Monday, November 28, 2011

Forgot to mention

Another great birthday present.

I made my way to the Motor Vehicles department to get my new drivers license.  As I stood at the counter the fellow said (in a rather loud voice) HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  I thanked him and wished this would just move along.  How was I to know he was about to make my day?

"So, Holly, how tall are you", he asked.  "well, since I am wearing heels today, I happen to be 5'3"", I replied.  "And how much do you weigh?"  Really, I thought?  Do you have to ask this?  "Come on, "it's my birthday.  Cut me some slack here," I responded.  "well, how much do you want to weigh", he asked.  It took me all of 1/2 a second to respond "122 pounds".  "Let it be so, and happy birthday!"

He then asked me to move around the corner so he could take my photo.  He had to tell me twice to stop smiling but it was hard.  I was now officially, on a government document, 5'3" tall weighing in at 122 pounds. I haven't been 122 pounds since my first drivers license.  He took 6 photos and let me chose the least offensive.

It was a pretty good experience.  However, I have warned my family that they will now have to do a visual identification should anything happen to me since my description will not match my ID.

Anyway, next time you need your license renewed, might I suggest the cute young guy at the DMV on the corner of Burrard and Georgia Streets in downtown Vancouver.


Lucky Lucky Girl

I know I should be answering the 194 emails I received after being off the last couple of days but I just had to post my update.

Well, as some of you might have taken from my recent postings, I had not been looking forward to turning 50.  However, I now have memories to last me a lifetime that had me all verklempt!  I broke my own rule about "no crying allowed".

Let me back up a bit.  As you know, I had the pleasure of lunching recently with old friends and a surprise afternoon visit by one.  Well, on Wednesday the 23rd, I enjoyed the pleasure of being taken to lunch by 3 former Colleagues who I now have the wonderful pleasure of calling friends.  It was fabulous - lobster fettuccine and cake!  What's not to love.

The following morning I turned 50.  I must admit I was a little disappointed when the warranty people did not come knocking at my door telling me my parts had expired.  I fully expected my boobs to have shifted overnight and I would spend the first 15 minutes of my waking trying to pull them back into position.  Imagine my surprise when nothing happened.  No lightening bolts or clash of thunder.  I was just me - only older.  Perhaps a new wrinkle around my mouth but who cares - I don't have to look at it!

I spent the day relaxing, cleaning my bathroom, doing laundry and waiting patiently for when I could leave to go to my eldest childs home for dinner with the family.  5:30pm arrived and we were off!  My brother Kris and I hopped in the truck for the slow crawl through rush hour traffic to go see the kids.  When we arrived I was greeted by excited children saying happy birthday and showing me their decorations - hand made "50's" made of construction paper were hung throughout the house.  As I was being regaled with tales of excitement, my cousin Aly and her husband arrived to join us.  I was so pleased.  Dinner was perfect - spaghetti, salad and cake - perfecto!  I received artwork, a beautiful candle and a pair of earrings that Aly made for me.  It had been a wonderful birthday.

At around 9:30pm, I was picked up by my dad and Joyce for a trip across the border for Black Friday shopping to begin very early the following morning.  I was actually a little surprised to see them since we had experienced a horrid wind storm that day that caused ferry delays.  I was very touched that they would sit at a ferry terminal for 7 hours in the hopes of catching the only boat off the island just to spend time with me shopping.

We were off and running.  After a brief 10 minute wait at the border, we were at our hotel by about 11pm.  We spent a nice evening chatting and checking out dad's legs (that's another story - suffice to say, his look better than mine).  I was very excited at the thought of being part of the excitement of Black Friday.  I had a budget and a credit card - I was good to go! 

