Dubonnet

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I had a hankering for sherry yesterday evening.

Since the government liquor store was closed when I dropped my boy off at Tae Kwon Do, I had to go to one of the late night liquor stores.

After wandering the aisles long enough to make the lone clerk a bit nervous, I asked him to point me to the sherry.

“Can’t help you. We don’t get much call for sherry, except for the really cheap stuff and that’s a niche market we try to avoid.”

He handed me a slim bottle of Dubonnet instead.

“This is fortified wine,” he said squinting at the label. “It’s probably similar to sherry.”

I’d never heard of it, but since it’s made in France I figured, why not?

After my first glass, I hit the internet to learn more about my new favourite drink.

Dubonnet was popular with the jet set crowd in the 60’s and 70’s. The only people who drink it now are either really old or the Queen (who is, I realize, really old.)

Her Majesty, like her mother before her, is partial to a Gin Dubonnet cocktail before lunch each day.

Since I have delusions of being a princess, I had to try one for myself.

I discovered that Dubonnet, like many things that’s good on its own, is even better with a slug of gin poured in.

Just call me Princess!

The Reluctant Acrobat

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Friday was a professional development day.

I attended a reading conference at the Victoria Conference Centre which adjoins my favourite hotel in the world–the Fairmont Empress.

Since I hate driving downtown, I hitched a ride with my sailor on his way to work. Sailors start ridiculously early. I assumed he’d roll in late because he was dropping me off on his way to the office.

Never assume anything. He left me on Government Street almost two hours before my conference started.

His last words to me as he sped off into the darkness: “I’m sure you’ll find a Starbucks that’s open!”

Gee, thanks.

I’m going to blame later events on sleep deprivation (I had to get up at 5:00 to be ready to go with my sailor) and too much caffeine (the rent on a table at Starbucks is paid in big, strong lattes.)

The day progressed without incident until lunch.

I defied gravity and fell up the stairs.

Not a little slip, but an acrobatic tumble that left me on my hands and knees at the top of the steps, my bag sliding in one direction, my jacket another. No painful fall is complete without an audience. Mine was witnessed by about one hundred primary teachers.

Red faced and sore, I collected my bag and jacket and slunk away to my next lecture–in the large theatre. I considered sitting down near the front, but decided to hide in the back row. I was comfortably ensconsed in my seat, rubbing my aching knees and waiting for the presenter, when a woman suddenly loomed over me.

“I was sitting here this morning and I lost an earring. Can I look under your seat?”

“Sure.”

I stood and moved into the aisle. She advanced towards me so I took a step back.

Walking backwards is rarely a good idea, especially on one of those theatre aisles that’s comprised of shallow steps leading down to the stage. My heel hit the step behind me and–you guessed it–I went down…hard. This happened moments before the speaker was about to begin, so the theatre was full, giving me an optimal audience for my second spectacular fall of the day.

I don’t remember much about the final session. I mostly thought about whether I should sneak out to find a glass of wine and an ice pack.

The day wasn’t a total loss.

An hour later I was sitting in Milestones with my sailor and our boy enjoying the view and that large glass of wine.

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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Louie Zamperini was an amazing man.

As a spirited boy he was on the path to delinquency until the support of his brother, combined with his natural athletic ability, led him instead to the Olympics. At nineteen he was the youngest competitor in his event. He didn’t win a medal, but he left the Berlin Games determined to do better at the next games in four years.

His biography would have been the inspiring story of a record-breaking track and field star if World War II hadn’t interrupted his sporting career.

He joined the Army Air Corps. Unbroken tells the story of Louie’s experience as a bombardier in the South Pacific.

At times it’s difficult to read because Louie is such a likeable character and terrible things happen to him.

His plane crashes in the Pacific. Louie and his fellow survivor spend forty-seven days drifting on a rubber raft before they’re captured by the Japanese and interned in a POW camp.

Unbroken doesn’t end with Japan’s surrender, Louie’s liberation and vague implications of happily ever after. It’s a better book than that.

We follow him home and witness his challenges reintegrating into normal life. We know so much more about conditions like PTSD now, yet we still lose returning military personnel to suicide. Back in Louie’s day there no support and he struggled to regain his mental and emotional wellbeing.

I won’t give away too much, but the title is Unbroken and against the odds, Louie does indeed remain unbroken.

The Purse Whisperer

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My friend D rarely buys purses. (She’s more a shoe and coat person.) So it was exciting when she emailed a picture of her new handbag.

I liked it…really liked it…so much that I went to visit it at Hudson’s Bay.

I examined it. Carried it around the purse department and even took out the paper stuffing to see how it would hang if it wasn’t stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.

But I didn’t buy it. Although I really liked the purse, I know that I can be influenced by peer pressure. (I’m lucky I hung with a nice group in high school or I might have gotten into some serious trouble.) Did I want the handbag just because D had it?

“I want your purse,” I said the next time I talked to D. (So much for introspection about my propensity to be guided by peer pressure!)

“Then buy it.”

“You won’t think I’m some creepy purse stalker?”

She sighed. “Just get the purse if you love it that much.”

I’m calling it my post-strike treat.

D called the next day.

“I bought our purse,” I said.

“I knew you would. It’s lovely.”

“Lovely and on sale! Mine was $65 less than yours.”

