Goodbye … for now

The time passed so quickly.  I look at pictures and see your beautiful smiling face.  You did that all the time.  Your bright smile lit up a room.  Your laughter was part giggle and part ha ha and it always made me smile.  I will miss that smile.  I will miss your laughter.  I will miss you.

You came into my life as a well kept secret.  You had been dating your love, my stepson, for a couple of years before I had even heard about you.  One day, when I heard that you were in town for a visit, I decided I had to meet you.  Being Christmastime, I knew my chance had come to meet the elusive girlfriend.  As I walked into the house I heard your voice.  It was very soft and lilting.  I heard you laugh for the first time.  I turned the corner and saw you.  There you were, sitting demurely on the sofa.  Your long black hair framing your beautiful face.  You looked meek and shy.  I introduced myself.  We exchanged a few words.  Then I went merrily on my way.  I loved you already. Our brief introduction led to a beautiful mother / daughter relationship and friendship.

As months and years passed, I got to know you better and better.  My love for you grew and blossomed.  How could it not?  You were a free spirit.  A happy spirit.  Someone who loved life.

Being part of your wedding planning was such an incredible joy.  Just seeing your eyes shine with happiness and excitement and surprise.  It was wonderful bringing your dream fairytale wedding to life.  Such a stunningly beautiful bride.  An incredibly happy bride marrying her true love.

Then you were with child.  You poor little dear, carrying such a large bundle of love.  Again, I can only be honest and describe you as beautiful…and adorable and cute…a petit large momma.  Pregnancy was not easy, but you loved every minute of it.  You welcomed your beautiful son into the world.

You have been a wonderful wife and mother.  You have been an incredible daughter and friend.  And with your illness there was a new side of you that came out.  You became a warrior.  I have never seen someone struggle through so many challenges and keep such a positive attitude.  You went months at a time in pain with many sleepless nights, yet you were always finding the silver lining.  You would say that “it could it be worse” when I oftentimes thought I would’ve given up and surrendered if this were happening to me.

You were a fighter.  I don’t think I could’ve ever fought as long and hard as you did.  You were my inspiration to see all the good in my life when I took it for granted.  Even when it looked like you might succumb to your illness, you came back stronger, daring fate to come at you again and again.  Your determination, your strong will, your desire to live kept all of us rooting for you and praising your heroics.  There was nothing you couldn’t beat.  Nothing was going to stop you.

Then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed.  Now, you are gone from our midst.  But I like to believe that it’s only your physical body that is gone.

Your spirit is out there somewhere jumping and running and being happy and free.  There is no more illness.  There is no more pain for you.  That is the only thing that makes us try to feel better about having to let you go.

We, the ones who are left behind, are now the ones with the pain and the suffering because we miss having you physically present in you lives.  Our hearts are broken.  We feel such an emptiness, a void that is your absence in our lives.  We miss you so much because we love you so much.

Thank you for being in our lives.  Thank you for changing our lives.  Thank you for all the memories you have given us.  Thank you for loving us.

With love…

Goodbye…for now.

 

The Cold War…

Fall as arrived.  The leaves are beginning to change colour.  The air has a fresh chill to it.  The stagnant, humid and stifling air of summer is no more.   That also means the cold days of summer are finally over.  Yes, I wrote that correctly:  the “cold” days of summer.  I work in an office.  Come summer, the thermostat gets set at something close to minus freezing.  This is to ensure that a “normal” room temperature is achieved.  At least, that is what the men in the building say.  I’ll give you a replay of a “summer day” at my work.

I have just gotten out of my air conditioned car (see, I don’t mind air conditioning) and I’m headed toward the front door of the office building where I work.  The air is thick with mugginess.  My straightened hair has begun to curl from the humidity.  My lacquered toes are peeping out from my strappy light pink sandals.  I am wearing a floral calf length summer dress.  It’s blowing breezily around my legs as the hot air blows around me.  As I open the front door to the building my breath catches in my throat.  The air is frigid.  Holy smokes I’ve walked into a meat locker!  Nope, nope, my mistake.  It definitely is my place of work.  I walk slowly toward my desk.  I am attempting to keep the warm air of the outdoors upon me as a shield until I can make it to my desk.  The final destination has emergency provisions in order to ensure regular blood flow and circulation thus halting any impending hypothermia.

