Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Spot of Tea and Trouble

I had decided to buy tea.  It seemed so straightforward.  But it didn't work out.  It didn't work out at all.

The sequence of events began when I was walking past a tea store and an employee offered me a sample.  Normally I avoid people who approach me with samples.  They cause me distress.  This time, though, I took a cup of a delightful looking pink iced tea.  It was very refreshing.

Based on the pleasant sample experience, I entered the store the next time I was nearby, hoping to buy some of that lovely tea.  Things deteriorated quickly from there.

The store was busy with people who understand tea buying tea from people who understand it even better.  I became increasingly aware of the sensation that I fit into neither of those categories.

There was a huge wall of tea.  I think I spotted the right one.  It contained Goji berries.  The staff was busy though and, while they greeted me and I could tell they wanted to help me, I had to wait.  I couldn't wait and look like I knew what I was doing.  I had no clue what I was doing.  So I stood and fretted over the concerns that were popping up in my mind.

I didn't know how much tea to order.  I wasn't sure it was the right flavour.  I didn't know what had happened to the nice woman with the samples and the pretty pink drinks.  I realized it would be loose leaf tea I'd be buying.  What would I do with loose leaf tea?  Would I need an infuser?  A diffuser?  My kettle blew up last week - even boiling water is more of an issue here than usual.  How complicated was this going to get?

I didn't want to seem impatient but I felt out of my league.  I left the store.  I was sad.

I know that it doesn't really matter whether I can manage to buy tea or not but wow, things can get complicated.  There are simpler ways to buy tea but maybe not to buy Goji-berry flavoured tea.  Perhaps I should stick to coffee.  I love coffee and, while we've had some home-grinding catastrophes and some really bad flavour experiences, I have the know-how to buy and make coffee.  I don't think I want to return to school to learn how to buy tea.


Beach Time

I had a dream the other night in which I felt regret.  Regret is awful.  I've had this dream before.

In the dream, I am on a beach vacation.  Suddenly I realize that I have spent a lot of time doing things other than going to and enjoying the beach.  There is limited time left and there is nothing I can do about it.  I regret so much that I didn't spend more time at the beach as I had intended.

I love beaches and I long for beach vacations, year round.  For me to go on one and not make the most of the beach is horrible beyond words.  I did spend too little time at the beach at the start of a vacation last year.  I thought of this recurring dream then and got my act together and myself down to a nice beach chair.  I'm glad I did.

For me, this dream is a cautionary tale to do what I enjoy now and not end up with regret later.  I'm not always good at this (at all) but this dream reminds me of what is it stake.  I hope we can all make the most of our time at the beach, in whatever form the beach takes for each of us.  Enjoy!


Taking a Risk

This piece was not written as a result of a big misunderstanding.  Rather, I wondered after I made a small comment in "Words with Friends" on Facebook if my friend would find the comment funny.  You never know.  Anyways, this piece developed after that.  I am not sure that it has a point - consider it Supplementary Reading.  The material in it won't be covered in the final exam.

It is a risk to say something you find funny.  But then I suppose it is a risk to say anything at all.  Expressing the thoughts that develop in our heads, we can never be sure that others will understand, see what we do, interpret/apply the same meaning and when we find something funny, laugh.  And yet, we put our thoughts, ourselves out there.  We take the risk.

In expressing things through writing, I come up with ideas in my head.  Or ideas arrive in my head.  I carry them, develop them and commit them to paper or screen.  Sometimes I have the honour of connecting with people.  They laugh or some words touch them.  For these reasons, and because writing feels perfect to me, I love writing.

What about those times when we share something and find that the humour, the meaning, the touching significance matters only to us?  What about when we dare to put ourselves on the line and what we fear happens?   No one gets us, our vision is not shared.

Do we deduce from that that we are alone after all?  Is it not worth it to share - does it make us too vulnerable.  Do we stop putting ourselves on the line?

I hope not.

We are all unique - sometimes something that appeals to us may not appeal to others.

Sometimes we may not express the essence of what we meant - the essence that would convey to others that which we try to say.  It mattered, it was funny but we mixed up the wording a little bit or it was hard to convey.

People are not at the same place.  Meaning to one, one day is not meaning to all, every day.

Still though, we take the chance.  I believe we should.  When what we say, in whatever form, touches, connects with at least one other, magic occurs.  What both of us see is validated.  What we feel is comforted, or celebrated.  Maybe we share laughter.

