February 15, 2012

I have a strong name.  Susan avoided the “Jennifers” and “Julies” in my era, and harkens back to my Grandpa’s nickname for my mom:  Sooz.  (her name is Janet Elizabeth, and nobody remembers why my Grandpa called her that.  Weird).  My middle name is Leslie  – spelled in the male form – as I was named for my Grandpa Albert Leslie  (the same one who calls my mom Sooz), although he goes by Les.  And ****** was my father’s name, a reminder of him, and his parents and my Norwegian ancestors.  I like my name, I like the history of my name and I am proud of the people I am named for.
This story is about my Grandpa Les.  He was born in on June 20th, 1914.  He had 2 children (my mom is one of them) and remarried after the death of his first wife to gain 2 more.  When I was a child, my parents had moved away from their home town of Vancouver, and we lived about 10 hours away their parents.  My mom made sure that my brother and I had a good and solid relationship with all four of our grandparents.  We called about every report card, good test, new bike, new rock for our collection, whatever and whenever we wanted  (And this is before Sprint revolutionized Canadian long distance with their $20 monthly flat rate. . .)  So, growing up, I knew my grandpa.  He hates flying, so he would drive every summer to visit always stopping in Creston (one of the cities in BC with many many orchards) to bring my mom fresh cherries.  We spent many Christmases in Vancouver staying at my his home and when I went to university in Victoria, occasionally I took the ferry over to stay with Grandpa Les and Grandma Agnes. 
My grandpa is one of the strongest yet kind people I know.  He loves despite loss, he believes that everyone deserves the same respect and I remember too clearly lessons that he taught me in a way that only grandparents can.  Grandpa has passed these traits to his children and I hope that I too have these.  Grandpa has always been proud that he can take care of himself and his family – with emotional, physical and financial support.  When my mom had surgery several years ago, my 90 year old grandpa got on a plane (despite his fear of flying) to take care of her for a week.  Getting down on his knees to rub her legs during her recovery.  He has driven himself to the hospital when he broke his wrist (after laying on his stomach in a foot of water to unplug the drain in his driveway with his other arm).  When my uncle needed some help, my 94 year old grandpa figured out the bus/skytrain route and headed over to help with the backyard chores – after all he had just given up his driver’s licence a year or two before!  He also decided to pay for my uncle’s new roof – and to be fair, my mom got one too whether she needed it or not!  When my grandma Agnes was fighting Alzheimer’s, he helped her bake her famous sugar cookies with white icing so they could send a care package to me in university.  I loved every one of those slightly misshapened cookies.
I am flying to Vancouver next week to visit him.  I used to visit him in his house, then his condo, and now at his retirement residence.  (he insisted I take the bed last year, while he slept on the floor in the living on a blow up mattress.  Yes, seriously, I displaced my 96 year over grandfather from his bed.  I am that kind of person).  Our roles have changed, I no longer sit in his lap trying to grab the toothpick out of his mouth, or wait eagerly for him to give me $20 when he departed.  My grandpa is an old man now, and he struggles to do what he could do easily just a year or two ago.  He has graduated from a cane to a walker, has hearing aids, eyeglasses that don’t totally work any longer, walks slowly, forgets the words he wants for a story.  So it is easy not recognize the man I know as my grandpa, but he is still there.  I see flashes of that man all the time.  I see him in the way he ALWAYS answers the phone “WELLLLLLL Susan!!!”, and every birthday card signed by “The Ol’ Fart”.  We’ll not do too much, perhaps watch his beloved Canucks, join in the Friday night residence crib tournament, and have several meals together.
I may have a strong name, but I am not strong in the face of bugs.  I don’t find them miraculous, or marvellous, and the thought of spiders, bugs or anything being around me makes me uncomfortable.   The Lower Mainland (for those of you in the Ontario that is like saying the GTA but for the Vancouver general area.  Come one people, travel!  See the world!), has a bed bug problem.  Didn’t you know that?  Well, apparently they do.  At least that is what my mom called to tell me yesterday.  Immediately, I has visions of my luggage crawling with bedbugs and bringing them home with me to infest my house.  A couple suites at the my grandpa’s retirement residence have an infestation, including my grandpa’s.  It has nothing to do about cleanliness, but simply easy to pass through a building that all the residents eat, sleep and recreate in.  However, this was horrifying to him!  His granddaughter (I would dare say favourite granddaughter, although my cousin Michelle may have something to say about that), is coming to visit and he has an infested suite.  He called my mom in a panic, what else could he do?  He had already called in my uncle to help him vacuum and put down repellent, washed ALL of his clothes and sheets (that must have been an event in the laundry room).  He booked a fumigator with the residence management.  But it wasn’t enough.  He decided that he needed to book the “visitor” suite for me, he was going to pay for it, and he doesn’t want to hear anything about that..  That’s just the way it is going to be.
Did I mention I am proud to be Leslie?
February 15th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary Event:  Knowing once again that my Grandpa Les will take care of me and all of the others he loves regardless any obstacles in his way. 