My legs begin to stiffen.  My breathing is becoming shallower.  “KEEP MOVING!” yells my brain.  I finally make it to my desk and slump into my chair.  Blessedly my “office sweater” is still there.  I shakily take it off the back of the chair and slide first my left, then my right arm into the long knit sleeves.  The ice that was beginning to form has now begun to melt.  I am grateful for my office sweater.

The office sweater is a special garb.  It can be purchased in any store, but Walmart, Sears,  Target are good places.  You could even pick one up at a charity store like the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  It needs to be soft because itchy sweaters don’t feel too good on ice cold body parts.  It is usually a large or extra large size making it more or less a one size fits all.  This is imperative as it will undoubtedly need to accommodate other women (sufferers) in the office.  This is especially certain during those times when someone has brought an office sweater home to wash it and has forgotten to return with it.  YOUR office knit will save their life.  Pockets, on this coveted article of clothing, are a bonus.  This is the receptacle for your facial tissue (due to dripping nose syndrome) and perhaps even lip balm.  You will eventually discover you have dry lips due to the chattering of your lips and harsh breaths you will inhale in order to maintain your status as a member of the living.

After putting on my office sweater, I reach under my desk and turn on my space heater.  As the coils start to glow red, I begin to have feeling in my toes.  The numbness in my toes has abated.  I happily wiggle my little piggies.  It feels so good.  I can feel the heat on them now.  My fingers have changed from the blue hue to a lovely pink vibrant and healthy colour.  I pull up the sleeves on my office sweater…to my wrists only…and turn on my computer.  If the sleeves went up any higher my arms would hit the slab of a cold desk and ice me out. There needs to be a buffer of warmth against the chillness of the desk.   After the anti-thaw ritual, I can now begin my workday.

During the course of the day, I will get up to visit the ladies room.  This particular room does not seem to get affected by the office temperature.  It’s a nice neutral room, but you can’t stay there forever.  My red legs (from the space heater) work as a shield as I walk around the office space.  Its defensive properties last about 3.17 minutes.  After that there are no guarantees.  I would liken it to an astronaut being lost in space.  Eventually the atmosphere will get you and kill you.  Getting back to your ship, a.k.a. desk, is the only way to survive.

I have visitors on especially hot summer days.  The OWNS (OWNS = Ones With No Sweater) announce their arrival at my desk with the loud chattering of their teeth.  They stand huddled together around my chair.  We breath sighs of relief as the heat emanates gloriously from beneath my desk.  The steady warmth can be felt for up to a two-foot circumference.  Colour returns to cheeks and lips.  Arms and legs begin to move more freely.  There is much rejoicing after the thaw.

This may sound like a tall tale, a complete fabrication.  I thought this scourge was only experienced by the females at my workplace.  Then one day, whilst surfing the [inter]net, I saw THIS documentary.

 

So here it is…the season of fall.  That time of year when the grand decision is made to ceremoniously unlock the thermostat and transition the office atmosphere from “frosty” to “toasty”.  Ladies!  Put away the communal office sweater.  Let it hibernate majestically for another year!  Now for closing prayer:

Thank you to the sweater gods

Who clothed and warmed our chilly bods

May office warmth be here to stay

So we can live another day.

Hallelujah!  We have survived another Cold War and we are grateful.

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Be careful what you wish you, you just might get it.  When I first heard that phrase all I thought was, “Well if I’m wishing for it of course I want it!”  But have you ever wished for it, got it, and then, surprisingly, it wasn’t what you thought you wanted?  I know I have.  Let me share with you a wonderful example of this.

My story begins in a lovely hall where a gathering (a gaggle?) of women has accumulated.  They are there to celebrate with the bride-to-be.  It is her bridal shower.  The hall is decorated festively.  There is lots of food and drinks and tonnes of good company.  Oh, what is that at the front of the hall?  Why, it’s an assortment of fun games for the women to try their luck at and maybe win a prize.  Guess the age of the bride in various photos.  Guess the spice in the jar (no smelling).  How many candies in the jar?  A lovely collection of amusements for the ladies.

