Fun Facts…

Five observations from my recent Victoria adventure:

There are domesticated bee hives smack dab in the middle of the city!  The Empress Hotel produces its own honey from bees in their lovely gardens.

It’s possible to gut a heritage building while leaving its impossibly thin exterior walls standing.  For some reason, this fascinated me and I snapped a few photos every time I passed it.

Urban pigeons are quite aggressive when they see you enjoying a delicious, flakey Danish from Crust Bakery.

Even if you’re not especially into boats, you’ll see one you love in the Inner Harbour.

No matter how many times you do it, it’s no fun leaving your Boy at university.  😦

When Good People Make Bad Choices :(

Victoria is a lovely city.  I wandered around…and quickly became bored by shopping.

Something’s happened to me:  I seem to have lost the shopping gene!

Since I didn’t want to blow the budget on retail therapy, I decided to cross an item off my bucket list–a martini at the Empress.  I’ve never had a martini, but I’ve seen smooth operators like James Bond and Don Draper drink enough of them that I felt like an expert going in.

My martini was crisp and cold and smooth, and went down surprisingly quickly.

The waitress asked if I wanted another.

“I’m not sure,” I said, trying to look suave and sophisticated.  “This was my first ever martini!”

Her eyes widened.  “That’s three ounces of alcohol.  If you have another one, you’ll be a mess!”

I thanked my wise, one martini waitress and gave her a big tip.

Later that afternoon, I had another learning experience:  a martini is not a good lunch substitute, especially if you’ve skipped breakfast.

As I know from past experience, my shopping inhibitions fall away in the presence of alcohol.

The next morning when I woke up feeling buyer’s remorse (and a slight headache), I discovered the small, cutesy boutiques I frequented don’t offer cash refunds like the big chain stores.

Sigh.  I either need to quit drinking or give up the recreational shopping.

 

The Road Trip

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This summer’s ended with more of a whimper than a bang, so I’m doing something fun before heading back to the daily grind.

I’ve booked a hotel and will stay over for a day of wandering and wine after I drop my Boy off for the fall term at university.  He’s not thrilled we’ll be hitting the road at 6:30 AM, but I intend to maximize my time in the capital, so an early start is key.

I don’t want to forget anything in my short time there, so I’ve made a list of my favorite Victoria spots.  Looking at my inventory (Bon Macaron Patisserie, Crust Bakery, Rogers’ Chocolate, Pagliacci’s Restaurant…) I’m shocked at how many of my faves are food-related.

Eating my way through downtown Victoria before meeting an old friend (and my Boy’s Godmother!) for dinner that evening will be a challenge.

Will I be up to the task?  Hopefully, a “can do” attitude and an empty stomach will see me through.

 

 

The Creep Factor

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There’ve been a few mornings lately when I notice the welcome mat by the basement door has been moved slightly during the night.

I push it back into place, assuming it was the neighbour’s cat, or some other harmless animal visitor.

This morning, after shifting the mat back where it belongs, I noticed something…

Someone (probably not the neighbour’s cat) had printed “HI” in chalk on the wall next to the door.  It’s at eye level and wasn’t there last night when I let the dog out for her bedtime pee, so it wasn’t kids, unless they’re unnaturally tall and nocturnal.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but is this creepy, or what?

The Thorn Birds

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I recently acquired a small library at a wonderful used book store in Qualicum Beach.

Deciding to go big or go home, I dove into The Thorn Birds first.

I’d read it in the late 70’s.  (I was a voracious reader as an adolescent, and my mom provided a steady diet of novels.)  Rereading The Thorn Birds as an adult, I can only assume she hadn’t read it before giving it to me.

The Thorn Birds is one of those massive, sweeping novels I used to love.  (I read Roots and Gone With the Wind around the same time.)  Would a brick-like novel spanning over fifty years be able to keep my attention now I’m used to an intellectual diet of headlines and tiny bites of information online?

You bet!

I couldn’t put it down.  It’s been a long time (too long!) since I got carried away by a novel.

As well as being a compelling story, The Thorn Birds is easy to read.  Unlike so much contemporary lit, it’s told in chronological order with a reliable third person narrator.  This works for me.  I lose interest when books flip around between character and time before I’ve had time to get invested in the story.

I learned something about myself as a reader, and this knowledge should help with future reading choices.

I rate The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough four paws up.

 

 

 

The Golden Time

The best thing about having an old, slow computer?  The treasure trove of photos saved over the years!

These gems are from a long ago camping trip with my Boy.

We were at Willingdon Beach (best camp site anywhere!) and we’d scored a coveted spot on the beach.  (This was shortly before I learned cougars are strong swimmers and have been seen paddling in the ocean next to our flimsy tent.)

N, who lived just up the hill, stopped by to help us light a fire.

That evening my Boy read, and N and I huddled near the spitting fire talking about nothing and everything.

Soon after N went home, the rains started.

It rained so hard, a kind fellow camper covered our cheap Walmart tent with a tarp.

Instead of lazing around on the beach reading, my Boy and I watched a movie (inside a nice dry theatre) and went swimming (pool water is warmer than rain!)

We ended up leaving a day early due to inclement weather.  Once home, I had to spread the camping gear in the backyard to dry so it wouldn’t go mouldy when I put it away.

If you’d asked me how the trip went, I would’ve told you it was a disaster.  I would’ve complained about everything from damp sleeping bags to frizzy hair and a shivering Chihuahua.

Now, eight years later, those memories of a visit with my late friend N and a holiday with my adolescent Boy, who was still willing to camp with his mom are golden.

What do you do when it seems like all your good times are in the past?

 

Et Voila!

The painting’s done and the kitchen’s been re-assembled.

It was a bigger job than I anticipated, so I’ve put my plan to paint the counter on hold.  I need a DIY break.

The process went fairly smoothly, and I think the results are pretty good–as long as you don’t look took closely.  (I’m a bit of a messy painter!)

 

 

The Shopping Frenzy

I haven’t felt the shopping bug for a while.

Last weekend, it caught me hard.

I spent about five hours at the mall in Nanaimo, and I didn’t leave empty handed.

As well as a book in Chapters, I bought an entire bag full of clothes at Reitmans (a dress, a pair of pants and bright pink floral blouse unlike anything else in my closet.)  Then I went to Pier 1, and got lost in their world of perfect homes.  I bought four mugs I don’t need, a table runner I don’t need, tea towels I don’t need (anyone sensing a theme here?) and a “garden flag.”

My Boy took one look at the flag and said, “Don’t put that in the front yard!”

When did he become the voice of reason to my wild decorating ideas?  Oh, I remember–when he refused to paint the garden shed hot pink last spring.

Hang loose and keep those good vibes flowing!

Wanna Hear a True Secret?

Back in the day, I compulsively read books on writing.

“How to write” books had their own section in every book store.  Browsing wasn’t an option.  I always left with one or two treasures.

Last weekend I decided to pick one up.  I want to get back into writing fiction and a little inspiration is in order.

I was shocked to note the Writing section has disappeared.  (Most likely pushed out by the ever-growing area on Minimalism.)  The few remaining writing books are crammed into a generic Reference section (three narrow shelves!) with an odd assortment of How-to books that don’t fit into Self Help or Cooking.

I rifled through tomes explaining how to land a plane and how to write your own will (which I’d need if I ever attempted to land a plane on my own!)  If I ever need to fix a truck get divorced again, I know where to find the book for that.

Although those other books were tempting, I managed to limit myself to just one:  The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg.  I may have read it before, but who can resist a juicy secret?