) (ok, partly) to just let the embarrassing gaffes go and move on, just grateful that no one was standing around at the time with a cell phone, a twitter account, and a mean streak! But it’s those mistakes that hurt people or do damage somehow, even potential damage, that haunt me. They keep me up at night. And I feel like I’ve had more than my usual amount of them recently. Not my best self lately, that’s for sure.
That’s when it’s good to go visit my mom. She’s at that stage of Alzheimer’s where you only have to wait 5 minutes, or less, and she’ll have forgotten the stupid thing you just said, did, were. Maybe I show up one day and she’s in a bad head space and I don’t handle it so well and I end up going home and having a bit of a cry. But the next time I show up, she has no memory of my blundering stupidity. She might be so thrilled to see me and for however long our visit lasts, I’m golden! Those days are precious.
Actually, all the days are precious, even the ‘bad’ ones. And I really am blessed to get to be here to share them with her.
Yes, maybe the best thing to do when I’m feeling stupid or embarrassed or like the biggest dumb-ass ever, is to spend some time with Mom. She has a real short memory and a really big heart and it can help me put things back in perspective, or at least give me a break from the self-flagellation. I’d like to be more like her (only, you know, while I can still remember what year it is and where I live!)
Sometimes you have to stop the dirty grueling work and take a day to snuggle a baby. It’s good for the soul.
I’ve been reflecting on the choices we’ve made since selling our condo in Surrey. I’ve been saying that I had no regrets because it all works out in the end, that the best adventures were born of the more impulsive decisions, the riskier options. I stand by that statement, right up until we decided to buy this house. This may have been our first actual mistake.
That said, it’s still a house with huge potential. Our plans for it are still awesome. It just doesn’t fit into our original live-the-dream plan in any way, shape or form and because of that, we’ve had to make some compromises, to give some things up.
One of those things I had to resign was taking SweetEsther up to Northern Alberta for the Klassen family reunion this weekend. The van was in no shape for that trip and neither were we after spending days digging out and cribbing up the cellar, a job that absolutely had to be done this week. It’s a whole thing and it is what it is, and I didn’t even know it was important to me until this weekend. But still, I was feeling it.
And then the opportunity to babysit my niece’s little one came up and my first thought was YES! and my second thought was ‘my house is not fit for a baby yet!’ But that’s just the thing, it won’t be ready for a long time yet and getting to snuggle babies was part of what I was looking forward to in this move. It’s what I really wanted to do. The world won’t end if I take a day off to do this, to connect with this amazing little person and refresh my soul a little. So we rocked and we snuggled and we giggled and we read a story and played the guitar (I played, Randy added impromptu percussion, and baby rocked out. So cute!) and then we rocked & snuggled some more. I did what I really wanted to do for a day, and you know what, I only felt better for it!
I’m still feeling like this house was not our best choice, I’m still not thrilled about all the ramifications of it, but it’s done and I do believe this little house has some things it can teach me over the next year. Things about myself, things about life and what’s most important. Oh so many things to learn.
I hope there are lot’s of puppies and babies and visits and music and story writing in that process . . . who knows! Me and my ugly little house are going to be pretty tight for the winter, and hopefully in the spring, we will both emerge a better version of ourselves. I know she already has a better, stronger foundation. I feel just a tiny bit stronger too!
It was about 7 o’clock and Randy was washing the dinner dishes, looking out at our backyard in progress, when suddenly he calls out to me “Elise, there’s a dog in our backyard. A cute little dog!” So I go check it out. He’s not cute. He’s ADORABLE! And he’s friendly and more than happy to come into the house with me and let me find the phone number on his tag. His name is Reggie, he’s a West Highland Terrier (Otherwise known as a Westy, my favourite breed) and a perfect little gentleman while we waited for his people to come get him.
I’m in love! Absolute puppy love! He’s friendly and so polite and quiet. He loves cuddles and he doesn’t lick faces but does follow me around with his nose a very endearing 3 inches from my calf. The moment I opened the fridge he plopped his little behind on the floor and looked up expectantly, yet politely, with huge eyes and perky ears. Is it possible for a dog to be this perfect, this flawless . . . he’s very shy of the phone, the camera in particular! Stressed him out, so we only took a few shots. We found his kryptonite, I guess.
