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Friday, August 29, 2014

Let There Be...

Sometimes a hair crisis strikes out of nowhere and I can’t wait even one more minute before changing it. That was how I got bangs a few years back.
A few days ago I realized that the back of my hair was getting puffy--an intolerable state for shorthaired Sarah.
So I did some cutting...

Then I did some finger painting...

Let there be red!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Oh Canada

Part 3 of 3

Have you heard the Canadian national anthem? It is beautiful…The tune and the lyrics blend perfectly and it makes me emotional when I hear it. It’s a love song. Every national anthem should inspire this kind of pride. (I love the American anthem, too, but this post is about Canada…)

I was on Canadian soil just yesterday, and I could not stop humming the anthem while I was there. It was a mini trip—three nights only—but packed full of memorable moments. I hummed the anthem in the pharmacy. I sang it as we walked in the parks. I belted it in the shower. It’s called “Oh Canada,” and it is a love poem that you sing. It was the backdrop to our trip…

The song is a pretty one, but my connection to Canada makes it even more meaningful to me. Dad was born there and returns every year to see his extended family. My first visit was when I was five and I still remember it. I remember lots and lots of water, bays and islands everywhere. Tall trees in all directions. Picking blackberries. Family.

Three of us made the trip this time. My middle child, my dad and I flew to Vancouver. Even before our plane touched tarmac I noticed those tall fir trees everywhere—confirmation that I was in Canada.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they get a lot of rain in Western Canada. Stuff grows. Not only fir trees one hundred feet tall, but other trees and hedges and flowers and corn. And don’t forget blackberries. In addition to taking lots of family photos, I took a lot of pictures of nature. I also did a drawing at sunset while we were at a park. It’s just a quick sketch, but it made me happy to do it. I used crayons and the back of the hotel note pad. (I’m very picky about materials, clearly!) The way the sun shone through the trees was beautiful and I wanted to capture that moment.  

Oh, Canada. You put on a great show. Thanks for your hospitality and for welcoming us with such beauty…

Toto, We’re not in Kansas Anymore…

Part 2 of 3

I began my list within minutes of landing in Canada. The list of differences between America and Canada. This list is not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination. But it includes things I noticed while visiting my relatives up north. And it may be a helpful list for anyone visiting Canada. Seriously, I should email this list to the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. This should be handed out on the airplane, along with Customs forms.

 How You Know You Are in Canada:

1.      The airport in Vancouver has Totem Poles, a seven-foot tall stuffed Black Bear, maple sugar everything and lots of smoked salmon for sale.


2.      Airport signs are in English, French and Chinese.


3.      In Canada, it’s a washroom, not a bathroom or restroom.


4.      In Canada, words like center are spelled centre.


5.      They call parking lots “car parks.”


6.      “Eh?”


7.      Seaplanes.


8.      Geese on the roadside.


9.      Kilometers, not miles.


10.   Fire hall, not fire station.


11.   Minutes outside of the airport I saw a young man carrying a hockey stick.


12.   At my dad’s cousin’s place I saw an old hockey stick holding up a tomato vine.


13.   Tim Horton’s doughnut stores. Very Canadian.


14.   Blackberries growing by the side of the road, and those of us with the US passports are the only one picking them!


P.S.  Let’s revisit #3 on the list above: “washroom.”  Am I the only one who doesn’t like it when someone refers to this room as “the toilet?” I run the risk of sounding prissy but I suppose I like the slightly more genteel version, like “bathroom.” Yes, we all know there is a toilet in there, but calling the whole room “the toilet” just sounds crass. The Canadians may have settled on the most accurate name with “washroom.”  After all, when you use the bathroom you don’t always take a bath. Nor do you rest in the restroom. Not that I’m picky about words or anything. Not me. I just like accuracy.

Except, of course, when I’m exaggerating for effect…


Lucky Lady

Part 1 of 3

Just last night I returned from a mini trip to Canada, where we celebrated a very lucky lady. She’s my dynamic great-aunt Kay and she has lived an extraordinary life. Her four children all have children, and one branch of that family even boasts a great-great grandchild. On Aug. 16 she turned 104. Yes, 104. I was very lucky to be one of the guests at her party.

On Saturday more than forty of us gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” to Kay. The guest of honor was the oldest one there, and her 2-year-old great-granddaughter was the youngest present. We all took photos with Kay, congratulated her and chatted. She held my hand as we talked. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a park outside Vancouver. Fir trees and blackberries bordered the park. My dad’s cousin (in her mid-70s) threw a football with her grandson. We laughed and hugged and afterward, two of us picked blackberries. (Hey, they don’t grow by the side of the road in San Diego. We have to grab our chances when they come. For us, that’s an essential part of a trip to Western Canada.)

Kay isn’t physically as strong as she once was, but her spirit is bulletproof. This dynamic woman lived on her own until age 99, just months before her 100th birthday. What a lady. She inspires all of us with her longevity and with her character. I asked her years ago (when she was a mere 95) what her secret was. She thought a moment and said that she just didn’t worry too much. (At that moment I knew I was doomed. I worry! It’s part of being firstborn. Of course, Kay’s revelation led to my worrying that I worry too much. Which is hardly going to help me in my quest for longevity. Oh dear…)

Kay’s voice is soft and quiet now as she asks about the family back in California. She needs a wheel chair to get around, but that hasn’t stopped her. On Saturday she smiled and greeted her guests from her sparkly red wheelchair. So many family members came from different parts of British Columbia to see her. Several of us came from the states. Others came on ferries from islands in BC. This woman has fans big and small, each one in awe of a white-haired lady named Kay. There was so much love at her birthday party in the park. We all love her, and wanted to help her celebrate this milestone. What a lucky lady she is.

Yesterday, as I left Canada, I felt filled with gratitude for family. I’d had a meaningful visit with my amazing great aunt.

I feel like a very lucky lady, too…

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Welcome to our Mini Farm

Here at our place, we have plenty of fruit growing. I love watching everything get bigger and slowly turn color. Would you like to know what we have growing here? Yes, I thought so.


Apples, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, mangos, ruby red grapefruit, peppers...

Some of what’s growing here are things that we planted. Others were here before we moved in. And still others are volunteers. I actually like that mix, even if I probably wouldn't have chosen everything we inherited in the yard. It's kind of like life itself: some parts of life you chose, some are chosen for you, and some are complete coincidence. That mix makes life fuller...more interesting...