Did I mention that there were children there?  Well, there were.  A gathering of pretty little girls, in their pretty dresses and shiny shoes…tearing around the hall, very unlady-like and loving every minute of it.  Amongst this congregation was a little 4 year old girl who had spied the candy jar.  The glass jar was right at her eye level.  As she was running by the table, the jar twinkled in the sunlight and caught her lovely, brown eyes.  She stopped.  She ogled the jar and wished to have the candy inside it.  She ran back to her mother to see if she could have one of the sweet candies.  Her mother kindly explained about the counting game.  “The person who guesses the number of candies in the jar gets to keep the jar and the candies.”  The little girl’s eyes widened as she wondered who would win this coveted treasure.

As the buffet lunch ended and the desserts and coffee were brought out, there were other games that were played by the women.   The hall was filled with noises of happy chatter and loud laughter.  The little 4 year old girl kept busy, running around and playing with her friends.  Time passed.  The moment had finally arrived to announce the winner of the candy jar.

“And the winner is…” rang out the voice of the Maid of Honour.  The little girl stopped to look around and see who was going to get this best of all possessions.  A thin lady with blonde hair at the back of the room stood up as the cheering and clapping escalated.  The little girl then headed over to see her mother.

“Mommy,” she began, “can I have one of those candies now?”

“No, those candies belong to that lady,” replied her mom, “they don’t belong to us.”

“But I want one,” murmured the little girl, her face frowning.

“Well,” began her mom, “if you really want one, you can go over there and nicely ask the lady if you can have one.”

The little girl looked up pleadingly at her mom.  “You go ask her,” muttered the little girl.

Her mother shook her head.  “I don’t want any candy.  If you want one, you go over there and nicely ask the lady if you could please have one,” the mom said gently.

The little girl started walking briskly away.  She reached the halfway point, stopped and looked apprehensively back at her mother.  Her mother slowly nodded.  The message was implied: “You can do this!”  The child turned about to continue on her mission.  She jutted out her chin.  There was a new determination in her walk.  After several stomping steps she reached her destination.  Her shoulders sagged.  The lady with the candy jar looked strangely at the child as the little girl just stood there.  Finally the woman’s head slowly bent down.  The little girl had begun to speak.  Would she be triumphant?

Our group of anxious women had waited with bated breath and were happily rewarded when we saw the lid of the glass jar being raised and the jar being tilted toward the brave youngster.  There was a loud exhalation at our table as we watched the triumphant return of the wee one and her newly acquired gem.

“You got it!” we shrieked and hollered in victorious voices.  Her wide grin went from ear to ear.  She held out her hand to show us her new prize.  After that, it was time to enjoy her spoils.  Up went her infant hand to her mouth and the candy treat disappeared.  Oh happy day!

Suddenly, her face became pinched.  Her brows furrowed.  Something was NOT quite right.  The little girl turned slightly in her seat to look pleadingly at her mother.  Her jaw dropped and the hard-won sweet dropped to the table.  She shed no tears as she quietly said, “spicy”.   That whispered word had someone immediately bring her some cooling watermelon for her cinnamon-tainted tongue.  Yes, the craved sweet she had worked up the nerve to acquire was none other than the super hot cinnamon heart candy.  Ouch!

I see life lessons in the smallest and simplest of situations.  In this case, I saw before my eyes the perfect example of Be careful what you wish you.  You just might get it.  She saw the candy.  She wished to have the candy.  She got the candy.  It was definitely NOT what she had wished for.  She would’ve preferred a sweet treat.

I find that our adult lives are like that too.  We wish for better paying jobs, fancier cars, bigger homes, etc.  Sometimes our wishes come true and they are better than we had hoped.  Other times, we get our wish, but then disaster soon follows.  Better paying job?  Horrible work conditions.  Fancier car?  Worse fuel mileage.  Bigger home?  Higher heating/cooling bills and more cleaning time.

Just remember, be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.

 

Live longer…and less bruised

What kind of an idiot falls off an exercise ball ?  I prefer not to judge.  I would like to say that it would have to be a special kind of an idiot.  A lovely person who is obviously… a special kind of an idiot.  Oh yeah that special person would be me.  Oh, I do have special tripping talents.  I have managed to fall down stairs a couple…ahem…a few…ok…numerous times over the years.  I have walked into corners and furniture and stairs and I am sure I have broken my little piggies a few times.  Falling off a bouncy exercise ball is a new kind of injury for me.  Now, if you can stop laughing hysterically for a second, I will tell you the story of “The Exercise Ball and the Idiot”.