We must continue to dare, to write, to speak.  The times that we end up feeling alone, misunderstood come but so do the times when we reach our goal and touch another.  There is risk but there is also the potential for great reward.

It is so worthwhile to take the risk.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why does the Dollar Store Smell?

I'm not sure I want to know why the dollar store smells.  I don't remember other dollar stores having this issue.  The one nearest my house smells though and there has to be a reason why.

I feel sorry for the people who work in it.  The smell is noticeable when I walk by in the mall.  It can't be good to spend eight hours breathing that in.  Whatever it is, it doesn't smell healthy.

Items sold at dollar stores are cheap, perhaps inexplicably so.  What substances go into their production and packaging?  What safety checks are performed on the many, many products in these stores?  Should people be buying hair products, children's toys and even food from these places?  Maybe these things are fine, maybe not.  But what is it about these products that makes the store smell?

There's the question too of how much workers are paid to make these products.  It's probably not enough.  This is true for products sold in other stores too but it's something to consider, especially when everything in the store is so inexpensive.

I love saving money.  It's great to find ways to do that.  It seems worthwhile though to consider more than the monetary cost of items.  I don't wish any harm to the dollar store but this unfortunate smell has made me think.  It would be nice for the sake of the employees in that store if the smell could be addressed.  There are more issues that need resolving but this would be a start.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's back there?

As I lay on the couch yesterday morning, writing and occasionally looking out the window, I noted a neighbour go out his front door to get around to the back of his house.  I have long wondered about the backyard at that house.  There must be one.  But from extended family gatherings to quiet coffee and newspaper reading times, the couple who live in that house use the front area of the property.  They don't seem to be exhibitionists, everyone's always fully clothed (I consider that good), and they behave very well but they like to be at the front of the house.  Apparently, even when grandchildren are over and running all over the lawn, it's better to have them there, near the road, than in a fenced-in backyard or whatever it is that's behind the house.  On this street, it can't be that they like to be a part of the hustle and bustle.  There's no hustle.  There's very little bustle.  Both were outlawed on this street a while ago and things have been pretty quiet since then.  So, the attraction of the front yard mystifies me.  What is going on at the back?  Soon what's going on will be a nosy neighbour poking her head over the fence and finding out the awful truth.  Then, I suppose we will all wish I had let it remain a mystery.  We'll rue the day I learn the truth.


Little Kindnesses and Wonderful Examples

The doorbell rang this afternoon.  As there is an election underway in this province, I assumed the visit would be related to that.  I was surprised to find a neighbour from 2 houses away standing there when I opened the door.  I know her a little but not well.

This older lady (she's over 80) was collecting for a charity.  I know she's had health problems and I had her come in and sit down.  Right away though I found out that her concerns right now are with her husband and not herself.  He is sick and while I didn't want to pry, it sounds serious.

As far as I know, neither member of this couple has the health problem for which she was collecting donations.  Still, she was following through on the responsibility she had taken on and was helping out.  The strain she was feeling showed and I don't think she would necessarily enjoy asking for donations anyways.  The effort she was expending truly touched me.

I have benefitted from the giving nature of this couple before.  When my son was in the hospital after his premature birth, the man drove me to the hospital at least one day.  He was good with conversation, which made the ride a lot nicer, and it was so kind of him to drive me.  I thought of that yesterday after hearing that he is ill.

Other people helped out then too with drives and emotional support.  I needed a lot of both.  People who offer such kindnesses don't get a lot of acclaim.  Perhaps they should.  They make the world better in their quiet, discreet ways.

I hope that this man feels all better soon and can tend his garden and go for more walks with his wife this summer.  I hope that she feels relief from all the worry soon.  And I hope that next year, she doesn't collect for that charity because she didn't seem to be having a lot of fun and she's probably done enough giving already.  She gave to me yesterday by her generous example.  I am so grateful for that and the other kindnesses I have received from this couple.  And I'm very glad I opened the door when she came to call.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On Frozen Food and Laziness

I'm a reasonably active person.  I walk a lot, I enjoy activities at the gym when I go, I enjoy scurrying around the house when I clean up, and I play a bizarre version of basketball in our basement with my son.  For some strange reason, though, when our upstairs freezer is full, I will attempt extreme and unconscionable moves to make more items fit in.  Suddenly, I'm too lazy to go downstairs and put an item in a freezer that's sitting, waiting, with lots of room.  I would like to understand why.