After a somewhat sleepless night - Dad snores and I was afraid to so I tried to stay on my stomach all night - not a good position for me - Joyce and I were up at 6:30am and out the door for the short walk to the mall.  By 9:00am, my credit card was on fire and my cash was just about gone.  I had power shopped.  The children will be pleased this year I hope.  Dad joined us at about 10am so we had someone to hold our bags if necessary.  We loaded up the truck and hit the ground running again.  By noon we were all hungry and our feet hurt.  We hit the Red Robin for lunch.  Turns out you get a free burger on your birthday so while we ate, I signed Dad and I up on line (his birthday was earlier in the month) with my handy dandy crackberry.  As lunch neared the end our crackpot of a waiter came up with a birthday ice cream sundae for me.  I thought "how sweet", until the lunatic asked me to stand on my chair.  He, along with the other servers then asked me how old I was  and from the peanut gallery I was sitting with I hear "she's 50!".  I think I heard clanging in my ears about that point - saying it aloud sounded just plain wrong.  However, it was not the clanging in my head that I heard but the shout from our server "Can we have everyone's attention - it's Holly's birthday and she is 50!" and they all started to clap and sing "happy happy birthday." 

Just so everyone is aware - you don't actually die from embarrassment However, deep consideration is given to wishing the floor would open up and swallow you whole!

After lunch we hit the shops again.  I struck it rish in one store.  I bought the softest, coolest purse I have ever seen.  It is a brownish, pumpkiny colour of the softest leather imaginable......wait for it....$16.  Best buy ever!

By about 3pm, we were shopped out and I was reduced to crossing my fingers at the last cash register hoping my card still had room to pay for my final items.  All in all, not badly done.  I even had enough room left on the card for ice cream should I have needed it.

We were off to the next place - the Silver Reef Spa and Casino.  Seems I was booked in for a body scrub and massage, courtesy of my family, for 4pm.  It was wonderful.  I fell asleep on the table.  I know I fell asleep because I snored and my arms fell off the sides and I startled myself awake.  Afterwards, we were to meet in the lobby for dinner.

I came around the corner to find my older brother (contrary to what he tells people, I am NOT the big sister and I wish he would quit introducing me that way) and my sister-in-law Angie (David, don't screw this up, she is a special one) talking with my parents.  After hugs and kisses hello, my father tells me to turn around.  Holy crap and knock me over with a feather - there is my cousin Barb and my Aunt Sandye.  They had come all this way to join us.  What a wonderful surprise.  Dinner that night was full of laughter and fun and I lost the rest of cash in the casino.

The following morning I discovered that everyone else was going off shopping and I was to have a morning facial followed by a swim, a walk and some blackjack.  All in all, a pretty good day.  We were to meet at 6pm for dinner.

I wandered downstairs shortly before 6 to cash out my remaining 75 cents when I turned around to see my Cousin Rob with his lovely girlfriend Karen standing there.  Being the fool that I am and the fact that my mind was stuck in stupid mode, I did not connect the dots right away.  I stood there with my mouth open, not really saying anything except sounds of surprise.  I was amazed at the coincidence of them being here too.  I said the rest of the family was having dinner and they should join us (duh - he must have thought I was the blondest blonde he had the pleasure of knowing).  While I caught up with my big brother and sister-in-law and said "look who's here" (no one gave anything away), I got a tap on the shoulder and I turn around in time to see another cousin, Fred, and his lovely girlfriend.  It finally clicked in and I broke my rule and started to cry like the fool I was.  I was stunned and amazed.  My dad was having a great time laughing at me.  He pointed me into the restaurant and said we were at the very back.  I made my way inside still a little shaken but giddy. (yes, you read right - I said giddy.  Don't worry though, it won't come up again)

I found our table because there was a giant christmas wrapped present at the table.  I had sat beside this present all the way down thinking it was for Joyce's neice who lives nearby.  I thought we were going to drop it off on our way home.  As I was standing there looking at it, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and as I turned, my heart felt like a jackhammer in my chest.  There was my Uncle Don and Auntie Linda - all the way from Pender Island.  They had taken 3 ferries and a bit of drive to come all the way to spend my birthday with me.  I started to cry again.  I felt like a giant goof.  By this point my dad was laughing outright and I was hanging on.  He then whispered in my ear that in about 1 minute I would turn around and see another surprise.  Quite frankly, I wasn't sure my heart could take it.  Lo and behold, I turn around and there was my Uncle Richard and his lovely girlfriend, Lindsay.  I almost couldn't stand anymore - literally.  I had never been so surprised and shocked in all my life!  I was shaking like a leaf.  No one has ever done anything like this for me before.  I was so touched that they all travelled to spend my birthday with me.  I was almost beside myself with happiness.  I was shaking so badly that I had trouble with my knife and fork during dinner - forget about drinking anything, I couldn't hold my glass still. 