“No!!!”

“Yes,” I said. “Clearly the shopping gods like me more than they like you.”

She grumbled a bit.

“Have you bought anything else I might like?” I asked.

Dragon out the Process

After months of discussions, internet research and giggles (there are some funny boat names out there!) we’ve begun the process of renaming our boat.

And what a process it’s been!

Choosing the name was only the first step. We had to go to the boat shop to see the colour palette to pick the shade for the text. Then there was the search for graphics that would look good on the back (sorry, aft end) of the boat while enhancing the name.

Once we settled on the graphics, I made a mad lunchtime visit to the boat shop to select a different text colour as our initial choice would’ve clashed with the pictures.

My sailor delegated all this running around and organizing to me, which slowed the process because of my tendency to procrastinate.

But we got there–finally choosing not only name, text colour and font style, but accompanying images.

Once we had everything picked out, I cut and pasted the images and text together. Because I’m the least technical person on the West Coast, this involved actual scissors and a glue stick, along with detailed hand-written notes and arrows further clarifying what my sailor would’ve accomplished with a few clicks of a mouse. Then I used my phone to take a picture of my creation and emailed it to the boat shop.

We’ve just okayed the graphic artist’s version of my handiwork.

Since it’s not done, I don’t want to spill the beans completely.

Here’s a hint:

My sailor, following generations of mariners who’ve paid tribute to their lady loves by naming their vessels after them, chose this picture.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

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Woo hoo! Thanksgiving’s next weekend!

It’s my favourite long weekend because of the magic three: amazing food, mild autumn weather and time to appreciate all that turkey goodness with my wonderful family. This year will be extra special because we’ll all be together. (Last Thanksgiving my Sailor was in Afghanistan and I was a nervous wreck, but he came home safely so we’ll focus on the positive.)

I love the idea of giving thanks for all the blessings in life, but I’m usually too stressed about things beyond my control to be thankful.

Fortunately, the most amazing source of all information (the internet) has tons of stuff about gratitude and thankfulness. Mind Body Green caught my attention with its “scientific proof that being thankful improves your health.” (Does this mean I’m actually harming my health because I’m too worried to be thankful??? I’m going to need some extra wine to get through this gratitude stuff.)

Thankfully (see how I worked that in!) it’s not really so hard to be thankful.

It turns out Oprah was right when she directed us to keep a gratitude journal. Every week, jotting down three to five things you’re grateful for (like season five of The Walking Dead) can lead to increased energy, happiness and hope.

Don’t limit your gratitude practice to journalling. Create art to demonstrate your gratitude. Speak about it. Blog about it. (For example–I’m grateful my Sailor demonstrates his gratitude for our family by cooking me a delicious turkey dinner every year!)

Train yourself to think grateful positive thoughts. This is a hard one for me, but I want some of that joy the grateful people flaunt so I’m going to give it a try.

It’s not like I have much choice. Gratitude combats depression, anxiety and loneliness. With stakes this high, I just hope I can be grateful enough…

A Face Even a Mother Can’t Love

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I like kids.

Many of them are adorable.

I commented on a photo of a co-worker’s children–two gorgeous toddlers with cheeky grins and thick, glossy hair.

“How old are they?” I asked.

“Benson’s four and Rosie’s two.”

“They’re so cute!”

“Really? I’ve always thought they’re funny looking.”

What???

It’s tedious when parents boast about their children, but shouldn’t they at least appreciate them a little?

There Ain’t Nobody Here but us Chickens

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Sailors have many good qualities. (Have you seen that dashing uniform?)

They tend to remain cool under pressure and, thanks to all that advanced military training, you’ll want to stick to yours like glue in the unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse. (I’m not joking when I boast my sailor could give Rick Grimes a run for his money.)

The downside to fraternizing with a sailor? Being left at home while he travels the world, defending democracy.

If you’re the brave, independent type this isn’t a problem.

If you’re a chicken like me, you may find yourself creeping through your basement brandishing a crystal vase (the closest thing to a weapon you could find after that thing that went bump in the night woke you.)

So how do I secure the perimetre to protect not only the house, but my jumpy nerves when my sailor is away?

This one’s a no-brainer, but lock your doors when you’re at home. Lock ’em while you’re out puttering in the yard, too, even if you live in a nice neighbourhood. You don’t want to give someone the opportunity to slip inside while you’re mulching your rose bushes or whatever it is gardeners do.

Many break-ins are crimes of opportunity. Put away tools like axes, hammers and shovels that could be used to break a window. This goes for ladders, too. You don’t want to give the athletic criminal access to your second floor.

That spare key you keep hidden under the flower pot on the porch? You’re not fooling anyone with your spy-level secret hiding place. Don’t keep a key outside your house! If you’re that concerned about locking yourself out, leave a key with a trustworthy neighbour.

Don’t count on the dog to keep you safe, even if she’s a tough one. A dog or even a Beware of Dog sign may be a deterrent, but don’t let your guard down just because Precious is on duty.

If you come home and see signs of a break-in get out! Don’t investigate. Just leave and call 911. The last thing you want to do is corner a thief in your house.

I know and practice all this, so in theory I should feel brave when my sailor sails off into the sunset.

For the most part I do…until the sun goes down.