Once upon a time, about 5 months ago, I started going to the gym.  Wiseguy signed us up.  Wiseguy wanted to strengthen the muscles around his knees.  Me?  I wanted to build up arm muscles so when I fall down (which I do quite often) I would be ninja-nimble and would be able to stop myself from a catastrophic fall OR I would be able to more easily pick myself up instead of laying there helpless saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”  Both good reasons to hit the gym.  I must admit that seeing all the toys…ahem…equipment, made me want to have some of those fun things at home in case I couldn’t make it out to the gym.  You know, sudden summer snowstorm or something like that.  I live in Canada, eh?  Anyway, this is how I ended up being the proud owner of an exercise ball.  A very large, round exercise ball.  One that needed to be air filled prior to use.

I am not sure if you know or not, but there are different size balls that you can purchase. When Wiseguy asked me what size I wanted I figured go for the biggest one.  It made prefect sense to me.  More ball for the money.  Hmmm, knowing what I know now the largest ball was NOT the way to go.  It’s sort of like riding a bike that’s too large for you.  If your feet can’t reach the floor, you have the wrong equipment.  Don’t get ahead of me.

I waited for Wiseguy to blow it up.  No, no, not KABOOM! but more like foot pedal and pump to inflate my new ball.  I couldn’t wait to start doing exercises!  Time passed.  My ball, like my spirit, was deflated. I wanted to get rockin’ on some ab/core exercises.  That ball had to be filled!  I decided I had enough smarts to do this on my own.  HAH!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like reading instructions.  I believe I’m smart enough to figure out how to do stuff just by looking at all the available parts.   Round peg, round hole right?  I opened the box and heaved out the ball.  I dug out the pump.  I pulled out the hose.  Back to basics:  Stick nib on pump.  Stick nib into hole in ball.  It fits…round peg, round hole.  Hose attaches to pump.  Press foot up and down on pump.  HA!  Easy-peasy!  The air whistled as my ball began to expand.  It grew and grew.  It got rounder and rounder and fuller and fuller.  Hmmm, how full should it be?  I had to get the instructions.  Ummm 0.6 psi.  Great!  How much is that?  I briefly scanned over the instructions to see if there were any hints it could give me about the psi.  Then my brain had a genius idea.  I recalled sitting on a stability ball at the gym.   I would test my new equipment with “butt memory.”   I plopped my rear end on the ball, perused the instructions to see if the pictures could give me a clue.  There were a variety of pictures of stick figures sitting incorrectly on the ball.  Large “X” through their bodies.  In picture language that meant “DO NOT” sit like this.  Well duh…of course not.  Right?  Only an idiot would fall off an exercise ball.  Right?

I bounced up and down a bit, ever so slightly to test the firmness and bounciness of it.  That’s when art became life.  I became the stick figure with the grand ‘X’ running through it.  The rest happened in slow motion.  Nooooooooooooo!!!!  I felt my body lean sideways.  I felt my one leg raise off the floor.  In trying to regain balance I managed to get the ball moving in a mostly backward direction.  Ah….the law of gravity…why would my body not break this law!  My ball slowly rolled backward.  My left foot became air born and started heading skyward.  I struck out with my right foot to try and get some floor with it, but that only increased the momentum.  The ball kept rolling backward.  In slow motion I felt my knees heading toward my chest, my back arching on the ball and my head going down to the ground.  No good could come from this dynamic move. Even worse were my volatile surroundings.  So serene when used as a sitting room, but lethal when an “idiot” is rolling backward on a huge exercise ball.

Behind me was a sturdy wood sideboard.  On that sideboard was a lovely stainless steel espresso machine.  The espresso machine was sitting on a glass cutting board.  The cutting board was large and jutted outward approximately one inch from the sideboard.  Beside the sideboard were my extra oven rack and my cookie cooling racks.  My mind worked quickly to assess the damage before the final landing occurred.  Metal and more metal.  Edges.  Lots and lots of detrimental edges.