It was a wonderful meal with great conversation.  I received gifts of nail products, wine and funny cards - one filled with a $50 bill (yay - I was flush again).  I loved them all.  However, I recieved one very very special gift from Joyce.  She worked on it for 2 years.  Keep in mind, I had long stopped crying and still had some vestige of mascara on.  The last of it was about to come right off and slide down my cheeks.

That christmas wrapped gift held a painting - a special painting, of me and the grandkids on the beach in front of their home on the island.  It is beautiful and my brother Kris has promised to build be a special frame for it.  It is a keepsake I will treasure always.  Just like I will this birthday.

As we all said good-bye the following morning and went our respective ways, I couldn't help but feel like perhaps this decade will be a good one.  I have always felt loved by my family but this weekend, the fact that they all took the time to be with me has made me feel a little humbled, a lot grateful and very very very loved.  Crap, I am ccrying again as I write this - everyone turn away for a moment while I collect myself.

As I said off the top, I am a lucky lucky girl.  Thank you to everyone who put this weekend together - it must have been like herding cats to pull it all off with everyone - and thank you to my family for being there.  I am truly honored and grateful to have been blessed with such a special family.

Since I did not take my camera with me (thinking I was just going shopping), I don't have any personal photo's to attach.  However, I have taken a photo of my painting and of the children's artwork which I have hung on the wall of my office.  take a look and tell me how lucky I am.

Stay tuned.  I am about to head out across the country for a whirlwind trip of Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto.  Talk about your hot spots.  I am just a one woman wonder of excitment - what a jet setter!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do I look like I would know this stuff?

Well, it has certainly been an eventful time of late.

Last week I left work and stopped at the grocery store on the way home.    I was in the pharmacy department picking up some Aspirin (due to my many many tech headaches) and as I walked down the aisle on my way out I was stopped by a fella of about 45 years of age.  I did not pay any attention to what products he was standing in front of.  He stopped me and asked if I could help him out.  I was about to mention that I did not work there when he jumped right in and asked if I could tell him which product was the best to buy.  He then moved aside and and pointed to the product shelf.  "Which is the best for me to buy.  what works best?" he asked.  I found myself staring at a display of condoms.  What on earth made him stop me to ask that question?  What is it about me that makes him think I would have any idea?  Was I wearing my trollop clothes?  Did I have floosy tattooed on my forehead?  A friend of mine said I should have pointed him to the smallest ones and make reference that size doesn't matter.  However, I wasn't thinking that fast as I was mostly stunned, so what actually came out was "how the hell would I know?  I've never bought a condom in my life."  I almost ran down the aisle and out of the store.  Not too swift.  I really hate that it made me embarrassed.

In the 10 weeks or so that I have been in my new position, I feel like I have been run a little ragged, so I am looking forward to a couple of days off to celebrate my 39th birthday.  I am a very lucky woman.  I have been blessed with a most wonderful family a girl can have- parents, kids, grandkids, brothers,  aunts, uncles and cousins - all of them. I have also been blessed with the best friends money can buy :).  Most of my friends live out in the valley where you need a passport to visit or at least 4 hours away in Kamloops where in addition to the passport, I also need a visitors visa.

