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.

You Can Get That Pierced???

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My friend D took her daughters to Seattle. They went to the American Girl Store.

It’s not what it sounds like. You don’t get actual American girls there. It’s a doll store.

“We’re having lunch there,” D told me the day before their trip.

“There’s a snack counter? At a toy store?”

“It’s a bistro,” she said. “We had to postpone our visit because we couldn’t get a table until this week.”

You need reservations? To have lunch at a toy store???

Since I don’t have a daughter, I’m out of the loop. I googled the American Girl Store to see what I’m missing.

I’m missing a lot.

In addition to the bistro, which serves everything from hot meals to high tea, there’s a doll spa and hair salon.

That’s right–for $20 your doll (which is made of plastic) can get a basic facial (not to be confused with the enhanced option which, of course, is more expensive.)

I’ve never had a facial, but my friend’s kids’ dolls are getting them.

I grilled D about it when she got home.

She rolled her eyes when I mentioned the spa treatments. “We did the facials last time. I think it’s a scam because the dolls looked pretty much the same afterwards.”

Ya think?

“But both girls got their dolls’ ears pierced.”

“Ear piercing?”

“Yeah. You can’t buy the doll earrings unless you get their ears pierced at the spa.”

I had many questions about the American Girl experience, the most burning of which was: why didn’t I think of this? I don’t like touching strangers so being a real beautician is out, but exfoliating dolls and piercing their tiny plastic ears? Bring it on!

Two Bears

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We are closer than ever to becoming a boating family!

I finally have a lifejacket–a snazzy purple model that’s almost as pretty as the dog’s. I chose it because it’s stylish. My sailor gave it a thumbs up because it’s Transport Canada approved.

We pick the boat up on Friday afternoon. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we’ll be living the cruising life on Saturday.

All that remains to be done is to dream up a good, no GREAT, name for our new boat. The current name, Two Bears, is nice, but it’s not really us. (The previous owners called themselves Big Bear and Little Bear, so Two Bears was perfect for them. We’re neither as cute nor as openly affectionate as them.)

In an effort to come up with the perfect name, I’ve been scouring the internet.

Some are clever (Angler Management). Some are cute (Your Ad Here).

Many are offensive (Wet Dreams, The Love Mussel, R Swipe).

Yeah–no.

My favourite, SS Minnow, has been vetoed by my sailor.

Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.

Safety First!

Penny's Life Jacket - 23 June '14
My sailor is a happy man!

The boat survey finally came back. Everything looks good.

He dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s, and he finally got his boat!

After all the stress of work, I can look forward to cruising through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world this summer. It will be relaxing and wonderful.

My sailor is being cute. He corrects me every time I refer to “his” new boat.

“It’s OUR boat, honey!”

Aww–he’s so sweet. He’s so excited, too. He stopped at the marine supply store on the way home from signing the paperwork to complete the purchase.

In a touching demonstration of love and devotion he bought life jackets . . . for himself and the dog.

Why I will vote ‘yes’ for escalating job action

The Coal Mine

On Monday, February 27, 2014, twelve years after BC Education Minister Christy Clark stood up in the BC Legislature and smugly proclaimed her pride in a new legislation which stripped hundreds of contract provisions from teachers, something amazing happened.

Wearing the biggest grin I’d ever seen, Mike L, the senior teacher on my staff, literally danced into my classroom and handed me a memo.

What you should know about Mike is that in 1998, he was on the local bargaining committee that chose to improve classroom conditions rather than take a salary increase. Mike is a helluva teacher and a helluva guy. But I digress.

The memo that Mike handed me announced that the BC Supreme Court had finally ruled on Bill 22, the BC Liberals’ most recent reiteration of the original contract stripping legislation from 2002. The court had recognized the government’s bad faith bargaining with teachers, and its violation of the Charter. The government was ordered…

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Ahoy There, Mateys!

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My sailor has finally found a boat he loves and (more importantly) can afford.

It’s been a process because our wish list is so long: a real toilet, bunks and a small kitchen so we can do weekend trips. It has to be small enough to be trailer-able so we don’t have to keep it at a marina. Choices have been limited because of the budget or lack there of.

He put a deposit contingent on the wife liking the boat and showed me a dozen pictures, including a few really cute ones with him posing in the cock pit, a look of stern concentration on his face as he pretends to drive or sail (cruise?)

We made arrangements to see it Friday evening after work.

Mid-week my sailor got an email from the sellers. They invited us to stay for dinner after viewing the boat.

I’m a bit of an introvert and rarely take the initiative when it comes to socializing. Because of that my first thought was . . . why. Why would they want a family of strangers to have dinner at their house?

Friday night I had my answer: they’re charming people who enjoy the company of others. In addition to being friendly, they’re interesting.