Thought process:  I am going to hit the ground hard.  I will end up unconscious.  Since Wiseguy won’t be home until late I will die from my head injuries.  Waldo and Lucy, my beloved pets, won’t know what the hell happened and will continue to bark at walking passers by.  Wiseguy will come home and find me dead.  How will he survive without me?  Who will cook his meals?  No one can cook as great as I can.  He won’t last long without me.  What about the dogs?  Who will take care of them?  The grandkids…I won’t see them all grown up.  I won’t see them married off.  Will the kids think I’m an idiot too?  Who will clean up the blood?  Hope it won’t hurt too long.  Wish I had Life Call.  “Help I’ve fallen…” you get the idea.  Then…

WHACK!  CRACK!  BANG!

My head hit the floor.  My right foot whacked into the oven rack.  My left foot hit the glass cutting board.  MOTHER-FATHER!@!!!$#@^$@!!!  It was after my barrage of swearing that puppy Waldo came and sat beside me.  He tilted his head side to side trying to figure out what I was doing.  Lucy bolted for a hiding place.  Obviously the sky was falling.

I felt pain.  The back of my head hurt.  My right foot hurt.  My left foot hurt.  Pain was GREAT!  I wasn’t dead!  Then hysteria kicked in and I laughed and laughed and laughed so hard the tears came out of my eyes.  I might have even peed myself a little.  So then I called Wiseguy to tell him the fascinating near death experience I had.  I could hear him shaking his head through the phone.

Over the next few hours my delightful feet became a living rainbow.  My one inch bruise on the top of my foot became a swollen kaleidoscope of different bruised hues:  red, blue, yellow, even a nasty shade of purple.  It spread like lava til it reached the tips of my toes.  Then I discovered a bump on my shin.  The bruising kept leaching over my body.  That was fine.  I WAS ALIVE! I had fallen and I had managed to get up.

I learned a valuable lesson that day:  Teach your dog to dial 911 for emergency services.

Haha!  Nope.  That wasn’t it, but not a bad idea.

I learned that I need to have patience.  If Wiseguy says he is gonna do something, like inflate an exercise ball, then let him do it.  It might take a week, 10 days, 10 months, but I’ll live longer, and less bruised, if I follow this advice.

Theatre of Your Mind

I like to read.  Truth be told, reading to me is like taking a mini-vacation.  I immerse myself in the stories being told and vicariously live the lives of the characters.  I can picture their faces, their stature, their posture.  I can picture their expressions and their actions.  All of this I can see through the power of the words written on the pages.  As I sit in my reading chair, and sip my latte, I flip page after page, voraciously consuming the unfolding drama.  For those of you who prefer to watch movies over reading books, let me describe to you the euphoric feeling you can get while burying yourself in a good novel.

I was one of 4 children in our humble family abode.  Being of European descent, our house was always boisterous and loud; very loud.  There was only one television set in the house.  Trying to find a program that everyone agreed upon was a challenge.  If my father was home then you could forget about any kid show or fantasy show.  We were lucky on Sunday afternoons because we could watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, but other than that, my father commandeered the tv and watched the news, or some war movie or…yawn…documentary.  It was at this time that books entered into my entertainment sphere and my world changed forever.

It was my sister who introduced me to my first novel.  She was working at the local library.  One day I was in the children’s section looking through the “baby” books as she called them.  My sister came over and handed me a large hard cover book and said, “You’re old enough now.  Read this.”  The book was The Little Witch.  At first I was intimidated.  There were 128 pages!  It would take me FOREVER to read this.  I sat down on the bean bag seat in the reading circle (I was in the kid’s section after all) and I began to read, “Chapter 1.”  It was the beginning of a new life for me.

This book introduced me to many new words.  It introduced me to other people (though make believe) who were like me and felt things the same way I felt them.  I had someone that I could identify with.  There were mean people and nice people, just like in real life.  Once I finished reading that book I knew I could read others.  I moved on to mystery books.  I loved the twisted plots.  I enjoyed trying to figure out “who done it” and congratulated myself if I had guessed correctly.  Even if I read a book that I didn’t like, it taught me the types of stories I preferred.  My vocabulary increased exponentially.  I even started writing my own stories.  I would bring them to school and have my teacher mark them.  (Yeah, did I mention I was the lonely brainer child in school?)  I even asked my grade 4 teacher if I could write a play and have it preformed for the class.  She said yes.  My classroom play was a success and I made friends because classmates wanted to be part of the show.  Using me?  Maybe…but at least my circle of “friends” grew from the solo me of daily life.  All of this because of reading.

