O Christmas Tree!

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As our strike drags on, I’m looking for an alternate source of income.

I thought I’d found the perfect opportunity when I heard of O, a friend of a friend, who recently bought a Christmas tree farm. She’s hiring Christmas tree pruners.

I enjoy visiting farms (especially if they have on site wineries!) and I love Christmas. Could there be a better fit for an uncoordinated striking teacher with little wilderness experience?

I called O, introduced myself and volunteered for duty.

“It’s hard work,” she warned.

“Not a problem,” I gushed.

“Would you like to use clippers or a sword?”

A sword???

“Could you repeat that?”

“Clippers or a sword?” she asked. “Since you’re new to Christmas tree pruning, you might want to start with clippers. The swords are harder to control.”

Have I mentioned I’m one of the least coordinated people I know?

“Put me down for clippers.”

“What about a dog?” she asked.

“What about a dog?” If there’ll be dogs around, it’s a good thing I won’t be swinging a sword through the trees.

“If you have one, you might want to bring him,” she said. “For the bears.”

Bears???

“I don’t think my dog would be good for the bears.”

“Not a problem. You’ll just have to be extra-vigilant since you don’t have a dog to scare them away.”

Is it too late to change my mind and choose the sword?

The Golden Retriever’s Guide to Happiness

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Picketing sucks!

Now that’s out of the way, I can admit there’s one aspect that’s actually not so bad–the dogs. In particular, a couple of gorgeous golden retrievers who often accompany their striking humans. These canines provide a burst of positive energy few people can match.

I’ve gotten to spend enough quality time with each of them to learn three life lessons as demonstrated by golden retrievers.

1. Charge into every situation with tail-wagging glee! These dogs aren’t obnoxious, but they’re SO joyful it’s contagious. They approach everyone they meet like their new bestie, leaning in for a back rub here or looking up with those soulful eyes there. Hesitation or shyness? These pooches don’t know the meaning of those words (literally)! True confession: I sometimes avoid talking to people because I can’t imagine they want to be stuck chatting with me. I need to adopt a little of that golden self-confidence.

2. Roll in the dirt when the spirit moves you! Parker (the handsome guy in the photo) is ten years old–well into doggie middle age, but he hasn’t lost that puppy joi de vivre. Every now and then he flops down on his back and shimmies on the grass. His person says it’s a do it yourself massage. It must feel good–Parker’s bright eyes and big grin don’t lie. Does he look a bit silly?–Hell, yes! Does he care?–Hell, no! We could all use a dose of that golden enthusiasm.

3. Always carry a wet tennis ball! As much as I admire Parker, I don’t want to toss his damp, squishy tennis ball for him when he nudges it my way. He doesn’t care. (Honestly–is there a more good-natured creature on the planet than a golden retriever?) Parker keeps his ball near by and always knows where it is without getting neurotic about it. The golden rule of this little story–surround yourself with things that make you happy, but don’t get too hung up on your possessions.

Fashion on the Line

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As we begin another week of the longest teachers’ strike in BC history, there is no news. Sadly this is not a case where no news is good news. There’s no end in sight.

After a summer travelling across the country, taking part in ice bucket challenges, sampling dill pickle vodka and posting inflammatory tweets about greedy teachers, our premier finally called a press conference to add her two cents.

Unfortunately she made several false claims.

I’m still trying to figure her out.

Either she deliberately lied to sway public opinion against teachers or she’s so uninformed that she genuinely believes teachers are asking for “unlimited massages and extra days off.”

Yikes! The premier’s either incompetent or dishonest. I can’t decide which quality’s more dangerous in a leader.

On a more personal note, I’m facing the dreaded picketing striker fashion dilemma.

My summer shoes of choice, a comfortable pair of soft suede ballet flats, while perfect for a day of shopping, are not up the rigours of walking a section of pavement for three hours straight. My other choice, running shoes, offer more support but…ugh!

Have you ever tried to co-ordinate runners with a summer dress? It’s not a good look!

A Room of One’s Own

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I’m obsessed by small, contained spaces, almost to the point of weirdness.

We moved when I was in middle school, and my new room had a walk-in closet. Most adolescent girls would be thrilled at the extra space for their growing wardrobes.