He’s a retired helicopter pilot who served with the American Army in Vietnam. Now he travels the world giving lectures on aeronautic safety. Oh, and he writes books in his spare time. Actual books that other people read. One has been optioned for a movie. He gave a copy to my boy, and even inscribed it to him.

She’s a nurse, who makes museum-quality porcelain dolls. (I didn’t know it was possible to sculpt detailed objects like that by hand.) She also quilts and makes colourful jewellery. She gave me a pair of her handmade earrings.

Most remarkably, they managed to bring one shy, marginally grumpy woman out of her shell. I had a lovely evening and I’m so glad we went.

Hopefully some of their charm and glamour will remain on the boat and rub off on me.

Downton Abbey

050I’m tired and bleary eyed. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning I’d sell my Chihuahua for an extra half of hour of sleep.

Well, not really. It hasn’t come to trading in beloved dogs for more sack time…yet.

The reason I’m exhausted?–season four of Downton Abbey.

D gave it to me for my birthday and I’m addicted. I tuck myself into bed, hunched over the DVD player’s tiny screen. I don’t turn it off until it becomes painful to force my tired eyes open another minute.

It’s not just when I’m supposed to be sleeping.

Yesterday I took my boy to Tae Kwon Do. Instead of racing off to Walmart to pick up a few groceries while he was martial-arting, I sat in the car watching Downton. It’s no big deal. I can get milk, eggs and apples any time, but I HAD to find out the results of Lady Edith’s recent visit to a London doctor.

Part of the attraction is Downton’s gripping story lines and engaging characters. Another is the stunning setting and costumes. But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit I like to project myself into the action. I’m Lady N, a charming cousin from the colonies who dazzles with her witty conversation. (Of course, I get to have a title. It’s my fantasy so I can leap tall buildings or discover a cure for cancer if I want. A measly ladyship doesn’t seem like to much to imagine.)

So when the alarm screams at me every morning and I drag myself out of bed to get ready for my job, I REALLY wish I was Lady N with a diligent maid delivering breakfast in bed and running my bath.

By the time I’ve had my second cup of coffee I realize that given my family’s social position (or lack of it) I’d be the maid, not the lady and I’m lucky because unlike my 1920’s self I get weekends off.

If only I could get that extra thirty minutes of zzz’s every morning, 21st century life wouldn’t be so bad.

Merry Thanksmas!

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I elbowed my sailor awake at 8:00 Sunday morning.

“Wake up!” I hissed. “You have to soak your turkey!”

His eyes popped open. Being a sailor, he assumed soak your turkey was a euphemism for something fun.

It wasn’t.

He had to soak his frozen turkey to defrost it for roasting. Sunday was to be our family’s Thanksmas celebration–an amalgamation of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two turkey roasting opportunities he’d missed.

His initial disappointment aside, my sailor performed admirably, putting together a complicated turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade stuffing, two different vegetables and cranberry sauce. (Okay, the cranberry sauce came from a can, but he did transfer that gelatinous mass into a pretty serving dish.)

He was in the kitchen for hours, chopping, boiling, mashing, stuffing and all manner of other cooking verbs.

Afterward, I loaded the dishwasher, but he dealt with the grosser aspects of clean-up–disposing of the stripped carcass and scrubbing the roasting tin.

In short, he performed like a kitchen champion.

And he thanked me for providing the opportunity to work his fingers to bone for me.

I love Thanksmas!

On the Road Again

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We’ve had a string of exceptionally cold weather.

Instead of gloomy rain and tempteratures in the 8 to 10 degree range, we’ve had clear crisp days that are well below zero. (I think our lows have been almost -10!) Some people might not think this is so bad. By some people, I mean the majority of Candians, but this is freezing to us Islanders.

While my hair loves the drier conditions (unsightly frizz, be gone!), the rest of me’s not so sure. I have to plan to leave about ten minutes earlier every morning so I have time to scrape the ice off my car windows. And gloves??? Where the heck did all the winter accessories go?

Then there’s the jogging. In theory I’m still a lean, mean jogger who regularly hits the pavement so hard it’s screaming for mercy. In reality–not so much. I’ve forced myself to go for one short, loping-style jog per week just to keep my sorry self in some kind of shape to bounce back into activity after the spring thaw.

This week is was especially hard to motivate myself. As well as mittens, I had to find a scarf and a toque, an endeavour which took almost as long as the run itself! Then I had to convince myself that I could do this. I can jog in below zero temps. I really can. When we lived the Maritimes, I was a three times/week girl regardless of weather. I regularly ran on slick sidewalks packed with frozen snow in -20 or below. (What was I thinking???)

As no one likes to admit they’ve become softer and wimpier with age, remembering my past exploits was just the ticket to get me out and moving.

I may not have experienced a runner’s high, but I didn’t suffer from my usual plodder’s misery, either, which is worth celebrating.