I continued to read all types of books:  fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, Pulitzer Prize winners, old English, modern English, translated books.  People who became my friends would tell me how they thought I was a snob because I would sit in a room full of people and just read.  The noise never bothered me.  Growing up in a loud family home I learned to block all noise by immersing myself in my books and stories.  That was the ultimate escape.  It still is.

Reading is my way of taking a break from my daily life.  When I read, I live the life of the characters.  Sometimes reading about other people’s problems makes your own problems seem so insignificant.  Solving mystery novels gets your brain working trying to figure out the ending.  My imagination goes wild picturing all these things in my head. It’s like my brain has become a movie screen.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love movies and tv shows, but there is something about words and how, depending on how they are put together, you can see everything so clearly.  The stories being told can introduce you to things you yourself have never experienced.  It provides knowledge without you having to live through it.  It lets you be someone else without ever having to leave your own body.  How incredible is that?

Reading blogs and magazines, those short snippets of entertainment, are enjoyable in their own way, but grasping a book and flipping those pages (old school style), let’s you immerse yourself in an alternate life.  A good book will leave you wanting to flip to the next page.  It will leave you anxious and restless as you try to figure out how it will end.  A good book leads you into that other universe where you wander around trying to find the grand finale where you walk off into the sunset.  You wander along picking up information and storing it for later.  It might be needed.  You keep going and going, flipping pages, absorbing the thoughts and words, and when you get to the end you are sated.  The story is done.  You are euphoric if the writer was talented enough to give you a satisfying ending.  If not, you are still happy because you did it.  You finished it.  You close the book, lean back, close your eyes and replay the images and storylines.  No channel surfing necessary.  No need to connect to WiFi.  It’s all there for you to recall whenever you want.

Seek out a good page turner and escape your daily life for awhile.  Take a turn from the ordinary and enter the theatre of the mind.

 

And Nobody Lost an Eye…

Wiseguy and I are happy grandparents (who refuse to grow up).  We are lucky grandparents to five beautiful grandchildren.  None of them are into the double digit birthdays yet, so shopping for birthdays and Christmas can oftentimes be done in advance.  When I extricate myself from my humble home to go on a shopping spree, I will oftentimes pick up “future” gifts for the grandkids.  If I am in the midst of a clearance sale extravaganza I become quite a neanderthal; hunting and fishing for the best deals.  It was with grandchildren in mind that I purchased an interesting little toy that has left me with an indelible memory forever.

On this particular trek to the store, I ventured into the children’s area and found a toy on clearance called the Penguin Popper.  It looked kind of fun.  In my head I was already debating who would be the lucky recipient of this unique gift.  The eldest (a girl of 8 years) is more into the “tweening” phase of her life and is more likely to appreciate articles of clothing for her “American Girl” doll (or clothing for herself).  Then next in line would the 4 year olds; one boy, one girl.  Now, if I gave it to the boy, who is into wrestling and fake fighting, I  could see his excitement with the toy turning into devastation as one of the other kids would lose an eye.  How about the 4 year old girl?  Well, she does have great tomboy moments.  I could see her getting a kick out of it.  Then I thought, well her cousin (the 4 year old boy) would probably wish he had it (even though someone would lose and eye) and there would be sadness and loss of joy so I couldn’t bring myself to create that kind of drama in our lives.  So…no to both 4 year olds.  The last two were way too young for it.  A two year old and a one year old.  The toy’s packaging stated this as well:  Ages 4 +.  Hmmmm, what to do.  I expanded my search.

I thought about my niece’s kids.  Little dude of 8 months was waaaaay too young.  How about his big sister?  She would love something like this!  She is 3 1/2 years old.  Almost 4.  And she laughs hysterically when people get…injured.  Hmmm, like a mini ball in the eye from 20 paces would be hilarious.  My competent adult brain finally decided that this actually wasn’t such a great kid’s toy to introduce into our family.  I did the only plausible thing.