Well, due to my momentous birthday, I have had the pleasure of having some of these friends taking the time to visit with me.  Last Friday I spent 4 hours sitting in White Spot just eating and talking.  The following day, my friend in Kamloops came all the way to spend an afternoon with me as a surprise.  My daughter helped arrange it.  It was a wonderful surprise.  And today, I spent the entire afternoon with another friend who took the time to get her passport out and hop on the train to come all the way into the city to visit and have lunch as we wandered the city.  Aside from the obvious, what these wonderful women all have in common is the ease and comfort of a perfect friendship.  We may not see one another as often as we would like, but when we do, we can slip right into a conversation like it was left off yesterday.  I don't have many friends but these woman I have chosen carefully for their compassion, caring, truthfulness and trust.  They have been my friends rangings from 20 to 43 years.  A hole would be left if they were not there.   It has been a wonderful birthday celebration. 

I have to admit, I could get used to my birthday celebrations lasting a week.  I have been invited by my grandchildren to dinner on Thursday.  My favorite wee man says he is making me dinner.  I understand my Dad and my step-mother will also be making the trip on the ferry to come spend time with me.  How great is that?  My head is swelling.  Although I am not looking forward to the fact that I will soon get the seniors discount, I am loving the birthday attention.  I have been told to pack a bathing suit, a dress and my passport.  Wonder if I am going to the valley?

After my birthday, I am heading on  a hop-scotching trip across the county culminating in Toronto.  I will be back just in time to partake in my annual Santa Claus parade event with the grandkids.  It has become a tradition that started when my wee man was just 2 years old.  I am not exactly sure who enjoys it more.  We bundle up in blankets and picnic on Tim Horton's while we await the big man.  It is the beginning of the season for me.  We put up my tree and once again attempt a gingerbread house - which never works but makes for great fun.  I have yet to figure out how to make it stand upright.  I even buy the kit that comes with a stand and it still falls over.  I think it would throw a wrench into the tradition if it didn't fall down.

Anyway, must dash so will update after the birthday and the cross country trip.

Stay tuned

Friday, November 4, 2011

Small Children and Old Men

Let me back up two weeks.  I recieved a phone call from my grandson as I sat on a bus on my way home from work (the correct bus this time).  He was requesting that I make the birthday cake for his party the coming Sunday afternoon.  I was very touched.  He said he wanted it like what I did for his sister's birthdays - lots of colors and designs.  We settled on an orange flavored cake, in the shape of a diamond with butter cream frosting in multiple colors with lots of different flowers and designs.  He also invited me to come to his party.  Again, I was very touched and the people on the bus wondering what the hell was wrong with me as I am discussing this on my phone with a tear or two running down my cheeks.

I hopped off the bus at the next stop - in my excitement to get started I did not realize I was 2 stops too early - and made my way to the grocery store with a list in my head of my requirements:  2 Betty Crocker cake mixes (you didnt really think I was doing this from scratch did you?  I love this boy and would never subject him to my "home baking"), 1/2 doz. eggs, canola oil, 2 lbs of butter and 2 lbs of icing sugar and a package of disposable razors.  I also bought another cake tin so I could design a special diamond shaped cake.  I know, this is where most of you would jump in with "why didn't you just bake a square cake and turn it sideways?"  Quite honestly, I was too busy thinking about the invitation to the birthday and the need to bring my swim suit as it was a pool party.  I was going to have to spend the better part of Saturday weed whacking my legs (hence the razors).

Up early on saturday morning, I got all my ingedients ready.  I had the butter out so they would be room temperature when it came time to ice and I set the oven on bake - even got the temperature right on the stove.   I merrily mixed and masted and had a great time as I slid the cake into the warm oven.  I was thinking how quickly time had flown by.  How could he already be 9 years old?  For goodness sakes, his mother was 9 about 10 minutes before!

40 minutes later the house smelled all warm and fuzzy and wonderful.  I opened the door to see if any disaster had befallen me.  I was actually pleasantly surprised to discover the two cakes looked wonderful, had risen properly and were not burnt.  I carefully placed them on my cooling sheets and started preparations for decorating.

I had all my tools laid out, I had mxed and made 4 different icings, I filled 4 piping bags and attached the different styling tools to each one.  I then, very carefully, iced both cakes in plain white icing and cut  the smaller of the cakes to fit the larger, in a diamond pattern.  I was very proud of myself so far as I placed the cakes in the fridge for the undercoated icing to harden.