When his people came to pick him up, we learned that he was a rescue, very recently adopted by a couple in our neighbourhood. Now we know where he lives so we can just walk him back home if he comes to visit again, and for my part, he is very welcome!
or What We Did In The Dark Unbreathable Atmosphere Of The BC Northern Interior This Week
Visits with my mother. These typically consist of working on a puzzle while answering the same question(s) every 5 to 10 minutes about who’s who and where I live now, and singing old songs (though I have a hard time singing loud enough for her to hear me. Planning to take my ukulele and try out some of her old favourites soon). My mother has Alzheimer’s, which information may put this in perspective for some of you. The air is better in the facility where she lives, so, there’s that!
Dump run. SweetEsther did double duty this week hauling yard waste and recycling to the local transfer station. Her amazing adaptability never ends. And she’s so photogenic, even surrounded by trash piles!
Nechako Valley Exhibition (aka: The Fall Fair). I haven’t been to this in literally decades, but it remains essentially the same. Petted so many lovely animals, saw so many exhibits and ate the most amazing veggie wrap from a food truck (unfortunately I can’t remember the name! If anyone knows who it was, please let me know.) The ‘Market Place’ is more like a small farm market of local wonders than anything else….so unlike the crazy high-pressure selling frenzies at the PNE! Maybe next year we will actually have time to make some entries in the exhibits. Part of the small town experience and I fully enjoyed it.
She was the most amazing dog. She gives hugs.
Bought a washer and dryer!!! Now we just have to install hookups and we’ll be washing laundry in our own house. My sister may be very happy for that too, though she will be too polite to say what a pain-in-the-ass I have been with all my dirty reno laundry. Still, she did invite us out for dinner on Thursday, so it can’t be too bad yet.
And while we’re on the topic of buying stuff for the house this week: A garden shed, a yard cart, baseboard heaters. None of which have been delivered yet, but of which we are in dire need. Well, maybe not the heaters, but the night time temps keep dropping, so, soon.
Our craziest job of the week? Assembling the Muskoka chairs we bought at Costco, ’cause, you know, deck chairs are the most important part of waterfront property….even though water levels are so low because of the drought that it would be less than inspiring out there right now, constant raining down of wildfire ash not withstanding. But we’ve never gone about anything in a traditionally rational order anyway, so why start now!
The view from my deck at 4pm today. The ash covers everything. My eyes and lungs sting. The region of Bulkley-Nechako in is a State of Emergency, Nearby towns are under evacuation orders. And nothing but hot dry weather in the forecast.
The air is very heavy, both literally and metaphorically. I’m trying to unpack the rest of my kitchen today, but it’s hard to find the spirit to do it. I want to send up positive vibes and prayers for those fleeing their homes, both the humans and the wildlife, but it’s hard to find the spirit to do it. I should probably be readying SweetEsther just in case we too get an evacuation notice. Weirdly, I’m roaming distractedly in my little WWII era house, feeling a bit nostalgic (not in a good way.) Maybe this is a little of what if felt like back then. Maybe this is what it tastes like when you first start to understand that you are at war with a force much to strong for any one town or region or even nation to defeat on their own.
The army has been called in to help. Teams from Australia and other parts of the world are here to reinforce our front line. Almost as soon as the evacuation notice went out for rural areas of neighbouring towns, Vanderhoof people stepped up, offering up pasture land for displaced livestock and trailers to haul them in, feed to sustain them. It’s encouraging. We are good people and we will all do what we can. We will pull together and fight to stop the destructive force. And when it is all over, we will rebuild what was lost.
But I hope that we will not go back to the status quo. I hope that we will, as a citizen, a town, a region, a country, take some time to assess why this is happening. Think hard about what we have done and are doing to our planet that feeds this kind of unnatural disaster. Because it’s not normal, it’s not ‘natural’ (forest fires are, but not on the scale that the world is seeing in recent years.) I hope that we will not just offer up our thanks like empty platitudes and walk away unchanged by the lesson that Mother Nature is handing us. Because as we rally together to defeat this foe, we need to remember that the outrageous wildfires are just one of the inevitable results of our own indulgent human actions.
We are our own worst enemy. Let’s decide to be our own best solution.