No I didn’t return it!   Remember the adults who refuse to grow up?  Well, I was so excited about my decision to keep said toy that I couldn’t wait to see Wiseguy’s face light up when he saw our new play thing.  I could picture us popping that ball out of the penguin’s mouth and having the kidlets go chasing after it to see who would get it first.  Then they could ALL take turns playing with it and no one would lose an eye and no one could keep it because it belonged at the grandparent’s house.  WIN WIN!  Right?

When I gave hubby the rundown on how we were now the proud owners of a Penguin Popper, he rolled his eyes in helpless defeat.  Not sure, but I believe (assume) these were the thoughts running around in his brain:

  • Not more junk!
  • Another toy?
  • Someone is going to lose an eye!

The comment that actually emerged was, “Waldo is going to steal the ball, choke on it, and die.”  (Note:  Waldo is our 10 year old super cute and fluffy thief dog.)IMG_3861

Well, I didn’t see that comment coming.  So, me being me, I had to prove that THIS was the coolest toy ever and he would be the most fun grandfather in the history of grandfathers!  Wiseguy turned and started to walk away.  I had to prove my point so I grasped the Penguin Popper in both hands, holding it directly in front of me, and I squeeeeeeezed his stomach.  (I’m assuming it’s a “him” Popper because there is no pretty bow on his head.  If it was a girl Popper they would’ve put a pretty bow.  Also, the inventors probably figured that girls wouldn’t do fun (vicious) things like this, but boys would and so the Penguin is definitely a boy.  Ahhhh, classic stereotyping at its best.)

Here is what happened after the stomach squeeeeeeeeze:

  • Loud POP! sound
  • My eyes opened wide, in a bit of disbelief actually, when I saw the velocity of this little once-inch ball catapult away from me
  • Wiseguy turned to me when he heard the POP!
  • The ball hit him on the side of the head
  • “Are you kidding me?!” emanated in an exasperated tone from my husband’s general direction
  • I laughed…hysterically!

I was in stitches!  I couldn’t breathe.  Tears were streaming out of the corner’s of my eyes.  I doubled-over to hold my stomach.  I couldn’t believe it actually hit him!  Oh, I had read the box while I stood in line to purchase the product.  It contained the usual words of warning:  “Never aim at anyone”.  It also said it could shoot up to 20 feet away.  Yeah, best case scenario maybe, I thought.  And yet, here I was in utter shock as the ball had ejected far, far away and NAILED Wiseguy!  My next thought was quite simple:  I’m dead.

Wiseguy was at my side in two strides (he has long legs and can cover 20 feet in two steps).  He confiscated the Penguin Popper from my hands.  I pivoted and ran.  I ran for my life.  I heard POP! and I turned around.

(Sidenote:  Why is it that when you hear a noise you look toward the direction of the sound instead of running away from it?)

Like a slow-motion movie I saw the ball (mini ball?  ball-ette?) wing by my head.  Wiseguy had missed.  Wiseguy NEVER misses!  He is Super Sportsman extraordinaire!

I am unsure why this next thing happened, but I believe it was from the confusion of NOT being hit.  I doubled over laughing uncontrollably….again.

POP!  Woooooosh!

He missed me…AGAIN!  Saint’s preserve us, I was lucky (or unlucky?).  Wiseguy then unceremoniously deposited the Penguin on the kitchen counter and meandered away.

My next thought:  Best day ever!  So many good things happened to me in that short amount of time:

  • I got a fun new toy since Wiseguy didn’t want it.  Mine…all mine!
  • I actually beat Wiseguy at a (non)sport
  • I laughed and laughed and laughed – my core muscles got quite the workout and all my tension of the day washed away

IMG_5673I am so grateful that I found this toy.  I am grateful that I decided to keep it.  I am grateful that I got to play with this toy.  I am grateful for the once in a lifetime experience I had using it.  I am grateful that Wiseguy finds this story as amusing as I do and doesn’t mind that I have shared this.  I am grateful that he isn’t really considering payback.  Right?  Right????!!!

 

EPILOGUE:  

Waldo got the ball.

He is still alive.

As of yet, nobody has lost an eye.

Sunny with a chance of…wishes?