Not me. I dragged a chair, a bath mat and a lamp with a long cord in there and called it my private reading room. Sadly, I spent much of my grade seven year in a closet.

Flash forward to the present and taking over a closet isn’t an option. We don’t have nearly enough storage space. The price for a private reading corner would be increased clutter in the rest of the house.

So no private spot for me to dream and read…or so I thought.

Lately, I’ve been spending time on the boat. It’s so much better than a closet! It has windows and a table, even a cushioned bench for naps. It’s almost like a tiny house!

So far I’m only using it as a reading space, but my sailor promises to run a cord out from the basement so I can access shore power. (Okay–I’ll just be tapping into the house’s hydro supply, but accessing shore power sounds more exciting–like something Gilligan and the gang would have done if their three-hour tour hadn’t gone pear-shaped.)

Once I’ve got power, there are no limits on what I can do in my little garden hideaway!

Writing for sure, as long as I don’t drop my computer climbing a board. (That swim ladder is pretty narrow.)

In theory I can brew grassy herbal teas, but in reality I’m more likely to stash a small box of wine in the fridge. I might even bring the dog aboard for visits. Of course, she doesn’t run on power–just Milk Bones and tummy rubs.

I’m beginning to appreciate the nautical lifestyle!

Perhaps my sailor is finally rubbing off on me.

The Ghost of Walmart

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My sailor and I went to the mall on the weekend. Normally I have to twist his toned and muscular arm to get him near any shopping venue, but he needed to get some man stuff–duct tape and batteries–so he suggested the trip.

As usual when we go shopping together, I ditched him as soon I arrived in my happy place (the mall!) It’s not that I don’t enjoy our time together–he lurks.

He follows me from shop to shop, silently observing. He’s doesn’t judge or try to control my spending (although he has been known to exclaim, “Seriously? Another purse? How many do you need?”)

Nothing takes the fun out of shopping like a lurker…nothing except being on strike.

The stores were buzzing with back to school sales and school supplies–they were everywhere! I don’t know who’s buying them as there’s still no word on when we’ll be back in class. I haven’t bought my boy’s because a stack of unused supplies in a corner collecting dust and dog hair will just depress me.

Since school supply shopping was out I drifted to the clothing and shoe stores. Big mistake! After a summer in swingy little dresses, I’m ready for cozy sweaters and socks and boots–I love me some black leather riding boots!

But not having an income changes the shopping dynamic profoundly. I was like a TV ghost–I could see the shopping action but couldn’t participate in it because I’m not in the zone with the people who get paid. It was so unsettling, I stayed away from mirrors, half afraid I wouldn’t see a reflection.

I’m luckier than many because I know we’ll have food in our tummies and a roof over our Chihuahua no matter how long this drags on.

I believe in what we’re striking for and I support my union.

I’m taking a huge financial hit to stand up for quality public education for ALL kids, not just mine.

That actually feels better than another new purse.

Wishing is Not Good Enough!

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Who hasn’t seen Helen Mirren’s gorgeous bikini shot?

She claims it wasn’t posed or planned, and I believe her. Dame Helen presents as so talented and intelligent. I don’t think she’d go to the trouble of setting up a long lens paparazzi shot if she wanted to show the world how hot she is. She’d own her hotness and get herself a magazine spread.

Did I mention Helen Mirren is 69 years-old? Yep, that’s right. This bikini babe is pensionable!

What’s her secret, you ask.

Believe it or not, Helen Mirren owes her va-va-voom figure to the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force).

My research indicates she’s a devotee of the XBX Plan, a daily twelve-minute interval training program developed by the RCAF in the early 60’s. I found it online. It’s a surprisingly complicated system of charts, multiple levels and a catchy slogan: Wishing is not good enough!

Each activity is demonstrated by glamour girls in ballet leotards. I confess I haven’t exactly read the whole thing, even though I’ve been following the program (sort of) for the past couple of weeks.

According the RCAF circa 1960, if I keep it up I’ll have enough energy to both serve my country AND mop my kitchen floor! Best of all, I won’t develop unsightly bulging muscles (whew–that’s a relief!)

Men interested in pursuing available floor mopping opportunities will be happy to learn there’s a men’s version called the 5BX Plan.

While I’m not quite ready for my bikini shot, my kitchen floor is sparkling.