February 14, 2012

My brother calls me a hippy vegan.  This is in reference to our (well, MY) experiment of having a vegan diet in January for a challenge.  No eggs, no dairy, no meat.  I supplemented my diet with things like beans, lentils, and TVP (Textured vegetable protein).  Emile supplemented his diet with pork chops.  It was an interesting month, and I did alot more cooking than normal, and filled our pantry with all sorts of strange things.
It opened me up to a whole different array of foods that I did not normally eat and focused my attention on eating higher quality foods. 
Today, I was clicking on some links and ended up on a page full of smoothies recipes.  Really?  Who needs a smoothie recipe?  Throw in liquid, fruit, something frozen, maybe some flax-seed and you’re good to go.  But these were all green smoothies, with spinach or kale as a base.  Eww.  I don’t want to drink spinach.  I always turn my nose up at the helpful smooth-rista who wanted to add wheat grass to my smoothie.  Snickering. Who wants grass or grass like things in their smoothie?  But then my mind drifted back to the wilting 1/2 box of organic spinach in my fridge that I have been guiltily avoiding making eye contact with.  Emile is not home, so worse thing is it gets poured down the drain and I can avoid mocking.   
3 cups spinach, 1 banana, handful of frozen blueberries, a good amount of almond milk, 1 tbsp flaxseed, a squirt of agave syrup and some ice.  Blend her up!  Whoa, that looks horrible.  Hmmm.  Well, in the mouth and over the gums, watch out stomach here it comes.
February 14th, 2014 Extra-Ordinary Event:  Finding that green-based smoothies are really quite good. 

February 11, 2012

Today I went to Delta Grandview’s Fitness area for the last time.  They had taken out the “good” treadmills.  Now for those of you don’t know – and you know who you are – a treadmill is a fairly simply device.  Probably inventing just 80 years after the wheel.  It basically works by making the ground move backwards while you move forwards allowing you to stay safe away from the germ infested outdoors.  So the “good” treadmills just have a bunch of unnecessary features that are not really needed.  (Who’s kidding who?  A treadmill is a replacement for ground, which last I looked there is ample ground.  I wonder how that went at the product pitch meeting – “I have an invention that is a replacement for ground. .” )
They had also taken out the television and my key card didn’t work anymore so some helpful fellow had let me in.  I brought my iPod with me ramped with my new favourite song that features the lyrics “Going for Gold with Yamaguchi, It’s time for Hoochie Coochie” (yes, seriously), but forgot my headphones in car.  The “good” treadmills had a iPod port.  So, here I am locked in the gym because my key doesn’t work anymore and no TV, and no music (unless I pretended that I could feel the vibrations of it, but I am should Steve Jobs made sure that didn’t happen).  So, I decide to run anyways.  I quickly find that these “less than good” treadmills don’t have the distance settings I like.  I run for five minutes with the emergency “STOP” button calling my name.  (Does anyone but Biggest Loser Contestants really go flying off these things?). 
You have to understand, it was a big event, me going to the gym today, haven’t gone consistently since November.  So, all of these obstacles were enough to push me over the edge.  (my previous trainer told me that if you don’t feel like going to the gym, try just going for 20 minutes and you’ll probably stay for your whole workout.  Seriously, he didn’t know me too well). 
So, I trudged off to the showers hoping that nobody would be in the locker room ogling me, or forcing me to ogle them.  In the shower, I was feeling quite pissed off and sad.  Sad about Grandview’s last weekend, sad that I let all these petty obstacles stand in my way of actually burning more than 50 calories, and it hit me.  (Some of you know, my best thinking is always in the shower.  Love the shower.)  I need a “book of awesome” or “a happiness project”!  Maybe a blog.  But these have been done.
No, I Need a Daily Extra-Ordinary Keeper.  Everyday – need to find something extra-ordinary that happened to me.  And to keep me honest, I have to send it every day via e-mail.  Short, long, sardonic, weird, good, joyful, whatever, but Extra-Ordinary.  Recognize the things in my life that are different, exciting, fun, extraordinary, and good.
February 11, 2012 Extra-Ordinary Event:  Having a brain storm in the Delta Grandview Shower about barraging my friends and family daily with some random event that happened me.  (please don’t add me to your spam filter)

February 10, 2012

We have a cat.  Emile named him Beavis long before I got into the picture.  I probably would have chose something different, but I have never met any pet, human or anything but our cat named Beavis.
Anyways, Beavis is a strange cat.  With my current unemployed status, Beavis and I have become quite close.  We share secrets, we laugh, we cry, we dance together.  But there is one thing that has never happened. 
Emile has raised Beavis from a kitten bringing him up to be a thoughtful, playful, responsible man he is today.  And they share a bond.  Beavis expresses this bond through grooming.  If Emile is lying in bed, and Beavis is feeling especially loving, he will lick all of the gel out of Emile’s hair.  Yes, kinda gross, but obviously cats smell terrifically clean (if you don’t hate too much to get close), kinda interesting, kinda sweet, but kinda gross.  The only other person that Beavis has ever groomed was our friend Jeremy who has similarly short and coloured hair to Emile.  Beavis was staying with him for two weeks, and for some reason snuggled up onto Jeremy’s pillow and woke him up with his gentle lapping of Jeremy’s his hair.  Beavis was kicked out 12 days earlier than planned and Jeremy now sleeps with a shower cap just in case his dog Ty gets any strange ideas.
Well, last night, I was lying in bed, with a recently trimmed head.  And it happened – through our bonding and our love over the last couple of months – Beavis started licking my hair.  I was as still as possible.  It felt weird – kinda that pulling feeling that you get when you have your haircut with a straight razor, but with added slurping sound effects.  He didn’t like my longer hair, he kept getting it caught in his teeth.  He loves me, he REALLY loves me.
I washed my hair twice this morning.
February 10th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary Event:  Beavis the cat showing his love.