Last month I walked out of the building I work at and thought it was snowing…in June!  Ok, snow in June might be likely in Nova Scotia, but definitely not something that happens in Ontario.  The weather was warm…way too warm for snow.  After my brain attempted to interpret what Mother Nature was up to now, I finally realized what was happening and couldn’t help but smile.

Remember the lovely fields of dandelions?  Those flamboyant yellow “weeds” that were covering all untended lawns?  Well, the transformation happened.  They went from the pretty yellow, bloomed flowers to the airborne plethora of wishes.  The sky was full of them.

 

I have a unique perspective on life.  I oftentimes see the world with a different lens than most others do.  I try to find the good in all around.  Sometimes it’s hard work as I need to really try and re-focus my thoughts.  We are taught and trained to think a certain way. It is through experience that we gain knowledge.  It is also how we learn to find our own uniqueness in this world of ours.  Just like the dandelions.

As children we are taught about the ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan.  We are taught about creepy fuzzy caterpillars turning into beautiful butterflies.  So I say…why can’t the glorious bright yellow dandelion finally join the ranks of the transformed:  ugly to beautiful?  Then again, maybe they shouldn’t be part of that group.  In my opinion, they don’t really have an ugly phase.  We can learn a lot from the dandelion.

SELF-LOVE.  Dandelions don’t know they are “weeds” and are a scourge to be decimated.  They believe they are pretty and they stay nicely rooted and happily populate the world with other happy “flowers” of their kind.  So, be a dandelion.  Believe you are beautiful no matter what anyone else thinks.  Spread your happiness around.  Hang out with other happy people.

KEEP CHANGING.  The dandelion has the ability to reinvent itself.  It starts off nice and pretty and yellow.  It stays like that for quite a few days.  After it’s done sharing its sunny yellowness, the dandelion will dry up into a little round puff ball.  Not only that, but the puff ball is actually composed of seeds.  So, when that puff ball breaks apart, all the little seeds go parachuting to new areas and the circle of life begins again.  How absolutely fantastic is that?!  So, be a dandelion.  Don’t like what is happening in your life?  You can change it.  You have so many ideas about what you would like to do in your life and each idea is like a dandelion seed.  Plant those seeds and see what blooms.

HAVE FUN.  I like to believe that dandelions love when kids come and blow the dandelion seeds and chanting wishes as they do this.  There is something about watching that puffball fly through the air, riding the ribbon of wind that will carry it up to the final wish granter.  Be a dandelion.  Don’t take life too seriously and have some fun.  Do something silly.  Believe that wishes can come true.

YOU AFFECT THE FUTURE.  Dandelions…those wonderful yellow blossoms, become puffballs.  The original flower is gone, but from the seeds of that original flower become the beginnings of new flowers.  Be a dandelion.  Remember that you do affect future generations.  Everything you do on this earth will somehow affect this earthy world of ours.  You, though you do not feel very important, are magnanimous!  You are an incredible being and you do matter.  Your life is important and valuable and you do affect others.  It might be some small thing you do one day, but that seed will carry on and become the birth of another person, another idea, another thought.

After observing the whitened sky, I smiled.  It was a happy, contented, joyful smile.  Life is grand.  I know I’m a small piece in this puzzle of life, the size of a minute bug, but I know I’m vital in this world.  I also know that this world is an incredible place to be if we would just but take the time to look at our surroundings and appreciate all the incredible things that surround us.  Remember to look at the world with childlike wonder.  Remember what it was like when you saw these things for the first time.  Remember what it felt like when you used to make wishes on dandelion puff balls.  The magic lived in that “real” world then, and you can bring it back now.

So, all you green grass lovers and landscapers out there, I would like to invite you to join my world.  In my world, you can escape the minutia of the mundane plots of square manicured lawns.  You don’t need to pamper and water that greenery.  In my world, you can run through the bright yellow fields of dandelions.  And once they become seeded wonders, then race through that field again and watch the sky turn white as snow.  You can wish and wish and wish over and over again as you watch the puffs float freely and unencumbered toward the sky … a reminder that you should free yourself of unhappy thoughts and just let them float up far, far away from you.  When all you are left with are the happy thoughts, use those carefree, happy seeds to plant your new ideas and start growing this wonderful new life you are going to lead.

All I can say is…Be a Dandelion.