30 minutes later with tools ready and cake all set, I turn the TV on to my saved recordings of NCIS and set to work.  I worked hard - to the point of hand cramps -  for the next 3 hours decorating my masterpiece.  I was on the last corner, the last flower, the finishing touch.....then it happened.  I have no recollection of how or why.  My cake, my beautiful cake, fell off the edge of the table and landed upside down on my carpet. 

I stood there for a minute in complete and utter shock.  When the shock wore off the horror set in and then the anger.  I let go with a string of words that would shock a sea captain.  In fact it was so bad my brother came up the stairs to see what all the yelling was about.  He stood about 4 feet away and I swear, I saw a smirk on his face before he very wisely said nothing and disappeared back where he came from.  I got down on my hands and knees to survey the mess up close.  Nothing could be saved.  I had to pull myself together, clean up the mess and start again.  It looked like all the Shriners had hopped out of their little clown car and threw themselves face first on my carpet and all their clown make-up rubbed off on my floor.  Did you know that food dyes do not come out of carpet without heavy duty assistance?  Heavy duty assistances costs $16.95 a bottle.

Nothing I could do but head back to the store.  It was now 4pm on Saturday.  I had to deliver the cake for noon the following day.  I was in a bit of a panic but I was on a mission.  2lbs of butter, 2 lbs of icing sugar,  2 cake mizes, 1/2 doz eggs and this time, throw in a tin of merangue powder (since I had used my last on the pervious icing at $11) and heavy duty carpet cleaner.  I was about to deliver the most expensive homemade cake a 9 year old ever recieved.  As I proceeded through the ritual all over again, my mind wandered to thoughts of "did this ever happen to Sara Lee?"  Would he notice if I just bought a Sara Lee cake?  But, this is my favorite wee man in the whole world and he had asked me to do this for him, I wasn't going to let him down.  Needless to say, when I finished the process by midnight on Saturday night, I was very proud of myself.  He didn't get the diamond shape of the previous cake, but he did get a great cake and it was a big hit at the party.

It was a great afternoon as I swam and played with the grandkids.  It made the weed wacking and the cake disaster worth it.

Fast forward now to the other day.  I was minding my own business as I hopped on the train to head downtown for a morning meeting.  The meeting went well and I made my way out of the building and onto my beloved Granville street.  I stood for a moment as I took in the sights and found myself longing to be back in the midst of hustle, bustle and bizarreness of the area.  As I was standing with a silly grin on my face, a man of about 65 or so came up to me with his shoe in his hand.  It took me a minute to realize what was going on.  He was pushing it in my face and in a manner some might think of as threatening, I took as endearing, he was demanding I figure out his laces.  They were in a knot and he couldn't get it out.  He figured that since I had long nails I could help.  I must say, it felt good to be needed.  As I helped him with his shoe, one of my favorites began setting up across the street.  Skinny white rapper dude was back!  And he had a girlfriend.  I felt at home.  I want to go home.  I hate where my office is.  The only stuff that seems to happen around here is people peeing at the side of the highway.

By the way, as I am new to this company, I was invited to participate in a town hall meeting.  Up till now, no one really knew who I was and it was tough getting into some of the offices.  So, the meeting was a place for me to be introduced and I could speak to my mandate and my philosophy.  After what I said, I no longer have any trouble booking meetings.  In fact since that day, my phone and emails have been full of people wanting me to come and see them - sooner rather than later.  Let me give you the gist of my foot in mouth disease and it will become clear as to why they seem to want to see me.

ME: "Thank you for the wonderful introduction and thank you for the opportunity to be here.  As DB stated, I have been around the block a couple of times (he actually said I had been in the industry awhile) and I quite enjoy working at street level".  After the laughter died down I realized how it actually came across "here is our new Director whose been around the block a few times and really enjoys working the streets".

I don't normally let people know my true reputation until they know me better.

Well, thats it for me for now.  Stay tuned.