Our basement isn't scary - our family room, laundry and rabbits are down there.  It's not like I don't have the energy.  But I will do terrible things to avoid a trip downstairs.  And, through my attempts to ram the door shut when it is clearly impossible, I have caused damage to the icemaker.  We weren't using it anyways but now we can't.  And there are exposed wires.

The easy way out isn't always the best way out.  I'll try to remember that the next time I have something big to put in our upstairs freezer.  Sadly, though, I don't guarantee that I will do things differently in the future.  But, everyone does things like this, right?  Please.  Anybody?


Thursday, April 12, 2012


Ideally, we do not compare ourselves to others.  Everyone has their own path, their own stories, their own reasons.  I find it hard sometimes to live up to that ideal.

Today I ran into someone that I know and like.  We had a nice time together but she told me about her astonishing career success.  Especially today, it wasn't what I needed to hear.  I was already feeling down.  I have no career success, astonishing or otherwise, to share.  While there was no malice intended, there was also no clue about how sharing this information would make me feel.  I felt bad.

I don't know how I couldn't compare myself in this situation and I don't know what the appropriate response is when someone shares news like this and you're not in a place to happily receive it.  Perhaps, at times, it's better to be in the company of people who understand us well, appreciate where we are at in our progress, and cheer us on as we progress even more.  When we do the same for these people, we all move forward and feel supported as we do.

I applaud everyone who is succeeding at what they want to do and everyone who is struggling to find their way.  We are all trying and we are all worthy.  I hope we can remember these things no matter who crosses our paths.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Golf Information

The Masters golf tournament is on now.  I know that this means a green jacket will be placed on someone at the end of play on Sunday and that this tournament takes place in August, Georgia.  I know that Tiger Woods won this tournament at least once and that it was a big deal when he did.  That was at a time when it was easier to be a fan of Tiger Woods.

Other than those few things about the Masters, I know very little.  And I'm fine with that.  I don't follow golf.  It usually doesn't follow me.  This weekend has been different, however.  Golf information has even followed me into the bathroom.  That's never happened before.

My husband is interested in this tournament and particularly in the play of Fred Couples.  I know because he's told me various details about Mr. Couples.  The information hasn't really harmed me but the communication of it to me has annoyed me a little.  I'm simply not that interested.  And I don't need to be continually informed of new Fred Couples trivia.  Yes, he's an older golfer.  That's nice.  Yes, he hasn't won as often as you might expect.  Interesting (maybe).  But why was he telling me these things?  Really, why?

This morning things crossed a strange line when I was, um, sitting in the bathroom.  He called to me to tell me that Fred Couples had won the Master tournament one time.  Wow.  What does one do with that information in a situation like that?  I believe I looked around with an incredulous look on my face.  I don't have witnesses to back that up.

I haven't heard a lot more about the golf or Fred Couples since this incident and our talk afterwards.  I love that my husband likes sharing things but sometimes I don't see the point.  I even have some trouble when we're both reading the paper and he reads portions to me.  I tend to find the things I want to read on my own and I consider reading to be a solo sport.  I probably do this too though so I'll try to let that go.

Really, it's funny and kind of sweet that my husband is so excited about the golf, the play of Fred Couples and sharing his enthusiasm.  I still don't care about golf but I do care that my husband is having a nice, relaxing weekend off work, and that he's found something he finds interesting.  I bet sometimes he's not quite as excited as I am about my rabbits, my writing and my other interests.  And I have followed him to the bathroom to tell him things.  Wow, I guess I'm just as weird.  Just not about golf.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Finding a New Way

My family drove through the Garrison Woods area of Calgary today.  I love that area - the houses, townhomes, stores, parkland.  I find it beautiful and believe it deserves the acclaim it has received.  It mixes housing from the former military base in Calgary with new construction and does it well.  I've been to a similar area in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  There too, a beautiful development has arisen at a former military base.  These 2 large areas have a lot of potential and from what I've seen, it is being realized.

One thing would make me like these areas more.  It's big.  I wish that these large areas of land and housing were available because we had moved beyond the need for the military.  Rather than mere movement of military operations to other locations, I wish that things had wrapped up and the world had found better ways.  Soldiers still fight, soldiers still die.  Enjoying the gentle beauty of these nascent communities, it is easy to believe that those things are in the past.  I hope that some day that is true.  I hope that some day, all military facilities can be used for nicer purposes.  I like the dream of that reality.